Bits left over from my Prague blog? May be repeats??
It’s my second night and I am embarrassed to say, I’m probably not going to make it out–again — to see the night lights!
Still busy trying to sort through photos and then get them uploaded. My two male roommates, Chris (from Santa Cruz–small world!) and Calvin from Singapore?? (or somewhere nearby) suggested I join them for dinner. I feel like I might just put a tiny damper on their fun, since I must be near their mom’s age (oh, dear!). If I wasn’t working on the photos, I might have taken them up on their offer! LOL (“laugh out loud”, for those that don’t know the acronym).
Good morning, but not so good. Checked my emails and found a ton of “failure–unable to deliver” messages. It appears all of my friends may get spam–oye!
Well, I think my friend Calvin may have “borrowed” all of my email addresses. Serves me right. I wanted help to access my portable hard drive and he helped me — and I think, himself. He was only on there for a few minutes, but that’s more than enough time. Just to be safe, having my daughter change a few passwords. Hope she is awake. Hopefully he only accessed my addresses & not passwords.
Sitting ay the train station–entirely too early, but around here, the adage “better EARLIER than later” works well. Guess I may have been taken advantage of by the taxi driver on my first trip–though, there was virtually no traffic this morning, so who knows. If in Prague, use the YELLOW AAA taxi company.
The announcements at the station are preceded by a multi-cord chime. Very pleasant sound. The announcers are nice to listen to as well–Czech, Russian & English. Very musical. Think I could curl up and sleep and not be disturbed by the announcements! LOL!
I still have an hour to kill before departure. I think I may grab some food to take with me for my lunch.
On the train, with a few minutes before departure. We are in compartments of six seats. Two couples, two of us “single”. Again, I have a window seat but feel more cramped with someone sitting across from me. I do have a tiny table ^,^ to put my purse on. The overhead is very high up for me–glad for nice tall, string lad that helped me put stuff away. They did not reserve seats, so they may be ousted later–depending on how full the train gets.
Unless some air comes on, it is going to be a very warm five hour ride–unless we can keep our door open. But I bet once the train starts up, it closes.
While I waited — mostly on the platform — a large group of young men, with very close shaved heads, loitered on my platform for quite some time, looking in my direction a lot. I had already positioned myself with a railing behind me, trash bins to one side, my luggage between me and the bins, so I felt quite safe but occasionally checked what they were up to. I guess they got bored & went down the escalator & came back up on the next platform when a station worker headed our way. They continued to watch me from over there. Wonder if they were trying to intimidate me? Wasn’t working.
Oh, well…10:42–not too late a start. Lol…may have to put my dark glasses on–sun is very bright on this Sunday morning. And not terribly cold either. Beautiful day!
On the other side of the train today, too, so a different view. Nice view of the river, but the sun has been glaring in the window–I’ve had to wear my dark glasses.! Along the river’s edge, there are curious little man made inlets, rectangle in shape, open on the downstream side. Tons of them in the Czech Republic; far grander versions with actual trees planted in the “island” portion can be seen occasionally.
The water is flowing in the direction of our travel, away from Prague, towards the German border. Many beautiful little towns dot the banks, with an occasional small castle overseeing from midway up the mountain. I would love to drive through these sleepy little towns, but glad I am not dealing with a car–especially in Prague! It was crazy. You really needed to know your way around.
I’m starting to covet the neck pillow my across-the-seat neighbour has. Though I have the window to lean on, to simply be able to lay my head straight back & not have it loll around would be nice.
Arrived in Dresden, now only 2.5 hours to Berlin. They have the most beautiful all glass, round tower (& other glass structures) World Trade Center near the train station. Back to the river. Very flat here.
With the view flying by so fast (and me looking at where we’ve been) the scenery makes my eyes tired, so I have closed my eyes many, many times, only to find my mouth ‘catching flies’ a couple of times — how embarrassing! After that I made sure I was using my hand to support my chin — to ensure it stayed shut!!
There have been a couple of fields that had very old buildings in very bad shape, with towers in various areas. I am wondering if they are left over relics from the war–little pow camps perhaps? Possible, I guess. How I wish I had a tour guide with me on this trip!
Well, the ride is almost over and I’m ready to get out and stretch my legs. A good nights sleep at my friends, then another train ride to Brugge. Wonder what kind of seating the train tomorrow will have. I am supposed to have a window seat with a table in a quiet zone. We will see…
10:36am Berlin -> Köln
On the first leg of my journey to Bruges–a five hour train ride, followed by a two hour ride, then another switch to a one-hour express train to Bruges. I came down onto the platform near the front of the train (forgot to look at the train map so see where my actual car was) and ended up traveling up to the front (the # went up so I followed it forward) & cam to first class & knew I needed to go back again. Turns out my car was fairly ear the end of a very long train. Got my exercise in today — LOL! The car is rather warm, and for those of you that know my “thermostat setting”, it is a little uncomfortable. I took my vest off, then my long sleeved shirt. Now I am down to two tank tops & wishing I only had one on…I’m sure I’ll cool down, once I get relaxed (walked very fast–had plenty of time to start out with, but my errors ate up my “cruise” time…so in the end, was rushing to get on.
The agent that booked the train for me said there would be no electrical outlets, but I am glad she was wrong. My computer power was at 68%, so it will be able to charge nicely. ^,^ I have a table — and plenty of leg room, too. Again, I have a window seat and the view is beautiful (and the windows are fairly clean…good for photos!
Ich liebe Berlin!! I love Berlin — hated to leave it, and Kim’s kids wanted me to stay, too…don’t want to overstay my welcome anywhere I go. But onward. Now, one more place where I actually know someone, then completely on my own. Martine and her son live in Bruges, Belgium and I am looking forward to seeing her. We will only have the evening and morning together, as she will be taking her son to his dad’s in the morning. Then I am off to the Brussels airport by express train to catch my flight to Edinburgh — where I will actually be able to settle in for FIVE WHOLE DAYS! Such a luxury!
I still say if I had stayed in Germany longer, my German would have improved immensely. I might have even graduated from Kinder Deutsch (not–they speak better than I do) to something a little better. This wonderful country will have me coming back again and again — if I can manage it.
So glad I am at one end of the car…we have a very unhappy little baby at the other end. May have something to do with the pressure in the car…I can feel it on my ears…an infant has no clue how to equalize the pressure. I feel sorry for the little one — and the mother…and those sitting nearby
Köln -> Brussels
Brussels -> 19:00 Bruges -> Martine’s home.
On my train ride, past Hannover now, and seeing some pretty grand homes, plus large farms with horses amongst the more modest homes. Lots of farmland, some ready for planting, some with grass of some sort growing (perhaps wheat?)
I am enjoying the diversity of scenery from the confines of the train–sometimes wishing I could pull over and snap a phew photos, but not so bad, when one considers: I’ve had my lunch, the toilet is only steps away and I can take out my computer at any point to work, or simply use my iPhone (as I am now) to make notes, all the while looking out the window at the beauty that surrounds me ^,^ I am glad I chose this means of transport.
There are only three seated at the table I’m at–two on one side and one on the other. That one “shares” a coat rack (facing into the aisle), so there is something to lean on at both sides. I am not in that seat (pout), but there is ample room on my side, so there are no complaints from the peanut gallery.
I have finished one of my children’s stories and am a fair distance through the second bi should have it done by the time I am stateside–should have an opportunity to go through both a second time and fine tune them. I am thinking of making each into two stories. One for younger children, one for older. I forgot to ask the parents if they were foing to read them or if the children were–this way, once I get home, I can do the illustrations then bind whichever the parents want–perhaps I will just do all of them & present all four stories to the parents. We will see. Doing these stories is such a joy for me! Keeps my mind active and creative!
Ah, so much for German punctuality. 3:58…off my train and now kist wait an hour for a connecting train–missed mine by about 15 minutes–it did not wait for the late train. My seat mate (originally from South Africa, transplanted to Germany some 28 yrs ago) told me that they are working in the lines–now I understand the free candies we received — as a reward for tolerating the delays. LOL. He was going to go on into the next train with me, but needs to get to work. The delay meant he had to catch the very next train–not going to Bruges, but as far as he needed. Oh well. It was a lovely couple of hours of conversation–he spoke English very well, so conversation was easy.
The only problem with waiting on the platform is that is where all the smokers are–choke, cough! Just have to get upwind of them ^,~ if I can get far enough.
So, now I am a train gypsy. LOL.
Well, on the train with a fellow train gypsy next to me–see how far we get before we are ousted.
I have contacted Martine and she knows I am going to be late — I have a lasagna dinner waiting for me when I arrive. Wonderful! My last meal was at 12:30. I do have a some fruit to tide me over if needed, but I think I will be fine. Two hours and probably many stops. Many possibilities of being ousted, though, I do not see signage like I saw on the other trains blaring RESERVATION, so perhaps I am ok. Depending on God to get me through gracefully. Only way to go. ^,^
Oh, wow! It has been so beautiful today & I’ve been stuck on a train the whole time. It was delightful getting off the train for a bit! Now, I have the ‘setting sun’ coming in at the top of the window. Yes, Virginia, we are going westerly. Yikes. It is warm. LOL–deodorant, don’t fail me now! Thankfully, looks like we will snake our way to Brussels, so I won’t have it beating in me entire time.
The countryside here, outside of Köln is a feast of patchwork farmland and little towns with old and new melded together so nicely. I am eve enjoying the industrial areas–fun to see how “they” do things. Our industrial areas seem so trashy compared to what I am seeing in Europe. The Czech Republic’s (not sure if it is technically considered Europe) industrial areas seem more like ours or worse, but then it is a much poorer country than the ours — so, what’s our excuse?
Graffiti continues to be prevalent whatever I go.
An aside — this train’s announcement system is very upper class (recorded, I’m sure) — the locals rattle through their announcements so fast that even the English is bard to understand. This voice is preceded by a series of piano notes that make me smile. You’d never hear that in the states.
On this train, I overhearing conversations in French (final destination is Paris–no, not going there this year either ^,^ and German, and British English. So, I’ll keep my brash, harsh sounding American mouth shut and enjoy all the conversations going on. I love listening to all the accents. I’m in heaven (just need a Scottish brogue and it’d be dandy!)
Lol–sneaking a bit of wifi–notices a sign–everyone is crammed into a little compartment using it…I’m sitting half way back & picking it up (not locked, though, whack could be a problem later–oh drats–stopped at a station and shut the engine off…no wifi now >.<). Ah, well, looks like there was a charge anyway.
Well, we have arrived at the stop where my friend from the other train would have gotten off at–Aachem. He works at a chain of night clubs & goes from place to place–all over Germany, staying about a week at a time doing DJ duties, among other things.
No one to keep me on my toes–will have to be listening carefully for my stop so I can get my rolly down from the overhead. I nearly lost it putting it up myself–two people came to my rescue. Lol (forgot to mention that before–trying to forget?). If it had been directly above me there would have been no issue–just a little forward of my seat & shorty here was having issues.
I’m officially, really in heaven. I heard a Scottish voice chime into the British conversation. People around must be wondering if I’m bonkers. I have this dumb grin on my face, which if you know me, isn’t all that uncommon–always smiling or laughing at or about something.
Ok–just missed some gorgeous landscape. Closing for now and letting my eyes roam–can hopefully get a few shot in before we arrive in Brussels.
Missed all the good views and we were late-ish getting into Brussels and I misread the board & went to the wrong platform –first time in my whole trip no escalators…had to lug my rolly & back pack up a ton of steps–twice. Was on 9, asked around because the signage looked wrong & discovered I needed to be on 15, just like Martine had said! I’ll blame it on exhaustion & dyslexia…read across the board & probably jumped up one or two–unfortunately didn’t question the fact it wasn’t 15…my fault.
So, I am finally on my last leg–stop in Ghent first, then Bruges. Only about an hour before I can relax for the night. Oh, my. I should sleep well.
The lesson here? Swallow your pride & be willing to ask–as many people as necessary–if you ate in the right spot. If there is a royal mess up, relax, it’s not the end of the world, no matter who is at fault. Some fellow travel gypsies ended up next to & in font of me and they were going to miss their Eurostar connection. The husband (the Scot I heard earlier) kept looking at his watch and fussing about being late, missing connections. I jokingly said if they were unable to get another connection tonight, they should have a lovely time in Brussels! They would rather to come with me to Bruges! I had to laugh. I hope they made a connection, but if not–I hope, for their sake, that they simply enjoyed where they were at for the night.
I think I am getting a second wind — my energy is very slowly coming back. Ten minutes to my stop. I still have to get my rolly down from the overhead (first train where no one has offered assistance, though I was having obvious difficulty–such a klutz and too short for these tall overhead bins. But I did it.)
I must be able to do it myself, so I am not expecting assistance — it’s just nice when it happens. And I was getting ‘soft’ expecting someone to come running to my aid. When traveling alone, be sure you are able to lug all of your stuff! A must! Your stuff, your responsibility. Then any aid provided is just a feather in your cap!
Oooh! My stomach is really protesting! No snacks all day. I hope I can eat civilly — LOL — when I get to Martine’s. That lasagna is sounding better and better! About five minutes to arrival. Beat stop and get ready.
Sun is shining, ominous dark cloud above me and it’s hailing. As I am walking to the train station, of course. I didn’t bother pulling out the umbrella. Hardly got wet.
Made it to the station, regrouped to verify plane flight & realised that once I get my train tickets, there will be little time to walk around Bruges! I am not a happy camper. I got up later than planned & dawled far too long. Sigh.
So…found ticket sales, open ticket, so I had to search for my platform…went to the wrong one again — couldn’t find the right info on the electronic board, so back to the main board and found the right one — yay. Everything matched up on the platform, so I had plenty of time to spare. Now, I’ll get to Brussels & will have time to fumble around to find a connection to the airport. But because of the need to allow for “fumble” time, no time to sight see >.<
I will get off at Centraal station in Brussels and look for a pharmacy to buy more tylenol and see if I can find anyone selling speculoos–this is the most delightful stuff!! Tastes like creamy graham crackers. It is a spread, like Nutella, so you can put it on bread for mornings — or whenever, for that matter.
It’s 10:41 & we are underway. Apparently trains run every 15 minutes to the airport, so I should be able to find my platform, then goof around till I need to leave.
Train just stopped at Gent. This is a beautiful town. I think that is going to need to be on my itinerary next trip. Very picturesque, lots of ornate buildings for me to oogle ^,^
Two more stops to Centraal. I may not have as much time as I thought to look around, but I will take it moment by moment & not stress. But it does make me sad that I really wanted to look around Bruges & couldn’t and now will have no time in Brussels either. Oh, well.
Lol–could not find anyone to tell me how long the ride was, so just grabbed the next train. Better safe than sorry–since I must be there by 1pm–only a little over 45 min away. Still want to find a pharmacy. Lots of noise where I chose to sit (hard to hear announcement, but I assume should be pretty obvious we’ve reached our destination!), but great view out the window!
Stopped in Brussels-Nord and since this is an express, I’d assume not to many stops before the airport ^,^
The express ran quite slow because it had so many towns to go through. Glad I didn’t dally–got up to the airport just before 13:00 and had a hiccup at check in. Went to Brussels airlines, when I should have gone to the sub-carrier, BMI. The staff didn’t show up till 13:20, and everything went smoothly from there. Except I forgot to chuck my water, so that was confiscated along with my two soy milks. No big deal. Finding lunch food was hard to come by once passed security (–which, by the way, was a breeze compared to the US!! Able to keep shoes on, no xray machine & very polite security people–apologized when they had to take water & soy away!! Don’t think I’ve run across THAT in the states)…
My lunch is basically half of a brie & bacon quesadilla for 7€–ouch. I should have found something before I got into the airport–I know better. Arg–not sure I can take the herb flavor they used…a very expensive mistake. LOL…sorry, but this is a typical rip-off sandwich. All of the bacon (what there is–not much) is all up against the cut edge…nothing beyond a quarter inch past the cut! Which actually makes it better. Doesn’t taste as bad w/o the bacon. Thank goodness for protein bars! But, I did find a shop that sold speculoos…so happy.
Wow–just looked out to the tarmac –our plane is DINKY… Haven’t been on one that small in a long time.
LOL…just realized my flight leaves almost a half hour earlier! No one is at the gate desk yet and my ticket says the gate closes at 14:35, only about 15 minutes from now. Brussels seems to be very laid back in the service areas. I don’t mind, as long as I get to my destination at some point ^,^ This is where a travel partner would be nice…then I wouldn’t be dragging on and on in my blog. Sorry ^,^
Ah–they just showed up (lol–think it’s the same girls from the check in counter!)
In the air just before 13:10. On my way to a favorite place ^,^ Nice to hear English again as the primary language. Sitting in the emergency exit over the wing so I could have a little extra legroom. Looks like other seats would have been fine…cannot have my backpack under my seat as it might impede exit in an emergency. That’s okay. Don’t need it…just have to remember to grab it ( purse must be stowed in overhead, too, for take off and landings). Attendant took my back pack and nearly killed herself–didn’t expect it to be that heavy–about 25#! LOL!
If you have allergies, make sure you start taking your decongestant several days before a flight. I am fighting to keep my ears equalized–allergies flared about four days ago and got worse over the last two days…been taking it for three days >.< hoping it works.
Edinburgh, day one:
I AM HERE! Loving it already! Almost 5pm, (6pm in Belgium) so I have a whole hour more to explore!! Check in took a bit of time (I need to call AMEX-tried to use it for ck in at the hostel & it failed >.< ) I gave paid for three hours of Internet (unfortunately the trainee rang it up wrong, so three separate hours–I’ll be bumped off at the end if each hour…), so I’ll try to get this posted soon.
We’ve had some excitement! The fire alarm went off while I was down in the lobby, just with my “summer” white long sleeved shirt on & a scarf in the purse. We were all asked to leave the hostel for safety. So out I go…scarf wrapped around my shoulders and hiding in a corner to keep the cutting wind off of me…only about 50 degrees outside. After about ten or fifteen minutes, they let us back in.
Once back in, went searching for my UK power plug adapters…found the one for the computer, but not for my rechargeable battery chargers…great. So, I need to go buy a UK plug adapter…shouldn’t be too hard…
But now, I’m having problems with my computer’s power source. I will need to check in the morning with some other outlets, but I don’t know why it’s not working. No power, no charging capabilities…once it dies, no computer…and possibly no iPhone. Great. So, to save battery power–at 82%, I am not going to go online tonight…nor post this any longer…
Wow…to be totally disconnected from my friends (and not be able to make reservations via internet could be a real nuisance. Time for bed. Night.
14April Edinburgh, day three
It’s not quite 7 in the morning and I’ve been awake for at least an hour. The songbirds are overflowing with song, I can hear seagulls in the distance and crows or something similar are making themselves known. It has probably been light for about an hour, too. Traffic sounds started to pick up–this is one busy city and also full of construction.
When I was here in ’08, they were in full swing, constructing tram system & everything was a mess. Well, three years later, thinks are just as heavily under construction or torn up, waiting for construction. The tram system is in nowhere near completion. They, like all other world economies, ran low or out of funding for the project. My taxi driver (on day one in Edinburgh) said, “come back in ten years–maybe it’ll be done then,” in his wonderful Scottish accent. Good grief–I’d be almost seventy (oh, my gosh)!!
9:30 and I’m packed and ready for my room change. But first, a bit if breakfast at Bites! Coffee, eggs & toast plus apple & black current juice. When I get back to the hostel, will have to switch laundry to dryer then I’ll really be ready to start my day. I can’t get into my room till 3:30, but that okay. My room mate, Rhoda, from South Africa (not UK like I thought) helped my fold my socks & we shared a wee cup of tea all the while watching (I cringe) Judge Judy. She likes the program–gives such a bad name (stupidity comes to mind) to Americans. But we both had a good laugh.
2:15 and I’m almost back to the hostel. Went back up to the shop where I bought my cashmere sweater, hoping to find same style in a nice color, plus Rhoda gave me £30 to buy one for her. Did not find one in my size in the style or color I was looking for and they had every size but the one Rhoda needed…they sent be back and forth between several stores, thinking for sure there would be one of their stores. When I came back empty handed, looking for the alternate style & found none in her size, they were nice enough to call around so I didn’t have to. Nothing in that size, but for ten more, they did have one. I made an executive decision and bought it. I won’t tell her. My treat (unless she wants the receipt…then I can’t hide it).
Edinburgh, day four
15 April oh tax man…so glad mine’s all done–and mailed before I left!
Well, the first thing I’ll say is, earplugs (glad I have some) will be mandatory for this room–for two reasons: buses & other traffic (and reveling) never stop and there’s one snorer in the room >.< I did not sleep well.
I promised to wake Rhoda at 6, and did, with the plans of falling back asleep…didn’t for awhile at least–and Rhoda just woke me now (7:30), with a gift of hot tea. How sweet!
Sun is pouring in (can see that even w/o glasses) — looks like today may be a very nice day, indeed. Hopefully not as windy. LOL–now that I have glasses on & looking out, no sun, just bright light.
I did have breakfast with our bunkmate, Leslie (from Indiana) at Bites. We both had something delicious. Mine was a wrap with bacon (NOT bacon like in the US, more like our Canadian bacon), eggs, tomato, toast w/strawberry jam & juice & coffee. Leslie had something else (can’t quite remember…oh, dear), then it was back to the hostel & I had one of the clerks book my room at the Glasgow hostel for Monday night. I’ll catch a train to Glasgow, switch stations to go to Stranraer, and hopefully stay at the B&B I was at last time.
Time running out–must go! (and no time to proof–sorry!)
Today, I am spending most of my day on the computer–loading photos on the computer, then uploading to Facebook & Flickr, plus this post — and most importantly, booking trains/ferry & accommodations for the remainder of my trip.
Once that is all done, I can thoroughly enjoy the remainder of my trip without worries.
Bye for now.