When a trip is a fuzzy continental shift.
Blurry Vision as we trip around the Continent
Touring Europe and the United Kingdom
Ten years after our Mauritius holiday, the first opportunity presented itself in 1993 to take a trip overseas. It was a combined business and travel tour.
It was a blurry mish-mash of different sights from historic buildings, art galleries, roaming the streets to rushing from town to town. We were overwhelmed and exhausted with all we had to see but had a great time.
Archaic video camera
Hubby lugged an enormous video camera, bag included with extra tapes, cables, tripods and thousands of other paraphernalia that was needed for those archaic video recorders from decades ago. He saw most of our trip through a video viewfinder the size of a postage stamp, because he was scared we wouldn’t remember what we saw. From time to time when the sun wasn’t obliterating the image, he peeked at the LCD screen that was smaller than a credit card, so I’m sure he thinks Europe is a fuzzy mini continent the size of the Vatican. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was shackled to a spare battery pack, the size of two bricks and probably the weight of one of those iron balls that used to be attached to criminal’s ankles. Take note: it was self inflicted. I on the other hand must have walked around like a country bumpkin gawking at all the sights. I regret that we don't have photos of all the wonderful things we saw, but the memories are definitely still there. As for the videos, I'm not even sure if we would ever be able to edit and share, because we don't have the right equipment to play those antiquated tapes.
Fountain at old fish market
The breakdown of our trip:
Germany for 7 days, business for hubby and pleasure for me.
Holland for 3 days, same situation as Germany.
UK for 5 days, visiting family.
Tour through Europe for 12 days.
London for 2 days.
Bridge over Danube in Regensburg
Our first destination was the Bavarian region in Germany. We roamed around quaint little towns with cobbled streets and little shops. It felt like we had stepped right into a children’s fairy tale but fortunately we were entertained by hospitable people and not wicked old witches.
Neumarkt, Nürnberg and Regensburg were all delightful towns in their own right.
Nürnberg’s own castle was built somewhere around 1105. Unfortunately, most of it was destroyed during the second world war but has since been restored to its historical form.
In Regensburg I was shown a little sausage house dating back to the 1300's - take-aways of the past. Apparently the people building the bridge over the Danube used to buy their food there. Fact or fable? Decide for yourself.
I spent a day in Munich and cricked my neck watching one of its attractions, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz. At certain times when the clock strikes, 32 life sized figures re-enact stories from the 16th century accompanied by 43 bells. Thankfully I didn’t have a Bavarian Dirndl dress on, complete with a tight-fitting apron, squeezing my innards up to my throat. I might have been tempted to link my arm with one of the spectators and drag them around with some dance movements of my own while the melodic tunes jingled away. I do seem to remember though, that I was the one lugging the video camera around as I was instructed to record the Glockenspiel while ‘others’ had to work, so I was just slightly hampered. Just as well…
Miniature windmill at clog factory
The second leg of the trip was Amsterdam with bicycles, canals and bridges aplenty.
We flew to Amsterdam where we stayed for two nights. As we approached Schipol airport, I looked out of the plane window and saw swathes of reds, blues and yellows from the tulips growing in Holland – it was so colourful and I recalled the old song "Tulips from Amsterdam" which my parents listened to. Such a corny cliché, I know, but I couldn't help myself and was once again tempted to dance, this time down the aisle of the plane, singing at the top of my voice. Luckily the sign displaying “fasten seat belts” was already lit, so fortunately the other passengers lost out on my dramatic imitation of opera.
From the airport we caught a train to the centre of Amsterdam. This was the first time I had ever seen a ‘double decker’ train, and I was fascinated by it, but we didn’t get to travel in it. We dragged our huge suitcases from the station to our hotel. Fortunately they had wheels but unfortunately the suitcases were awkward and cumbersome. My arms felt like they were pulled out of their sockets, because the suitcases were quite heavy. After all we had to pack for a month AND we needed a place to put all the souvenirs we wanted to buy.
After dropping off our belongings and freshening up, we had a light lunch at a food stall next to one of the canals. Hubby ordered the 'paling' roll (eel), but I wasn't sure if I could stomach a whole roll filled with eel, so I opted for a prawn roll. My better half was kind enough to share his eel roll with me. I reluctantly handed over half of my prawn roll to him, the freshest prawns I had ever tasted. The eel wasn't half bad either! We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Amsterdam, taking in the sights and sounds of this city.
The Hague International court
Up till then I had never seen so many bicycles and the canals! More than a hundred kilometres of canals with about 90 islands and 1500 bridges of all shapes and sizes and very easy to walk in circles and not get out of that maze. Not only beautiful but with so many different uses - a tourist attraction to go on the canal boats, but also a home for people living on some of the boats and transportation to name a few. We noticed quite a few skew buildings wedged against each other. Just as well they were jammed in, or they could have been like a stack of dominoes toppling into the canal.
Madurodam Den Haag
Of course no visit to Amsterdam is complete without a glance at the red light district! After dinner one evening we just had to sneak a peek with our own eyes. It certainly was a most unusual sight for us, coming from a conservative country (in those days). We didn't linger for too long though, because there were still too many sights to see.
We also enjoyed watching the buskers performing in the streets and gawked at the living statues, painted in gold. We were amazed at how long they could stand so still.
We ended our time in Amsterdam with a day tour on a bus so we could see and learn as much as possible about Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. We certainly saw a lot. As a lot of tourists do, we went to a clog factory, then went to Madurodam, a miniature city of a typical Dutch town. It was fun to watch the models and good to see Holland from a different perspective.
Amsterdam, Bavaria and work done and dusted, and time to move on to the United Kingdom to meet up with family. All our flights for this trip was on Lufthansa, and we had to fly from Amsterdam back to Frankfurt and then on to Manchester.
Will tell you all about it in my next blog…