From ancient ruins to taggers

A not-so-reassuring sign in Trier that they don’t do snow removal so one should walk at their own risk.
There was a lot of lovely public art everywhere
One of the cool figures surrounding a sundial near the basilica.
The sundial with carvings and figures
Basilica in Trier commissioned by Emperor Constantine I at the beginning of the fourth centur AD. Now it is used as the Church of the Redeemer
The imperial baths (kaisertherman) were constructed in the 4th century AD
Close up of maintenance on the baths
Porta Nigra gate, the largest Roman gate north of the Alps, built in about AD 170
The house where Karl Marx was born is now a museum of his life and the birth of communism
Streets were lovely and festive
We stumbled across a great pen shop in Trier!
James Dean Mont Blanc pens
All the colors of the Lamy’s

The first time we saw a note saying free room we were startled before realizing they actually meant room available.

Tagging and graffiti are popular in Germany, particularly in Berlin. Here are railroad siding tags

A full discussion of when graffiti is art and when it is merely tagging is linked.

Travel Travails But Still Fun

Ray and I learned some lessons about German trains today. It wasn’t horrible but I want to pass on what we learned to other travelers so you don’t make our mistakes.

We were on our way to Heidelberg, when they announced the Stuttgart station. Whoops. That’s further along the train route than Heidelberg. We were at the right platform at the right time so we either forgot to check the side panel on the train to confirm our train number or Ray didn’t double-check the itinerary for that particular train to make sure it wasn’t an express. In either case, we went the right direction but didn’t stop at our city. It wasn’t a big deal. We got off in Stuttgart, did our research and were on a train that did stop in Heidelberg within about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, I did not pick up a brand new Porsche while we were in Stuttgart.

Later, when we returned from Heidelberg at about 5 pm on a Sunday night (peak time), we didn’t have a seat for half the trip because having a pass or ticket guarantees one a ride on the train but not a seat. Seats are reserved separately. Normally, that’s not an issue but this was peak travel time and and an ice 1 style train (so lots of compartments, fewer seats, and most riders had reserved seats (a separate process.) So if you’re traveling on Friday or Sunday evening, it might be worth booking a seat on the train you’ll be using.

Despite those minor glitches, we had a great time in Heidelberg. Coming out of the railway station, there was an ocean of bikes. In the distance we could see a cool statue.

A closer view if the statue
Another wild statue in one of the squares

There were also done huge wall murals but I spotted them on the way back when we we’re getting drenched so I didn’t try got pictures.

Heidelberg was also decorated for the holidays

Not sure whether this is a cat or a bear. Still cute
Christmas roses were on sale everywhere
I especially liked these star lights against the steeples in the distance
So what’s unique about a hip hop hotel?
I thought the Coyote Cafe was in Santa Fe!
Lamy’s flagship store was not open on Sunday

But I got pics of the pens in their windows. Drool.

And their website has great pics of the interior.

For my perfume loving friends, there was a perfume store. Closed on Sunday, of course.
Interesting mix of Christmas and woodsman chic
Ray needed this beer!
My delicious maultaschen (meat filled pockets) along with spicy potato salad
Ray had weiswurst (white sausage) and pretzels
Not sure what the deal is with moose’s but they’re everywhere we’ve been in Germany

So it was a great day; we learned a lot, and we made it back safely to our hotel. What more can one ask?

Pastry, Pens, and Pizza

Ray and I overslept and missed breakfast at our hotel. So we compensated by rolls and coffee at a nearby candy/cafe shop and cafe. The marmalade was great and the rolls were incredible. My coffee was a hot chocolate with espresso, drizzled with chocolate. The shop was a chocolate lover’s delight.

Lots of truffles in boxes, fancy pineapple shaped boxes, and more
Those cakes we’re enough to make one hungry even if you’d just eaten
Truffles, truffles, and more truffles

As part of the Christmas celebration, they made an ice rink with these little pelikans to help beginning skaters

More Christmas pictures
The pen and stationery store
Really nice staff. Pens were primarily Mont Blanc, Caran d’ache, Lamy, and Parker

Street food sausages and glühwein (hot mulled wine)
A bench made out of skateboards

We went back to the hotel for a while, and then, because it was raining pretty hard, went to an Italian restaurant a few doors down for pizza and beer. Their door had a master card logo on it but when we went to pay, they said no credit cards. Fortunately, we had euros. And the pizza was excellent.

Classy Pens

Since we were in Boston, we had to visit Bromfield pens. Despite my taking lots of pics and not buying anything (tight luggage constraints as we’re still heading to Germany), the staff was delightful and kind.

The cases were filled with delectable pen goodies. Here are a few samples.

I definitely recommend a visit the next time you’re in Boston. And unlike me, leave room in your suitcase for pen goodies.

Platinum pen convertor easy fix

I love my Japanese made Platinum pens but I had a couple of their convertors that were terribly balky and hard to twist. Here’s an easy fix. You’ll need some silicon grease, and that’s all. Please be careful to only put the grease on the convertor piston above the ink seal. Make sure you wash your hands extremely well before touching the nib, feed, etc. If you do that, you’ll find this very easy.

Silicon grease. This one is from my twsbi kit


The metal section removed from convertor but the pen is inked. Not good!

Unless you want an inky mess, do not try this on an inked pen. Did I learn that from experience? What do you think? Gently take the convertor apart, trying to remember how it goes together (I’ll review it, but it makes it easier if you try to remember.) I crank the piston all the way up to the top, as far away from the nib as possible. Then I take off the metal housing (3). At this point, you can just grease the extended piston (1), and put it back together. But sometimes the top two pieces (2 and 4) pop out. Don’t panic! It’s ok. You’ll actually have a better functioning convertor if you grease 2 and 4 where they meet.

So if they did come out, just take part 2 and push the ribbed part (to the right in this photo) up through the larger opening in the metal housing (3) until it extends out the smaller opening. Then pop #4 on top of part two (where it’s inside the housing.) I’ve never noticed a right side to part 4, but just in case I’ve been extremely lucky, just flip it if the first side doesn’t work.

Now hold the combo of 2, 3, and 4 horizontally, and screw it over the piston. It helps to do all this horizontally so parts don’t shift but you may find another orientation works better for you. Your convertor should now work smoothly (unless something else is wrong, like a bent piston or missing piece.)

Congratulations! You’re now a Platinum pen convertor repair rock star.

Hobonichi Journals Plus Pens Equals Nirvana

Today, we went to Tobichi to get a couple of Hobonichi planners (one for me, one for gift). We also went to the luxury department store, Daimeru, to pick up two pens, one is a gift for a family member, the other was a souvenir for me.

I liked that we got a couple of gifts with my Hobonichi planner.

Tobichi is Hobonichi planner nirvana. It’s on the fifth floor of its building but it does a lot with a small space and the staff members are extremely friendly and helpful.

At Daimeru, the 6th floor has a nice selection of pens, papers, and sumi-e supplies. I got a vermillion Pilot to match the Torii gates in Kyoto. Note: Many blogs suggest that department store stationery sections are in the basement. The ones we found tended to be higher, usually around floor 6.

I was tempted but didn’t get any sumi-e brushes as our dog Owen has developed a taste for them and these were quite high end.

In Japan, I always feel like a big spender!

Department Store Pen Heaven

Even department stores have nice selections of pens , stationery, papers, and watercolors. We went to Takashimaya on our first day in Kyoto. They give you a 5% off card for purchases over 3000 yen (approximately $30 USD) if you show your passport. It’s good for a month so my pen collecting friends can go wild. Here are a few pictures. Sorry there aren’t more. I was fading fast. Kyoto is hotter than the rest of Japan and humid. I was melting.