Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back to Germany

Berlin, after a 13 year time lapse. The last time we were here we were very green travellers. We travelled with a tour bus company. We stayed at the Berlin Hilton and ate out, every meal.This time we stayed in a hostel where we had our own kitchen and our own time to do what we pleased. Last time we didn't have much time to see anything. We saw all the main tourist attractions, but never got a feel for the place.



We were wondering if seeing the Brandenburg bridge would be as amazing as the first time. It was. No tour guide to rush us along after taking our photos. It was a very sunny day. No plan, just wandering.

We found out way to the Tier Garten..well you can't miss it . Acres of parks running either side of the Un Der Linden. The main road that runs past the Victory Column down to the Brandenburg gate and beyond. When you are deep into the park it was so quiet..a haven away from the traffic. We heard the peals of the bells from the Carillon. It was just standing there all by itself. It was 12 noon so lots of bell ringing.



I tried to get a photo of the kids in this pram/ buggy before they were let out. We saw a couple of these toddler movers. They had up to 8 children at a looked like child care or kindergarten. Play equipment for them in the park.. Lovely.

My dad and his brother played in this park when they were kids. It was very emotional going there. His brother, Uncle Bernard still lives in Berlin and the last time we visited he was driving so he took us to where their parents lived and where they grew up and went to school. He also told us about the Second World War and what it was like to be in Germany in Hitler's time. It was an emotional time with him then and I was not sure if we would see him this time.



Evidence of previous turbulent times.
The Victory column was a great experience this time. We were able to walk all the way from the Gate to the Column and see it up close instead of just driving past. The frescoes were all mosaics..tiny, tiny pieces of ceramics.


Lunch today ..curry wurst. It was invented supposedly by a German mother who tipped her pot of curry powder accidentally over the sausages she was serving. Curry wurst was invented. Not sure if it was covered in ketchup though. It was delicious especially with a German beer.

Sunny day plus a river equals a river cruise. So that's what we did. It is always a different perspective to see a city unfold around a river. It is the life blood of a city and has been for as long as a city has been founded. Berlin's river is no different. The old bridges, the museums that were once used for other purposes like a palace or a church. A surprise around every bend.
The old and the new blend in beautifully. Of course a lot of the very old was bombed during the war. 80% of Berlin was gone. My uncle also talked about that time too. The rebuild. I really like the new architecture as well. It was enlightening to see it all from a boat.

This is part of the new government building . Their female leader has her office in there. The two walkways link the two main buildings. The top one is reserved for politicians when they cross over to vote and the public servants use it as well. The bottom one is for the public. Anyone can sit in on their parliamentary sessions as well.






It was a wonderful day. Reliving our earlier time here and seeing this city through totally different eyes. Great weather and we looked forward to our walking tour in the morning.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last two days in Karlovy Vary

Well considering we came to this town to see the hot springs we never saw any until the last day. The second to last day we decided after hiking again to go to the baths and be young again.
These are the centuries old baths and spas we decided to visit. They have all sorts of packages from plastic surgery to liposuction. They look after your cardio system and your digestive system. What did we decide to do? Take a package that included a swim in the pool, use the spa, sauna and the steam room. We could go together into the pool and spas, but the others were not unisex. We had fun as we entered the pool first. It was freezing 30 c apparently. So we hit the warm spa. The pressure of the water jets was so high that it hurt. There were different levels to massage different parts of the body..excruciating at times. Good fun. Our 90 minutes were up very quickly. This is one of the back massages we were able to endure. Very efficient. We both felt like we had had a workout with a Swedish masseuse if you know what I mean. I came out looking great..look at the photo at least 20 years younger. The next day my knees and ankles felt wonderful.
We took a bus and stopped at the bus top that said Panorama. It was indeed a panorama. We wound our way down through the massive spa hotels and very wealthy and very huge properties. Parks and gardens and glimpses of churches. So nice.



We even spied our little deer..with my zoom on fully.

As we made our way down to street level we started to walk through the posh area where all the people shop that live in those big properties and low and behold if we didn't stumble across the origin of the hot springs.

Inside these colonnades were taps where water sprang from, to taste from the little jugs. We refrained even though they say they all taste different from each other.
Here they are. It was a cool day so there was quite a lot of steam escaping and bubbling water in the creek.

Again because it was cool we felt the warm air escaping from these vents all over the place .


The architecture in this town is's like this all through the town..little gems like this.
Sadness all around to leave was comfortable. Not only were we leaving this place but were heading out of the Czech Republic. Amazing country and we really only scratched the surface. Our only regret is that we didn't manage to couch surf anywhere.

Nove Hamry.

Off to a ski village. Not sure why. It seemed a good idea at the time. We caught another one of the little trains up to snow country. No snow as yet, but a very sleepy little village.

A very cute one around.



Nick getting ready for the snow season. Not sure if either of us could handle this ski field.

Evidence that it does snow here.Everything is in readiness. There was a chill in the air.
Only two places open for lunch this time of the year. This was a lodge that happened to do pub meals. Inside was the big log fire ready to go. So we put our skis up against the wall and celebrated with a beer.


There was a couple of hours between trains so we walked around hiking. Just taking in the mountain air. The pine trees smelt so nice. Would love to come ack to experience it all in winter... Or maybe not.
Great day out..back to Karlovy V.ary