Holidays and Other Excursions

Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Euro Tour 11 – Budapest and Home

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Usually the last day of any tour can be a little wasted as time is spent waiting for collection and return to airport and home.  Today is very different as nearly all of the participants book an extra organised trip to visit the famous Childrens’ Railway and the cog railway.  I had looked at attempting to cover these on our own – so was relieved when the additional tour was organised and the cost was about £20 each.

Normally there is tram route from the City out to the terminus at Huvosvolgy.  As our coach gets closer to the destination we can see that the line is completely closed at present and has been replaced by buses.  Wholesale modernisation by the look of it.  And our coach has to detour around various road works.

The Childrens’ Railway provides children with an education in the ways of the world as well as being a reward for good performance in school.  They learn jobs on the railway and interaction with the passengers – checking tickets, saluting our departures from each station and signalling and related matters.  For the humble passenger the train travels through some very attractive countryside – although getting decent pictures seems to have escaped me today!

If there is time available there are various activities which can be accessed from the stations along the lines – a zip wire and various walks in the woodlands.  We however are simply doing the journey in one direction.

At the destination it is a very short walk to the terminus of the Cog Wheel Railway.  The current cog line dates from 1973 when it was completely renewed but the line first opened in 1874, merely 5 years after the Washington Cog Railway we visited last year.  Again we are taking a single journey down the line – which passes through an expensive residential area back towards the City Centre.

The photographs are here.

We had identified another restaurant within walking distance of the hotel – so once back we walk there.  Again it is very hot (it had been cooler in the hills).  To our disappointment it seems the restaurant is closed.  We walk round in a bit of a circle but the only place we can find open is the one we used on the first night – so it is I think the only time on this holiday that we have eaten in the same place twice.

Once lunch is finished we wander back to the hotel and enjoy the air conditioning until it is time to return home.

London - Berlin579
Berlin - Prague175
Prague - Vienna157
Vienna - Budapest133
Budapest - London926

So including the coach and river trips this looks like a total of 2000 miles.  I am pleased to report that once we were back Jackie’s sciatica did eventually clear up – but it was a long slow process.

In November / December we are heading to South America for Chile, Argentina and Brazil.  Watch this space.


Euro Tour 10 – Budapest

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Today is officially a free day and in view of the excellent weather (the heatwave continues) it seems entirely reasonable to us to go and make use of the Szechenyi Baths.  By walking back to the station where we arrived it is possible to catch a direct service to the Millennium Monument we visited yesterday and then walk through the park grounds to the baths.

Obtaining an entry ticket is not difficult – but working out where to go inside turns out to be a bit more complex.  We find the changing cabins and take all of our stuff with us.  We arrive just about in time to get two sun loungers (and move them into some shade) before entering the large pools outside.  They are quite busy – and the temperature of the pool is about 32 deg C – and the air temperature is not much higher.

Whilst I do not believe the pools are as effective as the spa at Rotarua in easing aches and pains they certainly provide some relief.  Inside the building there are a variety of pools at different temperatures and we both take an opportunity to relax in these before departing.

We start walking across the park and I am reminded we were told of a couple of local cafes when we were on the tour so decide that a light lunch here would be a good idea before we head back.  Jackie is feeling the heat and is looking forward to the air conditioning in the hotel and is very glad when we get back there!

I decide to return to the centre of town and to see if I can traverse the funicular which was closed yesterday – I also have to master an ATM for some cash – but after our practice earlier on the holiday this is not difficult.  I can report that the funicular is working and I take it up the hill; at the top I am in time for the local changing of the guard; then I return to the bottom.  It is very hot and I consume a huge beaker of orange juice.  Dehydrating!  I walk back across the Chain Bridge and return to our hotel on the metro.

Photographs of my solo excursion are here.

In the evening we are back on the group tour.  Our fellow travellers have apparently also enjoyed the various Baths which exist in the City.  We are taken to the Danube for a river cruise and dinner.

From the river we are able to see some beautiful sights.  With the river cruise completed we rejoin our coach noting that the next party are ready to embark – they keep these cruisers busy.  The coach takes us to the top of Gellert Hill which enables us to enjoy some views of a lit up Budapest at night.

Photographs of this evening’s expedition are here.

Some of us remain in the reception for a drink and a chat once we are back at the hotel.

Euro Tour 9 – Budapest

Monday 31 July 2017

Formal organised tour for the group this morning.  Our first calling point is the Millennium Monument, or Heroes Square, celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the formation of the Hungarian state in either 895 or 896 AD; the construction commenced in 1896 and was completed in 1900.  The parkland adjacent to the Monument surrounds the famous Szechenyi Baths, so the location of these is now known.  There are a number of other public baths in Budapest.

Our tour moves along and we see some more wonderful architecture as we head towards the City centre.  Our next stop allowing us to visit toilets and have a cup of coffee is adjacent to St Stephen’s Church.  It is one of the largest churches in Hungary and was completed in 1905.

Our final destination is the Castle district which is atop a hill on the Buda (western) side of the Danube; Pest was on the eastern side of the river.  They were united as a single city in 1873; previously Buda had been the capital of Hungary.

Featuring in the photographs is the Matthias Church, although we did not go inside the external features are magnificent.  It is adjacent to the Fishermans’ Bastion.  This accords some marvellous views over the city.

This marks the end of the official tour and we decide to return independently to our hotel, mainly because of a wish to use the funicular to descend river level.  However the funicular is closed for the day – and in the upper station I can see a man with a feather duster industriously removing cobwebs!  It was a hot walk to the top station, it feels even hotter as we walk back to the bus stop (especially as we subsequently establish that there are other powered routes up and down!).

Once we have identified the right bus to catch (!) it is a straightforward ride downhill, through a tunnel and across the Chain Bridge.  Once on the Pest side of the river we leave the bus and in a side street which leads back to St Stephens Church we find a series of restaurants and make a choice after studying the menus.  The sun is beating down so it is nice to be in shade as we eat lunch.

It is still very hot when we set out for a little walk along the eastern edge of the Danube.  We have a very specific target in mind – Shoes on the Danube Bank.  In late 1944 / early 1945 a large number of Jews were executed on the orders of the local fascists and this memorial was created in 2005.

A little further along is the magnificent Parliament Building.  We only see the outside but we understand that the inside is equally magnificent.  It was inaugurated in 1896 again marking the 1000th anniversary of the State but not completed until 1904.

There is an adjacent metro station facilitating return to the hotel.

Later in the day we walk along to Blaha Lujza and find Cafe New York around the corner.  Again this had been identified for a visit prior to leaving home and we made a wrong choice – we chose to eat a meal – but the service is designed to cater simply for those coming to have some cake and a drink and not for a meal.  Beautiful inside as the photos on the web demonstrate!  Oh well you win some and you lose some!

Euro Tour 8 – Vienna to Budapest

Sunday 30 July 2017

We have some spare time this morning but decide to take it very easy as we covered some ground around Vienna yesterday.  We have a lunchtime departure from the same new station at which we arrived and we can see it looks very new with clean track, nicely ballasted.  I manage to take some photos of trains but these are not brilliant.

Now we head east south east (roughly) to Budapest and as we go it is obvious that it is getting warmer, indeed much warmer.  As with all of our other trips the crossing of borders is unobserved without passport checks.

Budapest is in the grip of a heatwave.  It is a relatively short walk (of 600-700 yards) from station to our hotel but it certainly feels further as we adjust to the heat.  The oddity here is that we were originally told we would be at another hotel yet our guide assures us this is the facility which is normally used.  We are pleased the air conditioning works well and is noticeably quiet in our bedroom so we can sleep.  It is particularly welcome after the heat outside.

The Hotel Bristol may be convenient for the station (and be relatively attractive internally) but is surrounded by a less attractive selection of rough sleepers and what Jackie assures me are drug dealers.  Never having met one of either group to my knowledge I cannot be sure about the latter; the former are self evident!  During our stay here there is one individual sleeping on the same bench in both the morning, afternoon and evening when we pass.   By the last time we pass him, he did appear to have moved so was presumably still alive.  Another was sleeping on top of a wall, if he rolled to his left he would not just fall to the ground but all to the bottom of the steps down into the underground station – a long way down.

In normal circumstances the 600 yard walk to the Underground station would not be a barrier to moving around easily – but the high temperature (around 38 deg C) and the pain Jackie is suffering from her sciatica made the walk less than enthralling.  Luckily the nearest supermarket is very close by and we can get water with ease.

Budapest, as is well known, is actually two cities: Buda and Pest, separated by the same Danube river last seen in Vienna; I wonder if we are seeing the same water pass by?

Our group dinner tonight is just around the block at a very convenient local restaurant.  Good simple food.  Very nice.

Euro Tour 7 – Vienna

Saturday 29 July 2017

Today is a free day according to the Rail Discoveries itinerary so our plan is to visit the Vienna Ringstrasse and get much better photographs than were possible yesterday.  Also we are celebrating 28 years of marriage and a special dinner is planned.

We walk down the hill to the local tobacconist and obtain some tickets to roam the public transport network for not very much money and then a little further down the hill to the inbound tram stop (some of the roads are one way so the return journey will be on a different line – more confusion).  This takes us to a little short of the Ringstrasse in the Museum Quarter.  We can walk out to the Ringstrasse and walk quite a distance as far as Shottentor.  It is flat and we are going at a gentle pace as it is turning pretty warm this morning!

Shottentor is a great interchange and after studying the map I find that we can take a tram service direct to one end of the park which then requires a (perhaps too long) walk to the famous Ferris wheel at Prater, as seen in the Third Man film.  The walk is level, but further than anticipated.  Indeed so well landscaped is the area that we simply cannot see the wheel until we pretty close to it, like the observation tower in Prague it is hiding behind a bank of trees!  Around the Ferris wheel is a fun fair including another wheel – but we only want the Ferris wheel.

Half of the original cabins on the wheel have been removed and some are now used for little historical displays of the history of Vienna in the waiting area, to occupy people if the place is busy.  Today however we are able to join a short queue and join the third cabin to come round.  It is a bright clear day and we have a good view across to the end of the Alps- they end here as they run into the Danube river.

Jackie enjoys the trip and we hopefully have some decent pictures.  At this end of the park it is a short walk to the metro/underground and we find our way onto the line in the right direction (signposting is not as clear as we might like) but when we reach Opera station we nearly come out of the wrong exit.  Once we have the right exit we are only a short walk, now in a very warm environment to Sacher hotel where at Café Sacher we join a very short queue for a table.

I choose some wieners for lunch and get two as I have to avoid the inevitable sugar in the torte!  Jackie has ice cream cake and not the torte as it looks slightly dry when served to others. The ice cream cake looked like this:

All goes down rather well so it makes for a nice light lunch.

We wander to the nearest fiacre stand but Jackie does not like the look of the ponies (or perhaps their drivers), so we have a longer walk in the heat back to the St Stephens Church and take a pair of greys for a little trip of 20 minutes.

Jackie and I get serenaded on as we travel around!  Both photos from Jackie’s collection!

We have walked a lot today and we end up quite a way from the Museum quarter to be able to take a return tram to our hotel – so have another lengthy walk which requires several stops in the heat.  Once back we can have a nap before going out again.

In the evening we have about a 30 minute downhill walk to Restaurant Mini as there is no easy direct transport.  And taking the metro would probably have taken about the same length of time.  On our walk we noted that high end stereo systems are obviously selling well as we see a well stocked shop with no visible prices (so more than we can afford) including valve amplifiers.  Some fellow travellers also saw similar places.  HiFi is alive and well in Austria!

As ever Jackie recorded our stunning meal so with her photos and descriptions here we go:

On the left: “Tempura prawns with an amazing orange dressed salad! Gorgeous!”.
On the right: “Tuna ummm with wasabi apple! Was fab!”  Her words – my starter!

For main course: “We both had duck with Beetroot and mushroom.  Risotto! Divine!”

At the end of the meal: “We both had chilli chocolate soufflé with sour cherries! I want to move in!”.

We then had a 30 minute stroll back to our hotel but it was a bright warm evening; just slightly uphill rather than downhill.

Euro Tour 6 – Prague to Vienna

Friday 28 July 2017

An earlier start today as our train leaves before 9, so we packed up the night before almost ready to go.  Once again the train not only has our booked party but also a large number of back packers.  My journey is occupied with listening to podcasts and catching up with The Archers.  Not sure if our fellow travellers have managed to catch up with getting podcasts but it seems unlikely.  We are in a “quiet” coach so I can merely sing along to Barwick Green so only Jackie can hear me.

At points we are also rolling along at a decent speed as this on board display makes clear (with apologies for the quality):

In Vienna we arrive at the brand new Hauptbahnhof.  After 15 years of planning and building the railway lines have been connected across Vienna (no doubt at some cost to older buildings) and there are now through services and not just a ring of stations on the various sides of the city.  Our local guide is waiting and leads us down the escalator to the waiting coach as we are straight into a city tour.

Jackie does not get a window seat on the coach and so we decide to return in the morning for some better photographs of the magnificent buildings on Ringstrasse.  The coach then drops us, not far I note from Sacher hotel, and we are taken by foot to the central Cathedral.  At the suggestion of our guide we choose to visit the inside St Peter’s church which is very elegantly and wonderfully decorated.

After a break we walk through the City passing through by Hofburg Palace; we also pass the home of the Spanish Riding School (there are no scheduled training sessions we can attend in our short time here unfortunately); and some hugely impressive architecture.  A mixture of photos can be found here.

Our coach journey also provides some orientation of the entire city as we are also taken over to the newer part of the City on the other side of the Danube.  Our hotel is a little way out of town and we are given some guidance on the local buses and trams as well as how to buy tickets to permit travel as it is only just walking distance.

The dinner tonight for all tour participants is in our hotel and can be best described as a little plain.  The main course of wiener schnitzel is of course typical Viennese fare; however compared with a similar item seen on a plate when passing through central Vienna earlier it seems a little small!  This does not inspire us as far as breakfast is concerned!





Euro Tour 5 – Prague

Thursday 27 July 2017

Today is a free day according to the official itinerary and we can therefore start a lot later, not only taking breakfast late but also setting out from the hotel much later in the morning.  As last night we take the metro but this time only as far as Staromestske and we then walk past the edge of the Jewish cemetery (given the buzz around much of the town this is very quiet) to the Cech bridge as our booked river cruise departs from the closely adjacent jetty (stage 5).

We are booked on the 2 hour lunchtime cruise which takes us along the Vltava and up the lock in the centre of the city and then we go further upstream to just beyond the railway bridge (Železniční most).  The boat then turns around returning via a complicated manoeuvre to allow a good look at the Charles Bridge.  The waterway is busy at this point and I have a feeling some of the waiting was also to allow proper pathing of various boats on shorter cruises.  We then go downstream as far as we can without going through the next lock down turning around just short of Hlávkův most before returning to our starting point at stage 5.

Lunch is generously catered with, amongst much else, a huge ham having slices carved off, lots of salad and a decent selection of cheeses.  Jackie has some very good ginger cake.  Our photos of the river trip are here.

One fascinating building we did see in the distance was the Dancing House, which is better explained and illustrated in the linked post than my pictures – a very different piece of architecture.

As we wander around the City we saw a lot of these cars showing tourists the sites (with thanks to Jackie for the photo):

After the cruise we take a tram along the riverside and then walk across the Vltava to catch the funicular to Petrin.  The queue seems lengthy but moves fairly rapidly.  It is helped by Jackie heading off to the ticket office for the funicular whilst I remain in the queue (we are following the example of people ahead of us in the queue).  It is a pity that the fare is simply for the funicular and not also combined with the tower as we have another queue there!  It is not Disney though!

At the top of the hill the observation tower (which previously we have been able to see from all over Prague) is now invisible!  The posted map is useless as all the other visitors have stabbed the “You are here” point as well as the location of the observation tower, so the descriptions are obliterated and I cannot work out which is which!  The map however gives the Czech translation of “Observation Tower” and nearby a finger sign showing the same Czech translation points the way (behind a bank of trees).  We follow this indicator and soon find ourselves in a queue for the ticket office, which to our consternation only takes cash.

There is an ATM is in the same office so after some kerfuffle getting the right language (for us) Jackie is able to draw some cash; the ticket office then wants a smaller note than the one dispensed by the ATM.  Sometimes despair sets in!  We do not fancy taking the staircase to the top and the tiny lift can take 5 or 6 people, so we have to await the second departure.

Photos of the funicular and of Prague from the tower are here.

Once up at the top of the observation tower the movement of people and the slight breeze means that the swaying of the tower is discernible so we soon return to the ground floor and a refreshing brew ere retracing our steps to the funicular and then waiting a tram to return us to the hotel.  There are a lot of trams here and they provide an excellent service, at least as far as our limited usage is concerned.

In the early evening we head down the hill from the hotel in search of a local restaurant which we find after marginally taking a wrong turning.  It is packed, noisy and obviously extremely popular.

We decide on a traditional main course of duck and potato dumplings which does include a decent piece of duck so it is a good solid meal.  We see various other fellow travellers and our tour guide partaking of meals in the restaurant!


Euro Tour 4 – Prague

Wednesday 26 July 2017

This morning we have a guided tour (with that 08:15 start) of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.

We are only aboard the coach for a few minutes – it is taking us to Prague Castle and thereafter we are on foot for the rest of the tour, luckily it is nearly all downhill!

The castle is a huge complex and is recorded as  the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 750,000 square feet; hidden away deep inside are the Bohemian Crown Jewels.  The complex also remains the official residence of the Czech President, although not in the main palace areas.

We see the changing of the Guard (not very numerous to be honest) before moving on to the dominant building of the complex which is St Vitus Cathedral.  A brief word on St Vitus and his dance before we move on.  He lived in Sicily and died as a Christian martyr under Roman rule in 303AD aged 12 or 13.  He was tortured and as this did not shake his faith was placed among lions who would not touch him.  He was therefore placed in boiling oil and danced as he died (according to legend).  He was adopted as the patron saint of dancers and it became an established belief that to dance in front of his statue would give a year of good health to the dancer; this became a common belief in Germany in the sixteenth century.

We visit other parts of the castle including the Vladislav Hall leaving it by the Horse Staircase, which was of sufficient size to allow for ridden horses to enter and leave, presumably very carefully.

Outside of the main complex we visit the houses originally created as accommodation for archers, later becoming the residences of artists and writers, including Franz Kafka, the author.  The houses had easy access to the ramparts from where the original occupants could send arrows down on those attacking the castle.  The ramparts have a museum of military weapons.  The interiors of the houses have been refitted to show the typical usage by potters and seamstresses etc during the period of occupation by creative people.

Our party then commence the descent to the city itself.  You can enter the castle this way but you would be exhausted before you started a tour of the Castle (particularly if the arrows were raining down from above)!

The group reach the west side of Charles Bridge and we take a coffee break before we progress across the bridge itself, a very crowded place with many visitors.  As we progress the architecture is simply magnificent and the photos mentioned below try to capture the wonderful style which exists.

The guide then leads us into Staromestske Square which is the old town centre square and where traders would come from all directions to trade.  It is now encircled by cafes and restaurants for tourists, so the use may have changed but the visitors still come here in huge numbers, probably larger than the original use.  The astronomical clock is not working properly as it is undergoing further restoration but it is still chiming the hours in front of large crowds.  It dates back to 1410.

My photographs are here.

The guided tour ends and we thread through the Staromestske Square and then head down a quiet side street where we find a small place for lunch.  We order a platter of Italian meats and cheeses which turns out to be more than we can eat.  We also have some alcohol which seems to addle brains slightly as we are unable to follow the given instructions to find the trams!  However we do eventually find the tram stop for a route which stops upside our hotel.  Once back at the hotel it is time to have a rest and upload some photos.

In the evening we take the Metro (underground) back into town going as far as Mustek which allows for direct access into Wenceslas Square, which in contrast to the name is actually very oblong in shape and this is now the main modern shopping area.  We then head back towards Staromestske Square via a market and some more picturesque alleys for our booking at Café Mozart.  This destination had been identified and booked prior to our departure as having a jazz evening on the spare night we have in Prague and we enjoy a reasonable four course meal.  The singer/pianist was supported by an excellent saxophone player.  It was less jazz standards than popular music given a jazzy edge.  Slightly disappointing was the overall customer care before and particularly at the end of the meal – the lights go up and it is exceptionally clear that the guests should go and go now!



Euro Tour 3 – Berlin to Prague

Tuesday 25 July 2017

It is still raining this morning so we remain in the hotel until our lunchtime departure.  The time is used firstly to get an internet connection.  Euro roaming is now within my monthly data cap which means I can use my phone as a hot spot.  Then using the Flickr app I can upload photos and progress is made!  It is not as elegant as the old app on the old phone which could do it direct from the photo gallery app without involving the Flickr app.  I probably should investigate another app for the photo gallery; it would be particularly good if the app could load an entire sub directory of photos on the phone straight into an album as I move photos from the two cameras to the phone before uploading.

Our train is electrically hauled (the station in Berlin is dark and the photos cannot be used) and feels similar in some respects to BR mark 2 stock but obviously benefiting from the larger loading gauge.  2+2 seating or three aside in second class compartments (and yes they do still have compartments).  I did not go forward to identify the arrangements in first class.  Some airline seating is used for half of the coach.  The trains are loaded with a lot of rucksack carrying “students” – presumably on interrail or similar.

The area of Germany through which we are passing is fairly flat and agricultural as we head south.  Throughout Germany there is none of the advertised wifi on the train; magically once we enter the Czech Republic everyone’s phones connect (much pinging everywhere) and we are all catching up with the rest of the world.   The occupants of neighbouring seats (who are also on our tour) appear not to be able to get The Archers as they complain about not being up to date.  It seems odd as I believe BBC Radio iPlayer should allow downloads – and certainly my podcast downloads work; I do not admit to having the episodes concerned!  One of our fellow tour travellers is listening to operatic music (on headphones) and humming along (slightly tunelessly) to the sounds which emanate to the wider world.  It is a pity really as if the opera had not been imposed on us I could have been making copies of The Archers available.  I am mean!

Catering on board  appeared limited; I think I had the only two sandwiches on the train (which reminds of the situation on the train to Portland last year).   As we progress through the first part of the Czech Republic we are following the river Elbe and the scenery is rather more attractive.  Then the sun comes out which is more cheering before we are once again passing through wide open farming countryside.  It darkens again before we arrive, although it does not rain.

When we arrive I have a brief moment to take photos of some colourful local trains.

The Hotel Diplomat is functional although some of the decoration upstairs might need slight refurbishment.  We are a little way out of the main city.  However we do have a great view of Prague Cathedral from our window which looks like this:


The hotel does not register a credit card – so it is all pay as you go.  At least there will be little delay settling the bill.

Dinner on the first floor is a buffet, for me tomato soup, beef stew, not spicy.  Finished off by some local cheeses.  It is a decent improvement on the buffet in Berlin as the selection is far more varied.  Then early to bed as we have to be away from the hotel at 08:15 apparently.

Euro Tour 2 – Berlin

Monday 24 July 2017

Breakfast is a little like dinner the previous night and is inevitably a buffet.  It is good on all of the cold options but a little lacking in variety on cooked items.  Several styles of egg, but only one type of sausage and no bacon!  Good coffee though (but not perhaps damn fine coffee).

This morning is a three hour coach tour of the major local sites in Berlin.  Our first stop is at the short remaining portion of the Berlin Wall seeing it from the now decorated eastern side.  The decoration is explained here.  Although the Wall has been largely removed the route it followed through Berlin is delineated throughout the city by a twin strip of pebbles which marks the space it occupied through the streets.

Moving onwards our next halting point is the remnant of the infamous Checkpoint Charlie – really just a photo opportunity.  As the tour continues we briefly move into the former Allied occupied sector (West Berlin) which in the period between 1961 and 1989 saw many of the facilities in the former city become duplicated – two zoos, two opera houses etc.  We are driven through the Tiergarten before a stop at the Brandenburg Gate, that great symbol of Berlin.  It was here that the television scenes of the people dismantling the wall in 1989 were so powerful as the former East Germany effectively collapsed – along with much of the Communist system as we have previously seen in south east Asia.

We return to the hotel and try to upload some photos but the software on my phone simply does not seem to want to do as instructed.  This Lenovo / Motorola has different software to my beloved Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and this is the first time I have tried uploading on it.  Another learning curve to reach the right solution.  (The right new way of doing uploads was eventually identified!).

The photographs from this morning are here.

Then we wander out the same way as yesterday and find a restaurant selling curry wurst.  We share a small portion consisting of a sausage, pronounced dodgy by Jackie, covered in ketchup which has been slightly spiced.  Jackie largely eats the fries and sauce whilst I eat the sausage.

Our restaurant was at the rear of the catholic cathedral and from there it is a simple meander into the Museum Quarter which we do emerging by the Opera House, opposite which they have just started rebuilding a former palace which will become the Humboldts Museum.

The photographs taken during this meander are here.

In the evening we again walk over to the TV tower and after some problems with tickets we make it to the revolving restaurant for our planned dinner.  Over about an hour we steadily rotate watching Berlin beneath us.  It seems that during the sixties many cities believed having a rotating restaurant way up a tower was a very good idea.  Only the BT Tower in London seems to fail to appreciate that it remains a good idea!  Views across the city are good and we can see down to the Brandenburg gate and the river Spree beneath us is also busy.  My photos are here.

This is my rather nice main course of Stone Bass.

When we emerge the promised rain has arrived – but it is only a spattering as we walk back to the hotel and into the ground floor bar again.  This time due to a lack of normal seats we remove our shoes and sit in the padded cabin area previously mentioned.  Certainly comfortable enough to go to sleep.

Time to move on tomorrow.

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