Results tagged “Attractions” from Europe 2016

HOT!! HOT HOT HOT!!!! Horrible hotel room. And bright too. We turned the light off and it's like "did we turn the light off?" Of course at 4am it's like "is it morning?". Le sigh.

At breakfast I really didn't feel like eating - just didn't want to be hungry. And need to eat enough to only need a light lunch as everything is stoopidly expensive here.

After breakfast walked down to see the 3800-person carrying Costa ship in the fjord. We were pretty lucky that there weren't any cruise ships in port yesterday to clog up the trolls road. Today tour bus after tour bus was heading into town to take people places.

Had a morning pitstop in Lom.

Made an unscheduled stop at a small cemetery where another Insight guide was buried - she'd actually died on tour which was all very sad.

Stopped in Lillehammer for lunch. Had issues finding public toilets. In the end snuck into a Scandia hotel and went there (we figured we've given Scandia plenty of money over the past couple of weeks). Then had a cheese roll for lunch.  Went up to see the ski jump, which was in use!  Even with no snow - they just slide down slippery plastic.

Then carried on to Oslo. The traffic here (that we've seen of it) is pretty awful.

Got to our hotel and checked in. The hotel is literally on top of the station concourse. The room is a comfortable temperature, but the decor is a little disturbing - a dude beating up a lion (well a human body with a lion head - weird weird weird).

Then headed out again. Firstly we went to the station to check out the process for getting to the airport on Wednesday. Then we went down to the Opera house (pretty, but not as pretty as ours), checked out Noah's Ark (a theatre on a barge) and then went to look for some dinner. Ended up at the cathedral cafe with some others. Had a reindeer pizza, although there wasn't much meat on it.

Then back for the nightly ritual.

After the last two nights I decided I really needed an easy day today, so skipped the morning optional activity.

Bit of hurty in the morning so awake earlier than I wanted. Had a fairly leisurely breakfast with some nice choices.

After breakfast I came up to do computer stuff. And given that it rained all morning I'm not regretting my choice.

I used the time to various *stuff*. I checked the downloads of my photos, and I'm super glad I did as there was a day on the Reformation tour where I'd downloaded my photos before dinner, but had taken a whole heap at dinner, but hadn't downloaded them. I was super lucky I checked and that I hadn't already cycled that memory card, otherwise I would have lost all the people photos I took on the last night of the reformation tour. Backed everything to memory stick and external hard drive. Also completely repacked my suitcase which made me feel a lot better. I paid my phone bill (excess usage from being overseas). Blogged some stuff on my main blog. And just looked through photos.

The afternoon optional activity was a wilderness river "cruise". It's really not very well described so I had no idea what to expect. What it actually was was these motorised canoes that held between four and seven people in single file, and we motored up the river and back (20 km/h upstream, 35 km/h downstream). Unfortunately didn't get to see any wildlife except for a few birds. But it was somewhat exhilirating in the cool arctic air (not cold mind you!).

After the ride we got out and had some waffles by the fire sitting on reindeer skins (which are surprisingly warm, who knew) and got to see the remains of the ice hotel they build every year but has since melted. We got to see a bit of a promo video of it too which was pretty cool. Would be an awesome experience to stay the night!

The evening's activity was to a husky breeder's house for a dinner of bbqed salmon and veggies. After dinner was some stories from the owner who breeds and races her Alaskan huskies. She was a great story teller, it was really intersting. Then we got to go and play with the dogs and even got to hold some four week old puppies. Sooo cute!

Then back to the hotel.

Woke up in the middle of the night for an hour last night. Dunno why. Other than the static electricity I was comfortable enough, just not sleeping.

Breakfast was pretty decent. After breakfast went for a walk down to the river to photograph the Lumberjack Candle bridge.

After breakfast we had a tour of the town of Rovaniemi with a local guide. She took us to the Lutheran church in town and we got a very detailed explanation of the fresco there.

Then we headed up north of town to Santa's "office" and the whole tourist kitsch. It's advertised as being on the Arctic Circle, which I thought was pretty cool at the time.

Except.

It's not.

Not only is it a couple of kilometres south of the Arctic circle, it's not even on a horizontal line to match up with any meridian. If you look at it on your favourite mapping application it's on quite a sharp diagonal.

But I didn't discover than until later.

In the meantime, they gave us some time to explore Santa's village there. We wandered into Santa's "office" where you can have your photo taken with the "real" Santa. Mum wanted to do it so we did. Me, I took one look at the prices and declared it *completely* ridiculous. It was 30 Euro for a large print. 35 Euro for five small prints. Or 40 Euro for a digital copy of the photo.

What. The. F@#k. ?????

How can they get away with charging 40 Euro for a digital file that they don't even have to expend any media on?? It's criminal. Needless to say I was not amused. I said I'd given them 10 Euro for the file. The girl wasn't amused. I'm sure she gets it all the time. I certainly wouldn't be doing that job.

Not only that, but you could tell the queue lasted for hours at certain times of year. They had a whole huge setup for the queuing. What made it so bad was that you went in and sat with "Santa" but instead of just taking a photo he makes all this small talk, which later turns out you can buy as a video.

?!?!

If they wanted more money:
1) charge less for the photos
2) cut out the crap and just churn people through instead of making them wait forever

Anyways.

I'm not cynical at all.

Honest ;)

After that we had a wander through all the little souvenir shops which was fun.

Got back to the hotel and given a small lunch break so I had Subway. Because it was across the road. So sue me.

Then we headed out again for the first of our optional tours for the day.

The first stop was the Arktikum, a museum of Arctic life. We had over an hour with the guide which was good, but then only got twenty minutes of self exploration of the museum. Ridiculous.

The second stop was a "pioneer farm" which was an old family farm house which had been preserved and turned into a museum. That was a great experience too, but again, ended with only a super short time to explore all the stuff there. Frustrating.

Once back in town again there was a couple of hours to kill before dinner, so mum and I went down to the river to see the bridge, then ended up doing the whole bridge to bridge walk. Whoops.

Then we had the next optional tour, which was out to a reindeer farm. We got to see one week old baby reindeer which were so adorable, and got to feed some young male reindeer. Then we headed up to dinner which was reindeer with mashed potato and berries. Quite tasty and quite a lovely evening.

Then back to the hotel to do computer stuff.

As it turns out, we did actually cross the Arctic circle tonight when we went to the reindeer farm.  I saw a sign on the road, and later confirmed it on the map.  So I have actually been to the arctic :)

Last night we set the room thermostat to 5C. It barely got cooler than ambient temperature. And couldn't open the window either.

Breakfast had a bigger selection of food, on account of being a much bigger hotel. They had potato and mushrooms which was nice.

Hopped on the 7:36 #635 bus to the terminals (it was super packed :( ).

Got to terminal 2 and there was a Subway (I really felt like Subway for dinner last night but we didn't find it - doh!).

Used the machines to check out suitcases through and that worked pretty well. Went through security, where they got me to turn the camera on and take a photo to make sure it really was a camera. And got a tarmac tour to get to the plane.

The flight was on a CRJ-900 which I've never been on before. Much like a 717. And if I'd known that I would have tried for a seat much further forward in front of the wing. But it was ok because the engines are further back. Except the windows were full of condensation which frosted up and made photographs pretty terrible. No snackages on the plane (unless you buy them) so just had some water. The south of Germany was all cloudy, but it cleared up as we went further north. Flew over the Malmo bridge which was super cool :)

Got to Copenhagen but our bags didn't come up the appointed carousel. And we weren't the only ones missing bags. But they finally finally came up - they must have lost a trolley along the way somewhere. Got some cash out, then waited for our transfer to the hotel from our tour group.

We got a 15th floor room, but sadly facing away from the city. No aircon to speak of either. But the window opens so hopefully it'll cool down overnight.

When we got here I needed to grab something light for lunch. Except I've said before, Copenhagen is *huge*, and it took a full half an hour to walk from our hotel to somewhere with light food options. After walking up and down a pedestrian section near the town hall I gave up and chose the Scottish Restaurant, because you can get small meals there (I just had some fries with mayo).

By the time I got back to the hotel, two hours had passed :(:( So much for a quiet afternoon catching up on blogging, backing up photos etc. Only got an hour before we had to head down for the tour starting meeting and dinner.

Dinner was ok - a bit of a buffet, so could regulate what we ate a bit better. They also included a couple of drinks, which may be the last I have on this trip on account of the price of everything here.

After dinner we headed out again - up to Tivoli Gardens. This was originally on the itinerary for this tour, but in recent week wasn't on the itinerary for the tour on their website. So I was a bit annoyed that we'd paid to go see and wouldn't get to (it's ~20AUD just to get in). So that was pretty good that we did in fact get to go in. Had a lovely wander through the park. Wanted to go on some rides but it was all too complicated with bags and stuff and not really having enough time. Even got some freshly made fairy floss which you can't get in Australia anymore, you can only get packed stuff. So that was all very nice and it was all very pretty as the lights came on.

Except.

We got back to the entrance one minute late (on account of *hoards* of people coming in the gates) and there was *noone* there. So we thought we'd misunderstood the meeting place. Mum stayed there while I went to the other place I thought maybe we should have been meeting. Twice. But no. They'd all fricken gone off without us. So now we're going to have a reputation with the rest of the tour (forty fricken people) as being people to be late and hold everyone up. Completely pissed off about it all.

And it's late.

Managed to cool the room down a little bit last night by having the balcony door open. But I didn't like the idea of leaving it open overnight, and the aircon was hopeless, so ended up waking up hot :(

Went into Augsburg first up. Met up with a local guide and went on a walking tour of the city. Had an interesting walk through the Fuggerei settlement, then looked at various buildings, and finished up at St Anna church, where Luther stayed for a while in the cloisters.

Then we got given some free time, so went up the tower in one of the churches, then had a look at the shiny "Goldsaad" - gold room in the Rathaus. Had a bite to eat from maccas (because it was at our meeting place and I knew I could get a small serving of food).

Then we headed to Dachau. Very sad place. Especially the cremetoria. Our guide, Ute, was born in 1938 and had stories to tell about her childhood which was pretty cool.

And finally onto Munich. Our hotel is in the middle of an industrial area, so there's nothing of any interest around. We walked into our room and the first thing I said was "this room stinks". Even though it says it's a non-smoking room on the door, there's an ash tray and matches in the room. We opened the window up wide and the door as well to get some air through which has helped. Others weren't so lucky - they got actual smoking rooms. We were all not very happy at all. And to rub salt into the wounds, they charge ten euros a day for the wifi!!!! Which I flat out refuse to pay given our awful experiences so far. It's worse that we're here for two nights right when I need it for organising the next part of our trip (although for the most part that's mostly organised so not the end of the world). But seriously, what hotel in Germany in 2016 doesn't have free wifi? I think this calls for an uncomplimentary review on TripAdvisor. I went down to reception to start asking questions (like, how can I get into the city? where's the nearest station?). Then moved onto where's the nearest laundromat, which of course he couldn't answer, so I said can we look one up, because I have no resources, to which he said, oh there's a business centre computer I could use. I was hoping for some wifi, but whatevs. Decided it was entirely too difficult to get to a laundromat from here (being in the middle of nowhere and all) so gave up on that idea.

Had dinner in the restaurant downstairs. Ok but very salty. Then back up here to find the desk doesn't have any spare power points. You have to disconnect either the lamp or the tv to get power. So after being spoilt by generally good hotels with all the sorts of services you'd expect, this hotel really ended this particular tour very badly.

So yeah, slept pretty well last night.

Breakfast was down in the hotel restaurant. Ate plenty so we woudn't need lunch.

Then we had a local city guide and did a big tour of the city.

First stop was the Reichstag. Didn't go in, just had a look from the outside.

Then walked up to the Brandenburg Gate. The sun started peeking through the clouds by this point.

Then to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Spoilt somewhat kids and other young people screaming and making heaps of noise. Bruce did a little bit of an Anzac Day ceremony there which was nice.

Back on the coach and down to a piece of the Berlin Wall on Niederkirchnerstrasse - something we didn't see last time. Had only a very short time to look at the open air part of Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror). Really only got time to look at about a third of it :(

Then onto Checkpoint Charlie. Really just a photostop.

Then Bruce decided we should see inside the Berliner Dom instead of Marienkirche, so they got us there in time for the daily service, which is actually free, instead of something like seven euro to get into otherwise (although if you pay you can go up the dome apparently).

They gave us nearly an hour and a half after that to have lunch and explore, so we went down to the Marienkirche anyway.

Wandered up to Alexanderplatz to find the world clock, and look for snipers on the rooves. And it snowed. Really.

Back to the Dom, and a short walk to the Pergamon museum. Cool place, and we had quick entry on account of being a tour group. Although the entrance foyer is super chaotic. Sadly the altar from Pergamon is closed off at the moment due to renovations. But the market gate and Istar gate and procession way are amazing.

Back on the coach, and onto the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Turns out you can just go into the new church, so went in there. The blue stained glass is just stunning. The building looks *much* better on the inside than the outside!

At this point (it was about 4:30pm), they were going to head back to the hotel and call it a day. But I didn't want to just waste a couple of hours sitting around the hotel (even if I *did* have a lot of computer work to do), so we went for a wander back down the KaDeWe (via LEGO!!). Lots of yummies to be had on the 6th floor. I did end up getting a couple of macarons, which were ok but not super epic awesome. Then we walked back to the hotel.

Dinner was downstairs, but didn't get back up here til nearly 8:30pm, and there's still gps and photo downloading and blogging to do.  Too tired for this crap.