My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Monday, April 13, 2015

Where to Next?

I've been working at backfilling my blog with posts and photos from my trip to Europe this past Fall. It has me salivating for another big adventure so I've started putting together random notes and thoughts into a travel binder.  Should I think about going to Holland in the spring to see all of the tulips? I would dearly love to go back to Germany for any reason at all, but it would be especially nice at Christmas-time.  On the last trip, I took the ferry from Holland to England overnight and really enjoyed it so maybe I'll look into another journey of that type.  And, of course, nothing beats traveling by train -- I absolutely love it -- so maybe a trip involving lots of train travel.  I did find a tour that goes up through Finland into Russia and St. Petersburg.  I didn't realize that St. Petersburg was just across the Finnish border, making it much easier to visit as opposed to going into Moscow. That would be truly awesome!

I ran to Barnes & Noble today and got some maps:  one of Europe and one of the entire world. Working through the planning can be one of the most enjoyable parts of a trip!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Definitely NOT The Orient Express

My bed folded back into seats
Turns out those young guys weren't a problem at all -- really very nice as a matter of fact. Yes, they did stay up talking until after 1 a.m., BUT the real problem was the train itself. The bed was rock hard with a tiny pillow (love the comforter, though, just like I have everywhere). I didn't realize how many stops the train would make through the night, with a lot of banging and clanking each time. Definitely not what I was expecting!

Finally got up around 7:30 so I could clean up and have breakfast. We were in a station at the time so the shower wouldn't work. I did manage a quick wash-up and turned the bed back into seats. We were in Holland by then as I could tell from the Dutch writing on buildings the train passed.

Breakfast after a sleepless night
My welcome drink last night was a little bottle of pink champagne, but I only drank a little before dumping it out. I was feeling pretty sick and don't know if it was the champagne, the rich food at dinner, the amount of Radler, or a combination of all of it. This morning breakfast was a roll, turkey spread (like liverwurst), applesauce, orange juice, jelly, and a lovely pastry. The conductor brought me coffee instead of tea -- he really wasn't very attentive. My toilet paper roll had been very low when I got into the compartment last night and I asked for more. In the middle of the night, I had to put on my coat and walk down to the public facility at the end to swipe some paper. It smelled like a urinal! There's a bigger shower than what I have but I can't imagine staying in there long enough to shower, or putting anything on the floor.  P.S. He finally brought a roll in the morning.

Despite a less-than-wonderful night train trip, I still love traveling by train and plan to do it as often as possible!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen Germany

Lovely last day in Germany -- I actually hate to leave, but looking forward to my overnight train ride to Amsterdam. Spent many hours in the train station this evening and, at one point, policemen came into the waiting lounge to check a bag that was unattended. Turned out to be someone's clothes, but it could have been quite the tragedy since they just simply opened it with all of us still sitting there. I was able to sit in the DB (Deutsche Bahn - the rail service) first class lounge because of the type of train ticket that I bought, but the lounge wasn't anything special: free coffee, tea, soda.

From my research, I was aware of a place to eat in the station called Mongdratzerl, which ended up being right outside the left luggage room on the end of the station closest to my departure area. Sweet! The menu was in German but the waiter was really helpful and I was able to get pork and a Radler. The bread dumplings were way superior to the ones at Hofbrauhaus -- more like a really good stuffing at Thanksgiving. The pork was tender and yummy, and there was this awesome au jus on the plate. Great meal with 2 mugs of Radler, which necessitated a couple of trips to the toilet. It cost 50 cents, but they give you slugs to use if you're a customer.

That reminds me of something else: when something costs less than a euro, they'd ask for 75 cents just like at home.

My tiny little sleeping berth on the train
Another incident: at the Alte Pinakothek I had to throw away my bottle of water -- the one I've been hauling around and refilling since Paris! The guard told me I could rent a locker for €2,00 to store it. Since I can buy bottles of water for less, it seemed quite the best option to throw it away. I've never had to do that before in any museum. The guards at both museums were quite active; continually moving from room to room.

Same plumbing for sink and shower
What odd travelers you see in Europe's train stations. I'm sure they're from all over -- maybe even some Americans. I've seen people with bicycles (lots of them), tons of backpacks (some of them really huge), walking sticks, skis, Tyrolean garb, every size and style of suitcase, kids, you name it.

As I'm leaving, I really have this train thing figured out. Trains are very reliable so, if it's supposed to leave from a certain track at a certain time, it does. There are also little diagrams showing where the cars will line up when the train comes in. It allows you to stand in the correct spot for your reserved seat (mostly). When the train arrives, you can board.

Compact little bathroom
So I boarded the correct train and the correct car and found my compartment. So tiny! There is a pull down seat I could use for my suitcase, but just a couple of knobs on the wall to use with hangers. I can't even imagine two or three people in this room! I didn't realize that not all the compartments have bathrooms. Mine is super tiny (you swing the sink into the shower to use the toilet and vice versa -- same faucet for both), but at least I don't have to go down the hall to pee.

I took a short shower before turning in; there are some young guys in the next compartment so I'm hoping they won't be too loud.

Last Day in Germany

Ticket machine for tram system
Tram in Munich
How awesome it was to not set an alarm last night! Slept in this morning and celebrated my last day in Germany with some liverwurst for breakfast. Dropped my luggage and coat in a very small locker at Hbf and jumped on the tram to go to the museums.  I had really wanted to go to the Alte Pinakothek (old picture gallery) as I like old Masters.  However, their idea of old is definitely ancient -- we're talking 12th and 13th century. It was good but not great.  Also, the museum is undergoing renovation so half of it was closed. The good part was the reduced entry fee and free audio guide.

The weather has been really glorious, and today was no exception. There were young people relaxing in the grass all around the museum.

'Munich Beer Garden' by Lieberman
Being still early in the afternoon, I opted to also visit the Neue Pinakothek (new picture gallery) where I expected modern art. Nope! Here's where I found Pisarro, Monet, and Van Gogh. Again, a free audio guide and a museum really well laid out. This one I really enjoyed. I may have found someone new to admire: Pisarro. It's not like I had never heard of him before, but I hadn't paid much attention to his works. Also Max Lieberman; at least his 'Munich Beer Garden'. Loved it. Before coming over here, I watched a documentary on the 'Rape of Europa' or the theft of art by the Nazis and the efforts by surviving family members to recover it.  In the Neue Pinakothek I saw a painting that looked very much like one of the works in that documentary -- a work by Gustav Klimt.

Walking back to the tram stop, I walked under buckeye trees -- another reminder of how Germany is so much like home.