Cheryl M Hammond


Cheryl M Hammond

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North America » United States » Washington » Lynnwood December 21st 2015

One of the best places on the planet is the Friedrichsbad, a true pleasure palace in the spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany. In the 3rd-century, the Soldatenbäder(Soldier's Baths) and the Roman village of Aquae Aureliae were located here. Their ruins were rediscovered in 1846, and the neo-Renaissance "historic bathing temple" was constructed at the mineral springs in 1877. I'm fortunate to have extended family nearby, so I've been able to make two pilgrimages ( in 2005, and I'd swear I came back in 2008 but apparently didn't blog it). You can read about the experience at the New York Times or on Rick Steves' site, or ... read more

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Konigstein (Saxony) July 15th 2014

Tuesday was easier on the feet: a whirlwind journey by car to three distinctive castles in Saxony. First, we drove to Festung Königstein (literally, "King's stone fortress"), which does what it says on the tin: it's a fortress on top of a huge rock overlooking the Elbe River, a place where the King and court and pretty much most of Dresden, there's room, could retreat for safety in wartime. The natural fortifications mean if they don't want you in, you ain't gettin' in (maybe a clever disguise, but that's hard to scale up to an entire army once people caught onto the Trojan Horse thing), and it had its own secure water supply, so even a siege was going to be challenging. Today, hordes of marauding tourists invade via a totally safe but rather terrifying modern ... read more

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden July 15th 2014

We'll just start with the obvious. Taking my work laptop on a pleasure-only vacation was a dumb idea, no matter how lightweight it is, how much bigger its screen, how much smoother its keyboard, how much more comfortable on the lap, or how much of a mild inconvenience it would have been to have installed my camera and photo management software on my personal Surface before I left. A dumb idea. Readers, if presented with this decision in your futures, your choice is clear. I got out said laptop at our hosts' home on Monday evening for some very excellent or terrible reason, I don't recall. As our conversation picked up, it was time to close the laptop ("flaps down", a client of mine once said) and set it aside to focus appropriately on the people ... read more
Testing the old broken plug
Inspecting wires
Installing new better plug

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden July 14th 2014

My third trip to visit Dieter und Gudrun here in spectacular Dresden. It's high on my list of favorite destinations in all of Europe, and since I've never been here without Dieter und Gudrun, it's impossible to say whether it's them, the city, or both. Here's hoping I never have to find out. :) Greg was adorably nervous about meeting them and desperately wanted to make sure they would like him, so he practiced some polite greetings auf deutsch during our brief train ride from Leipzig. I remember doing the same in 2005 and 2008. On the platform, Dieter greeted us so exuberantly that it took a minute for Greg to get his greeting in edgewise; Dieter exclaimed, "Ah! Without accent!" Highest possible praise, and put Greg instantly at ease. Well played, all of you. And, ... read more
Moar Zitronenpresse
Frauenkirche dark and light bits
Frauenkirche altar

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden July 13th 2014

Astute readers will remember from a previous trip () that serendipitous events make some of the best travel experiences. To that end, on my last work trip to Budapest in June I noticed that the entire nation of Hungary, even without a qualifying national team, took great interest even in the earliest rounds of the FIFA World Cup. A public viewing station was set up in a park directly outside my hotel room (! - fortunately I was happy to watch along), and some friends and I viewed one match in spectacular early-evening weather at the delightful outdoor pub Aqvárium, in Pest. As I learned more about the schedule for the World Cup, I began to wonder if lightning might strike twice, and we might get lucky enough to see some really exciting football, with real ... read more
Prime seating
The Cup!

Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin July 11th 2014

So Greg and me, on our own, for six days/five nights in Berlin (to the American ear it sounds a bit like "bear-lean" and indeed the symbol of the city is an adorable bear which can be seen in decorated fiberglass varieties in various places, though not leaning). I'm just going to say, if you're ever greeted by a hotel proprietor who says, "I have some good news and some bad news about your room," don't bother finding out what it is. Just go somewhere else. In this case, the "good news" ("... but it's off the street, so it's quiet") wasn't true, either, so we ended up with a room that was sweltering and unbelievably noisy at all hours and we didn't get much sleep. I am still bummed, because the hoteliers were so charming ... read more
Memorial church
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Topographie des Terrors

Anne lived with us in Seattle for a year, 2011-12, attended Highline High School as a member of the senior class, and got to walk in the commencement ceremony at the end of the school year. Of course our entire noisy mob of a family attended commencement and did our best to embarrass our kid at it, as loving families must do. When she came home to Hamburg, she still had two years of Gymnasiumahead of her: not university, not high school, not quite but probably closest to what American students do at community college when they're planning to transfer to a four-year university to complete a Bachelor's degree later. Anne told us Gymnasium has nothing like the American high school graduation ceremony, and she wasn't wrong, but she didn't entirely give us the complete picture ... read more
Anne's school
Anne arrives

Europe » Germany » Schleswig-Holstein » Lübeck July 3rd 2014

Today we made a day trip to a city I'd been wanting for years to see, Hansestadt Lübeck, northeast of Hamburg on the Baltic Sea. Whereas Hamburg's medieval center was thoroughly destroyed—though Hamburg was firebombed in some of the worst destruction to be dealt by the Allies in WWII, its medieval center had been lost a decade before, to a great city fire in 1842—Lübeck's was damaged but preserved and restored. This makes Lübeck also fairly touristy, the result being medieval brick façades oddly interspersed with shopping mall boulevards. The train ride to Lübeck was interesting, passing through scenic farmland that it's hard to imagine can exist in a country so densely populated, but it does. S... read more
Memorial bells
Hospital stalls

After 15 months of business travel that turned my and our family's life upside-down, I've wrapped up my international client engagement and we're celebrating with a 3.5-week family vacation to reconnect with our loved ones in Deutschland. This week, we're all together in Schenefeld, outside Hamburg, to see Anne, Lars, Andrea, and Ulf, our German family. Truly they're enough like our siblings that it's just easier to describe them that way, except Anne was our daughter for a year, so "niece" doesn't quite cut it, but whatever, family. :) Tuesday, our arrival night, was a comedy of drowsy. Greg and I got in about noon from Amsterdam and were whisked away in a taxi by Ulf and Laura, who arrived here last week. A couple of hours later, Barb and Joe arrived from Reykjavik and were ... read more
View from Finkenwerder ferry dock
Ulf an der Elbe
Hamburg skyline

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » London City March 17th 2013

I learned last week that I'd be coming to London, yes London, on business for five weeks, yes five. For the first two, I'll be working alongside my colleagues Steven and Andrew. Then they'll go home to the PNW, and I'll finish the time here on my own! So today's trip almost didn't happen, due to a mix-up between our flight confirmation numbers. It wasn't clear from our shared TripIt that one confirmation number is only mine, and there's a second confirmation number for the two of them. When check-in opened 24 hours prior to our flight, at least one but I think both of them started trying to check in using my confirmation number with their own last name, an invalid combo. When I then tried to check in myself half an hour later, I ... read more

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