Philbert, Telde, Gran Canaria


Posted Dec 22, 2008, 6:47 am
Hello, I'm Philbert.  I'm a Canadian reindeer, and I came from Abby's work.

As I don't have any back legs, I spend a lot of time around the home, and therefore, I would love to see the mny sights that your area has to offer, but I would also like to see your home life; I love pets and playing 'reindeer' games at home, as well as comforting things, like cooking.  I also have a special fondness for building and hardware stores, because a hardware store is where I came from.

Posted Dec 25, 2008, 6:54 am
Things are nearly ready for Christmas at Abby's household; all we need now is Santa to come visit.  Abby's family didn't have room for a real tree this year, but they had this nice toyvoyager-sized one!

Eagerly awaiting Santa`s visit!

Posted Jan 5, 2009, 7:32 am
It's Christmas!  We got chocolate as a gift!

I also listened to the Queen's message at noon.

Posted Dec 13, 2009, 2:26 am
Hi, Philbert here.  Actually, Philbert #2.  Unfortunately Abby purchased my twin cousin, promptly lost him in her room (which she would like to add that she has recently cleaned!), and so as soon as I was brought into her workplace with the Christmas items to be sold, she asked me if I would like to take his place.

That being said, would anybody like to host me?

Posted Oct 26, 2010, 7:33 pm
Hi Abby! I made it to my new home-for-a-while right on time to go to a museum exhibit tomorrow. I'll send photos then.

Posted Oct 28, 2010, 7:52 pm
The exhibit was in Cologne and this is me in front of Cologne cathedral.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage site. The towers are 157 m high. Many visitors try to count the steps when going up but usually mess it up at some point. Officially there are 533 but when walking up one might thin they've missed a few (thousand). There's space intended for 4000 people inside. You can find more information via the link. It's a constant contruction site, never really without a visible scaffolding or something smilar. Nevertheless it was quite impressive and it's in the heart of the city at the banks of the Rhine. We walked around and looked a some shopwindows. People in Cologne like the Carnival and have a big one in winter. Now the windows are stocked with halloweena dn winter things.

Posted Nov 7, 2010, 3:56 pm
Our real reason to visit Cologne was the exhibit of Tutanchamun's tomb. Jelle, Crush, Knopf and I had a good time. It's kind of a modern multimedia installation to simulate the discovery of the tomb and give an idea of the historical context, both of Tutanchamun's death and of the discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter. They only showed replicas of the original finds but added some photos and copies of drawings etc. from the original dig.

Some informational boards gave a rough overview of Ancient Egypt and Howard Carter, to start the exhibition.
There was also a statue, as an example of how pharaos liked to erase the names of their predecessors. In that case the statue stood against a wall and they forgot to erase the name on the back, facing the wall. Carter was interested the the name of a previously unkown pharao and apparently started systematically searching for his tomb.

The Rosetta stone, that led to the deciphering of the hieroglyphs.
It had the same message in hieroglyphs, in a fast script used by the Egyptian scribes and in Greek.

Here's a model of the grave. Above it was the grave on Ramses V. Carter already dug there 5 years before he actually found the tomb and had to stop so as not to make the other tomb, a main tourist attraction, inaccessible. He also stopped when he found some od worker' huts because he didn't think anything would be  found under them. He only went back to them in the last dig he could finance, when he had already tried all other parts of the Valley of the Kings. You see the depression were the worker' huts were, the steps leading down, which were finally discovered during the last dig, the first walle dup entrace, the corridor leading to the 2nd walled up entrance, the entrance chamber, an additional side chamber behond that, and a wall with the burial chamber behind it and an entrance to the treasure chamber beyond that.
Grave-robbers must have been in the side chamber shortly after the tomb was originally sealed, so that was in disarray, but they didn't get much further and the tomb was re-sealed.

Next came short films and audio information before being led by the audio guide(pretending to be Carter) into the simulation of the tomb as it was originally found.

Something like this was the first view Carter had when they made a hole into the second walled door, looking into the entrance chamber:
There are different beds, a throne, weapons and a chariot in its parts, provisions, furniture...

This is what the treasury, beyond the burial chamber, looked like when it was opened.

It must have been very hard to remove the different sarcophagi from a chamber that was only about half a meter bigger in each direction that the biggest one. Photos show how Carter and his men were working with pulleys on site.
In the end they had to take out part of one wall. The sarcophagi consisted only of 4 walls and a top, they rested on the ground as the bottom.

These are the second and third sarcophagus.
Inside the 3rd one was a forth, made of stone and originaly probably made for a different noble. The wings of the goddesses were added later to make it fit the pharao.

In the back is the outermost gold-encrusted coffin. To the front the middle one that's decorated colorfully.
The innermost coffing was made of pure gold and all three of the rested on a bed of wood that lasted, bearing a weight of about 1200kg, for over 3000 years.

The famous mask was much in demand, so we couln't get a really good picture or one with me in it.

This is one of the amulets he wore under the mask. It's very beautiful, isn't it?
This is a copy of Carter's original drawings to document how the amulets and pectorals were distributed on the corpse:

Here's the throne we saw earlier in the entrance chamber. I love the winged snake on the armsrest. Aren't the the feather-fans very cliché? But I guess in the Egyptian climate one might be glad for them. On the foot-rest there are pictures of the pharaos enemies from different cultures, allbound up and literally lying under his feet.

This is an ornamental bottle for oils.

In the end there was some more information about the scandal involving rowdy toursists taht cost Carter his career in Egypt, as well as how he was seen by most archeologists of the time, claiming he wasn't a real scientist. He was originally hired to document the archeologists' work by making detailed drawing, ome of which were shwon. No matter their claim, I was fascinated by the pain-staking detail and the indexing apparent in his work at this site. Dissembling the whole grave took a long time because everything was conserved on site before transport and it must have been hard to carefully extract some items, seeing how they were stacked in the tomb.

Posted Jan 24, 2011, 5:15 pm
Some photos from our long walk along the river Ruhr:
Hello there!
This is one of our hosts footsteps. I get carried, no way am I digging around in this.
Unless it's to play, of course.
Some geese stay here all year round, but some also come from further up north to spend the winter months here. I wonder if this is what they expected when they booked their camping spot in the South at the beach.
The sun is there, somewhere...
There are several ol factories along the way.
I'm not good a reading prints but this looks like a bird to me. Whatever was ist doing?
Pretty reflections in the water.
Some men made holes into the ice and were fishing.

And now everything with some pop-art color:

Posted Jan 24, 2011, 5:20 pm
It's hard to make updates because this is what it looks like when our host leaves for work and what it looks like when she comes back. It's kind of pretty but hard work, clearing a path for pedestrians every morning and again in the afternoon because there's so much snow. For here anyway. I told everybody about snow in Canada and that this is harmless. The road doesn't get cleared here, though, so driving is admittedly hard.

Posted Jan 24, 2011, 5:32 pm
My host has a new job, and when you start or leave a position, or do something new there, you should bring food for everybody. So we baked:
This is a book with recipies for mostly salty cakes. Good for lunch to-go.
Basically We took flour, baking powder,
eggs, oil, milk, and shredded cheese.
Dipped some tomatoes and hot water and peeled them (It doesn't cost as much effort as it sounds like.)
and stir them in oil with salt and pepper until the fliud is gone.
Add fresh basil and mozzarella when cool.
Repeat the procedure with slight adjustments in oil (sunflower istead of olive)
And add some smoked salmon
and chives.
Bake for 45min.
And for the best taste, let rest for at least one night.


Posted Jan 25, 2011, 5:22 pm
It's St. Nikolaus day today. On the evening before, children but their boots, or special plates outside their doors and in the morning, they see what St. Nikolaus hs brought them. Traditionally it's nuts and oranges and chocolate. Some small presents are also common. Our host's grandma told us of a time, when oranges were a real luxury and very few people could afford them, or had the connections to get any. They weren't sold at the supermarket. (There weren't any supermarkets...) More common were apples and cookies.
Schools, Kindergarten hospitals and some big companies have special festivities, were either a person dressed like what we know as Santa Claus, or as the actual St. Nikolaus, a bishop,  comes with his servant, Knecht Ruprecht, who deals out punishment to children who were bad, while the good ones get the presents. It can be quite scary for the little ones.

Posted Feb 16, 2011, 7:52 pm

Posted Feb 16, 2011, 8:01 pm
Sorry for the bad pictures! We had to rely on the cell phone because my host's camera broke.
This is the so called "Stadttor" (city gate) of Düsseldorf:
On this nice and sunny day, we rested along the Rhine to catch a few rays and tried to get the tv tower in a picture with us.
No success. And the media harbor, but the light came fromt he wrong direction:
Anyway, it'S really ncie here this afternoon. A lot of people are out on their bicycles or on foot and watch the ships go by. There are the strangest things on them, whole houses or ship loads of new big trucks.
We found this old loading crane here:
These are the funny buildings of the media harbor:
And I got the tower after all:

Posted Feb 20, 2011, 4:39 pm
We went to Schellenberg forest, a mainly beech forest in the city of Essen. Lots of people were walking ther dogs or going for a walk or a ride on their bikes here.
It was quite cold, which was perfect for me, but Crush wasn'T too happy. We climbed on a hill to get warm.
The rangers are very active here, but they also leave a lot of the cut off branches or older dying trees around for different animals and other parts of the natural eco-system. See these great mushrooms?
Here's a restaurant in an old house. This is a very expensive neighborhood.
This is Schellenberg Castle.
Unfortunately we aren't in the picture because we could not stop to take pictures and couldn't be held because someone insisted on gathering all sorts of branches and we and our host's left arm, were sqeezed in under hazle, beech, chestnut and, most importantly, magnolia.

Posted Mar 6, 2011, 4:34 pm
Today we had wonderful weather and decided to go to the old Zollverein coal mining complex.
It's a huge complex within the city of Essen and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once called the most beautiful and modern coal mine in the world.

Here's a model of the complex:

First construction of mine shaft 1 and 2 began in the middle of the 19th century.

The coking plant with its 6 chimneys:
The coking plant was built in 1057 to 1061.

Now there's a solar power plant that also powers this ferris wheel.
Some of the huge machinery in here could be moved on rails.
The six distinctive towers are directly in a row, so you see 5 of them as one here:
Over 1000 people could produce roughly 8600 t of coke per day.

The best-known shaft 12 was built in 1930 and around that time the mine expanded exponentially. Shaft XII and the accompanying buildings were meant to be functional and beautiful and the cubistic architecture of the time.  All the processing of the coal centered around this mine shaft. It was a prestige object of mechanical processing as well as architecture and drew international visitors.

The 55m high double tower if Schacht XII is also called the "Eiffeltower of the Ruhrarea". The pit below it is over 1000m deep.

At one time, over 5000 people worked here.

Coal mining on Zollverein was stopped in 1986 after only 55 years.

It was first meant to be dismantled but was eventually turned into an exposition and design center over 10 years. Since last year, the Ruhrmuseum, a museum of archeology and industrial culture is housed here btu there are still places for offices, the red dot (design) expo and all kinds of exhibitions as well as nature walks and bicycle routes.

Nature is clearly regaining control over the area and biologists have studied the developing eco system where special kinds of frogs live in the brackwater and alpine birds nist in the towers.

Posted Mar 10, 2011, 9:35 pm
Most of the snow melted and now we only have a little bit left. But it's still enough to play and to decorate the landscape.

Posted Mar 10, 2011, 9:48 pm
Here I am in front of the Old Synagogue, it became a museum in 1960.

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 6:31 pm
This is the former "Ständehaus" in Düsseldorf, meaning it was the state parliamentfrom about 1880 until 1988.
Now it's the K21, the modern art museum of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The internal architecture has been changed to make room for big exhibits that through the big glass roof it gets a lot of natural light.

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 6:39 pm
Happy Easter, everybody!

You see me and my easter presents: some heard boiled, colored eggs, chocolate easter bunnies and a fir cone from the Black Forest, made of candy. Oh, and everything in the new home-made breadbasket!

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 6:45 pm
We were invited to a birthday celebration and got some home-made black forest gateau, among other good things (like cappucino-spice cake):
I will try to get someone to show me how to make these before I leave here.

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 6:50 pm
We went to a Dutch fabric market today. Unfortunately it started to rain soon after we arrived. It was good for buying things because it got less crowded, but we couldn't get any good pictures. We saw some nice and cheap fabrics, though.

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 6:53 pm

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 7:08 pm
I am spending Easter in the Black Forest. We started out early this morning and got into some holiday traffic, but most was concentrating on the roads north, looks like a lot of people are aiming for the sea. We enjoyed the very nice weather with a long walk after our arrival.
The dogs were happy to play in the little streams. It was nice and cool.

Posted Apr 24, 2011, 7:14 pm
In the evening we set out again to visit the old town of Gernsbach, the town where we stayed.
The even had funny Easter decorations.
The Old Townhall:

Posted Apr 25, 2011, 10:42 am
This is me on the market place of Rastatt. The weekly farmer's market is pretty busy. Peoply buy most of their vegetables, fruit and flowers here, as well as spices, bread and Easter specialties.

Below I am at Rastatt Palace. It's being renovated at the moment, so the view isn't as impressive as it normall
y is.

Posted May 8, 2011, 4:00 pm
Baden-Baden has been a spa town since the Roman times. There are some old ruins, and there's also a rather well-known race-track for horse racing, but we didn't visit any of those. We saw the more modern parts of the town. It became popular as a spa town again in the late 18th century.
Here I am in the spa gardens:
This is the hall where you can get the spa water. It's called Trinkhalle (drinking hall).
The water is warm and very salty and I didn't like it at all. I needed a gum afterward to get the taste out of my mouth.
Here's the theatre:

The town was busy on this nice Saturday before Easter:

Posted May 8, 2011, 4:07 pm
We got a little cool down on a house boat as it was a warma nd sunny day.
Careful when diving, though, the boat is secuared by metal ropes.

Posted May 8, 2011, 4:15 pm
Two panoramic roads lead diagonally through the Black forest: the high road and a valley road. We took the high road to Freudenstadt and the valley road on the way back.

Posted May 8, 2011, 4:26 pm
Freudenstadt is a small town featuring the largest market place in Germany, surrounded by arcaded houses. Originally there was meant to be a palace in the square in the middle of the town, but the regent's reign ended before those plans were realized.

This fountain was pretty funny, but I fear you cannot see the details in the picture.
This one wasn't funny of itself, but Crush really fancied a swim:

This church at one corner is funny because it is built around a corner, too. The altar is in the middle and men sit on one side, women on the other and they cannot see each other (so as not to be distracted).

Posted May 18, 2011, 7:25 pm
I helped to make a quick dinner today. We took veal cutlet, washed and dried it, covered one side with mustard, salami/peperoni and cheese, folded them over and fixed them in place with toothpicks.
Peeled and cut up potatoes we mixed with a bit of olive oil salt and pepper and put into the oven.
The meat came on the grill (a pan also works). And we mixed up a salad. Voila, dinner.

Posted May 18, 2011, 7:30 pm
Our host had to go on a short business trip to Berlin and took us along.
Potsdamer Platz:
This is mainly the Sony center, it has a roof but is open at the sides and it's a nice place to sit and have a drink and/or watch independet movies when it isn't as crowded as it is these days.
Berlin Wall
Alexander Platz with tv tower and the red townhall
The flag in top is the flag of Berlin. The black thing in the middle is actually the Berlin baer.

Holocaust memorial:
There are supposed to be 60x 6000 biographies generated per year for the name-hall to commemorate all the murdered victims, but it's still a work in process.

Brandenburger Tor
Reichstag: A lot of people are waiting to get inside, esp the visit the modern glass dome witht he funny winding staircase. From there one supposedly has a great view over the city. We didn'T have the time to visit, though.
The chancellor's office close to the Reichstag:

Altes (old) Museum, we will visit here more closely tomorrow. On the museum island there are 5 museums: the old museum (showing classical archeology etc.), the new museum (showing the Nofrete head among other things in the Eygptian collection, Bronze Age, Troy, Neanderthal etc.), the Pergamon museum (showing islamic art, middle east and caucasian archoelogical finds), the old national gallery and the Bode museum (showing textiles, coins, medals, sculptures etc. in an authentic context is possible). As an example for the development of museums over the ages, the museum island is a UNESCO WHS.

Berlin cathedral, also on the island

Posted May 18, 2011, 7:34 pm
flea market close to museum island and the Bode museum:

We had a hard choice: there was only little time to visit one museum. I had to miss the Nofretete at the new museum to see to highlights of teh Pergamon museum:
Pergamon altar

"the rescued gods of Tell Halaf"

market gate

Ishtar gate


Posted May 22, 2011, 8:41 am
FromBerlin we actually went to Hamburg, a big port in the north of Germany. But we had "Schietwetter" (bad weather), except for some pockets of sun on the first afternoon and evening.
We visited the fish market and got very wet but eventually were able to take out the camera and take some photos.

The Rickmer Rickmers, now a museum ship about trade in the 16th/17th century.

The fireship used to be a lighthouse out on the water, now it's a cafe/bar in the harbor and you can even stay overnight in soem of the cabins.
(Sorry about the pic, the wide angle lens was new and originally posed some problems finding the right exposition seetings in the very changing light of the harbour.)

St. Michaelis church, or Michel for short:

Art museum:

Hamburg is located along two great rivers: the Elbe and the Alster. Here we are near the Alster.
And at the Binnenalster (in terms of inland water):

The town hall
and arcades nearby:
The swans have to be caught and transported to winter quaters when it gets real cold.

Speicherstadt in the evening light:
The Hamburg Dungeons:
A retro coffee shop:
The Stage Academy is located here:

small harbor at the Speicherstadt with very cool apartment buildings

The new philharmonic orchestra house will look somewhat like a wave.

Posted Jan 22, 2012, 11:44 am
Yesterday we got on a plane and landed on this pretty dry looking volcanic island: Gran Canaria. Today I am just checking out the surroundings. These are the dunes of Maspalomas:

Posted Jan 22, 2012, 12:01 pm
Today we visited the port of Mogan. The area around the port has been rebuilt in the traditional style and is quite pretty to look at. A yellow submarine offers tours for tourists and glass bottom ferries run to other ports in the south of the island.

Posted Jan 23, 2012, 6:54 pm
Galdar was the capital of the Guanches at one time. We actually came to visit the Cueva Pintada, a cave with geometric rock drawing,s and the archeological park. Unfortunately, contrary to the information in the guide book, it was closed. So we wandered around the historic city and watched people prepare for the festivities of a holiday tomorrow: the Day of the Constitution. We found a great "dragontree" in a courtyard.

Posted Jan 23, 2012, 7:18 pm
We are at a lighthouse at the very northwestern point of the island. The Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks is awesome. 

Posted Jan 23, 2012, 7:42 pm
After a stop at the harbor of Sardina for lunch we drove on to the Valle de Agaete, one of the greenest and supposedly prettiest valleys of Gran Canaria. The narrow dead-end road leads along the northern slope and unfortunately there was no place to stop where one could really see or photograph along the valley.

Posted Jan 23, 2012, 8:00 pm
To complete your trip aournd the eges of the island we took the often narrow winding road along the west coast back to the south. The views could be spectacular, but unfortunately the tour wasn't anything for a weak stomach. Are toyvoyagers supposed to suffer from travel-sickness?

Posted Jan 27, 2012, 3:25 pm
Today we are having great weather and a chance to enjoy it near the lake. Unfortunately many other people had the same idea and we have to wait for a table at the restaurant. But once we got one we could watch the sailboats on and the" Zeppelin" above Lake Baldeney and we had a nice lunch.

Posted Jan 27, 2012, 3:36 pm
I am helping to sew little pockets made from colorful Christmassy fabric for an advent calendar. We are making 24 pockets to count down the days from December 1st to Christmas Eve.

Posted Jan 27, 2012, 3:50 pm
My host and I made dinner today so I could learn someting new:
We put some tomatoes in hot water to then peel them and cut them into pieces to put into a pie form. For the pie we made a dough of water eggs and flour. The filling was made out of eggs, tomatoes concentrate and herbs and seasoning. While it baked in the oven we cleaned and cut brussel sprouts and potatoes to steam them. Then we mushed up dried tomaties, fresh basil and seasnings with a mixer and filled chicken breat filets with the mix and steamed those, too. Added to that was a sauce of Gorgonzola. It tasted good!

Posted Feb 4, 2012, 3:05 pm
This is a holiday in Spain: the day of the constitution.
Lot's of people are having picnics in the mountains or going out to hike or just for a meal at a restaurant. The Barranco de Guayadque is a favourite place for all of this apparently. This valley is mainly known for all the cave dweelings, real cave villages and hotels and restaurants that are still in use.

Posted Feb 4, 2012, 3:14 pm
Next, we took the serpentine road via Ingenio to Tejeda.
We passed volcanis craters, pine forests and small towns and finally ascended to a level over the blanket of clouds. The road isn't in agood condition in all places and it helps to have a good stomach and a good car.

Posted Feb 4, 2012, 3:48 pm
This is the town of Tejeda. You can see Roque Nublo in the background. This area has lots of almond trees, I collected some from around the trees and cracked the shells with a stone. There are many specialies involving almonds here: cake, ice-cream, bienmesabe and a dulce that can be added to other things or eaten on bread. It's very good!

Posted Feb 5, 2012, 10:01 am
We hiked and climbed up Roque Bentayga, the holy rock and the guanches. There's another sacrificial altar and some smaller caves. A bigger cave is supposedly still closed up by some rocks and there might be some interesting things in there because no graverobbers got to it so far. There's a Berber inscription on the other side of the rock that has only been discovered relatively recently and hasn't been deciphered, yet. Looks like there are still a lot of mysteries to be solved by ambitious archeologists here.

Posted Feb 5, 2012, 2:15 pm
Our way back to the south led us through the Valley of Fataga, known for all the palm trees in the valley, even though they are hard to see in the picture that looks back through the valley. We stopped at a hotel there and had great almond ice-cream and cake with mint sauce.

Posted Feb 9, 2012, 5:43 pm
Cuatro Puertas is a site featuring caves made by the indigenous people. The main cave has 4 entrances, hence the name, and is about 17 x 7,5 m big. The flat area in front of the entrances has roughly the same wize and round indentations, possibly used for poles to hold a roof. The big cave is thought to have been the court of a king or priest. a bit above it on the top of the 300m high hill is another site of worship or sacrificial altar, called the Almogaren. You can see how tiny I am in comparison. From here you also have a good view of the coast, and nowadays of the airport.
On the south side of the hill there are more caves:
Cueva de los Papeles: with a door-like entry that has a rectangular extension and a sloping entrance that leads to a drainage system. Inside are more indentation for something and some hardly visible triangular markings. 
The last is an entrance to more caves that lead into each other. We couldn't actually access them, but more clearly handmade entrances to caves can be seen on the steep south side of the hill. Some books suggest that is was kind of a convent for priestesses (maguadas).
Even outside the actual caves, there are what seem to be storage areas hewn into the rock (Or maybe they were caves to accomodate toyvoyagers, the size fits!), and what looks like fireplaces.

Posted Feb 11, 2012, 11:55 am
One cannot visit Gran Canaria and not walk through the dunes of maspalomas if one if able. It can be hard going, the sand can be hot, but sliding down the high dunes is a lot of fun, there's lots of strange vegetation, seeds with spikes that dig into skin or fur, fields of salty sand that give a good foot massage, big lizards, birds of prey, rushes higher than people, and areas with impassable brush.
(The pictures look different because many were made with a camera phone, sand isn't good for the big camera.)
We started out the at Riu Palace hotel and went south-west, our goal being the Faro de Maspalomas.

Posted Mar 17, 2012, 10:55 am
We arrived back in Düsseldorf late at night. I'm exhausted!

Posted Mar 17, 2012, 11:02 am
We went to Munich on a business trip and had very little time to see the city in daylight, but here are the impressions of the city center on our last day:
Karlsplatz, model of the city center, cathedral, new and old town hall, Viktualienmarkt, theater, hunting and fishing museum

Posted May 15, 2012, 6:44 pm
We took a long busride to Telde and looked around th etown and at all the people doing their Christmas shopping. There was a huge nativity scene set up in the city that also featured modern safari trucks and other scenes. It was fun to figure out all the details.