Beautiful Dresden

We’d finished with Austria, driven through the Czech Republic and arrived in Dresden. Our final destination to sleep the night and then head the rest of the way home.
Dresden is beautiful, it’s historical, it has its problems with some of the people who live there but if you don’t meet these people, it’s truly a place of sightseeing magic.

Our hotel was right near the centre of the city. That’s pretty convenient. The problem was, there’s a great big party going on to celebrate openness and acceptance in the area. That meant sleeping was a little hard. We participated minimally in the celebrations, we ate some food, drank some drinks and watched some of the performances. There were many, almost nude people walking around, trying to sell tickets to something or other.

There’s not much more to write about the place. You really have to go there, walk around and see it all. The old buildings, the art and sculpture, the big wall with all the Emperors of Germany.

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Vienna: A Nicer Berlin

The drive from Salzburg to Vienna was relaxed and easy. We were lucky, or at least we felt lucky, that we got an extremely convenient car park across the road* from the apartment we were staying in.
Our host was nice, turns out she was actually going to be absent for the whole time we were there. She’s one of those young, free Germans (yes, she’s a German living in Austria), who has studied and travelled and discovered India and some Mysticism and does Yoga and drinks Tea after her Meditation. Still, she’s nice and not being there, allowed us more freedom, we felt… making her nicer…?
A thing of note for those learning to speak German, Austria has a huge advantage for you! It’s like talking English with Canadian, it’s slower, possibly clearer. I found the people of Austria easier to understand than the average German I talk with. Another thing of note is that the population of Vienna is about a third of Berlin, you have less traffic on foot and in a car.
Our host gave us a list of recommendations, this matched some things from Trip Advisor, which she also recommend. I got in touch with my old mate, The Oats Guy from Denmark, the man himself, Mathias! He’s been living in Austria, and if he was anything like I moulded him into during our time in Berlin, he would know what was up. I was a little disappointed, he and his girlfriend had huge exams in the next few days, so we’d only meet the once. He also defaulted to Trip Advisor for places to visit.
So we did.
There’s a huge semi-permanent market, food and otherwise, near the river/canal of Vienna. Many of the restaurants are highly recommended. It was interesting in that the higher recommended ones were “Oriental”, that meant they were either from an area from the old Persian world, through the Middle East and even included Asian cuisine.
This was to be the meeting place of Mathias. He brought his girlfriend along and turns out that he couldn’t get enough of Australians that he had also collected another one, who came along too. We ate, we drank, talked literature. This impressed Ingrid a little bit.
We didn’t get to go to the Opera or Theatre like we wanted to. Unfortunately nothing was on offer that we could afford or were interested in.

*We ended up getting a parking ticket, but after 2 days of free parking, we were well ahead. We didn’t know that we weren’t supposed to park there or weren’t allowed to park there, or whatever the rule is that we broke. The universe obviously smiled on us a bit, I mean the car could have been towed…

An Average Beer in Salzburg

The drive to Salzburg from Nürnberg was quite easy, which was nice considering the night we had before… Salzburg was, at first, a complete let down. It looked like an uninspired town that was beginning to fall apart, it was left behind and degrading. While driving through, it made us wonder why we’d decided to visit. Had we got the town name wrong? We parked the car and walked for a bit.
Near the water, all was revealed!
It was beautiful, it was elegant, the sun shone over grandiose architecture and reflected off the water, into our eyes that were wide in disbelief. It’s like a border has been created and passed it was all the money. We were really impressed and quite quickly forgot about our impression upon arrival. Now we wanted to see and taste more.
We across the bridge infront of the castle and looked for somewhere to eat. There was a little alley with a few restaurant doors at the beginning, so we headed that way. As we neared a Beergarden was revealed to us and the decision was final. We had to eat and drink there. This would be the first Austrian Beer in Austria (it’s actually, as far as I can recall, my first Austrian beer). It was a bit of a let down. I don’t know what I was expecting but there wasn’t much flavour at all. It was still relaxing and sitting there, watching the people and enjoying our meal, we were looking forward to the rest that Austria had to offer.
I don’t think we did much else in Salzburg other than soak in the sights and sun for a while. We still had to drive the rest of the way to Vienna!

Nürnberg: Hotels that Close

I finished work with a good old game of ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ and that signalled the beginning of our sometimes painful and slow drive to Nürnberg. We got away without incident. Our highly technical plan was that we’d use GPS and Google Maps to try and avoid any traffic delays, be they accidents or mere failure to merge clogging the lanes for 2 hours. That did happen. One announcement was to avoid a whole section of Autobahn because you have a life to live and 2 hours sitting in a car is not living. We avoided that because of this ingenuity. However, not all traffic can be avoided. We were caught a few times and if you add on a dinner stop, our total travel time ended up being at least 8 hours. By the time we were aware of our lateness, we were in the mountains and the phone signal was not good. I did have the thought of calling the hotel but figured that they have taken my money so that should be fine (having no signal sealed the deal).
I think around half past midnight we found a great park in Nürnberg near the hotel, so we exited the car and walked only 50 meters to the door. No-one was there. It’s late, I thought, the reception is probably toileting it up. We called the phone and there was no answer. After a few minutes we called again and started knocking on the door. No response. How can this be? 20 minutes of pestering, a man and his dog came downstairs.
Turns out he’s the house keeper and knows nothing about anything and can do not much more except for calling the manager. Sounds good. Manager didn’t answer.
A but of a panic. We still have hours to drive when we wake up, if we sleep and it was becoming a question of how and where would we sleep… we started to search for anything that may be open  (Who has heard of a hotel closing? What happens if something goes wrong?). It’s apparently a standard in Nürnberg, many hotels close between 10-11pm!
We got a hold of one place, a private apartment, the host was very nice and accommodating. We recommend that you contact them if you are staying in the area.
City Rooms Nürnberg

We couldn’t help ourselves, we wanted to suffer that little bit more. We returned to our previously mentioned hotel the next morning. I was expecting to get breakfast, we had paid for the room after all and breakfast was included. Sabrina Franklin, the receptionist, was on the phone and thought it was proper service to continue her phone conversation while talking to us. Talking turned to arguing quickly and we left with a severely bad taste in our mouth. So please avoid the Continental Hotel.
It felt good to get out of town and head for Salzburg.

Lange Nacht der Museen: Wilhelmshaven

Once every year, in most cities of Germany, most of the art galleries, museums and other public exhibition places stay up late and let all their friends inside for a very cheap price. It was on this night that we got to see what Wilhelmshaven has to offer when the sun goes down.

Our first place to visit was the Aquarium. While the place is open until something like midnight, the animals aren’t so active at such a time. We decided to see them during their feeding, seemingly, the only guaranteed time that animals are active. Unless, of course, it’s a snake, which I’ve seen ignore its dinner for a good few hours… lazy, lazy snake.
We watched the seals, which are apparently found wild near here, sometimes. They performed some basic tricks, but it was their dinner time so they were just blessing us with some entertainment because they could.
Interestingly there was an Amazon exhibition on there, so many of the insects, some snakes and a Caiman that we’ve seen when we visited the Amazon. It was the warmest part of the Aquarium.

In the Marine Museum, we watched the local gymnastic club showcase their little child performers. A group of boys under 6 showed off their strength on some blocks, this had many women crying. 2 teenage young ladies then performed a self choreographed chair balancing dance thingy… it was impressive. The chairs held the weight of the two girls as they held each other in gravity defying moves. Lastly, all the kids got to do some moves running down the runway, flipping, cartwheeling, somersaulting and all those fun things, that I can still remember not enjoying when I was their age.

We visited 2 art galleries. The smaller one was holding an exhibition where the artists were to choose a poem or lyric and do an artwork reaction to it. There was an old lady there talking to an artist about how her Syrian friend really liked the work and could talk about it in his newly learn German. He stood behind them both and just nodded.
The other gallery, the state-city gallery, has more space, bigger artworks and different themes. The construction of the gallery is always an interesting thing to me. I really don’t think it was meant to be a gallery, but I’m not sure what else it was meant to be. Maybe that’s how it ended up as a gallery… nobody could think of what to do with the strange building. A man performed on his Cello, in the corner, he had one, really, really interested fan. I watched too, with some interest, but it was hard because, if he was improvising, he wasn’t doing the best of the job and seemed like he was searching for ideas to leap off. Another main problem was that the other attendees were more concerned with drinking the wine and bragging about themselves or their understanding of the art or the artist or the music.

Our dinner was some Tapas at the Spanish Club. We actually went there in the expectation of dancing and getting some Tapas… we got half of what we wanted. There were some really drunk people in this place. That was entertaining.

We hope to make it to some other towns’ Long Night of the Museums, to see all that they offer. The bigger the city, the more options of places to enjoy.

Wangerooge

We were lucky, everything worked out on our trip to Wangerooge. Just a few days before and even after our visit, there was some pretty extreme wind that attacks the island north of mainland Germany.

Wangerooge is the second smallest island from a group of the North Islands that belong to Germany. We got there by taking a fairly short ferry ride. It takes longer to get a carpark and a ticket for the ferry than to ride the ferry. No joke! If you are considering going in the morning to one of the islands, you should get up before the sun does, drive to the ferry port and you might be lucky. Of course you’ll then have to wait and watch all the suckers behind you deal with their own troubles, for some that is a constructive use of time.

Once the ferry lands there’s a cute little train that takes you into the centre of the island, where all the shops are. We didn’t do this, we were met by our friends Elli and Frank, who had been staying on the island for something like a week. They are a part of a group of people who usually go at least once a year, stay in some kind of barrack-like accommodation and share choirs etc. We had the pleasure of meeting a cross section of the group first, talked a little bit and then walked to the nearest part of the beach. It was too cold to swim and with the amount of trucks that transport sand from one side of the island to the other, the view isn’t the best. You can see some of the neighboring islands though.

We shared lunch with all of the group, something like 100 people. It was a traditional soup with sausages in it. Those of the group who didn’t cook, cleaned and everybody is looked after.

We walked along the coast to the city centre, where the beach is much nicer. We had to eat an icecream at one of the bakeries that’s along the main street. Unfortunately, that was most of the time we had there before the return ferry leaves. We took the train from the centre to the ferry port, rode the ferry back to the mainland and drove home.

The weather gods were on our side and we thank them.