A Travellerspoint blog

Making the Most of Berlin

semi-overcast 65 °F
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We have been very excited about returning to Berlin - I had a fairly extensive list of things I wanted to see & do. We arrived at the train station in Copenhagen to begin the reverse journey back to Hamburg and then on to Berlin. Shai was once again very curious about the train station.

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We set out across the Danish countryside

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Once again the train is driven right on to the ferry to cross a section of the Baltic

Once parked on the ferry we go up on deck for the crossing - Shai is a good traveler for sure

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We met a very nice young man, Sebastian, from Sweden who was moving to Hamburg where his fiancee lives and starting a new job. We have really enjoyed the conversations we have had with the people we've met along the way during this trip. We are slowly gaining insight & understanding in the many cultures we are experiencing.

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We arrived in Berlin, got a taxi to the hotel and got settled in. Traveling with a cat does require a few extra steps in checking in & out of hotels and traveling between places. We try to be very conscientious about not leaving a mess behind. We have refined the process over the years of traveling with her though - but the first thing to do once in our room is to get her set up.

We then decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant - great choice - we enjoyed a fantastic dinner of a perfectly cooked pork chop, wonderful potatoes, and green beans done the right way (with bacon & onion) with a nice bottle of Riesling.

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First Full Day in Berlin

One of the big things I wanted to do in Berlin was the Pergamon Museum - as luck would have it - it is under going a major remodel and the Pergamon Altar was closed! Oh well - a reason to return. When you enter the museum the first thing you see is the very impressive Ishtar Gate of Babylon - this was so huge I could not get the whole thing in my camera lens! The gate was one of 8 gates and was ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar II about 575 BC. This gate on display is the smaller of the double gate - the larger one is in storage.

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Here is a model of what it would have looked like

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The next room contains the Roman Market Gate of Miletus - this gate was built around 120 - 130 AD during the reign of Hadrian - it was severely damaged by earthquakes and in WWII so much of it is rebuilt.

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In the same room is

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and the Orpheus Mosaic - 2nd century

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The museum is filled with many treasures from antiquity - some of my favorites

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Not Ray - the relief behind him! Yes Ray is a favorite - just not from antiquity!

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Gold Jewelry

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an exquisite prayer niche

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Amazing this glass bottle has survived intact since 700 AD - the figures on it are playing polo

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This domed ceiling was originally in the Alhambra in Grenada Spain

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Beautifully illustrated books

The Aleppo Room - an ornately painted room from the house of a Christian man in Syria @ 1600

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Our next stop was the Berlin Dom (Cathedral) - it is the largest church in Berlin and was built in its present state @ 1747 - 50 in the baroque style.

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The interior of the dome

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The stained glass of the three main windows depicts the Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection

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At the time of its dedication in 1905, the organ was the largest in Germany, with its 7269 pipes and 113 registers, distributed across four manuals and pedals.

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The pulpit is a marvelous work of oak woodcarving designed by Otto Raschdorff, the son and employee of the Cathedral’s architect. It bears the inscription, “The Word of the Lord is Eternal”.

It was definitely time for a cold drink and something to eat. We stopped at a cafe and ordered beer and this delicious Berlin Potato & Sausage soup - just right on a cool day!

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On the way home we passed the Jungfernbrucke - the oldest bridge in Berlin

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The eventual cold we both ended up catching was starting to wear on us - bedtime was becoming earlier!

A New Day...New Museums to Conquor

I had two places on the agenda for today - Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas Church) & the Old National Gallery. We walked across the Spree River to the Nikolaiviertel (St Nicholas Quarter)

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The church here has been the center of Berlin for almost 800 years. The church & the neighborhood were bombed during WWII - in the 1987 the area was rebuilt and the church restored for the 750th anniversary of Berlin There are parts from the original church left and some photos showing what it looked like before the church was bombed.

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This is a model of the Nickolas Quarter - today it is a great walking area lined with cafes and shops.

After the church we headed for the Old National Gallery which feature works from 1800 to present day and is one of the major museums on Berlin's Museum Island.

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Some of my favorite pieces

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These two statues greet you at the entrance - Mercury & Psyche and Prometheus complains of the Okeanids - he is surrounded by sea nymphs comforting him

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This is an actress playing Circe - Love the expression on her face!

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The lace is so realistic - you can zoom in on it here- can't believe it was painted

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Van Gogh's Moulin de la Galette

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This one is The Sisters

One can only take so much museum time before a little recharge is needed. We headed back to the Nickolas area for dinner at Marcellino's.

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Day 3 - Slowing Down Even More

The one place I wanted to see today was the Spy Museum - it was pretty interesting. There were lots of secret cameras in pens, lipsticks, umbrellas, brief cases and tape recorders too. There was even a poison capsule in a glass ampule you swallowed and could covertly retrieve (ick) if captured and wanted to avoid torture.

There were a couple of the Enigma coding machines and a Stasi equipped Trabi that was used for surveillance.

They even had a laser maze you could try and get through! Where is Catherine Zeta Jones when you need her!

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We spent the rest of the day in bed and all of the next day, Sunday. We did venture out Sunday evening for dinner.

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Feeling Better - at Least One of Us

Monday was laundry day. I downloaded the app for the transportation in Berlin so bus & underground tickets were easy peasy. We took the U-Bahn to the "Waschsalon" and took care of the dirties.

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We headed back to the hotel to drop off the laundry then back out to see the East Side Gallery. It is a portion of the wall still standing covered in graffiti devoted to freedom.

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We sat on the banks of the river Spree for a bit then headed out on foot through the Kreuzberg area of Berlin.

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The Oberbaum Bridge (German: Oberbaumbrücke) is a double-deck bridge crossing Berlin's River Spree, considered one of the city's landmarks. It links Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, former boroughs that were divided by the Berlin Wall, and has become an important symbol of Berlin’s unity.

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Molecule Man is a series of aluminium sculptures, designed by American artist Jonathan Borofsky, installed at various locations in the world, including Berlin, Germany,[1] and Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States.[2]

The first Molecule Man sculptures were made in 1977 and 1978 in Los Angeles, USA.[1] The sculptures consist of three humans leaning towards each other, the bodies of which are filled with hundreds of holes, the holes representative of "the molecules of all human beings coming together to create our existence".

Thank you Wikipedia

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We wandered the Kreuzberg neighborhood a while

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Kreuzberg has emerged from its history as one of the poorest quarters in Berlin in the late 1970s, during which it was an isolated section of West Berlin[2] to one of Berlin's cultural centers in the middle of the now reunified city, known around the world for its alternative scene and counterculture.

After walking ourselves tired we hopped on the U-Bahn and headed back to the Nikolas area - we ended up at a small brewpub for dinner. OMG - Pork Shank with cabbage & potatoes - so good - between the two of us we could not finish one serving!

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We loved this dragon sculpture

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Our last day in Berlin was Ray's turn to be hard hit with the cold - we stayed in bed and rested for our travel day to Poland!

Posted by ChristisDream 02:37 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

On to Copenhagen - a New Country for us!

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Today is a travel day - we opted for the later train as it has no changes and is 4:51 from Hamburg to Copenhagen. The happened to be a World Boxing Competition going on in Hamburg while we were there and several of the teams were staying at our hotel. Our last morning we happened to be sitting next to the Japanese team. One of them handed us each pins for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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We headed for the train station and killed a little time before boarding. Shai was her curious self

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This train is pretty cool - at one point to cross a portion of the Baltic Sea the train drives right onto the ferry - you get out and go up on the deck for the 45 minute crossing - then the train pulls off the ferry and continues on.

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Driving on to the ferry and in the ferry

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Driving off of the train

Suddenly you are in Denmark! An unusual thing for most EU border crossings the Danish immigration boarded the train to check passports. One young man came came into our car - which was on one end of the train, looking a bit nervous. The two Danish immigration officers came in and asked him for his passport, the young man replied he did not have one. "Well then you are under arrest!" was the immigration officers answer - that was that - he was escorted off the train - no muss no fuss. That being done we continued on our way to Copenhagen with lovely views on the way.

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We finally arrived in Cpoenhagen

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After checking in to our hotel and getting settled we set out for dinner. There happened to be a restaurant just down the street that served traditional Danish food and had great reviews so we headed there. Even though it was a bit coolish out we sat outside - there were several patio heaters and blankets on every chair. We ordered two different dishes to try

DANISH HAMBURG STEAK
WITH FRIED EGG, SOFT ONIONS, CUCUMBER SALAD, BROWN SAUCE AND BOILED POTATOES.
and
MISS BARNER’S STEW
FROM TENDERLOIN OF PORK, COCKTAIL SAUSAGES, BACON, MUSHROOMS,
PEARLS ONIONS AND PAPRIKA SAUCE. SERVED WITH MASHED POTATOES OR RICE.

Was enough food for a family of 4 - at least!

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Oh my - it was all fantastic - I don't know where Danish Brown Sauce has been all my life but I will now need to learn how to make it! It is a richly flavored gravy without being salty - so good. The stew was a seemingly odd mix but it all worked together.

On the way out of the restaurant we stopped to chat with a couple that had just come in - they were from the Boston area and had arrived earlier that morning.

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The "Free" Walking Tour

I woke up early to find Shai in her favorite spot - looking out the window!

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Since this was our first visit to Copenhagen I booked a free (for tips) walking tour for our first full day there. We found a place near our hotel for breakfast and headed there.

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They make giant omelets! Delicious too!

Having filled up we headed to the meeting point for the walking tour. Our group soon gathered and Simon, our guide led through the old part of Copenhagen.

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The Stork Fountain - given to celebrate the Royal Silver Wedding of King Frederick & Queen Louise in 1888

We followed our guide Simon through the old part of the city stopping at various locations.

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A typical walking street

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This passage was once part of a monestery.

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One of the oldest churches in Copenhagen - Church of the Holy Ghost - built in 1296, its present form was built in 1607 - it was a part of the monastery of St. Augustin.

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Gråbrodretorv - one of the oldest squares in Copenhagen, once part of a monastery. A mansion owned by a treasonous man once stood on this square - it was burned down and a pillar was erected so the people could walk by and spit on it! A plaque sits where the pillar once did.

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Rundetårn built by King Christian 4 from 1637 to 1656 as an observatory at the university. It is the oldest observatory in Europe. Instead of stairs going up it has a spiral ramp "equestrian staircase". In 1716 Czar Peter the Great rode up it on horseback while his wife Catherine I followed in a carriage.

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Our guide Simon telling us something...

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Rosenborg Palace

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Memorial of the Lutheran Reformation in Copenhagen

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The Lure Blowers
The common myth is that the Lur Blowers will blow their horns if a virgin passes by the monument. (No one in Copenhagen has yet heard the trumpet sound from these two high profiled and attractive Lur Blowers)

We ended our walking tour and wandered around longer. We found ourselves back at Cafe Apropos, the same cafe we had breakfast for dinner! The dinner, the wine, and the dessert were wonderful!

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I think the colds that eventually hit us in Berlin actually started in Copenhagen - we were pretty slow moving there. I found a real pet supply store in the burbs with easy rail access so we took a little trip out there for supplies.

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That done I think the only other thing we did that day was to go to Nyhavn - a district on the canal with many restaurants, bars, and historical wooden ships.

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The Memorial Anchor commemorates the 1700+ Danish navy & merchant seamen who lost their lives in WWII

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The colorful 18th century townhouses along the canal

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Our wonderful dinner music

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Tivoli Gardens at night.

On to Berlin in the morning

Posted by ChristisDream 08:35 Archived in Denmark Comments (3)

Harbors and Hanseatic Cities!

sunny 78 °F
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Today we set out for a boat tour of the harbor with a stop at the Rathausmarkt - the central square in Hamburg and the home of the Rathaus (city hall). On one end of the square is a long shopping arcade, there is also a monument to the fallen of both world wars.

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The Rathaus
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The shopping arcade
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The Monument to the Fallen of Both World Wars
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We headed to the harbor where the boat tours depart found our boat and boarded. One thing about these types of tours - you're gonna pay way too much for really bad beer!

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Our boat loaded up and off we went. One of the first things we see is the gem of the Hamburg harbor is the Elbphilharmonie - the stunning wave shaped concert hall. The glass building was built on top of an existing warehouse that was used to store cocoa, tobacco, & tea. Inside are two concert halls, a hotel, and apartments.

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This is very much a working harbor with massive container ships, huge cranes, and stacks of containers waiting to be loaded.

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There is currently a re-development of much of the port area. Hafen City as it is called will eventually house 14,000 people and provide 45,000 jobs - it is the largest development project in Europe. It definitely has some interesting architecture along with the concert hall.

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After the harbor tour it was time to eat. I don't know what I'd do without google maps - along with being a great way for directions I use it to find restaurants near to where ever we happen be standing. The restaurant reviews help to avoid the places with not so good food. Well once again google maps led us to Luigi's - we enjoyed a wonderful meal al fresco before heading home for the day.

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Lubeck for a Day

We decided to get out of the city for the day and head to Lubeck - a 14th century leading Hanseatic city. It's extensive Gothic brick architecture has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lubeck is about 45 minutes on the train

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It was a short walk from the train station to the old city gate.

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Not sure what it is but I always head for the church! There were some pretty cool buildings on the way.

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There is an old story that goes with this church

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The wine bar is here

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The Marienkirche is a 13th century Brick Gothic building with 2 400+ foot tall towers. It is the highest brick vault in the world of 126 feet in the central nave.

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The Marienkirche was hit hard in WWII losing much of its original art to fire. One thing lost was a painting of the "Danse Macabre" (Dance of the Dead)
This window depicts the Danse and is a reminder of the lost work

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During that same bombing raid the south tower was hit the bells fell 200 feet to the ground. They were left, just as they fell, as a memorial for peace.

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We left the church, started walking and found ourselves in the Markt Square where there was a band playing. Guitars, violin, cello & drums - great sound!

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After enjoying some music - well - it was time to eat! We headed down towards the river Trave to find a place. We ended up at Potter's Cafe with a lovely view of the river. On the way there it started to pour - of course - we left the umbrellas at home! After about 15 minutes standing under a covered entry it stopped and we continued to the restaurant. The sun actually came back out.

I forgot to take photos but I had some very yummy BBQ ribs and Ray had some wonderful sausages with fantastic potato salad!

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We made our way back to the train station and back to Hamburg. Time to get ready to move again - on to Copenhagen in the morning!

Posted by ChristisDream 10:52 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Back to Germany!

semi-overcast 74 °F
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We were leaving Amsterdam as the cruise ships were rolling in - there would be 3 in port today.

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We boarded the first of two trains for the day and found seats in a compartment. After a while a young man joined us. He was moving from his small town in the The Netherlands to Hamburg for a 6 month internship - something students here do after 2 years of college. Thomas was studying engineering and his internship was to work on a project for sound engineering. It was his first time away from home so he was a bit anxious but I think he'll do just fine. My original plan was to blog on this train but we were really enjoying chatting with Thomas.

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Our second train we were not as lucky in our seat mates! Actually we were lucky to find seats but we finally did with two older, very talkative German men who spoke no English and were somewhat hard of hearing! We did manage a few pleasantries though. We also did manage to find a beer!

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We arrived in Hamburg - must have been tired because I didn't take any more photos that day! We did head straight for our hotel, had a bite and went to bed.

One of the main reasons I wanted to stop in Hamburg was to visit Minatur Wunderland and today was the day we were going!! First was a walk to a grocery for cat food - a recurring theme here!

I love apps - I downloaded one for taxis in Hamburg - so easy to order one, put in your pick up & drop off, and pay all in the app. Our taxi came and off we went to Minatur-Wunderland! I purchased tickets in advance so we went right in. This place was fantastic if you love models (which I do) - three floors of beautifully done model cities & towns - many easily recognized places all with trains & cars and many moving parts. Here are some of my favorites

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This stadium was so cool - the two white blobs in the floor area are flash bulbs going off

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Some cities need no introduction

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The lighting was fantastic - it would switch between day, twilight, and night.

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The mountains were incredible with trains and bridges snaking through them. This looks like a huge outdoor concert.

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A western movie set

Look closely you can see superman.

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Views of the airport

Video of plane landing

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Neuschwanstein Castle

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The amusement park was very well done with many of the rides that actually worked.

They have a sense of humor too!

In the right margin of the blog under the list of entries is a link that says "more photos" - there you can zoom in on the photos - really necessary to appreciate the Minatur-Wunderland photos.

Having satisfied my inner child it was time to satisfy my grown-up - dinner! I love google maps - it is a huge help in finding restaurants nearby with good reviews and helps avoid bad meals. I found Shones Leben - translates to Beautiful Life. Ray had schnitzel - currywurst for me.

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We wandered around Hamburg a bit before heading back to our hotel. The canals were lined with old warehouses - The Speicherstadt - it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in July of 2015. Some of the buildings are still used as warehouses and some house museums like Minatur-Wunderland.

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Posted by ChristisDream 01:19 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

On to Amster, Amster, Sh! Sh! Sh!

semi-overcast 79 °F
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Today is a travel day to Amsterdam. We got all packed up & headed for the train station - fortunately it was right across the street! We found our platform and waited.

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We boarded and off we went. Fortunately only 1 change of trains on today's journey - we have packed as light as we can for the 60 days of train travel but with the cat's and Ray's extra things we are heavier than usual. The train followed the Rhein for a while then turned inland through lovely countryside. Finally we arrived in Amsterdam - the land of a gazillion bikes!

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We love the compartments on the trains.

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Views of the Rhein

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Not bad in the luggage dept for 60 days. Amsterdam Centraal and a cruise ship leaving.

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They say there are more bikes in Amsterdam than people - I believe it!

We settled in to our hotel and went out for a walk about and to find dinner. Well it's that time of year for sorority & fraternity rushes and it was pretty clear who they were!

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Mine was a chicken satay and Ray had the schnitzel - again so much food!

We found a place for dinner and ordered - something about my dinner did not agree with me - 5 bites in and I could not get home fast enough. UGH - thus ended our first night in Amsterdam.

Feeling Much Better

Woke up feeling fine - yay!!! We we scheduled for a canal tour today with "Those Dam Boat Guys" a small boat with only 10 passengers and the Captain/Guide. After breakfast we started to gather some supplies for the boat trip. Ray wanted some baked goodies so we stopped by a coffee shop. Next was a visit to a grocery for some wine, cheese, grapes, and crackers. We then headed for the meeting point for the boat which happened to be a nice little cafe and we happened to arrive early so we ordered a beverage and sat down. We were sharing a table with a couple who lived around the corner and enjoyed chatting about living in Amsterdam. I had noticed a group gathering and figured it was the rest of our group. I was watching the clock and we still had time but I looked up and they were gone! We darted after them and lost them! UGH - back to the bar - surely that was not our group leaving early - fortunately it was not! We stood in front of the bar waiting and struck up a conversation with another couple of locals. We chatted with them until our actual group was ready to leave.

A canal tour is a great way to see Amsterdam - especially in a small boat as it can go where the large tour boats can not. Our Captain, Jeff, was a great guide pointing out interesting places & sharing tips about places to go in the city.

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Captain Jeff

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Typical Amsterdam

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We went by the zoo

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Posted by ChristisDream 05:35 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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