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My Obi-Wan Encounter in Berlin March 31, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Travel.
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I was tempted to challenge Master Kenobi to a duel

I’m way behind in my Travel Diary entries, but I thought I’d post this little bit of celebrity news.  We spent the day travelling around Berlin today, and the last person I expected to see was Mr Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor!

We had just started off our city walk, and the first attraction was the brilliant Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  For those who have not been there before, it’s highly unusual.  Designed by American architect Peter Eisenman, it comprises 2,711 grey concrete slabs of varying heights and sizes.  Here’s a bunch of pictures and more info from its Wikipedia entry.

So I started walking through the concrete slabs, and it’s kinda fun because the blocks get so high that you become completely submerged inside the monument, and you can only see the long, narrow path in front of you, never knowing what might be coming from the sides.

For some reason, I turned to my left to take a look, and was shocked to see Obi-Wan staring right back at me about 5 slabs away.  I was stunned and didn’t move for several seconds, until my wife tapped me on the back and asked what the heck I was doing standing there like an idiot.  I told her I just saw Ewan McGregor, and we set out through the blocks to see him again, which we did, several times.

Somehow, we ended up in front of him, and all of a sudden he was right behind me!  My wife urged me to go ask for a photo or something, but I recalled that he is a very private person, and he was on vacation, and more importantly, he was with his wife and kids, so I decided against bothering him.

While we waited to go to the underground museum, Obi-Wan and his family avoided the line and left quietly.  I’m sure others may have recognised him too but it was good to see that no one harrassed him when he was having a quiet time sightseeing with his kids.

By the way, he looked quite normal and relaxed, like any other tourist with his family.  He did have very thin legs.

[Update: turns out it was Mr McGregor’s 38th birthday yesterday (0n the 31st of March).  Should have said Happy Birthday to him!  Happy Birthday Ewan!]

Kaisergarten: a delicious meal in Munich March 31, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Food, Travel.
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[Update: pictures added!]

There are hundreds of Beer Halls and places to enjoy Schnitzel in Munich, and it’s hard to decide which ones to go to when you have limited time. I guess it depends whether you just want to get drunk with a bunch of rowdy people, or you actually want to sit down and have a (relatively) quiet meal.

On our last night in Munich, we went to this wonderful little place called Kaisergarten ( a quiet place) (www.kaisergarten.com) at Kaiserstrasse 34. It’s a little further out from the city centre, but easily reachable by public transport. Simply catch the U-Bahn (U3 or U6) to Muncher Freiheit and then it’s just a 5 minute walk (when you exit, head south along Leopoldstrasse towards the city centre (Marienplatz) and turn right when you see Kaiserstrasse – it’s just a short stroll from there).

Inside Kaisergarten (note: the flash makes it look brighter)

Inside Kaisergarten (note: the flash makes it look brighter)

We came across Kaisergarten by accident. I recall finishing a shower in Freiburg and saw my wife busily jotting down details on a piece of paper while staring intently at the TV screen. “We have to go to this place,” she said. Turns out Kaisergarten was promoted on some good food show, and as luck would have it, the restaurant was in Munich and we were heading there next!

The inside was dim, but nice and warm with wooden tables and benches, clean walls painted in white and green, a cool-looking bar along one side and a wooden case covering the entire back wall with dozens of squares holding hundreds of bottles of wine. They don’t have English menus (as far as we know) but the waitresses all speak perfect English and are more than happy to help explain the dishes. We went with the dishes we saw on TV, which were, of course, the favorites. The first was a giant veal schnitzel that’s bigger than your face, with roast potatoes underneath. The best part were the two sauces – one white and with a tang of mustard, and the other red with the sweet and sour of berries. It also comes with a brilliant fresh salad. The second was liver with sautéed onions and mashed potatoes, also delicious.

Oh, and the film crew was back, and they were filming some dude having the liver dish. Despite being packed to the throat, there was always room for dessert. We got the one they recommended, another popular one. It’s kind of like mashed up sweet pancakes with apple dipping sauce on the side. It’s delightful but extraordinarily big. They allowed us to take the leftovers away. A word of warning: it takes 45 minutes to prepare so order it early if you want it!

In all, the best meal I had in Munich. The mains were around 18 Euros each, the dessert was 9.50. Coupled with 2 non-alcoholic drinks, the total bill came up to around 52 Euros. Not down at the cheap end but you can certainly do a lot worse in expensive Munich.

Sensational Salad

Sensational Salad

Sensational Liver (doesn't taste like liver)

Sensational Liver (doesn't taste like liver)

Sensational Schnitzel with Sensational Sauces

Sensational Schnitzel with Sensational Sauces

You guessed it, Sensational Dessert (sauce not in view)

You guessed it, Sensational Dessert (sauce not in view)

Another super quick update: Munich rocks! March 28, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Travel.
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I’m having a fabulous time in Munich, and to be honest I didn’t really expect it.  We went on a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle today, definitely one of the highest highlights I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing anywhere in Europe.  Tomorrow, we are going to head to the former concentration camp of Dachau, and I’m expecting it to be one heck of a memorable experience!

It’s not possible to update the Travel Diary on these public computers, but I have been continuing with the writing (though it’s getting harder and harder to find time for the novel!).  Oh well, at least I am writing, and I’m still thinking and dreaming (I really am) about the novel.

PS: I finished reading The Book Thief.  Awesome book, will review!

Former Judge Einfeld making himself comfortable in Prison March 28, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Social/Political Commentary.
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I just read another news report about disgraced former judge Marcus Einfeld, who just spent his first week in prison for perjury.  He has a 2-year non-parole period.

It seems his former honour is making himself comfortable in jail, having been placed in a ‘better’ part of the prison facility and has a TV in his cell.  He has also asked for a psychologist, a masseuse, and for his cell door to be kept open at night because it gets a little hot – all in the first few days of his stay.

Was it a good idea to ask for all these privileges in his first week?  Could he be brewing a secret plan to get himself transferred to a different facility or weasel out of his sentence altogether using physical or mental health as the excuse?  It certainly does not assist in Einfeld’s (proclaimed) effort to redeem himself, his image and reputation in the eyes of the public.  On the other hand, perhaps he is simply asking for things he knows he is perfectly entitled to ask for.  Who wouldn’t if they were in his position?

In any event, it seems all eyes will be on Einfeld’s every move for at least a little while longer.

Super quick update: Munich March 27, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Travel.
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Only have a minute before free internet in hotel runs out!  In Munich now, been keeping up with Travel Diary but no time to post!  Almost lost camera on train but a miracle happened and didn’t.

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