June 19, 2009

Ich liebe Berlin

Posted in photography, travel at 7:35 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I love Berlin.

This week was my second visit to the city, and the first time that I really had a chance to play tourist. You can find some of my favourite pictures over on Flickr.

The first time I visited the city I knew I liked it, but I really couldn’t articulate why. I had just recently been in Paris and the way I explained it was “Paris is chic, Berlin is cool”. Which is true.

But after looking over the pictures from this week, I realized a least part of the reason why I love Berlin is that it goes past the other major European cities in revealing its past. London, Paris, etc. make a point of showing off their history. Berlin puts the burden of its history front and centre. From the statue of a scowling Soviet soldier, to the unrepaired bullet holes, to the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin gives equal time to its unpleasant past whereas the other cities only reveal their glories. The whole history is there to find on public display, not just the victories.

That’s not to say that Berlin is sombre. The public art is incredible with a very cool mix of classical and modern. The street scene is hopping with some of the best buskers I’ve seen anywhere.

If you haven’t thought of Berlin as a travel destination, think again. It is a very walkable and lovely city with great hotels, restaurants and bars. I will definitely be going back. Next time I hope to be able to spend some significant time visiting the museums. From all reports they are incredible.

Some random thoughts on what to do or see:

  • If you go the Holocaust Memorial don’t just look at it. Walk through it. If you haven’t been disoriented in the middle of it, you’re missing the point.
  • I can highly recommend both the Westin Grand and the Intercontinental hotels. Especially the latter, as its location close to the Tiergarten, Zoo and Breitscheidplatz are hard to beat. They’re certainly not cheap, but they are both excellent.
  • If you have the legs for it, the view from the top of the Victory Column (Siegessäule) is pretty incredible. But your legs will be burning by the time you walk to the top.
  • The public transit is outstanding. I used the ICE to get there and the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses in the city. Clean, reliable and on-time.

June 11, 2008

Berlin Impressions

Posted in photography, travel at 4:08 am by Mike Milinkovich

Ian Skerrett, Ralph Mueller and I are in Berlin this week for the OSGi Community Event. We haven’t had too much time for touring, but I did manage to take a couple of quick photos.

The happy shot of Ian, Ralph and Naci Dai was taken at a Greek restaurant where we watched Greece play Sweden in the Euro Cup. It was good fun to soak up their enthusiasm for the game. But the crowd got pretty quiet as Sweden scored two quick goals in the second half.

I really like Berlin. It has a very nice, relaxed urban vibe. It’s a lot more colourful than Frankfurt. I would definitely like to come back and play tourist here some day.

May 24, 2008

Paris Walkabout

Posted in photography, travel at 10:57 am by Mike Milinkovich

I took the Nikon to Paris on my trip there this week, but unfortunately had very little time for playing tourist. Ralph and I had one free evening to walk around, and the light was only so-so.

We were staying in Montparnasse, which was definitely my favourite location so far in my trips to Paris. The hotel was right across the street from the Gare Montparnasse train/metro station, so getting everywhere was very simple. And its a great Paris neighbourhood. Real people live there, with some great local bistros to enjoy.

I’ve posted some pics, including a few that I took out of my hotel window.

It was great to see that at least one person in Paris has great taste in cars 🙂

May 1, 2007

Istanbul Visit

Posted in photography, travel at 12:42 am by Mike Milinkovich

So I spent the last couple of days in Istanbul, Turkey to speak at the EclipsIST conference on Monday.

The big event in Istanbul while I was there was the massive demonstration on Sunday. Some pegged the numbers at half a million, others at over a million. But regardless, it was a huge demonstration. Certainly much larger than anything you would ever see in Ottawa 🙂

So what is it like to be in a city with a million-person demonstration? Fairly quiet. Despite spending the entire day out and about the city, I never saw anything out of the ordinary. An interesting lesson about the different between the news we see on TV and the reality on the ground.

Istanbul is a great city. There is tons of history of course. But there are great restaurants, hotels and shopping to be had as well. I dragged my camera along on this trip, so enjoy a sampling of my photos.

January 3, 2007

Some pics with the new camera

Posted in cottage, family, photography at 10:42 pm by Mike Milinkovich

Here are some pics I took with the new camera.

The scenery shots are from a walk I took around the cottage on Boxing Day. The pictures of the kids are from New Years Eve when our neighbours the DiCesare’s joined us for dinner, party and sleepover.

If anyone has any idea what kind of track that one picture is, please let me know. It was a big track….had to be something pretty large. But from what I know, dogs, coyotes and lynx all have four toes, not five.

December 29, 2006

New Toy

Posted in photography at 3:23 pm by Mike Milinkovich

Meet my new toy, the Nikon D80. I’ve been wanting to get a really nice digital SLR for a very very long time. At least a couple of years, for all of the very same reasons as Ken. With all of the options available for it, and the 10Mpix image size, this could very well be the last camera I ever buy.

I’ve really just started playing around with it. But I am already completely blown away by the quality of the design. So many options. So much control. But with such a carefully thought out user interface that you don’t feel overwhelmed by it. The folks at Nikon clearly spent some quality time thinking about how to build this.

Nikon D80