Friday, September 14, 2012

Stockholm, 2012

Another stop on the Baltic cruise.

Memorial to the Holocaust

Details from the VASA

The great warship ship VASA, built in 1628 and sank moments after it's launch in the waters off Stockholm with a loss of fifty lives. The valuable 50 bronze cannons were salvaged almost immediately using a "diving bell"-literally a bell shaped device with a standing platform that held about 30 minutes worth of air for the lucky salvager. The rest of the ship sat on the seabed for another 325 years before it too was salvaged in the late 1950's. By luck, the Baltic Sea does not contain as much salt as the oceans and the worms that feed on wood are not present. The ship is 95% original, quite large, and covered with hand woodcarvings of great detail. For more info on this amazing artifact-and one of the foremost tourist attractions in the

This is a scale model of VASA with what they think are the original paint colors

By the water, Stockholm

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Garmisch/Partenkirchnen 2012

What can I say, it's an amazing place, just a short train ride south of Munich. We hiked way up into these mountains to visit King Ludwig's "Birthday House" - a place he would only visit once a year, by carriage, on his birthday of course. Legend has it the guy never ventured outside during the daylight and kept all the blinds closed, only waking at night. I'm not sure why you would want a house that you only visit once per year with drop dead views way up in the mountains when chances are you would never actually see the views.

 I was especially beat when we got up here, even with the walking sticks,  and had no real interest in touring the small "castle." I had seen the pictures and the whole thing is done in a Turkish motif. I was just as happy sitting at the Alm House with wein chortle and goulash soup, getting together for the long hike down.

They have a very large garden of rare Alpen flowers although I was told these are very common.

 These dot the landscape and are used to store hay. Some are very old, like the one pictured with the rocks holding down the roof shingles.

The cows were great-all with classic bells wringing around their necks. You could hear them from some distance and they seemed to have no trouble climbing very steep hillsides, and coming down them.

The view from our room at the Reindl's Partenkirchner Hof  A super place, family run, very friendly great location.

 Yes, I went up the mountain in one of these.

One of the oldest houses in Bavaria-1400's I believe.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sea Cruise-Copenhagen 2012

Costa Fortuna-very large and the sister ship of the Costa Concordia.

The "TeaPot" on the Baltic in Wendemunde-Northern Germany-formerly Eastern Germany

Copenhagen at it's most picturesque.

 Our first stop is Copenhagen. We of course went straight for the little mermaid as soon as we landed. Found more people gawking here than at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. I was most surprised by how close to shore it was-and how small it was. It is also a reproduction as the original is in a museum somewhere.

We had totally great weather for our one week trip. Have never done one of those big cruise ships before and found it to be a very relaxing and fun way to travel. I also took note of the safety procedures-no cameras!-they were very thorough-and the great friendliness of the staff was super. Got to meet the Captain who hosted a cocktail party for a few of us. We had been bumped up to VIP status for some reason which meant a special suite-lots of free extras and special invites-there were only a very few Americans on the boat so maybe they were trying to make an impression-and it was really great to see so many places without having to pack and unpack the suitcase.
 It's a totally new and mostly incomprehensible language. We've had German, French, Italien, Turkish, and now Danish.
 Great water city- many canals and waterways-super boats-some very old-there were kayak races going on, tour boats, fishing boats-houseboats.
 Came across this old and beautiful windmill on the Citadel base- a large military complex dating back to the 1100's.
 This church is Russian Orthodox and I made the mistake of not seeing the faded and barely readable sign saying no cameras. After I took this picture I got an earful from the Russian woman who was running the place. Despite my repeated apologies, she would hear none of it so we left. Throughout Europe, most churches will allow photos without flash. Most museums as well. In St. Petersburg, we had to pay a few Euros to bring cameras into the Hermitage.

 This was maybe the strangest steeple I have ever seen. Three twisted lizards-topping the old  Mercantile Exchange building in downtown Copenhagen.
 This was a large shop that made copies of famous busts. It should be noted, prices were very high here and in Sweden. They both have a very large VAT-value added tax.
 These four oxen on this huge fountain depict the hauling of an island into shore in the 12th century. The Carlsbad family-beer makers for centuries-have donated tons of money over the many years to build up monuments and buildings and museums throughout the city and country. In most if not all cases, they don't adorn any of it with their name or advertising.
This maiden drives the oxen-onward! We're off to Stockholm!