Italy: Florence, Bologna

Finally, here are some photos from my last week of my holiday. This was at my sister’s place in the hills South of Bologna.

It was so hot that it was unpleasant to go outside, even in the morning. And at night when it was a little cooler (or rather less hot), the midges were out. I cannot even imagine what summers will be like in places like Italy once climate change has become more pronounced in a couple of decades.

Anyway, despite the hot weather, we went on a couple of day trips.

I’ve been to Florence before many years ago but couldn’t really remember much other than it being a very expensive place to go to on a small budget. So it was nice to have a second look.

The cathedral is stunning:

113 Florenz Dom Fassade (400x300)

One of the local celebrities:

116 Florenz David (300x400)

The famous Ponte Vecchio:

118 Florenz Ponte Vecchio (400x300)

Bologna is quite different. They have big cathedrals there as well, Just in some instances the money must have run out:

123 Bologna Kirche Fassade (400x300)

Notorious Neptune fountain:

126 Bologna Neptunsbrunnen von vorne (300x400)

You don’t see it on the photo but from behind at a certain angle, Neptune looks like being equipped with a giant penis which is really just his thumb.

And then the famous towers:

127 Bologna Tuerme (300x400)

Back in the old days, the way for rich families to demonstrate their power and wealth was to build up. So they built those big towers. Tell that to the average Kiwi with their love for massive sprawling mansions…

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Germany: Allgaeu

At the end of my fourth week, my sister Christine and her little daughter Amelie picked me up and we drove to Balderschwang, a small village in the Allgaeu region.

This was to spend a week in the mountains, with Eva and her patchwork family, Klaus with his wife and daughter, and Gregor also coming along.

Just like in the weeks before, it was very hot. I went tramping twice as planned, it just meant that we needed to have an early start to avoid the worst of the midday heat.

The first walk was with Klaus and Gregor. While they climbed the Hoefats mountain, I just dragged myself up the hill next to it, the Falkenberg:

096 Aussicht vom Falkenberg 2 (400x300)

From the Falkenberg, I had an excellent view of the Hoefats:

097 Hoefats (400x300)

As you can see, the Hoefats is a very steep grassy mountain. Just watching Gregor and Klaus making their way up to the summit was so exciting that sleep deprived as I was, I just couldn’t snooze off and watched their every move.

Klaus and Gregor made it safely up to the summit and back down again where they met me for the walk back to the car. Well, while Gregor and I walked back the whole way, Klaus had pushed his foldable Birdy bike up the forest road, to get back down in a more convenient fashion.

Things took a unwanted dramatic turn when a tire burst throwing Klaus off his bike. While nothing seemed to be broken, Klaus’ elbow was badly swollen, so we all went to the hospital to have it checked out.

It turned out that liquid had drained into a part of Klaus’ elbow joint. Luckily enough, resting his arm for several days allowed the liquid to drain and by the end of our holiday, Klaus could use his arm again.

So thank goodness the whole accident didn’t leave Klaus with any serious or long-term health problem.

My second walk went without any such incidents. Gregor and I went on a loop walk along the ridge one one side of the valley where we were staying.

There views down the valley were impressive, with visibility good enough to see the Saentis in the distance, a big mountain in Switzerland:

107 Ausblick Richtung Saentis (400x300)

On our last day, hot as it was, we visited the Breitachklamm, a steep gorge. Hundreds of other people had the same idea, so it wasn’t exactly peace and quiet.

The gorge was impressive. Very steep, very narrow, with the creek thundering at the bottom:

111 Breitachklamm (400x300)

And of course the cool fresh shade was a pleasant relief from the heat.

Contrast this with where I’m now – in Wellington wearing 5 layers of clothes, and very much looking forward to breakfast in the sun to warm up.

Austria

Here’s another batch of holiday photos, this time from my trip to Austria.

For the Austrian trip, my friend Heidi and I took the train to Amstetten in Austria to visit our friend Uschi for the weekend. We’ve known each other back from the good old days in Wohnheim 1 in Freising. It was really nice to see them both again, and also to meet Uschi’s partner and their little daughter.

On that weekend, I finally hit the wall in terms of lack of sleep though, and I realised that I was too exhausted to fully engage with people.

How crap when you’re only halfway through your holiday and you realise that you’re too run down to make much of what’s left of it… Plus still a few more weeks to go until you will be back home and get a chance to recharge those flat batteries.

Anyway, even though I was mostly just tagging along, it was nice simply to be there and spend time with my friends.

We went on a day trip to Grein an der Donau, a small town situated on the shores of the Danube. There’s an impressive castle there which we went and had a look at. Very pleasant inner courtyard:

085a Innenhof (300x400)

The highlight really is a big hall that is entirely decorated with pebbles from the Danube – floor, walls and ceiling – and absolutely stunning:

089 Donaukieselsaal Fenster (400x300)

On Monday morning, Heidi returned to Germany while I ventured deeper into Austrian territory. This was to catch up with Petra in Bad Fischau, a small town set in gentle hill country. We climbed the top of a nearby hill with a nice view towards the mountains:

090 Ich auf Grossenberg (400x300)

Back in Germany, I had a couple of days to wrap things up there. And, most importantly, bake a couple of Zwetschgendatschi, a kind of a plum cake on a tray. Absolutely delicious, I will miss it.

There’s two more lots of photos yet to come. I’m really sorry that it’s been dragging on so long for me to post my holiday photos.

It’s just that since I came back from my holiday, I’ve reorganised my life to speed up progress with the business. It’s made a huge difference and I think I’ve finally found my way of working. Inevitably though there’s less time now for all else.

Germany: Freising, Kiefersfelden, Wasserburg

Another week gone by and I’m struggling to find the time to put up my holiday photos. It’s just that I’ve been working really hard, and a lot. You just don’t start your own business by sleeping in and lazing in the sun. If there is any as the whole weekend and today have been awful.

Back to my holiday. I spent a day in Freising with my friend Marie who had come down from Hamburg for the day. It was really, really nice just to wander around town together, and then out to the campus.

We shared a big Bavarian lunch at the Braeustueberl:

071 Mittagessen im Braeustueberl (400x300)

Later, we made our way back to the airport and had a last drink at the Airbraeu before Marie had to catch her flight.

On the weekend, I went to see my grandmother in Kiefersfelden. She’s ancient and while her mind is crystal clear, the rest of her body is failing her more and more.

Her neighbour Rosie who looks after her quite a bit and her husband took me out to lunch, to a place with a beautiful view of the Kaiser mountains:

073 Aussicht Kaiser und Inntal von Hummelei aus (400x300)

When I left in the evening, it was quite hard with my grandmother and I saying goodbye to each other for good. No doubt she won’t be around anymore when I will make it to Europe again (who knows when that will be).

A short ride on the train got my to my friend Sandra’s place where I stayed for the remainder of the weekend. Together with her little boy, we went on a day trip to Wasserburg, a cute old town with picturesque location in a river bend:

082 Blick auf Wasserburg (400x300)

There’s still a pillory in the city, not that it would be used but I think there aren’t that many towns where this has survived:

077 Pranger (400x300)

That’s it for tonight, it’s getting late and with my feet and hands being ice blocks, I’d really like to have a hot shower now to warm up and then go to sleep.

Germany: Burghausen and Passau

Finally some time again to post a few more photos from my July/August overseas trip.

I spent a weekend with my mother where we went on a couple of day trips to have a look at a couple of cities not too far from where she lives.

This is Burghausen with the longest European csstle towering above the town:

050 Laengste Burg Europas (400x300)

View of the centre from the castle:

051 Dachlandschaft (400x300)

Our second trip was to Passau with the confluence of 3 rivers. Here’s the confluence of two of them, the Danube and the Inn:

058 Zusammenfluss von Donau und Inn (400x300)

The cathedral:

060 Domfassade (400x300)

The historic centre is very nice, with very “human scale” lanes, for example this one here:

064 Gasse (300x400)

It’s really amazing how beautiful even the smaller cities and towns in Germany can be. It’s not just because many have historic centres, it’s also because often, open spaces in the centres are designed for people not traffic. Which is what NZ towns usually are.

Anyway, time to get moving as I’m frozen stiff now after 3 hours at the computer.

The last days

Back in Munich, I spent another day with Sandra doing a bit of shopping and then walking back to her place through the English Garden and Schwabing.

Then another day of wandering around the city on my own, and meeting people. I had lunch with Martin, a former flatmate with who I used to go to lunch with in Freising quite regularly. He’s got a family with two kids now, but otherwise it was just like the old mensa days and as if no time had passed! Then catching up with Thomas my bike engineer, and instead of having a look at the latest trends in transport cycling, we had a long chat about his trip to China earlier this year.

In the evening, I had dinner with Evi an old friend from school. It was really nice to see her again as we had not seen each other for about 10 years. We got along well again immediately, and the evening just flew way too quickly.

Then another day in the mountains where Gregor and I climbed the Schneibstein in the Berchdesgadener Alps:

198 Schneibstein

From the summit, views all around were great, including the Watzmann on one side, and Goell on the other. But the weather soon started to close in, and by the time we were back at the cable car it was quite gloomy. Here’s a view of the Koenigssee:

207 Koenigssee

On my last day, I jumped on a train once again and first went to Freising to catch up with Volker a former colleague from when we worked for Degussa. We went for a coffee and then did a little drive around the university campus. Quite a bit has changed there, with new buildings having gone up and a road realignment that makes the space in front of the library a lot nicer.

I then travelled further to Nuernberg to meet up with Bernd, one of the people who I had studied with in Freising. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time, so it was nice to have a really good chat.

Back in Munich, Sandra and I went out for dinner, and on the next morning Gregor and I left for the airport. Here we are in the Airbraeu, having white sausages, brezels and beer:

208 Gregor und ich im Airbraeu

Bologna

Bologna was great. Five much needed days of holidays, within my holiday of constantly being on the move and hardly ever getting enough sleep. One afternoon, we went into town to have a look around there, as Gregor had never been in Bologna before. The old town centre is very beautiful, but the most impressive thing about it undoubtedly was a massive thunderstorm with torrential rain and even some hail:

171 Wolkenbruch

But most of the time, we enjoyed quiet country life on my sister?s lifestyle property. Amazing sunsets…

189 Sonnenuntergang

…and good meals in good company:

190 Christine Andrea ich & Abendessen

On the evening of our departure, we unexpectedly ended up wandering around Bologna at night, as the trains had a massive 2.5 hours delay. Not nice, but then again quite nice:

194 Strassen bei Nacht

Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden

In Hamburg, I caught up with Marie and we made a little excursion to Stade, a beautiful old town. Wandering around felt like an open air museum. Absolutely stunning:

126 Stade am Wasser

Then on to Berlin where I stayed with Tereza my former land lady back in the old student days. Berlin is an interesting place, it’s got a real metropolitan feel to it that Munich doesn’t have. I had a look at the major sights. Here’s the Holocaust memorial:

134 Holocaust-Mahnmal

And the Kanzleramt -from this side, it looks great I think, in particular with the pavement being all glossy from the rain.

142 Kanzleramt

Gregor had joint me in Berlin and we then went to Dresden together to see a former work mate of him. One night, we watched a movie in the open air cinema. If you ever have an opportunity to do this, go for it as it is really quite special, with the skyline of beautiful buildings against the evening sky:

147 Filmnacht am Elbufer

We also spent a day in the Elbsandsteingebirge. Here’s the Bastei:

157 Bruecke auf der Bastei 19 Jh

Dresden really appealed to me. If anywhere in Germany out of Bavaria, it’s Dresden where I would want to live.

Freiburg to Duesseldorf

Next stop was Freiburg to catch up with Gregor. I quite liked Freiburg, it’s got a beautiful old town centre:

105 Altstadt

We also went to Vauban, a suburb that I wanted to have a look at because it’s a low car development. I found it to be an incredibly pleasant place, with beautiful modern houses:

113 Vauban

Even more than in Bavaria, PV is absolutely everywhere:

117 PV ist ueberall

In Mannheim, I met up with Stefan, who I know from my trip to Indonesia in 1997. We visited the castle which was nice but not overwhelming, and then had an excellent pizza for lunch. What’s unique in Mannheim I think is their way of street names & numbering. In fact, the city centre is split up into squares, and addresses consist of a letter for the square, and a number for the house. Here’s a street sign:

119 Quadrate in Mannheim

My next stop was Duesseldorf to visit Martina. We know each other from a paddling trip in the early 90’s and now she’s got a family with three kids. It was a nice evening so we had a barbecue at the Rhine:

122 Ich Johannes Martina Anna Willi Michael

Back to the big trip again – Vienna and up the Alpspitze

Here are a couple of photos from Vienna where Heidi and I visited friends back from the old Freising days.

Petra and her little baby boy:

064 Petra und Markus

And then Heidi, Uschi and myself on a mission in town seeking shade and cold drinks:

069 Heidi Uschi und ich in der Strandbar

As usual, it was great fun to go to Vienna with Heidi to visit Petra and Uschi, and I hope there will be many more visits to come!

Back in Munich and up the Alpspitze with Sandra on the following absolutely perfect day:

075 Auf die Alpspitze

Hot, not a cloud in the clear blue sky, and no thunderstorms. So we thought we had plenty of time for the loop that Klaus had recommended to me. So when we reached the summit, we were still very relaxed and had a long break enjoying the stunning views all around, for example the Zugspitze:

085 Zugspitzmassiv

But when we started to descend, things got a bit more difficult than just having to “take our hands out of our pockets” as Klaus had described it. It turned out to be quite a climb, down a narrow ridge line, and no room for mistakes. Scary stuff! We were both glad when we had reached the Grieskarscharte from where things got a bit easier:

092 nochmal Grieskar

By then, it had dawned on us that we needed to hurry up in order to catch the last gondola. So we made our way back as quickly as we could, and in the end even had time for a cold drink. What I’m pointing to in the photo below is the cliff face that we had to climb down… just another bit of “hands out of pocket” track (track??? Bloody steep crawl hanging on to a wire!):

095 Sandra und ich an der Bergstation

So even though we were quite relieved to have made it back safely, it was a great tramp and I would highly recommend it. Just be prepared that it may take a little longer & involve more adrenalin than you may have expected…