Euro Trip – A good idea from Germany – the 9 Euro Ticket

So I’m over there in Deutschland, and the partner says to me, “I’ve got you one of these 9 Euro tickets.”

“Ah, I’ve heard of these.”

Yes I have, due to the online job that I have, where I communicate daily with many Germans.

It’s an (was) interesting idea and one that gave even more benefits, besides just being able to use it on a train.

You could use it on buses, trams, underground systems(?), everything BUT the ICE trains in Germany. The ICEs are the Inter City Express trains, that are not only quicker than normal ones, but have a good deal fewer stops as well.

Not only that, but another huge benefit, was that it did NOT expire after you used it, but was valid for the entire month of August (I believe?).


Many of the trains / buses were packed, and some were not, so it was not a panacea; OTOH, it was just SO convenient to use, and no doubt the German authorities wanted to see just how much of the public transport their citizens would use for one month, if it was, in effect, free.

Why oh why don’t we at least TRY to do this here?

CB

Europe – Start of my last trip, Hull to Rotterdam via the Ferry.

Very comfy bed in a double room cabin

I have to admit, normally I prefer DFDS Ferries, but this slightly older P & O one was perfectly fine, though it was packed with families and their kids.

We had stayed the night before in York (blog soon!), and then caught the evening (early, almost missed it!) ferry to Rotterdam, from Hull. I prefer this, rather than going to Amsterdam, as I’ve always felt (perhaps wrongly) that it is easier to get out of Rotterdam.

And the room was plenty big enough, though it did not have a window. Not really bothered, as I was really only in the room to sleep and shower. Also, there was even a “desk”, though the Wi-Fi was simply too expensive to pay for; I believe it was 9 euros for 3 hours.

The partner in crime had the top bunk, whilst I took the bottom bed, and yes the pillows looked and were, not my cup of tea, but two of them together were just firm enough for a good night’s sleep.

And speaking of showering, it has always amazed me, just how much “kit” there is in one of these ferry’s bathrooms!

Complete, even with shower gel.

Next will be the road trip to the Black Forest.

CB

Euro Trip – Germany and France – A random walk in Bavaria

Yes, in Bavaria again, and have always found it very good, to just go for a walk and see if there is anything different that strikes me.

I’ve been to Germany many times, but something always hit me, that many who have not been here, would probably find quite odd.

Yes, the above is a gigantic (not sure if I’ve blogged on this before) climbing wall, right next to a children’s school or nursery (a KITA perhaps).

With a smaller wall, for the children I presume?


It’s part of a club, and is right in the middle of a housing estate; but looks very well maintained. And the walk there, involved some grapes, growing at the rock wall by the sidewalk! Amazing.

Equally, just round the corner, as this was a Sunday walk, came across one of these huge quality / inexpensive German supermarkets, where the amount and variety of goods is amazing.

This was a Kaufland, and owing to German laws, it is not open on Sundays! In fat, NOTHING is open on Sundays, except bakeries, some restaurants, and petrol stations (maybe more, but am simply not sure).


As you can see, NO ONE is there, as the car park is empty.

Interesting.

CB

This Week – More on trips to Portugal, cafe’s, the Highlands, but first, I went to Wimbledon

Every now and then, I get lucky, and several years ago I did. We received some tickets to the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, and then were, very kindly, allowed to defer them until this year (Hello Covid, etc).

After the Women’s Doubles final

I’ll show more later this week, but will always remember seeing Nick Kyrgios in his first major final.

CB

Portugal – Part 4 – Lisbon City Centre – A brief (again) visit

After the previous day, decided to head to the city centre and away from the Alfama hills.

Lisbon Underground – Compact, efficient

When there, went west! Not to the hills and the hoard of tourists, or so I thought! They were everywhere! The place was crammed with every nationality known.

I managed to go to the go to place, facing the ocean and the huge square there.

There were quite a view people already there, concerning the early morning when I arrived. If you ever come here, go further west, and there are many more opportunities to grab an old street car, but more on this in a few days.

Here I noticed even a beer museum! Why not, but it was not open yet, and I had little time.

Beer Museum, Arco da Rua Augusta

From here, I walked along these streets to the west side, and came across a multitude of pubs, cafes, sights and restaurants.

Lisbon Streets

And saw one of the better tourist “things” to do ever, a mini car, that can be hired for two intrepid adventurers.

Mini cars for rent if Lisbon

CB

Portugal – Part 3, Lisbon Centre (Alfama), food, some notes . . .

After settling into my hotel, and having a overnight sleep, tried out the breakfast; but in this case, there was none? Hence, decided to go around the corner to buy some croissants, etc.

I found a metro market called Auchan – which is actually a French based shop, and noticed one or two peculiar but helpful things.

Order / Collect – Interesting Idea

One was the ability to order and then collect your food in an area at the very front of the entrance. I know there are shops here who do this, but maybe not to this detail; completely in English also!

The other was some bizarre (apologies for the black & white photo) chart on the wall at the entrance, describing something? Ah, the French strike again.

Instructions?

After this and some work, did a wander downtown, mainly to meet up with family in the Alfama region, of the city centre.

If you haven’t been here before, it’s a maze of hills, restaurants, yellow trams and tourists! OTOH, it is brilliant! Just go for a wander here, you CAN NOT go wrong.

Here, I walked by the coast and then by several places (Maritime Museum and a Taylors Port tasting room), that I will save for another day. BTW, the weather was awful, I seriously thought it was going to snow!

After this, I had a simply wonderful meal at one of the hundreds of places to choose from.

Restaurant in Alfama

Afterwards, used the metro to return to my hotel, and loved some of the wallpaper.

Lisbon Underground

CB

Portugal – Part 2, Breakfast, 1st Class train to Lisbon, Lisbon walk & Curry

The next day, after a sound breakfast, which was interesting as the hotel was just opening up from lock-down, I caught the train to Lisbon, via first class (which was quite reasonable – only about £45 for a return).

Breakfast

After a short walk through Faro to the station, I noted that it seemed quiet, but that there appears to be some renovating and modernising going on about here.

Faro shots

After this, I arrived at the station, where I was very pleasantly surprised by the state and style of the train.

First Class section of Portuguese trains

The station was clean and though at first, I thought I would be the only one there, it filled up quite quickly, with many tourists from North America.

Station shots

With my carriage having one of those “old fashioned” type of doors, which I personally, find reassuring.

Old?

We got in to Lisbon Oriente, with it’s stunning ceiling, that looks better at night, if truth be told.

Lisbon station Roof

After disembarking from the train, and leaving the station, I decided to go for a long walk (about 2 hours) along the east side of the city, that included the Marvila section, to arrive at my hotel (via the underground).

The first part was severely modern, though like most major cities nowadays, has rental bikes.

Marvila area and bikes

The next part, appeared to be under renewal, and can only be a positive thing for the city.

Marvila renovations

Finally, after I reached a point just north of the Alfama Old Town section, I got on the very modern underground, to go to my hotel that was only a few stops north.

Lisbon Underground

After I arrived at my room, a very utilitarian one at that, I was starving, so I

went around the corner, and was pleasantly surprised to find a curry house! I must say, it was lovely and had food that was served slightly differently than the places I’ve been to in the UK.

Curry with an attention to detail

CB

Portugal – Part 1, the flight and a stay in Faro

First of all, I decided after looking at the ridiculous prices of flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh (direct flights) to Lisbon, to go from the little used Prestwick Airport on the west coast of Scotland on a flight to Faro. They mainly only serve Portugal and predominantly Spain, but at very reasonable prices.

Shot of Prestwick, direct from the Bus stop arriving

Firstly, it is so easy to get there, whether by bus (above) or train (below); much easier to get to than Glasgow Airport; still with no train link, though this was tried in the past.

Prestwick Train Station

Inside, the airport is very empty, short queues, and there’s even a wall bar (apologies for the photo), to commemorate Elvis Presley’s only stop in the UK, back in 1960. Though he may have had a secret trip (earlier) to London.

Various shots of Prestwick Airport

The flight was naturally with Ryanair, where I had one of their “deals” with tea.


Once in Faro (for the night), I stayed in a relatively inexpensive (50 euros) hotel, the Hotel Alfonso, that had the typical spartan, tiled look – all I needed!


It was interesting to be in Faro, as the centre of the city has seen better days, so with my late arrival, I had few choices to find a restaurant; though the one I did find (after hotel advice) was perfectly adequate; even with a large screen for the late football.

Sto. Antonio restaurant

The Sto. Antonio (?), if that is what it’s called, served a variety of dishes, mainly Portuguese, but it was a gentle introduction to the cuisine I would be eating for the next few days.

Salad and Gazela green wine

With even the little things, like presentation, quite different to what I am used to. I had one of the “green” wines that the Portuguese do so well – In this case, it was a Gazela wine, and at only 9%, it was quaffable and not too heavy.

Wine and table water

CB

This week; Birnam, Scotland (Beatrix Potter land) and other observations, cafe’s, etc.

What a week, more being in the hospital recently, but it makes you even more grateful when you are not there!

Birnam Hotel, Birnam, Perthshire, Scotland

Had another Perthshire trip in the bag, this time to the sister “city” of Dunkeld, Birnam. Maybe it’s the poorer little relation, but still has something, particularly the home / place / whatever of Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit books.

Birnam Hotel, Blue Plaque

The hotel was right out of the 19th century! I love these type of things and I came across a “floor light” or whatever it’s called? I’ve never seen one of these things. But if you looked above it, to the roof, maybe it was a proto-type skylight? Who knows?

Skylight from the 19th century?

Also, there seems to be a little bit of money in this place, as various rooms looked completely up to date, which can only be a good thing.

Various shots

And it was only opposite, where there were various Potter types of elements, and also a theatre, museum / café dedicated to her memory.

Various things a la Beatrix Potter

Where the attendant was nice enough to let us have a look, even though they were officially closed.

CB

Dunoon – Final part – Burgh Hall café and OMOS Exhibition

Was told by the attendant here, that only a few years ago, this building, the Burgh Hall, was vacant and then purchased for £1.00 – what a bargain, and what an interesting inside here – with both an exhibition hall and a café – both work very well.

Dunoon Burgh Hall

As for the exhibition area, at the time there was a film / projection on black history in Scotland. Don’t know if it was my thing, but on the other hand, I’ve always been a sucker for these type of avant-garde installations; normally on a wall or screen, with much space about.

OMOS Installation, Dunoon, Scotland

It had a flow to it and an atmosphere that I adored.

Various shots from OMOS

As for the cafe, it had my favourite, being Coronation Chicken, that was a ten from 10!

CB