First page of the Speicher 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 – 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 that we’d seen was a bit stale, as it was around 10 a.m., but their door sign said they didn’t open until 1400 (2 p.m.) .

So on our walk back towards the car, we happened across a statue and plot that seemed most likely to be a memorial of soldiers lost in different wars/conflicts. The statue was in some ill repair, and at some point in time, someone had broken off the representation of the front of the statue’s rifle.

Military statue in Speicher.

Military statue in Speicher.

 

Pretty rose in the area surrounding the statue.

Pretty rose in the area surrounding the statue.

 

Around the statue, on three walls, were stone tablets that listed names and what I believe is the date of death for each person. There were some beautiful roses in the area of the memorial, as well as other plants and flowers, as well as a small pond. It seemed like a nice tribute.

We drove to look for the other museum, and had even less success, as we couldn’t even find the location. After some driving around and looping back into the same locations, we think the museum might have faded away. We found an old building that looks like it could be deserted, and had many broken windows, that seemed it might match the address as it was provided. We did happen across a cool set of animal figures in bronze, which called to our cameras.

Bronze hedgehog family in front of a company that creates bronze figures.

Bronze hedgehog family in front of a company that creates bronze figures.

 

On one of our many loops, we happened into a section of town that we had not visited before, and just by chance they had some tools! I’d searched the web a number of times, prior to arriving in Germany, as well as after arrival, and I’d found no listing for tools.

This evening, we drove out to Bitburg, and found a parking place down in the industrial section of town. There are lots of restaurants nearby, as well as what might be considered an outdoor mall, with lots of shops and stores. While checking out this area, we saw a pretty church, and when we ended up on the opposite side, it was obvious some portion of the lower structure was Roman.

 

Partial view of a church near the square in Bitburg.

Partial view of a church near the square in Bitburg.

 

Church bells taken facing away from the church. When the bells go off, they really go off!

Church bells taken facing away from the church. When the bells go off, they really go off!

 

Roman wall (which is what Romer Mauer means) around the base of the church.

Roman wall (which is what Romer Mauer means) around the base of the church.

 

Pretty purple flowers inside the Roman wall.

Pretty purple flowers inside the Roman wall.

 

Church steeple taken from the bottom of the Roman wall.

Church steeple taken from the bottom of the Roman wall.

 

The other end of the Roman wall, with building integrated.

The other end of the Roman wall, with building integrated.

 

Path from the Peters square that leads to the top of the hill, and the church (taken from the top).

Path from the Peters square that leads to the top of the hill, and the church (taken from the top).

 

During our walk back towards the car, and while looking to find some good food, we saw the two man-hole covers shown below. We were going back the same way we’d come, so our eyes were scanning the shops and buildings on the say there, rather than the ground. Most of the man-hole covers in the area are cool, but not special like these, so I thought they earned their spot (and even the main lead-in photo).

 

Cool man-hole cover in gold (colored).

Cool man-hole cover in gold (colored).

 

Cool man-hole cover in silver (colored).

Cool man-hole cover in silver (colored).

 

There were a number of cool sites in Bitburg, and you’d really need to spend much more time than we had available, to do it justice. Before leaving, we found a cool restaurant (Ragazzi) that had a fair amount of outdoor seating, as well as some great German Schnitzel. We ate two orders of the version with a wine/cream sauce, which was wonderful, along with the french fries. We had a great waitress for our meal, and we were doing our best to sprechen deutsch, only to find out she was quite adept at speaking english. I was actually glad we didn’t know this, at the beginning, as this pushed us to try our hardest to communicate in their native language. While we were eating, we could see the fountain below, with all of the kids and enjoying cooling off in the water.

 

Part of the square, with many holes that spew water, in a rhythmic fashion. People bring the young kids to play.

Part of the square, with many holes that spew water, in a rhythmic fashion. People bring the young kids to play.

 

After all of our walking today, and the elevated temperature getting to at least 86F, we are about ready to call it a day. Tomorrow is another day and if everything goes as planned, we will explore other parts of Trier, as we only saw a small area the other day.

 

As always, thank you for stopping by to check out my article. Let me know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

 

Lee Laird