Results tagged “Trains” from Europe Honeymoon 2008

Hrmm. Worst day so far methinks...

Started off ok. Had lots of yummy bacon for breakfast. Was a late start too because the weather didn't inspire us to get up. So didn't leave our hotel til about 11:15. Walked back to the hauptbahnhof and jumped on a train to Munich - didn't even worry about reserving this time either, and a good thing too, the train wasn't crowded at all.

Our train to Munich
Our train to Munich

So arrived in Munich. Stu wanted to get another memory stick for his camera, so we wandered into town to try and find somewhere to get it. That mission was quite successful, we found a Saturn store quite quickly. Then went to the cathedral to have a very quick look at it, then went back to the station to pick up our hire car. That all went ok, except we got an Opel instead of the Peugeot we reserved, and the thing is manual which adds another layer of pain to driving around here (it's bad enough to have to drive on the wrong side of the road and have the blinker lever on the wrong side).  And it's a horrible boxy thing, with blindspots everywhere :(

Justizpalast - Palace of Justice - courthouse
Justizpalast - Palace of Justice - courthouse 

Fountain in Karlsplatz
Fountain in Karlsplatz 

Karlstor
Karlstor 

Frauenkirche
Frauenkirche 

Fountain outside the Frauenkirche
Fountain outside the Frauenkirche

Interior of the Frauenkirche
Interior of the Frauenkirche 

Stained glass window
Stained glass window 

Organ in the Frauenkirche
Organ in the Frauenkirche 

Roof of the Frauenkirche
Roof of the Frauenkirche

Anyways, so having seen practically nothing in Munich, we decided to get out of town and head for Ulm, with the idea being to see some of the old town there and stay the night.

Well of course actually getting out of Munich was pretty traumatic, wasn't it? Urrggghhh. The autobahn trip wasn't as bad, but still required a lot of concentration, not helped by roadworks most of the way along :/

One of many roadworks sites on the autobahn
One of many roadworks sites on the autobahn 

Red bridge on the autobahn
Red bridge on the autobahn. I could have sworn we drove over
this again later in the trip but don't know how..


Then we got to Ulm. But we didn't have a place to stay organised in advance so it was a case of looking for hotels. Except we couldn't just pull over or stop anywhere cause we were on roads that didn't allow that. So we passed through the centre of town and were well out the other side before we had a chance to stop :( Got copliot to give us the nearest hotel, so got there ok, but it was booked out, but they did nicely call another one for us so went to that one. Fortunately being so far out of town, they actually had easy parking.

So by this time it was 7pm, but we needed to de-stress before going out again. So here it is, 9:15pm, and we're at a waschsalon doing our laundry, having gotten snacks at a local supermarket for dinner while we waited. Totally missed out on getting to see Ulm. We did glimpse the cathedral on the way through, and like most places we've seen in Germany and Austria it's surrounded by scaffolding :( It's getting a bit tiresome that :(

We're quite worried now about how stressful the next week is going to be. We'd book places in advance if we knew where we were going to be. But is going to be hard going into towns when we know stressful finding parking will be :(

*sigh*
Urghh another crap night sleep :(  Woke up to go to the loo and couldn't get comfortable or back to sleep for ages :(

So did the breakfast thing, checked out, and headed to the station (via some postcard stands) to get to the Westbahnhof for our train to Salzburg.

That loco was moving! Apparently this is banned in Australia for being too dangerous
That loco was moving! Apparently this is banned in Australia for being
too dangerous


We thought as we pulled out that we'd get the compartment to ourselves, but some Canadians had been booted out of "business" first class so came to sit with us. Oh well. But they were nice enough. Rosemary and Camille I think their names were.

So the train trip was very pretty. The area just outside Vienna was very picturesque. And seeing snow on the alps was very cool. So three hours later we arrived in Salzburg.

Our carriage was at the back of the train so we could see out the back window
Our carriage was at the back of the train so we could see out the
back window 

Church in Irrsdorf
Church in Irrsdorf

We didn't see too much on the walk from the station to the hotel, just the hill on the west side of town. Checked into our hotel which is the nicest so far (and the "nicest" price too heh). And wireless internet yayyyy!! ;)

So dumped our bags and went to find some lunch. Found a cafe on the way towards the old town, which was very nice but a bit on the pricey side.. Oops..

Beer in Salzburg
Beer in Salzburg

Kept walking down and finally saw the hill with the fortress on top which dominates the landscape. Because it was vaguely sunny, I wanted to go up to it (in case it rained for the rest of our stay here). We got ourselves a Salzburg Card which was also fairly pricey (37e each for 72 hours) but gives us free admission to most stuff in the city and free travel on the electric buses. We also had a bit of a wander through the old town, and went in the cathedral. And then we took the funicular up to the fortress. We ran into Rosemary and Camille who were already on board. And up we went!  Very cool, and *very* steep.

Kapitelplatz and Kapitelschwemme with Hohensalzburg Fortress on the top of the hill
Kapitelplatz and Kapitelschwemme with Hohensalzburg Fortress on the
top of the hill 

Gold ball monument in Kapitelplatz
Gold ball monument in Kapitelplatz 

Salzburg Cathedral (big surprise - scaffolding!)
Salzburg Cathedral (big surprise - scaffolding!) 

Interior of Salzburg Cathedral
Interior of Salzburg Cathedral 

Roof of Salzburg Cathedral
Roof of Salzburg Cathedral

Roof of Salzburg Cathedral
Roof of Salzburg Cathedral

Going up the funicular to the fortress
Going up the funicular to the fortress

So the view at the top was spectacular. We came out on the northern side so could see all the main area of the city. Then we went inside the fortress to explore. And this is the coolest place ever to explore. Little rooms and nooks and crannies. Half the fun was in looking inside a doorway to see what was there. Hardly any of it was blocked off. Behind one door (in one of the chapels) we found Rosemary and Camille again heh.

View over Salzburg from the fortress
View over Salzburg from the fortress 

Stu inspecting a wooden cannon in the fortress
Stu inspecting a wooden cannon in the fortress 

Some of the oldest part of the fortress - the Romanesque Fortress Chapel, <br />
discovered by archaeologists in 1994
Some of the oldest part of the fortress - the Romanesque Fortress Chapel, discovered by archaeologists in 1994 

View of the Cathedral and old town from the fortress
View of the Cathedral and old town from the fortress 

Interior of St George's chapel
Interior of St George's chapel. We never would have found this had we
not looked at a closed door and wondered what was behind it!


On the southern side you get a wonderful view of the alps, which was exceedingly cool. It was a bit hazy so my photos won't be great but anyways...

Looking over Nonnberg abbey to Gaisberg
Looking over Nonnberg abbey to Gaisberg

Interior walls of the fortress
Interior walls of the fortress 

View out to Untersberg
View out to Untersberg 

Interior walls of the fortress
Interior walls of the fortress

Went in another door and an audio tour was about to start, so went along on that to see more rooms and go up a tower with 360 views!

Salzburg Fortress
Salzburg Fortress 

Salzburg Fortress
Salzburg Fortress

Mechanical organ in the fortress
Mechanical organ in the fortress that ran over the city
telling people what time to go to bed, and waking people
in the morning


On the way out saw something else so went to look at that and it turned out to be a whole other exhibition. Even heard/saw the dinner concert musicians practising.

Practising for the Mozart dinner/concert later in the evening
Practising for the Mozart dinner/concert later in the evening 

Spectacular chamber heater
Spectacular chamber heater

We were about to go down again when Stu looked at the menu at one of the cafes and saw the dessert dish (Salzburger Nockerl) that a colleague of his had told us to have, so we went in. We had a glass of wine while gazing at the alps, and the dessert was amazing.. Huge!! Heh. (We didn't actually have dinner since we had lunch so late and wouldn't have fitted the dessert in anyway had we had dinner first :) )

Enjoying a nice wine overlooking Untersberg
Enjoying a nice wine overlooking Untersberg (I thought wine would
go better with dessert than beer!) 

Salzburger Nockerl!
Salzburger Nockerl!

So finally we caught the funicular back down the hill and wandered back to our hotel.  Thoroughly enjoyed the fortress.  It was just so fun and it wasn't crowded and they weren't anal about not taking photos etc (although a couple of things would have been an extra admission fee had we not had the cards).  Spent probably over three hours up there, which was totally worth it, and one of my best days of the holiday so far.
Urgghhh

Another 6am start. Need i say more.

Stu was feeling sick so went down to breakfast by myself. Had more bacon yummm.

Then we packed up and made our way to the station to catch our train to Vienna. Pretty uneventful trip really.

Our train from Prague to Vienna
Our train from Prague to Vienna

Got dropped in Südbahnhof in Vienna and were left wondering how to get to the u-bahn. An info-point guy told us, oh go out, turn left and three hundred metres. Hrmmm. Through various building construction sites. Hrmmm. Such a friendly welcome to the city :/

Anyways, got the u-bahn to our hotel which turns out to be about 100 metres from the cathedral in the centre of the old town, so that was pretty cool. Until we had to figure out how to find reception. There was a locked gate at the front, so we had to buzz to be let in. But then there were no signs pointing to reception, so we had to buzz again to be told second floor. Bumheads. So checked in ok. Came up to the room, which is the smallest we've had so far. And no internet. The only internet is at kiosks and you have to pay 2 euro per thirty minutes. Bumheads.

So the first lesson to learn from all this is not to try and face a new city on an empty stomach. It was 3pm and we hadn't had lunch so our blood suger level would have been about minus five hundred if there were such a scale, so we really weren't coping very well. And Stu was still feeling sick. So our planned laundromat run didn't happen. Which means we'll have to cut short our sightseeing tomorrow just to find a laundromat :(  Blah!!

Anyways, we went down for a slightly early dinner at Sparky's cafe near the cathedral. And had 0.7L beers each!  And a wiener schnitzel because it had to be done. And apple strudel because that also had to be done. Heh.

Stephansdom
Stephansdom 

They try to soften the blow of ugly scaffolding by putting pictures of what it should look like in front
They try to soften the blow of ugly scaffolding by putting
pictures of what it should look like in front 

Inside Stephansdom
Inside Stephansdom 

700mL beers at Sparky's
700mL beers at Sparky's

Was quite full after that and we didn't have internet back at the room so went for a bit of a walk around the place. Including a return trip on the train that went the wrong way so we took the .. er.. scenic route around the other way.

Stephansdom detail
Stephansdom detail 

Stephansdom detail
Stephansdom detail 

Stephansdom detail
Stephansdom detail 

Model Stephansdom
Model Stephansdom 

Regierungsgebäude or Kriegsministerium or Ministry of War (or something)
Regierungsgebäude or Kriegsministerium or Ministry of War (or something) 

This was a bit of a spinout - a swimming pool set in the canal!
This was a bit of a spinout - a swimming pool set in the canal! 

The cleanliness of these train tracks is just *freaky*!!
The cleanliness of these train tracks is just *freaky*!!

So then back here to watch tv and play solitaire. Yay.

I slept in til 7am today! Woot! Altho Stu woke up feeling nauseus which wasn't very pleasant for him :(

Went down for a big breakfast (also not included with the room tariff - talk about a tight-ass hotel...)

And then we hit the streets of Dresden for a general wander about the place. Was all very nice. Except I had to go to the loo after a while and got frustrated cause there aren't any toilets in Germany. There are so few that they could all be printed on the tourist map of the entire city!!! But even with the map I still couldn't find one :( After some more wandering we did eventually find one. Now Stu had told me that while you have to pay for toilets, they are clean and well kept. Well this is the first one that I lowered myself to pay for and it was crap!! It didn't even have a seat, just small plastic runners that only covered part of the cold metal bowl :( Not happy Jan!


I like to call this artwork Ten Cranes
I like to call this artwork "Ten Cranes" 

A variation on the Berlin stop/go lights - a girl!
A variation on the Berlin stop/go lights - a girl! 

A variation on the Berlin stop/go lights - a girl!
A variation on the Berlin stop/go lights - a girl! 

Excavations outside Kreuzkirche
Excavations outside Kreuzkirche 

Kreuzkirche
Kreuzkirche, showing the blackening from the firebombing during the war 

Frauenkirche
Frauenkirche. This church was almost completely demolished during the war, then rebuilt mostly from original stone and reopened in 2005 (Google Earth shows the whole thing surrounded in a construction building). We might have gone inside but there was some youth festival on and too many people making too much noise. 

Statue of Martin Luther outside Frauenkirche
Statue of Martin Luther outside Frauenkirche 

A piece of the original dome of the Frauenkirche
A piece of the original dome of the Frauenkirche 

The blackened part is one of the two larger sections of the church that remained after the bombing.  They rebuilt the church around it.
The blackened part is one of the two larger sections of the church that
remained after the bombing. They rebuilt the church around it. 

Academy of Fine Arts
Academy of Fine Arts 

Dome of the Academy of Fine Arts
Dome of the Academy of Fine Arts 

All we need now is Donatello to complete the set..
All we need now is Donatello to complete the set.. 

Augustusbrücke, on the site of the oldest bridge in Dresden
Augustusbrücke, on the site of the oldest bridge in Dresden 

Stallhof and Hofkirche
Stallhof and Hofkirche 

This toilet was not worth 25c!!
This toilet was not worth 25c!! 

Semperoper (Opera House)
Semperoper (Opera House) 

Fountain and Zwinger Gardens
Fountain and Zwinger Gardens

Courtyard of Zwinger Palace
Courtyard of Zwinger Palace 

Zwinger Palace
Zwinger Palace

Staatsschauspiel theatre
Staatsschauspiel theatre

So continued wandering back to the hotel, checked out, and headed up to the station. Got our ticket in advance for Prague to Vienna so don't have to worry about that here. Now as I mentioned yesterday we were meant to have two middles on a table set of seats, but when we got on the people there had taken the two forward-facing seats, so I was all "sweet, I get a window" - backwards :) It's almost tradition now to be going backwards heh. We were even on the right side of the train to get a good view of the Elbe River as we travelled alongside it.


Training down (up) the Elbe River
Training down (up) the Elbe River 

Part of the Bastei Bridge in the Bastei rocks near Oberrathen
Part of the Bastei Bridge in the Bastei rocks near Oberrathen

Crossed the Czech border at some unknown point, stopping a bit inside the border for a staff change. But we never did get asked for our passports - how boring!! Was hoping to get another stamp in my passport heh.


Every time a small river joins a larger one, you get a cute little village.  In this case Hřensko, on the confluence of Kamenice and Labe (Elbe) rivers
Every time a small river joins a larger one, you get a cute little village.
In this case Hřensko, on the confluence of Kamenice and Labe (Elbe) rivers


Something broke half way through the trip on the Czech side of the border and we just sat there. For an hour :( The train got very hot and stuffy too :(  But we got moving eventually and arrived in Prague an hour late. But we didn't arrive in the station we thought we were going to arrive in, so had to figure out where we were and how to get to our hotel. Took us a while to figure it out, but made it in the end.


Bridges in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
Bridges in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic 

Hrad Střekov just south of Ústí nad Labem
Hrad Střekov just south of Ústí nad Labem 

Locks near Lovosice
Locks near Lovosice 

Dancing House, nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague
Dancing House, nickname given to the Nationale-
Nederlanden building in Prague


The hotel is quite nice, free wireless and included breakfast, and our first bed with a single mattress - a king sized one at that! We can be newlyweds properly now ;)


King sized bed in our hotel
King sized bed in our hotel

Went for a walk to Lehká Hlava (Clear Head) vegetarian restaurant, which was very good, we both enjoyed it.


Pilsner Urquell at Lehká Hlava
Pilsner Urquell at Lehká Hlava 

Lehká Hlava (Clear Head)
Lehká Hlava (Clear Head). Many restaurants aren't
big on making themselves known in Europe 

Prague Castle over the Vltava River
Prague Castle over the Vltava River 

Stu at sunset
Stu at sunset

And then back here to use the internet and star gaze out our attic windows :)

I'm awake! It must be 6am. Take five. Heh

Spent a bit of time on the puta before hopping on a tram and then a train to the Hauptbahnhof for our train to Dresden.

This sign on train windows amused me
This sign on train windows amused me. It's like "here's a spot you can
throw bottles out". Germans of course have simply a circle to mean
"banned" as opposed to a circle with a cross through it


Backwards. Yet again! Lol

Fields of canola south of Berlin
Fields of canola south of Berlin

We had first class seats but we were in a six-seat compartment which wasn't particularly pleasant - very cramped and someone was coughing up phlegm the whole trip. Yay.

Anyways. Arrived in Dresden and went and checked into our hotel - a very short walk from the station in the middle of a pedestrian mall/plaza type thing. Went back to the station to get our tickets for tomorrow's trip to Prague. Thought we'd gotten two window seats, but presumably they didn't exist because we seem to have two middles :( (we didn't notice this til some time later :( )

Fountain in Dresden (near our hotel - background)
Fountain in Dresden (near our hotel - background)

Then we hopped on the train out to Meißen. I'd gotten info about vaguely where to go to see the porcelain museum, but the instructions weren't particularly clear for after you left the station. So we started wandering and saw a sign pointing to porcelain manufakture, so followed that. There were a few signs, but they weren't very obvious. In fact the museum itself wasn't very well marked either. After going "is this it?" a few times we eventually came to the cafe, but nothing really obvious to say that was the museum as well. Fail. Maybe they only bother to cater to tour groups or something that know where they're going (there were a couple of coaches parked out the back). Anyways. So we went in (had to check my bag, but photos are allowed so that was good), and went on the workshop demonstration. They gave us these headsets that received the talks in english which was most useful, and the demonstrations were fascinating. We were amazed at how much the porcelain shrinks after its firing. And so much work is involved! After the demo we went up to the museum proper, which had hundreds of pieces dating back to the seventeen hundreds. Most of it was exquisite. Some was warped. Some (mainly the new stuff) was hideous heh. Took lots of photos, whoops :) We looked in the shop on the way out. The prices were staggering! Stu would love to have gotten a dragon tea cup and saucer but for about five hundred euros we decided not to heh.

View of Dresden from the train heading out to Meißen
View of Dresden from the train heading out to Meißen 

Albrechtsburg and Dom zu Meißen over the Elbe River
Albrechtsburg and Dom zu Meißen over the Elbe River 

Stu outside the Meißen Porcelain Museum
Stu outside the Meißen Porcelain Museum 

Decorating porcelain
Decorating porcelain 

Different stages of the plate glazing process
Different stages of the plate glazing process 

Meißen porcelain
Meißen porcelain 

Meißen porcelain
Meißen porcelain 

Meißen porcelain
Meißen porcelain 

Meißen porcelain
Meißen porcelain 

Look at the exquisite detail!!
Look at the exquisite detail!! 

An entire dinner party's worth of porcelain
An entire dinner party's worth of porcelain 

Girl Playing With Sphere
"Girl Playing With Sphere" 

Individual pieces that go to make up Girl Playing With Sphere
Individual pieces that go to make up "Girl Playing With Sphere" 

Pipe organ with pipes made out of porcelain
Pipe organ with pipes made out of porcelain 

Some of their more recent work - I find it ugly
Some of their more recent work - I find it ugly

After we left the museum (two and a half hours later!) we were trying to decide if we should just head back to Dresden or have a look at Meißen. I wanted to have a look at the cathedral, so we decided to walk back into town. Omigosh!  I've always had in my head the images of little European towns with little cobblestone streets and town plazas and cute buildings and churches and it was all there!! The fairy-tale picture-book type images were all there just like I imagined them. It was insanely cool to be really there, living this dream I've had for over twenty years. We walked through the centre of the old town and then up to the cathedral and Albrechsburg and took lots of photos.

Alley in Meißen
Alley in Meißen 

Cute building in the town square
Cute building in the town square 

Carillion of bells made from porcelain
Carillion of bells made from porcelain 

Looking up to the cathedral from the town
Looking up to the cathedral from the town 

These things just seemed so out of place it made me giggle
These things just seemed so out of place it made me giggle 

Meißen red rooves
Meißen red rooves 

Elbe River from the cathedral grounds
Elbe River from the cathedral grounds 

Cathedral grounds
Cathedral grounds 

Meißen Cathedral
Meißen Cathedral

So then came back to Dresden. Went out for some dinner - to a Turkish place. I asked for a "klein" turkish pizza.. But got groß.. I'd hate to think of what their large would be if *that* was a small!!

Stu really liked these little gardens
Stu really liked these little gardens with just a shack or shed on them and
somewhere for people to actually have their own gardens 

We were quite amused by this fetishware in Dresden
We were quite amused by this fetishware in Dresden 

The moon is totally upside down in the northern hemisphere!
The moon is totally upside down in the northern hemisphere!

The internet here is eight euros a day :(  Everywhere else it's been free, so that was a bit of a shock :/

The music outside stopped around 10pm.. Which is good because there is no soundproofing whatsoever, and even four flights up we can hear people talking/laughing outside...
Woke up pretty early again but took our time getting ready. Caught the tram in to Friedrichstrasse and wandered down it to Checkpoint Charlie.

We missed a tram so Stu could enjoy this coffee
We missed a tram so Stu could enjoy this coffee 

Trams only continued to run in East Berlin
Trams only continued to run in East Berlin 

East Berlin stop man
East Berlin stop man (recently (2010) I've seen two
people wearing t-shirts with these dudes on them! 

East Berlin go man
East Berlin go man 

Die Welt balloon
Die Welt balloon 

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

It was actually late morning by this stage and I was tired and grumpy from not getting enough to eat at breakfast, and then not able to find a simple hot dog there (they seem to be everywhere else except for when you really want one). Anyway so got something to eat but decided not to go into the museum as it was 12.50 euro each and Stu had been before. So just walked around the info boards they had all around the street. There were the usual barrage of souvenir vendors, and also a lot selling Russian memorabilia. Kept wanting to buy a Russian doll but they're probably made in China so not much point. Now if only I knew someone going to Russia to get me a real one.......

Wall of passports in the entrance of the museum
Wall of passports in the entrance of the museum 

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

Anyways. This Bosnian woman came around asking if anyone spoke English, but she turned out to be a beggar, so I gave her a couple of Euros (and Stu gave her some independently too). But get this. She asked *three frigging times* over the next half hour for money, and didn't comprehend "we gave you some earlier" and just kept following us asking and asking. Got incredibly pissed off at this, so when a different Bosnian woman come started begging I was all like "piss off" .. Not that I said that, and Stu even gave her some money. Sigh.

So that was all a bit stressful so we headed off towards the East Side Gallery, stopping first on the western side of the river and then walking across the Schlesisches Tor. Where we stopped again, this time at a cafe built on the old no-man's-land for some beer. Then walked up along the old wall.

The Spree River near Oberbaumbrücke
The Spree River near Oberbaumbrücke 

Oberbaumbrücke
Oberbaumbrücke 

Oberbaumbrücke
Oberbaumbrücke 

Spree River and Fernsehturm from Oberbaumbrücke
Spree River and Fernsehturm from Oberbaumbrücke 

Astride the Berlin Wall and beginning of East Side Gallery
Astride the Berlin Wall and beginning of East Side Gallery

Enjoying a beer in no-man's land
Enjoying a beer in no-man's land 

I love crack!  Part of the Berlin Wall
I love crack! Part of the Berlin Wall 

Famous graffitti on the East Side Gallery
Famous graffitti on the East Side Gallery 

No-man's land at the East Side Gallery
No-man's land at the East Side Gallery 

These dudes were in Wings of Desire
These dudes were in "Wings of Desire"

Hopped on a train to Alexanderplatz for our next tower mission - the Fernsehturm, or as Stu dubbed it, the Stalinist golf ball heh. Was a bit crowded, and the usual bunches of people completely oblivious to anyone but themselves, blocking signs I was trying to read etc. Bumheads. But hopefully got a lot of decent photos.

Mitte from the Fernsehturm
Mitte from the Fernsehturm 

Oberbaumbrücke and the Spree from the Fernsehturm
Oberbaumbrücke and the Spree from the Fernsehturm 

Berlin Rathaus
Berlin Rathaus

After coming down we wandered down towards the river taking lots of photos as we went. Ended up near the Brandenburg Gate, where we jumped on a train, the changed to a tram to take us back to our neighborhood. We tried on the vegetarian restaurants - der Imbiss - whose logo was an upside-down maccas logo heh. And the staff were from Melbourne, Scotland and the USA!  Food was quite good there too.

Fernsehturm
Fernsehturm 

Fernsehturm
Fernsehturm 

Rathaus
Rathaus 

Neptune Fountain outside the Rathaus
Neptune Fountain outside the Rathaus 

Berliner Dom (we should have gone in here!)
Berliner Dom (we should have gone in here!) 

Lustgarten - very pretty spot
Lustgarten - very pretty spot 

Schlossbrücke
Schlossbrücke 

St. Hedwig's Cathedral
St. Hedwig's Cathedral (with a canvas picture covering the ever-present scaffolding) 

University Library
University Library. We found this by accident by drifting through an
archway at random


Unter den Linden station sign
Unter den Linden station sign 

Der Imbiss
Der Imbiss

Went shopping on the way home. The supermarket had 500mL Bitburger beers for 75c each!!  I wanted to buy more than the two we did heh :)

Sleepie!!
Again woke up early but got back to sleep, having a luxurious sleep in until 7:20 :)

After breakfast I figured I had half an hour to get to the cathedral to finish taking photos, so did that while Stu finished breakfast. Also checked at the electronics store but it didn't open until 10am :(

Interior of Cologne Cathedral
Interior of Cologne Cathedral, looking back towards the main entrance 

Another look at the crazy pixel stained-glass window
Another look at the crazy pixel stained-glass window 

The main aisle of the cathedral - completely deserted!  I was amazed..
The main aisle of the cathedral - completely deserted! I was amazed.. 

Pews lined up
Pews lined up 

This is how they keep the pigeon poop off the statues..
This is how they keep the pigeon poop off the statues..

Anyways, we packed up our stuff and headed to the train station (this time making our reservation the day before!). Yet again we were facing backwards - doh! Took an ICE train with no changing so the whole trip from Cologne to Berlin took 4.5 hours. Puttering along at 250 km/h in places. Was completely stunned at how *lush* the countryside looks. You kinda forget that Australia is not the norm when it comes to rainfall! Of course that means that it must rain. A lot. (Trivia: the producers of The Sound of Music had this problem when shooting the movie, where it rained two days out of three.. Hrmmm)

Our ICE train to Berlin
Our ICE train to Berlin 

Leaving Cologne
Leaving Cologne 

Leaving Cologne
Leaving Cologne 

Wind turbines
Wind turbines. These things are everywhere in Germany. I wish Australia
would follow suit 

The train got up to 250 km/h
The train got up to 250 km/h

Anyway, things were going ok until just before we pulled into Berlin when I started freaking out about the place and it was all so big and didn't know what local train tickets we should buy and didn't know how the apartment would be and didn't know where anything was .. And it was all too much. :(

But. We did manage to find our way to the apartment (that Stu found on Craigslist) and even stood on the location of the Berlin Wall without realising it. It even has internet!

We went out for a walk to do some shopping but needed to find a geldautomat (ATM) first. Cologne had one on every other block (admittedly that was in the touristy areas). Not so here. Walked around for half an hour before we found one :( So did some shopping to get some breakfasts and tonight's dinner.

Spent quite a while tonight researching stuff to see. Stuff I shoulda done before we left but just didn't get around to :(

The apartment here is nice.  Light and airy. Decent sized living room, huge main bedroom, tiny second bedroom (setup with couches facing a blank wall), combined bathroom with washing machine.  The shower though is in the bath, but there is no curtain, so water just goes all over the bathroom when you have a shower.  Oops. 

Living room of the flat in Berlin
Living room of the flat in Berlin 

Kitchen in the flat in Berlin
Kitchen in the flat in Berlin. Stu liked the drying
rack/plate storage above the sink


Latest night (10:20) so far....
Well my morning began at 1:21am when I woke up needing to go to the toilet. I didn't get back to sleep. (!) I tried for a couple of hours but eventually gave up around 3:30 (not helped by the alarm clock that was on 24 hour time 12 hours out, so without my glasses it looked like 5:30 :( )

Anyways, so I caught up on blog reading, fiddled with my memory cards, burnt cds etc. Got annoyed that the Eee PC changes the modified dates on files when you copy them. Damn that linux os :(  Haven't had the time to research if there's any way to retain the datestamps on the files.

Went down for breakfast fairly early - scrambled eggs, salami and salad for breakfast heh. Then went over to the station to get our rail pass validated. Came back via a local shop to get some snacks for when we're out and about.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (station)
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (station)


The rather dreary view from our Frankfurt hotel
The rather dreary view from our Frankfurt hotel


German toilets fascinated us with their viewing platforms!
German toilets fascinated us with their viewing platforms!

About half an hour before the train was due we wandered back to the station. But we weren't 100% sure if we needed a reservation or not (my doco said conflicting things), so decided to line up for one just in case. Eep! We nearly missed our train it took so long :(  We did *just* make it, but then had to walk through the *entire* train with our bags in tow.. Doh!  Then when we changed at Mainz we then had to race all the way down to the other end of the platform because our seats were at the *other* end of the train! Blah!

Anyways, all this hassle was worth it because I wanted to take the scenic route along the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz.  Omigosh!! My brain exploded over how pretty it all was. Gorgeous little towns, picturesque valleys, ancient castles everwhere.. I just wished we could stop!!  A cruise down the river would be fabulous, but we might try to do that valley and the Mosel when we have the car at the end of the trip.

Rhine River town
Rhine River town


Rhine River town
Rhine River town


Building in the middle of the Rhine
Building in the middle of the Rhine


Rhine River castle
Rhine River castle


Rhine River
Rhine River


Rhine River town
Rhine River town


Caravan park
Caravan park


Rhine River castle
Rhine River castle


Rhine River castle
Rhine River castle

After Koblenz the trip was a lot more standard.

When we arrived in Cologne we checked our bags into these funky electronic lockers that take things away to mystery locations, and supposedly you can retrieve from any of the doors in the system. Four euros for 24 hours. So that left us free to go for a wander before we could check into our hotel. So we went outside.

And it was big!

Massively big!!

Cologne Dom (Cathedral)
Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

The Köln dom (Cologne cathedral) is truly impressive. We got some drinks from Starbucks and just looked at it. We wandered up to have a closer look at it, but by this stage it was after 2pm and Stu was fading, so we went and found something to eat. Then decided to go check into our hotel.

After settling in for a bit, headed out again. We found ourselves at the site of Dave's Disapproving Man, but he was gone by now. Then we meandered down to Hohe Strasse and could see what Dave meant about it being too touristy. But we were on a mission to get to the Lego store. And get to it we did. And it was good!  But after putting up with dozens of screaming kids we put off making the decision which bits and pieces to buy til another day.

Dave's disapproving man hair salon
Dave's disapproving man hair salon


Cologne Dom (Cathedral)
Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral) 


Lego store on Hohe Strasse
Lego store on Hohe Straße

Stu at this point felt like a beer, so we sat down at one of the cafes opposite the cathedral and had a kölsch beer and some yummy rösti and mushrooms and looked at the cathedral and even heard the bells being played for an evening mass.

Cologne Dom (Cathedral)
Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral) 


Sion Kölsch in Cologne
Sion Kölsch in Cologne


Cologne Dom (Cathedral)
Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral) 


Statues at the main entrance of the cathedral
Statues at the main entrance of the cathedral


Intricate stonework at the main entrance of the cathedral
Intricate stonework at the main entrance of the cathedral


For some reason this amused us...
For some reason this amused us...


Main entrance of the cathedral
Main entrance of the cathedral


Gargoyles on the cathedral
Gargoyles on the cathedral


Intricate stonework on one of the side entrances of the cathedral
Intricate stonework on one of the side entrances of the cathedral


For some reason these shops setup on the side of the cathedral really annoyed me...
For some reason these shops setup on the side of the cathedral really annoyed me...

Finally came back here to crash in a heap. (After doing some web surfing and washing hair etc)

5:20am Sydney time, 9:20pm here....
Slept really well. Like a log really.

While I was having my shower the whole tub starting shaking gently. And I was all like cool! Earth tremor! :) Stu felt it in bed too.

Downloaded all my photos from yesterday before heading down to breakfast. It was huge!! Tonnes of food, both Asian and western. Even Stu managed to find plenty to eat. After breakfast we went out for a little walk in the hotel garden, where azaleas were blooming like crazy :)

Azaleas in full bloom in the hotel grounds
Azaleas in full bloom in the hotel grounds


The Hotel Nikko that we stayed the night in
The Hotel Nikko that we stayed the night in

Went back up to our room and fought over the computer/internet for a bit. Then hopped on a shuttle to the airport. Getting through immigration/security was very smooth. Then we wandered about and stumbled upon a free internet cafe which we made good use of.

Narita Airport
The air traffic control tower and terminal shuttle, viewed from the free
Yahoo Internet Cafe at Narita Airport



Narita Airport shuttles
The yellow shuttles take you out to the remote terminal


Green Tea flavoured Kit Kat
Green Tea flavoured Kit Kat

Our plane this time was a 777-300. Never been on one of those before. Didn't find the power point though..

Mountains of Japan
Mountains of Japan


Interior of our 777
Interior of our 777

Watched Jumper which was very average, Beauty and the Beast early on and Goldmember later on.

Now the Australian outback really is a desolate, unending place... But it ain't got nothing on Siberia!!  I swear I thought it would never end!!  Thousands and thousands of kilometres of frozen rivers and forests. Freaky! Towards the western end it had more straight lines cutting through it indicating some sort of civilisation somewhere below.

Eastern Siberia, near Neryungri
Eastern Siberia, near Neryungri


Part of Vilyuyskoye Vodokhranilishche reservoir
Part of Vilyuyskoye Vodokhranilishche reservoir


Yenisey River over Turukhansk
Yenisey River over Turukhansk


Northern Russia
This photo was taken at the most northerly place on the planet I've
ever been - N65 deg 54' - almost at the Arctic Circle.
Between the Pur and the Taz Rivers



Pur River from over Korotchaevo
Pur River from over Korotchaevo


Really freaky monster near Borisovo-Sudskoye
Really freaky monster near Borisovo-Sudskoye

We flew over St Petersburg but it was too cloudy to see it, and Berlin (or at least the outskirts).

Cloud cover over St Petersberg
Cloud cover over St Petersberg 

Horn of Latvia, from over the tip of Estonia
Horn of Latvia, from over the tip of Estonia


Wind turbines near Parsteinsee near the Polish border in Germany
Wind turbines near Parsteinsee near the Polish border in Germany


Autobahn #7 near Thalau
Autobahn #7 near Thalau


Neu-Isenburg, Frankfurt
I liked this cross-shaped streetscape in Neu-Isenburg just east of
Frankfurt Airport, south of Frankfurt


Immigration at Frankfurt was quick and efficient, and customs was non-existant. The only obvious officer there was riding around the treminal on a bicycle! So without cards to fill in from the plane, we just walked straight out! Amazing heh.

Now I'd a couple of glasses of wine during the flight, but the problem was I didn't get enough water afterwards, so I was dying by the time we landed. And it was something like 2am Sydney time so we weren't really functioning very well. So it took us a little while to figure out that "regional" also means "local" trains. And how to use the ticket machines that didn't want to let us "add" another ticket. So that was all a bit stressful.

But anyways. We made it to the hotel, which is very close to train station (apparently near the red-light district hrmm). Nearly 8pm here, just about bedtime methinks :)