A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 26

Munich to Amsterdam

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We woke early this morning to a fierce thunderstorm overhead in Munich. The lightning flashes were frequent and the thunderclaps were getting louder and closer to the lightning as the storm moved towards us. The skies opened and it was pouring. Then the storm reached us and the lightning and thunder were one and the noise was deafening. The place shook, or maybe that was me. The storm continued on and mercifully moved away. By the time we were ready to hit the road for our drive to Frankfurt the storm had passed and the overcast sky was less threatening.
We used the navigation to get us onto the freeway towards Frankfurt and decided to take the shortest route. We made good time and stopped at Wurzburg for lunch. It is a very old town with a fortified castle on a hill (no photo, I was driving). We ate at a Spanish restaurant and after tried to use the navigation to get us to Frankfurt station. It claimed it had a path there but it would take 2.5 hours to cover the 114 km remaining. Clearly something was wrong. We had just under 3 hours before our train was due to depart. So we changed the destination to Frankfurt airport and that came back with a more satisfactory duration of just over an hour. So we used that to get us on the right freeway and taking advantage of the unrestricted speed limits we motored along very quickly. Periodically we had to slow for road works but in between we did some low flying. We found the right turnoff to Frankfurt and Darlene found the Avis rental desk at the Frankfurt station on our navigation device. That got us to the station but we couldn’t locate the Avis drop off area.
After two passes by the station I pulled into a short term car park and went in search of the desk to find out where they wanted the car. The map I was given at the rental desk was accurate but didn’t align with the instructions I was given, causing a few more passes by the required destination. We went with our best guess and parked the car ok. All this uncertainty had eaten up a lot of our time and we had just over an hour to drop the car and get on the train. With no further issues we quickly disposed of the car and moved to our platform to wait for the train.
The train left about 10 minutes late (so much for German efficiency), but at least they were apologetic. We stopped about 4 times in Germany and then a few more times in Holland on the way to Amsterdam. We chose a trip whereby we didn’t have to change trains during the journey to make it easier on us. It was disk as we arrived into Amsterdam. We retrieved our luggage from the overhead racks, yes even the two large suitcases fitted up there – just. Upon disembarking we had a short taxi ride to the hotel. We quickly checked in and headed out into the night for a walk of the local De Wallen district. That was an eye opener.
Not many photos today with all the travelling but we hope to make up for it tomorrow. The one useful snap is of Frankfurt Railway station.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 13:04 Comments (0)

Day 27

Amsterdam

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We packed up in readiness to check out around 8.30 am and set off in search of a place to buy breakfast. We got some directions from the concierge to a local café. The first instruction was to turn right. Unfortunately we turned left and then we were on our own. but we found a nice outdoor café to eat at in the cool morning air.
Darlene decided on some orange juice, muesli and yoghurt but was quite surprised when they arrived together in one tall glass. Somehow she ate it and kept it down. Mine also arrived in the one container but was a little more compatible combination. We carefully retraced our steps back in full realisation we had not arrived at the intended destination.
We checked out and left our bags with the concierge for the day whilst we explored Amsterdam. We followed instructions more carefully the next time and found our way to a canal cruise and arrived just in time for the 10am tour. The commentary was in Dutch and English and was interesting and informative. We took many photos and learned many interesting facts like how they have narrow steep stairs so when they move house they use a crane and take everything out the windows of the upper floors.
After the tour ended we walked to the retail district and purchased tickets for the hop on hop off bus and the ice bar. We changed our minds about the hop on hop off bus after we saw the length of the line to get on. The tickets were non-refundable but we were able to spend the money in store so it wasn’t a total loss. So we had some lunch and wandered through the shops. We stopped at a coffee shop for a drink whilst we waited for our allotted time at the ice bar. The coffee shop sold a variety of substances that are illegal at home but commonly available here. They even had coffee although I suspect it was a side line for them.
We entered the ice bar and exchanged our tickets for a coupon and six drink tokens. You get to have two drinks inside the actual ice bar and one outside in the normal bar. We donned the ponchos and mittens they provide and entered the ice bar. It contained ice sculptures of polar bears and had a few places to sit on animal skins atop ice benches. The temperature is kept at minus 10 Celsius. They serve vodka either straight or with orange juice in the ice bar in a glass made of ice. They take you in to the ice bar in groups at pre-arranged times. Most consumed their drinks, took their photos and high-tailed it out of there to escape the cold. We stayed a little longer but were out inside of 15 minutes.
We had our cocktails in the regular bar and then wandered back to the hotel crossing several canals in the process. We had some time to kill ahead of the taxi pick up to take us to the airport. Darlene had walked enough so I took a short stroll back into the red light district thinking I might visit one of the museums there. I was surprised to see there were girls in the windows in the late afternoon trying to attract customers. One pretty girl tapped on the glass and beckoned me. I smiled, pointed to my wedding ring and made a cutting of the throat gesture with my finger to indicate my likely fate should I enter. She smiled and laughed and waved me off. Shortly after, it happened again. This time she indicated she was married too and we should proceed.. I shook my head and decided my visit to the district was over.
Our taxi took us to the airport and the 1 hour flight to Copenhagen was uneventful. We would have liked another day here but with Qatar Airways cancelling our intended flight home we cut our trip short by one day and it was our second day in Amsterdam that was deleted.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 23:43 Comments (0)

Day 28

Homeward bound

Our journey home starts today. We had breakfast at the hotel and took their shuttle to the airport. We tried the self-check-in machines but they did not have Qatar Airways as an option. I asked a queue attendant and was told we needed to go to terminal 3. We got to terminal 3 and found we were in the right place in terminal 2 but that we had to go to the counter as self-check-in wasn’t available. Not a good start to the day.
We wandered back, found the right counters and checked in ok. We went through security and filled in some time waiting to be called to board. We were again on a new 787-800 plane. After take-off we realised there were a lot of spare seats further back so we relocated to an exit row where we had the 3 seats to ourselves and lots of leg room. It would be so nice to have that same situation for the 13 hour flight still to come. We are in Doha airport as I write this. The flight to Doha from Copenhagen was just under 6 hours and again they did the right thing and dodged Ukraine and Iraq.
I guess this is the end of the blog as we will be home tomorrow (later today your time). I hope I didn’t bore you. Europe was lovely, with many highlights. We have over 1000 photos so the few you have seen on the blog are just the tip of the iceberg. Prague and Copenhagen were our stand out favourites. What struck us was how easy it is to move from one country to the next in Europe. No border control at all when travelling within Europe except in Russia. Only in Germany did we encounter a few folk with very little English. The Autobahns in Germany were a blast. It freaked us out a few times when cruising around 150km/hr when cars zipped by us like we were standing still.
Until next time…..

Posted by IanDarleneUK 10:58 Comments (0)

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