A Travellerspoint blog

Conclusion

Reflections on travelling

semi-overcast

It’s been a fantastic holiday: we’ve seen lots of wonderful places in a very short time and proved that it is possible to avoid flying and still get to places. We’ve been on lots of different trains by many national rail companies, plus ferries both good (Viking) and bad (Moby)...and a luxury bus. High point of travel was the overnight train from St.Petersburg to Moscow and back...very plush and luxurious. We’ve also had some lovely hotels...And great meals...plus some that weren’t so good. As I love cities, I’ve enjoyed the places we’ve been and would love to return to most of them. I didn’t like Riga ( or Daugavpils), but would go back to any or all of the other stops for a longer, more in-depth visit if the opportunity arose. We’ve covered nearly 5000 miles, walked 110 (approximately) and visited 9 capitals ( 11 if you include London and Brussels that we passed through)...and all in 3 weeks!

I’ve learnt a lot too...

  • in addition to comfortable shoes, take more than 1 pack of blister plasters...and have sufficient shoes ( Keith wrote off one pair, and my boots only just survived!)
  • Learn the word for “Thank you” in the local language ... it makes people smile if you try, even if you don’t do it very well.
  • About me, I’ve learnt that I am very driven by the time and doing things early or at the right time...I always have been. I get really stressed if I think I’m not on time. It would be better to take a more relaxed approach...as Keith does...but I’m never going to manage it.
  • When stressed, ( see above!), I do get very snappy...sorry, Keith.
  • I could never do a backpacking holiday as I hate having dirty clothes, but I really refuse to pay hotel laundry prices and I can’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good but used clothes. However, two-night stays plus a heated towel rail manage to save the situation for me.

I loved the chance to see so much and experience so many places, but the physical effort of transporting us and luggage all over the place has been quite intense but well worth the effort...I can, however, really appreciate the concept of a city or river cruise where you can unpack and get taken to places! ( wouldn’t fancy one of those huge cruise ships though!). Now to get the cat back, sort through the photos, then produce a folder of all the ephemera we’ve acquired to keep as a memory.

Thanks for reading...it’s been fun doing this even if I was uncertain about it at first.

PS...in case anyone wonders about my screen name ( who doesn’t read Terry Pritchett books), Nanny Ogg is one of his 3 witches from his wonderful Discworld books.

Posted by nanny0gg 22:57 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 21

Cologne to Colchester

semi-overcast 10 °C
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

Sorry...no photos again! We set out on the last leg of our journey with the short easy walk to Cologne station from our hotel...would that everything had gone as easily! The train to Brussels was on time and comfortable and we arrived in good time for Eurostar. Going through security, my husband decided to throw a tantrum about bureaucracy, security etc etc...a favourite subject of his, so I allowed myself to get really upset and stressed. However, once that little episode was over, we were comfortably seated in our Eurostar seats, enjoying our complementary meal and drinks ( red wine really helps with stress...top tip!!). All went smoothly with leaving the train at St. Pancras...then TfL and Abellio Greater Anglia took a hand. I knew that we had to face the trip to Newbury Park then bus to Ingatestone before the Colchester train...annoying as we didn’t when we were leaving from Colchester so I’d planned the underground to Liverpool Street using Circle or District lines from Kings Cross/ St. Pancras. Both stations have lifts as we have heavy luggage so stairs are to be avoided as much as possible. However, TfL have closed those lines for engineering, so it had to be Northern line and change at Bank. Trains on Northern were plentiful, so when everyone piled on to the first one, we held back for the next. That one was much better, so I got myself and luggage on board, looked round for Keith...and as the doors closed, he was still on the platform waving me on! I waited for him at Bank and discovered that although he was following me to the train, a load of people pushed in front of him and he couldn’t get close enough to get himself and his luggage on to the train!
Bank station has no lifts or escalators to get to the Central line, so like countless other Eurostar and other passengers...with luggage, prams, buggies etc we had to carry our bags up the difficult and long spiral staircase at Bank. Not good and we were shattered by the time we got to the platform. It doesn’t give a very good impression of our nation’s capital and doesn’t compare favourably with most of the other places we’ve visited. Thankfully the tube to Newbury Park was in quickly and not too crowded, there is an elevator at Newbury Park and the bus to Ingatestone was ready and waiting. One last set of stairs (at Colchester station - but a member of the station staff came to help) and we had the welcome site of our lovely “taxi driver”, Gareth waiting for us....and soon we were home! Fantastic holiday...a once in a lifetime experience and I’m very grateful to Keith, my husband of 50 years, for organising it. This won’t be quite my last blog entry - which I’ve really enjoyed doing, as I’ll think about the whole trip and what I’ve learnt, then add my concluding thoughts in due course.

Posted by nanny0gg 02:22 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 20

Berlin to Cologne

sunny 8 °C

Another blog without photos as it has been mainly travelling. However, before leaving this morning we did stroll to a local park ( The Humbolthein...also called a Volkspark...people’s park from communist times). It was rather a nice open space with lots of trees and it was good to get a walk before boarding the next train. Intercity express to Cologne...very fast and very comfortable. We arrived (5 minutes late!) in Cologne just after 5 and found our hotel conveniently near the station, and very nice. We got ourselves settled then off for a walk and in search of food and Kölsch ( local beer) both of which we found in abundance...it being Germany where portion size is not an issue😀. The Kölnisch Dom as ever looks beautiful at night as it is illuminated...but as so many lovely buildings, suffers from scaffolding! In spite of a seemingly lazy day, we still managed about 5 miles. Yesterday, while a few entries were still available on th errant “mock Fitbit “, using them plus some stuff I’d put on here, I calculate our walking over the holiday has totalled to date about 115 miles!- not bad for two old codgers like us.

Posted by nanny0gg 02:42 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 19

Berlin

semi-overcast 9 °C
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

All time record for walking today as ( if mock Fitbit is to be believed) we did over 10 miles...and even cheated a bit by using the U-bahn. Trouble was, we decided as it was such a good day, we’d walk into the city and we did. We found a path that followed the river then a footbridge by the modern parliament buildings to get to Tiergarten/ Reichstag.
Reichstag

Reichstag


On we went to the Brandenburg Gate then walked down some of Unter den Linden
Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate


On we walked - in my case enjoying the posh shops and then wondering why compared with other cities, Berlin is very poor at providing public loos. However, we solved the problem with a welcome visit to Galeries Lafayette where the facilities are superb! We continued on to Potsdamer Platz and then towards Checkpoint Charlie. We spent some time at the Topographie des Terrors where there is the largest bit of wall preserved and the dreadful history of the rise of Nazism as it was the site of the gestapo headquarters. The place has an very sad atmosphere...must be bad as Keith commented on it and he never usually notices. The interpretation centre tells the story of the persecutions...so many millions murdered because they didn’t fit the “ideal” one way or another. I’m afraid I had to come out before completing the reading as I found it really harrowing. Even the segment of wall adds its own stories to compound the sense of mans inhumanity to man.
Wall

Wall


Then it was back to crowds, shopping, an unintentional visit to the site of Hitler’s bunker... it was on our way back to Galeries Lafayette ( not for shopping)! Sufficiently exhausted we hopped on the underground to return to our hotel. So much to see in Berlin...I’d like another visit, but I doubt it’s going to happen.

Posted by nanny0gg 02:27 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 18

Warsaw to Berlin

sunny
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

This will be a short entry (hooray!) because we spent most of the day on a train travelling to Berlin. It was very comfortable in the First Class coach and the scenery was very restful being mainly fields punctuated by villages with the occasional forest thrown in. The tricky bit came on arrival in Berlin as the Warsaw train arrives at a suburban station and then we needed to get the S-Bahn to get to the main station and thence to our hotel. So we had to change platforms and find the correct train...but it all worked well and we made it to the Central station and found a very pleasant taxi driver to convey us to Hotel Graf Pückler.
The hotel is fascinating...it is in the Wedding district ( not wedding...Vedding!) which was in East Berlin but within walking distance of the centre. It looks as if it was once flats for the proletariat but it has been converted into a comfortable place to stay. I haven’t yet worked my way through the story of it in the welcome pack as I was too tired to think in German after a day’s travel. Keith found a wonderful restaurant last night using TripAdvisor as all those closest to the hotel are ‘Ethnic’ - Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Turkish etc which we weren’t looking for here in Berlin. It was a bit of a walk, but well worth it for the food and beer.
Bit of a disaster this morning, although I’d noticed my mock Fitbit had lost all my data from before the holiday and part of the first week with no idea why, it had behaved well ever since...so I had the plan of working out how much we’ve walked since being away as we’ve done a lot! Checked the interface to get the data, and it’s done it again and wiped all the previous records 😩😡...and the moral of the story as that you get what you pay for!

Posted by nanny0gg 00:36 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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