A Travellerspoint blog

Last night in Stuttgart


View Upper Midwest & Wisconsin & Minnesota - travels around the state & Southeast US & North Shore Lake Superior & Germany-Amsterdam 2006 on alyssa_ob's travel map.

My family took me up to a favorite restaurant of theirs near Stuttgart. Something like the Burg Restaurant. It was up on a hill overlooking Stuttgart and the wine growing region. The restaurant didn't have a non-smoking section and my aunt and uncle complain about that all the time. Most Germans are used to it, but these two have a point. The restaurant has three rooms and only a few people were smoking in each room, so why not just have one non-smoking room? But we ate there anyway, Oma was a friend of the owners and wanted to stay. I got a couple pictures out on the balcony during the sunset. And then it was home to pack because we would be leaving for the airport around 5 am!

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Posted by alyssa_ob 16:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Rainy Day at the wild animal park


View Upper Midwest & Wisconsin & Minnesota - travels around the state & Southeast US & North Shore Lake Superior & Germany-Amsterdam 2006 on alyssa_ob's travel map.

large_12348_11772937188904.jpgI stopped in Göttingen to visit some relatives that have had an addition to their family since the last time I saw them. It was a cool day and threatened to be rainy but we drove out to the Wild Animal Park anyway. Basically this is a large park with wild animals in their (near) native habitats with a walking path through the park and overlooks into the pens.

When we first got to the park, we were greeted by the goats so we spent a good half hour feeding them pellets from the machines. And then it started raining so we went into the little shelter and ate the picnic lunch we brought.large_12348_11772937054642.jpg And still it rained. So we went out in the rain anyway. The first animals we saw were a mother lynx and her 4 babies. They were cute. We stopped in the little shelter there as it kept raining and Frauke noticed some wild mushrooms growing nearby that were good to eat. So she went off into the woods and started picking mushrooms! They have a card game of mushrooms that they use to identify the different varieties of mushrooms, whether they are edible and what dishes they taste good in. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure most people don't just pick wild mushrooms at a park because they just might be poisonous! But I guess she grew up that way and knew her mushrooms.

We saw some other animals, but animals are animals in any language so this stop was mostly fun for the kids. It eventually stopped raining and we fnished walking the park. A few more pellets for the goats and we decided to head home to warm tea and waffles. Frauke whipped up some little waffles quick and we warmed up on tea and then it was a mad dash to the train station to catch my train home. I was running up the steps as the train was pulling up to the platform. Three minutes later, we were departing the city. I hate cutting it that close!

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Posted by alyssa_ob 16:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Ireland vs Germany


View Upper Midwest & Wisconsin & Minnesota - travels around the state & Southeast US & North Shore Lake Superior & Germany-Amsterdam 2006 on alyssa_ob's travel map.

large_12348_11772937147780.jpg I went down to Königstrasse to do a little shopping and was amazed at all the people there! And so much green! And English? Wait, where am I? Turns out Ireland was in town for a soccer game against Germany tonight and this was the pre-party! There were thousands of people there, most wearing green. They were gathered on the Schlossplatz, on the steps, on any flat open space. It was insane. I took the opportunity to buy a belt at one of the kiosks there. I picked out a pretty reddish one and told the woman it was too big. So she wrapped it around me and cut it to size. Perfect! I love that you can actually buy a belt that is EXACTLY your size. I stopped in the bookstore and decided there were too many people out here for me. On the way home I grabbed a Germany flag to show my support for the German soccer team. I guess most of the people downtown were there to watch the game on screens on the Schlossplatz since most of them didn't have tickets to the game and most had already started drinking. Crazyness! I went home, didn't watch the game, and don't know who won.

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Posted by alyssa_ob 16:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Amsterdam Day 2 - windmill, art and canals


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large_12348_14606705482716.jpgI had breakfast at the hostel (I think), then made my way to Molen van Sloten. I wanted to see a windmill or tulips, as those seemed classical (or stereotypical) Dutch. It was the wrong season for tulips, so a windmill it is! I got a free entrance to Molen van Sloten with the city card, so that was where I headed next. It was a long, but scenic walk. I passed a barge going through a draw bridge, so I stopped to watch.

I arrived at the windmill right when they opened at 10 am. The Sloten windmill is one of 500 still working windmills in the Netherlands and the only one in Amsterdam [Amsterdam-travel-guide-1125002] open to visitors daily. There was a little guided tour and I was able to climb up inside to the platform and get some nice views over the surrounding area.large_12348_11772115158702.jpg While up there, the wind changed direction and a couple of men manually turned the windmill so the blades were facing into the wind again. That was neat to watch. Inside were some displays, including a working model of a windmill. I met a girl touring there and we decided to meet up later for an evening cruise on the canals.

After the windmill, I went to the Rijksmuseum and browsed the wonderful Dutch art. From there, I stopped at the I Amsterdam sign and then went to the van Gogh museum. Between the two museums, I spent several hours – pretty much all afternoon. I really enjoyed both museums (I think). I know I liked the Rijksmuseum, but can’t really remember the van Gogh museum. You weren’t allowed to take photos at the van Gogh museum. From the museums (they were very near each other), I walked over to take a canal cruise.large_12348_11772115165470.jpgLift bridge - got lost on the way to the windmillI must have had 2 free canal cruises, because I can’t imagine I would have paid for one when I got one free. There are several canal tour locations throughout the city and since this one wasn’t the closest one to the Rijksmuseum, it must have been a free one (like my logic?). I really can’t remember if I took 1 long cruise (2 hours) or 2 shorter cruises (1 hour each), but I think it was 2 different cruises of 1 hour each.

I took my first cruise during the day, so I could get better photos. We sat inside a low, flat boat with glass windows surrounding us. We passed the Anne Frank House and went out to the harbor behind Centraal station. We saw a brightly colored pirate ship looking boat, but I can’t remember what it was. We toured around the Het Ij (harbor) and went back in as the sun was beginning to set.large_12348_1177246344821.jpgA windmill! I wanted to see one in the NetherlandsIt made for some really nice photos. It appears that I took a night cruise about an hour after returning from the day cruise. I met up with Asrar, the girl I met at the windmill. The night cruises were really neat because the bridges are all lit up, with lights following the architecture of the bridge. Very cool, but really hard to get good photos in the dark with my digital camera. The lights of the bridges and buildings reflected off the water.

I don't recall what happened next, but I'm guessing I took another night train to Stuttgart, arriving in the morning, since my next entry suggests I was in Stuttgart by the next afternoon and without my overnight bag.

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Posted by alyssa_ob 16:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Amserdam - Day 1 - walking tour


View Upper Midwest & Wisconsin & Minnesota - travels around the state & Southeast US & North Shore Lake Superior & Germany-Amsterdam 2006 on alyssa_ob's travel map.

large_12348_11772115021980.jpg(I recently looked over this blog and noticed my entries for Amsterdam [Amsterdam-travel-guide-1125002] were never written! It is now almost 10 years since that trip and I have forgotten many of the details of this visit. These entries are written based on my photos and ticket stubs and maps. I’m sure I have a travel journal somewhere, but not sure where. I did find my map that I actually marked up with my route around the city! So, here we go…)

I took the night train from Munich to Amsterdam, arriving at 9 in the morning. I like the night trains because I like sleeping in the gently rocking cars. The cost is about the same as getting a decent hotel room, but this includes the travel! We arrived at the main train station, Centraal Station.large_12348_11772115183815.jpg I was staying at a youth hostel near the Anne Frank House. I don’t recall how I got there from the train station – if I walked, took a bus or tram. The hostel was about 2 km from the train station. It seems likely that I made my way there with the least amount of effort (by bus/tram) to drop off my overnight bag, because I would have arrived before check in. At some point, I purchased the I amsterdam city card, which provided free public transport, free canal cruise and free or discounted entrances to museums. You can purchase it for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours. Since I wasn’t there long, I got the 24 hour card. It came with a little book of all the attractions you can visit, with the card plus a city map. I most likely got this around Centraal Station when I arrived.large_12348_14606693071429.jpg I’m not sure I was actually there long enough to get my money’s worth, but I did use the card for several things.

I then walked along some canals and made my way to the Anne Frank House. I enjoyed walking along the canals. They were lined with colorful houses and houseboats. It was still early and there was not really anyone in line. The museum had just opened when I arrived and I was behind a few people. You aren’t allowed to take photos there. There are some exhibits on the main floor, then you go up the narrow stairs behind the bookcase to visit the rooms in the secret annex that those 8 people inhabited for 2 years. The rooms are mostly bare and small. Some of the pictures that Anne had pasted in her room still remain. There are more exhibits after you leave the secret annex.large_12348_14606693101954.jpg I took my time going through the museum. When I left, the line was about 50 people long and wrapped around the corner. Definitely go early if you can.

In case you don’t know the story, Anne Frank and her family were Jewish. They went into hiding with some others in the secret annex of the building of her father’s business when it became too dangerous for Jews in Amsterdam during World War II. They had the help of some of her father’s employees, providing them with food. Because the business still operated by day, they were not allowed to use the bathrooms, run water, or make any noise at all during working hours. The 8 people remained hidden there for over 2 years, until an unknown person betrayed them. Everyone was sent to the concentration camps.large_12348_14606693147789.jpgThe line for the Anne Frank House (after I left)The end of World War II was near, but Anne’s father was the only one of their group to survive the war. The other 7 were either gassed or died of disease in the concentration camps. Anne’s diary was later rescued by one of the employee helpers and given to her father when it was clear she did not survive.

I walked over to the Westerkerk on the next block. This is the church where Anne could hear the church bells ringing, but couldn’t see the church. The tower was under scaffolding, so I couldn’t see the church either. This church was white and bright inside, with the organ pipes on one wall. I went inside and sat down on a chair. I like to sit in churches to rest and take in the (usually) peacefully scenery. As I rested, I looked down and noticed the floor was actually grave markers! There are bodies under the floor! This is apparently common in these older churches, but it was a little creepy.large_12348_1460669319697.jpg

I continued walking back towards the center of Amsterdam. I walked through the Magna Plaza (shopping center) and walked by the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and Royal Palace. The palace was closed for renovations. I was curious about the Red Light District, but again, being a woman traveling alone, I really didn’t feel safe going there after dark. I made my way there with plenty of daylight left. I walked along some canals and past the Waag before crossing a canal back into the Red Light District near the Oude Kerk (Old Church).

A friend highly recommend the Damrak Sex Museum and even Rick Steves mentioned that this one was the better of the two. I must say, I really enjoyed the museum! This one was more of a history through the ages, with photos and memorabilia.large_12348_14606693221106.jpg Yes, it was graphic, explicit and erotic and not for everyone. I found it fascinating and very interesting. This is such a taboo subject with many people and cultures, yet it is very open and common among others. It was fun to see the photos of certain acts back in the early 1900s, with women in long, flowing skirts. It was also interesting to see the artwork and sculptures from cultures around the world. I can only imagine how inspiring this museum is to those who tour it with their significant other (or find one for rent nearby). For fun, I did give my camera to a stranger so they could take a photo of me by a 7 ft tall phallic sculpture. For obvious reasons, I’m not posting any of the photos I took there. The entrance fee was very cheap, about 3€ and it was well worth it!

Prostitution is legal in the Red Light District.large_12348_11772115207750.jpg It was still early in the day, but I did see some “wares” on display. I was also warned about pick pockets and that photos of certain sights were not welcomed here, so mostly I walked around with my camera put away and my head down. I entertained the thought of going to a coffeeshop, but in the end, I wasn’t brave enough. We have random drug tests at work, and that could be hard to explain, even if it was legal in Amsterdam. Instead, I found a little sidewalk café and had a nutella crepe for lunch. It was good, but quite a bit different than what I could have had for lunch ;)

After eating, I continued walking towards Centraal Station. I passed Rembrantplein, with a statue of the artist Rembrant. I was passed by many, many bicycles.large_12348_1460669324373.jpg I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people on bicycles before. You really had to watch where you walk! I enjoyed walking along the canals and looking at the interesting buildings along the water. I may have had a couple of bicycle bells ding at me to get out of the way, too. I kept wandering into the bicycle lanes, so I guess it was my fault. I headed back to my hostel for the night, probably by public transportation as it was free and I’d been walking all day!

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Posted by alyssa_ob 16:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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