A Travellerspoint blog

Heidelberg to Lucerne

12 August 2015 Wednesday

Another hot day reaching 33 C which is considered unusual for this time of year. Sunny with blue sky.

We left Heidelberg and had a brief stop at a cuckoo clock and wood carving shop in the Black Forest. The clocks were magnificent, but pricey, and I couldn't imagine where I could hang one. Also had a beautiful Black Forest cake for moring tea.

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From there, onto the German / Swiss border posts where our tour director had to comlete some formalities, as Switzerland is not part of the European Community.

From there we stopped at the only waterfall on the Rhine River, which was nice, but crowded and hot. Switzerland has its own currency, but fortunately, they also accept Euro's. Wandered round to the base of the falls and back, and had lunch.

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From the falls we continued onto Lucerne, where we are staying for 2 nights. Had a brief orientation tour of the city centre before hoing an optional tour, being a Swiss folklore concert and dinner. It sounds boring, but 16 of us (there are 30 on the tour) did the concert, which was funny and entertaining. After the concert we adjourned to the bar for a few drinks.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 03:49 Comments (0)

Heidelberg

11/8/2015 Tuesday

Weather on Tuesday was overcast, but cleared as we got to the Rhine, and reached 30 C which is unusual for this time of year in the Rhine. Today we left the Netherlands and crossed into Germany, although their are no signposted borders within the European Community. The morning was an uneventful drive along the autobahn, with nothing much to see. The autobahns are impressive, an whilst trusks and coaches are speed regulated, it is interesting to see cars race be.

Turned off the autobahn to the Rhine valley, and saw the junction of the Rhine & Mosselle Rivers. A little further on we boarded a boat for a one hour cruise of the Rhine. Beautiful! However, the river is low at the moment, and there have been reports of some of the big riiver cruise ships being stranded. Anyway, saw some great scenes along the river, picturesque towns and old toll castles which are over 600 years old.

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Continued on to Heidelberg, where we spent 45 minutes wandering through the old district with its market square and schloss, which were incredibly colourfull and beautiful. Then onto our hotel for a buffet dinner.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 03:17 Comments (0)

Amsterdam

10/8/2015 Monday

Monday was overcast, with temps in the mid 20’s C.

6:00am wake up call, and bags out at 6:45am for 7:30am departure. Left Belgium and entered Netherlands, which is flat, green, and full of canals of all sizes. Arrived in Amsterdam at 11:00am, where we had a 1 hour canal cruise which was marvellous. Because the Netherlands is basically below sea level (protected by dykes), many of the old tall houses and buildings in the city have had the foundations rot because of the water, and they are out of alignment and lean against each other for support. Then visited a diamond centre where we saw diamonds being cut, and were shown some actual diamonds of up to 7 carrots size, before being offered the chance to buy diamond jewellery. An hour of free time to walk around and get lunch, and then the 1st of two optional tours. Afternoon we visited a working wind mill, where we wer able to climb the near vertical ladder to the inside top platform to see the working parts. Quite an experience. Then on to a cheese making farm, followed by a clog manufacturer who showed us how to make clogs. Then moved on to the old fishing village of Volendam, which was incredibly crowded with tourists, and reminded me of a west coast of Devon seaside village. Then onto the hotel just in time for an early (6:00pm) buffet dinner before preparing for the 2nd optional tour. This was a one hour walking tour of the red light district.. The girls stand in these uncurtained windows, flaunting their charms, and if they get a client, the curtains are drawn while the business takes place. In many instances, the bed is in the little room behind the curtains. Photographing the girls is not encouraged, as they often have “minders” who discourage photography (apparently, many of the family and friends of the girls don’t know what they do, and they don’t want their pictures on social media. Also saw many “coffee houses” which legally sell marijuana, which can be consumed on the premises. Within the red light district it is easy o smell the drug in the streets. We were in the area between 7:30pm and 8:30pm, and whilst it was probably too early for the main action, the crowds were incredible, with café and other business also very busy.

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Tomorrow, we move on to Germany.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 21:18 Comments (0)

Brussells

9/8/2015 Sunday

Sunday was light overcast, temps in mid 20’s C, and very light drizzle in Brussells which didn’t last.

Before moving onto Europe, I partook of an optional tour “Taste of London” which was a 3 course meal (pub bistro) and drink in a traditional old English pub, followed by a 50 minute evening cruise on the Thames. Meal was not bad, but saw the sights such as Tower Bridge, Parliament House, The Eye etc lit up at night.

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Next morning, 5:00am rise, with bags ready for collection by 5:45am, and depart at 7:00am for the short ride to St Pancras station, where we are joining the Eurostar train. Have to pass through full body and luggage scans as per the airports, and pass through both English and French passport control. The waiting foyer, platform and train are considered French territory. Had to be at least an hour earlier than departure time of 8:58am, and they don’t advise which platform the train will depart from until 20 minutes before departure, at which time security gates are opened. However, whereas it used to take 3 hours to drive from London to Dover, 3 or more hours for the ferry loading and the crossing, and another 3 hours to drive from Callais to Brussels, with Eurostar, we were in Brussells by 12:15pm.

Hotel rooms weren’t ready yet, so we had free afternoon to wander around Brussells. Amazing buildings, and it was also incredibly crowded, as there was a festival and parade taking place. The party vibe was amazing. Walked the streets for several hours before returning to hotel, where we had a group dinner. The photos don't to justice to the city because of the overcast sky.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:36 Comments (0)

London

7 & 8 August 2015

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Got into Heatrow airport yesterday (7 Aug) just after 9:00am. By the time I filled in my arrival card and got through immigration and customs, the baggage carousel was empty except for my bag. But at least it was there! Then, when I got into the arrivals foyer, I saw all these people holding up signs for greeting tours groups and passengers, but couldn't see a Globus person. Then, after reading my tour book, I realised that being met at the airport was an optional extra, which I didn't arrange. Long story short, I got the Heathrow express train to Paddington station, then walked to my hotel, which fortnately was only 10 minute walk from Paddington station. Checked in about midday, and was advised I was allocated a room with 2 single beds. Fortunately, they changed me to a room on the 21st floor with a queen bed.

That afternoon, went for a walk around Paddington area and took a few photos to get used to the camera. Found I nice pub with a good menu, so decided I would go there for dinner. However, I fogot it was Friday evening, so when I got there after 6pm, it was crowded, as were most other places. Ended up in the sports bar of the Hilton, where I had a few beers and a meal. By 8:30pm, the travel and lack of sleep caught up with me, so I had an early night. Slept very well.

The weather in London has been great. Some light cloud, but temps in the mid 20's.

Today (Saturday), left the hotel at 8:15 for a half day tour with the tour group (30 people on board). Spent an hour at St Pauls cathedral, with a walk through the main cathedral floor and crypt. Then we moved on for a 45 minute walk past St James palace, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House etc. Drove past other tourist attractions, and back at the hotel by midday.

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This afternoon, I went for a 3 hour walk, up to Lord's Cricket Ground, St Johns Wood, and the Regents Canal. Unfortunately, couldn;t get into Lord's, and the afternoon tours were already fully booked. But had a great walk. I,m back at the hotel late afternoon completing this blog, and then I have an evening optional tour, being a 3 course dinner at a historic city pub, followed by an evening cruise on the Thames.

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The tomorrow, we catch the Eurostar train to Brussells. However, we need to leave the hotel at 7:00am, so for those familiar with bus tours, bags in the hall for collection by 5:45am. So my next update will be from Europe.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 09:18 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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