Results tagged “Towers” from Europe 2016

So the hotel we had in Helsinki had these weird bathroom walls that were just glass with a bit of paint on them which plenty of see through spaces to see in from the outside. Managed to convince the thermostat to go down to about 19C (not sure that it actually did) so slept relatively well. In fact we had an early night (21:30) and slept through til 6:30!

Breakfast didn't start til 7am though, and they wanted to leave at 8am, so it was a very rushed breakfast for us (the room was pretty chaotic too, but we went to a second room which was a lot quieter).

Then it was driving driving driving north out of Helsinki.

We had a morning pitstop. I got frustrated with the people sitting in front of us (and will be for the entire trip) who just fuss around when the coach stops and block everyone else getting off the coach. Even the dude's wife was like "stand aside to let people out" but he didn't care :( I hate people.

More driving. Finland is like 74% forest so that's pretty much all we saw all day. Mostly young growth by the look of it as timber is Finland's primary industry.

After the first pitstop they put on some Sibelius. The first track being Finlandia. Except our tour guide will. not. shut. up. He talked for about 80 of the 90 minutes of the first leg this morning and as soon as Finlandia came on after the pitstop he talked just about all the way through it. Sad times.

Lunch was at a similar roadside combo of supermarket and cafeteria.

When we got to Kuopio in the afternoon we went up the tower overlooking the lakes and the town. I couldn't be stuffed waiting in the huge queue for the lifts, so walked up the steps! All 380 or so of them (mum counted)!

Drove into town and to the hotel. We actually got a room with a view of the town square which is pretty cool! And our room is 451.. how cool is that?! ;)

Dumped our stuff, accosted the bellboy and took our own bags up to our rooms, then went for a wander around the town. Lovely weather and we walked all the way down to the lake and back.

Tried to get onto the internet but my laptop refuses to connect to the wifi. The phones connect just fine though. Go figure. Also, turns out this hotel (and apparently the next one) has a free guest laundry. Maybe that's a thing in Finland. Good to know.

Since we couldn't listen to Finlandia on the coach, I found a beautiful video on YouTube (on my phone since the laptop won't connect - sad times) with Finnish landscapes and animals - just lovely.

Dinner was in the steakhouse downstairs in the hotel. Entree was a delicious vegetable soup (mostly tomato). Mains was "crispy beef brisket" whih was just amazing. So tender and tasty. Dessert was a nice enough pannacotta.

I've had something under my left upper eyelid since this afternoon and it's super frustrating :(:(:(  edit: managed to get rid of it before bed.

So this room has a thermostat on the wall but it doesn't actually do anything. Had to keep the window open all night to get any cool air. Which means a massive picture window letting in the light super early. I'm dreading getting further north where the sun doesn't actually set and sweltering because we can't open windows because we need to block out the light. What a strange thing to be concerned about - overheating past the arctic circle. There's another lady on the trip (from Brisbane) who feels the same way.

Fairly good breakfast range. Although I wasn't in the mood for being sociable with anyone.

We had to be out the door at 8:00 this morning. On the coach we went through the whole introduction and safety spiel. Then headed off at nearly 8:30.

We had a local guide for the morning and we drove around Copenhagen looking at some things.

Our first get-off stop was Amalienborg palace (we didn't get to go in), just for a photo stop.

Then up to The Little Mermaid. Going first thing in the morning meant we were looking straight into the sun which was a bit of a poo. Not that my photos from last time were much better.

Yet again I'm reminded how different tours are to doing things yourself. I think I crammed about five times as much in my three hour walk around last time as I did today on the tour.

Although today we did get to go into Christiansborg Palace which was very cool.

And then we were done for the day.

Yup, we did three things and were done by 10:15am.

!?

They left us to have some free time, or could get dropped back to the hotel if we wanted. This afternoon there was an optional excursion. For 51 Euro. So basically we pay for an expensive tour (not nearly as expensive as Outback Sprit though) and just get left to our own devices and if you want to see more things it costs extra. Seems a little rude to me.

Mum decided to go on the optional tour, starting at 12:30, so we filled in some time walking around until then. Went up to the round tower and went up it, then up to the botanical gardens, although really didn't have time to look around there because we had to get back so mum could start the tour. But I really needed some down time so had decided not to go. After leaving mum, I watched bits of the Copenhagen Carnivale which was wandering through town, then tried to find something to eat. Ended up grabbing something in 7-Eleven (not the first one I came to because I couldn't get any service).

Then walked back to the hotel where I washed my jeans, backed up my photos and had a little lie down. Even slept a little!

At 6pm we headed out for an optional dinner. 65 Euro, to a little restaurant in the old town. It was a "Christmas" dinner, so there was roast pork and various sides, and a rice pudding dessert. And a couple of drinks :) The pork was up at least in the top ten of pork I've had - lovely and tender with lovely crispy crackling. Yum!!

Then down to the canal to have a shot of Aquavit (weird right!) and then back to the hotel.

Today was meant to be a rest day. I think I did more walking today than any other day so far. *checks pedometer*. Yep, most by far. So I have beer. By myself for now but hopefully others will be down soon.

We also got great value out of a Munich daily transport ticket.

But backing up a little. Slept reasonably well. With the window wide open it was possible to sleep under the doona which was nice.

Breakfast was ok, although the choices were very limited - no salad stuff or bread rolls.

Spent a bit of time after breakfast sorting myself out, although it would have been better if I'd had internet #grunt

Heading out, the hotel is near the end of the #16 tram line. So we hopped on that (we just missed one while we were getting our daily tickets), thinking we'd be able to catch it allllll the way through the city to the other side at Romanplatz.

Except.

This IDIOT WOMAN DRIVER blithley turned left in front of our tram. Tram skidded to a halt but we still smashed into her car. Noone on the tram was hurt (the driver called out straight away), and she was lucky enough to be hit in the rear left door not the rear front door otherwise she'd likely have been hurt. But of course that meant we had to get off the tram with no idea what to do next. Turns out everyone else was walking down to a nearby bus stop. We followed, and jumped on the bus (#154). Only then did we find out where it was going. Turns out just one stop down was the end of the Arabella Park U-bahn line (U4), so got onto that to head into the city. I think it actually beat the tram in terms of time as the trams are pretty slow.

From HBF it was the #17 tram to Schloss Nymphenburg.

We hadn't really thought about going into the palace, but since we were there and it was only 6 EUR to get into just the palace bit, and you could take photos, we decided to go in. It was pretty spectacular. Wandered the grounds for a bit as well before heading out. On the way out we passed eight other people from our tour that were on their way in!

Took the #17 tram back to the HBF, then an S-train to Marienplatz.

Coming out of Marienplatz we looked up and went up the first tower we could see that had people up it. Turns out it was the tower of the Rathaus, and you actually go up by lift not stairs! Pretty good view from the top, although the view from St Peter's would probably have been a little better.

By this point I was tired and hungry and low blood sugar, and you don't want to talk to me when I'm at that point. We went into the Ratskeller because we saw we could just get an appetiser (rosti and sauerkraut) rather than a huge meal (I really did want the pork knuckle but it was 1:30pm and mum didn't want to eat that much food so I sadly forewent the deliciousness). At least the Ratskeller had free wifi.

Next we went for a walk so I could find a post office to send a bunch of paperwork home so I wouldn't have to cart it around for the next part of our trip. On the way found a cute store selling Bavarian traditional dress. They weren't expensive either. Considered buying some (I'd totally fill out a beer wench outfit ;) ).

Walked up past the cathedral and went in briefly. Then down to the Hofbrauhaus to have a look and recreate one of dad's funeral photos from when he was there in 2009.

By this time it was 4:45pm and I was already past the point of wanting to stop and just sit down and have a beer. But we took a tram #19 from Maximillian Strasse to Max II Denkmal, then a tram #18 up to the museum to watch the surfers.

Then another tram #18 back down to Lehel U-bahn station, a train to HBF and another train up to Konigsplatz so mum could see the Tor (it looked pretty cool in the afternoon light).

Got the train back to HBF and I was wondering where I could get a beer in a beer garden. But I didn't know of any places. Got out at Odeonsplatz and took some photos but I was feeling tired and grumpy so just got back on the train and went to Max Weber Platz. I saw a Hofbrauhaus on the map and thought to go for that but mum suggested a tiny little place just before we'd gotten there. So we stopped there but rude German guy pushed in in front of me to get a drink and the atmosphere just wasn't right so had a quick beer then left. And walked right past the Hofbrauhaus that I'd been wanting to go to - doh!!

By this time it was 18:00 so took a tram #16 back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel I downloaded photos and tried to log what we did today, before going in for the final group dinner. The waitress we got tonight was super grumpy about *everything* which just added to the woes of this hotel.

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.

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.