Archive for the ‘Monuments’ Category

A Taste of Santiago and Chile

February 8th, 2010 at 10:53 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

As previously mentioned, our departure from Aruba from Saturday was uneventful, as was our landing in Bogota. But as an example of the small world we live in, in Bogota, at the departure gate, we bumped into a friend from Bonaire who was also on her way to Santiago. She regaled us with stories about how tough Chilean customs is with respect to bringing in food, herbs, or spices, and told us to make sure to declare anything that could remotely be considered to be food or be fined lots of money (US$300 for a bag of prunes for her the last time she fell afoul of Chilean customs).

It was good advice to follow. By declaring our protein powder, chocolate, tea, nuts, chewing gum, and hot chili powder at customs they didn’t hassle us at all, and just waved us through after examining our written declaration.

Interestingly, we had also been warned that Chile requires birth certificates and proof of parental status for kids entering the country, but we were never asked for that documentation.

The one last issue we encountered, again with advance knowledge, was something called the “reciprocity fee”. Apparently Chile decided to charge citizens of certain countries (Canada, USA, Mexico, Australia, and Albania) an entry fee commensurate with what Chilean citizens are charged for visas to enter those countries. For Canada, for example, this fee is US$132, while for Mexico it’s $17. For U.S. citizens it is $131. The only white lining here is that the fee covers the passport for as long as it is valid. Great for people with new passports, but less for those with passports about to expire. And it’s quite a hefty tab for families.

Fortunately the kids and I have dual nationality – we’re Czech Americans, so we used our Czech passports and did not have to pay any sort of reciprocity fee (the Czech Republic is part of the European Union). Thus we only had to pay the reciprocity fee for Linda. Savings of $393.

Our luggage was waiting for us when we got past immigration and customs, and outside we found a sign with our name on it, held by a representative of the tour company responsible for our transfer to our hotel. The representative’s name was Pablo, and our driver was Patricio. As we learned, Pablo and Patricio would be our companions during our Chilean exploration as well, with Pablo being our multi-lingual tour guide.

View from our window at the Grand Hyatt - note the Andes in the distance

View from our window at the Grand Hyatt - note the Andes in the distance

We were dropped off at our hotel, had a very early 6am breakfast, and then slept until noon. Red eye flights are never good, but having a bed ready so early in the morning was a wonderful thing to help compensate for the sleeplessness of the flight.

After a good Thai/Chile buffet lunch we met up with Pablo and Patricio for a half-day tour of Santiago.

Pablo had detailed information on statistics, economic factors, and the history of Chile and Santiago. Unfortunately I do not have enough to relate much of that here due to limited time tonight.

In terms of places we visited, the short list would be the Plaza de Armas (translated) (plaza of armaments), the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago (translated) (the main cathedral, located at the Plaza de Armas), the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (the museum of Precolumbian art), La Moneda Presidential Palace, and Cerro San Cristobal. You can see our path in the previous post, and also see a number pictures from our afternoon in Santiago on a map at Flickr. A few of our photos appear below.

View down the Plaza de Armas

View down the Plaza de Armas

Pablo describes the Santiago city plan of the 1712 time frame with Linda and Bas

Pablo describes the Santiago city plan of the 1712 time frame with Linda and Bas

People praying in the silver chapel of the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago

People praying in the silver chapel of the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago

Jake stands guard with the honor guard at the La Moneda Presidential Palace

Jake stands guard with the honor guard at the La Moneda Presidential Palace

Amazing wall murals on a set of buildings in downtown Santiago

Amazing wall murals on a set of buildings in downtown Santiago

The funicular arrives at the top of Cerro San Cristobal

The funicular arrives at the top of Cerro San Cristobal

More important than a play by play, perhaps, would be our observations of Chile and Santiago in particular.

One of the most impressive features of Santiago is that it lies in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, one of the tallest mountain ranges (Pablo says #2) in the world. The city itself is at around 1800 feet above sea level, and we can see tall, snow covered mountain peaks in the distance from our hotel room windows.

In comparison to other Central and South American cities we’ve visited, Santiago feels almost European, and somewhat safer. The climate is also quite moderate, with temperatures into the mid-80s during the day during the summer (now), ranging down to around freezing in the winter. During the summer, the air is clear due to regular winds, but the presence of the six million inhabitants of the area is more prevalent during the winter, when air pollution can get pretty bad, according to Pablo.

Santiago appears to also be European in its prices, which are quite high relative to those we found in Ecuador and Peru, and Pablo mentioned that Chile is the most expensive Latin American country to live in, while at the same time, having the highest per capita income (which makes sense).

Chile has a bit of turbulent history, both politically and geographically. Frequent large earthquakes over the centuries have destroyed many of the older structures in places like Santiago, resulting in a diverse blend of modern, traditional, and colonial architecture, all interspersed with one another. Politically, Chile is a democratic nation, but in 1973 General Augusto Pinochet staged a coup d’état and took power from President Salvador Allende. Pinochet ruled until he stepped down peacefully in 1990.

The Chilean people have a reputation for being the most reserved of the Latin Americans, but our limited experience so far has found them to be warm and friendly.

Finally, the local currency is the Chilean Peso, which trades at a rate of approximately 531 pesos to one U.S. dollar. However, they use the “$” symbol to represent the Chilean Peso, which makes price displays rather intimidating, as seen below:

A very scary ATM display in Santiago - they use the dollar sign for the Chilean Peso - rate is 530 pesos to a U.S. dollar - so this is actually about 500 dollars

A very scary ATM display in Santiago - they use the dollar sign for the Chilean Peso - rate is 530 pesos to a U.S. dollar - so this is actually about 500 U.S. dollars

We’re looking forward to experiencing a bit more of the country and its history in the coming couple of days (Tuesday and Wednesday) as we explore and experience Valparaiso, Chile’s main port.

For those wondering, we spent today (Monday) sleeping in, resting up, editing photos, and trying some new foods, such as calf testicles. Seriously. Wouldn’t probably try them again though, unless they were deep fried, perhaps.

Photos from the day can be found at Jake’s Flickr Pages and Krystyana’s Flickr Pages.

We might be able to post something from our hotel in Valparaiso tomorrow night, but if not it might be Wednesday night before our next post.

 

GPS Tracking – Tour of Santiago, Chile

February 7th, 2010 at 9:38 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

After a very pleasant nap we enjoyed a Thai/Chilean buffet lunch at our hotel and then had a private four hour tour with Pablo and Patricio of La Tours.

Our GPS Track is below with several places highlighted. Details and photos to follow tomorrow.

 

Visiting with the National Geographic Society

December 9th, 2009 at 2:42 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

As part of our long weekend with the National Geographic Society from November 19-21, 2009, we had access to the behind-the-scenes activities that make NatGeo the amazing organization it is today.

The seal of the National Geographic Society

The seal of the National Geographic Society

On Friday, November 20th, after a breakfast where a number of senior members of the Society spoke, including the Society’s chairman, Gil Grosvenor, we were given a tour of the offices. The tour started with a look at what all goes into putting together a single issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last several decades (in which case it’s unlikely you’re reading this blog in the first place), you are familiar with the magazine and its incredible stories and photos covering diverse topics about our planet – typically focusing on man’s interaction with nature and nature’s mysteries.

A statue of a primal woman at the offices of the National Geographic Society

A statue of a primal woman at the offices of the National Geographic Society

What sets National Geographic Magazine apart from any other publication is the phenomenal photography accompanying each article, the detailed and informative map inserts, the lack of advertising in the features section of the magazine, and the fact that the Society and the explorers they fund may invest months or years in just one article in order to produce definitive works of knowledge to share with the masses. The magazine’s audience appears to appreciate the effort – there are nearly seven million subscribers worldwide (around five million of those are in the U.S.). The magazine comes as part of membership in the National Geographic Society, which costs a mere $15 a year. I’m proud to say that I ponied up back in the 1990s and became a lifetime member of the Society back then.

Linda waits for a presentation about National Geographic Magazine

Linda waits for a presentation about National Geographic Magazine

During our tour, we got to see the various articles and photos which would go into the May 2010 issue of the magazine, as well as learn about the process of how stories are pitched and then researched. Many features are in the planning stages for months or even years. And the gorgeous photos in each monthly edition of the magazine don’t come cheap either. A typical photo shoot may take six to eight weeks, and result in 30,000 or more photos, of which only perhaps a dozen will appear in the magazine.

Each issue of the magazine is finalized and put to bed about two to three weeks before the publication month. For example, the Decemeber 2009 issue had been signed off on during the second week of November.

The editorial and production staff are typically working on several months worth of stories at any given time, and keeping all that straight requires excellent planning and organizational skills.

Our next stop after production was the cartographic department where the amazing National Geographic maps are developed and kept up to date. And keeping the maps up to date is a pretty intense process. An example given to us was a Eurasian lake that had been shrinking dramatically over the last decade, enough so as to require an edit of the core map data. The evidence of this geographical change came from a series of images taken by satellite over a long period of time (see image below).

Juan at the National Geographic Society explains how maps change over time

Juan at the National Geographic Society explains how maps change over time

Other map changes are political, as ever shifting country boundaries need to be reflected in maps. Also, we learned that China has been taking drastic steps to move large populations from the country to cities – so much so that they need to build a city the size of Philadelphia every two months (and apparently they are succeeding). However, this move of populations to urban areas in China and elsewhere results in smaller cities, towns, and villages becoming effectively uninhabitated, and as such needing to be removed from the massive GIS (Geographic Information System) the Society maintains to generate its maps from.

The National Geographic Society also does business with entities, such as tourism boards, which want localized maps created by the Society. After all, having “National Geographic Society” on a map lends it significant legitimacy. But that causes some interesting issues as well, including requirements that geography be renamed to meet local customs, or that bits of land be shown to be part of the client country instead of belonging to the country that might be occupying said bits of land. Likewise, oceans and seas we know by a particular name may go by a completely different name in other countries (even taking translations into account).

While we know cartography is complicated, we had never realized the nuances that existed with respect to particular audiences. In a way the situation is a variant of the saying “History is written by the victors”. Perhaps it’s “maps are determined by self-interest”.

To National Geographic’s credit, when changes which the Society’s cartographers believe to distort accepted practices and understanding are included in Society-produced maps, there is also a disclaimer added to such maps which explains the accepted standards versus what the map represents.

From cartography we moved to the CritterCam labs where technical geniuses continue to figure out ways to mount cameras to critters.

Some of you may know that I had, for about eight years, the distinction of running the world’s longest running underwater WebCam – the Bonaire ReefCam. While that was a technically challenging project due (and one I will resume shortly), we had the benefit of a fixed location for mounting the camera.

The guys at the National Geographic CritterCam Lab are continuously trying to figure out ways to place video cameras in places where they can be used to study animal behavior, and that typically involves attaching a camera to the animal in question. The cameras are self-contained and include things like GPS trackers so that the cameras can later be retrieved, and more importantly, the video footage they captured. For CritterCams which are used on aquatic creatures there’s also some special hardware which, after a preprogrammed time, will cause the camera housing to detach itself from the shark, whale, or penguin (among other critters) it was attached to and float to the water’s surface for retrieval.

We visit the CritterCam lab at the National Geographic Society

We visit the CritterCam lab at the National Geographic Society. Note the shark fin replica on the work bench. It's used for testing a dorsal clamp for a shark CritterCam.

While the CritterCams are not WebCams (yet), they can capture some absolutely incredible footage. While we were in the lab, we were shown footage captured when they managed to attach a camera to a Humboldt Squid, a creature that can grow to about six foot in length. They discovered that when the CritterCam emitted light that other squid attacked it, violently. So the next model did not emit a light.

After another few presentations we headed off for lunch, also set up by the National Geographic Society. We were treated to a visit to foreign soil as part of our lunch, as it took place in the Embassy of Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad had been scheduled to greet us personally, but the somewhat sudden inauguration of Afghan president Hamid Karzai the day before required that he be in Kabul instead. We were instead received by the Ambassador’s assistant, and presented with a wonderful selection of Afghan cuisine for lunch.

We are offered a wonderful array of authentic Afghan dishes at the Embassy

We are offered a wonderful array of authentic Afghan dishes at the Embassy

Our lunch included a presentation by the Society’s archeaology fellow, Fred Hiebert, on the recovery of ancient Afghan treasures stashed away as the Taliban took power and brought back out after their defeat. Fred was personally involved in cataloging many of the ancient works, and then also curating the National Geographic’s exhibition “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum“.

Bob Ballard joins us in a family photo at the Embassy of Afghanistan

Bob Ballard joins us in a family photo at the Embassy of Afghanistan

One of our lunch companions was Bob Ballard, best known for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titantic, the battleship Bismarck, and the USS Yorktown.  But his ocean exploration extends far beyond those wrecks, sharing his works with students around the world with the JASON Project. He is also working on a a new project coming which involvse the use of Internet2 for global real time discovery and documentation of new underwater finds on his new research vessel. We had first met Bob in 1997, as Linda was pregnant with Bas, while working at the Boston Sea Rovers Clinic in Boston, and it was nice to get reacquainted.

Another presentation we attended at NatGeo HQ

Another presentation we attended at NatGeo HQ

We returned to NatGeo HQ after lunch for a few more presentations, including the one pictured above about Geo-Literacy, and a more in depth presentation by Bob Ballard about his new research and discoveries.

That evening our dinner was at the Cosmos Club, a private social club with close ties to the National Geographic Society – the Society’s founding members were also members of the Cosmos Club. The club’s membership includes numerous luminaries including Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel Laureates.

One of the halls at the Cosmos Club in D.C.

One of the halls at the Cosmos Club in D.C.

A comfortable looking club chair in the member library at the Cosmos Club

A comfortable looking club chair in the member library at the Cosmos Club

While the facilities were impressive and distinguished, I think I would find it difficult to be a member of any club with a strict dress code, as my normal daytime work attire consists of a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet.

After dinner we watched several more presentations pertaining to the efforts of the Society, including discussions of social media, film, and exploration funding, and were then taken back to our hotel.

The following morning, Saturday, we hopped on a bus which took us out for a guided tour of the Manassas Battlefield in nearby Manassas, Virginia. Our guide, Craig, spent most of our bus ride to  Manassas explaining the events leading up to the secession of States from the Union and the subsequent U.S. Civil War. The first major battle of the Civil War was fought at Manassas in July 1861, and another important battle fought there again in August 1862.

An old farmhouse which played part in the Civil War battles in Manassas, Virgina

An old farmhouse which played part in the Civil War battles in Manassas, Virgina

Headstones for Ellen Morris, Judith Henry, and Hugh Henry at Manassas

Headstones for Ellen Morris, Judith Henry, and Hugh Henry at Manassas

Our tour guide, Craig, provides a description of the battles at Manassas

Our tour guide, Craig, provides a description of the battles at Manassas

Be careful or you'll shoot your eyes out with that cannon, Bas!

Be careful or you'll shoot your eyes out with that cannon, Bas!

Memorial to Stonewall Jackson, with lots of artistic license in terms of musculature for both Jackson and his horse

Memorial to Stonewall Jackson, with lots of artistic license in terms of musculature for both Jackson and his horse

After our tour of the Manassas battlefield we were taken to the home of Gil and Wiley Grosvenor. Gil is the chairman of the National Geographic Society and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. Gil and Wiley live in the Virginia countryside, about an hour or so outside Washington, D.C., on a beautiful farm.

A giant NatGeo map of Asia used for educating school children about geography

A giant NatGeo map of Asia used for educating school children about geography

As we arrived we were greeted by a huge National Geographic map of Asia which the Society uses as an educational tool for school kids. We were also treated to the music of Marie Miller and her fellow musicians as we explored Gil’s barn and land.

Krystyana uses a fisheye lens to snap a shot of her new equine friend

Krystyana uses a fisheye lens to snap a shot of her new equine friend

Horse face fisheye image by Krystyana

Horse face fisheye image by Krystyana

In the barn, in addition to being introduced to several breeds of horses (including ones we had never heard of), we were served a couple of delightful wines made in Virginia – not a place one normally expects to find as a producer of good wines. The vineyard responsible for the wines was Rappahannock Cellars, and the Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc they served were very worthwhile. We also got to enjoy three more of their wines with our lunch. Sadly, Virginia has rules against shipping wines out of state so we were unable to order any to send home for later enjoyment.

Our fellow NatGeo Grosvenor Council members for a final farewall photo on the giant map

Our fellow NatGeo Grosvenor Council members for a final farewall photo on the giant map

After an enjoyable meal and some great conversation, we all gathered on the giant map for a group photo before heading back to D.C. for the night and dinner on our own (which I hope to document shortly).

Cool lighting and shadow as we leave Gil's farm in the Virginia countryside

Cool lighting and shadow as we leave Gil's farm in the Virginia countryside

Additional photos from these two days can be found here on Flickr.

 

Washington, D.C. – Food and Learning

November 18th, 2009 at 2:18 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon, and so far have eaten at four great restaurants – Makoto, Jaleo, Ten Penh (for lunch), and Rasika.

There’s also been a fair bit of shopping done by the girls, my Alienware M17x monster notebook computer has finally been repaired so that my screen doesn’t shimmer in super graphics (SLI) mode, and we spent several hours today at the amazing Newseum followed by a too-short visit to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. And we’ve been doing lots of walking between places with the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing here. In fact, Krystyana and I enjoyed a great nighttime stroll from Rasika back to our hotel tonight, taking in sights like the White House.

Krystyana in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Krystyana in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

We’re planning on spending more time at the Newseum and the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday, and hoping to hit the Museum of Crime and Punishment on Thursday before the National Geographic events we’re participating in start in earnest.

 

More Berlin – Nazi Terror, Bavarian Food, and Chocolate Delight

October 14th, 2009 at 5:57 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 – Breakfast at the Hotel Adlon was included as part of the Fine Hotels and Resorts hotel package we had booked through our American Express TeamOne travel service group, and what a breakfast it was! A dozen different kinds of cold cuts, a half dozen kinds of French soft cheese (including several family favorites), a handful of different Meuslis, fresh fruit juices (such as pineapple, coconut, and ginger blended together), eggs to order, different sausages, and all sorts of fruit, as well as carb-evil pastries and breads. Champagne, coffee, and tea were available too.

By 11am we were finally on our way, with the intent to see the famed Checkpoint Charlie, and more specifically the museum there.

A performer dressed as a statue shills for for tourist tips at the Brandenburger Tor

A performer dressed as a statue shills for for tourist tips at the Brandenburger Tor

We started by tracing the path south from Brandenburg Tor where the western part of the Berlin Wall used to be, and found ourselves at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a memorial created to remember the Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II.

Cement blocks of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Cement blocks of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The memorial consists of 2,711 blocks of cement of identical width and depth, but varying height. These blocks fill a plain of undulating brick, spaced equally apart, thus creating walkways. The feel is that of a cemetery when you first enter it, but soon you feel like you are in an oddly symmetric warren as the rectangular blocks start to reach the height of your head and beyond. Disconcerting and eerie, which was no doubt at least part of the intent of the memorial’s designer, Peter Eisenman.

A Berlin Wall exhibit at Potsdamer Platz

A Berlin Wall exhibit at Potsdamer Platz

By the time we hit Potsdamer Platz a bit to the south we were so cold we needed to warm up, so we chose a local café for some Café American, tea, and a cookie for Bas, as well as free Internet service. After waiting through a massive rain storm, we continued on towards Checkpoint Charlie, stopping at an outdoor museum entitled “Topopgraphy of Terror”, dedicated to provided a history of the prison and torture facilities at that location, run by the SS, Gestapo, and Reichssicherheits Dienst (Empire Security Service) during World War II.

Part of the exterior exhibits at the Topography of Terror museum

Part of the exterior exhibits at the Topography of Terror museum

However, the exhibits at the Topography of Terror covered much more, explaining the evolution of the Nazi party and their plans for systematic deportation and killing of Jews, Gypsies, and other “lower races” (pretty much anyone that was not Aryan German) in order to claim their lands and property for German expansion and resettlement. It was a frightening and sobering exhibit, as well as violently graphic, picturing hangings, executions, and many photos of people being marched off to certain death. More astounding was that the Nazi bureaucracy maintained meticulous records of all their actions, and many of the ledgers and memos used to both record their actions as well as direct those actions were shown (with translations for English readers). A number of the Nazi leaders were profiled, as were dozens of victims of “Nazi justice” who were interned in the prison at the site on Prinz Albrectstrasse at the behest of the so-called “People’s Court”, a bureaucratic body used to justify arrests and executions in the name of the people of Germany, but truly to simply further personal and political goals of the Nazi leadership.

Documents at the Topography of Terror show Nazi plan of conquest by extermination

Documents at the Topography of Terror show Nazi plan of conquest by extermination

The exhibit also covered the atrocities the Nazis carried out in the territories they captured. For us, with our Czech ancestry (Jake’s parents were born in Czechoslovakia shortly before the invasion by the Germans leading up to World War II), it was particularly poignant, as the exhibit documented how the entire Czech village of Lidice was slaughtered and then taken completely apart, leaving virtually no sign that there ever had been a village there. And all this in retaliation for the attempted assassination of a high ranking Nazi officer.

The Traveling Richters pose with Maximilian the Bavarian

The Traveling Richters pose with Maximilian the Bavarian

Jake’s brother Mike joined us as we finished going through the exhibition and we proceeded to Checkpoint Charlie, passed it by to get on the U-Bahn (Berlin’s subway) for one stop and then have a late lunch at Maximilian’s, a Bavarian restaurant. We gorged ourselves on Bavarian food – Schweinshaxe (pig knuckles with crispy skin), wurst (sausages) of all kinds with both sharp and sweet mustard, leberkäse (a slice of a loaf of meat made with liver), and goulasch of two sorts. And beer, of course. For Jake, this brought back memories of his childhood, growing up in Munich. We finished up with coffee and tea at the Café Einstein (a coffee shop chain which appears to be Starbuck’s main competition in Berlin) next door.

A model of the Titanic in chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch

A model of the Titanic in chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch

Instead of actually going back to Checkpoint Charlie, our intended destination for the day, Mike instead gave us a personal tour of other nearby parts of Berlin (and we managed to hit Checkpoint Charlie a couple of days later instead). We visited Berlin’s biggest chocolate shop, Fassbender & Rausch, followed by a walk around a plaza called the Gendarmenmarkt (police market). The Gendarmenmarkt features a number of large historic buildings from the 19th century, including a church, a performance hall, and a government building, surrounded by “plattenbau” apartment buildings. These were apartments built by the East Germans using a modular construction methodology which allowed for buildings to go up very quickly. Functional but rather unattractive.

From there we moved on to a collection of three buildings known as the Galeries Lafayette. These buildings feature high-end fashion shops and a delicatessen area, all connected via an underground shopping passage.

Tne New Synagogue in Berlin - note the Moorish archictecture

Tne New Synagogue in Berlin - note the Moorish archictecture

Mike then took us to Oranienburger Strasse, an area featuring a synagogue with Moorish architecture, as well as an artists’ commune and numerous coffee shops and eateries. At a small Italian restaurant in one of the many small courtyards, we enjoyed some Glühwein (hot spiced wine – great in cold weather) while we waited for Mike’s son Mat to join us. Mat is 21 and is training in the field of event management, and also has his own band called “Danke” (“thank you” in German).

We continued our walking tour with our personal family guides, exploring more courtyards and sights, including an old dance hall that is still in use today, ending up for dinner at Pan Asia, a restaurant with Asian-themed food. Quite good and enjoyable, with a great ambiance.

Unter den Linden in Berlin lit up during the Festival of Lights

Unter den Linden in Berlin lit up during the Festival of Lights

We walked all the way back to our hotel, enjoying the lighting of various buildings and objects as part of the Festival of lights that had just started in Berlin that night (and running for a full week). Again, as we strolled, Mike and Mat both gave us some history of the parts of Berlin we were walking through, helping feed our ever present desire for knowledge about the places we visit. We arrived back at the Hotel Adlon full (both food and information-wise), tired, and happy.

Brandenburger Tor lit up at night for the Festival of Lights

Brandenburger Tor lit up at night for the Festival of Lights

Our final achievement for the day was discovering that our shower in the Hotel Adlon also featured a steam bath button, allowing us to thoroughly warm up after freezing all day long. What a brilliant feature for showers in cold climates! (Note: The kids’ shower did not have this feature – something we teased them about incessantly.)

Note: Larger versions of the above photos as well as a dozen additional images can be found at Jake’s Flickr Page.

 

Machu Picchu is Stunning

November 26th, 2008 at 6:27 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I don’t have a lot of time as I need to head off on a morning hike to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu with Bas. The girls are sleeping in.

We arrived at Machu Picchu yesterday afternoon and spent a few hours touring the ruins. Amazing what the Incas managed to build – and all without ever having discovered the wheel!

We’re staying at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge – the only hotel within easy walking distance of the entrance of the archeological site. Very nice property. And they even have Internet access!

Below is evidence of our presence at Machu Picchu.

The Traveling Richters at Machu Picchu

The Traveling Richters at Machu Picchu