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  march 2014


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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 tourist!!

03/04/14  Andreas and Ellen picked us up this afternoon to visit Neuwied and see the carnival held in the town.  (Some photo's)

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 hotel...........easy!

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 Jindřišská 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 Budějovická 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 here.

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 had happened.

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.

21/03/14  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!

26/03/14  Happy Birthday Clive! 

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.'

31/03/14  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. 

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