Earlier, I posted an article about the Lyon Air Museum located in Santa Ana, California.  The facility occupies a 30,000 square foot hangar on the west side of John Wayne Airport and provides a unique setting for events such as galas, holiday parties, fashion shows and receptions. From now until September 2017, the museum is hosting a classic car show featuring a nice collection of pristine classic cars that will appeal to the classic car hobbyist and thrill seeker alike.

There is a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Offener Touring Wagon and a 1940s Divco Helms Bakery Truck that are  already a part of the museum’s permanent collection. The museum also features a nice collection of military vehicles and motorcycles which include the 1939 German VID Tempo Gelaendewagen, the 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep, the 1943 German NSU Kettenkrad HK 101 Tracked Motorcycle and the 1943 Japanese Rikuo Sidecar Motorcycle, just to list a few.

The classic car show features the 1927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix which was driven by race car driver, William Grover-Williams, who was captured by the Gestapo in Germany  in August of 1943. He was sent to a concentration camp for nearly two years and executed in March of 1945, just a few months before the end of WWII.  You will also find a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster. This vehicle’s prototype was displayed at the London Auto Show in 1948.  Then there is my favorite in the collection, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe in a striking red!

Visitors can enjoy the classic cars and everything else this unique museum has to offer all for one admission fee.  General admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.  Children under 5 are admitted free.  The Lyon Air Museum is located on 19300 Ike Jones Road in Santa Ana, California.  It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM which the exception of Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. You can contact them at (714) 210-4585 for more information.



IMG_96221927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix


IMG_96291953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

IMG_96301955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe

IMG_96311963 Porsche Carrera







Japan: Tokyo (Madame Tussauds Wax Museum)

In an earlier blog post, I had written about Madame Tussauds Wax Museum located in Hollywood, California. ( )  During my recent visit to Japan, I had the opportunity to visit Madame Tussauds in Tokyo.

Madame Tussaud or Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France.  She eventually settled in London and by 1825, opened the first wax museum on Baker Street. Today, the museum is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying life-size waxworks of royalty, historical figures, film and sport stars and famous murderers. The wax figures were once roped off from visitors but today the public can get up close and personal with the celebrities, dress up in costumes and take pictures!

If you are unable to visit the original London attraction, do not worry, Madame Tussauds has opened up branches in various countries including China, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, the United States and Japan.

The Japanese museum opened on March 15, 2013.  It is located at DECKS Tokyo Beach in Odaiba, approximately 32 minutes by train from Tokyo Station. The museum has over sixty wax figures of world leaders, celebrities, music stars and other television and news personalities on display. You can mingle and have your photo taken with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, President Barack Obama, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, you name it.  The museum also features various Japanese personalities such as Prime Minister Abe, skater Mao Asada, television personality Matsuko Deluxe and the famous rock band, XJapan, just to name a few.



Duke & Duchess of Cambridge


Nelson Mandela


Lady Gaga


Marilyn Monroe


Audrey Hepburn


Meryl Streep


Michael Jackson






Yu Darvish


Matsuko Deluxe


Akiko Wada




Yuko Oshima (AKB48)







Odaiba is accessible via the Yurikamome Line from Tokyo Station, exit at the Odaiba Kaihin Koen stop. DECKS is just a short walk from the station.


Web page:

Location:            3F Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo


JAPAN: Drinking Culture


It is common knowledge that alcohol is an important and accepted part of Japanese culture which extends to everything from social and business drinking to religious rites and traditional customs. The drinking age is 20 and public drinking and intoxication are not considered illegal in Japan. If anything, alcohol helps the Japanese to relax and serves as a social lubricant for essential bonding in an otherwise strictly regimented and lonely society.

Oftentimes, dining and drinking with your coworkers are an unspoken requirement in some companies. Many Japanese feel that after work parties are an important way to enhance relationships. It can be useful to understand who your coworkers are, their typical mindset when they are relaxed and outside of the office. In a typical Japanese company every aspect of the employee’s work is regulated. Everyone is seated right at the start of the day, lunch is strictly one hour from twelve noon sharp and talking with your colleagues is considered “shigo (private talk)” which should be kept to a minimum. Since there is not much room for establishing good or personal relationships at work, activities outside of office become necessary.




Bosses, “Joshi,” and senior team members,“Senpai,” invite the team, “Buka,” or junior staff, “Kohai,” to a quick dinner or a drink (which is never quick nor just one drink). The invitation is often with good intentions, to give them a chance to talk in case they had issues at work. Even if the conversation is not interesting, most of the Buka and Kohai just deal with it as it usually means a free drink or meal at a place they could not afford on their own.

A common saying in Japan is, “if you want to work your way up the corporate ladder you have to drink.” This was how many older generation workers established relationships and considered this the normal way of doing business. However, corporate life and culture have changed a lot in the last decade or so. The work environment is more flexible and accommodates the needs of individuals according to their lifestyle and stage of life. Career changes are more common and easier. If one corporate culture is not a fit, moving on is an option and there is less emphasis on building relationships that need to last a lifetime.

Still, drinking parties, “Nomikai” are still prevalent and seeing the salary men making a beeline to the izakaya, restaurant or nightclub is not uncommon in 2016. The nomikai differs from the traditional year-end drinking parties known as, “Bonenkai (Forget the year party)” which generally involve the entire company.  Nomikai is limited to only one section or department of the workplace. Oftentimes, the nomikai is followed by an after party called, “Nijikai” with “ni” signifying “second” and after it concludes there may be a “Sanjikai,” with “san” signifying “third” party. Now it is easy to see that drinking and bar-hopping can go on all night.




Typical Izakaya Menu




Further, there is an etiquette to follow during these parties where one tries to avoid filling their own glass and instead fills the glasses of the other members in attendance. This is especially true for the Senpai-Kohai relationships where the lower ranked or younger employee will offer to serve his or her superior. The relationship is reciprocal, and the superior will often fill the junior’s empty glass. But keep in mind that people are not pressured to drink alcohol at these parties.  Participants may elect to drink non-alcoholic beverages or leave their glasses full to signify that they are not willing to drink more alcohol.

Beer and sake are the preferred drinks during drinking parties but whisky is also popular and it is not uncommon to find bars keeping their patron’s favorite bottles on the shelf with the party’s name tag dangling from the bottleneck. Women tend to prefer wine or clear spirits such as shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage less than 45% alcohol by volume. It is typically distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and even brown sugar) or chuhai (shochu highball).

The Japanese love games and drinking games such as “Ikkinomi (Down in one),” are common.  Unfortunately many Japanese are unable to drink too much as they lack the necessary enzyme to break down alcohol.  Despite this, they still insist on playing the games, bar-hopping and typically end up turning a frightening shade of red after consuming too much alcohol and falling asleep in some of the strangest places imaginable. It is all too common to take the late trains and find some sloshed salary man fast asleep across from you.





But don’t misunderstand, Japan is not a nation of alcoholics.  Though alcohol consumption has quadrupled in Japan since 1960, Japan still ranks sixth in the world for beer consumption after China, the U.S., Germany, Brazil and Russia!

When visiting Japan, you may encounter intoxicated people leaving bars late at night on any given day and you may also be lucky to get invited to a drinking party. The Japanese are quite curious about a foreigner’s ability to handle alcohol so don’t be surprised if they pour you a drink after drink. Just understand the culture and always remain polite.  These parties are generally quite enjoyable and as they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!”



JAPAN: Saga (Arita Porcelain Park)

Arita, a small town in Saga Prefecture, is known throughout Japan for its pottery called Arita-yaki. As a matter of fact, Arita was the first place in Japan where porcelain was produced. Arita’s pottery was popular both domestically and in China and Europe as well. Because the pottery was exported from the nearby Imari Port, Arita-yaki would also become known as Imari-yaki, particularly when describing the products manufactured for foreign markets.

Today, travelers to Arita can visit a small theme park called the Arita Porcelain Park and see first-hand the porcelain wares that this town is famous for. Located just outside of the town center, the park is a recreation of a traditional German village. The focal point of the park is the Zwinger Palace, a replica of the palace located in Dresden, Germany. Incidentally, Dresden is also famous for its local porcelain known as Meissen. Zwinger Palace at Arita Porcelain Park serves as a museum with an impressive collection of both Arita-yaki and European porcelain. Behind the museum, there is a gorgeous European style garden that affords excellent photo opportunities.

After touring the museum and garden, you may be interested in seeing the Tengudani Kiln. There is a workshop nearby, where you can create your own porcelain cups or bowls for a cost of about ¥800-4,000. If you are not interested in getting your hands dirty, there are plenty of shops within the park and around town, which sell porcelain wares. The main shop in the park also offers sake tasting for those inclined to cap off your day in this fashion.

The park operates between the hours of 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Although no entrance fee is charged to enter the park, there is a nominal ¥500 admission fee for the museum.

Accessing the park is relatively easy via the JR Arita Station on the Sasebo Line. The park is a mere 10-minute taxi ride from the station.


Address: Arita-machi Nishimatsuura-gun Saga-ken

Germany: Eisenach (Bachhaus)

Eisenach, Germany is located just 93 miles northeast of Frankfurt and is home to the Wartburg Castle, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. Two prominent figures in history hail from Eisenach; Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle

St. George's Church where Bach was baptised

St. George’s Church where Bach was baptized



Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach on March 31, 1685 and resided there for ten years. Bach along with George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Pachelbel were the leading composers of the Baroque Period. The Baroque Period followed the Renaissance and consisted of ornate and heavily ornamented music composed during 1600-1750. Bach’s compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions and over three hundred sacred cantatas of which nearly two hundred survive today.

J.S. Bach and his family

J.S. Bach and his family

Brandenburg Concerto No 6

Brandenburg Concerto No 6

J.S. Bach was born into a prominent musical family. His father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians and all of his uncles were professional musicians. Bach’s mother died in 1694 and his father died eight months later. At age 10, Bach moved in with his oldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, who was 14 years older and the organist at St. Michael’s Church in Ohrdruf.


J.S. Bach statue

The house where Bach was born (Bachhaus) is currently the world’s leading museum about the great composer and his works. The structure is one of the oldest residential buildings in town, constructed around 1456. The property was purchased by the New Bach Society (Neue Bachgesellschaft) in 1906 and converted into a museum which opened to the public in 1907. In 1928 however, it was discovered through tax records that Bach was not born in this house but the museum remained as a memorial site to him. During 2005-2007, a modern wing was added (Penkues Building) and the historical building underwent restoration.




The exhibits lead visitors through Bach’s life and include such items as his goblet, furniture, instruments from the Bach era, the composer’s actual works and a step-by-step forensic reconstruction of Bach’s head. There are approximately 250 exhibits displayed in the museum. In addition to the original exhibits, there are live performances at hourly intervals on a clavichord, a harpsichord and an organ. Visitors can also chose to listen to recorded music on headphones while relaxing in one of the modern “bubble chairs.”








Listening room




There is a gift shop where you can purchase recordings, books and posters. If you are feeling hungry, stop by the Café Kantate for a quick snack.



The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Expect to spend an hour or two exploring the museum and immersing yourself in Bach’s life and his contributions to the musical world. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience for all music lovers.

Address: Frauenplan 21, o-5900 Eisenach




Germany: Görlitz (Tree house/ Baumhaus Hotel)

As a child, did you ever wish you had a tree house? How many of you actually had one? Well, if you were one of those that did not, now you have an opportunity to realize your childhood dreams. Travel to Görlitz, Germany and spend a night at one of the most unusual hotels imaginable.

What I am referring to is Kulturinsel Einsiedel (“Culture Island”) situated on the Polish-German border. Founded in 2005, Kulturinsel Einsiedel is the brainchild of Jürgen Bergmann, a former forester turned wood carver. He designed large scale sculptures for playgrounds and turned that passion into the theme park which exists today.

Within the five hectare adventure theme park, you will find the Tree house Hotel of Baumhaus Hotel (in German). The hotel consists of nine tree houses all connected by a series of ramps, walkways and platforms built into and around the trees. Some of the tree houses are 32 feet above the ground while others are higher still. Each house is completely unique and they each have their own name (Bodelmutzens Geisterhaus, Modelpfutzens Wipfelgipfel, Fionas Luftschloss, Baba-Doros Kräuterkate, etc.), theme and resident fairy or troll. Every tree house comes with a lounge, a bed alcove and a mini toilet. Of the nine tree houses, three are classified as luxury houses and have showers and kitchens. The regular tree houses all share showers. These larger tree houses can accommodate up to six people.






The tree house rentals start at €230 per night for two adults and two children and include admission to the theme park. You can enjoy a breakfast buffet for an additional €12 for adults and €6 for children.






The park is host to an annual festival, an all-ages event featuring folk music, a bazaar and loads of fun activities. The event is spread out across 13 stages and one year featured musicians suspended from the trees!

Görlitz is Germany’s easternmost town, situated across the Neisse River from its Polish sister city of Zgorzelec. The closest airport is in Dresden. Other international airports are located in Leipzig, Berlin and Wroclaw (Poland). The town is approximately a three to four hour train ride from these cities.

This is truly a unique spot to visit and an unforgettable place to spend the night. It will magically transport you from your everyday worries and troubles as an adult to the carefree life you once enjoyed as a child. And who couldn’t use that from time to time?

Germany: Hamburg (Miniatur Wunderland )

If you are a model railroad enthusiast, Miniatur Wunderland (German for “miniature wonderland”) will be your Eden! Located in Hamburg, Germany, Miniatur Wunderland is the brainchild of twins, Gerrit and Frederik Braun and the world’s largest model railroad, with over 39,000 feet of tracks occupying over 12,000 square feet! The brothers set about in building the massive model railway system in 2000 and in August of 2001, they opened three completed sections to the public. The original sections consisted of Harz/ Central Germany, Knuffingen (a fake city) and Austria. Today, this miniature wonderland which is open 365 days a year has become one of the biggest tourist highlights in northern Germany.


In November of 2002, the brothers added Hamburg followed by the U.S. in December of 2003. From 2005-2011 the exhibit grew to include Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Knuffingen Airport (modeled after Hamburg International Airport). There are currently plans to add Italy in 2015, followed by France in 2017 and England in 2019. In addition to offering different landscapes which correspond to various countries, the exhibit includes 890 trains consisting of up of over 11,000 carriages, 300,000 lights, 3,500 buildings & bridges, 215,000 trees, and 200,000 human figurines. Further the brothers have incorporated lighting which simulates dawn, daylight, sunset, and allows the visitors to view the entire display in a nighttime setting. All parts are built to a scale of 1:87 and much of the technology is custom-created as many of the stock components were not designed for continuous operation.

Each of the cities have their own attractions constructed in meticulous detail. Knuffingen, for instance, has firemen and policemen with working engines and sirens. The U.S. consists of a tiny Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yosemite Park and Cape Canaveral. Scandinavia features the northern Baltic Sea which uses 33,000 liters of running water with low and high tide simulated every 30 minutes. Switzerland has a chocolate plant and an open-air concert with 20,000 concert-goers.




Display of Miniatur Wunderland Modelleisenbahn  itself

Display of Miniatur Wunderland Modelleisenbahn itself













Swiss Eki





The attraction has long waiting queues on Saturdays, Sundays, and during school holidays so plan to arrive early in the morning during those times. Only a limited number of visitors are granted access simultaneously to the exhibit in order to allow each guest an opportunity to enjoy exploring the different landscapes, so keep that in mind also.

Address:                    Miniatur Wunderland Modelleisenbahn Hamburg, Kehrwieder 4, 20457 Hamburg

Web page:        

Hours:                        Daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm / Tuesdays from 9:30 am – 9 pm /

Saturdays from 8 am – 9 pm /Sundays and on public holidays from 8:30 am – 8 pm