A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Day 7

A day in Leipzig

semi-overcast 19 °C

We got going this morning and walked to the tram stop just 1/2 block from our apartment.

The tram took us to the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) in the centre of Leipzig. When we got there we were able to get on a "Hop On/Hop Off" bus tour. This company offers a bus tour of the city and another of a nearby rural area.

We took the city tour first. The problem here is that unlike other "Hop On/Hop Off" buses we have been on, that offer audio translations of what commentary is given, this company only offers commentary in German. We were given an English copy of the details given during the commentary but not the friendly chatter and jokes that the German speakers got to enjoy. We missed out on a lot of the information given. We also had poor opportunities to take pictures of important sites.

When we finished the urban tour, we took the rural tour but no English booklet was offered to us so we just enjoyed the ride.

Our first photos are of a mural on the Marriott Hotel very close to the Hauptbahnhof. These pictures are very colourful. The artist is Michael Fischer. This mural is called Freihet or Freedom. The pictures are engaging but we are not sure why they are called Freedom.

IMG_5151.jpg Mural on side of Marriott Hotel
IMG_5152.jpg Close up of mural - very colourful

Our third photo is of the Memorial to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig which was part of the Battle of the Nations. The Battle of the Nations refers to Europe's resistance to the invasion by Napoleon and the French. Those of us who grew up in North America view this battle as France vs Britain but in fact, almost all European countries were involved in this ongoing battle. Almost 100,000 lives were lost in the Battle of Leipzig part of this resistance. This monument cost almost a million dollars and was completed in 1913 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this battle.

This picture is not the best because the foreground of the monument is being refreshed and it is a construction site. Reta tried to catch the beauty of the monument and obscure the construction.

1813 Memorial - Battle of Leipzig

1813 Memorial - Battle of Leipzig

The next two photos are street scenes featuring an outdoor market.

Street scene

Street scene


Street sales

Street sales

Our last photo is just a small portion of the Hauptbahnhof which is one of the largest in Europe based on the square footage.

Leipzig Hauptbahnhof

Leipzig Hauptbahnhof

After we finished our bus tours we stopped at the grocery store in the Hauptbahnhof to pick up food for supper before we caught our tram back to our apartment.

We discovered on our arrival yesterday that this apartment has a washer/dryer. We got busy and loaded in a load of laundry. It takes an hour and a half to wash that load of laundry and two and 1/2 hours to dry that load. We did three loads and the last one is just finished now. You have no choice about drying cycles so the first load came out a bit damp but the last two came out cooked. Luckily there is an iron and ironing board so the skirts and pants that came out looking like they had been tied in knots can be salvaged.

If you have a washer and dryer at home that produces fresh and tidy clothing, be thankful.

So, I leave you now to look after that matter.

Tomorrow we will journey to Prague.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:07 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 6

Wetzlar to Leipzig

sunny 23 °C

We had a very restful night in our private suite in a family home in Wetzlar. We were staying in a smaller community in a very quiet neighbourhood and sleep came quickly and lasted much longer than usual. We woke up refreshed and ready for another day.

Our travels today took us through some rolling hills, forests and over rivers. We have been surprised as we traveled along to see how much further ahead of Saskatchewan, where the snow only disappeared in the last two weeks, these fields of yellow flowers are. We know that this is a field of either mustard or canola, would our farmer family let us know what this is? We know that our local farmers have not even had the chance to seed their fields, let alone have them at this stage.

Yellow flowers in fields - mustard or canola?

Yellow flowers in fields - mustard or canola?

We stopped for gas about 11 AM and found that we are paying 1.52 euros per litre ($2.36 Canadian per litre) which resulted in a 53.00 euro fill ($82.44 Canadian). This is still a heart-stopping amount but better than it was.

We stopped for lunch at a lovely sunny place. The temperature was 22 C (72 F). We are delighted, summer at last.

We reached our accommodations in Leipzig. We found lilacs in bloom at the apartment building across the street.

IMG_5148.jpg

This is our apartment building. We have a one bedroom apartment on the 1st floor by European calculations but 2nd floor by North American standards. We were able to find parking in front of the building so we did not have to carry our luggage, laundry, and groceries too far. Of course, there is no elevator, so we had to carry this stuff up three flights of stairs. We think we got off lucky.

If you travel with a guided group, all of these problems are looked after for you. We are independent travelers so it is all up to us to deal with such matters.

Our apartment is really quite lovely and once we got our stuff up here, we are happy. We even have 2 tv channels that are English and both are news channels so we know some of what is going on in North America and Europe. Any name for the new prince?? Still have not heard.

Our apartment is on the right side of the building

Our apartment is on the right side of the building

We are very happy with our little Citroen. We took this picture today because it looks grey/silver in shadows, white in bright sunlight and today in the sunlight and shade, grey with a white top. It is all very strange.

Citroen in sun and shade

Citroen in sun and shade

We made supper/dinner with the groceries we bought yesterday. We brought along a hot-cold bag and a small fold-up cooler so we can transport food safely. Yesterday, we bought frozen chicken schnitzel, salad, spargel (white asparagus) and erdbeeren (fresh spring strawberries). We had a great supper/dinner.

Our last picture of the day is a leftover from Brussels. I forgot I had taken this picture when I did last night's blog. This is a bridge over a tunnel entrance in Brussels. I just enjoyed the gracefulness of it. I can not find a name on the internet - so it is just a pretty picture.

leftover from Brussels - lovely entrance to tunnel

leftover from Brussels - lovely entrance to tunnel

Tomorrow we will explore Leipzig.

Posted by A-RPoulton 10:44 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Day 5

Brussels to Wetzlar

semi-overcast 17 °C

Today we traveled in three countries.

We started the day by driving downtown or to the old town of Brussels (Bruxelles in French). The crowds were light and we were able to drive to see some sights. Reta joined the mob at the Mannekin Pis (Pissing Boy - pardon the language) to take photos. That young lad has been standing there doing that since 1618 or 1619, looking very proud of himself - can you imagine?

Crowd admiring Manneken Pis

Crowd admiring Manneken Pis

Doesn't he look proud of himself

Doesn't he look proud of himself

We then drove to the country of Luxembourg and then on to Luxembourg City. We attempted to drive into the city to see the older parts of the city but even though it was Saturday, a lot of other people were attempting the same thing. There were no opportunities for photos. We did drive by an outside market where we observed flowers and fruit and vegetables for sale.

We noticed at the first gas station we drove past in Luxembourg, that there were line-ups at the pumps. We had just purchased gas a few miles away in Belgium for 1.69 euros per litre (about $80.00 Canadian per tank) but in Luxembourg the price was (1.22 euros per litre). We were in need of gas when we got ours and likely would not have been able to get to that Luxembourg station even on fumes, but we would have had a major savings.

We are surprised at what a fuel gobbler our little Citroen is because it only goes 500 kilometres between fill-ups. Art says that maybe because the car is just getting broken in. Let's hope that is the case.

We drove past Koblenz, Germany where we had begun our Rhine River cruise on our last visit.

Our day ended in Wetzlar, Germany, a smaller city, population just over 52,000. We have a lovely suite in a private home. After we arrived and got settled in we walked over to the local grocery store and got provisions for dinner/supper tonight and for tomorrow as stores are closed on Sunday in Germany (we learned that the hard way during our 2016 visit).

Tomorrow we drive to Leipzig, Germany.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:43 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 4

Strepy-Thieu Boat Lift and Waterloo

semi-overcast 19 °C

Our gracious hosts prepared a spectacular breakfast for us. We were offered various buns, homemade jams, a variety of Danish treats, sliced cheese, sliced ham and a plate of sliced fruit. In addition to all of that, freshly made omelette with herbs picked from their garden and juice and coffee. We were well fortified for our day.

The GPS in our car had trouble finding the places we put into it and as a result, we spent most of our morning driving in circles in the town of La Louviere (City of Wolves). Art finally dug around in our luggage and came up with the GPS we bought in 2016 for our first trip to Europe. We entered the name of the place we wanted to go and were there within a few minutes.

We arrived at Strepy-Thieu Boat Lift on the Canal du Centre in Belgium which Reta had seen on TV and wanted to see in person. This boat lift raises and lowers boats of up to 1,350 tons to a height of 73.15 metres. This boat lift was completed in 2016.

IMG_5108 Lift at top of lock

IMG_5108 Lift at top of lock

We had not been admiring the structure for very long before a lift began descending the building. You will notice the white concrete counter weights rising as the boat lift lowers.

IMG_5110 Photo 1 Here comes the lift down from higher level

IMG_5110 Photo 1 Here comes the lift down from higher level

IMG_5111 Photo 2 Here comes the lift down from the top

IMG_5111 Photo 2 Here comes the lift down from the top

When the lift reached the bottom and the concrete and steel gate rose and we were astounded to see the size of the boat in the lift.

IMG_5118 Here comes the large barge off of the lift

IMG_5118 Here comes the large barge off of the lift

IMG_5120 Large barge out of lift and onto canal

IMG_5120 Large barge out of lift and onto canal

We stood in awe as this monster barge floated out of the lift. But the surprises were not over, as it was followed by two leisure boats.

IMG_5121 We were surprised that this boat was also on the lift

IMG_5121 We were surprised that this boat was also on the lift

IMG_5122  And here comes another boat out of the lift

IMG_5122 And here comes another boat out of the lift

In a very few minutes a barge which we had spotted sitting on the canal began steaming into the lift. We thought it was a garbage scow as its contents did look like they should be headed for the dump or if you are in Britain, the tip.

IMG_5115  Garbage scow with pirate flag waiting to get on the lift

IMG_5115 Garbage scow with pirate flag waiting to get on the lift


IMG_5126 Garbage scow loaded on lift

IMG_5126 Garbage scow loaded on lift

We took a picture of this large barge inside the lift and then ascending to the higher level. This time the concrete counter weights are descending.

IMG_5128 Garbage scow going up on lift

IMG_5128 Garbage scow going up on lift


IMG_5129  Photo 2 The lift moving up with the garbage scow

IMG_5129 Photo 2 The lift moving up with the garbage scow

This last photo gives you an idea of how far the canal is diverted at the higher level to bring boats to the lift.

IMG_5131 View of lift showing how high the top level of the canal is

IMG_5131 View of lift showing how high the top level of the canal is

Reta is just fascinated with this boat lift. She must have been an engineer in an earlier life.

The museum at this boat lift is closed until 2019 when new displays will be available. Today, we could have boarded a boat that would go up the lift and provide a ride to the old boat locks that were used before this lift was built. It was to start at 2 PM and finish at 4:30 PM. The boat ride would have been a great thing to do if we had a whole day to spend at this site.

We ate our picnic lunch in the parking lot and then drove to the Memorial 1815 which is at the battle ground of "Waterloo".

IMG_5133  View of Waterloo Memorial from entrance

IMG_5133 View of Waterloo Memorial from entrance

IMG_5135 Welcome to Waterloo Memorial

IMG_5135 Welcome to Waterloo Memorial

We went through the museum and viewed the 4D presentation of the final battle held on June 18, 1815. We are under the impression that this museum and many of the displays were created in 2015 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of that battle.

IMG_5138 Lion Memorial at top of hill taken from the bottom

IMG_5138 Lion Memorial at top of hill taken from the bottom

IMG_5139  Lion Memorial at top of hill - 256 steps to top

IMG_5139 Lion Memorial at top of hill - 256 steps to top

This Waterloo Memorial is another stop that was very worthwhile but a day should be set aside to enjoy it all.

We left the Waterloo Memorial late in the afternoon and drove the 45 minutes or so to Brussels and our lodging for this evening. After we got checked in and got our car parked we walked to a local grocery for items for supper and breakfast. Along the way we noticed a delivery van making a delivery to a sixth-floor apartment (7th floor in Canada and the US). A window had been removed and this very large lift conveyed the items up the outside of the building to the apartment.

IMG_5143 How you move something into a top floor apartment

IMG_5143 How you move something into a top floor apartment

All in all - temperature of 19C (66 F ) with sunny and cloudy periods - another great day.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:35 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 3

Huizen, Netherlands to Mons, Belgium

semi-overcast 14 °C

We left our comfortable cottage in Huizen this morning. This is the start of European Vacation 2, exploring more of Europe.

Our first stop was at Brugge, Belgium also spelled Bruges. Brugge literally means "Bridge City" because of all the bridges over canals in this city. We had heard of their spectacular tower called the Belfry of Brugge.

IMG_5097.jpg Brugge street scene

IMG_5099.jpg Tourists enjoying a horse and buggy ride

The Belfry of Bruges (Dutch: Belfort van Brugge) is a medieval bell tower in the centre of Bruges, Belgium. One of the city's most prominent symbols, this belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, accessible by the public for an entry fee, leads to the top of the 83 m (272 feet) high building, which leans 87 centimeters to the east. No, we did not climb it.

As we were leaving Brugge we were stopped by a raised bridge over a canal. Eventually we saw a barge being pushed by a boat emerge on our side of the bridge.

Bridge rising

Bridge rising

Boat pushing barge on canal

Boat pushing barge on canal

We drove on to Tournai to see their Cathedral of Notre Dame. It is under construction or maybe refurbishment so we did not get to see the beautiful windows that it is famous for. We did see the Belfry of Tournai. The belfry of Tournai, Belgium, is a freestanding bell tower of medieval origin, 72 metres in height with a 256-step stairway.

Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai

Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai

Belfry to Tournai

Belfry to Tournai

We are staying at a Bed and Breakfast at Mons, Belgium. The owners suggested several local restaurants for our evening meal. We chose a spot called "Bravo" which serves Italian food. We had a delicious fresh pasta served with cubed zucchini and shrimp in a light white sauce. This restaurant was across the street from an art school. It was interesting watching the students coming and going.

So now it is evening. There are 15 channels on the TV here. They are all French, German and Italian. A very interesting mix but all we can do is watch the pictures.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:49 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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