01/03/14 Up early again, breakfast and
walk to Muhlenstrasse to see the original remaining Berlin Wall and the
East Side Gallery. At Warschauer Strasse, we caught the
underground to Mockernbrücke and visited the Deutsches
Technikmuseum which was much larger than we imagined and took hours to
go around! It really needs a whole day to see everything
displayed. By now, both Astrid and I were feeling the pain of aching
bones and feet as we made our way to Alexander Platz and on to
Friedrichstrasse to visit the site of 'Checkpoint Charlie,' the once
crossing point from the American to Russian sectors of Berlin. Retracing
our route, we went back to Mockerbrücke, then on to
Wittenberg Platz to visit Kaufhaus des Westens (KeDeWe), the German
equivalent of Harrods in London. The 6th floor gourmet area is
definitely worth the visit! Shattered by this time, we made our
way back to Heinrich-Heine Strasse and the final walk back to the hotel.
02/03/14 Oh, it's painful to put shoes
back on!! After breakfast, packed up and put our bags into the
hotel storage, headed back to Heinrich-Heine Strasse and the underground
to Alexander Platz, changing for Eberswalder Strasse, then walking to
Mauer-park where there was a Sunday morning 'flea' market. We didn't buy
anything and it soon became too packed to move freely. By midday, we had
seen it all and headed back to Alexander Platz for a bit of lunch and
the final underground train to Heinrich-Heine Strasse. I almost
know the underground system as well as a Berliner now! Returning
to the hotel, we rested a while, then collected our bags and walked to
Berlin Ostbanhof to start our return journey to Montabaur with changes
at Berlin Hauptbanhof, Hamm and Cologne. I love the German fast
trains, 250Kmh, quiet and smooth but the ticket machine system on all
overground and underground stations takes some working out and is far
from user friendly! It was midnight by the time we got back to
Puderbach and it's a long time since I've walked so far, gone up and
down so many stairs and been on so many trains.....it's tiring being a
03/04/14 Andreas and Ellen picked us up
this afternoon to visit Neuwied and see the carnival held in the town.
05/03/14 Astrid had a scheduled
appointment for treatment today, so I went with her to Neuwied Hospital,
sitting with her for company for the three hours of drug infusion.
06/03/14 Decided to make a trip to
Czechoslovakia, or the Czech Republic to be more precise following the
dissolution of the former country, so went into the travel agents in
Dierdorf and booked a couple of days in Prague. Going on the 9th!
07/03/14 Collected Czech Crown from the
bank in Neuwied.
09/03/14 Andreas, Astrid and I were
invited to Ellen's for dinner today before Andreas drove us to Cologne
Airport for our 7.10pm flight to Prague. Arriving in a strange
city after dark is always a little disconcerting, so the first thing at
Václav Havel Airport was to find a transport map and
buy a three day travel pass. Figure out how to get to our
hotel.... OK.... number 119 bus from airport to Dejvicka,
then onto the underground (Metro) Green Line to Muzeum-A, change to
Muzeum-C and the Red Line to
Budějovická. From there it was just a short walk to the
10/03/14 Breakfast over with, we needed to get to the
centre of Prague, the Castle, Cathedral, Charles Bridge and the Old Town
Square, so we made our way to
Budějovická metro (Red line), caught the train to I.P. Pavlova and found
a number 22 tram to Malostranské
náměstí - transport was packed with sad faced office workers commuting
to work, so we squeezed in wherever we could.
Now walking, we wound our way slowly uphill, browsing the shops and
cafes until we reached Prague Castle. Not many tourists at this
time of day and we were able to wander around the castle grounds and St.
Vitus Cathedral with relative ease, except for the changing of the guard
outside the palace at noon (a bit crowded). Coming back down we
encountered far more tourists - they must have got up late! The
Old Town, with it's narrow cobbled streets was originally surrounded by
a moat which Charles IV filled in before building a new town in the
latter 1300's and moving all the noisy or dirty businesses (coppersmiths,
brickmakers, tanners, dyers, carpenters, and fishermen)
out to the new town. Most of the tourist 'attractions' are in the
Old Town and within walking distance of each other, so we strolled
across Charles Bridge, stopping to touch the plaque on the statue of
Saint John of Nepomuk for luck, as per the Prague tradition. He was the
court priest of King Wenceslas IV and was put in a sack and thrown off
the bridge into the Vltava
in 1393 - so I suppose he wasn't too lucky! In the Old Town Square
(Staroměstské náměstí) we watched the
unspectacular chiming of the famous Astronomical Clock, took lots of
photographs (as tourists do) and had a look inside the Church of St.
Nicholas - there is another of the same name in Malostranské náměstí, so
it's a bit confusing and I'm glad I only type these names and don't have
to pronounce them!! After a late lunch of spicy goulash soup
served inside a big brown bread roll,
we sat on a bench in the square and watched the world go by for a while
and listened to the many buskers and entertainers before walking slowly
back towards our tram and tube back to the hotel.
11/03/14 Having seen most of the
major tourist spots yesterday, we had our breakfast and went in search
of some of the lesser known sights.
Red line to Muzeum-C, walk through Wenceslas Square and down
to Saint Henry's Bell Tower. It is 65 metres high and built because the
walls of the Church of St Henry were not strong enough to support heavy
bells, hence the separate bell tower. 'Marie' is the only remaining
original bell, the others being confiscated along with every other bell
in Prague for their metal value during wars, and is now a part of the
restaurant inside the tower. The old belfry is on the tenth floor
(fortunately there is a lift to the ninth floor!) accessed by a narrow
wooden staircase and gives good views over the city. Back on the
street, we made our way back through Wencelas Square and followed our
noses to the junction of Husova and Skořepka,
looking for a hanging man! This is a statue missed by most
passers-by as it hangs from the rooftops. It is by the
controversial Czech sculptor David Černý and depicts the
psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud hanging on whilst pondering whether to hold
on or let go. Amusing to see other people walking by, seeing you
pointing your camera upwards, looking.....and then getting their own
cameras out for a shot!
Back in the Old Town Square we repeated our lunch of yesterday with
another helping of soup in a roll before heading
off over Charles Bridge to Kampa Island, separated from the 'mainland'
by The Devil's Waterway, and a relaxing hour sitting in
the park enjoying the sunshine. Then we went to
Velkopřevorské náměstí (Grand Priory Square)
to see John Lennon Wall before walking to Hellichova and catching the number 22 tram back to I.P.
Pavlova for a coffee and dinner before heading back to
on the now well known Red Line underground.
12/03/14 A leisurely breakfast, a
wander around the local shops, pack and retrace our original route to
the airport for our 1.20pm flight back to Cologne. If you are not
bored yet, there are some tourist photo's
13/03/14 9.45am..."What are we doing
today Astrid?" "Nothing, a day of rest." "Haven't you to go
to the hospital today?" "Oh, s**t, I forgot about that, the taxi
is coming at 10.20!" Rush around and the taxi doesn't show
up! Phone Andreas and he takes us to Neuwied, missing his own
doctor appointment in the process. After the hospital, a coffee
while sitting in the sun - very nice. On the way back, we stop at
a bakery for bread rolls and cakes and I sit in the car while Andreas
and Astrid are in the shop........and witness a road traffic accident!
Man pulls out from kerb, straight into side of passing woman motorist -
clearly his fault! Polizei arrive, now it gets
interesting......I'm English, the policeman is German, the female
motorist is Russian and the male driver is Italian (and typically
irate!) ........never a dull moment eh? We were allowed to go
after a short while as the policeman could clearly see how the accident
18/03/14 End of holiday in
Germany.......back to Cologne and Gatwick Airports! Thanks to
Astrid, Andreas and all the family for making me so welcome during my
stay. Met by Trev and Babs at Gatwick and driven back to Kent.
20/03/14 Online today sorting out my
flight back to Rhumb Do - not long now! Tried to get an
appointment at the Doc's yesterday to get a supply of meds to take with
me, but no luck......I can get one in April!!! Have to go to the
walk-in clinic tomorrow and hope for the best.
Surprise, surprise....went to the walk-in
clinic this morning and saw my doc within a half
hour! So that's a couple of months worth of pill popping sorted
out and clearance to fly given. Collected my little rental car for the next week and did a
bit of shopping for a few bits needed on the boat.
23/03/14 Drove up to Lancashire
today to see my brother Clive and wife Barbara, and to collect the few
things that I had left there in December.
24/03/14 Great to see Clive and
Barbara as always but time to move on again. Drove over to Reddish
to see my old mate Bob whom I served with onboard HMS Hermes in the late
'60's - stayed with him for the afternoon. From there it was to
Brighouse in Yorkshire to have an evening with Rob and Karen (formerly
"Slip Anchor"), again good to see them and the children Amy and Ben.
25/03/14 Back to Kent today, driving
in rain for most of the way, so the car isn't very clean any more!
28/03/14 Returned the hire car
today. Also received an e-mail from the 'marina' in Kudat which
half threatened removal of the boat from the marina! As I will be
back there in less than a week, I am hoping all will be well.
30/03/14 My last full day in
the UK! Packed my bag in readiness for starting my long trip back
to Borneo and 'Rhumb Do.'
Trev, Babs and Ashley came with me to Heathrow Airport after lunch and
Astrid, who is visiting Jordan
close to Heathrow turned up at the airport to say cheerio as well -
which was great because I had company during the three hour wait from
check in to departure! Soon had to say goodbye though and
make my way into the departure lounge for the 5.50pm take off.
Did you enjoy your visit
onboard? Please sign my
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