Random Holiday Posting

I've finished the first part of my holiday, in Köln (Cologne), Germany. The weather was pretty good (I even got a bit sunburnt!) and I had a great time being a tourist with my friend Iris. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the Netherlands or Belgium or anywhere else, but we did take a boat trip down the Rhine to a pretty little town called Linz. (I am at my Grandma's house with no access to the net right now, so I apologise for the lack of links).

Some random observations:

·          Everything is pink, thanks to T-Mobile advertising

·          Water is very expensive -- € 3.20 (about US$4) for a bottle of water

·          The ticket machines in the Bonn train station have an incredibly bad user-interface

·          Visa is definitely not everywhere we wanted to be

·          Public transport in and around Cologne is very good

·          The Dom cathedral is very impressive

·          I wish I'd kept up my German studies from High School

·          I walked more in three days than I had in the previous three years 😉

I think I've been spoilt by living in the USA, where credit cards are accepted just about everywhere. Iris and I ran out of cash, so we had to have coffee at Starbucks (of all places!) on one day despite the fact that we wanted to go to a local shop. We also had fun trying to scrape together enough cash for a ride across the Rhine on a cable-car; we must have looked like poor Uni students or back-packers, crouched on the floor pooling together our loose change for the € 6.60 we needed for two one-way tickets. Luckily we found an ATM so we could get some lunch afterwards 😉

I'm also nearing the end of my stay in Dover, England with my grandma and my mum. Yesterday we went to Canterbury and saw the famous (think Archbishop) Cathedral, which appeared to be in much better shape than the Dom in Cologne (might have something to do with the fact that entrance to the Dom is free whilst the Canterbury Cathedral is not), but I think it was smaller. I'm not a religious person myself, but it is amazing to see what people have built for the (proverbial) Love of God. There is so much detail in the cathedrals -- in the stone work, the wood work, and the stained glass windows -- and the buildings are so enormous and elaborately constructed that you wonder how they ever managed to build them hundreds of years ago without any modern equipment. It would probably also be prohibitively expensive to build anything like that these days... assuming you could even find people with the right skills for the job, of course. We have our huge sky-scrapers these days, but what will people look back on in 500 years' time and say in awe: "Wow, I can't believe they built something so impressive and so beautiful with such primitive tools!"?

Today we stayed a bit closer to home and walked around the Dover castle, one of the strongest in the whole of Western Europe (according to one of the postcards I sent). I couldn't believe how good the weather was -- clear blue skies, nice and warm -- although apparently it will rain again after we leave tomorrow ;-). Luckily my trusty REI hat has kept the sun off my face so I don't have too much of a British Tan (== sunburn). The castle was full of several groups of children of various ages, some of them English and some of them French (presumably on day trips from across the Channel). Although they were noisy, they didn't appear to actually be causing any trouble 😉

Well.... that's enough randomness for one day. Tomorrow it is off to Australia for two weeks (with a 21-hour flight via Singapore!) and I should be able to actually upload this blog using the wireless network at Heathrow.

Have fun at work! (Ha ha ha)

P.S. Wireless access at Heathrow is expensive! In the US you can typically get a 24 hour lease for around $10; in Heathrow it's 5 GBP (about $8 USD?) for one hour!

Comments (9)

  1. julie says:

    I am so jealous… I can just picture Dover castle (I have a very large picture I took while there in my bathroom — along with a few other English castles). If you happen to have any extra German coins floating around, my son is collecting coins from other countries right now..very, very into it and I’m tapping all my resources — Germany we don’t have yet (or Aussie either), hang on to them!

  2. There’s a workaround for having to pay to get into Canterbury Cathedral – you say you’re going to pray. Technically the fee is for enterance to the grounds of the cathedral, if you’re going to pray they can’t charge you. Needless to say they don’t advertise this loophole!

  3. Visa cards in Germany suck. I remember stopping at the first petrol station across the border from france and finding that the petrol station wouldn’t take a Visa card, we ended up paying in sterling at a spectacularly outrageous rate.

    Traditionally in Germany euro-cheques were used but these have now disappeared.

    It’s gotten better recently, but I wouldn’t trust it if I was in Germany particularly for smaller outlets.

    In the UK with the exception of really small outlets (e.g. newspaper shops) I’d expect to find most places taking Visa. Pubs are an exception were you may want to ask first, but often they will give extra cash back at the same time. (i.e. £10 for the drinks + £40 cash)

  4. > Water is very expensive — € 3.20 (about US$4) for a bottle of water

    Probably because you can drink the tap water, so why bother paying for bottled water.

  5. jeffdav says:

    Peter– when you get back I have a pound of coffee beans I brought back from STL waiting for you.

  6. zuky says:

    Traveling can be so tediously random.

    Fieldhands are workers in the fields.

    I work for hands. Like Cassius said.

    (Well, they spoke for him.)

    Actopan is a city in Mexico.

    Coffee can be so invigorous!

    Tools are tools. Always up to

    being IN their time frame.

    Augustus John was a famous British painter. He made several portraits of the Marchesa Casati – a real Italian noblewoman. Kerouac randomly– and how prescient was that!?– had a print of one of these hung on his hotel room wall.

  7. mememememe says:

    where is the college dictionary?

  8. dont know the formalities and system capabilities of your blogging system, I am a newsgroup warrior and ranter ;D

    >I wish I’d kept up my German studies from High School

    This is a fine dictionary, if You still are interested in German


    As I have learned 11 years German and compared to that superficially 3 years English, I have found that very helping, as the online dictionaries about my native language, Estonian, arent rich in content. I have used it recently for example when writing in German and dont remember particular word in it, to figure out what it would be if I know the term in English.

    What You will find really helping is that it is not only word-by-word dictionary, it also has explenations, definitions and lot lot more.

    There are other fine and usable dictionaries too, but this in my experience is definately one of the very best ones.


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