A Travellerspoint blog

Goog Bye Europe.

Monday 8th.

Right now packing has started and should be finished in a few hours. A taxi is booked to get us to the airport which is about 15km away. There is no way I am prepared to take 2 trams then a train to the airport with the baggage we seem to have accumulated.

Now some information that will astound and even amaze you. Am told around 15000 cycles are dredged from the canals every year. I assume that some were not actually ridden into the canal by cyclists.

A quiet day, today starting off with a visit to one of Jan's favourites, a market. Mix of food and merchandise, including the inevitable trash.

Then onto a foodhall which was a conversion of a tram barn. Very interesting and where we stopped for a much needed beer and a little lunch.

We did not visit the world renown Amsterdam Red Light district as we actually have red lights at home in NZ and probably of a higher wattage.Perhaps on our next visit I bring some bulbs over.

So drifted back to the hotel and am sorting through what goes in which bag, bearing in mind the main bags go straight through to Auckland, but we need some bits & pieces for the one night Singapore stopover.

That's all and no photos as I have already put Mr Camera away for his trip. Hope you have enjoyed following our journey. Over and out.

Posted by JJ Europe 2017 07:29 Comments (0)

Home Run, Last Days Amsterdam

Thursday. After discovering our hotel was without a liquor license, I tried to cry myself to sleep, but to no avail. So I switched on the TV and what a revelation. There were 10 channels available and 6, over 50%, showed English speaking programmes. Not dubbed in Dutch but with Dutch subtitles. And what a mix. Included a dated English movie set in WW2, in a German prisoner of war camp with plucky prisoners fooling the Germans, who were often portraid as dumb. Think the English made hundreds of this type of movie.

Friday 5th. A lazy start after working out how to operate the shower. Jumped on to a tram outside the hotel, the tram containing a conductor in a little box like area towards the back. Here one bought tickets. We jumped trams and did some exploring, had brunch then joined a group on a canal boat trip. This trip was run by a company called Lovers, but it didnt work for either of us.. Then the rain came, and like many European cities, there are no verandahs/awnings sheltering pedestrians. So we joined the wet ones running up a street to find some muppet had decide this was a good opportunity to bring out the street cleaner. Approaching along the footpath a funny little machine pissing water and creating a spray with brushes. So somewhat damp we then jumped onto the wrong tram. Finally found the right tram then could not remember which stop to get off. Anyway got back to the hotel, and went out for dinner with ALCOHOL, great. The restaurent loved us by giving us a free limoncelo.

Saturday 6th. Now only 3 full days left in this city. What did we do ? Well after much soul searching we decided not to go to the following listed as "must see" museums. The museum of, Bags & Purses, Erotic, Cheese, Tulip, Hash,Marijuana & Hemp, Pianola, Torture, and Pipe together with the Prostitution Information Centre. What information is required? Presume its a prepaid service probbaly with credit card facilities.

So we took a combined bus and ferry ride into the countryside to see and go through a windmill , went to both a cheese making factory and a waffle bakery, watched how clogs were made and had a very late lunch/early dinner in a place called Volendam. Interestingly, the windmill was used to cut logs whilst one nearby was making oil. And we thought windmills were for grinding corn. What was also interesting was the canals and dykes used to drain the land. Jan & I could not live in the counrtyside, with the land about half a metre above the water and every paddock wet with large puddles and crisscrossed with large drains which flow to small canals. So endeth today's geography lesson.

During today's outing, met a 37 year old single woman, an Italian primary school teacher with a tatoo on her left shoulder and nose piercing. She was disappointed with the male friend who had accompanied her to Amsterdam. She was adamant he was not her boyfriend, but all he wanted to do was stay in the Red Light District, whatever that is. Somehow think she will not be seeing him again.

Sunday 7th. Gave church a miss and made our way to the train station, travelling to Utrecht. A less than 30 minute ride to one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. This city boasts a museum quarter with reportedly several museums within a stone's throw of each other, so we took a plentiful supply of stones. The city was bigger than anticipated so we spent a day doing touristy things, departed late afternoon, leaving the stones behind and returned to our dry hotel. Went to a nearby Chinese restaurent for dinner, there being only one other guest. This made me suspicious of this eatery's reputation, more so as about an hour earlier a chap opposite had been calling for his dog which seemed to have disappeared.

Monday 8th. Our last day, for tomorrow we fly homeward to Singapore. Two things we have noted when comparing Amsterdam and Berlin. We thought there were lots of cycles in Berlin, but Amsterdam beats it hands down. Also bike parking is a problem with one bikepark on a barge moored in a canal. Secondly, we have hardly seen or heard the police. In Berlin the police presence was noticable and often sirens heard. Does this mean there is more crime and villians in Berlin. Who knows and who cares.

The final to follow.

Posted by JJ Europe 2017 11:39 Comments (0)

The Home Run

4 Jan. An early start, leaving the apartment at 8am and an hour later being at Berlin's main railway station. From there an express train taking just over 7 hours to transport us to Amsterdam. Travelled 2nd class which was fine, reclining seat, ton of leg room and folding table. We booked seats and ended up in the correct numbered seats but in the wrong carriage. Bugger!

Getting out of the Amsterdam railway station was a challenge as we had to use our train ticket to get through the security system. From there a taxi to the hotel, which is one of the best equiped with stealable things like combs, hair brushes, sewing kit etc.

Was rather late so decided to have a meal at the hotel, and then disaster struck.

ITS AN UNLICENCED HOTEL. Can you believe it. I had non-alcohol Heiniken and Jan a similar type cider.

I cannot type anymore and am going to bed.

Posted by JJ Europe 2017 11:21 Comments (0)

2017-2018 Revisited

2 January
Let me take you back, way back to the year 2017.
I forgot to report about Berlin TV, especially on New Year's eve. Every Berlin station, and I do mean every station, shows at some stage a dated comedy called "Dinner for One". This is so old ( 1963 )it was originally in black & white and is in English. Newer versions have been coloured and dubbed in German. Basically it is about an old lady who invites 4 friends to dinner, but they have all kicked the bucket and the butler besides serving the food stands in for each of the dearly departed. Is rather corney, but apparantly is an institution in Berlin on NY eve and must be watched. For more information check out Google, if you are not too lazy.

Also showing was a live broadcast from a stage at the Bandenburg Gates where it is estimated a million Berliners turn up for an outdoor New Years Eve show. And surprisingly for the costs involved the artistes are appallingly bad, possibly best described as pub quality bands. Performers included a group of guys older than myself seemingly struggling to hold up guitars, a Beatles group with hair styles and suits matching the originals but in dire need of botox treatment and a South American dude. This guy took the appalling prize with 100 points ( And was very over weight ) as he followed screen extracts of Freddie Mercury singing Boeheian Rhapsody. He then went about totally killed the song. But this program was so bad, we had to watch to see if each following act was worse than the one before. After a few drinks it became hilarious.

Now back to the 2nd. Pia, Jan & I did some shopping in the Kopenick centre in the morning. Then Jan & I went for a long lazy lunch at Cafe Rixdorf, which has become a regular every time we have visited Berlin. The lunch was followed by a visit to a Berlin friend who now has a baby named Paul. We brought over a Buzzie Bee for him. On return to the appartment dinner was fruit salad as we had eaten so much lunch.

3 Jan
Started to sort out some packing as we leave early on the 4th. The baggage handlers for the Easyjet flight, Luton to Berlin appear to have actually thrown one bag so hard to damage it, I think we will dump it on our return to NZ. I will be carrying it to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam it will hopefully arrive in Auckland in one piece. May get it wrapped.

The German gods must be sad we are leaving as they are crying, also known as rain. And the rain is soaking into the firework casings still littering the place, turning them into a mush. In the morning went with Pia and her parents to a specialty shop in the university sector of Berlin. The prices were unbelievable. Coffee machines 3 thousand plus euros, mens coats over 800, the shop sold virtually everything but the prices made my eyes water and my wallet stay firmly in my pocket.

This afternoon will finish most of packing,then in the early evening will have the last supper with all the Germans. The next time we see them will be in NZ. Tomorrow morning an early start taking 2 S-bahn trains to the main railway station from which our 7 hour trip to Amsterdam commences. Next blog will be from from Holland/Netherlands.

Posted by JJ Europe 2017 12:06 Comments (0)

2017-2018

31 Dec. A funny day. Being a Sunday all the shops were shut. Joachim ( Pia's dad), Jan & I decided to visit the zoo and aquarium. On arrival discovered it was shutting early so the staff and animals could prepare for New Year's eve festivities.

Fortunately, directly opposite was a Xmas market. We have been told that this being still operating was most unusual, as these markets usually close down 24 December. Still a good reason to drink mulled wine and spend some money. This particular market is same one which a year ago was subject to a terrorist attack by way of a speeding truck. The site is marked with a copper coloured trail from road side across the paving to where the truck stopped at the bottom of steps up to a cathedral.

We all ended up at the German's for dinner, a fondue. These have come back in favour here. From about 5pm onwards the fireworks started. With extensive apartment living results in no yard space, so the occupants set off the fireworks in the street. As the count down to midnight came closer the fireworks became more intense. There exists the China or Chinese Bomb. Illegally imported by the Turks, this is deafening. Outside the German's apartment we had a great view of fireworks in the street, the majority firing projectiles over the rooftop, some 4 stories up. The skyrockets put the NZ ones to shame. Extremely large and fitted with a plastic nosecone for re-entry before exploding. Tim informed us there were still fireworks going off in their street at 6.30 in the morning. We returned to our apartment where the highlight was my side of the bed collapsing so I slept with my feet well above my head. As I had already had a drink or two, I really couldn't care, until trying to get up in the morning.

1 Jan. A new day . Ouside the road and footpath is littered with used fireorks and alcohol bottles, plus a smattering of xmas trees. Have been told that the council cleans up the mess, and believe me it is a mess. This mess is so bad that had it occurred in say Auckland, I believe council would place a ban on the sale of fireworks to individuals.

Very quiet day probably due to hangovers, with a limited number of people walking aimlessly around. We all met together and went for a walk through to the old town part of Kopenick. Found two cafes open, both chokker. Wanted to buy seven pieces of cake but were refused, although we could have five! Figure that out. Pia labelled the place "The Arsehole Cafe" Back at the Gernan's a quiet afternoon, with soup for dinner followed by an early night.

In the next day or two we need to organise ourselves for the train to Amsterdam I have to check ou one of our suitcases which was damaged by the nicely unhelpful staff of Easyjet. It may be a case of buying a case.

Now here is some totally useless info. If you ride a cycle in Berlin , it must have a bell, front & rear lights and reflectors a certain distance from ground level. There are slight variations based on the type of bike also, mountain bike, cruiser, etc. But with all these safety regulations, you don't have to wear a helmet ! And, also for your information, Berlin has a large number of dogs. These are well socialised being allowed to travel on public transport and also welcome in a considerable number of eateries. Cats do not appear to be so popular. I have only seen 2two so far. One outside, the other sitting on a window sill staring out at us.

Posted by JJ Europe 2017 11:07 Comments (0)

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