Around The World · 35 Days · 33 Moments · July 2018

Rachel's adventure in Germany

30 August 2018

27.8.2018 I had asked for a late check out as my plane didn't leave till 8pm so I went in a taxi to the big Souq and they sell everything, wheelbarrow,tools, black dresses,plenty of material shops mainly selling white material for the men. Would be good if the men wore black to see how hot it is and the women white. Went across the way to a smaller market and there were plenty of tailors. Got through Doha airport no trouble at all and the plane took 14 hrs to Sydney. The food this time was not very good. Got through Mascot no trouble so things are looking up. Came home in the shuttle and it was good to be home. I have seen some wonderful things and places and am pleased I did the trip especially as it was touch and go if I was well enough to go with Shingles & the trots.
26.8.2018 There was no Hop On Hop off bus in Doha as it doesn't operate in summer, I guess it is too hot for people to get around. Silly me walked to a shopping centre about 20mins from the hotel and it was a great centre with a v.big supermarket where I tried to get the choc. Dates but because other countries are arguing with Doha no goods are coming in from those Arab states, the planes cannot fly over their territory either. Had a good smorgasbord dinner at the hotel called Retaj Al Rayyan and would recommed it.

25 August 2018

25.8.2018 Had a late breakfast with Annette & John and a group of Gate1 people were there. Have repacked as the weather Has changed and only 20 today so grabbed a jumper to wear on the plane as I fly to Doha tonight. Hotel called a taxi 75zloti and was a pretty drive to Chopin airport, then the trouble started. My big case weighed in at 17kgs but the overnight 9kgs so had to repack in front of the waiting crowd then got through. Usual trouble at passport control, watch & bangle but queried on puffers. Then another passport control further on. They have police with dogs, army plenty of security think I will be glad to get on the plane. The flight was good also food but then the fun began, money belt round waist was taken away by this stupid woman, stripped told to take it off and it was sent to xray whilst she patted me all over even querying pocket of tissues. 2 checks to get through customs the the line for the taxi lasted at least 1/2hr but drive to hotel really beautiful .

24 August 2018

24.8.2018 Trip to Wilanow Palace outside of Warsaw and it is a nice cosy family palace. It is not large but rooms are normal size and all the furniture, decorations are all authentic and I only had to climb 1 level. The grounds are beautiful and many beds of roses and little hedges. Then we went on a city sightseeing tour of the rebuilt old town to how it used to look and they have done a good job. Hitler bombed the town a day before war ended. There was nothing left of the Jewish section but a memorial has been built to commemorate the atrocities done to them. Tonight we are having our farewell dinner.

23 August 2018

23.8.2018 Leaving Vilnius for Warsaw a drive of about 500kms. The countryside is beautiful with forests and good agricultural areas. We stopped at a little place called Lorena Restaurant. Where Greg shouted us coffee & cake and it was very nice it was just over the Polish boarder & we put our watches back 1hr. Then back into the coach and on to Warsaw. About 2million people live here and Hitler bombed it totally so not much is left of the original architecture. That evening a dinner was included at the hotel and then some w ent to the Chopin concert but not me.
22.8.2018 Vilnius city sightseeing, firstly driving then walking through the old town. Amazingly the number of churches and different religions, the people here are mostly Catholic as the are very close to Poland. We passed the restaurant where some of us ate the night before. Back on the coach for a 45mins drive to Trakai castle which -had been built in the late 14th century but was 3/4 ruined and has since been rebuilt. It was a small castle on an island and very pretty. Then a visit to the KGB Museum which seemed to upset alot of people who didn't know this happened in Lithuania. That night went to an optional Lithuanian dinner with Folk music, very nice except for the salad.

22 August 2018

21.8.2018 We did a city sight seeing tour of Minsk and it is a surprising beautiful city. During W.War 2 most of the buildings were destroyed so the current buildings were built in the 1950s and are nothing special. There is a lovely river and on the banks is a memorial to the mother's who lost sons in the Afghan war because at that time Minsk was part of the Russian Empire. The town square is very picturesque and the church is a Lutheran church but used to be Catholic. In the afternoon we drove to Vilnus the capital of Lithuania and the 1st stop the border. We have to leave the Russian side, go through no man's land to the EUROPEAN side and it only took about 1.5 hrs as our driver Johan carries bribes this time chocolates before it was alcohol. Only 1 person works and traffic is lined up for ages. Tonight we did a dine around dinner and I chose the Medi evil one and the food was wonderful. Mushroom soup, salmon & vegs & ice cream & cherries.

21 August 2018

20.8.2018 Early drive from Moscow to Minsk 725kms. The country is beautiful, forest every side of the road and not alot of farming that I could see. We stopped for lunch at a little inn at Yartsevo and the food was really good compared to another lunch stop and they had some wonderful wooden carvings. We were all exhausted by the time we got to Minsk capital of BELARUS and we were held up with a traffic accident for 3/4hr the had drinks and dinner in the hotel which is magnificient, my room was great with a balcony and good views.
19.8.2018 Our guide Vera took us to Sergiyev Posad 70kms from Moscow & it is a Monastry plus Russian Orthodox church. You can see the big difference between city & country, the homes look very poor but the land looks good and so much forest. We stopped at a gingerbread house that a retired carpenter had decorated & he is so proud of his home, the toilet is in an outhouse so imagine using that in winter. The monastery is beautiful, full of gold etc but it was Sunday so had the parishioners as well as all the tourists. In the afternoon went into the Kremlin grounds and they are massive with many cathedrals and saw where Putin works. Then we went to the Kremlin Armoury where all the Russion jewels from the Zars and kings, Faberjey eggs, carriages etc. The cloths Elizabeth had were amazing and no wonder the people revolted, they were starving and here was all this waste.

18 August 2018

18.8.2018 9am start and city tour and the city is surprising. Stalin got rid of the beautiful buildings and built these ordinary high rise buildings but fortunately he left a few. We went down to the Metro and rode 3 trains getting on & off to see the different platforms. The escalator goes down about 500 metres and the trains come every few minutes fascinating but the different decorations are amazing. Didn't go on the optional tour this arvo but went for a walk round the streets & saw people dressed in how it was in say Viking days. Went on the Moscow by night tour and saw many of the sights seen during the day and met up with stacks of bikes near the new University'.
17.8.2018 Late start today, 9am for a Scenic NEVA River cruise with champers seeing all the beautiful buildings from the river and canals. St Petersburg is really a beautiful place. Straight onto the Hermitage Museum, where we stood in line for 30mins to get in & the place is enormous but the quality of the paintings, furniture etc is amazing. This was Catherine's palace and the rooms are different colors it is a must to see, also the rooms of famous paintings, Rubens, Van Gogh, sculpture by Michel Angelo when he was young. Then we boarded the coach for a trip to the enormous train station, we were put through xrays twice, & passport check onto the train for 4.30 drive to Moscow, we arrived here about 7.30 the checked into room and went looking for food. My room is wonderful and even have a lounge.
16.8.2018 St. Petersburg city tour with Julia, an excellent guide. Yusapov Palace, home of the ROMANOVS & Rasputin very interesting place, plenty of stairs? The rooms of Catherine the Great are beautiful but the money these people spent, the rooms are all different and filled with the original pieces. Rasputin was killed there. In the afternoon we took a Hydrafoil to the Peterhof gardens and whilst on the water we saw close up alot of the beautiful buildings. The gardens are magnificient, we did a long walk from the ferry to get in then an even longer walk being shown the sights and the secret fountains that Peter the Great put in, if you walked on a certain colored stone the fountain came on. These tourist places must bring in a fortune as there are tourists everywhere. Some of the others went to the Russian Ballet and were so tired they were dropping off and some hated it. I didn't go Swan Lake.
15.8.2018 Driving to Russia at 6.30am & at the border it took 2.5hrs to get through, unbelievable. Stoped at a place called Vyborg for lunch, soup was good. Arrived about 3.30 and went on optional tour of Peter & Paul Fortress, very interesting & they have an old tram converted into a toilet you can barely close the door. That evening a brilliant Cossack Folk show singing & dancing, 2hrs of pure joy, about 20 in the cast and all could sing & dance.

17 August 2018

14.8.2018 Arrived Helsinki just after 10am & straight into city sightseeing with the most boring guide.. then free time where most of us think it is a waste of time. That evening went to the Russian dinner , main meal & sweets were ok but optional dinners disappointing.

16 August 2018

13.8.2018 Sightseeing at 8.30 and the guide had a great sense of humor in showing us sights in the main city. I didn't go on the optional tour of the Vasa Galleon museum and had 5hrs to kill which is difficult. Sat in a lovely park and went through a few shops but boring. Then we met the bus to board our cruise for Helsinki and I had a big window to see the little islands and the odd homes long the bank. Had a very enjoyable smorgasbord dinner and good choice. I wanted to go to caroke but it didn't start till 11.30 so went to bed and slept like a log.
12.8.2018 Driving from Copenhagen to Stockholm

12 August 2018

12.8.2018 Left at 7.30 on the bus to drive Copenhagen to Stockholm 565ks by road & a short ferry ride. The country was totally different hilly and green. The Hilton hotel is very nice but my card wouldn't open the door the fridge didn't open so you have to request things like that, I have Never seen that before. Didn't go on the optional dinner but went round the corner & had a very good meal of their speciality meat balls, mashed potato,cucumber pickled and these little red berries and great bread. The restaurant was full and the building dates back to the 1600 century and the meal only cost about 22dollars. We went through heavy rain approaching Stockholm so the scenery was not so good.

10 August 2018

10.8.2018 Left at 9.and drove 2hrs to the ferry and 2 hrs on the ferry which was rough & bought 2 bottles of wine. Another 2 hrs on the coach before arriving at Square hotel in Copenhagen. GREG the guide took us all to the Tivoli gardens and we could do our thing so walked round with Lea, Wendy,Wea & Edmund and the rides are scary. We ate at the big place and I had an open prawn sandwich which cost 26Adollers. The prices are way over the top and I have found Europe very expensive.

9 August 2018

9.8.2018 Went on the morning tour of Berlin and the guide was excellent and I saw many different parts not seen before. Most are going to Potsdam this afternoon but I saw that about 5 days ago so will just go window shopping. I went to C & A & bought 2 pairs pants, silly me but I like them.
8.8.2018 Took it easy this morning before leaving the hotel and took a taxi back to the Steigenberger hotel. Went to Karlstad for lunch and walked round looking at things. This evening at 6 met the group leader Greg and some of the others in the group. From what I could work out 4 Canadians 4New Zealanders 32 Aussies. Had a very nice fish meal with rice @ broccoli followed by sweets. I don't think Greg will be as good as Robert from Gate 1.

7 August 2018

7.8.2018 Had breakfast with John & Lilly, a delightful couple, probably the oldest in the group but the most active. They are going on to do the Danube cruise and have been everywhere. Got a hug from Cathy & Sandy & David the Indian Dr. David & his parents were very nice to me. Victor and Linda, the Irish Americans kept me company on many an occasion and Victor saved my life by taking my ports to the station. Am on the train to Berlin & glad I booked a seat as it is full and have made several stops picking up many people. At Berlin a very nice man took my big case from the train and up 2 escalators to the taxi rank. Caught a taxi to the Leonardo hotel and it is nice in a good area. Found a Greek tavern just down the road and had a lovely meal pork fillet with garlic sauce and a nice glass of wine.
6.8.3018 Woke up this morning with a very sore neck & headache so didn't go on the tour Round Munich & the castle but rested and it did me the world of good. Caught a taxi to the Mariana Platz & meet the group going to Dachau.. The drive took about 1hr and Christs, the guide gave us a good talk before walking us through the complex which is enormous. The barracks were built to hold 230 but ended up in some cases with 2000. Some prisoners left the camp each day to work outside in the town Most is the camp has been removed but the gas ovens and 1 barracks plus where they were gassed. It really makes you wonder how people could be so cruel. That evening was our last and we went to a wonderful restaurant outside of the city and the food and company excellent.

5 August 2018

5 .8.2018 Today we left the hotel at 8am to go to Oberammergau, it is such a beautiful drive through the Bavarian countryside. Oberamagou is famous for the best wood carvings and the Passion play held every 10yrs. It is such a beautiful place and the homes with the window. boxes and the lovely paintings on the outside of homes. From there to a drive through the beautiful Bavarian countrysideto Schloss Neuschwanstein, the mad king Ludwig fairy tale castle that Lufthansa used in their adds. I climbed 165 steps it nearly killed me. Alot of the palace was never finished & we couldn't take photos inside but it is a great place and Richard Wagner's music and the fairy tales are frescoes on the walls. Steep climb to get to the castle and a very steep descent of half hr to get back to the bus, so hot again. Went over to the railway which is just opposite to convert my a4 page to a ticket and see how difficult it will be to get the luggage there. A wonderful day.

4 August 2018

4.8.2018 Left Nuremburg for Munich via the most picturesque little town called Rothenberg. It didn't suffer during the war and all the old homes and tiny streets are all intact it is like something you imagine in a fairy tale. Bought some fridge magnets and had lunch in a very nice park. The 2 churchs there are beautiful and the wooden carving in the smaller is beautiful. AHad a big traffic jam on the way to Munich. The hotel the Meridien is beautiful and my room enormous but the air con cold. 20 of us went for the optional dinner, Chris drove us part of the way and then we walked to the Haufbrau House which is famous for a drink. Then we walked to the restaurant and the meal was great but so hot.
3.8.2018 Left Dresden for Nuremburg and passed through the the most beautiful country, till now the land has been flat but today hilly and beautiful little towns in the valley. Our rooms were ready for some so had a lunch in the room which looks out to the railway station, very big. Joined the bus & walking tour Round Nuremburg and we saw where Hitler held his rallies and it is an enormous place and people were bussed in from places to make up The crowd. Then went to where the Nuremburg trials were held and the jail behind, it is still a working court house. Some of the old buildings and the city wall survived the bombings and after the tour we had free time 1.5hrs and being so hot as usual went to Carstad to cool off. After we all went to dinner at Bratwurt Rosland? No air con and we we were all suffering. I got my sausage with sauerkraut at long last. Had 2 beers it was so hot. Took a tablet as I have not slept for 3 nights and had a great sleep.

3 August 2018

2.8.2018 Left Berlin 8am for Dresden about 4hr drive and I can understand why the call it the Venice of Germany. The church is very beautiful & although it was totally bombed out the people got together & rebuilt the church from some of the bricks and contributed to the construction. The city had sent the valuables and the plans of buildings away for safe keeping and so much has been rebuilt in the old style. Our guide was Petra and she took us to the most amazing museum and it now owns all the royal family's jewels and all the gold nick knacks. They were paid but the total waste of money that they spent, amazing. The most fascinating is the green room and the world's largest green diamond, there are 10 rooms & another is the elephant ship. That evening we ate in the hotel smorgasbord style and the asparagus soup was amazing. Went for a walk to the river and the water is so low that the tourist boats can't go nor the barges, the level is really low. The
1.8.2018 This morning I didn't go on the to tour Round hidden Berlin and just walked to the bombed church Kaiser William Kirke and the new one next door with thousands of small blue glass windows. The shops don't open till 10am so went back to the hotel for a rest. That afternoon did the tour to POTSDAM a lovely drive and a very rich area where diplomats etc have homes. Again Marcus was the guide and we went to two castles, the smaller one was not very impressive but that is where the the big 4 met after the war. but King Williams castle was based on Versailles and we were only walking round the grounds and the fountain in the distance was most impressive. That night just went round the corner from the hotel and had a good curried chicken, rice & pineapple meal with salad & bread, good value.
31.7.2018 Left Hamburg for Berlin 3hr drive where we have a 2 day stop over. Our guide on arrival was Marcus and he was very informed and showed us the Memorial to the Jews, most moving where people keep disappearing. The heat was so oppressive we were all glad to get back to hotel. That night we went to Ziko for dinner and it was a great night with good food, wine music and singing, it was an extra and well worth it.

31 July 2018

30.7.2018 Very early start this morning 7.30 on the coach as it is a 7hr drive to Hamburg. We arrived just after 2pm and I went and met Ingrid &Peter at the Rathaus. We went for lunch on a boat on the canal and caught up with alot of the family news. Inge was back in the nursing home after a week in hospital due to the heat. Gretel is still fine and Garby is still strange. That night had a group meal which was very nice and good company, Lily & John, John & Micky & me. I had a lovely room overlooking the Fleet and seeing to the Alster on the side.

29 July 2018

29.7.2018 This morning we left the Hilton, wonderful hotel for a 3 1hr drive to Cologne. Once there we met our guide Marcus who was very knowledge and funny and did a 2hr walk till we reached the Cathedral which is enormous and it took 600 yrs to build. It was started by the French in 1248 as Germany as a country didn't exist, which I found amazing. Once Germany got statehood the Germans finished all the churches in 1880. The church is magnificient and has Unesco heritage. During the 2nd world war they removed all the beautiful stained glass windows and replaced them after the war, they tell the story of Christ's birth and death and supposedly the 3 Wise men are buried there? After had a lazy walk back to the hotel stopping on the way for a late lunch along the Rhine river. Our hotel Maritim is on the Rine and is enormous, I was in room 485 and there were many floors above me. Just ate a banana and pastry for tea as nothing is open being on a Sunday.

28 July 2018

28.7.2018 Today had a good breakfast, which is most unusual for me then an early coach ride to Rudesheim where we caught a ferry for our Rhine cruise, 2 hrs then back on the bus to Heidelberg where we had about 1.30hrs free time for lunch then we caught the cable car up to the Castle, the French destroyed it and no one lives there but the government must make a fortune from all the tourists. It would have been an enormous castle but the weather has been so hot even I am noticing it. Then back on the coach and back to Frankfurt which is a very nice city. Robert the guide who is English gives us alot of history, I didn't know that Germany as a country has only been in existence for 200yrs. The Rhine is so picturesque with the many castles on either shore and the little villages. We ended at St Goar just past the Lorelei. And the grapes growing on the steep cliffs makes you wonder how they maintain the vines which makes Reisling.

27 July 2018

27.7.2018 Had a great breakfast at Favored Scala and lass on the desk helped me get mobile & tablet to pick up home mail. Caught a taxi to Hilton Hotel where I am joining the Gate 1 tour, met the tour leader Robert and a few others. Went for a short walk round the corner and loved the fruit, wurst and cheese stalls. My room is great and I am here for 2 nights so did some washing, the weather is very hot even I am noticing it. Tonight is a group dinner so I will met the others and I believe there are 39 in group. Met some of my fellow travellers and they seem an interesting group.there are 2 Canadians,3 Aussies and 34 Americans , we all had to say our name and from where and how many Gate1 trips, for 2 couples this was the 18th and the 19th booked. The meal was a set one but very good and all seemed to enjoy it. My room is wonderful so no complaints.
25.7.2018 Today I leave for my next trip to Germany. Up at 7.3 0 not much sleep but what's new. The shuttle bus came at 3.30 and it was a good trip arrived at the airport 6pm booked in then went through to gate 10 and had no trouble only had to take of bangle. Plane didn't leave till 9.30pm had an isle seat and 1 spare before a very nice young man Derrick who was going to Paris for a holiday and then to work very nice guy. 26.7.2018 No sleep of course to Doha then on the ground for 2.30 hrs till next plane to Frankfurt again no sleep. Was absolutely had it and took so long to get luggage wondered if it was lost. Caught a taxi to Favored hotel Scala 35Euro and good driver and the staff were very helpful. I felt so exhausted just went round the corner to buy a bread roll, wurst and wine and struggled to get back to hotel. Had that simple dinner and was in bed at 7.30 and even got some sleep. Must say how impressed with Qutar air was very clean& a bit more leg room, very nice staff.