Castle Needs Work: Heidelburg In Scaffold

Remember I left this leg up to chance. Well, France was out because of the EuRail pass restrictions so I picked one place in Germany that was (sort of) between Munich and Fankfort – Heidelburg.

I traveled from Munich to Heidelburg and from one castle to another. Heidelburg Castle had (what seems like permanent) scaffold around parts of it.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

München Hofbräuhaus

Munich is known for it’s bier (beer) so when in Rome…
The meal at Hofbräuhaus was very good – like grandma Siems probably would have made if I had known her: 3 types of wurts (sausages), sauerkraut, kartoffelpüree (mashed potatos) and of course 1 litre of Hofbräu dunkel beir (dark beer).

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Berlin

Weather in Berlin was berely cooperating, but I was able to get a few photos.

I must be loosing my knack for writing. Walking from the Brandenburg Gate to the Siegessäule and back was hell. I think I twisted my ankle and that is a 4 km walk. I did it in a light rain.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Amsterdam: Venice of the North (Nord in Dutch)

Check-in to Hotel was easy; prices are high. I think I’m paying $200/night.

Check http://www.flickr.com/photos/teamsiems/ for more pictures.

One thing you’ll notice is that the streets are very narrow. This doesn’t seem to bother anyone – cars wait or go faster, trams slow down, and pedestrians get the hell out of the way. I’ve walked miles and haven’t seen an accident yet.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Night Before

So, it’s the night before I leave, and I’m checking everything twice. I’m writing down important numbers. I’m making copies of Traveler’s Checks.

Just to let you know what age we’re living in now, I got an email from Continental asking if I wanted to check-in. I guess people can check-in 24 hours in advance. I’m not checking bags, but I think I still have to have a bag check at customs. I was able to print a boarding pass at home. Hopefully, that saves some time. I can bypass the self-service kiosks to print boarding passes.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Now what

So I got my airplane ticket and my EuRail ticket and made a couple reservations at hotels in Amsterdam and Munich…now what.

Now the panic sets in. Not the typical questions, “What should I do? Where should I go?” I’m wondering how I’ll survive a 10 hour flight! So, I did what I do, Google it, “What do you do on a long flight?” I found some good suggestions on several blogs: hydrate, sleep, drink alcohol (but don’t dehydrate), sleep, eat light, sleep, get up and move around, sleep. You see a trend?. It’s time to panic! I can drink on a plane, but I don’t sleep well on them. What about cigarettes? I smoke a pack a day. During a 10 hour flight – no stress – that works out to 5 cigarettes for me; I get none! What do you do when you panic? That’s right keep reading Google results, but this time I didn’t find it on Google, rather, I thought of this one on my own – nicotine gum.

I bought a bunch of stuff to compensate for the panic. I bought a bunch of crap I probably wont use: lip balm for the dry air at 40,000 feet, nicotine gum, a passport wallet (WTF?), Tylenol PM in single dose sizes (fight blood clots and sleep in one pill), single ZipLock bags (honestly they sell them in the Trail & Travel section).

Now, with the initial panic over, I planned some things that probably don’t need to be planned. Rolling papers. I’ll admit, I smoke pre-rolled cigarettes, but I thought what if I want a “smoke” and I have nothing to put the shit in? I also heard that many Europeans – especially the Dutch – roll their own. So, when in Rome…I’ll try it.

I need to get back on the excited bandwagon and off the panic cart.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.

Decide to go to Europe and start planning

This trip came together in a hurry. I made a conscious decision to go to Europe around the first of June. So then reality set in and I thought of all the things I had to do to prepare. It’s not like you can walk into an airport these days and say – I’d like to take the next flight to Europe – you have to get ready well in advance. First, I had to get a new passport because my old one was 25 years old. “Great!” I thought, “this is going to be like pulling teeth after 9/11.”

But really it is easier now with the web (no web 25 years ago). I actually had to get a copy of my birth certificate first – ordering it online was easy. Then I went to the local court house, filled out the express form (1-2 weeks), handed over my old passport and birth certificate, and paid the $135 plus $25 for processing. Ten days later I had a passport.

I didn’t actually buy my airline ticket until I had the passport in hand. During the ten days I got all worked up about where to go. I researched online what was happening in The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Belgium. I checked about a dozen sites on cities in these coutries. Then I started narrowing down to just 4 cities I thought I could reasonably make it to in 2 weeks.

I narrowed down to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and either Paris or Brussels or somewhere between Munich and Amsterdam. I decided to fly into Amsterdam and hit the ground running.

This was imported from the teamsiems in Europe blog.