A Travellerspoint blog

36: Koln

sunny 29 °C
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Last day of driving in Germany (and I have to say that I’m not going to miss looking for a parking space every other minute) with me driving from Frankfurt to Cologne. The trip was thankfully only a couple of hours so by lunchtime I had arrived in downtown Cologne.

I had to return the car to the Cologne Central Station’s rental car return. I managed to nab a park near the station and walked in to find out where I needed to return my car (thinking there was an underground car park under the station I needed to find.. or something to that affect). Found out that the rental return place was through the round-a-bout and turn right. Simple right? Wrong!

About 80min later I finally found the return place.. it was through the round-a-bout and it was to the right (in this little tiny alley) not at the next main intersection as I had assumed! Finally dumped the car and made my way to my hostel (which thankfully was only a block away)

By now I was absolutely starving (having not had lunch yet) so went hunting a sandwich before heading to check out the main site in Cologne the Dom. The Cologne (I really should call it Koln as this is what German’s call it) Dom is pretty amazing. I must have wandered around inside for at least an hour just ogling the works of art, the tombs and of course the relics. The Dom is famous because it has always been a place of pilgrimage for Christians wishing to see the relics from the “Three Magi”. Supposedly, the Dom houses bones from the Three Wise Men (Three Magi) who witnessed the birth of JC. I’m not sure how likely the bones are actually from the Three Wise Men (they were brought to France after the second crusade in 1100 and something) but the box they are housed in is pretty special, and apparently it can work miracles, so………….

Decided to ditch dinner (I had only had lunch a couple of hours previous) and took myself to bed as the following day I was off to Brussels!

This is Weary signing for the Teutonic Tales.. stay tuned and follow her travels through Belgium and France in the Frankish Feast

Posted by weary_feet 00:06 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

35: Cool Breezes

sunny 27 °C
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Another driving day today; Stuttgart to Frankfurt. The drive was shorter than the day previous (which was good because I’ve decided anything more than 4hrs is way too much… 3 is probably the most you would want to do if you have the choice!) which meant I arrived in Frankfurt just after midday meaning for once I would have a whole afternoon of site seeing and I could turn in early.

I was pretty lucky this time around because my accom was super central (on Zeil Strasse—the main shopping street) so straight after I arrived I went for a wander downtown hunting the old town. Unlike Stuttgart, Frankfurt is a pretty nice town. It is situated on the banks of the river Main and has plenty of buildings and parks to wander through. I started my trek at the Frankfurt Dom (which has been in use since 800AD) before continuing through the Alte Stadt (Old town) and across the river to the museum district.

I had grand plans of checking out the main museum here in Frankfurt the Stadel (which is actually an art gallery—but is called a museum?). Anyway walked all the way over the river to find that the museum is closed for renovations! Damn! Considering today is another scorcher an afternoon in an air cond-ed museum really appealed… Oh well.

I compromised by going for a walk along the river (which blessedly had a coolish breeze blowing) in the shady riverside parks before heading back into downtown Frankfurt for some retail therapy (the shops seem to be the only places that are air cond-ed here in Germany!).

Finished the day with a really tasty green curry at a delicious Thai restaurant before turning in. Another great day in Germany.

Posted by weary_feet 23:55 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

34: Sweet and sour

sunny 34 °C
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Driving day today! Got myself going pretty early as I knew I had a fairly hefty drive ahead of me from Innsbruck to Stuttgart. The drive through Austria and very southern Bavaria was absolutely gorgeous. The climb through the alps and the Fern Pass was pretty beautiful! Unluckily, many other Austrian and German’s had the same idea of taking the back road into Germany (avoiding the Autobahn) so the drive was spoilt by constantly having to watch traffic but really you’d have to be in a pretty awful mood to not appreciate the beauty of the Austrian Alps.

I found myself passing a couple of derelict castles set atop craggy cliffs so I was very much transported to another realm.. I spent my time driving through the alps more watching the scenery than the road!! (not dangerously.. just when I could!)

If the drive wasn’t already a four and half hour trip I would have stopped in the pass to take some photos and just soak up the scenery.. Absolutely beautiful! I think skiing in Austria is on my list of things to do another day!

Once I hit Germany it was back on the Autobahn on the way to Stuttgart. Stuttgart is the home to Porsche and Mercedes Benz and just quietly this is the only reason you would come to Stuttgart. To put it quite bluntly it was a waste of my time going to this city! I think in fairness I wasn’t expecting too much (I knew it was an industrial town) but every other city where I haven’t expected anything has more than exceeded my expectations and I guess I thought that Stuttgart would wow me.. Nope it didn’t do that!

The town was raised during the war and unlike many of the other cities in Germany many of the old buildings weren’t rebuilt. Some of the notables were but I guess it being such a hot day (again well over 35 deg), no breeze and no shady trees or umbrella’s to sit under my whole impression was quite sour. There are no noteworthy museums, art galleries, palaces or cathedrals so……………….. I think I’ll stop here and say that unless you are dead keen to see the Porsche or Mercedes factories don’t bother! (I didn’t see either—I’m not that interested!)

Posted by weary_feet 12:14 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

33: Giant Adventures

sunny 32 °C
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Early start today as I really wanted to tick off a couple of sites, namely the Swarovski Factory and I wanted to get up one of these ski slopes to check out the panorama.

Trouble was neither of the sites really got happening til 10am so I decided to do Swarovski first and save the ski lift til after lunch. So off to Swarovski I went. Caught the bus out to the factory and entered their tourist attraction. For some reason I had gotten the impression we were going to the factory (and with my background I had a bit of a professional interest in how gems are made and cut) however I was quite disappointed. The Swarovski visit is actually a visit to this modern art gallery that the Swarovski company has installed on their factory’s property (and of course the obligatory gift shop). Don’t get me wrong the gallery is pretty amazing. You enter the gallery (which is built under ground) through this towering “giant’s” face with glittering gem eyes that cleverly incorporate a couple of fountains. In fact the whole exhibit is interesting. There is a gallery that uses precision engineering to move around clothing and manaquins, there are glittering gem sculptures (actually every gallery uses gems in some way), rooms of colour and sound. Very arty and very nice just not what I was expecting. In heindsight I really should have known that we wouldn’t get a look in the factory, but………..

I did do the tour of the gift shop but didn’t really see anything that caught my eye (not for lack of looking though!) before heading back into town to go up the ski lift and check out the view of Innsburck.

I actually had wanted to go up the day before but would not have had enough time to get up and down before they closed the lifts. To get up the mountain you first take a cable car and then a gondola. I’m not sure how high the mountain is but I would guess at least a thousand meters (but probably a lot more!)

Got to the top and the view was pretty specky! Unfortunately at the moment here in Austria it is really hot so the haze was pretty bad making the views not as spectacular as I could imagine they could be. At the top of the mountain it was blessedly cool (its well over 30 today but up the top probably about 27) with a nice breeze blowing. Not so sure about skiing here in the winter though! They reckon the runs are all moderate but holey moley they look pretty steep to me!!!!!! There were plenty of hikers and mountain bikers up the top.. I guess they all catch the cable car/ gondola up and then hike or bike down.. Again not sure about biking down! I guess they have breaks though….

By the time I had some lunch and had a look around it was nearing 4.30 so thought I’d better go back down and see at least one more site before everything started closing down for the day. After getting back to town I headed into the Hapsburg residence here in Innsbruck. It was definitely one of the more opulent interiors that I have seen. I’m guessing the old Hapsburg’s weren’t hard up for a buck! Apparently the last Hapsburg died a couple of years ago in America and his body was returned to Austria for burial! Enjoyed the wander through the palace and was glad I didn’t pass it up as just another “castle” (which I am starting to do!!)

Had a bite to eat (Indian tonight) before heading back for some deserved sleep—the old feet are starting to feel it!

Posted by weary_feet 11:54 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

32: Green ski fields

sunny 33 °C
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Late start today as I gave Allison a lift to the train station for her 11am train. After dropping her off I began the drive to Innsbruck (with TomTom avoiding toll roads!) The sat nav lead me along the most beautiful back roads through the Tyrol. Gosh the alps in Austria are breathtaking (I know that I tend to make this comment every second day but the landscapes just keep improving!)

The drive from Salzburg to Innsbruck took about 4hrs, and the drive was very pleasant.. Slow tour through the mountains… Aah.. Lots of steep rugged mountains, covered in dense pine forests and twisty, windy roads. Made a stop in a small ski resort town of St John for morning tea.. Gee its funny to see ski slopes without snow on them! Just green pastures in the middle of dense pine forests. I think it is also interesting to see the chair lifts and gondolas running even though there aren’t any skiers going up! More often than not I could see mountain bikes and their riders going up as well as an occasional dog and its owner!! (yep the dogs sit on the chair lift and up they go.. not sure if I would want to try and hold my dog down once it gets up off the ground but… Just thinking out a loud but how do you get off a chair lift if there isn’t any snow????? You can’t ski off.. do you have to run off??????)

Arrived in Innsbruck just before lunch so went downtown and got myself a tasty panini for lunch and went hunting for the tourist bureau. When I found it I decided to do something that I don’t normally do and purchased a card for discount travel etc for Innsbruck (the Innsbruck Card). I don’t normally buy these cards because more often than not you can’t use the value before it runs out, but in the case of Innsbruck there were a couple of things I wanted to do and when I worked out how much they were going to cost it was going to be cheaper to buy a card!

Once I had my card I really only had two hours before most things closed so I decided to go and do some site seeing in the Aldtstad (Old Town). The market square is dominated by a very old palace that is most famous for having a golden roof. (The whole roof of the palace isn’t made of gold- just a small balcony’s roof is made of gold). The golden roof and it’s balcony’s frescos were actually protected during the second world war by a huge concrete wall that was placed around this famous Innsbruck landmark. This palace was built for Maximillian II of the Holy Roman Empire (fore runner to the Hapsburg Empire) and king of the Tyrol.

The palace is now a museum dedicated to Maximillian II and his direct descendants. I would love to have more time to properly understand the links and inter marriages of each of the countries back in the 15th to 19th Centuries as I find it amazing that most of the countries in continental Europe were “owned” by multiple different countries over the years.. The Tyrol is a good example, it has been French then part of Holy Roman Empire, then Austria, then Germany, then back to Austria again!

Spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the different shops and buildings in the Old Town just soaking up the atmosphere. Went to bed early tonight as I have a big day planned for tomorrow!

Posted by weary_feet 11:37 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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