A Travellerspoint blog

Rain, Hail or Shine - Zurich Day 1

all seasons in one day 26 °C

Shine

The train arrived only 15 minutes late due to rail work in Germany. We had a wake up call booked for 7AM and after a restless night (especially for me in the top bunk), we were awoken by tapping on the door at 6AM. Surprise, customs and immigration. Arrogant shits, where are you from and where are you going!!!!. No warning of the early wake up visit and still half asleep plus naked (more of a shock to them, I couldn't give a rats arse) it was on the tip of my tongue to ask them how long their training was to ask someone on a non-stop rail trip to Zurich where they are going. I mean, they clearly got on somewhere, who the f...was picking them up and from where. Zurich dick head. Anyway after 22 years Mandy knows me better and she piped in Zurich to save my sorry arse. What was the point of the 7AM wake up call.....f..me.

Anyway the train station in Zurich (didn't see the dick heads get off. OK I'll leave it alone now) was very centrally located and only a short walk to our hotel.

Mandy's new hobby as baggage handler. What would one expect, I had to supervise.

Mandy's new hobby as baggage handler. What would one expect, I had to supervise.

The hotel was very good to mind our luggage until we could check in. They surprised us by saying that we could move into the room in an hour which after the lack of sleep and early wake up...........contained myself with no further comment, we were pretty stuffed.

How best to manage the next few hours, coffee and laundry. Yes nothing better than having a cup of coffee whilst hunting down the near wasch station on the internet.
The search begins with Mr Google

The search begins with Mr Google

The joy of coffee and the internet

The joy of coffee and the internet

Two cups later and with the help of a fellow wasch station devotee (waitress) we were able to work out our way to the nearest. Apparently laundromats aren't a common sight in Switzerland and Zurich only has 2. The one nearest to us was about a 30 minute walk and as Mandy had the foresight to pack our dirties on the top of the carry on bag (to protect the baggage handler from the smell) it was easy to begin our trek.

Equipped with our "picnic bags". Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to the wasch haus we go

Equipped with our "picnic bags". Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to the wasch haus we go

Without a doubt, this was the most scenic journey to the Selbstbedienung wasch haus, which translated means self service washing house. Cool.

Street Scenery swiss style

Street Scenery swiss style

Laundry Swiss Style

Laundry Swiss Style

Small place the world. Walked into the Selbstbedienung Waschaus and found an Aussie couple on the same waschaus trek. David and Karen are from Wynnum North. Guess where I grew up and went to school. wynnum North; what a small world that they also enjoy travelling laundry treks.

So this journey was easy, they had already done the hard yards in learning the costs, time and heat settings. Our loads were done in quick time and off we went back to our hotel for a shower and sleep. The suite was really a surprise. This was the only part of the trip that I was dubious about from the bookings that I'd made and whilst the hotel is in the middle of town for convenience to the railway, the room is very quiet, clean and large. Perfect, shower then off to sleep for a few hours.

Three room suite(bathroom,sitting & bedroom)

Three room suite(bathroom,sitting & bedroom)


the room is not rocking

the room is not rocking

Rain

Off to get some money about 3PM so we can eat and be merry. The quality of the stores are very high as are the prices for everything. Two cups of coffee cost us 10 CHF (swiss franc) which is about $12 in ozwaldsquallers.

We have a problem with getting CHF here from our cash card so we are using what little euro we have and credit card. We will survive.

It started to rain whilst looking for dinner......

It started to rain whilst looking for dinner......

It started to rain about 5PM whilst we were looking for dinner and then a great clap of thunder, just like in summer at home brought forth.

The Hail

Within a few minutes all hell broke loose and it didn't stop hailing for sometime. We were stuck outside the bank after failing to get any Euro.

Same place a few seconds later and the hail started

Same place a few seconds later and the hail started

In coming to Switzerland the last thing that we expected to witness was a hail storm. In fact I didn't even think they had them here in my ignorance.

Enough of that, with the words "there is no such thing as can't, cold or sharks" ringing in Mandy's ear, it was off to find a schnitzel bar.

We found a place down from our hotel called Grossartig and there I had the worst schnitzel in Zurich. Lucky me it was washed down with the worst beer in the world, Feldschlosschen. Shit me, what did I do to deserve this. Mandy had a few answers.

Tomorrow it's off to Mandy's favourite place, Heidiland. Can't wait and we expect with an 11AM departure to get at least 10 hours sleep tonight.

Posted by mandt0413 13:22 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Amsterdam Day 2, End of Cruise & Mandy 50...

Late train departure for Zurich

sunny 26 °C

What a shame that the river trip is over. Can't express enough just how good it was and this was largely due to the friends that we met up with after each day. The cruise was luxurious, facilities great and the staff really fabulous.

Today is Mandy's 50th and it started with a breakfast in the cabin. Having seen some of the celebrations onboard, couldn't possibly embarrass her with that.
I surprised her with a powerpoint presentation (what else would you expect from me) with input from family and friends. Not such a surprise as she new that I had been working on something for the last 8 months. It has not been easy keeping it from her with photos coming in from Facebook, email and work. More so when we share everything and I have to get up at strange hours or when she is out to delete the photos from her laptop. Anyway she loved it and thanks to everyone.

We also had a last breakfast with Lola, Mike, Lorretta and Doug to say farewell. They also had some pres'ies for Mandy which was very sweet.

We have to be off the boat early as the next cruise begins at 4pm. Very well organised exercise to get one group off and another cruise to begin. Big business this. Interesting that of the 150 odd onboard over 50% are aussie with the remainder a mixture of kiwis, small numbers from Canada, US and UK. This appears to be consistent with those tourists that we meet on trains, in the street etc.

So at 10AM we lugged our bags to the Amsterdam Centraal (sic) railway station. Not an easy feat with 2 large bags and a carry on each with the backpack on me. We needed to add another carry on bag to manage the shoes for Mandy, Ellie and me. The train station was only about 200 metres from the boat but we had to cope with those horrid bikes again. As usual we had the previous day "sussed" out what was needed.

Yesterday was probably more hectic because of two massive cruise liners being in port and everyone doing the changeover like we are today.

Now this is what I call a ship........

Now this is what I call a ship........

Another one.....

Another one.....

So whilst we couldn't identify at the station yesterday a vacant locker for our baggage, I felt this was due to both cruise ships being in port.

The locker situation was not great but like the laundry (if we can sort that, nothing is beyond us let me tell you), you just need time and the right coins.

Just like in the school gym only safer.....

Just like in the school gym only safer.....

Great arrangement but just not enough for a major port and tourist destination

Great arrangement but just not enough for a major port and tourist destination

Found 3 lockers and needed a credit card to pay. So with that sorted it was now possible to spend another day exploring Amsterdam. Still had the backpack and that was going to be heavy so we decided on the "hop on, hop off" bus.

$15 euros each and we get to bus it all day

$15 euros each and we get to bus it all day

A double decker, the sun was out and we had no luggage. Life in Amsterdam was starting to look up and those bikes can get stuffed.

We fell asleep by the first stop and missed getting to Anne Franks House.....Shit.

By the time that we did the circuit, it was after 11 and by then the line was too long. So a photo instead.

Tony at Anne Frank Haus and Museum

Tony at Anne Frank Haus and Museum

Mandy at Anne Franks Haus and Museum

Mandy at Anne Franks Haus and Museum

As we had both read the book on the Diary of Anne Frank as part of HSC, whilst it would have been good to visit the Museum, a photo was sufficient as the queues were not worth wasting time when the rest of Amsterdam was calling us.

Anne Frank - Tragic Story

Anne Frank - Tragic Story

The bus took us to the famous flea market (famous for what not quite sure as we'd never heard about it) and to the Jewish Museum. We decided on coffee by a canal (they all look the same) and watch the world go by.

Saw Duece Bigalow's boat....

Saw Duece Bigalow's boat....

Coffee on the canal, smell, smoking and all

Coffee on the canal, smell, smoking and all

Enough of Amsterdam, back on the bus for a good sleep.

As we were travelling first class rail on the night train to Zurich, we had access to the lounge. So at around 4Pm and with still many hours before it left we decided to check in early. Amsterdam in summary was just not that interesting a place.

Euro Rail First Class lounge. Thank god for a refuge.

Euro Rail First Class lounge. Thank god for a refuge.

Given that it was Mandy's big day, I spared no expense and you might notice from the photo; I brought her favourite dinner. Salt and Vinegar Chips. Happy Birthday darling.

The train left right on time and although we secured the wrong compartment (guard wasn't that pleased that we had his room) but at least we got the right train and carriage. Unlike the overnight from Rome to Vienna, this train was more cramped and much noisier.

Great, where do I sit. I suppose it is Mandy's birthday.

Great, where do I sit. I suppose it is Mandy's birthday.

Although the sun doesn't set until after 11PM, we are just so tired. Early night in the hope of sleeping. Tomorrow Zurich, at least we don't have to change trains.

Happy 50th goddess. Looks like I get the top bunk again.

Happy 50th goddess. Looks like I get the top bunk again.

Posted by mandt0413 00:01 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Amsterdam - The Venice of the North - Day 1

semi-overcast 25 °C

What a chaotic place. Within a space of 30 minutes on leaving the boat we've nearly been run down twice. Both occasions by push bikes. We were warned that the place was bustling with push bikes and in fact it was probably heaven for riders. Certainly there are separate lanes but they go all over the place and are poorly marked. To make matters worse the riders are "hell on wheels" mostly impatient and unfriendly whilst having to share the space with motorbike riders. Crazy arrangement and for the first half day we really had to keep our wits about us.

Every man for himself on the cycleway

Every man for himself on the cycleway

It was not unusual to see family bikes (multiple users), bikes with baby seats and windscreens on the handlebars, bikes with dog carriages and bikes where the child is steering.....bikes in all shapes and sizes but shit lots of them.

Bikes by the millions

Bikes by the millions

A census of bikes was undertaken a few years back and of the 700,000 residents, nearly as many bikes exist. In fact they dredge the canals continually for dumped bikes.

Dredging for bikes in the canals

Dredging for bikes in the canals

I knew there were a lot of bikes, I just didn't realise just how many. Freakin thousands and all aimed and the M and Me.

We joined a canal cruise and that was also an eye opener. How people live here is beyond me. Dirty, filthy and busy is how I would best explain it and the place is populated largely by young dope heads. The canal setup is really confusing until you have a look at a bigger map and can see the network properly. The tour guide didn't help too much in all honesty (he was probably one of the dope heads).

Canals by the hundreds, nearly as many as there are bloody bikes.

Canals by the hundreds, nearly as many as there are bloody bikes.

Canals and boats. Dirty and smelly for sure. Wouldn't want to fall in.

Canals and boats. Dirty and smelly for sure. Wouldn't want to fall in.

The buildings are very old dating back pre 1700's in many cases. They were built narrow to avoid tax and most are crooked from the soft footings.
They are generally very well kept and must be renovated in line with Heritage guidelines.

Crooked buildings but well kept

Crooked buildings but well kept

More freakin crooked houses

More freakin crooked houses

Storm surge would bring a new meaning to the word in this place.

Storm surge would bring a new meaning to the word in this place.

And then it was off to the red light district which we found by accident. Now this place deserves a blog subject to itself but I won't. Suffice to say it is best described as being mostly creepy. Or I should say some of the older gentlemen that are shopping here are creepy and should be in a home playing cards and dribbling into their ice-cream.

Most of the action is down side alleys and the ladies sit in cubicles displaying their products. It must have been the early shift as many cubicles were empty and those that were; mostly looked bored. Very sad really.

Tomorrow is our last day on the cruise and we have to leave the ship by 10AM or again for the nautical readers, 4 bells of the forenoon watch. (I wonder if the crew related to this). Tonight our final dinner with our new friends. There is a red light tour leaving at 9PM but we won't be on it.

Tomorrow the goddess reaches that milestone 50 years and I have a surprise for her.

Posted by mandt0413 11:47 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

We love getting to know the locals

sunny 24 °C

The best way to meet and see how the locals live is to go to a "wasch station", "wasch salon" or a "wasch haus". Different names but the same thing, a laundromat. Sometimes a little harder to get to, more expensive than others but certainly an education every time. This is both in understanding how to operate the equipment and having the right amounts of money. It has also been interesting meeting the locals at these venues.

So it was that we arrived into Cologne on Monday 2 July. Cologne is best known for its 4711 perfume and I had a standing threat with Mandy that if she gave me the shits, I would buy her some 4711 as her duty free entitlement for returning to Oz. Her reaction to this was not unexpected.

4711 can go when the sun don't shine buster

4711 can go when the sun don't shine buster

Post internet research we left the boat first thing in the morning and crossed one of the many bridges that span both sides of the Rhine in this town. About a 4 km walk found us at our objective. The Cologne Eco Express Wasch Salon.

That unholy grail of laundromats

That unholy grail of laundromats

Whilst the Holmes holiday outfits went around, we visited a local coffee shop to see if a decent cup was obtainable.

I found the coffee to be ok

I found the coffee to be ok

But Mandy had her eye on other things.....

But Mandy had her eye on other things.....

The coffee is in fairness ordinary, but the pastries are to die for without a doubt. Pastries to the European is like a meat pie at the footy for ozies.

Popular just doesn't explain it, there is a bakey on every corner and a couple in between.

So back to the laundry where we collected our much nicer articles and decided on lunch after a walk through the non touristy areas. Germany is certainly moving ahead with development happening everywhere. I particularly loved the water main solution. At least water loss becomes evident.

No need for a water loss management program in Cologne......

No need for a water loss management program in Cologne......

Saves on under bore costs for sure

Saves on under bore costs for sure

To lunch and at last I found the pizza that was so missing in Rome. No broccoli on this baby and it tasted just superb, even Mandy had two pieces.

I can now die a happy man. The perfect pizza has been discovered and consumed.

I can now die a happy man. The perfect pizza has been discovered and consumed.

The street where we had lunch was in a back part of the town, ready with lots of adult stores and working ladies. It was viewed by us as "pre-work up training" in preparation for the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

An early return onboard for a overnight sail to Amsterdam. Regrettably the cruise is coming to an end. Worth every cent and more so far. Next stop the much awaited Amsterdam, red lights and all.

Posted by mandt0413 11:11 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Afternoon sailing through the Rhine Gorge and a few drinks

sunny 20 °C

We sailed from Ruedesheim at 1700 hours or to those more nautical 2 bells of the first dog watch (I can't help myself).

Our fearless Cruise Director Big Hansie gave us a narration "romantic rhine" to accompany the transit......no further comment is going to be made here about Hansie out of respect to readers. Suffice to say that he is very knowledgable about his subject. The weather was a little cold and overcast but still very good considering late afternoon. I intended to be very conservative on the number of photos clicked and still ended up with over 100. This is of course a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river flows were very strong and quite shallow in comparison to that of the river that we had been transiting. A big amount of water and traffic passes through here for sure.

I will let the photos tell the rest.......I couldn't even begin to outline Hansie's dissertation on this place, he clearly is in love.

The Holmes's new holiday home......friends welcome, family by appointment

The Holmes's new holiday home......friends welcome, family by appointment

Of course the holiday home is in my favourite town.......

My sort of Hausen....

My sort of Hausen....

I really know how to be serious about UNESCO World Heritage sites don't I.

P7020175

P7020175

P7020181

P7020181

Castle's everywhere. Hope our new neighbours are friendly

Castle's everywhere. Hope our new neighbours are friendly

This is where Nan would live

This is where Nan would live

For sale Small castle only accessible by water.

More freakin castles

More freakin castles

And then as fast as it started, I'm over castles. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a short attention span.

And Mandy says take a photo of that one too and this is what she got

And Mandy says take a photo of that one too and this is what she got

Hey Hansie it's happy hour, love your work baby. Off we went for dinner and few quiet ones with our friends Mike, Lorretta, Lola and Doug.

Wines from the region

Wines from the region

And a few more wines from the region

And a few more wines from the region

And Mandy says, look a castle all lit up. Get a photo dear.

How's that

How's that

Then we saw the perfect place for Ellie and Tyson.

Portable Castle's

Portable Castle's

Tomorrow Cologne and then the rest of the world. Tick the Rhine Gorge off the list of done that. Beautiful place.

Posted by mandt0413 03:45 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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