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13.06.2011 24 °C
Hello everyone, it's your mystery guest bloggers here....and in case you didn't recognise us from the photo it's Ian and Kelly!
Well it's our last morning in Berlin and we have had a wonderful time exploring the city and catching up with Mum and Dad. We arrived on Thusday ahead of the folks and struck out immediately to find some lunch, we took a recommendation from the Time Out guide to Berlin which sent us to a lovely family run cafe. It is 'Spargelzeit' in Berlin, which means 'Asparagus time' so we both had the special, Wiener Snitzel with asparagus and hollendaise sauce, very traditional and fantastically tasty!l After lunch we had a nice walk around the city exploring the Mitte area which is the central district of Berlin where our hotel is located and was previously part of East Berlin ahead of reunification in 1989. This took us through some lovely streets past beautiful old and stiking new architecture, a common theme for this city, through to the famous Brandenburg Gate. from there we looped back to the Hotel picking up a lovely frozen yoghurt ice cream, very tasty and also healthy!
The hotel is lovely in a quiet area of Mitte, it is clean, the rooms are modern and bright and it has served us well. We especially have enjoyed the bar where we have had the occasional night cap to see the evening off.
Over to Kelly!
mmmmm I love this place. It's quite bohemian with loads of interesting cafe's and art almost everywhere. This morning we are going to the main concert hall to see The Berlin Concert Orchestra play Mozart. It's a breakfast idea where we have coffee and croissant included in our ticket price and then they follow with the concert starting at 11 a.m. for an hour. What a way to start your day!
Thankfully for Ian, Neil Diamond - who I love and he loathes -played the day before we arrived so he had a lucky excape!
Berlin is a modern and thriving city and we have been impressed with both it's beautiful and interesting architecture (both old and new), it's efficiency, cleanliness and friendliness. It has been quite hard for me to imagine that this city was pivotal in the uprising of Hitler and Nazi Germany but despite it's sorrowful history it has been open about it's past and we found that when we visited the memorial laid to Jewish victims of the Second World War Holocaust. It was a sad and sobering experience and I won't begin to describe the photographic images that we saw in the museum. It simply made you want to cry. I think it was brave of Berlin to house this museum. Their history should not be held against them but equally we should never forget the victims of this terrible atrocity.
The other main historical interest for us was a seeing the Berlin Wall (or what remains of it). It simply hard to imagine that this city was divided into two by a wall - the East on one side and the west on the other. We learned that approximately 130 people died attempting to excape over or in some cases under the Wall - the price for them was wanting Freedom. The section of the Wall that remains in tact has been taken over by artists who have drawn their own impressions of peace and a freer world. It was a quite a sight...
We have had an action packed few days and it would take ages to cover everything we have done here in detail, other highlights of this city have been:
- Fantastic views from the television tower where the distinction between the architecture of the old east and west sectors of the city is still evident.
- Wonderful meals at a local Thai restaurant and last night at Maxwell's, a lovely place situated in an old gothic brewery which served outstanding modern German cuisine.
- German beer, especially the Weizen beer which both Dad and I love
- Lots of lovely cafes and bakeries which have served us well
- The Berlin people themselves who have been warm, friendly and ever so welcoming
The only dissappointments have been: 1. that we were not able to climb the Dome at the Reichstag which upon reunification was reinstated as the German National Parliament, a lovely old building with a fantastic modern addition, a glass and metal dome designed by Norman Foster. Unfortunately due to security measures and unbeknown to us you have to apply to visit in advance so we had to make do with the view from the outside. and 2. the hunt for the Stasi Museum in a suburb of the old East Berlin where we spent an hour walking around looking for the exhibition which had apparently been relocated a year ago - well I guess time out can't be right all the time!!!
But, all in all it has been a fantastic trip, we have had a great time and so I'll leave it there and Kelly will sign off with a final word...
For those of you wondering how Frank and Christine are. We have found them relaxed, happy and they have great sun-tans. We only wish we were continuing with them on to Bravaria. Alas, for us it is back to work. Auf wiedersehen.
Heading for Bavaria
13.06.2011 - 14.06.2011 25 °C
Well we are now off on the second leg of our journey. We have said farewell to our guest bloggers Ian and Kelly. We had a lovely time in Berlin with them and would like to thank them for being such good company and of course for their excellent addition to our travel blog.
We have now inserted the second leg of our trip to give you some idea of where we are heading next. Our travel plans for this leg are much more flexible and we may well end up in entirely different places but that is part of the fun of being on the road. We will update the itinerary as we progress.
Just one word on our overnight stop here in a place called Peissen. Yes there are some potential bad taste jokes here! It feels like the middle of nowhere but interestingly it is not far from a place called Halle Saale. It is within the former East Germany and there are signs of a lack of investment but they do seem to have an excellent tram system and a beautiful cathedral but perhaps the most noticeable thing is that this is the birthplace of Handel and they hold a festival here every year in June and it is under way right now. We will not have any time to participate as in the morning we move on.
Finally we are staying for the first time in an Etap hotel. It is very basic but has all we need for an overnight stop and it is in fact the cheapest hotel accommodation we have had so far at a mere £25 for the night. A quarter of the cheapest hotel we found in Scandinavia.
Bye for now
Love F and C
Well it's a few days since we have posted a blog but that is because we have not been able to connect to WIFI. We have been staying at a small campsite in Bavaria at a town called Schwabisch Hall. We had not heard of it before and found it quite by accident but its an interesting place. Its wealth was established in medieval times by the simmering of salt from water drawn from a well in the centre of the town and the salt was sold on to towns across Bavaria and wine was brought back on the empty salt wagons for further trade. Any way there must have been a lot of money in salt because the town centre is full of fine medieval half timbered buildings all well preserved and still in use.
For those of you puzzling over the title for this blog I had best explain. We are now 6 weeks in to our travels and over the last week or so I have been looking for an opportunity to get a haircut as it's getting a bit long and straggly. It was a problem trying to find somewhere suitable as there do not seem to be any barbers shops in Germany only unisex "Frizzors" (hairdressors). I eventually found somewhere in Schwabisch Hall that looked suitable and empty so I was thinking I could just pop in without an appointment and get it cropped. But this was not possible. After a conversation with "Herr Frizzor" in limited English it seemed that there were no appointments available right now. I think he was planning a long lunch break, but I could come back at 2.45 when he could fit me in. When I did come back a bit early for my appointment the place was quite busy. I was offered a drink and asked to sit until they were ready for me. 3 people were being attended to. Firstly a rather stylish middle aged lady was sitting reading a magazine under some kind of modern looking drying machine. The second client was a young guy, very good looking but interestingly dressed in blue working clothes and working boots. He was lying back in the wash chair but being attended to by a young female hairdresser who was applying what looked like twisted strands of nylon fishing line over and over his forehead and eyebrows. Any way there was a lot of consultation to ensure he got the look he wanted and there were many minor realignments before he was satisfied. The third guy was being attended to by the owner. He looked like he did not need a hair cut as it was so short but he had it shaved even closer and again great care again taken to ensure he was content.
Eventually the guy with the eyebrows was done and it was my turn to take a seat. I was to be dealt with by the same young lady but she had less English than the owner and we commenced a process of sign language and a few words with the owner that he then interpreted for her and as a result I had no idea what kind of haircut I was about to get. She took great care and was very good. Then she asked me if I wanted my eyebrows dealing with so I said yes (in for a penny in for a pound!) She trimmed them with scissors though! Then she asked me if I wanted my hair washing (this was quite different to the UK where they wash it first) so I said yes! Then she asked me if I wanted a head massage so again I said yes and this was superb. Then she asked if I wanted styling and gel so I again said yes and I will let Christine describe the result. Christine had by this time come to find me as we had assumed it would take about 15 minutes in total but I was being attended to for almost an hour.
Now Christine: Well I've never known Frank talk quite so much about a haircut but the end result is very good, he had a little quiff at the front which for some reason he has not continued with! As he says much better than he usually ends up with at the station barbers in Emsworth (and for much the same price)
We also visited another town in Bavaria called Rothenburg ob die Tauber and this again had a wonderful medieval centre - the Rough Guide called it 'cutsie Bavaria' and I guess we have to agree. Today we moved from Schwabisch Hall to Lindau on Lake Constance and so we had to pack up camp this morning and then re-erect the tent on arrival - better than a session at the gym!
The weather down here on the southern border of Germany/Austria has settled into a pattern of hot sunny weather all day which clouds over around 6 ish and then develops into a thundery rain storm. As I'm typing we are listening to the rain pulsing down onto the canvas but no leaks yet thankfully!
We are finding it much less easy to get Wifi access here in Germany. There was none at all on the previous site and on this site we will have to log on to a T Mobile Hotspot at considerable cost - hence sending this blog as an email rather than doing it directly on line. It also makes sending the photos a bit tricky as they can take a little while to go through. We'll see what we can do.
Duncs was asking how many miles we had done - Frank says we've done about 4,500 road miles with roughly another 1000 on ferries. The autobahns are the busiest roads we've encountered so far and can be a bit trying with the slow lorries in one lane and the impatient BMWs and Mercs in the other usually bombing along at over 100mph. However we've chunked the rest of the journey up into bite size bits and have 3 and sometimes 4 days at most stops - but it will be nice to get to Montpelier and stay put for 2 weeks.
Well this has turned into quite an epistle (its still raining hard) but I'd better sign off now.
As an update as we couldn't connect to wifi to post our blog last night.....it has not stopped raining now for about 18 hours and we are getting a bit fed up! I think a hotel likely next, as soon as we can pack up the tent in dry weather!!
Sent from my iPad
18.06.2011 - 19.06.2011 19 °C
We have booked in to a small hotel in Innsbruck. Our last stop in Bavaria was a bit of a wash-out. We were camping at a place called Lindau on the shore of Lake Constance. It seemed like a nice place but unfortunately just after we had managed to pitch the tent it started raining and did not stop for 24 hours. By that time we had had enough. We saw a little bit of Lindau but its always difficult to form a good opinion of somwhere when its raining. We decided to bring forward our hotel slot that we had planned in Innsbruck and fortunately managed to pack up in dry conditions this morning. The drive to Innsbruck was increasingly spectacular as we worked through the Bavarian foothills to the Alps and then into true alpine scenery. On route we stopped at Schwangau were the main features of interest are two castles constucted by King Ludwig of Bavaria in the early 19th Century. They are close together and one is just like every fairy tale castle you have seen. It is apparently the Castle used by Disney to shape their Logo. As you can imagine lots of tourists and especially Americans. Stll it broke up our day and was worth a visit as we were passing by.
Over to Christine
Just about survived the soggy camping but the most dispiriting thing is finding something to do whilst waiting for it to stop! A full 24 hours is a long time to wait. By this evening we were back to fluffy white clouds and sunshine though it is definitely cooler here in Innsbruck at 1800 feet. The castles were very picturesque and Frank took loads of shots but we are having some difficulty getting them on to the blog because of these dodgy wifi connections but we will have another go at this tomorrow.