Results tagged “Shopping” from Europe 2016

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 :)

The hotel we had last night had an even more open bathroom door. This one you could into the toilet as well as the shower with a couple of clear breaks in the frosted glass. Weird. Also no plugs for the sink to do washing, *but* they do have a free guest laundry, which we used this morning before breakfast (thanks mum!).

Sleep was a bit broken last night. Aircon got it relatively cool, but still overheated with the doona on. I think I might pull the doona out of its cover tonight.

Breakfast choices were a little limited this morning, but still had mostly my usual breakfast (which is getting smaller by the day).

Headed out at 8am. Had a pitstop midmorning, and continued onto Oulu for lunch. We had subway for lunch (I haven't had subway in a month!) and then wandered around the foreshore area looking at all the cute buildings.

Sadly I've lost my mini usb cable :(:(:(:(:( It must have either fallen out at the hotel at some point overnight (maybe at dinner, or breakfast, or in the room), or when pulling the camera out during our stop in Oulu. I'm pretty sad about it too, because that was the cable that I got with my Sony DSC-F828 camera in 2004, and it's been in that camera bag that entire time.

So the GPS was complaining about low battery for a chunk of the afternoon and I couldn't charge it. But it hung in there til we got to Rovaniemi. I checked at the hotel to see if they had any in lost property but they didn't have any. So headed out into the rainy streets to find somewhere to buy one. Tried a couple of places without any luck, but found one in Clas Ohlson. 10 Euros :(:(:( Also super sad-making because I have like ten of the damned things at home but had to spend $15 on a new one :(:(:(:(:(

Dinner tonight was in the hotel restaurant. Salad for entree was nice enough. Mains was meant to be chicken with vegetables, but was actually chicken, fries and huge amounts of bbq sauce. The chicken was lovely but we were wondering what happened to the veggies. Dessert was a nice piece of chocolate cake.

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.