Monday, March 21, 2005

Costa Rica here we come!

It is on y a few more weeks until Shannon and I head off to Costa Rica for a week. We have some activities planned and I am going to go on a few diving trips but for the most part we are looking forward to lots of relaxation by the pool with a drink in hand.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Home sweet home

It has been 18 days since I last touched Canadian soil. It is good to be home, mountains of snow and all. I really do love to travel and see new places but in the end one of the best parts about travelling for me is going back home at the end of it all.

It is now the day after returning back to Ottawa and I feel pretty much over my jet lag already. I slept well last night though which helped.

All my pictures are available in the photo archive under Travel -> Germany but I wouldn't even bother trying to look at them yet as there are hundreds and you'll probably end up crashing my server if you try. :-)

Thanks for reading about my adventures in Germany. I'm sure my posts from now on will be less frequent until I go on my next adventure.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

On my way home

I am now sitting in the Lufthansa business class lounge at Frankfurt airport. Definately not as nice as the Air Canada lounges but there is still free beer and snacks. There is no free Internet though so I will have to post this message once I get to Canada.

I hvae about another 45 minutes until my flight begins to board. Plenty of time for some more snacks and beer. I deliberately didn't eat breakfast or lunch today in anticipation of the free food in the lounge but now all I am stuck with is peanuts and gummy bears. Healthy eh?

See you in about 10 hours.


It is finally Tuesday. I had a very restless sleep last night probably because I was excited to go home.

Yesterday I was still in Heidelberg and finally had the chance to tour the castle. My plan was to also do some shopping before leaivng for Frankfurt. I say "the plan" because I didn't get any shopping done. The tour of the castle went much longer than I thought and I ended up having to run back to the hotel in order to catch my shuttle. I left the castle at 12:47 and had a good 15 minutes walk/run to get back to my hotel. With some margin of error I tohught I was fine. What I forgot to consider was Germans and their punctionality. I got back to my hotel literally at 1:01 pm. I saw the blue TLS shuttle waiting and then I saw the driver get back in and start to leave. Woa..calm down you are getting ahead of me. Using the last bit of energy I had I spinted to the van and started knocking on the window. I think I startled the driver a bit but she did stop and let me in after picking up my luggage from the hotel. The morale of the story is when in Germany make sure you are always early.

Ok, so I got to Frankfurt and checked into my next hotel yesterday afternoon. I pretty much dumped off my stuff and then headed to the airport to catch a train to downtown. There have ben several times during this trip when I have felt a little Amazing Race'ish. Trying to figure out the trains is one of those moments. I can just see the clue saying "take the train to the main station in Frankfurt." Unlike on the show there are no ticket agents to talk to all you have is a machine in German. so I basically ended up randomly hitting buttons until I got something that looked right and then gave the machine some money. In the end it really didn't matter what I bought since it is very rare that anyone will even check your ticket.

In the end Frankfurt was a bust. The main reason I went was for al lthe great shopping it supposedly has. I spent two hours walking the main shopping area and came out with nothing! Sorry no shoes Shannon. At least I can say I've been to Frankfurt I guess.

Back at the hotel I finally got to go swimming (one of the reasons I picked this hotel). I was all by myself but had fun just the same.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Munich and Strasbourg

This weekend I went to Munich and Strasbourg (hence the clever title).

Munich is about a 3 hour drive from Heidelberg on the autobahn. Our rental car had GPS built in which was pretty nice. The car told us how to get right downtown Munich without ever having to open a map. Our day in Munich (Munchen if your German) started at Marienplatz. There is a glockenspeil that plays here everyday at 11 am and noon. From there we ventured out on a self guided walk of the old town in order to see the major sights in our limited time there. One of our stops was the world famous Hofbrauhaus. This is one of the many beer gardens in Munich but definately the most famous. They have live polka everyday and beer is served by the liter (see yours truly below). We stopped by at around 1:00 pm and it was packed. There were so many people drinking. To make it even better there was a football match in Munich that day so there were plenty of drunk fans to add to the atmosphere. After two liters of beer were consumed we continued on our walk of the city. The second half of our walk took much longer largely due to the additional bathroom breaks that were required. Me being cheap made it more difficult by trying to find washrooms that were free. I still can't believe some places want 50 euro cents off you just to pee! What a rip!

That is enough about Munich for now. I have a ton of pictures to sift through but that can wait until Ottawa.

Today was our trip to Strasbourg. This time we only had about 1.5 hours of driving to do. The weather was also much nicer which allowed us to test out the autobahn a little better. We ot the car up to 200 kph. What a rush! Our average speed was more in the 160 - 180 range though.

I thoroughly enjoyed Strasbourg. It is quite a large city but it has a beautiful old town with lots of different architecture and an amazing Cathedral that dominates the skyline. Yet again we did a walking tour of the old town in order to maximize what we could see in an afternoon. There are no beer halls in Strasbourg but instead there is a great restaurant called La Cloche du Fromage. As you can guess this place dealt only in cheese. But man it was good cheese. My co-worker and I opted for the cheese fondue. At 20 euro each is it a little pricy but you can eat as much as you want. I've never been a huge fan of cheese fondue but I must admit this was better than anything I've ever had in North America. Those French sure know a thing or two about cheese I guess. Four thumbs up!

Well that brings you up to date with my travels this weekend. Sorry for the abbreviated summary. I have lots more to tell but with only two more days until I get home I would rather wait until I see everyone in person.

Have a great Monday and I will see you back in Ottawa.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Heidelberg Print Media Academy

This entry is mostly for Kathy. These are pictures of the Heidelberg Print Media Academy. Apparently Heidelberg is not only the name of the town but also a company that makes very large printing presses. They have a fairly new building in Heidelberg right next to the train station for seminars and training. for those of you not interested in printing (is tat everyone but Kathy?) the building is still pretty interesting to look at as it is all glass.

Late night at the bar

So we decided to go back to the Schnitzelbank for dinner last night. This restaurant is a tiny little hole in the wall with about five tables in it. It is quite normal to share your table with other guests when it is busy which is what happened last night. The three of us were at a large table and invited a couple over to share our space which they graciously accepted. They were a German couple in their fifties from Heidelberg. Anyway after ordering food we got to talking and it turns out this couple had quite a few interesting stories. The man was a dentist and him and his wife travel three times a year for two weeks each time since Germans are entitled to six weeks of vacation. They have been all over the world (not Canada yet) and were telling us about it. They have been to the Carribean and all over Asia as well. Over Christmas they had thought about going to Indonesia for their vacation but at the last minute decided to go to Turkey instead. While skpping Indonesia was very lucky they also told us about being in Costa Rica during earthquakes, Cuba during hurricane Charlie and deep sea fishing in 10 meter waves. Even still they seemed to enjoy all their trips.

After dinner we were having such a good time that the German couple invited us out to a bar for a few drinks. We were like sure why not. By the way, we started dinner at 7:30 and didn't leave the restaurant until 11:00 pm just to give you an idea of how restaurants never rush you to leave. We walked to the Altstadt and ended up at a pretty small bar that was packed when we arrived. Luckily we got some seats along the bar and ordered a round of Pils (like lager).

What started out as a stop for one beer soon turned into more beers and soon enough 2:00 am rolled around and we were being told the bar was closed. Actually the bartender, Denise, was great and joined in our conversation as well and kept playing good music for us.

Even though getting up this morning wasn't so fun it was great to just hang out with some locals and really get a feel for how people spend their time around here.

Rumsey ... out.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Living in Heidelberg

I have now been in Germany for about a week and a half and am beginning to feel like I am living here. I know my way around, have taken several forms of public transit and has eaten at many of its restaurants. I still have yet to explore the old part of town near the castle but plan on walking there tonight as well as next Monday.

Last night we went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Mannheim. I've been told it is one of the best in the world! Never having had Vietnamese food before I really had nothing to compare it too. I had some beef dish wrapped in La-Lot (sp?) leaves with rice noodles. It was quite good but definately not my favourite type of food. It is fun to try out new food though so am very happy that I went. While in Mannheim we also got to see the McDonald's. What is interesting about this McDonald's is what is above it. The fast food giant is on the main level and then on the two floors above it is a huge fitness centre. The gym has windows all around it and all the treadmills had a front row view of the golden arches outside. OK, so it wasn' that interesting of a story but I thought it was a funny sight to see.

My room/home...

Bizmartplatz...the main transit hub of Heidelberg steps away from my hotel

And finally the entrance to my hotel