Saturday, April 26, 2014

Vianden Palace and Luxembourgh

Vianden Castle

I arrived in Luxembourg around 5.30 pm and set off in search of my hotel it was not too hard to find.  I then went in search of dinner  I was staying near the train station and there really weren't too many places to eat. I finally settled for a pizza place that also had pasta I had tortellini with cream sauce and it was a bit too strong for me. I then explored the area near my hotel. 

The next morning my goal was to visit Vianden castle which was in Vianden I went to the train station and I got an all day  pass 4  euro It was about a 25 minute ride to town and from there it was a bus to Vianden about a 25 minute ride. It was a very pretty town despite it being cloudy, so I could just imagine a clear day.  I stopped at the tourist board to ask how I could get up to the Castle she said I could walk up Main Street to the castle or take the chair lift. I decided to walk so I could see the town. It was not a bad walk for the first part but when I got to the edge of town I saw a sign pointing to the castle and I followed and walked uphill in a wooded area shades of Wales and a castle a few years ago. I got up a bit saw a sign private property and walked back down.  

what I thought was an entrance

 At this point  I did not know where to go but walked a little further and saw what appeared to be an entrance. I decided to follow the road that just went up and up and I thought once  was at the top I would be there. I really walked a lot up hill and it was pretty stupid of me to continue and I could see a road in the distance so I continued up. I got up there and there a road alright but no castle. I then worked my way down thinking just how dumb I was I was so worn out I thought if I collapse no one will find me.  When I got down I started walking back towards town and then I could see in front of me up the hill the Castle I could not believe I missed it. I got to the part to walk up to it and could see that it was blocked by trees coming from the other direction no wonder I missed it, plus now people were arriving. The Castle was beautiful outside and I took photos and met the Castle cat.

I decided to go inside and I have to say to me it was really not worth the admission of 6 euro. I really prefer a furnished Castle so it was disappointing although they did have armor and some furniture. I came out and started back to town had no clue where the chair lift was located.

Inside the Castle

I saw a church  the Trinitarian Church with its two naves and its splendid Gothic vaults in 1248 and walked in and it was open because a tour was going on so I was able to look around and it was  beautiful. I then walked down to catch the bus and I saw it pull away so I decided to get dinner at that point and walked back and saw a Kabob place and sat outside and had a beef kabob. I went to catch another bus but I missed that one too. So I decided to walk around town so more along the river, it was quite a pretty town.

I finally got on a bus I had plenty of time to catch the train or so I though however we got stuck in a lot of traffic and also a detour. I hopped off the bus and headed towards the train I saw one a train so called over to a conductor was that the Luxembourg train and he said it was. The train was across some tracks so I saw several people including one with a bike  walk across the tracks and motioned could I cross over and I was told no go around. Well that mean I had to run down about 25 stairs and then  up 25 more and naturally the train pulled away, not a happy camper.  Luckily another one was leaving in about 10 minutes so I caught that. 

Once back in Luxembourg I walked off in search of  The Grand Ducal Palace there was really not much to it but I looked around from the outside. I then explored some other areas nearby and then decided it was time to be heading back to my hotel as it was getting close to dark.  I saw a monument with a woman on top with a gold wreath so I decided to head there first it turned out to be a beautiful World War II memorial.

Royal Palace Luxemburg

War memorial Luxemburg



I had a 1 pm flight so after breakfast I walked around outside a bit and looked in a lovely church and then I headed back to check out. I was paranoid on the bus getting me to the airport in time. I read one place 15 minutes another said 45 so I took no chances. It was about 15 minutes probably because no traffic as it was Sunday morning.  I was way too early for such a tiny airport but the good part I was able to have a really good choice of seats when I checked in. It was my first flight on Lufthansa and I had to admit I was suitably impressed. The dinner included wine and they came around a second time after dinner we were offered Bailey Irish Cream and that was most enjoyable. I also was impressed how many times they came around with water or juice at least 5 times. On long flights you really need liquid and I am so used to airlines coming around maybe 2 times after that you have to go and ask.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lucy Ethel Day In Cologne

Chocolate Museum

A visit to the Chocolate Museum (which showcases the 3000-year long culture of chocolate around the world) was definitely in order how could I resist especially as I am an admitted chocoholic.  It was a bit of a walk to the museum but finally made it, it was also hard to find. The admission of 6 euro included a piece of Linz chocolate.  The beginning of the museum was about on where the beans come from, how cocoa beans are gathered how poorly the workers have been paid over the years.  Then in the center was a “rainforest” In cooperation with the Rainforest Foundation "OroVerde" to German "green gold" is informed about the importance of the tropics. 
The best part was the small chocolate factory they had chocolate in large vats and there was a fountain that the chocolate was pouring out of and there were several women handing out samples, they would dip a wafer into the melted chocolate and hand it out. It was so good and I was very bad and I managed to get  3 sample of the warm chocolate wafer, (my secret as to how but it is doable) confessions of a chocoholic.  The women reminded me of Lucy  and Ethel in a popular episode of I love Lucy. You could follow the process as the chocolate was poured into molds, moved along conveyor belts and the pieces were wrapped quite quickly by a robot.  

chocolate fountain


wrapping machine

"Lucy" gets the chocolate

I decided to take a Rhine River cruise even if it was just a short one, so I could say I cruised the Rhine.  I bought a ticket and got a decent seat. It was a nice ride and it was good to be able to view some places across the river closer up. I had planned on getting off when they stopped at the zoo, but unfortunately I did not know you had to be at the door waiting to hop off so by the time I made it down the stairs the boat was pulling away I was quite annoyed  at this. I had to ride back to the beginning of the tour and get off and then walk back to the Flora and Botanischer Garten which was about 30 minutes away walking along the river, it started to sprinkle a bit as I got Zoo area which I knew it was near but I had trouble locating it, so I had to wait in zoo admission line to ask.  It was about another 15 minute walk  but it was well worth it.

Cruising the Rhine with Cricket

tip toe through the tulips

cricket admiring the garden
Botanischer Garten

fountain steps

The garden was huge with many sections it had stopped sprinkling for a bit so I was able to explore and amazingly it was FREE. There was some work being done on one of the buildings which I later discovered was  the patterned after the Crystal Palace in London. I explored the different areas including an Italian Renaissance garden and French Baroque garden every flower under the sun seemed to be there. I saw one flower that reminded me of a rose but also of a tulip, also Rhododendrons and tulips, lilies. There were  also several greenhouse one that included tropical rainforest plants, a smaller one with Bamboo, Cocoa, coconut palm to name but a few. It started to rain when I was in the green house and I was prepared with my umbrella but the rain lasted about 15 minutes so I was able to walk and explore further, I was still amazed all of this was for free.

I did not see any buses and I started to walk back to town and it started to rain but not too bad.  I saw a man walking and he was quite drunk, he crashed into a pole and he also fell onto the roof of a car and bounced back up and stumbled away, scary. I got back to the area I was staying in and actually figured a different way to my hotel and  the good part was spotting a grocery store near by so I could shop the next morning that was the thing about this trip I hardly ever saw a grocery store so have no idea where people would shop.  I went back to the Turkish restaurant I ate the night before and had a kabob, and walked around the Cathedral area but realized I was too tired and headed back to my hotel. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Discovering Cologne

Cologne is the 4th largest city in Germany and from what I have seen of German cities this is one of the best. I spent some time walking around Cologne, up and down the streets, here are some of the places I saw.

St. Martin's Church
Groß St. Martin has shaped the skyline of Cologne’s historic Old Town since the Middle Ages. In Roman times
Groß St. Martin

Groß St. Martin

Cologne Old City Hall Clock Tower

After the tower was completely destroyed in the Second World War, it was rebuilt between 1970 and 1975. Twenty years later the tower was embellished once again with statues, only to have them removed in 2006 due to severe deterioration. The current statues, 124 in total, were installed in 2008 and depict Christ, his apostles, saints and a host of figures that made an impact on the history of Cologne over a span of 2000 years.
statues on Rathaus

Cologne Old Town

“Kölsch” folklore figures Tünnes and Schäl

Museum Ludwig

St. Maria Himmelfarht (Assumption of Mary Church)

Amsterdam in 7 hours

Cricket wears the shoes

Amsterdam is a city I wanted to visit for as long as I can remember I had a penpal from Holland (as it was called back then)  and I finally had the chance because it was just over a 2 hour day trip from Dusseldorf Germany on the ICE train.  I had an early train and I was on my way, I had a window seat this time, it seemed a quick journey and as the train approached I could feel myself beaming like a fool I finally made it. I had almost 90 minutes before I would meet the Sandeman walking tour for Amsterdam so I looked around the city staying in the area of the train station. The first thing I was aware of were all the people on bicycle and trying not to get hit especially as you do not hear them sneak up on you.  I  made a quick stop in St Nicholas Basialica  and finally headed back to meet the group who had an alternative meeting place outside the station.  I did not see him so I set off to find the other meeting place I really had to hurry. I got there and found them and a few minutes later the guide who had been at the station came another way so he must have arrived after I left. 

Amsterdam Central

Our guide Geerl was lots of fun he was very interesting he gave us the history with a touch of humor. He took the time at our break to come and chat with me, a really great guide.  I During the tour we learned that Amsterdam was liberated by the Canadians at the end of World War II and that they send tulips to Ottawa every year as a thank you.

only tulips I saw in Amsterdam

We walked through the infamous red light district, it seems that  a this was a place where a church was built right in the middle of the red light district. The location wasn't chosen to allow easy ministering to the sinners but so the priests would be closer to their mistresses, so that is why later it was used for Prostitutes. We were also advised not to take any photos as the girls would come out and break your camera,  I did see some in the windows a strange sight to be sure.  There was a golden "breast" left in the street one night it was removed but later brought back as people wanted it.  Not only is buying and smoking weed legal in the coffee shops in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, walking by several "coffee" shops the smell was quite strong and I actually saw someone outside smoking it

"Belle"  Red Light District, Statue in honor of prostitutes

look really close and check the window

The tour ended near the Anne Frank House but the line was so long we could not as a group walk by it after tipping the guide I headed to the front to see the house and then I started to make my way back to the train station and was lost I asked a couple looking at a map and they were from Glasgow so we had a bit of a chat. I finally was near the station and I looked for a boat to hopefully take a canal trip and be back in time to catch my train. I found one leaving at 5 pm that would be back by 6 I was hungry by this time as had not eaten since 8 am but it was more important to me to take the canal trip as always when I travel seeing places is the most important thing  meals take second place. The Canal ride was quite interesting and our "driver" was quite entertaining. We saw interesting sites like a 3 level bicycle garage that holds 8,000 bikes, I can not even imagine looking for your bike there. We also spotted some bicycles that were half hanging into the canal.  After the boat trip I had 35 minutes to find something to eat so I got a nice looking sandwich on a roll and headed for the train. I really loved Amsterdam from what I saw and hope to go back again..    

Netherlands was the first country in the world to recognizance same sex marriages

advertising the Beatles took this tour

Cricket enjoying the cruise

Biker like an icon