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Arrival in Berlin

Rostock and Berlin


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I arrived in Berlin yesterday afternoon after a fantastic hotel breakfast and a completely uneventful 3.5-hour Flixbus journey from Rostock. I relaxed for the rest of the day, intending to begin some sightseeing the next morning.

Potsdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial were my first stops. Potsdamer Platz was bisected by the Berlin Wall during the Cold War and during this time became an area of utter desolation. It looks completely different now, but as I walked round and looked at part of the Wall which remains, I got quite emotional.

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This feeling continued as I wandered round the concrete stelae within the site of the Holocaust Memorial. According to the architect, the stelae were designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, though the number of stelae and the monument's overall design has no symbolic significance other than it represents a a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

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From there it was just a little bit further to the Brandenburg Gate.

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The Tiergarten, Berlin's most popular inner city park, lies across the road from the Brandenburg Gate. It started to rain just as I got there, so I didn't linger too long. I was on my way to a really interesting destination anyway, so I didn't really mind...

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...the Musical Instruments Museum!

Amazing - I definitely recommend it. It included a fascinating collection of crumhorns, shawms, dulcians (the predecessor of the bassoon), recorders, cornets, trombones and trumpets which were left to the Church in 1657 in the will of the choirmaster of St Wenzel's Church in Naumberg.

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Amongst a good range of other instruments going up until the first electronic guitars and keyboards, it also had such interesting things as Early Modern Flemish and Italian virginals and spinets, a Stradivarius violin, a serpent, a collection of pochettes (pocket fiddles, used by dancing masters and street musicians until the 18th century) and a 'giraffenklavier' (guess which one of my photos is if that...).

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My last stop before heading back to my hostel was Checkpoint Charlie (the best-known Berlin Wall border crossing, and now a tourist trap with no original buildings left; worth only a brief look).

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On my way back I passed through the Museuminsel, an area with lots of museums in it (a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance), and beyond. I found a small art market next to one side of the river and bought a lovely colourful little picture of an 'Indies Peafowl'. Also got some good views of the Fernsehturm and St Mary's Church, though I didn't go in.

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Posted by 3Traveller 03:36 Archived in Germany Tagged germany museum berlin hostel buses berlin_wall rostock brandenburg_gate unesco_world_heritage_site potsdamer_platz Comments (2)

Maritime flavour of Rostock

Rostock


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I came to Rostock this morning via a very smooth, uneventful hour and half on a Flixbus from Lübeck. I'm staying at Jellyfish Hostel for the night, then meeting up with my co-teachers tomorrow at the hotel we'll be staying at for the coming week.

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After settling in to Jellyfish Hostel (pictured above, with the street it's on), I went for a lovely walk round town in the sunshine. The Alter Markt was my first stop.

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Overlooking the Alter Markt is the Petrikirche, a church with a nautical theme; model boats hung from the ceiling and there were circular windows which reminded me a lot of portholes. I lit a candle on the circular candle stand.

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I took the lift up the unusually high steeple to take in the views.

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Then I went for a stroll along the riverside.

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An unexpected elephant gazed protectively over the town from a rooftop.

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Tomorrow I plan to have another look round the town and visit some interesting places I didn't see today.

Posted by 3Traveller 00:40 Archived in Germany Tagged churches boats germany hostel buses rostock Comments (3)

Hercules and the Lindworm

Klagenfurt


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My first time with Airbnb today. I fly from Klagenfurt to Hamburg very early tomorrow morning, and I was thinking I'd have to spend the night at the main train station, as the airport isn't 24 hours and no hostels were available at all, but Airbnb came to the rescue. It's been a luxury being able to cook for myself and use the washing machine!

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The bus journey from Graz this morning took two hours; I split that time between gazing out of the window at the often magnificent scenery and reading a very interesting travel book about Welsh-speaking communities around the world.

Klagenfurt is lovely, like a mini Graz.

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Unlike Graz, however, it has intriguing statues of a lindworm and Hercules in the main square. The former, part of a fountain, dates from 1590 and the latter from 1633. This represents an old German tale from the 13th century of a lindworm near Klagenfurt. An interesting reminder to me that these tales of 'Worms' (really, dragons or serpents), appear in local folklore across Germanic and Scandinavian Europe, not just the UK.

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Apparently the head of the statue was modelled on the skull of a woolly rhinoceros found in a quarry in 1335.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:35 Archived in Austria Tagged austria buses klagenfurt explorations Comments (2)

A taste of Slovenia

Maribor


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The end of a full day in Maribor, Slovenia. I arrived here yesterday after almost a whole day of travel; one Flixbus from Bregenz to Munich, then another one for six-and-a-half hours from there to here.

The following is a series of moments, impressions and experiences from the last two days.

The beauty of the frozen Bavarian landscape muffled in snow; long stretches where every branch and every leaf of every last tree and bush looked as if it had been dipped in snow or heavy frost. Snow as far as my eye could see...

The Old Vine of Maribor; the oldest vine in the world to still bear fruit, it has been producing grapes for 400 years, and even now these grapes produce about 25 litres of red wine per year. The Old Vine grows next to the River Drava, where apparently timber rafting was a big industry in bygone years.

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The streets of Maribor. The colourful buildings with crumbling plaster reminded me a bit of Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

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I can see some Slavic similarity between Slovenian and Bulgarian, though they're not that close. I've recognised a few isolated words; the words for great (as in big), water, honey, milk, ice cream, pancakes, street, bridge, town, Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday all only have a letter or two different, or in a couple of cases are identical.

Standing in the peaceful silence of the beautiful incense-scented cathedral, the only person there apart from a nun who I didn't know was there for quite a while because she was mostly hidden in an almost-screened-off side chapel.

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Maribor Regional Museum, contained within the old city castle. Highlights of the permanent collection included a set of painted fascia boards of beehives, medieval weapons, a mammoth tusk and huge wicker clogs worn by firefighters.

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There was also a great temporary exhibition on the flowering of classical concerts and other cultural offerings in Maribor in the 18th - 19th centuries (apparently Maribor was second only to Vienna, in a cultural sense, at this time). Highlights of this exhibition were the collection of historical musical instruments and the room where Liszt played one of his first international concerts.

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Tucking into some Styrian specialities for lunch - a delicious 'game ragout' which came with local Styrian potato noodles on top, plus 'grits pudding' - sounds unappetising but it was lovely; a bit like thick rice pudding but a type of very small grain instead of rice, with blueberry preserve and another type of preserve I've forgotten on top.

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Posted by 3Traveller 07:50 Archived in Slovenia Tagged snow museum buses slovenia bulgarian explorations natural_wonder maribor styrian_cuisine Comments (2)

From east to west: Mödling to Bregenz

Mödling, Vienna, Munich and Bregenz


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I'm writing this on the Flixbus from Munich to Bregenz, and I'm absolutely knackered!

I'd deliberately chosen a hostel in Munich as close to the main bus station as possible, because of the heaviness of my big case, laptop bag and other bag (plus one of the case wheels has broken), but even that relatively short distance proved a struggle in the snow which had been falling overnight and was still going. Lots of slipping about, lifting to avoid slush puddles, and grit jamming the wheels. My hands, forearms and shoulders were still painful from the day before, and by the time I reached the Flixbus I had such little strength left in my grip, I'm not how much further I would have managed to go!

I rewarded myself with a delicious jam doughnut with pink icing on top for my breakfast. As I'd passed through the big train station on the way, I'd also bought myself two giant chewy pretzels to save for later, both with melted cheese on top and one with rosemary as well. Together with a tub of rice pudding, the boiled eggs I managed to save from breakfast yesterday and some Maoam sweets, I should have enough food to last me for the rest of today, meaning I won't have to search out a restaurant in Bregenz this evening (the majority seem to close on Sundays in Austria).

The snow has been a sight to behold so far on this journey. Right now we're passing by a pine forest, with ground and branches laden with snow in a stereotypically Christmassy manner. Because it's a bit misty as well, fields and bare hills we've passed have appeared to blend together into one sea of whiteness.

Unfortunately, we've also seen the darker side of snow; not far from Munich we passed a car which had half spun round at the side of the road - luckily a man was standing next to it and there didn't seem to be any passengers inside. A police car was next to it. About half an hour ago we passed a more serious crash - a car was lying on one side in the middle of the road and looked half-crushed, and was surrounded by helpers getting emergency blankets out of cars and things like that.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:51 Archived in Austria Tagged snow vienna austria germany buses munich moedling german_cuisine Comments (0)

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