February 14th, 2020 – Day 6: Dublin to The European Continent

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

COFFEE!!! We need coffee.

It’s up well before the chickens and off to the airport. Destination: Germany. One more trip (for me) to Köln (Cologne) to see that huge cathedral. We didn’t sleep much last night.

We are flying the ultra-budget carrier Ryanair over as I got a screaming deal on the flights and it was cheap enough to put up with the no-frills BS – a savings of $200 a seat. Unfortunately it comes with another price for us – getting out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. Honestly, the price of the flights makes it easy to say “yes” if you can travel with a small carry-on bag. For example, I saw flights from DUB to London for 12 euro. That is amazingly cheap.

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On the tarmac at Dublin airport and up the stairs! Boarding like this is very common in Europe.

Over here, airplanes are looked upon as a bus with wings and that’s what helps Ryanair succeed. Public transportation is what makes Europe run pretty efficiently. It’s too bad we don’t have more of it in the States. In fact, Ireland is going to ban petrol fuel vehicles in 12 years. That is forward thinking.

We landed at Cologne-Bonn airport and got our train tickets to the city.

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Train station in the airport – Bonn, Germany

We got to Köln Hbf and went in to leave our bags. At the train station there is an automated baggage storage- put in €3.00 and your bags whisk away to parts unknown and are stored for two hours so you can walk around unencumbered by luggage.

We stepped outside there was that huge, imposing behemoth in all its dark-stained gothic glory – Cologne Cathedral. I think the girls were quite surprised just how big the building actually is and the look on their faces when we stepped outside said it all.

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The cathedral is still mesmerizing to me. I can’t stop looking at it in amazement and wonder. I just cannot fathom how this was built so long ago without modern methods and tools.

We went into the old market area and I bought frites and a curry wurst for the girls to try. Like the girls said – it’s good but they wouldn’t eat it regularly.

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Köln, Germany

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Old Market area – Köln, Germany

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Old Market area – Köln, Germany

Köln was our entry into the European Continent. After our visit we needed to get train tickets for the next leg of our journey. It was a bit of a challenge but with the help of a nice lady we got it done finally and went to the train platform.

This is probably my final trip to Köln as a destination. I have been here twice now and if I am this way again with someone who wants to see it I would stop again for a quick visit but not on my own. Nothing wrong g with the city – I just want to see other places.

We got on the train and headed north toward our next destination- Amsterdam. It was a 2.5 hour or so ride, with the girls on their own in one car and I was in another due to reserved seating. Once we arrived we took a quick lap a few blocks from Amsterdam Centraal Station to see some sites.

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Goes great with a visit to the coffeeshop!

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For the meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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For another kind of meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We then figured out getting transit to our place in the ‘burbs.

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It was such an early morning and busy travel day we were tired so we relaxed for another early morning tomorrow.

Check back!

Europe – Day 10 – February 3rd, 2018: Köln, Germany to Antwerp, Belgium

Adventure, food, Just things, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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Back to the rails!

After a delicious bakery breakfast (gonna miss the bakeries!), it’s back on the train to our next stop. Our hotel is situated not only on the open plaza between two cathedrals, out the back door is a shopping center (with the previously mentioned bakeries) located in the train station. Of course we had to go there for breakfast.

Apparently the train is another high-speed train, and it seems as though we may be in a First Class car. Plenty of room, comfy and hauling ass. They checked our ticket and passports and didn’t make us move. This train and the one yesterday had a coffee/snack cart just like the airlines do. The seats even have fold-down footrests!

Our original plan was to stay at Brugge (Bruges), Belgium but there were no rooms available when we arrived so we had to move on. Seems as though there was a bier festival happening so it was quite busy. We didn’t have much time to look around the city and we needed to move on to find a place to stay for the night. Looks like we’re headed to Antwerp!

Brugge, Belgium

Doorway – Brugge, Belgium

One of the canals in Brugge, Belgium

One of the canals in Brugge, Belgium

Church in Brugge, Belgium

 

We got to Antwerp and the train station was remarkable. We have seen nice train stations but this one was extraordinary.

Antwerpen Centraal Station – Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerpen Centraal Station – Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerpen Centraal Station – Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerpen Centraal Station – Antwerp, Belgium

 

Antwerpen Centraal Station – Antwerp, Belgium

Our hotel ended up being rather interesting. We ended up staying in. Hassidic neighborhood and our hotel was far from any sights and food except for a local pizza chain. It appeared to be a somewhat rundown area but it wasn’t too bad when we went walking. There was a local Polish grocery market. The pizza was a quatro formaggi, but we are not sure WHICH formaggi. I think it was feta, mozzarella but not sure about the other two. It was different than cheese pizzas I have had before and it was delicious and the best cheese pizza I’ve ever tasted. The walk to get it was actually interesting and fun.

We crashed early and got a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow it’s another place!

Europe – Day 9 – February 2nd, 2018: Luxembourg to Köln, Germany

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

Last night we decided that our next destination would be Köln (Cologne), Germany after some recommendations from the girl who helped us yesterday and my friend Kevin, who had been there before. We got up this morning and decided to skip going into central Luxembourg so we could get an earlier train to Germany.

We went downstairs and had a delicious complimentary hotel breakfast consisting of meats and cheeses, bread, yogurt, coffee and fruit. We are really enjoying these continental breakfasts here in Europe.

We made our way to the train station about 9:30 and got on the train to head out. We are getting pretty good about finding our way around for two guys who never really dealt much with public transportation before the trip started. I must say that Google Maps has helped quite a bit and help from the numerous strangers who have shared their knowledge along the way has been even better.

The trains are very smooth and they go everywhere. It is really an incredible system capable of mobilizing masses of people. They are smooth, quiet and comfortable and can get you virtually anyplace you want to go. The scenery is beautiful and it is really neat to see the little towns and villages in isolated areas.

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Fort at Köln, Germany train station

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Köln Station – Köln, Germany

Along the way, just before Köln I saw something interesting that may be tied to family history. I saw a Winniger Winery along the tracks. Perhaps they are some distant relatives!

We stepped out of the train station to be overwhelmed by an incredible sight…the Köln Cathedral.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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No way in hell I’d go up that ladder – Köln Cathedral in Köln, Germany

Words cannot describe the enormity and architecture of this building, and pictures cannot capture it – it must be seen to be believed and experienced. I could not stop looking at it the entire stay; the details of the details is just unbelievable. Gargoyles, statues, spires…it is really something to see. You cannot fathom what the inside of the place looks like. Think about this: this building started being built in the 1200s and wasn’t completed until the 1880s.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

And the nighttime view from our hotel window inspired me to go for a walk…

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

While out walking around I stopped for some local food (no surprise there!). I went to a shop selling a sandwich called a döner. It is a type of shawarma, except the bread was more of a crusty/chewy pita that was split and filled with delicious goodness.

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A delicious late night snack called a döner – Köln, Germany

After, of course, I had to have dessert so I went by a bakery and grabbed this delicious item:

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Oh, the Pastries!

Earlier in the day Jim and I had some curry wurst mit pommes frites. It was a very filling snack and carried us through for hours. I just find something that looks interesting to eat or something I have heard of and want to try. One caveat – no mayo, which is globbed all over several foods in Europe (especially frites).

Tomorrow morning we are off to our next destination. As I write this I cannot help but look at that magnificent cathedral…what an experience.

An Incredible Story

Just things, Uncategorized

War sucks no matter what. I found this story, however, and it is quite incredible and interesting. Pretty amazing that stories like this can come from something so bad.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/09/living/higher-call-military-chivalry/index.html?hpt=hp_c1