Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

DC-3 and Coronado Airplanes at the Verkehrshaus - Swiss Transport Museum - Lucerne

DC-3 and Coronado Airplanes at the Verkehrshaus – Swiss Transport Museum – Lucerne

Model cable railway in Swiss Transportation Museum Lucerne

Model cable railway in Swiss Transportation Museum Lucerne

I visited Lucerne Switzerland in March. Lucerne is about 45-minutes by train from Zurich and it’s a wonderful day trip with several excellent museums and a very nice historic old city to walk around. I visited one of my favourite transport museums, the Verkehrshaus (Transport House). The museum has a great collection of railway locomotives and cars, trams, a couple airplanes, exhibits on cable railways, ships and more. It’s a little pricy (normal adult admission is 30 Swiss Francs, which is close to $30 now! – although they have family plans, and you can also get a discount if you use the Swiss National Railway’s Railaway program). Here are a couple photos.

Light and dark beer at the Rathaus Brauerei Lucerne

Light and dark beer at the Rathaus Brauerei Lucerne

We discovered an excellent restaurant in Lucerne right on the river called Nix … they had excellent local microbrewery beer from Luzerner Bier (by the way, Luzerner delivers its beer by bike!), a nice Flammkuchen and superb lamb. A great meal, and probably really pleasant to visit in warmer weather when you can sit outside in front of the river.

We also had a beer at the Rathaus Braueri, a traditional beer cellar in the old city hall located across the river from Nix. It was a little touristy, but it also looked like they had good beer food. The beer was quite good (see photo).

Historic tram at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne.

Historic tram at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne.

My photos of Lucerne on Flickr.

My photos of the Verkehrshaus (Swiss Transport Museum) are in my Transport Museums set on Flickr use the tag: verkehrshaus.

London UK

London UK

London Transport Museum Depot in Acton

London Transport Museum Depot in Acton

Camden Town Brewery London - Tour in progress.

Camden Town Brewery London – Tour in progress.

The Urban Data from Fetish Object to Social Object conference in London (see previous post) was fantastic, lots of great ideas discussed by people doing really neat things with social data. Sjors Timmer did a nice post about the conference.

I enjoyed my trip to London, a city I have not visited for some time. Mostly I walked around and enjoyed the great weather, sunny and 20 degrees the whole time. Of course I found time to sample some traditional beers at the Churchill Pub in Kensington (great Thai food too), the Camden Town Brewery (see photo – next time I’ll plan ahead so I can go on one of the Thursday evening tours!) and the Carpenters Arms in Bloomsbury.

Bus lane in Central London

Bus lane in Central London

On Saturday I rode a double decker bus on Oxford Street … the view from the top front makes you really appreciate the skills of the bus drivers … pedestrians all over! Then on to the London Transport Museum‘s Acton Depot where there was a special open house (see photos). The Depot is where the Museum restores objects and keeps objects for which there is no room in the main Covent Garden museum building. It’s only open a couple weekends a year and I was lucky enough to be there for one!

My flickr photos of the London Transport Museum Depot are in my flickr photos of transport museums.

My flickr photos of London.

Antwerp – December 2013

Antwerp – December 2013

MAS Museum Antwerp

MAS Museum Antwerp

I visited Antwerp in December as part of a business trip to Brussels. Antwerp is only about a half-hour from Brussels Airport and there are about two trips per hour from the Brussels Airport train station.

MAS Museum Antwerp - view from one of the sky lobbies.

MAS Museum Antwerp – view from one of the sky lobbies.

The main purpose of my trip was to visit the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). The MAS museum “tells the story of the people, the past, present and future of the city of Antwerp and the world.” The building, as you can see from these photos is really spectacular. There are changing exhibits and permanent exhibits about the city and port as well as some more esoteric subjects. You can ride the escalators up the building to a lobby on each floor without paying admission. From the 9th floor you can walk up a set of stairs to the roof where there’s an outdoor area with spectacular views of the city and river. It’s a very neat museum and experience.

De Groote Witte Arend Restaurant Antwerp - courtyard.

De Groote Witte Arend Restaurant Antwerp – courtyard.

Next I had lunch in a restaurant called De Groote Witte Arend (Flemish only website) which specialises in Belgian cuisine and beer. It’s on the other side of the historic city center from the MAS museum, about 15-20 minute walk. The building is quite old, there’s a short history at the back of the menu. For many years it was a nunnery and there is still a chapel off the side of the courtyard. The restaurant has several rooms arranged around the courtyard. It was quite quiet at late lunch on a mid-December weekday, but I can imagine it being a lot of fun when it’s crowded.

Carbonnades at De Groote Witte Arend restaurant Antwerp.

Carbonnades at De Groote Witte Arend restaurant Antwerp.

I ordered one of my favourite Belgium meals: carbonnade (or: Vlaamsche Stooflees in Flemish). It’s beef stew cooked in the local dark beer and is said to be the national dish of Belgium. Generally served with “Belgium” fries, here with a chicory salad too. The version here was the best I have ever had, the beef was cooked just right and the fries were just out of the cooker, the salad was a great counterpoint. One of the best meals I ate all year! I drank a De Arend blond beer with it. The waiter was extremely friendly and helpful (in English) in helping me pick a beer. In short, a great place to visit for the food and the beer!

Antwerp Zuiderterrace

Antwerp Zuiderterrace

After lunch I walked over to the river, it was a very grey day, but it’s always fun watching the water go by. There’s a beautiful art deco building that serves as a boarding ramp for large passenger boats, now there’s a restaurant inside too. It has great Antwerpen signs.

Tile diagram of St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp.

Tile diagram of St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp.

Next I walked across the street to the St Anna pedestrian – bike tunnel located at the Sint-Jansvliet square (end of the Hoogstraat).

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

This historic landmark is a 572 meter long tunnel under the Scheldt river. It was built in 1931-1933 to link the old city centre with the settlement on the left bank of the river. The building looks like the Battery Tunnel entrance in Manhattan and so I fantasised about filming a Men in Black parody here … They have preserved the wooden escalators, but there’s also an elevator for bikers. Quite neat.

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

I walked back through the old city to the Central Railway Station. The station has been renovated in recent years to allow trains to travel through on their way from Brussels and south, to Amsterdam and north. I visited while it was under construction several years ago, but now it’s finished and it’s wild. At least four levels of trains plus connections to the city’s metro system. They managed to keep the historic train shed – beautiful – and headhouse building. The photos here do not do the station justice, it’s very hard to photograph … just visit it!

Antwerp Central Station

Antwerp Central Station

The trip back to Brussels took about half an hour (we did not go via the airport station). By the way, it was very easy to buy my railway tickets on line at the Belgium railway’s website www.belgianrail.be.

Check out soundbitecity blog’s post Beer City Antwerp about Antwerp brewery DeKoninck and restaurant café Pelgrim across the street … they’re on my list for next time!

Here’s a link to my flickr photos of Antwerp. Here’s a link to a map with my flickr photos flickr Antwerp photos map. 

Antwerp Central Station

Beer and Pizza in Amsterdam

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 2
Partial list of the Dutch draft beer available at ‘t Arendsnest



Beer and pizza are two of my favorite things. After a full day attending the Social Cities of Tomorrow conference in Amsterdam, I took a leisurely walk back to my hotel through the Jordaan district of the city.

't Arendsnest Amsterdam - 4
IPA type beer at ‘t Arendsnest


I was lucky to find the ‘t Arendsnest beer bar which serves “Dutch beer only!” from seemingly most of the beer brewers in The Netherlands (although I did not notice any Heineken there?). They have 30 or so beers on tap and over 100 in bottles including a selection of Dutch abbey beers. I didn’t realize that The Netherlands also had abby breweries (they are not all in Belgium).

I tasted two pilsner type beers and an India Pale Ale, all three were draft. All three were really good, very hoppy and clean tasting. They have a beer sampler for 7.50 Euros for three 12cl tastes, but I ordered normal size 25cl glasses and wound up paying 10 Euros with tip. Both bar tenders were fluent in English and happy to guide me to the right beers. They have some ‘bar food’ and many of the locals shared cheese plates, but the food did not seem to be the main point here! They also have tastings and things so it would be worth checking he website to learn if something interesting is going on when you visit.

After my beer I remembered walking by what looked like a great pizza place the day before: it had a wood burning oven, only served pizza and advertised “Italian slow food”. So I decided to try and find it again. I retraced my steps, found the right canal (Prinsengracht), turned down the Elandsgracht (Jordaan Park), left on 1ste Looiersdwarsstraat walked to number 4 and Pazzi was open with room at the bench they have for people who want to eat their pizza in the shop.

Pazzi Amsterdam - 2
Blackboard menu at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I ordered a Margarita, the pizza I use to compare pizzerias, and sat down to wait. About 3 minutes later I was served a great pizza: crisp thin crust, tart sauce, good amount of buffalo milk mozzarella cheese. By this time I was sharing the bench with a couple women who were splitting a quatro formaggio (served here with rucola) and two guys on my right who had both ordered Piccante pizzas. Apparently the Piccante pizzas were not spicy enough for the guys and they asked me to pass the hot pepper olive oil (that’s when I asked them what kind of pizza they had since it was not entirely clear by looking).

Pazzi Amsterdam - 3
Piccante pizza at Pazzi Italian slow food Amsterdam

I finished my Margarita and decided to order one of the Piccante pizzas too. After all, when’s the next time I will be in Amsterdam. As the guys were leaving they gave me back the hot pepper oil, but told me to be sure to taste the pizza first because it might be spicy enough for me without the oil. The Piccante pizza was also great. It had smoked mozzarella cheese, lots of hot pepper (no need for the hot pepper oil) and herbs. Really fine. (I brought half the pizza home.)

So, a fabulous gourmet evening for me in Amsterdam! All my photos from ‘t Arendsnest and Pazzi on Flickr. My Amsterdam photos on Flickr.

Granada Spain Recommendations

Granada Spain Recommendations

Granada Gran Cafe Bib-Rambla 2011- - 5
Gran Cafe Bib-Rambla, Granada Spain

Just returned from a trip to Spain. We spent two days in Granada and two in Malaga. We used the free ticket I won from Swiss International Airlines for my “Flowers in Your Horns” music video about going to San Francisco (I won one of the runner-up prizes).

Granada Sights

In Granada we just relaxed. We tried to go to the Alhambra, but you need to reserve tickets in advance (they sell a limited number of same-day tickets, but we were not successful at getting them). They have a good website so you can order in advance.

We didn’t have breakfast in the hotel, opting for local cafes instead. On the first day we went to the Gran Cafe Bib-Rambla, a historic cafe on Plaza Bibrambla, and sat outdoors. I had Churros with chocolate and they were excellent (unfortunately my photos of the cooking process did not turn out, but you can go into the cafe and watch). I am not sure I would want to eat them every morning, but these were really good. The next day we stood at the counter inside (watching the cooking process) and had coffee con leche with chocolate croissants. The cafe also has ice cream which looks delicious.

Granada La Oliva May 2011- - 19
Francisco at La Oliva

We had dinner in a wonderful place called La Oliva. It’s actually a food shop whose owner, Francisco, will cook dinner if you call and arrange in advance. We enjoyed an 11-course (probably, we lost count) dinner with wine that he prepared using ingredients from the shop and a simple one burner camp stove. He only has two tables and dinner is really an experience accompanied with Francisco teaching you about traditional food and wine from the region.

We spent a lot of time walking around the area of Albaicin, which is a neighborhood located on the north side of the Alhambra. It’s a neighborhood built on the side of a hill with narrow winding streets. Lots of scenic vistas towards the Alhambra, historic churches and buildings, and some shops. We walked down to the Plaza de los Tristes, a square filled with restaurants along the Rio Darro. Then up a street called Calle del Rey Chico up to the Alhambra visitor center. Since we could not get tickets we spent some time in the excellent bookstore so we know what to look for on our next visit.

Granada Albaicin Neighborhood May 2011- - 20
The Alhambra from the Albaicin neighborhood.

Walking down from the Alhambra to the Plaza Nueva, we had some superb Gazpacho soup served in a glass (to go!). We went back to ask how they made it and after trying to speak English a little, the proprietor asked if we spoke German, which he spoke fluently. We got the recipe quickly: one (only!) clove of garlic, fresh tomatoes, old bread (soaked in water), olive oil (the quality of the olive oil determines the quality of the soup), salt and pepper. We made it when we returned to Vienna and it was pretty good. I still like my version with more garlic and green peppers/cucumbers etc. but that’s cooking isn’t it?

Granada Bar Los Diamantes May 2011- - 3
Bar Los Diamantes, Granada Spain


One of my favorite foods is tapas. In Granada whenever you order a drink you get a free tapas. And, we are not talking about a small bowl of peanuts. Many of the free tapas we had were quite substantial. You could easily make a meal of free tapas going from one bar to another. We did this with the friends we were visiting and it was lots of fun, not necessarily a balanced meal, but order a couple small plates to go with the free ones and you will do fine. We visited the Bar Los Diamantes (which is in lots of the books) and it was great: busy, fast, casual. We ordered two beers and were immediately confronted with a rather large plate of deep-fried calamari. True, it made us want to order another beer, but then we received a plate of zucchini (also fried). The beer was an excellent local beer called Alhambra.

We really loved Granada and hope to visit again soon.

All my Granada photos on flickr.

Practical Information

We took a local express bus (2 Euros) from the airport to the intercity bus terminal, then took the intercity bus to Granada (10.01 Euros, the 1-Euro-cent is kind of odd, we did not pay it when we went to the ticket window, but I did have to pay it when I went to a ticket machine to buy a return ticket). We took a cab to our hotel (8 Euros) since the Granada bus terminal is out of the city center.

The bus schedules are not well coordinated so we waited about 30 minutes at the Malaga airport (we just missed the bus) and about 45-minutes at the bus station (buses leave for Granada about every hour on the hour). We tried to buy a ticket on-line for the return trip but the website was not accepting credit cards; we bought a ticket at a machine at the station which was fine, the line to buy a ticket in person was incredibly long.

We stayed at the Room Mate Leo hotel, which was very nice. As the on-line reviews say the staff is really great, for example, they spent lots of time trying to reserve bus tickets for us (and other guests).

But, what about the beer?

But, what about the beer?

Munich Victualmarkt Feb08-08

Beer from wooden keg, der Pshorr, Munich, from my flickr Munich photos.

Monocle recently ranked Munich the world’s most livable city. I love Munich and I think that the Monocle video presents a very nice view of the city.

I was particularly struck by the comments from BMW’s head of design, Adrian van Hooydonk. In the video he says Munich doesn’t take energy from you (the way living in many cities does) but gives you energy (about 3 minutes into the video). I remember thinking something similar when I first visited in the 1980s … waiting for the U-Bahn, which was clean, fast and reliable as clockwork, I thought how nice it must be not to have to worry about public transport … a real difference from most big cities. This frees up energy for creativity.


My only complaint about the Monocle video is that it did not mention beer, and, for me at least, the beer in Munich tastes better than anywhere in the world. My posts and recommendations for Munich.

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