First page of the old structures archive.

Germany – visit to Wetzler, Leica and a tool

Posted by is9582 on July 4, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago I very briefly mentioned about happening across a tool store in Speicher, and I was intentionally vague regarding the location and the tools, solely since the store only had one of a specific tool I wanted to get. I know, you’re probably wondering why mentioning either the store or tool would make any real difference, so I’ll explain in a moment.

So as we were driving around, and got close to the market in Speicher, we saw a store that had really nice looking house goods, from plates and stemware to ceramic knives and scales. As we approached the store, a sign directed customers to the entrance on the market side, so around we went. I really couldn’t believe it when we rounded the corner, and when we finally reached the entrance, we were looking into a well stocked tool store.

Ok, so back to an explanation about this special tool. The tool is the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Axe, which is hand made, and each has the initials of the highly skilled artisan that made that tool. Gransfors Bruks has very few employees, and as their quality has become more widely known, the demand has kicked the waiting list into orbit! It now takes a full year to order any of the Gransfors Bruks products!

Luckily, when I went back to the store, the tool was still there, so all is good. The tool I chose is the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe, with the standard double-bevel design, which is recommended for those who aren’t already skilled with a single-bevel axe. If you know anything about Gransfors Bruks axes, you might understand just how surprised I was to basically stumble into this unknown tool store, only to find such amazing tools. They had at least three different Gransfors Bruks models, before I bought the carving axe, but I just barely glanced at the others, as I’d already seen my prize! Please stop by and say hello to Martin for me, and make sure to look around, as they have a lot of good tools.

 

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe in it's included sheath.

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe in it’s included sheath.

 

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe resting on it's sheath.

Gransfors Bruks Carving Axe resting on it’s sheath.

 

Oh yeah, I guess I should provide the store’s name, which is Zingen Fachmarkt. They are located at am Markt 32, 54662 Speicher. Martin Mertes kindly helped us, was extremely helpful, and did a wonderful job of communicating in english.

This morning, we decided to drive to Wetzler, which is the home of Leica cameras. For those who are not already in the know, these are amazing instruments, and are professional grade. We made it to Wetzler in good time, and followed our Google map information to find it with little issue. Leica offers guided tours of their main office, which is also their factory, but also has adequate information for those that wish to self-tour. We did the latter, and it was both awesome and amazing. In the main lobby, they currently have a display of photos taken by Lenny Kravitz, using Leica equipment. They are nothing but stunning. In a section close to this display, there were a range of special issue Leica cameras and gear. All were beautiful and it was interesting seeing some of the special versions, including one that was almost solid gold (colored; not sure of the actual material) and one that carried the crown on an upper surface.

 

Leica HQ in Wetzler.

Leica HQ in Wetzler.

 

Nearby they also had a wall with many models of their binoculars, of which I’d love any of them. They just know how to do all things optical, right.

Around the corner, we were greeted by some more of the self-tour material, including a huge display showing detailed slides and video of production processes. There was also a large window immediately to the display’s right, where you can watch an employee applying black lacquer to the edge of the lens to prevent any light from entering except from the true lens surface. It was so cool to watch her using some interesting tools, and using a skilled touch to complete an important operation. While we watched, another employee brought a tray full of different lenses to this same lady, and she pulled a random sample and ok’ed the batch. It seems this lady likely also has Q.C. or Q.A. duties.

A bit further down this hall, there was another display section, but there wasn’t anyone working this part at the time we were there. They did have two lens units attached to the counter, with a sign asking the visitors to please touch them. What a different concept than many companies have. Slightly further along there was a display unit with Leica cameras (or duplicates) starting with their first in 1914, as well as binoculars and rifle scopes.

After exiting the “tour” area, it was a short walk to their internal store. They had most, if not all, of their current product line available to see, and their employees were glad to remove product from the case for us to test.

 

Panaramic shot inside the Leica HQ sales room.

Panaramic shot inside the Leica HQ sales room.

 

Camera lenses displayed on their own pillars.

Camera lenses displayed on their own pillars.

 

After checking out all of the new Leica products, we made our way to an authorized Leica seller, that handles consignment gear. On the walk to this store, there were all sorts of interesting architecture, as well as a specialized manhole cover that documents where the first photo was taken using a Leica camera, in 1914.

 

Cool castle on path to both the Leica consignment store, as well as the Leica manhole cover.

Cool castle on path to both the Leica consignment store, as well as the Leica manhole cover.

 

Interesting building structure in Wetzler.

Interesting building structure in Wetzler.

 

Cool building in Wetzler.

Cool building in Wetzler.

 

Manhole cover commemorating location where the first Leica camera was used.

Manhole cover commemorating location where the first Leica camera was used.

 

On our trek back home, there were tons of castles and churches, but some were only seen from the car for a moment as there are lots of trees along the roadways. I saw the church in the photo below, when driving towards Koblenz a couple of times, and finally had enough time to snap a shot. Actually, I took about four different shots while we drove by, but none of them were super sharp. It is cool, even though it is a bit fuzzy.

 

Church in Hohr-Grenzhausen, shot while driving on the A48.

Church in Hohr-Grenzhausen, shot while driving on the A48.

 

Well, that’s it for this portion of our exploration. Thanks as always for checking out my article and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Lee Laird

Germany – return to Trier; dig a bit deeper

Posted by is9582 on July 2, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

Today we decided to head back to Trier on the train, again purchasing a full-day pass, which allows 1-5 family members to travel on the train, as many times during that period as needed/liked. On our first trip to explore Trier, there was a lot going on at their festival even though it wasn’t yet at it’s peak, and we ended up spending the majority of our time in that vicinity. This was until we (or more correctly, I) ran out of steam, and we headed back home, knowing we could use our train tickets to ride back again later. Other things ended up vying for our time that evening, but we still easily got our money’s worth on our ticket, just with the single trip.

On this second Trier adventure, we headed off in a completely different direction, and almost immediately came across a few churches, with St. Paulin in the process of renovation, and a beautiful cemetery directly behind St. Paulin. I can understand if anyone thinks it odd to identify a cemetery as beautiful, but there was something about the layout and the obvious careful attention the families give.

St. Maximin's church.

St. Maximin’s church.

 

 

St. Paulin's church, under repair.

St. Paulin’s church, under repair.

 

As we were examining the cemetery grounds, we noticed a large number of plastic plant waterers, each separately locked to a large metal frame. We saw at least three of the frames throughout the grounds, each having a water spigot within a foot or two , and all had waterers locked to the frames. We saw this as indicating the plastic waterers stayed on-site continuously, making it easier for any family member or friend that wanted to go water the flowers. Seems like a very smart plan.

 

Waterers all locked up to the metal frame by the water fountain.

Waterers all locked up to the metal frame by the water fountain.

 

As we passed St. Paulin, and were about to wander again, we came across a statue for St. Paulinus.

 

St. Paulinus statue.

St. Paulinus statue.

 

Plaque of information for St. Paulinus, below his statue.

Plaque of information for St. Paulinus, below his statue.

 

As we didn’t have a defined route or list of sights we specifically wanted to visit on this trip, we headed towards the West, or basically perpendicular to the train tracks. This at least made sure we didn’t cross our previous path, until we turned back to the South. When we got to PaulinStrassa, it seemed like a very active cross-street, so we headed South and immediately saw cool shop on the corner. This shop had some cameras that looked very old, as well as other electronic gear that had some age on it, as well as other old tools. These items were in the window, so it was unclear if the shop was primarily dealing with cameras and film, or what exactly. As I love tools and old stuff, this was a super cool find.

 

Old cameras in store window.

Old cameras in store window.

 

As we made our way down the street, there were a number of bakeries, as well as all sorts of stuff. We decided to stop at a store called Viking Adventures, that had all sorts of clothing, backpacks, shoes and just about anything else you might want along on a trek all the way to full-on camping. They had some really nice gear, but as expected, it was pricy. This was no different than anywhere else, as good quality almost always demands high prices.

As we made our way further down the street, it just so happened to lead directly to the entrance of the Porta Nigra, where the festival entrance had been earlier. I took the opportunity to take another photo of the front, without the extra tenting blocking the view.

 

Front view of Porta Nigra.

Front view of Porta Nigra.

It was getting pretty toasty, as the temperature was up in the high 80s, so we decided to head back to the train station. Since we smartly (in my humble opinion) purchased the family all-day train tickets, we went back home to eat some lunch. This saved us some money, compared to grabbing something to eat in Trier, as well as giving us the chance to get off of our feet and out of the sun for a while.

Later, we took the train back to Trier, to re-visit some areas, including the Porta Nigra. This time I took the opportunity to go inside the structure, on the ground floor, and look it over closely. While inside, I got to see the heavy-duty metal (looks like wrought iron) pins, on which very large doors were hung. I had no way of knowing whether these were original to the structure, or added at a later time. Either way, they looked like they once supported something massive.

From the inside you could also see the arched openings facing the center, and up above the highest floor, there was a recessed area that looked like it may have originally held a statue or figurine of some sort. Oh, if the walls could talk.

 

Inside upper area of the Porta Nigra.

Inside upper area of the Porta Nigra.

 

Lower portion of same wall, in the Porta Nigra.

Lower portion of same wall, in the Porta Nigra.

 

Close up of upper-most wall, focusing somewhat on the empty recess.

Close up of upper-most wall, focusing somewhat on the empty recess.

 

Three huge gate pins, which each side of each opening had. Looks like they are made of wrought iron.

Three huge gate pins, which each side of each opening had. Looks like they are made of wrought iron.

 

Before we left, I slipped out behind the structure, to take a couple of unobscured photos. Now that the large stage for one of the festival’s bands was gone, I could capture everything.

 

Rear view of the Porta Nigra.

Rear view of the Porta Nigra.

 

As we started making our way back to the train station again, we stopped at the Baldwin statue (Balduin von Trier), so I could get some up close and personal. The first visit to Trier, I snapped a quick photo of this statue, from across the street. There were all sorts of trees, signs and people that left me wanting for more. Up close, I noticed there were small panels at each 90-degree section of the pedestal, with those that did not face the same as the statue, having names of others. Upon some further investigation on Google (thanks Cottie), more of the statue’s puzzle seemed to open. Baldwin was Archbishop-Elector of Trier, 1307-1554; his brother Heinrich (A.K.A. Henry) VII (shown on one of the other three panels was King of Germany from 1308 and the Holy Roman Emperor from 1312; elector Peter von Aspelt (on one of the remaining panels) was Archbishop of Mainz from 1306 – 1320 and was involved in the appointment of Baldwin as elector of Trier; Dante Allighieri was on the remaining panel, and was a partisan of Henry VII. This statue was made by sculptor Ferdinand Freiherr von Miller, at some point in time prior to 1929.

 

Baldwin (A.K.A. Baldvin or Balduin) statue.

Baldwin (A.K.A. Baldvin or Balduin) statue.

 

Aspelt panel, on the lower pedistal of the Balwin statue.

Aspelt panel, on the lower pedestal of the Balwin statue.

 

Dante, second panel on Baldwin statue.

Dante, second panel on Baldwin statue.

 

Heinrich, last panel on Baldwin statue.

Heinrich, last panel on Baldwin statue.

 

While I really enjoy seeing new sites, there is just something about learning the historic background of the most interesting ones. Thank you as always, for stopping by to check out the article, and please let me know if you have questions or comments.

 

Lee Laird

Germany – exploring Speicher and Bitburg.

Posted by is9582 on June 30, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

This morning we drove into the little town of Speicher, after reading there were a couple of museums available, but that didn’t end up too good. We parked close to one of the museums, which was just off of HofStrassa, and when we got to the museum door, it was locked. It seems the information […]

Germany – some time in Trier

Posted by is9582 on June 28, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday, we rode a train into Trier and hung out at a yearly festival that was occurring. We were very lucky to have such wonderful weather, as it was mostly sunny and the temperature was comfortable. Before making it to the festival area, we saw some cool sites, including some old statues and of course […]