A Travellerspoint blog

Day 51-57

History around every corner

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I started off the New Year in Berlin, a city I had been longing to visit ever since I started to learn German in high school (although quickly giving it up three years later as soon as I could). It didn't disappoint.

There was so much to see and do that a week didn't seem enough and it in fact flew by. The first day there I lined up in a line at Schloss Charlottenburg only to find out that the line was to to get a ticket for a tour the earliest being three hours later! A bit annoyed I headed instead to the old wing of the palace which was wonderful in its own right with ornate rooms and beautiful gardens so the day was not wasted.

The next day is one I will remember forever. I went on a walkting tour to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp with a fellow Aussie as the guide. It was an amazing experience, and standing there where histories worst crimes took place left me shaken to my core and at one point physically sick from all the emotion surrounding the place. I couldn't recommend highly enough the tour which was free apart from a train ticket and whatever tip you felt the guide deserved at the end of the day.

I joined another walking tour the next day, this time of the main sites of Berlin itself. It was fasinating to learn the stories behind things that you just cant find in guidebooks or on your own. We were taken to Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, the absolutley beautiful Jewish memorial, where I could have spent hours wandering between the columns, Adolf's bunker, a small section of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island and the site of the infamous book burning. For those with little time in Berlin, it is a perfect way to see the city, and for those with longer it is a great starting point for further exploration.

The next day was a Tuesday which was great because it was free day at the Musuems after 4pm, so after checking out the extreme methods of escape at Checkpoint Charlie, and being moved to tears at the Jewish Musuem and its black room, I headed off to the Pergamon Musuem and the Egyptian Musuem which truly hold some wonders.

The following day I lined up for two hours in the pouring rain in order to get to the top of the reichstag but as luck would have it the sky would clear so after all that I could barely see anything from the top anyway.

Later in the week I checked out the topography of terror which needs some serious funding to be able to operate properly, and then headed off to the East Side Gallery, the section of the wall covered in some serious political cartoons. Standing on either side of the wall was my little secret enjoyment.

But that was all I had time for in Berlin and a plane to Amsterdam beckoned me.


Posted by jess_capri 20:52 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 45-51

A tale of two cities

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After spending some quality time with family it was a relief to get back on the road and the obvious destination was Austria next door. So it was onto a train for most of the afternoon, finally arriving in Salzburg in the dark and then wandering around for an hour til i could find my hostel (a lot easier in the light of day).

When checking in I saw the sign I had been waiting for - 'Sound of Music' tours the very next day, so I didn't waste a second in reserving my spot on the kitschy tour bus. The tour was a four tour (not a three hour one as Gilligan and the gang had looked forward to!) and covered all the major sites made famous in the film. Our host for the day was a lovely American lady who seemed to love the film more than would seem naturally possible but her cheerfulness was infectious. We all prenteded to be Lisel in the Gazebo, or Maria and the Captain getting married in the church, but unfortunately we were not spared the sing-a-long on the way back and for the rest of the day I could not get 'My favourite things' out of my head.

Well I loved Salzburg - its charming old town, the over-the-top use of Mozart to sell anything and everything, and the castle on the hill where the real Maria lived. To save money I walked to the top, forgoing the funicular and its hour long line, and must admit it turned out to be the best idea as the views up to the top were breathtaking although I was a little puffed by the end of it. Thus it was with a real sadness that I left the baroque beauty of Salzburg on a train to Vienna for New Years.

Vienna didn't have the charm of Salzburg - maybe due to its size or some of the people but it didn't capture me as Salzburg had. However I did have a very enjoyable night at my very first opera in the world famous Vienna Opera House. It took four hours in line to get the cheap tickets they release before the performance (3 euro - a bargain in any language), and the production itself went for another two (It was the English story of Italian Romeo and Juliet in French, in a German speaking Viennese Opera House with English subtitles - very multicultural). So it was a late night before I managed to make it back to the hostel on the other side of town.

The next day was New Year's Eve, and the famous Viennese New Years Trail. I spent the day exploring the city before heading out to the trail after dark. The trail covers much of the city and contained eight different stages with all different performers, carnival tents, food tents and of course lots of champagne stalls. And thus as the clock struck midnight in my first New Years away from home, I celebrated my birthday alone in a crowd of Austrians and turned the ripe old age of Twenty.

The day that followed was not the greatest with nothing to do and nothing open except a small store at the train station. So it was with relief that the next day I boarded a flight to Berlin.


Posted by jess_capri 20:34 Archived in Austria Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 40-45

Some family time.


I headed off from Vaduz and caught a train to Basel where my Aunt and Uncle are based and where I was to meet family for Christmas. Basel is a lovely little city but as this time of the year everything is shut, and after a while alone, people seemed to annoy me sooner than usual! But it was great to have Christmas with others and not alone.

Basel had a few highlights, including an outing across the German border in which we had to act unsuspiciously in the car so the German police would think we were locals! We trapsed around a german forest for a few hours before tiredness set in and we headed home act like normal people for a few days. It was the last that I would see famliy for another two months so it was with a bit of sadness that I headed off again - this time for Austria.

Posted by jess_capri 03:55 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 38-40

A little place named Liechtenstein

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Well I was in Liechtenstein and had pretty much seen all it had to offer by lunchtime! I spent an hour visiting the cities musuem, which was probably longer than necessary, then headed to the famous stamp musuem which was one room above some offices and a strange receptionist who must have thought I was a theif by the way she watched me like a hawk.

I even caught a bus up to the small town of Trieslberg but even that only filled in two hours. I walked from one end of Vaduz to the other in about 20 minutes stopping at every shop along the way which was few. So I headed up to the Prince's Vineyard (its actually his!) and bought wine for the folks back home because how often can you have a wine from Licehtenstein!. I retired to my hotel at about 4pm and spent the rest of the day reading, and then had a meal in the hotels restaurant which was the strangest meal I ever head (it seemed to be fried spam or something similar). I had an early night and was glad to be leaving in the morning as I had truly exhausted what Vaduz had to offer.


Posted by jess_capri 03:48 Archived in Liechtenstein Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 38

The first snowfall of my life

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Today excited me more than others as I got to see snow for the first time in my life at the age of 21! I was on a tour up to the top of Mt Titlis via a stop over at Lucerne. Lucerne was lovely but a half hour stopover didnt exactly let me experience the city, although the lake was beautiful!

We arrived at the bottom of Mt Titlis and I was already smitten. I touched snow for the first time and although not as fluffy as cartoons make it out to be it was still snow and it made me smile. It took over an hour to get up the mountain - first a shaky little cable car, than a slightly bigger one, then one the size of a room up to the very top. It was absolutley stunning, half way up we cleared the dark foggy level that people at the base were looking at and made it up into clear blue sky - I had not expected this and was thus even more stunned. We had two hours at the top of the moutain including a trip over a glacier in an open ski lift (terrifying for me, and trust me I'm not one who scares easily!) But it seemed that as soon as we got there it was time to go again with another hour to get back down the mountian, then onto the bus back to Zurich.

I arrived back in Zurich after 6pm a just made the Train to Sargans, the last stop before Leichtenstein. Of course the train line runs through it but there are no stops (common sense is obviously not a strong point). I arrived at my hotel after 10pm (after getting of the Bus to Vaduz at the wrong stop thanks to a helpful driver! and then having to wait an hour for the next one!) and found that the proprietoress spoke no english, so I had to check in using school girl german. I was it turns out the only one staying there (perhaps the only one in Leichtenstein - the thought pleasing me greatly) and settled in for a good nights sleep finally in a bed that did not have one above or below it!


Posted by jess_capri 03:37 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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