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Strikes and Rain Interupt Travel

A Strike cancels trains, rain plays havoc on Munich

rain 58 °F

Off to Munich, first leaving Sunny off at the train station in Nuremburg. This was the beginning of the circus. Sunny was to travel from Nuremburg to Frankfurt to Brussels.

We were told to wait for someone to help us but help wasn’t arriving. Someone else came along and led the way to the platform which we could have negotiated without help. Then the train was going to be 40 min late and she was going to miss her connection in Frankfurt.

We made it down to the information desk, which by now was packed. We were told that there were strikes so she would need to take the late train to Frankfurt, transfer to Koln then take a bus to Brussels. They could not give us an ETA.

I was beside myself. Sunny would need to get around in her wheelchair, alone, without her grandma! But she assured me that she would be fine and besides we had already paid for the ticket. She started trying to reach Charlotte, our Belgium friend who would pick her up.

We went back to the platform and there, the employee to help, was looking for us. He had been searching the terminal. The train had changed tracks so the car would be at the totally opposite end from where we were. He pushed and we ran, getting her on the train in the nick of time.
Turns out that the strikes were in Belgium.

We drove on to Munich for an afternoon there, we were going to our exchange student’s house for the night as I never got anything arranged.

As we got to Munich it rained off and on. We found a place to park, put on our rain jackets and went on our way. We walked to the Englisher Gardens to eat lunch in the beer garden with the Chinese Pagoda, but alas, there was only one stand open for food. They had only 3 wieners warmed and no bread. We bought 2 and walked back to the square. At the square we sat down at an outdoor restaurant with a view of the square. The rain started down so hard that people just scattered. The waiter even sat down at a table near us and visited with the people there while the rain poured.IMG_20140630_144102_784.jpg

Finally the rain tapered off; "no you can’t have coffee because the machine isn’t working", "yes I’ll come back and get your food order". I went across the square and got a cappuccino to go. Came back to our seats when Dale said the waiter had finally said we should go to another restaurant because the food was better at the one around the corner. By this time we’d wasted 2 hours in that place. The food was better at the next restaurant, although there the Bavarian meatloaf was like a big hunk of spam. Elias' lung soup was actually very tasty.
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It was outside this restaurant that I finally got some internet. Charlotte had sent me a message asking where Sunny was. I didn’t know. Then she said that her brother had just told her that he saw an accident on the highway and a bus from Koln was involved. OMG I about had a heart attack. But it was about 10 minutes later and the bus arrived safe and sound.

We went on to Tobias’ house and sure enough he was home. He’d sent a message that I never got, he would make dinner and we were stuffed. But the sausages he made were so extra good that we just kept stuffing, Bel ate 6 of them. He also made a mean sauerkraut that I’ll try when we get home.

Had to watch the World Cup with the Germans!

Posted by Miss Chris 10:20 Archived in Germany Tagged rain beer travel germany outside europe munich englisher_garden Comments (0)

Onward to Germany

overcast

Ever onward! We went to the airport to exchange cars at Avis.

Another travel hint: cars may be rented for a maximum of 28 days on a contract. This is whether you rent and extend by the week or just a lump sum. After 28 days the contract must be renewed.

The next car was a Peugeot 5008, getting 57mgp. I do not understand why we can’t buy these cars in the U.S. It is a SUV with seating for 6, 5 with the back seat down.

We got to AVIS and got into the return line with our van. I asked the return agent if we could park in the front and unpack the van then pack the Peugeot. He said yes and pulled the van up to the front of the office. I got the Peugeot and pulled it up next to the van.

We had so much stuff, we wondered if it would all fit. The rear seat was down so in went: 2 large duffle bags, 4 rolling carry ons, 5 back pack carry on’s, 1 back pack camera bag and 2carry on duffle bags, an ice chest, our Ferrari bag plus 1 wheel chair. People stood around watching as we packed everything in without an inch to spare. Stuff was everywhere: in the cargo, on the floor of the passengers seating and front passenger flooring. The spectators clapped and cheered when we were able to close the rear door.2014_-_9.jpg2014_-_4.jpg

Ghislain had made a map for us to enter and to exit the airport. It was perfect and we found our way to the highway. I had goggled the instructions to Amberg and everything went well.

OMG I love the Autobahn! Once out of Belgium there is no speed limit. Fly like the wind, but just make sure you move over when there is someone faster behind you. Dale didn’t once when he was driving and the person who flew by on the right blared their horn at him. Me? Well let’s just say that I just had a great time when I drove. We must bring the Ferrari!!!

We met up with Dieter and went straight to an ice cream place. We 1st met at an ice cream place so this is our tradition when it is not freezing in winter.
Then off to a beer garden in the old walled city of Amberg for dinner.2014_-_10.jpg

Posted by Miss Chris 16:14 Archived in Germany Tagged beer driving germany friends luggage Comments (0)

Prague- Our 1st Opera

Seeing the Barber of Seville in Prague

IMG_5004.jpgIMG_5019.jpgHaving spent one day on the train we were glad to be in Prague. The train ride was made much more pleasant when we met the couple behind us, newlyweds, and discussed our varied travels. We made some plans to meet after our opera at the Budweiser Pub where I wanted to buy a new tablecloth anyway.

Our room is in the historic district, right behind the Astronomical Clock and just across the walk from the St. Nicholas Church. The place use to be a tavern frequented by the executioner. We enter thru a heavy wood arched door, up a narrow wood spiral staircase and into our room with ceiling panels each hand painted. The double windows open onto the street on one side and the square on the other. We couldn’t ask for a greater room!

Our 1st opera was in the evening so after breakfast we leisurely got going. The 1st stop was a little restaurant on our side of the bridge that I’d seen on other trips, my plan was to drink coffee and enjoy the sights of the bridge and castle. We found a table right in front of the river, had coffee, lunch and I shot photos.

The “Barber of Seville” was not only our 1st opera in Prague, but also our very 1st opera even to see. I’ve not been a huge opera fan, that is no to say I don’t enjoy the music, just not all of the intense stuff. I’m more of a fluff fan.

We dressed up in our good clothes, hoped on the tube and were off to the State Opera House where we had box seats. The boxes had enough room for 4 persons and we had to share our box with 2 other people but they were nice and we really didn’t know that they were there most of the time.

The Prague State Opera House is a fun, audience friendly place. On each side of the orchestra pit is a walk way to the stage so that the cast can interact with the audience which is exactly what they did. In the opening several cast members came thru the aisles singing and carrying on. They came thru again, the old Doctor made us believe he tripped over a lady’s foot then he proceeded to sit by her and pat on her head, making facial expressions that had us howling with laughter.

The opera was so funny; the cast not only sang exceptionally well but were great actors too. What a great introduction to opera.

After the opera we walked to the beer hall but alas our new friends were not there and the atmosphere had changed. We didn’t find it a fun place to be but then the last time we were there it was mid Dec. and freezing cold. The tablecloth available appeared to be of a thin material with little print on it. We walked out and found a new restaurant for new memories.

Posted by Miss Chris 16:21 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague beer travel czech mozart prague_opera_house Comments (0)

Concerts in Salzburg

A day with 2 concerts in Salzburg

Dieter called early to say that the car was in the shop so they would meet us for dinner in the old city as we offered to share our free meal with them. This freed us up for the day to do as we wanted, but actually we had stops that we really wanted to make, plus a concert that we’d seen advertised.

We started with a second visit to the Salzburg Cathedral “The Dom” just to look up to the dome and to see again the place where Mozart was baptized as a baby. “The Dom” is an amazingly impressive Cathedral; the dome was destroyed during the war but rebuilt, while a very small area of the structure is from 774, it was mostly destroyed by fire. The structure is not so Baroque as some but the statutes are much larger so that it takes your breath away to see. This would be amazing place to visit on a Sunday morning but alas we will be in Vienna by then.

After another ride up the hill to the fortress we got to visit some of the rooms. I especially wanted to see the torture chamber but alas I learned that it really wasn’t used for that. Still the view from the top was great.

Upon arriving in Salzberg we’d learned about a Mozart concert taking place every afternoon at 3p.m in the Residence. As we’d been to the Mozart Residence I assumed that it was taking place there but we found out that it was actually at a place in St. Peters called the Residence where the Arch Bishop lives. We were not able to go before so today we were planning our time around this concert.

After the fortress we still had a couple of hours and had worked up an appetite and were thirsty so thought that we’d hit the beer hall reported to the ‘beer hall of all beer halls’. We walked very quickly to the beer hall as it was several minutes away only to find that it did not open until 3pm. So tired, thirsty and hungry we turned back to the city to find the concert.

We found, thru asking lots of people, where the concert was and made sure that we were first in line, then got the best seat. The venue was held in a small room, probably built in the 1300’s or so with arched ceilings. A harpsichord was in a corner with chairs set up on 2 sides.

At 3 p.m. the director of music (I think that is his position) came in and gave a little lecture on the instruments used during Mozart’s time. Then the harpsichordist came in to play a selection of pieces including the minuet written by Mozart when he was 6 years old. It is simple now but when one thinks that he was so young it is very impressive. This concert was quite fun as it was a very old instrument played in a very old room with about 20 people in attendance.

As we were walking around we saw the Director of Music putting up signs for another concert, this one at 7p.m. with tickets going on sale at 6 or so. The music was 2 Mozart piano sonatas to be played by a Russian pianist.

We arrived 1st once again to purchase the tickets and once again the Director took us to where the best seats would be. This room was in the St. Peters with arched ceilings but set up in one long corner of the room. The piano was set up in the center with seats on 2 sides and about 30 people were in attendance at this concert, our seat about 10’ away from her right hand.

The pianist was a young woman who was from Russia but studied at Julliard and she was amazing. She walked in with no music, sat down and started playing. The hands glided over the keys without any effort, it seemed that she wasn’t hitting the keys just by looking at her hands. She produced strong powerful sounds and then the softest sounds with barely a touch. Both Dale and I were so moved by her music.

Dieter had phoned on my cell phone earlier that the car was still in the shop so we went to dinner after the concert on our own. This was the free meal given to us by the Hotel for all of the hassles we had at our arrival. We just bought the bottle of wine and drank the entire bottle, but the hotel was just a short walk so we didn’t care. But what a great last day in Salzburg.
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Posted by Miss Chris 23:06 Archived in Austria Tagged churches beer salzburg austria concerts fortress 773a.d. st._peters Comments (0)

Belgium, Old Friends and Fun

Meeting Up with Old Friends in Brussels

sunny

IMG_4248.jpgIMG_4239.jpgWe arrived in Brussels feeling like it was 3 a.m. on Jupiter. Our friend Pascaline was to pick us up at the airport but she had given me her phone number to call when we arrived.

We got off the plane and thru customs then at the arrival area did not see Pascaline. I got my phone out, which I’d programed on Sunday but there was no internet to be had and her number was in an email. We dropped the bags and while I worked to get my Sims number off the card, then find the number to call for Verizon Dale went out to look for Pascaline.

We’d spent about 10 minutes looking and trying to get the phone up and running when I happened to look up and saw someone who looked like Pascaline but it has been maybe 8 years since we saw her last. She was watching for the passengers coming out from customs. I told Dale to stay with the bags and I ran over to the arrival area. Then the woman put on sun glasses and did not look like Pascaline at all. I started to back away when she took the glasses back. I asked “Pascaline” and she said “yes”. We were reunited at last.

Several hours later I had time to work with the phone and found I could place calls; just as I thought it was a setting that had not been checked in the phone.

Our goal in Brussels was to 1. Visit with our friends and her family and 2. Drink a beer. Ghislan, Pascaline’s husband was more than happy to oblige with the beer. We did go to the square at the Grand Palace and in a little bar that was established about 150 years ago we had beers all around. The beer tasted much better there than at our home in Bakersfield, maybe the environment had a little to do with it.

As for the family, Pascaline’s mother Therese use to visit nearly every year, traveling with us for our summer vacations. She learned to know most of our family and we traveled over many states. We also visited her at her home, the last visit 6 years ago at which time she told us that she would likely not return to the U.S. again.

Therese arrived with her son for an afternoon visit and we had several hours of reminiscing the old times. We were sad for our time in Belgium to be over but excited to move on to Germany and our old friends there.

Posted by Miss Chris 14:39 Archived in Belgium Tagged food beer travel europe belgium brussels visiting Comments (0)

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