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The Colour of Fanta (or My Trip to Europe)

It’s funny how you notice the small differences when travelling. Take Fanta for example, the normal orange Fanta, not the other flavours it comes in these days. In Australia we have orange Fanta that LOOKS orange. A bright almost Disney orange, not the pale yellowy orange that we found in most of Europe. It did change though as you went from one country to another though, much like Europe itself. Anyway here is a brief run down of the places we visited followed by a brief diary of what we got up to.

Prices of petrol and Big Macs are a reference to the buying power of money in each city.

Hotel : Raddison - ¥12000
Tokyo price references.
Basic cup of coffee - 350 yen
Petrol (unleaded) - 85 yen per litre
People are all polite and helpful, though very few speak English - though if there is someone in the store who does speak English you will normally get to talk to them.
All that bowing really does happen. I managed to get 7 people bow at me at once.
The rail system is supposed to be difficult to negotiate. This is because every rail map you see is slightly different.
Europe in general
People smoke here! All over the place and with little or no regard for anyone else.
There is a general feeling of letting people decide for themselves what is good for them, unlike Australia where we seem to be making sure that there is legislation to protect people from absolutely everything.
People take their dogs with them everywhere.

Hotel : Ibsen's - kroner
Copenhagen price references.
Basic cup of coffee - 21 kroner
Petrol (unleaded) - 8.34 kroner
Big Mac combo - 45 kroner
Lots of bikes. The bike paths look like the foot path and you tend to have at least one bike try to run you down before you get the hint.
Most people seem to speak English and the one person we met who didn't want to give us directions because we were both standing looking at a map.
For my first European city, it had a very European feel.

Hotel : Jens & Illy's
Unleaded. 103.9

Hotel : La Louisian - €115
Big Mac €3
Big Mac Combo €5.20
McClean - Toilets and showers.
- €1 Toilet €7 shower.
Dirty and shabby around the edges but with style and attitude. Very few people speak English.

Hotel : President Nord. - €74
Big Mac €3
Big Mac Combo €5.00
The French speakers seem to be the upper class and the Flemish the lower class and never shall they meet. Which is a pity as the Flemish are nicer people.

In a 2 hour visit what can you see? It has a lot of old charm. And hills. And lots of mobile phone (handy) shops, but then so does everywhere else.

Hotel Popp – Hamburg €70 (normally €75) including breakfast. Unfriendly beds. Good breakfast buffet though.
Big mac €2.65 Combo €4.35
Didn't see much due to Audrey's cold.

Hotel : -
Big mac : Combo :
A big city. It's trying to become one instead of 2 cities, but it has contrasts standing so close together.

Hotel : Day trip
Big mac : Combo :

Hotel : Day trip
Big mac : Combo :
Lots of canals, the views are magnificent. There are very few places you can get Dutch food. The red light district is shown on the tourist map!

Hotel : Hotel Savoy
Has a Bavarian feel, which is what I was expecting of Germany in general I think.

Hotel : Pension Neuer Mark - €112
Bigmac €2.50 Combo €4.75
Like Germany, but quite obviously not. There are fewer people who speak English.

Hotel : Medosz - HUF 13000
Big mac : HUF 459 Combo : HUF 749
A mix - Old infrastructure but new flashy "American" produce. A city trying to become modern without the cost.
It's full of touters, working for the chance to take your money - I must ignore them, I'm not used to it!
The communist housing blocks seen from a distance look bleak and forbidding. The Metro gives a quick and smooth ride with escalators at all stations except the M1, which is the first underground line in Europe and is not very deep anyway. Two new Metro lines are in production.
The trams are another story. They are noisy and bumpy, but still quick. The busses are small to cope with Buda's winding hilly roads, but come frequently and are comfortable.
The hotel food was a bit bland, but was nice wherever we ate out.
Lots of public displays of affection, with couples young and old kissing (full scale tongues down throats and only coming up for air every half hour or so sort of kissing), cuddling and sitting on laps in public.

A large village with the only Hundertwasserhaus in Germany.

Lovely little village just over the hill from Switzerland. Our hosts were wonderful.

The old town is very nice. It deserves more than the two and a half hours we spent there. The churches have elaborate carvings and are quite beautiful - the outside is hard to see due to buildings being very close.

Trip Diary

23/9/2002 - Melbourne / Tokyo
Left home at 5:30 and walked to Dorothee's to catch a taxi to the airport.
Had breakfast in the Qantas club - raisin toast, fruit juice and spinach quiche. We left 5 minutes before boarding to get Dorothee seated first.
No computers allowed for the first 20 minutes of the flight.

23/9/02 10:30 On our way. We were given a menu for lunch, I'll have the soy braised chicken with Japanese vegetables.
Waiting for the movies to start and for my drink to arrive. I like the pointy end of the plane.
I had to wait until after lunch for "Spiderman" to come on because it is the economy class movie. Lunch was nice, 3 courses - mushroom noodle soup, the chicken and orange cake for desert.
13:20 Japan time and we are approaching the equator.
Three movies later and we are flying over Guam. The Sky Show shows night catching up with us. It's -45 degrees outside and we are at 10954m.
They feed us plenty of liquids. I'm sticking to water, but there’s a lot on offer.
We were whisked through customs thanks to the magical powers of wheel chairs. This meant that we ended up with a 40 minute wait for the free bus, so we caught a taxi instead and beat the crowd at the hotel.
After a bit of a walk around the hotel we went to bed.

24/9/2002. - Tokyo
Had a buffet breakfast in the hotel. It was mainly western style but I had some rice and seaweed which was interesting.
Caught the bus into Tokyo station. Went looking for the international tourist place and couldn't find it. Walked around the streets a bit, then through Daimaru food hall. The food is all of top quality, but dreadfully expensive - 9000 yen for a bunch of grapes.
Lunch was a sausage on a stick from Paul Bocuse's bakery in Daimaru and a bottle of water from a street vending machine.
Caught a train to Sinjuku? and eventually managed to find a camera shop. In line with my current upgrade plan I spent lots of money - BG10 grip and a second AF360 flash.
The number of mobile phone stalls on the street surpasses even the amount found at a show at the Melbourne exhibition centre.
We went through 2 department stores and a couple of other shops looking for a kimono for Audrey, but ended up buying one from the hotel once we got back.
Dinner was a couple of sushi boxes from Daimaru which we brought back to the hotel and ate in the room.
Only took about 20 pictures today, and my first picture in Japan was of an ant.

25/9/2002 - Tokyo / Copenhagen
Woke up early and had a sausage on a stick for breakfast, then went for a walk down the street. The hotel is in a light industrial / residential area.
We caught the 8:30 bus to the airport. It took us 45 minutes to get to terminal 2 for our flight - this included having an official come on to the bus to check our passports. Our checked luggage was X-rayed before we got to the check in counter.
As we planned to be first onto the plane we left the lounge at 11:05 to go to the gate. This was no great loss as the ANA lounge was not that wonderful, though they did give us one of their private rooms.
We rolled back at 1200 and then spent about 40 minutes waiting in a queue to takeoff.
The SAS plane is comfortable at the pointy end, and the food is excellent. We started with a cold savoury - scallop and a couple of vegetablely things. Entree was an antipasto plate with artichoke, grilled capsicum, salami and prachuto with a side salad and bread roll (warm and hand picked). Main was braised chicken with sautéed vegetables. Desert was a selection from a trolley.
Slept a bit, walked around the plane, snacked a bit from the buffet, read a bit until the next meal. I had the pork.
Landed and went straight through customs, into a VW taxi and to the hotel - taxi was 240 kroner. Went for a walk before it got dark. Audrey crashed at about 8pm so we went to bed.

26/9/2002 - Copenhagen
Woke early due to someone's alarm going off at 5am - the hotel has openable windows into a courtyard. Showered and went to breakfast at 7. It was a spread of ham and salami, breads and breadrolls, fruits, danishes, croissants, eggs, jam and so on.
About 8:30 Audrey and I set out to explore the pedestrian only streets nearby. The rain threatened.... Cobble stone streets, old buildings, people driving on the wrong side of the street - it all felt very European. Nearly everyone speaks English.
We had a hot chocolate for lunch (we ate a big breakfast), walked a bit more and the rain finally forced us onto a guided tour bus. 125 kroner each, 3 different tours, get on and off as often as you like for 2 days. Took pictures of the "Little mermaid" in the rain. Audrey twisted her ankle getting off the bus.
Came back to the hotel and Audrey crashed at about 6pm and I couldn't wake her until 9. I snacked a bit and we went to bed about 9:30.

27/9/2002 - Copenhagen
Got up etc all the same as yesterday. Went walking same as yesterday, but today the sun is out and I could take pictures (which I did).
Saw the changing of the guards at the palace. Caught a tour bus back to the other end of town to take more pictures after a brief stop for a sausage for lunch (wissworst on a cardboard plate with a small hot breadroll and a squirt of mustard).
Came back to the hotel because Audrey's foot is hurting more. Audrey napped while I went to the chemist to try to find a support bandage (no luck, they didn't have the right size).
Went to the "Big Copenhagen Smorgasbord", which wasn't bad but Audrey says is smaller than she remembers.

28/9/2002 - Copenhagen - Düsseldorf
Got up at 5 (it will be nice to be able to develop a regular sleeping habit) showered etc and checked out at 6:25. The taxi was booked for 6:30 and that is when it turned up.
The checkin at the airport was easy. except we missed getting the tax free form stamped before security, so we will do it on the way back.
The lounge left a little to be desired in terms of food - breadrolls cheese, jam, fruit, drinks and biscuits, but little else.
The plane was small and cramped compared to the others we have been on, but they did serve a good breakfast - fruit, yogurt, orange juice, hot breadrolls and a plate of cheese, ham, pate and lettuce. A second breadroll was offered with extra butter and they managed to do 2 tea runs, 2 coffee runs, 2 water runs and tidy it all in an hour flight.
The wheel chair was not there to meet us, but came eventually. We got the luggage and were met by Jens and Illi and managed to cram all 5 of us and our luggage into their car and continued to their place.
We spent the day talking - mostly in German - and had vegetable soup (complete with 2 types of meat) for lunch and roast beef for dinner.
Jens makes rubber products in his cellar and repairs old clocks.
We both managed to collapse shortly after 9pm.

29/9/2002 - Düsseldorf
It's a foggy morning. Audrey spotted a spider's web outside the window - photographed it of course.
The shower in the upstairs bathroom is a bit difficult for tall people to manage.

30/9/2002 - Düsseldorf
Went to town on the Regiobahn.
Sausage danish for breakfast.
Freshe pommes for lunch.
Berkenstok shoes are difficult to find, we have the factory address and will try there.
Lovely old church - St Lambertus (crooked steeple) - allows sightseeing when there are no services. There are donation boxes in various places around the walls for the church, the organ, the poor etc.

1/10/2002 - Düsseldorf to Paris
7:18 Regio to Düsseldorf hbf (€3.30)
8:02 IC to Köln (€.)
10:02 Thalys to Paris (€124.50/26.00)
14:30 Paris Metro (€1.30 each)
Looked at Köln cathedral - need a monopod at least for the interior. The outside is damaged from the bombing of the train station during the war.
Ate a platform sausage which they provided in a bun. The sausage was 4 times the length of the bun.
I'm still waiting for the Thalys to go fast.
Old churches dot the countryside.
Thalys finally went fast after Brussels, its interesting watching cars on the freeway being left for dead by your train. It does suffer from turbulence at 300 kph though.
The lunch they served was not bad but not great - smoked salmon and salmon tureen with green lettuce stuff and dill mayonnaise, pasta salad, bread rolls (no butter was available for the second roll) and a small slice of cake which had gone stale from being refrigerated.
Got here and the tourist information was closed. We figured out where we had to go anyway. We tried one payphone and it had been vandalised. We tried a second and it ate our money. Then, the tourist information office opened. So we waited in line and when it was our go we asked if they could make a booking - they said no because they weren't associated with the hotel. We asked which Metro line we needed to take and she showed us on a map how to get to the wrong side of Paris.
We took the map and left the advice and got easily to our hotel. The left bank is a warren of thin streets, street cafés which spill onto the road, delicatessens, motor scooters and so on and has the feel I expect of Paris.
"Breakfast is breakfast" according to the hotel desk clerk. Which means continental, not buffet.
We ate dinner at L'atlas - taking the cheap menu. The charge of €9.40 for 2 half litre bottles of water did strike me as excessive.
The hotel bath is not big enough for 2 people, but it does have a "friendly" bed. The travel water boiler works well.

2/10/2002 - Paris.
Slept in till after 8am.
Bought breakfast from local patisserie / baker - Paul.
Walked to St Chappelle (€5.50). Very overdone in the French style, but then that's what you expect in France. There was scaffolding up around it just like every other church I've seen so far in Europe. Walked to Notre Dame, which ended up being free to enter, but is a working church. It did however have collection boxes every 20 feet or so.
Came back and bought picnic ingredients - bread rolls, pork, paté, roullette and chocolate cake. Went to Point Neuf to eat it and discovered the park closed and the trees at the point cut down. Still had a nice picnic.
Went to Gard d'nord to check train availability to Brussels and Luxembourg - We'll go somewhere tomorrow. Next stop was the Eiffel Tower. Went all the way up (€9.90 each) - very hazy at the top, but still spectacular. The best level for viewing the surrounding sights is the second level.
The metro works for getting from one place to another - though the several flights of steps from one platform to another is annoying - but you get to see nothing on the trip.
Came back to the hotel and bought more rolls for dinner. And hopefully an early night.

3/10/2002 - Paris / Brussels
Mouscher - Chocolate frother.
Metro to Rue Mouftard
Metro to Gar d'les
Metro to Madelein
Metro to Odien
Metro to Gar d'nord.
Thalys to Brussels.
Boarded the Thalys and found rubbish in the seat pocket and crumbs on the seat.
We arrived in Brussels and were welcomed by escalators. And signs that point in the right direction. And polite and helpful people.
The hotel we got through the hotel people at Brussels-Midi. The President Nord, normally €172 we got it for €85 per night. Very nice, and close to several chocolatiers.
Dinner was in an Italian restaurant - Tavern St Michel. Cheese fondue (cheese crumbed and deep fried) and spaghetti carbonara. Audrey had grilled veal with croquettes.
4/10/2002 - Brussels
Grand Place
City hall and old market place. The "old" part of Brussels - or part of it anyway that is not affected by modern buildings.
Maniquin Pis
Statue of boy peeing. Various myths exist as to why the boy is famous.
First church without scaffolding, but it was only restored in 1990. Very nice, not gaudy like the French.
Built for 1958 World Expo, and was never meant to go beyond it. It will be restored next year. It is a model of an iron crystal - Fe9.

Bought chocolate. Leonidas for Illi and Godiva for us. The woman in the Godiva shop must have been French.
Had dinner and rubbed Audrey's tired feet. The Belgium Metro is friendlier than the French. It has escalators and an honour system for tickets - no gates just validating machines like Melbourne trams.
The intermingling of old and new gives the city more the feel of a new city than an old one. It still has some lovely old buildings.

5/10/2002 - Brussels / Düsseldorf
8:44 Brussels to Köln.
12:19 Köln to Düsseldorf
12:57 Düsseldorf to Kaarst
Illy's party. Met Nicole and family. Mark and one of his bands supplied live music - Dixiland. A good evening was had by all, though Illy should have spent more time enjoying herself and less running around after things.

6/10/2002 Düsseldorf
Ride to Koblenz and back in the afternoon. Some trees are just starting to colour, but the vineyards are not. We will look when we go past on other trips.

7/10/2002 Düsseldorf
Changed Audrey's shoes and ordered some more and looked around the Aldstat some more.
Put in 10 rolls of film for processing.

8/10/2002 - Düsseldorf / Hamburg
5:58 Regio
6:31 Düsseldorf to Hamburg
Everything is covered in a layer of frost and the fog is thick enough to blank out the sun. I have no hope of talking photos from the moving train. It's beautiful though, and I could wander countryside like this and take pictures for ages.

11:05 Hamburg to Lübek
Lovely old city gates plastered with advertising. We only had a brief look on the way to the Niederegger shop. We did see a busker playing a didgeridoo, complete with a dog that looked part dingo.
14:05 Lübek to Hamburg.
Dinner at "Block House". Food was good but Audrey's mushroom sauce was cold.

9/10/2002 Hamburg / Berlin
Breakfast at hotel - buffet but Italian style. The hotel cat took a liking to Audrey and spent breakfast sitting next to her and purring.
Took Audrey to the doctor. €20
Antibiotics €54.95
10:00 Hamburg to Berlin.
It's supposed to be a fast train (ICE) but it's going slow today. We were late due to a computer problem and have been slow since.
Arrived late and had to go to Alexanderplatz for tourist information. They charged us €0.50 for a cheap map and €3.00 to book a hotel.
Walked down Kurfürstendamm near Alte Kathedral , a bombed out church - the world needs a few such examples to make sure we don't forget that no-one wins a war. This is the elegant part of Berlin. The stores all have large price tags with small writing so all the numbers fit, but there is a lot of nice stuff.
Had dinner at an Italian restaurant again - it seems to be flavour of the month.

10/10/2002 - Berlin.
Berlin museum of ancient Egypt. Saw the original Nefertiti bust. Lots of old Egyptian objects and temples, it's no wonder the Egyptians want it back - there's probably none left!!
Saw the Brandenburg Gates and looked around what was East Berlin. Now the first shop on the east side of the Brandenburg Gates is "Starbucks Coffee". The Americans win again!
Bought breadrolls and meat for a quiet meal in the hotel room. My feet are definitely letting me know that they don't like cobble stones.

11/10/2002 - Berlin (Düsseldorf)
Checkpoint Charlie. There is now a replica of the first checkpoint hut, complete with sand bags. New buildings have sprung up next to ones with old bullet holes. There are street vendors with eastern style souvenirs, and I started to look at some of the funny hats when the Polizei turned up and caused a ruckus. The vendors are only allowed to be there as long as they carry their goods, but carrying a 3' x 4' table all day would break their backs. So they use stands, which upsets the Polizei. The vendor seemed very upset to have lost a customer.
More of Kurfürstendamm. It's a long street! We had lunch at "Morado's" which is a chain of Spanish restaurants. We passed another 3 of them as we walked down the street! The food was quite nice and they had an option for a 500ml drink for only €2.80 (300ml was €2.00), so we both had big drinks. The high class shops eventually gave way to smaller shops and cheaper shops. We bought more chocolate.
Back to the Zoologisher Garten bahnhof where we had left the luggage in the morning when we also reserved seats for the train in the evening and we found the most expensive public toilets so far. At "McClean" for the mere sum of €1.10 (AU$2.20) you can go to the toilet. Men do have a cheaper option of a pissoir for only €0.60.
And now the train speeds through the night - it is rather dark out there - and we should be back in Düsseldorf some time after 11pm.

12/10/2002 - Düsseldorf
Slept late, picked up pictures. Went into Altstat to pick up Audrey's shoes.

13/10/2002 - Düsseldorf
Dorothee's birthday. A quiet day planning the rest of our time here. I've come to the conclusion that everyone in Europe (except for the French) will be speaking English in another generation. When I booked the hotel in Hungary the woman who answered spoke perfect English.
Dorothee (Dora) took us all out to dinner at ?? which has been in business since 1386, but run by the same family since only 1729.

14/10/2002 - Day trip to Aachon
The cathedral had more scaffolding than any other church we have yet seen. It is lovely inside though.
Had lunch at a restaurant which has been around since the early 1300's. It was destroyed by fire in the mid 1600's and rebuilt with a change of name to "Rose am dom". I had the jagerschnitzle which came with rosti and a side salad which itself came on a soup plate the size we normally have a full meal from. The meal was huge!!!

15/10/2002 - Day trip to Amsterdam
Caught the Regio to the hofpbahhhoff and discovered that due to planning 3 trips at once we were half an hour late or early for our train. So we waited for the next one. This one ended up running 35 minutes late. And to top it all off we were thrown off the train at ?? and made to take a Dutch train to Centraal Station.
When we finally arrived we paid €2 for a tourist map and then went on a canal tour. This is a very good way to see Amsterdam as the canals run all through the interesting parts. We will have to see if talking photos from a moving boat works..
We passed 2 McDonald's "restaurants" while looking for lunch. Both were full of pigeons.
We had lunch in one of only 3 restaurants left in Amsterdam which serves Dutch food (according to our waitress anyway). The restaurant Audrey went to last time is now a pizzeria.
We managed to see a fair bit of the Reijks museum before it closed at 5. Lots of interesting paintings, but the French antiques were over done and gaudy (to me anyway).
The train back ran only 2 minutes late.

16/10/2002 - Düsseldorf
Went to the Aquazoo. It's an interesting place, not just an aquarium, it has bits on everything. The information displays are good, showing cut away 3D models

17/10/2002 - Düsseldorf / München
vineyards at 60 degrees
Rhine in Autumn
castles and keeps on the hills above the river.
We threw Dora out of the train at Plockingen - we were continuing to München. Nicole struggled with her and her wheelchair and her frame and her suitcase. I think we need to come up with a set of instructions on how to put her together when travelling.
It rained in München. We looked around on our way to the opera house to pick up the tickets, on the wayback to the hotel to get changed and on the way back to the opera.
We had a cup of goulash soup on the way to supplement the sausage we had when we got off the train.
Fidelio - annoying lighting. Everything was lit from the back and they had gauze at the front of the stage which they used only once during the night. The singing and orchestra were good though. We had standing room - a place to stand and a bar to lean on - and I've decided I'd rather sit.

18/10/2002 - München
It rained in the morning, which is of course when we were walking around. We climbed the tower to the "new" town hall (built around 1900) and took some pictures through the rain. On a clear day this would be a wonderful place to look over the city.
We planned on taking a bus tour of the city, but due to having a sausage for lunch we arrived 1 minute after the bus left and despite 8 other tourists wanting a tour and 3 busses - and drivers - sitting doing nothing, we couldn't get another tour for 58 minutes. So we went to look at the "Residence" instead.
We ate dinner in a place near the opera where Audrey ate 13 years ago - Spatenstube. She had the duck then, and this time, she had the duck. I had the pork and it was delicious.

19/10/2002 - München / Wein
Autumn has come to München, all the leaves are turning yellow and red and today is sunny and fine. And I am on a train. Still this travelling by train does let you see a lot of the countryside, if not actually experience it. I'd like to have more time to go out into the countryside a bit, but I knew I wouldn't have time. Maybe next time.
We are on a Hungarian train. It is similar to all the others, a bit more red in the colour scheme. The menu in the restaurant car is Hungarian, and the portions larger. I had the paprika chicken and Audrey had pork goulash. Both came with "gnocchi", but it was actually spaetzle. Both were very nice. They are taking customer surveys on quality and we told them what we thought.
Caught a taxi to the hotel and wandered around until dinner
at the Sacher cafe - potato soup, hot chocolate and sachertorte. Plenty of whipped cream and all very nice. Audrey says their sachertorte is better than the Mozart cafe's.

20/10/2002 - Wien
Picked up tickets to "Die Walküre".
Walked to Imperial palace and went through the treasury.
Tour of the opera house. Much was destroyed in the war (so what else is new?) so there is old and new, but well integrated.
Lunch at Mozart cafe - I had Wiener schnitzel, Mozart torte and hot chocolate.
Die Walküre - good music, good singing and acting, good seats (though quite cramped) and a good story line.

21/10/2002 - Wien / Budapest
We hung around Wien to buy a book Audrey saw and to look in an antique shop in which Audrey saw some Rosenthal figurines. We got the book but the antique shop grew an "I'll be back in a week" sign.
Crossed the boarder on the train. Our passports were checked twice by armed guards (only hand guns), and our tickets checked. After each stop the guards walk down the corridor and look into the compartments.
Stranger in a strange land. In a way it is more alien than Japan. The writing is in letters that I recognize, but the words make no sense! The phrase book has helped a bit and so has menus in Hungarian and English, but I have yet to attempt to speak Hungarian.
The guide book says tipping is expected. The taxi driver seemed happy with the idea. The waiter in the restaurant seemed to think it wasn't required. I'll stick to that in future. The guide book also says to beware of young Hungarian girls who ask you to buy them a drink which then turns out to cost US$1000. I'll trust Audrey to chase them all away.
There are touters out for the tourist dollar and I have to get used to ignoring them (it's my nature to listen to people).

22/10/2002 - Budapest
I don't really like organized tours, but they do give you a basic orientation of where you are. The Budatours tour we took drove very slowly, but it gave you a chance to look around. They had a pre-recorded commentary which Audrey could hear well using the "T" switch on her hearing aid.
When you buy a Budapest Card, time it to start when you will first use it. This way a 48 hour card will cover 3 days.
We had a quick bite at (please forgive us) Burger King. Just chicken nuggets and chips. Audrey is not sure about the food here, the German style sausages and salamis have disappeared and the goulashes require you to sit down which is not how we have tended to eat.
We did find a little pastry shop selling fresh cooked pastries (well you expect that in a pastry shop) by weight. We only had a couple each but they were nice. A nice young Hungarian girl (who did not ask me to buy her a drink) translated the menu for us when she saw us looking in our lonely planet phrase book. She went to Spain with only a Lonely Planet book and took pity on us. Her English was very good but she occasionally developed an American (US) accent.
We looked at the basilica, which is undergoing a complete refit inside and out. There is more scaffolding here than in bigger churches (even the one in Aachen). And that does not even include the square out front, which is also being redone.
We went looking for a market at the end of the number 19 tram. It is now a Spar supermarket. The building was the same, but the content was gone. And of course it was raining.
We took the cable railway near the chain bridge to the palace. After a quick look we bought some souvenirs and leapt on a bus we hoped went somewhere useful.
It did, this is where we got the pastries and the Metro back to the hotel.
Had dinner at Keresztapa Restaurant, garlic soup with frog's legs and duck steak with pear and cranberry sauce.

23/10/2002 - Budapest
Busy day. Started with a visit to the Citadel. We bought some leather cases for us and my girls and wandered through the place. It's a wonderful view of the entire city. Information on the various occupations is on display. Today being a national Independence Day holiday meant that there were lots of locals up there as well - It was also a beautiful day, which helped the crowd.
Had lunch at the pastry place from yesterday and then went to the zoo. Many of the animals were on display with very little care for their welfare, though it can't be too bad the kangaroos would have been able to jump their fence if they had wanted to.
The elephants and hippopotamuses live in an old bath house, with the hippopotamuses getting the bath as a pool. I don't think the sloth liked the flash on my camera as it started moving away - rather rapidly for a sloth. The 2 humped camels are onto a good thing - they stand at the front of their enclosure and the tourists feed them.
On the move again to the Natural History Museum and a look at real moon rocks. Well more large grains of sand, but genuinely from the moon. We missed them the first time through because they are so small and had to ask in German where they were. We also saw the world's largest quartz crystal - which my eldest daughter would love but wouldn't fit in the luggage.
Dinner was paprika chicken from the Grand Cafe Oktogon.

24/10/2002 - Budapest / Plockingen
We used the last bit of time on our Budapest cards to ride the Metro to the station for our train. We have found that even in peak times the front carriage of the metro is not crowded. This is a good thing when dragging a suitcase along. I would have liked to have spent more time here, but another few hours would not have made much difference in getting a better understanding of the people. Next time.
9:20- Budapest to Wien
12:20 - Wien to Salzburg
Salzburg. Just a flying visit. Walked from the hofpbahnhof to the old city. Saw the house where Mozart lived and where his wife lived with her second husband. And of course bought some Mozart chocolates.
We also took a peak at the "Residence" and the 3 churches in the old town. I found the Cathedral with it's intricate carvings to be one of the nicest churches I've seen so far. The other 2 were nice as well.
Salzburg deserves another visit next time.
19:05 - Salzburg to München
Dinner in the Hungarian dining car.
20:43 - München to Plockingen
Arrived late at Nicole and Michael's.

25/10/2002 - Plockingen
Slept in. Had lunch with Nicole & Co (sans Michael) at Sands Sächer. Very nice food, I had the wild boar with mushrooms and specula with hazel nuts.
There is a hundertwasserhaus in Plockingen which we went to see. Interesting to see, but with it's crooked walls and uneven floors I wouldn't want to live there.
We had the grand tour of Nicole and Michael's business - printing and direct mail. Very interesting to see the latest machines.
Sat up till about 11 talking to Nichol and Michael (Who came home about 9:45).

26/10/2002 - Plockingen / Tiengen
Up early and waited for the taxi. Then to Stuttgart in the dark, changed trains and dawn as we pass through the Black Forest. Which was quite dark but then got brighter (morning tends to do that though, so I wasn't surprised).
Spent about 40 minutes in Switzerland - About 10 in a train station and the rest in a train.
We were met at Tingen by Richard and his children Anika and Lawrence. And his lovely wife Sonja at his home. He took us on a tour of Tingen and his office. It's a lovely little village and makes me want to do more travel in the countryside next time.
Our "light lunch" turned into a rather large lunch and we went for a walk in a park in the black forest. It was cold and windy and of course Audrey found a snake sunning itself on the path and picked it up to show the children.
Sonia made us a nice lasagne for dinner and we spent the evening talking.

27/10/2002 - Tingen / Düsseldorf
Sonia provided a large spread for breakfast and we were taken to the station to catch the first of 4 trains for the day.
Tingen to Singen - passed through Switzerland again.
Singen to Stuttgart.
Stuttgart to Plockingen - picked up Dora.
Plockingen to Düsseldorf.
The train is taking it's time, we have crossed to the other side of the Rhine due to fallen trees and are now waiting as the line on this side is apparently impassable also. Stand by for further instalments.
Eight hours and 20min late the train arrived in Düsseldorf.

28/10/2002 - Düsseldorf
A day of catching up on things we meant to do.
Benrath - We finally got there, only to find it is closed on a Monday. Still, the gardens are open and impressive and it is a nice summer palace.
Shopping - We went out and bought all those things which are more expensive or impossible to get in Australia (chocolate - the right sort of chocolate, scissors - the right brand of scissors, baking powder - 2 types which Australia has never heard of. That sort of thing). I fear for our luggage allowance.
Dinner at Mark's - Mark lives about 10 to 15 minutes walk from Jens & Illy's where we were staying, but we never managed to go and look at their house. It's a lovely old 5 level (including the cellar and attic) house with loads of space, but lots of stairs. I need to improve my Germany for the next visit so I can keep up with the conversation.

29/10/2002 - Köln
Packing in the morning. Köln in the afternoon. Looked around the Cathedral again, very nice but dark. I need a tripod to do serious church photography (pity none of them let you take tripods inside).
Then we wandered the streets of Köln and it quickly becomes just another city. It's a good thing I like watching people or I might have gotten bored!

30/10/2002 - Düsseldorf
Schlossturn - We knew this was closed on Monday, so we came on Wednesday. Marvellous views of Düsseldorf from here, and in the cafe on the 4th floor you can open the windows and point the camera - some slightly better weather would be nice, but we need to come at a different time of year for that.
Crooked steeple church - It's right next to Schlossturn, so we had another look. It's a beautiful little church. Some of the really big cathedrals rely on their size to impress, but some of the smaller ones like this impress in other ways.
We went to visit Audrey’s Internet and Rosenthal friend Carla. Well actually she came and picked us up and took us to her place. She has 3 floors of a house with a doctor’s surgery below, plenty of room to show off her Rosenthal collection. And show it off she does. Carla owns an entire shop worth of official Rosenthal display cases (very nice they are too for showing off Rosenthal, pity they wouldn’t match our decor at home). We chatted for several hours and Audrey drank lots of very good coffee and we all ate cake and cream. We eventually decided that we needed to go back to finish packing and have a final bit of time with Jens and Illy before we left in the morning.
Of course we stayed up late talking to Jens and Illy, it would help with re-aligning our body clocks to Australian time if we were tired the next day on the plane.

31/10/2002 - Düsseldorf / Tokyo
We threw the last of our possessions together and went to the airport. The woman checking us in was worried about our luggage allowance when the first 2 of our 4 suitcases both weighed over 30 kg (30.1 & 30.4). The others were light only 15.4 kg and 12.2 kg. This gives us about one and a half kilograms to spare. I shan't mention the six items of cabin luggage or the disability equipment for Dora which only weighs 10 kg.
The Düsseldorf lounge left a lot to be desired, but it did at least have comfortable seats.
Copenhagen airport is different. This is the first time we have had female assistance for Dora, and we were driven in a little electric car. We were followed most of the way by an electric cart. Both of these were fitted with bicycle bells. As we stretched our legs later we saw several workers roaming the airport on scooters - one person dressed as a waiter carrying a large milk crate full of drinks on one shoulder as he scooted rapidly along. They also provide little trolleys for hand luggage.
And our plane seems to be running 2 hours late. The Copenhagen lounge is better than the Düsseldorf lounge, but it's not THAT great.
We finally got away shortly after 6pm. I had the reindeer for dinner and watched Men in Black II and then tried to sleep. I managed about 2 and a half hours which will hopefully keep me going.

1/11/2002 - Tokyo
The fog is getting thicker. Driving back from Aeon shopping centre through winding narrow streets, it's almost rural. The shopping centre had all sorts of interesting things which seem to be popular with the Japanese - little 2 kg capacity washing machines, electric heated rugs (and vinyl flooring), fridges with 5 or 6 doors or drawers.
As we came to land in Tokyo all we could see was fog (or clouds). All of a sudden a tower was sticking out of the clouds. It looked wonderful, but we didn't realise we were so low.
2/11/2002 - Tokyo / Melbourne
A quiet sort of day. We are all a bit tired of moving around and I'm tired of lugging luggage across the planet. We had planned to go find some temples or shrines in Narita, but in the end we just didn't feel like walking that far. It doesn't help that Audrey and I both have colds.
We did manage to find origami paper and thanks me getting my business class upgrade we have the luggage capacity for it.

3/11/2002 - Melbourne
Got home to find a fuse blown and most of the lights not working, the computers not wanting to talk to each other and the car dirty. Apart from that all is ok.



ęCopyright 1998-2003 Leon Altoff