Last days in Weimar and on the trains to England

After my last post we took a ride out to Buchenwald, a concentration camp set up as a memorial. Although the location was beautiful,it was a very depressing place and we were glad to leave.

Yesterday we took a much more pleasant option of visiting the local ‘Belvedere’, a beautiful house and park near Weimar. After touring the house and learning about the original openers extravagant spending which left the state in a bad way financially when he died, we had coffee in a very nice setting, where we FaceTimed with Matt.

We spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the gardens and parkland. We had a cheap bratwurst lunch, followed by an ice cream. On the bus an advert was using the image of a kangaroo to advertise a hop on hop off ticket. The macadamia ice cream had a picture of a koala and suggestion of Ularu on it. Australia is at least famous for these.

This morning we had our final packing up of this journey before catching a bus to the station. We have four trains to get to London, then one more to Croydon. The train journeys are very comfortable with lovely scenery. There is a bit of tension in catching trains, but our next two have seat bookings, which is less stressful.

Exploring Weimar

The reason: it’s sort of on our way home and we had enough Eurail pass journeys left.

The top image is the view from our hostel room. We have a double bunk bed in the room as well as our twin beds pushed together. The bunk beds make a wonderful airing rack for our hand washing.

This town was the capital of Germany for a few years – the Weimar Republic. It doesn’t make a lot of sense seeing it now as it is a very pleasant medium sized town, but not really national capital material. Still, you could say that about Canberra.

It has a lovely feel, clean, with many attractive buildings. We have bought 48 hr cards which cover many of the museums as well as our bus travel. We are enjoying staying at the hostel and have paid extra to have the buffet breakfasts in the morning. We even had some salad for breakfast this morning, to cover us for the day in case lunch and dinner don’t have salad or vegetables. We can get a packed lunch for 6 euros or a small meal for about the same money. We opted for the small meals last night.

The weather is a bit cloudy and when there isn’t a breeze it is very muggy which makes us feel very tired.

On Thursday evening we went by bus to the centre of town to look around and have a meal. Yesterday we found that there are several town squares and the centre is a bit larger than we first thought. We went to the Goethe museum which is in his house. A very pleasant and liveable house, with the shallow stairs which make going up and down so easy compared with normal stairs. Goethe’s idea, of course, he had the main staircase installed, based on his study of ancient architecture.

Stephen had the energy to do another museum afterwards, but I stayed readying at a cafe.

This morning we are at the Bauhaus Museum. The whole thing started here, though there were other schools established later. The Bauhaus movement has had world wide influence and it is very interesting to visit this museum which explains its roots. Art, craft, furniture, architecture and theatre were all covered in the early days.

A cradle in the Bauhaus museum.

Goethe’s garden.

Tourists riding in a carriage. The driver has her little dog riding next to her.

A visitor at my cafe table yesterday afternoon.

Stephen with Goerthe and Schiller.

Goodbye Dresden, hello Weimar

Have I mentioned all the hard work we have to do sorting out accommodation and trains when moving to a new location? This can take a couple of hours in an evening. Airbnb can be frustrating as the descriptions of accomodation do not always match reality and only trawling through the comments from previous guests allows vital stuff to emerge, such as being in a basement with the laundry room between you and your private bathroom. A very busy laundry room apparently.

In the end we have booked a private room with en-suite in a hostel for Weimar, going through the Hostelworld website.

I’m not quite sure why we are going to Wiemar, we can consult Stephen later.

We enjoyed our last day in Dresden, having a quiet morning at home before heading into town. Location is another critical factor in booking places. Our cottage was out of town, but with a tram outside the front gate that ran every 15 minutes. Ideal.

We went to a large museum, with different sections. and particularly enjoyed the Mathematical Museum. It represents a collection of technology from the 18th Century, mainly belonging to a king with a technical bent. He had all sorts of devices for measuring things, including distance travelled in his carriage. It was partly to know all about his possessions – land areas. But I also think he had a passion for the latest technology and the money to indulge himself.

I also,went through one of the art galleries and there was enough information in English to appreciate the paintings I liked. My taste is for portraits and landscapes.

We had a cake and coffee (we hobbits have to work on our pudge) in between sections of the museum. It was raining a lot by the end of the day. We did some washing in the morning and are carrying some damp clothes to Weimar to decorate our room at the hostel. There was no hope of it drying yesterday, despite being in a covered area.

Unusual flower in the garden where we were staying.

Rather a grand building for the museum

When travelling on the trams Stephen liked to sit at the back with the big windows.

Having food from our mobile pantry on the train.

Another museum photo

We,had time today to have a quick lunch at a bakery at Leipzig before catching our next train. Only one train change today.

Exploring Dresden

Yesterday we started off doing some washing. We have a good drying area (our host’s) of washing lines under cover with a privacy curtain. The privacy curtain reminded me of Eversley who has a line on her balcony which she screens off. A very good idea. There is a heater in the area which would be needed in winter time.

The featured image is a section of a mural called the Procession of Princes. Furstenzug in German. Almost 100 larger than life figures feature on the 102 metre long mural. Kings and soldiers and representatives of Dresden’s bourgeoisie.

We caught the tram a couple of stops further on and did some shopping at the local Lidl. Coming back, there was enough time to go to our cottage, put food away in the fridge and be back out to catch the next train into the city centre. It was then about lunch time, so after walking to the old town and wandering around admiring the buildings we had lunch at a restaurant. There were no seats outside when we arrived and we found the interior was air conditioned, so we stayed there. The maximum temperature yesterday must have been about 29 degrees. It felt warm and humid, but there was a breeze and it wasn’t actually uncomfortable.

Alcohol free beer at lunchtime, of course. This had lemonade in it, so technically a shandy. We are drinking more beer than usual as it suits the weather and are glad of the tradition of serving alcohol free versions.

We booked a tour of the Semperoper, the combined concert hall and opera house for 3.00 p.m. (English version). Usually I don’t do tours, but for some reason decided to do it, and found it very interesting. The information about this city often talks about the effects of the bombing of Dresden, a really dreadful act of war on innocent people. The buildings were blackened by the smoke from incendiary bombs which were dropped alongside the normal bombs. During the communist time some restoration work took place, but there was a lot more to be done and the city is gradually being restored and the smoke cleaned up.

The Semperoper was severely damaged and the restoration is now complete, I think. The guide said that it had burned down in the past, due to the use of candlepower for lighting such venues often burned down. Within weeks a new temporary building had gone up, such was the local devotion to music and the arts. It was also a priority after the bombing, whereas a nearby Lutheran church was not restored until the 21st Century.

It was a very interesting tour and we found a link to Glyndbourne in England as one of the conductors went to England at the beginning of the Nazi era and help to found it.

Our guide made the whole tour very interesting and I was glad to take the chance on it. I paid 3 euros extra to have a photo licence to take photos inside the building.

After walking further into the old town we had a drink and ice cream, sitting with a view of beautiful old buildings.

Sorry about the tilt! I was so excited by the ice cream with fruit.

There is a lot of scaffolding around, due to maintenance and restoration of the buildings.

This low, modern looking bridge caused the city much grief as it resulted in UNESCO removing it’s World Heritage status. A pity as it could have been made to look more in keeping with the old bridges. But also feels a bit petty of UNESCO as it doesn’t detract that much from the feel of the city.

We wanted to visit the Frauenkirche, the church rebuilt this century. There was an evening service with music at 6.00 p.m., so we went and sat in the church, hoping for good music. The service was in German, but because the words are familiar it was easy to follow. We slipped out at the end when there was a talk about the building as we couldn’t understand it. The church looks lovely on the outside, but is rather like being in an ice cream cake inside. Photos were forbidden so I didn’t take any, but other people did. The interior has seating for 1800 people.

Then home on the tram where we had food we had bought on our shopping expedition in the morning – nice salads with cheese, plus apples and chocolate. There is a coffee maker here and I have used it twice, for some reason the coffee doesn’t pour out well and as we don’t have a sink for washing up I resort to pouring my cup outside.

We are having a quiet morning, doing washing and having an egg on toast for breakfast. It was great to be able to have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, I haven’t had that since we were in Lucerne.

This man was outside the church. I only had a very small amount of change left, so was apologising as I took the photo.

The Festspielhous which gives it’s name to our tram stop. We are located in Hellerau which is Germany’s first garden city. It was developed in 1908.

The Hastings of Hobitton

The image at the top was taken yesterday in Vienna as we walked through a park.

Today we got up early, for us, and travelled by train to Dresden. We felt anxious each time we boarded a train because we didn’t reserve seats and knew there would only be a few left over. We caught two trains and were lucky both times to find seats together.

We came through some interesting scenery, especially just over the border from the Czech Republic. The area is the Saxon Switzerland National Park, which has karst formations similar to those we have seen in China. We were travelling along the Elbe River. Of course, we could only see a little part of the National Park from the train.

We napped on the train, but have arrived here very tired and ready for an early night. We had lunch in Prague as we had enough time between trains to find a proper restaurant, but have only had a light supper of things we had in our food pouch, plus bread, milk and butter that we bought at the station before boarding our tram. We are located out of the city in a tiny home at the side of our hosts’ house. It’s delightful, and I will take some photos in the morning. With low ceilings and lots of wood we really do feel that we are Hobbits.

Our food pouch. Stephen carries it over his shoulder when we are travelling. It can contain all,sorts of little treats, as well as basics such as bread and muesli.

And just a couple of photos of our tiny home.

We have travelled from Vienna, through the Czech Republic to Dresden today. We are not sure of the distance, but it must be a few hundred kilometres. Perhaps that is why we feel so tired.

Some better photos of our little Hobbit house. The only place for a couch is in the bedroom, which is larger than the living room. I haven’t included a photo of the couch, it is where I’m sitting to write this update.

Vienna is lovely in the sunshine

Yesterday evening we had dinner with Michaela at a dear little restaurant in the middle of the city. We were confused by her directions on how to get there and ended up catching a taxi. That’s when we found out that we have a taxi stand on the corner of our street.

This morning we were having a lazy morning waiting to change to our new room and talk with Matt on FaceTime. We are still on a six our time difference and talk in the middle of the day. It was quite easy shifting our stuff over and we got out of the house at about 12.30. I had been out earlier to buy some milk and yogurt for our breakfast. We don’t have coffee at this house so I also dropped in at a cafe to get one.

Our lunch was healthy with meat and salad, Lemon drink and coffees after.

We spent the rest of the day just travelling around looking at some of the beautiful buildings and visiting parks. Back home we had Asian food at a little stall near our train station. It was noisy with cars and trams, but the day has been a good temperature, up to about 27 degrees, mostly sunny with some patchy cloud.

There were 2 extra people last night, but they didn’t disturb us. There is a new couple in our old room tonight, at the other end of the apartment. We are not sure how toilets and showers and breakfasts will work out with five of us in the house. Our host puts himself last, so he’s easy.

He is starting his own business and has been consulting us regarding logos and presentations. Running the Airbnb is quite time consuming I imagine, but at least it’s some income to help with the rent.

Vienna initially depressing

I remember Vienna as very beautiful. We were here at New Years Eve about 30 years ago. We arrived on Friday after a full day on the trains and caught the underground to our AirBNB. Everything was grey and rather dirty. Our accomodation is in a tiny room, very stuffy. I took the hint from a review and asked for a fan. Our host only has one, which he uses during the day, then we can have at night.

Our location is in a grand, but very shabby area, which doesn’t help. The weather has been mild, but very humid. I expect we are tired from travelling so much.

We are on our second museum today, after spending a couple of hours at one yesterday. The buildings are magnificent and today we have a mixture of sunshine and cloud, which makes me feel better.

We are catching up with an old friend of Stephen’s. She has quite good English and seems a genuine person. We had coffee with her at a nice cafe and it was easy to get her talking about herself. I don’t mean that unkindly, Stephen asked questions and she didn’t ask us questions, We may have an outing with her this evening. The story is that Stephen had a home stay visit when he was studying German as a mature aged student. The mother has died and the father is over 90 years old, hence seeing the daughter instead of them.

We have two more nights here, partly because when Stephen first contacted her she mentioned Sunday as a day when she had time. We otherwise would not have stayed here for four nights.

Our next destination is Dresden, and I have booked us into a small cottage, which we will have to ourselves. I’m rather over sharing with people, particularly when there is only one bathroom and toilet.

There are a lot of tourist here in Vienna, and you will see from the top photo that we didn’t get here early enough to avoid a long queue. Still, it moved fairly fast.

Yesterday we wanted to see the river, but found it very unattractive, with modern buildings and incredible amounts of graffiti. At first we came to the canal, and thought that the river would be better, but it wasn’t. We went to a famous church later in a more attractive part of the city, but it was very busy with tourists, of course.

We had dinner at an ‘Arabian’ cafe, and enjoyed the food. The good thing about being here inAustria is that it’s much cheaper than Switzerland. But, we miss the beauty and cleanliness and happy people. Even Stephen’s friend said she finds people here to be rude and unfriendly. She has moved to a small town out of the city.

This was a sign in the natural history museum from yesterday. We wonder if the more right wing government now in power will get rid of it.