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Well, better late than never! I just realised that my Munich photos are still missing from my blog. You might have seen them already on Facebook, but here you’ll find larger, better quality versions.
If you are currently suffering rain, rain, rain in Munich, you might find consolation in these pics… I wonder if Munich has ever seen a hotter summer than when I was there last July!!
I wish we had this kind of fountain in Gozo…
And finally, remember: even if it’s raining – the sun is still somewhere up there!
Posted on September 5, 2010. 3 comments
It came… and went, in a hurry! Our long awaited holiday in Ireland, is what I’m talking about. Thanks to a very kindhearted and generous person, who arranged for our hotel accommodation in four different places, we finally got to see the country I’ve been very keen on visiting for a very long time. Added to that our equally kindhearted friend Mick and his girlfriend Sharon made us feel at home by sharing their home with us.
I had meant to write a little bit each day of our holiday, but that just didn’t work out. Instead, I posted photos on facebook on a regular basis, and if you wish you can see them here. Alternatively, you might enjoy the video I’ve put together, which is at the end of this post. By the way, Ryanair is by no means the worst to travel with. Having had the worst expectations – because of rumours and the harsh tone on their website – I was pleasantly surprised. In particular, it’s quite relaxing to be able to sleep without having to worry about missing the food delivery LOL! The only snag is that 15kg luggage limitation – and the awkwardly small size for cabin luggage (which is smaller than the IATA recommendations). Especially when packing for the return journey – who goes on holiday without a decent shopping spree?? – you’ll find yourself in panic mode…
We set off on 28th December and spent the first four days in Dublin, where we stayed at the Mount Herbert Hotel, a charming hotel on the outskirts (Dublin 4) but only three train stations from the city centre.
The amount of rain that came down on us in Dublin was phenomenal. For two full days it actually never stopped! We tried our best to ignore it, though, and even went on a bus tour (you know those double-deckers with open top?). It’s quite a good system; you hop on and off wherever takes your fancy. In theory, that is. Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse (naturally) and by the time we came out, the weather had whipped itself into a frenzy. We were extremely grateful to finally board a bus (albeit without a seat for most of the journey!) that had leakages all over the place… we didn’t even dream of stopping anywhere else after that!
Eventually the rain stopped and was replaced by freezing temperatures. New Year’s Day was a bright and crisp (read: bone-chilling!) day – probably just perfect for the traditional New Year’s Day swim in Skerries… Are these people crazy??
New Year's Day in Skerries - air temperature ca. 1°C, water 3 or 4°C!!
On the same day we received our hire car and, with some trepidation, set off on our way up north – which really was a piece of cake, compared to what was lying in wait for our return journey! Our first stop was the Europa Hotel in Belfast. What a beautiful place! Although each of the four hotels we stayed in was beautiful in its own right, the Europa was top-notch, and our room was fabulous, overlooking the city of Belfast. Although it’s “only” a four-star property, it was no different from the best Kempinskis in this world…
Only very little rain came down on Belfast during our stay, a vast improvement over previous days! There’s one huge problem in this city, though: parking. I think we spent at least a quarter of a petrol tank cruising around in search for that elusive little space.
Belfast City Hall
From Belfast, our way took us further north, to Antrim Coast, where the lovely, quaint “Antrim Suite” at Ballygally Castle was our home for one night. The room was surrounded by windows on three sides, all of which had seaviews – I wished we could have stayed there longer!
Sheep on Antrim coast
Our final station was Londonderry – or rather Derry, as the Irish prefer to call it. The Everglades Hotel, where we stayed, is just under 2 km from the walled city centre. And when we woke up to snowy scenery we decided to walk, rather than drive. However, in Ireland there seems to be no law (as in Germany, for example) that owners have to keep sidewalks in front of their property ice-free. At times I was clinging to walls and railings for dear life…
Bridge leading into Derry
And then the drive back to Dublin… oh man! As it turned out, we’d chosen the worst winter in 30 years for our Ireland visit. That figures, doesn’t it?? I’m not sure I’d have gone for the hire car option had I known what was coming. Setting off from Derry in bright sunshine, the GPS insisted on leading us through all sorts of minor roads, and when we finally reached the M1 to Dublin, both hubby and I breathed a huge sigh of relief – only to be surprised by a tremendous flurry of snow just a few kilometres later.
Winter wonder land
Snowy nightmare on the M1 to Dublin (still frame of video)
But all’s well that ends well: we needed four hours to cover 200 km but arrived safe & sound in Dublin, handed back the car punctually without a scratch, and were greeted by dear Mick, who put us up at his house for the last night. By that time Dublin Airport was closed due to the “Big Freeze”, leaving us to wonder we’d make it home the next day! But instead of getting sick with worry, we headed for a last walk with Mick and his adorable dog Kola, bringing our holiday to a close.
Last evening beach walk in Rush
Again, luck was on our side… our flight at 6.25 am left on time – though unbelievably later that day, that airport was closed again!) A very enjoyable 20°C welcomed us in Malta. By now, it’s considerably colder though. I’m trying not to care LOL!
PS: The video is also hosted on facebook, and a larger format, HQ version is available there!
Posted on January 10, 2010. 7 comments
Our last full day was uneventful. We took our sweet time for breakfast (if you ever stay at the Adlon, the worst that can happen to you is having to hurry at breakfast time!!), did a little more shopping and visited my dad in his garden, where he lives during the summer. A last dinner at a very good Italian restaurant – bummer I forgot its name – and our Berlin trip was over and done with.
Hubby in my dad's garden
Flower Power I
Flower Power II
Flower Power III
Flower Power IV
Resident frog in my dad's pond
Befittingly, it was raining the next morning; Berlin seemed to be crying because we left… I’m saying that because I felt like crying over our departure.
at the airport
Time to leave
Each time I’m a little sadder when I leave. Probably the age. Maybe I’m really fed up living on this rock. There was a time when I hated Berlin, but in recent years none of that is left. To the contrary, I think I really love the city that used to be home so long ago. Well, it’s too late now…
Posted on September 8, 2009. 3 comments
Friday was D-Day; the reason for this trip. My little sister finally tied the knot! To mention that weather forecast again: Heavy rainfall was predicted – and didn’t materialise, once again. As a matter of fact it was a very beautiful day, just perfect for getting married!
Family is gathering for the big event
The beautiful bride...
...and her ring!
We did it!
The wedding coach, lovingly decorated by my niece
My niece - the bride's daughter - very happy because she caught the bridal bouquet!
She didn't expect this to happen LOL!
The occasion calls for bubbly!
The occasion calls for bubbly!
Yours truly, in the smokers' area... (can't believe I'm not smoking on this pic!!)
Shortly after, the wedding party set off – in three cars – to a secret place about 100 km from Berlin, to celebrate in style. At the start, we drove in a convoy, which is a difficult thing to do in Berlin. After the third traffic light we split apart. However, my dad was supposed to be in the know about the destination, so we weren’t too worried.
On the autobahn
We drove about a hundred kilometres, when it suddenly dawned on my dad that we might not be on the right highway because we should have almost arrived by then… So he phoned my sister and they worked out together where we were supposed to be going. The line got interrupted but things had been cleared up. As he drove off the parking place my sister called back on my mobile to ascertain that in fact everything was clear… Meanwhile the exit from the highway came so surprisingly quickly for my dad, that he went into the curve with way too much speed – and while were still chatting, I saw us dashing into the crash barrier…
None of us got seriously hurt. My souvenir consists of interesting looking marks on my neck, where the seat-belt pressed on my pearl necklace, and a little ugly abrasion on one elbow. I shudder when I think about what would have happened without that crash barrier in place… I know it’s futile to talk like that afterwards, but I can’t help it. The very first thought I had when I realised what was about to happen, was that I had no ID on me… Morbid, I know. Sorry.
The end of our afternoon outing, waiting for the tow truck...
...which arrived amazingly quickly
2 hours later, back in Berlin
The tow truck took us back to Berlin, straight to the Ford garage where my father – unbelievably – immediately hired a car! Although the damage doesn’t look that bad, the cost for repairs was initially estimated at around € 6,000 – a proper estimate was to follow, of course (I don’t know the outcome of that yet). But my dad reckons it’s time for a new one.
Having sufficiently recovered from the shock, we went to the restaurant where the wedding party met for dinner. And the day ended how you’d expect it of a wedding day!
Father & daughter bridging the time until the others arrived
Table decoration at the restaurant
The dessert - *SIGH*
All is well that ends well: 3 generations of the Alpert family!
When we left just before midnight, it actually was raining… Instead of having my dad cross the city in that weather and with an unfamiliar car, we had him drop us at a nearby S-Bahn station and went by train – which was a breeze once the 20 minute wait was over!
Coming out of the Reichstag Building and strolling towards Potsdamer Platz… (we urgently needed to eat at that point!!)
So many trees in Berlin...
A traditional street light - they are found everywhere in Berlin
A typical city street view
Potsdamer Platz & Sony Centre
Once a neglected no-man’s-land between East and West Berlin it became the city’s largest construction site after the wall came down. Nowadays it’s buzzing with life, day and night!
On the way to Potsdamer Platz
DB Building at Potsdamer Platz (head quarters of the Deutsche Bahn)
First glimpse of the Sony Centre
The Sony Centre's ceiling...
...in differently coloured light
Finally, sitting down to eat. I was as tired as I look... it had been a hell of a day!
Aaaah, but little did I know about the real meaning of a hell of a day… to be continued!
The Reichstag’s Cupola
Without a doubt the biggest crowdpuller of the Reichstag is its modern dome, also called cupola. The queues of people wanting in can be daunting; we were quite lucky, our wait was only about 45 minutes. When I went there last a few years ago, it was longer than that – and bitterly cold. Still, it is worth the wait!
Apart from offering spectacular views, it also serves a number of energy-efficient purposes, such as the mirrors on the huge cone directing light into the plenary hall down-below, collection of rainwater (the cupola is open at the top) and ventilation of the plenary hall.
The cupola is a feast for the eyes, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:
The cupola of the Reichstag Building
The cupola of the Reichstag Building - the mirrors on the cone direct light into the plenary hall down-below (and provide for photo ops with a difference - you can see us standing right at the top!)
Mirror, mirror on the wall...
A comfortably slanted walkway leads up to the top - and a separate one down again (that's George in the centre, by the way...)
Looks like a spinning top, doesn't it? Under those glass panes lies the plenary chamber.
Reichstag cupola detail
Those walkways again...
At the bottom of the cupola
The cone & walkway... every visitor has that pic I guess!!
I'm running out of captions...
An abstract view on things - I love it!
At the top of the cupola!
Exhaustion is taking over!
The roof, which is open for ventilation and collection of rain water
View on Tiergarten - the largest green area in Berlin's city centre, with Victory Column & Funkturm (radio tower) in the background
View towards Alexander Platz with TV tower (nicknamed "Alex")
View towards Potsdamer Platz & Sony Centre
Brandenburg Gate with American Embassy in the background
The sunset from atop the Reichstag Building
The setting sun reflecting in the Reichstag Building's cupola
After an extremely good breakfast, the second day was dedicated to shopping and sightseeing. Getting around in Berlin is a breeze with the U- and S-Bahn system – once you know your way around, that is! You can spend a lot of time deciphering the public transport map, but then, you’re on holiday, so what!
S-Bahn station Brandenburger Tor, with TV tower ("Alex") on Alexanderplatz in the background
The original name of the station by the hotel - it is now called 'Brandenburger Tor'
My favourite means of transport: the S-Bahn
Kurfürstendamm – or Ku’damm for short
Kurfürstendamm (or Ku'damm): a great place for shopping and people-watching!
A tourist's staple shot: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Do you see that great blue sky? Although the weather forecast had promised us four days of rain, we hardly ever saw any. On this particular day it had rained in the morning, but as soon as we left the shops, it cleared up. Temperatures were always around 20-22°C – what a relief after the Gozo heat!
Detail of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Detail of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
I wasn't the only one who needed a coffee after the first shopping spree!
The Hotel Adlon Kempinski is situated right by the Brandenburg Gate, very convenient for sightseing!
The Quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate
Russian & American soldiers side by side - a bit of a touristy gimmick symbolising the city's splitting into two
Reichstag Building (seat of Germany’s parliament)
A few minutes on foot from the Brandenburg Gate you find another visitors’ staple, the Reichstag Building. Built from 1884-1894, it had a long and turbulent history before becoming, once again, the seat of the German parliament in 1999, nine years after the reunification of Germany and four years after extensive restoration works began.
Dem deutschen Volke - To the German people
Reichstag Building - Detail
Platz der Republic - Republic Square) in front of the Reichstag Building
Too many pictures for one post… In my next post I’ll show off the inside of the Reichstag, its famous cupola.
Departure from Gozo
So long anticipated and over in a hurry already… Having left Gozo in the blazing noonday sun last Wednesday, we arrived in Berlin’s soothingly cool weather just before 7 pm. The actual journey takes just about 3 hours; the rest is pure waste of time, just because you live in Gozo!
First smoke after arriving...
My sister and her then almost husband chauffeured us to the Adlon Kempinski – and I’ll be damned, I didn’t take a photo of it!! Inside no photos were allowed… probably to protect the privacy of all the hot shots staying there, be it politicians, CEO’s, actors or whatever. The Adlon is every bit as luxurious as you’d expect. There is a German adage that says vornehm geht die Welt zugrunde (“there’s nothing like going out in style”) which seems to have been coined right there. I loved it, though LOL! We had a superior deluxe room – an upgrade that we very much appreciated. All the more so when we realised that it was the weekend of the Internationale Funkausstellung, an annual mega electronics exhibition that usually causes Berlin to burst at the seams. I am indeed surprised that they accepted my staff booking in the first place – on the weekend of our stay the hotel was actually overbooked! So, a big thank you to the Adlon for having us!!
My only quibble was with the internet access, which I thought was outrageously overpriced at €12 per hour or €22 per day – when I chose the latter option on one occasion, I still didn’t manage to get much more out of it than an hour because we were hardly ever at the hotel!
View from our room at the Adlon: the Reichstag building
Superior deluxe room at the Adlon Kempinski
The fabulous bathroom *sigh*
We were allowed half an hour to change before we took off with my sister to have dinner at a cosy eatery, specialising in South American cuisine, located in some side street of the Ku’Damm. And in a blink, the first day was over and done with!
…and of course, of the airport itself!
I returned home from Munich late last night, with quite a bunch of photos on my netbook! This trip – though pretty intense workshop-wise – was balm for my eyes, body and soul! The weather was just perfect. As far as I know it rained only once during the day, otherwise it was a very pleasant mixture of cool, cloudy and sunny – although it was even a little warm and sticky at times.
Of course there wasn’t only the weather… the Kempinski Hotel Airport München and the airport itself, were a veritable feast for my photomanic eyes. I’m not a glass/steel/minimalist person, but when you’re surrounded by dusty limestone 24/7 all the year round, it can make such a refreshing change. I revelled in the surrounds of the hotel and the airport, and as a matter of fact never ventured beyond that area! Especially at night, the coloured lights playing behind all that glass were simply stunning.
Last but really not least, travelling was amazingly comfortable, without any of the usual hassles I associate with airports… I checked in my luggage at 6, which is totally pain-free because Lufthansa lets you check in at any counter, so serious queues never get a chance to appear. Minutes later I strolled back to the hotel (which took all of 2 minutes) to have a last coffee with colleagues.
OK, I won’t torture you with more words. Suffice it to say that I had a great time, and here are finally the promised impressions!
Deco in the atrium of the Kempinski Hotel
Detail of the atrium roof
View from my room at the Kempinski - stunning!
Glass & steel
Atrium & waitress
View from hotel atrium towards the airport terminals
They even had aeroplanes!
Control tower at Munich airport
An emperor and a subject
A lonely (time?) traveller
...and some more colourful void
I'm developing a penchant for stalking strangers...
Steel & glass
View from Kempinski towards airport terminals
Terminal 2 in front of Kempinski Hotel Airport
Staircase at the Kempinski Hotel Airport
View from the atrium (again - I find it simply fascinating!)
The Nightflight Bar in the Kempinski's atrium
The Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich
And what do you think about this one… Beach volleyball at the airport – how’s that for creativity?
A beach volleyball tournament - right in front of Terminal 2 of Munich Airport!
Posted on August 13, 2009. 3 comments
I know you think I’m daft, but this weather forecast is just beautiful! I could do with a bit of dry weather on Sunday for the sightseeing, but I won’t be really disappointed if it comes down in buckets. Will be a refreshing change!
Posted on August 8, 2009. 1 comment