Tag Archives: photography

Top Towns to Visit on the Middle Mosel River

Ürzig and Ürziger Würtzgarten, Germany

To wrap up on the Mosel River in Germany, I thought I’d cheat and just compile a quick guide to the places worth visiting in between the major attractions of Cochem, Burg Eltz and Bernkastel-Keus. All of these places were within easy reach of each other, especially if you base camp it at Senhalser Höfe in Senhals. And since most of them have a famous wine associated with them, I thought I’d throw in some suggested riesling pairings as well.

Ürzig & the Ürziger Würtzgarten

Why go there: Only a handful of villages along the Mosel can even challenge the beauty of Ürzig. The justly famous Ürziger Würtzgarten vineyard — with its severe pitch and unusual red-clay soil — serves as a dramatic backdrop to the north of town. With the vineyard and its cozy buildings tucked together, I could have spent a full day photographing Ürzig and its surroundings.

Suggested pairing: Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Ürziger Würtzgarten Riesling 2012. Of all the wines I sampled along the Mosel, this one was the best example of minerality in a riesling. Continue reading

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A Cruise Tour on the Mosel River: Cochem to Beilstein

Boat touring the Mosel River near Beilstein, Germany

Along with the Rhine, the Danube and the Rhone, the Mosel sees a ton of cruise traffic. The sheer volume of boats slipping in and out of the docks along Cochem’s waterfront surprised me. Along with the simple cross-the-river ferries operated by the local municipalities, there were day-trip cruises as well as multi-day mega-liners — long pearly-white craft that were crammed with hotel rooms and sapped of personality. They’re stiffness made them resemble floating logs. They looked about as much fun. Continue reading

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A Visit to Burg Eltz, Germany

Burg Eltz, Germany

Just beyond Treis-Karden and Müden we turned at a sign indicating Burg Eltz, one of the most famous castles in the world, which was hailed by PBS’ boy wonder Rick Steeves as his “favorite castle in Europe.” Comprised of three households (four after the 1500s), the massive, eight-story castle has managed to remain intact with minimal damage from fires and wars since the 11th century. In fact, it is still owned by descendants of one of these families, some 33 generations later. Continue reading

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Visiting Cochem, Germany

Cochem, Germany at dusk on Mosel River

We started our first day in Germany slowly. My daughter clearly needed to sleep in from the jet lag, and so did my wife. So my mom and I opted to cross the river to Bakerei Stenz and load up on goodies for breakfast. By 10:30am, we were alert, satiated and ready for a little exploration, and with zero hesitation, we headed north, down the river to the city of Cochem. For months, I had been trolling Flickr, seeking inspiration and locales for how to shoot the area. Images of this city — with its Imperial castle vaulting skyward, looming over a quaint city like a domineering bully — seemed to make up 50% of the search results, apparently for good reason. Continue reading

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Where to Stay on the Mosel River: Senhals, Germany

Church and vineyards, Senheim, Germany, Mosel River Valley

In early October, I was lucky enough to visit the Mosel River Valley in Germany with my mother, my wife and my daughter — the three women of my life — and savor its wine, history, architecture and seemingly unending scenic beauty.

We had modest ambitions: maybe visit the Romantic Rhein for a day, spend some time in the ancient city of Trier … we even debated on whether we should dabble our toes in Luxembourg. But visiting this serpentine river valley covered in vineyards proved to be another matter. We hardly went anywhere. We didn’t feel compelled to. Continue reading

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Visiting the Anderson Valley, California

Knez Winery wine tasting, Boonville, CA

It’s rather amusing to tell people where you are headed: I’m taking a short vacation to Boonville, California. All they hear is “boonies,” and while they chuckle, it occurs to you that they’re not far off.

Tucked away in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, Boonville is absolutely rural, with the nearest significant town 20 miles away. I didn’t think this was possible in California, but apparently it is. To get there, you drive north out of San Francisco, through Sonoma County on Highway 101, and just past Cloverdale, you find your way onto a road that can only be described as serpentine. Highway 128′s twists and turns border on the ridiculous, as it weaves its way through oak, grassy hills, brittle fields and — ultimately — vineyards. Rolling into town, its nothing extraordinary. A county fairgrounds on the left, a Victorian home here and there, storefronts, old trucks. You might wonder: what’s the point? Seems pleasant, but of all the places one can go …

Continue reading

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Tasting Alexander Valley Wines in Sonoma

Alexander Valley Vineyards wine barrel, Sonoma County, California

Apparently I am at that stage in life where its time to fall in love with wine. It’s a precursor to middle age, I am guessing.

But before you start painting a picture of me based on the usual assumptions of a stereotypical midlife crisis — balding means time to grow a ponytail! — let me first state that I am only 34 years old. Also let me state what this new obsession is not about:

  • The prestige of wine,
  • Wine as a status symbol,
  • Wine as a vehicle for alcohol-based escapism,
  • Wine as an excuse to bullshit someone with phrases like “seared stones” and “velvety mouthfeel,”
  • Wine as sexual displacement.

You may laugh about this last one, but if you’ve ever read the garbage that passes for modern wine writing, you’ll have come across plenty of bury-your-face-in-your-hands tasting-note descriptions that liken a cabernet to Angelina Jolie. Continue reading

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The Best Beach on Maui: Hamoa Beach

Family on Hamoa Beach, near Hana, Maui

To me, the beauty of a beach lies in its circumstance. It’s not the fineness of the sand, or the amenities, or the people-watching. It’s whether the beach has a wild side to it — that’s where the appeal lies for me. Clinging to the edge of a landmass — the lone barrier from the inhospitable ocean — a great beach for me is more akin with a wilderness lake in the mountains than a local neighborhoods pool. I want to sit there, alone with my thoughts, the concussive waves and the whispering wind — and feel the majesty of nature.

On Maui, Hamoa Beach is that beach for me. Continue reading

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Staying at Travaasa Hana: Sea Ranch Cottages

Sunrise over the Hana coast, Travaasa Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Here are some more images of Travaasa Hana and its beautiful grounds. The resort is divided into two parts: the main area (where the lobby, restaurant, lounge, spa, art gallery and the Garden View Suites are) and the Sea Ranch Cottages, a more exclusive area where luxury cabins trickle down a hillside to the wild coastline. On our first morning, this is where I headed for sunrise, and I was treated to an extraordinary scene. Continue reading

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Staying at Travaasa Hana: Garden View Suites

Travaasa Hana Resort Hotel, Maui

In 2003, shortly after a crazy wedding that included a bridesmaid going into labor at our rehearsal dinner (and her husband, the best man/my brother, rushing her away to deliver their first born), my wife Hailey and I headed to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We had initially considered Trinidad & Tobago, but when a travel agent specializing in T&T told us to go to Hawaii instead (thereby giving up any hope of a commission), we saw it as a sign: This place really must live up to the hype.

Still high off the pura vida of a 2002 trip to Costa Rica, I insisted we focus on the wet sides of the Big Island and Maui. I was fascinated by jungles, wanted nothing more than to see waterfalls, and was happy to dodge the crowds and trade in postcard beach scenes for rocky coastlines and black-sand. I was also, sadly, going through a tropical shirt phase thanks to a sale at Mervyn’s. (Yes, I just wrote that).

Long story short, we ended up spending five nights at the Palms Cliff House north of Hilo, and four nights at the Hotel Hana Maui, now rebranded as the Travaasa Hana. It was time to return, family in tow, and reconnect with the rugged coastline and end-of-the-earth splendor of Hana. Continue reading

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