Pfaffinger Umschau

upf schaut hin, hört zu und schreibt's auf

Uli’s USA

To friends visiting Manhattan I still recommend to start their tour to the observation deck of the Empire State Building approximately two hours before sunset. That gives them the opportunity to watch the city during daytime, twilight and night in one visit. Some of them just recently also confirmed that it is still a good choice to get your tickets in advance online. That helps you to avoid waiting lines – and to enjoy another attraction: The smartfaces warning you about the looong wait to get up. Nevertheless you are well advised not to get up there hungry or thirsty, as there is no restaurant or similar available at the observation desk.

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San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge turns 75 this year. Over the years it has melted into the scenery and made it almost unimagineable how the entrance to San Francisco Bay would look without it. Some years ago, brwosing through a library, I found a book about great places in the world. It was printed in Prague in the year 1903. On of the pictures showed – „The Golden Gate“ in all of its beauty. Try to search for one of those pictures and you will understand, what the „Golden“ stands for. If you are in the area, cross the bridge and take the exit on your right, but not to stop at the Vista Point, where everybody stops. Take Conzelman Road to Golden Gate National Recreational Area. And you will step into one of the most beautiful places in California.

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During my last stay in Denver I had to learn, that THE drinik to have in the city is a Martini. They serve it everywhere and in any variation. While staying in the conveniently located and very accomodating Jet Hotel at 1612 Wazee Street in downtown the unique sight of cute little water bottles and a huge Vodka bottle on the inroom bar-shelf proofed the new style of drinking westward. The fact that the entrance hall is regularly used for lounging and clubbing (and the registration desk is litteraly a corner store inside the Lounge) gives directions to the same way of livestyle. Did I already mention, that this place has only 18 rooms, which’s key gives you free entrance to clubbing and lounging? Did I also mention the Rita B Salon on the second floor which is an event by itself? A unique place to rest your tired self next time in Denver, indeed.

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Still my favorite airport in the lower 48 is San Diego’s Lindbergh Field. It literally ist the only airport in a major US-city where you may walk over from downtown to catch your flight. But it’s charme is not only limited to that fact. I also like both approaches a lot. The mostly taken one coming in westbound across the city, where you should have your seat on the right side (in flying direction) at the window to enjoy a magnificent view of Balboa park seconds before touchdown. The other approach, eastbound coming over Point Loma, gives you – especially near sunset – great sights of the marinas and a feeling for the Pacific style of the place. Whatever your choice is – SAN is alwasy a good place to arrive.

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Two years ago I joined a Faecbook group named the „Pfaffenberger Pfamily“. It was founded by a bunch of folks living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area having all this same unspeakable family name as I do. Their intention: To get connected with the Pfaffenbergers all around the world. Since that my travels haven’t brought my near the place – but it has made it up the list a lot. I am pretty sure, that „ancestry travel“ will gain a greater market share in the future. Especially experienced travellers will recognize a new possibility to discover new places to „collect“ – places with a very personal connection. Any Pfaffenberger in the USA might get to see me sooner or later…

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Dayton, Ohio, is the sister city of my home town, Augsburg. Both share something in history like having been great aviation places once or being linked to NCR. Another common attraction are beautiful botanical gardens. In my eyes „Cox Arboretum“ is one of most contemplative man made nature-places in North America. Especially during wintertime when the leafless branches of the trees paint enchanting sculptures on a canvas of snowy grounds and frosty skies this is my place to be.

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Next time you come to Cincinnati, another good place in Ohio, you should take some minutes to visit the National Steamboar Monument. During a visit to a Tall Stacks Festival during the 1990s I learned about the project – and I also learned that I could support it by buying a brick of pavement for 40 bucks. I am very proud that between those blowing whistles and dancing foutains beneath the great padlewheel you will find a stone with my name of it. Since I have read my first chapters of Mark Twain steamboats draw my attention. After studying their history and following their stories I am sure that they are one of the great American icons and a must for every traveller who wants to get a typical experience. The cherry on the cake without any doubt is a concert on the calliope. By the way: Does anyone know, when Tall Stacks Festival will return?

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During my visits I have stayed at several resorts. When it comes to unique and remote settings I remember very well Blue Fin Bay on Lake Superior near the village of Tofte in Minnesota. It’s a bit more than 4 hours drive north of Minneapolis, but it’s worth it. The line-up of fishermen’s-village-style houses with two appartements each (one on first floor, one upstairs) follows the shoreline, which is just a few steps away. The line-up of rooms inside allows you (by opening a wall) a direct view from your bathtub to the lake. It is fun in summer, it must be a chilling experience in winter. By the way: As you are already off the beaten path and far North – take some extra time to visit Grand Portage National Monument. As you are probably familiar with the fact, that there was some fur trade in the beginning of the nation – you will learn there astonishing facts and backgrounds about it, that definetely will chance your view on some topics.

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Any European travelling North on I-95 from Savannah, Ga., into South Carolina will enjoy at least a short photo-stop when entering the communiities of Switzerland, Norway, Sweden or Denmark. The first one is right near the Interstate, for the others you have to turn west in the direction of Bamberg, S.C. Except for traces of some friendly exchange with the city of Bamberg, Bavaria, and the traditionell letters on the website there is no much effort visible to accentuate any German Heritage. Which, in my opinion, isn’t neccessary, either. Because travellers coming there will enjoy a genuine „Main Street of America“-Town in it’s best and unchanged style. This is not an attraction, it’s an experience.

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Why do I prefer to fly out of Newark, when I leave the NYC area back to Germany? Two reasons. Number one: It ist, even during rush hour easier and faster to reach than JFK. Number two: From the international waiting area at the departure gates you get a great sight of lower Manhattan. I like to see this every time again.

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During our last visit to Colorado we passed the Great Continental Divide several times. While on top of Wolf Creek Pass we found the first snow of the season and as there was plenty room to park our car, we stopped and encountered a snowballfight. Scientifically it was a challenge, too: Every snowball crossing the Divide would change the balance of waters flowing into the Pacific or the Atlantic. It gave us plenty to discuss during our drive further on, how big or how small our influence into the future ot the Planet had been during those 10 minutes.

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Some hours before we had made a stop in Pagosa Springs and spent there much, much, much more time in the hot spring tubs above the San Juan River as intended. If you are in, you don’t want to get out. If you have left, you immediately want to get in again. Especially the tubs with the waterfalls are an unresistable treat. Next time this will not be be a stop on the route. It will be a stay. And: We will try in winter, of course.

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