Saturday, 20 September 2008


My last destination on my trip already! Though I guess 3500 photos (for the entire trip!) is enough to work through :-)

It had been my intention from almost the start of the trip to return to Heidelberg, since I remembered it as somewhere really beautiful i.e. lots of old buildings, from when I went there in 1984 on my Contiki trip....those were the days... Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my memories. It's possible I'm mixing it up with other destinations, but this trip to Heidelberg didn't show me as many beautiful old buildings as I thought there would be. This didn't stop me taking 350 or so photos though :-)

Daniel, a friend of mine with whom I worked when I lived in Germany, was on holiday, so he accompanied me and drove us there in his car. It was great to be independent of transport to and from Heidelberg, though we had to park the car all day. The parking fee was reasonable though, at 10 Euro for the whole day. We ended up buying a 'Heidelberg Card' similar to my Stockholm Card, since that gave us admission to the castle and its tours, the cog railway, as well as the University and a few other places we didn't have time to see.

First stop, after the information centre where we bought the card, was the car park, which is right near the Kornmarkt and thus at the foot of the hill on which the castle is perched. Then the slog up the path to the castle. It was quite embarassing how out of breath I was after about 20 steps - after all, I exercise frequently and don't smoke, whereas Daniel is the opposite (i.e. no exercise, smokes) and had no trouble getting up that hill! Tsk.

There were some nice views of the town and the castle above as we climbed:
The park around the castle is free, but entrance to the courtyard costs admission. It's nice to have a wander around the courtyard, even though the castle is mostly a ruin:
We went on a tour of some of the rooms that have been re-created. Some of them were quite nice, and the tour allows you to take photos both inside rooms and parts of the castle you can only get to with a tour group:
The last stop on the tour was where the big wine barrells are - they are truly huge. Unfortunately, my photos of this didn't turn out very well - I must have got the lense wet or something. Oh well. Hey! Stop cheering there! It's not like I upload all the photos I take! Hey! I heard that! ;-)

We wandered around the courtyard and had a coffee:
Then we walked around the outside some more:
Next stop was the cog railway (Bergbahn) to the top of the Koenigsstuhl (king's chair) from where there's a good view of the city below. For some strange reason, most of my photos from up here were blurred so I threw them away. (I said stop that cheering!!) Here's a couple that turned out:
We took the cog railway all the way back to the bottom station, near the Kornmarkt. From there we just wandered around the Altstadt (old town), more or less aimlessly. We went past market place and the Holy Ghost church, the knight's house hotel, the Jesuit church and the old University. We visited the hall of the old University, which was quite impressive:
It was starting to get late, so we quickly had a little bite to eat (Thai food of all things!) before heading off  past the beautiful library which we entered for a quick look around:
Then we headed towards the river Neckar, so we could see the old bridge and its gate:
We crossed the bridge to the other side of the river and walked up the 'snake path' towards the philosopher's path, but only as far as the first viewing platform:
We had decided to eat dinner at the knight's house hotel, just for the hell of it. This was where the handiness of having brought our own car came in - we didn't have any deadlines to meet. The meal was very traditional german food. Very nice. Also, expensive :-)

After dinner, we went in search of a coffee, waiting for darkness, and then stopped for some night shots of the castle all lit up:

Poor Daniel then had to drive us home - a trip of about 1 1/2 hours!

And thus ends my series of blog entries for my trip to Germany!

But never fear: I've booked my trip to Macau and Zhuhai in late October, so look for more entries then!

Sunday, 14 September 2008


My flight to Stockholm wasn't as convenient as our trip to London had been - I flew out in the afternoon and back in the evening - thus only having not quite two full days in Stockholm. But I made the most of it.

The flight with Ryan Air went to an airport 100km away from Stockholm, necessitating a bus trip of about 60 minutes. But the connection was great - straight out the door, since I had no checked luggage - and into the bus which took off about 5 minutes later. Wonderful.

I arrived at the central station and bought myself a Stockholm Card - great investment! Highly recommend it to anyone going to Stockholm for sight-seeing. It includes all bus and train fares as well as admission to everything I wanted to see.

I caught the subway and walked 5 minutes or so to my hotel (I had researched all this on the 'net before I left, naturally - those rainy days and all!) and checked in. Since it was still light albeit 7.30pm, I caught the subway into Gamla Stan (the old town) to start off my sight-seeing. I used my camera's night snap shots setting and I think they turned out quite well:

After wandering around until it was too dark to take more photographs, I looked for somewhere to eat. I found a nice little restaurant in Gamla Stan whose prices weren't too outrageous and had some good steak with mash:

After that it was off back to the hotel. I had a lot to see the next day, after all!

I got up early the next day and caught first the train and then a bus out to Drottningholm palace, where the swedish royal family actually reside. Their tours don't start til 10am, but I had a lot to see, so figured I'd go through the grounds first and look at the Chinese palace only from the outside. The grounds were very pretty, as one might expect - reminded me of the formal gardens in the Loire valley castles.

The tour of the state rooms inside the palace didn't allow photos, as per usual. How sad.

After the tour, I headed back to Stockholm city, to check out the Djurgarden island's offerings. There were some beautiful villas here, as well as the Rosendal palace and a few other little palaces I didn't have time to see. It was a long walk from getting off the bus at the gorgeous Nordic Museum building to the Rosendal Palace, and my feet were sore already from having walked all around Drottningholm...ah well. I could rest when I'm dead, I figured.

After the Rosendal Palace tour for which I had to wait about 45 minutes (yay! shoes off!) I headed towards Skansen open air museum by walking through the lovely forest in the middle of the island. I got to Skansen at 3.30pm and the lady at the admission counter told me that most of the houses would close by 5, so see those first. I already knew this, and didn't care too much whether I could see inside or not - I couldn't go any faster than I was going already! There were some cute little buildings in the grounds and it's quite an impressive museum, from the size alone:

I left here around 7pm to head back towards town. The Museum Biologica is another beautiful building which I had no time to see inside of:

Since I didn't do any sort of harbour cruise (no time!), I figured I'd just get the ferry from outside the Nordic Museum (which I wanted another opportunity to photograph properly anyway) back to town. I just love that building:

And the ferry trip was also included in my Stockholm Card:

By the time I got back to town i.e. central station from where I could get my train to the hotel, it was getting too dark to see anything i.e. for taking photos :-). The day before I had seen signs up about the rock opera "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" being performed at the Culture House, opposite the central station, so I thought I'd just go ask how much it costs. Turned out it was only about (converted) 10 Euro, so I went to see it! Unfortunately, it was all in swedish so I didn't understand a thing!! I had hoped the songs would be english, but no. At least I recognised one or two so could vaguely get what was going on. The audience enjoyed it and laughed a lot, so it must have been good. :-)

I headed back to the hotel, not having had dinner or lunch for that matter. No time, no time!

The next and final morning, I headed down early for breakfast and then checked out and stored my luggage at central station (I'd checked the day before, and it's only (converted) 4 Euro, which was acceptable!). I headed straight to Gamla Stan which I had read would get extremely crowded during the day. They were right - I got there about 8am and the crowds started around 9am and by 10 you could hardly move! All the tour groups moving around - scary stuff.

I walked around taking day-light photos:

Until the first thing opened, which was the church:

After that, I sat down for a little while and had a coffee, waiting for the palace to open:

After the palace and the 3 crown museum, which is attached to the royal palace, I headed off in the direction of the Town Hall where I wanted to be for the 12pm tour. I passed the lovely Houses of Parliament and walked along the water towards the Town Hall:

The Town Hall is, of course, where the banquet for the Nobel Prize is held. The gold room is most impressive, with its 17million golden tiles. And, surprisingly, one is allowed to take photos:

After the tour, which is the only way you can see inside, I headed off towards Gamla Stan station with completely drained batteries - both camera and myself - to get on the train into town to pick up my luggage and head off to the airport and home....well, Bremen anyway :-)

After another night in Bremen, it was off to Frankfurt again. Coming up in the next post: a little sight-seeing of the Limes, and Heidelberg.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Next stop on my travels was Bremen to see my step-Mum and her friend. I remember Bremen as having a beautiful old town and had always wanted to re-visit, so took full advantage of the opportunity!

I've decided never to travel with such a heavy suitcase again! It's such a nuisance! The trip from Hamburg, which was supposed to be by car with my aunt and uncle, turned out to be by train because of the end of the school holidays which could easily lead to 5 hour traffic jams. Not nice at all!! I was picked up at central station again, which was nice.

I was settled into my room and then we went for a little walk in the afternoon, around the place where my step-Mum's friend lives:
Unfortunately, by the next day the weather had turned to rain. But we persevered and went into town anyway, so I could have my photo taking session. Sooooooo beautiful! So beautiful in fact, that once my step-Mum and her friend had had enough, I stayed in town and wandered around again on my own for a few more hours:

Gorgeous, right? I don't think 230 photos is excessive. Much. I wonder if there's a non-tourist season when you can photograph the buildings without a crowd in front and all around you... Of course I need to come back to go to the immigration museum in Bremer Haven and see if our names are on the list, as well as visit some of the museums in town and apparently there's a castle not too far away, and....well, I gotta come back :-)

Some time during our conversations in Bremen, the subject of cheap airlines was brough up - specifically Ryan Air. I said that I'd always wanted to go to Stockholm and wondered how much a flight there was. It turned out to be under 100 Euro there and back - so what's a girl to do? Find out how much a hotel costs, of course! Next thing I knew, I'd booked a flight to Stockholm. Yay!

Stockholm will be the next entry, but first: We took a trip to the Rhododendron Park while the heath was blooming. Since I was born in the Lueneburger Heath, and have memories of walking in it with my relatives, it was nice to go and see it:

It was nice to have a little time during my stay here to get on the PC and start sorting photos and my first blog entry was from here too. I was also able to burn backups of my photos, just in case. I even went clothes shopping! OK, it was just for the cardigan I'm wearing in the above photo, but still. I also had to get my shoes fixed - even though I'd only just bought them for the trip, they'd seen so many miles that the stitching was already coming undone!

There are advantages to rainy days I guess!

So next stop in the story: Stockholm!