Results tagged “Museums” from Europe 2016

Sleep and breakfast, rinse and repeat.

After breakfast, around 9am, we headed out. We wandered down to the fortress, expecting to have to pay to go in and possibly you do to go in the buildings, but you can walk all around the grounds for free which was pretty cool. We wandered around for three quarters of an hour and there's some great views of the city.

Then we headed up to the Historical Museum, because our tickets for the viking ship museum covered it. Didn't really spend all that much time there.

Then back to the hotel to sort out our bags and get ourselves ready. We'd done 10000 steps before lunch time!

The hotel was in a super convenient location - right on top of the station. So getting to the trains was super easy. We went and got some tickets for the regular train, not the airport express, because it's like half the price to do it that way. The train got up to 200 km/h for most of the trip and took about the same amount of time as the airport express anyway. And it had free wifi :)

Got to the airport and checked in. Check in and bag drop was all electronic and super easy, didn't have to interact with any humans at all. Oslo airport is generally quite user friendly. There's plenty of shops in the terminal too to look at while waiting. I finished up yesterday's photo sorting then grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch. Then mum and I went through all of her photos that I'd scanned recently and labelled what we could.

Our plane was about half an hour late leaving, I forget the reason why.  Technical difficulties I think. Took off to the south and saw Oslo as we flew over it. Then over the Netherlands - pretty sure I saw Schipol and Rotterdam but really need to see the gps track to be sure. Rain as we arrived in Brussels.

Brussels airport is *not* very user friendly. We wanted to see about our flights tomorrow, but we first had to try and figure out which terminal it would likely go from. After wandering around trying to find anything useful, but failing, we thought we'd just go check in to the hotel and dump our bags then come back and try again. Even trying to get out of the airport to get to the hotel (which is conveniently just across the road from the terminal we came out of) was a drama. I couldn't even see emergency exit signs anywhere. We ended up asking someone how to get out of the damned terminal! Fail fail fail.

So checked into the hotel (it was about 19:40 by this point and we were tired and hungry). Had a look at the restaurant downstairs, but it looked expensive and uninspiring, so we went back to the airport. Because of the bombings a while back, security is pretty intense. There's no car pickups/dropoffs outside the terminal anymore - people have to use the parking garages for that. Not even any taxis.  They must go somewhere, but don't know where. So the road between the terminal and the hotel is pedestrian only, with a security tent setup for access to the terminal, and a *lot* of heavily armed soldiers and police. Apparently from tomorrow the split terminal checkins are merging back into the one. Or something. Also apparently only passengers are allowed into the terminals at the moment - no visitors or people saying goodbye. Not that they actually checked that when we went back in so whatevs.

Anyway, found something to eat (just some pasta), then back to the hotel.

Slept mostly ok - the cooler temperature certainly helps.

Breakfast options were pretty limited, but the bacon was nice.

After breakfast we headed out for a tour of Oslo. We stopped opposite the Opera house for a photo stop. Drove around town for a bit. Went to the Vigeland sculpture garden which I quite enjoyed - the sculptures were quite interesting.

Then to the viking ship museum to see a couple of very well preserved viking ships which was pretty cool.

Then to the Fram museum to have a look at and on the Fram, a ship that explored both the north and south poles around the turn of the century.

Then got dropped back at the hotel.

We dumped some of our stuff then headed out for a good long wander around Oslo - alll the way from our hotel at the east central station up to the palace, then down to the water front, had an ice cream (Oslo was *hot* yesterday - 27C!!) then back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Had the "farewell" dinner which was nice enough, although I struggled to get through my food. Chatted to some people for a while longer and suddenly it was 10:30pm ?? So pretty much just collapsed into bed without doing any photo or gps stuff.

The further north we get, the more .. "quaint" our hotels get :)

Last night's hotel had a pretty awkward bathroom and the buffet breakfast was extremelly limited (no bacon! *gasp*). Temperature was still too warm (we're in the arctic circle and it's too hot!). Opened the window for a while, but we were on the ground floor so didn't leave it open for the night. We did have a lovely view out the window though.

Slept like crap though. Other than lots of young guys partying on after the hockey game finished and making an awful lot of noise, I also woke up stressing about hurty and other such things. So I ended up being super tired all day. :(:(:(

Out the door at 7:30. Drove up to Norway, and noone was even at the border crossing so just quietly passed into Norway. Had to turn our clocks back an hour which makes today even longer. Also stuffs up my photo numbering which is based on time. There'll be overlap of a few photos.

By 8:45 local time we arrived at a small Sami museum. Had some explanations of some of the things by a local Sami lady which was interesting. I was so tired I was falling asleep on my feet though.

Then saw real live majestic mooses! Three on the other side of the coach, then I saw one on just outside my window and managed a good picture of it as we zoomed past. Lots and lots of reindeer too.

Drove along a fjord which looked very pretty, although Peter our guide says as fjords go from one to ten, it's probably a two. The super sad thing is, for all the drives where we'll be going past fjords in the next week, we're going to be on the wrong side of the coach :(:(:( Super sad making :(

Continued on and stopped for lunch at Olderfjord. Really nothing there but a small restaurant and a camp site. Had some quite nice soup for lunch, which was 99 NOK. Which translates to $16.50 AUD. Ouch. This place is even more expensive than Denmark, which shocked me four years ago.

The drive north from there got prettier and prettier. The rock strata was quite spectacular. Saw an eagle sitting on a rock. Passed cute little fishing villages, including many candidates for Stu's dream home. Got up past the trees and into the tundra, which with all the snow and rocks looked an awful lot like our snowy mountains!

Finally arrived in Honningsvag and checked into the hotel and found an ATM to get some cash out.

Then headed out again. This time for an optional bird watching cruise off the northwest side of the island. It was pretty expensive (109 EUR I think) but it was super cool. Got to see cormorants, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, white tailed eagles, gannets, kittiwakes and a whole heap of seagulls (a couple of varieties). But we finished off seeing a small group of seals which was pretty awesome. Got some great photos.

Back to the hotel for dinner. They weren't very well organised, but the food I had was very nice.

After a break after dinner (and then having to go wake up Peter who had fallen asleep) we headed out again - up to North Cape. After a rainy start to the day it wasn't all that hopeful that we'd see the sun, but it had actually been clearing for the evening which was super exciting. When we arrived we all had a glass of champagne and some cavier and salmon canapes then got a bit of time to get our photos taken with the globe and have a look at the movie and museum dug into the rock. Then at midnight we were all out to see the midnight sun. Pretty awesome :):):) The lowest it dips is actually a little bit after midnight, but they didn't give us time to hang around for that. But it was pretty surreal to be able to see the sun due north in the northern hemisphere - coming over the top of the world. Also the most furthest north I'm ever likely to get on land.

Coming back Peter said that they only get to see the midnight sun about ten percent of the time, and for most tour groups they never actually get to see it. So we were extremelly blessed. It was "sunset" lighting the whole way back to the hotel, but it was weird knowing that the sun was actually rising - it wasn't going to set at all!

So this hotel, in the middle of the arctic, where the sun doesn't set for weeks at a time, couldn't be arsed putting in blockout blinds. We just had these flimsy things that let the light in all night. Fail. 

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 :)

So the day started grey and rainy and miserable. Decent breakfast at the hotel then we headed out into the rain.

We had a tour with a local guide. Got driven around Stockholm to the town hall, where they have the receptions for the Nobel prizes. That was all quite nice.

Then to a spot to see the old town from another island.

Then into the old town for a walking tour.

By then it was mid morning and the program was done for the day.

Yeup.

There was an optional tour to go out to the Vasa museum so we decided to go on that. I'd toyed with the idea of doing it myself, as it would have been a lot cheaper. But then we would have had to negotiate public transport. But given how little time we had there on the tour, I'm regretting that. It would have been better to have done it ourselves and not been so rushed. We could easily have spent a lot more time there :(

Got dumped in town and told to entertain ourselves. We really had no idea what to do so ended up wandering at random. We thought about going up a temporary tower thing, but they wouldn't take credit cards (and we had no cash) so gave up on that idea. Just wandered around at random. Bit silly really.

Got picked up at 3pm and driven to our hotel for the night - the Baltic ferry the Silja Serenade. Quite nice for a ferry. Also probably the biggest passenger vessel I've been on. And it has free wifi!!

We went for a wander around the ship before the 5pm dinner sitting. Quite a big buffet of food, although pretty chaotic. After dinner we went to the Grease stage show. We'd gotten seats once we got on board, advertised as "obstructed" viewing. We expected to be behind people, but still be able to see. But no, you literally could not see the stage at all. So we moved to somewhere we could. Mum sat on the floor and I stood for the entire thing. Silly really. Although it did mean we missed pretty much all of the view - either while at dinner or while in the show.

Pretty late by bed time, and we lose an hour moving into Finland's time zone.

Woke up at 5:30 again. Blerf.

Had a lighter breakfast today because we were scheduled to have lunch provided. Packed up and on the coach by 7:55.

I was pretty tired so dozed in the coach between Leipzig and Erfurt. It reminded me a lot of our trip to America in 2004 - just on the go the whole time and not enough sleep. Had a pitstop on the way as well.

In Erfurt we got to go and see the two big churches on the top of the hill.

The guesthouse Luther stayed in was pointed out.

We got to see the university building where Luther studied for his first degree.

Then to the Augustinian monastery where Luther went when he first decided to become a monk.

And then to the Merchant's Bridge, which is a big medieval bridge with buildings on top of it. Super cool!

Then it was lunch. Unfortunately they took *forever* and there was too much food. It mucked up schedule for the afternoon. We'd have been better off doing what we normally do - just fend for ourselves.

Walked across the merchant's bridge, then back through the town streets to the coach.

In Eisenach we started at the oldest JS Bach statue in the world (apparently), which is right next to the Bachhaus.

Walked down past the Lutherhaus, where Luther probably lived for a few years when he was in school.

Had a look inside the St George church.

Then back to the Lutherhaus to have a look inside at the museum.

Finally had a bit of a walk through the town and had a look at the town gates.

Then out to the hotel for a buffet dinner (hurrah, I could eat a lot less than if it had been another three course meal!) .

Slept mostly ok last night (although woke up at 5am). The pillows compress down to wafer thinness so had to use both and keep floofing them up. The sink isn't as good for clothes washing either - quite a bit smaller. The breakfast buffet is quite decent.

Today we headed back north to go to Wittenberg. Martin Luther spent many years there and it was full all sorts of history.

We started at the eastern end of town and made our way west.

So first stop was the little area at the edge of town where Martin Luther burnt the papal bull concerning his excommunication in 1520.

Then into the Lutherhaus which is where Luther lived for much of his life and includes his remarkably well preserved living room and a bunch of paintings by Cranach the Elder.

A couple of houses down is Melanchton's house which has been remodelled on the inside over the years.

By this time we'd reached the main market square and it was lunch time so we had an hour's break. I waited a little while for the sun to come out on the Rathaus, then we went to find somewhere warm and a toilet. Even in the shopping centres you have to pay to go to the toilet here. Wrong. So wrong. Had some hot chocolate and shared a donut and warmed up.

After the lunch break we carried on.

First stop was the main city church.

Then had a look at the outside of the Cranach house.

And finally reached the Castle church where Luther is said to have posted his 95 theses to the door. Sadly the church is closed off for renovations at the moment for the 500th anniversary of the reformation next year, but we could at least see the doors that have the theses in bronze.

The whole town tour went from 10:30am to 3:00pm so it was quite a long day even though we only covered about 1.5km.

Back to Leipzig and we got dropped off at the western edge of town and left to fend for ourselves for a couple of hours. Tried to go up the tower at St Thomas' but it's only open Friday/Saturday. So did a meandering wander up to the Hauptbahnhof, then back through the old town.

Dinner was at a Czech restaurant. Nice enough, but bread-heavy and almost no vegetables in sight. There was a vegetable soup (with just a few slivers of veggies) and bread, a beef stew with bread (only beef, no veggies), and a sweat bread roll with custard and cream. Too. Much. Bread. And not enough veggies.

Then back to the hotel to do the evening routine.

Sadly, yet again, I couldn't be with the sweetie on our anniversary today :(

Slept well for the first half of the night, but woke up to pee and had pretty broken sleep after that.

Breakfast was much the same today as yesterday (but they had bacon today!)

We were given the morning off to do what we liked. Except it was raining.

We decided to go to the Checkpoint Charlie museum first, since it opened at 9am and it was raining. I wish I'd done a bit more research, because if I had, I probably wouldn't have gone. I was expecting a lot more about the history of the wall and the escape attempts, and there was a little bit of that. But most of the museum is just a rabbit warren of rooms *covered* in text and some photos. And most of it has nothing to do with the wall. There was an awful lot about world politics.  There was stuff on Ronald Reagan. There was stuff on prisoners in North Korea. There was even some stuff on Picasso and art.

!?

It was the most confusing and disorganised museum I've ever been to. Really didn't enjoy much of it at all. As we came out we found maps which *may* have helped cut down the confusion.

So we'd gotten to the museum by an M29 bus. We bought all day tickets (7EUR) so we could hop on and off without having to stress about tickets. The bus stop where we got on sold tickets, although they only worked with coins and credit cards, although it wouldn't take mum's credit card so she had to buy hers on the bus (I didn't have enough coinage for both tickets). After the museum, we decided to take trains to Alexanderplatz. Getting to Friedrichstrasse was easy enough, but Friedrichstrasse is a huge, confusing, and very badly signed station. We got quite confused about where to go to get a train to Alexanderplatz and ended up asking someone.

At Alexanderplatz we walked out of the station and looked up. Good news! We could see the tower. Which meant we'd be able to see out of it. So went and lined up at the first security checkpoint to get into the building. Because it had been raining the queue was very short - only a few people in front of us. Inside we took one look at the queue to buy tickets, and went over to the vending machines to get them. Went straight in :) (after passing another security check). It was mostly cloudy, but quite clear, and the sun started to peek through. Took photos out of every window to make a panorama. It'll be interesting to compare photos from this trip to the ones I took last time to see what sort of construction has happened in the past eight years. We also ran into several groups of people from the tour who had the same idea as us. They couldn't get into the Reichstag dome because there were no available tickets til 6pm!

Next we headed back down to find the chocolate shop Robert and Winsome had told us about. And continued to get frustrated with the public transport system here. Specifically signage for people that need to figure out where to go. Or, as the case may be, the complete lack of it. Some stations had at least a board that had the stations on the line it was on. But others didn't. And very few of them have an overall network map so you can figure out which line you have to be on and which direction to go. *Eventually* found the right train at Alexanderplatz and went to Statdmitte, where we found the chocolate shop right outside the train station entrance.

The chocolate shop is pretty amazing. It's got all these huge models made out of chocolate, including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Fernsehturm, and even the Titanic and an A380! I bought myself a small sample of chockies to try.

Then back to the hotel. Train from Stadtmitte to Halesches Tor to change trains (and a long walk rivalling the Paris metro to change trains) for a train to Uhlandstrasse.

Only had a very brief stop at the hotel, then we were on the coach, heading out to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. It was only a small camp in the scheme of things, and not a lot is left, but it was quite interesting, and pretty sad.

Finally back to the hotel. Got some stuff done before dinner (nice again as always) and finished up after dinner. Time to wash hair.

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.