Archive for October, 2014

Day 37 – The Carnival is Over

Posted: October 26, 2014 in Travel

And so it all ends. Check out at Hyatt was smooth as expected although despite being asked twice if we had used mini-bar and confirming twice NO we still had to wait for an in room confirmation it appears. Never happened before . Poor form. I do love Emirates but a bit tired of Dubai . The chauffeur was monosyllabic at best but got us there in good time. The BC check in was busy and mainly serviced by unhappy ladies it appears. Still it is a massive terminal now and we then took a train to our gates which is the A380 hub I assume. Nice lounge of course and better still dedicated entry via skylane to upper deck of plane – no more buses! Boarded in plenty of time and things looking good allowing for some delay as very busy airport. But no apparently we had to wait for some late passengers, missed ” our window” and didn’t leave until an hour later. Yes sitting in BC lie flat beds waiting is not akin to getting teeth pulled agreed but still if you have rules bloody stick to them! What is the point of sticking up signs everywhere that “boarding closes 20 mins before departure. If not on you will not be allowed on ” . Bullshit as usual. Like every organised tour you go on there is always some asshole who holds everyone else up and they are allowed to live yet alone keep doing it. Let them board the plane and get to start of runway. Then stop , announce their names loudly as in”…. will now be leaving us ” and send them down the emergency Shute and let them walk back to terminal in 36 degrees heat. They won’t do it again.

Food and drink is excellent and plentiful of course. Even in relative comfort I won’t sleep during the 14 hrs. I will wake CLP up in 5 hrs and see if she did ! Sign off now from A Second Crack and when life returns to almost normal in a couple of days hand out some ” Flashies” awards in various categories

Day 36 – Dry Town Hits

Posted: October 25, 2014 in Travel

And about time. I was searching for some Ebola to offload some fluids quickly . Too soon? Well there has been some hysteria to be fair but if ya follow da Flashman ya know what to expect

Dubai has not really worked out this time although still relaxing and a fantastic lunch yesterday. Entering the testosterone laden world of Dubai is not intimidating per se but not exactly welcoming either although the service level is extreme. Almost to the point you want to buck in and help too just to break the master slave routine. This will sound odd, if not a tad racist, but really just tired of foreigners everywhere. They all talk incessantly and loudly. And the tourists are the worst , especially this place swarming with elderly Japanese. Some of those ladies can pack it away at the breakfast buffet let me tell you. The hotel is in an isolated ,and somewhat run down, part of the city. The pool and surrounds is in the shade all afternoon and no Hubbly Bubbly available at all. Fond memories of watching the sun go down through a smoke filled haze while sipping a beer are but a distant memory . The pool is invariably full of young kids getting swimming lessons from one very busy guy. Luckily he was born with a suntan. At least I look good around the pool with the number of hirsuite overweight local men lounging around . The fit ones are out playing cricket in the car park. For men that don’t shave they sure use a lot of aftershave- and the cheap kind judging by the lifts ! They congregate in packs and think they enjoy the intimidating facade really.

So we will shall sit by the pool this morning and then head into Dubai mall after to check it out. The tall thingy is all booked out – yes surprisingly poor planning by experienced travellers like us – unless you want to spend $130 AU each to skip the line. We skipped it alright. Then back to the pool for the afternoon and catch some , well, shade I guess. We may sneak in one last beer after ban lifted at 7 pm. Or not. Books are open, place your bets….

As said before it has been a wonderful holiday full of new experiences but am ready to get home. BC on the way home should ease some of the stress . After all have to start planning next one.

Oh that’s right it’s a solo trip to NYC next February 😎

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Long Day

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Day 35 – Dry Town Looms

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Travel

You travel the world ,you take risks. You come to a city with specific beliefs you are guided by their rules. But to be in one city for 48 hrs and have 24 of them declared dry as in ” no alcohol served in public ” is a bit hard to take when I have been staying away from alcohol these last 4 weeks and saving up. So have to load up before 6 pm tonight!

One of our joys at the Sofitel Jumeirah two years ago was watching the sun go down while having a beer and a bubbly bubbly by the pool. Simply heaven on a stick. This is looking unlikely this year which is a pity. The Hyatt is showing its age since we were here 6 yrs ago. Still has the ice rink !The pool area seems smaller and it looks like now under a direct flight path! Yeah yeah, first world problems I know but we have these two days for a specific purpose and pay accordingly. We have roughed it enough for 4 weeks πŸ™‚

Probably over hot breakfasts for a while too to be fair – especially when involve chicken sausages and veal bacon . Out to the pool by 10 am and it is a glorious day. Clear blue skies and an almost pleasant 32 degrees at present. Surprisingly the swimming trunks feel ok. One of those strange conundrums on holiday where you feel like you have put on 5 kgs – and tried damn hard to I might add – yet scales and clothes generally don’t support that. Certainly lose tone and the usual rock hard abba dabs. I must eat a lot of crap at home too I guess ………

The cricketers were at it again this morning only in less numbers. Maybe they have to wait until it drops below 32. You know, after midnight. Anyway today is chill day after only about 4-5 hrs sleep. First beer for the day while watching the cricket at the poolside bar. Lunch at the revolving restaurant should give the swimmers a test. The spread at Al Dawaar revolving restaurant was superb and good value to boot. All you can eat and drink including Wine for $90 each and a superb view. Full as a goog all afternoon then. Tried walking to Gold Souks but they were closed so back to pool. The sun has set and looks like an early night ahead

Everyone says you can still drink in the room after 6 pm tonight. What do you think I am – an alcoholic?

Ok fair call….
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Day 34 – 24 Degrees of Separation

Posted: October 23, 2014 in Travel

The idea came to me this morning over breakfast eating my 4 slices of Bacon
(<– clue)13 degrees max in Copenhagen today; 37 in Dubai. Clever eh.

Very pleasant stay in Copenhagen. The Admiral Hotel had its deficiencies but the reception staff were great . In general all " service" people were great and all spoke English. The weather seemed like Melbourne in winter to moi. Cool and cloudy certainly but very changeable. Being near the water added to chill factor.

The Admiral Hotel is a conference hotel so very busy . The rooms are spacious but oddly dark. The street noise on the odd side of numbers is hopeless and with so many people coming and going at night it is simply a very noisy hotel. Good breakfast but very busy again and occasionally had to wait for table . Can't see us coming back but would not stay there again

Did I mention that cyclists are assholes? Seriously make a choice and stick with it. You have dedicated bike lanes , use them. You want to be treated like motorists ? Don't ride through bloody red lights when people are crossing! The place simply either swarms with them in motion or you have to walk around the 3000 parked on the footpaths.

As mentioned it is very expensive , may be their GST to blame? Anyway when you can't get a proper feed and a drink for two under $150 something is wrong. Cheapest and best souvenirs strangely were at airport. It's a worry when you still have 500 DKK left and not sure if that will get you lunch for two at airport. We shared a Mars bar so we could have one last beer.

Plane left on time. Travelling on big planes , as efficient as Emirates are, really does test your patience and resolve to see the world. There are simply so many morons, especially in economy. As always the food is good and plentiful if a little cramped for eating. Watched the latest Ape movie and rather enjoyed it

Dubai hotel is costing a motza but then that is always our plan. Couple of days of luxury before heading home to the real world. Of course last time in Dubai I received the email from Magnum PQ informing me of the lab closure occurring on Dec 7th 2012. So my real world now consists of filling in long days planning new holidays and of course toeing the line with my friends at Centrelink

Of course two years later I now have 5 wonderful grandchildren to catch up with – little Brody Bear changes so quickly and imagine Jess has changed a lot since last time. So big kiddies prepare yourself now – only got pressies for the Grandkids.

I am a reduntiree remember πŸ™‚

Ah that looks like Dubai in the distance. Quiet sleep here I come. Arrived on time but then it's a 15 minute bus ride to the bloody terminal. Bags were slow and then get ripped off at taxi stand by getting directed to premier Lexus taxi. 50 dirham as soon as you sit in taxi. Hotel of course is all class but in front are large what look like parking lots . It's after midnight right. There are at least 20 different cricket matches being played on the bitumen!

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Day 33 – The Slow and the Dead

Posted: October 22, 2014 in Travel

Some heavy rain last night dimmed our early evening plans but armed with ear plugs I did at least get some sleep after our $80 burger and beers meal ! I suspect it was more a case of exhaustion then anything else . Today had 3 agenda items, only 2 of which involved beer. But first mingle with GU on the buses. Buses here are like me . They don’t always come on time but they are bright yellow.

First stop was Visit Carlsberg and it was great . I like self guided tours where you move at your own pace. Ebgo, ahead of the GU. And it included two ” free” beers along the way. Good set up, interesting history. It was a cool cloudy day at present but as seems to be the case it makes Melbourne seem like a stable weather system. Rain can threaten and then sun comes out. As long as it stayed cool I was happy. Well not sad at least.

Then another bus to find Vinstue 90 – a purveyor of Slow beer. Takes 20 minutes from order to actually getting beer but that was fine to try something new. Pretty good as well although a tad bland. Great service though and once again the good folk of Copenhagen are not only helpful but also seem genuinely happy. Except the bloody cyclists. Everywhere . The streets are full of bicycles not scooters. Don’t seem to bother with locks, if yours is taken just grab another one? Speaking of locks many many warnings about pickpockets – have not had a problem

Last stop was Assistens Cemetery to make sure HC was still dead. He was. Unremarkable grave stone but easy to find. Signs and all ya know. Then some lunch at Tollharven markets before some souvenir shopping on way home. Rain has stayed away and hopefully go back out later for final main meal in Copenhagen.

Fly out to Dubai tomorrow afternoon and 37 degrees. If I see a NoN I will be physically ill. Copenhagen has been great. Cool and easy to get around.

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The Admiral Hotel looked impressive . The staff were great. The room was spacious. There was a bath, kettle and clock. The holy trinity. What could go wrong ? Darkness apparently. When the first item on the list you can order from concierge is ” ear plugs” alarm bells start ringing. Which would be more pleasant than the bloody traffic noise outside – and we are on 4 th floor. The bed is like a jello pit. The wifi is hopeless. We only had 48 hrs in Copenhagen and a lot to see. 3 hrs sleep all night was not going to help. The weather forecast was grim as usual and about as accurate to boot

So a largish hotel breakfast and we hit the ground running just after 08:00. First The Little Mermaid before the hordes. The sun was just shimmering on the water behind the clouds. A few other statues and a royal palace or so and then on to some other Sheila’s slot, Rosie someone. Then we checked out the Torhallvern markets and had a nice coffee. A cathedral and then the Round Tower – an unusual climb up but a good view indeed. Then it was lunch time and onto Cafe Hovedtelegrafen on top of Postal museum. Great view and great service. An interesting mixed Brunch plate indeed. And a nice cold beer. Of course by now we were realising just how expensive Copenhagen is. Anytime a simple , but great, lunch costs 400 coins and you are not in Zimbabwe then not only is it an odd currency but also an expensive place to be.

Then some more Hans. A statue here a fairy tale room there. Across the road was the very yankified Tivoli gardens all decked out in Halloween decor. I mean there were a LOT of pumpkins. We mixed with the great unwashed on Stroget and even walked through Christiansborg Slot before heading back home. We had seen a lot in just under 8 hours but sadly no Princess Mary.

Tomorrow we want to see the Carlsberg brewery and a couple of other sites out of the main city centre and maybe some souvenir buying but really prices are ridiculous. The CPH card seems to work well but you need to visit a lot of places to get your real value

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So this should be our last day in Berlin and should be in Copenhagen by 7 pm if all goes to plan. Yeah I laughed too. In meantime some final thoughts on first trip to Germany/Berlin while we sit in DB lounge. At present trains seem to be running but generally 10-40 minutes late. As long as we get to Copenhagen tonight don’t care

1. People. Generally warm, friendly and helpful. Apart from BoB. Majority speak English well. You sense with some service people that just beneath the service civility may quickly vanish especially if no effort made to speak the lingo. The owner of our apartment went above and beyond the call of duty to help when needed.

2. Food. Plenty of it with generous servings but can be a bit on bland side. Lots of meat and potatoes. Strong Asian presence around us – and Italian. Don’t give you bread and water with meal cf most European countries. Beer keeps your fluid level up. Apparently.

3. Drink. They like it. Beer is a little on the warm side for me but still very passable and reasonably priced. Once again wine servings by glass are very generous. Found some good coffee spots , in general better than expected. Just needs a bit of research

4. Public transport. Very good as expected. U train can get crowded but then there were strikes . Streets are wider than Paris and Barcelona for example and cars less of a nuisance. But man the bloody cyclists! They think they rule the road and the bloody footpaths yet on most roads have a dedicated lane! Assholes the world over.

5. Weather. Yeah could be time of year but generally cloudy but warm , an annoying combo for the fashion concious like moi. All our trip we have heard how warm this Autumn is. No shit Sherlock. Then why dress like NoN ya clowns. Yesterday was simply glorious and left us with great impressions of the city

6. Icons. Classic architecture. Nice easy city to walk around and icon hop. The river is much less impressive than Seine for example and hard to find a place to sit by it and relax with a beer sadly. It meanders rather than flows. The Festival of Lights was simply stunning.

So all in all it was a great visit despite the problems at the end. They did in fact lead us to our best day here of course. Segway remains an excellent way to see the city – always recommend them. I do not feel the need to rush back anytime soon having spent a week but then not really into the bar/drinking/nightlife scene which I imagine rocks. All the bears I can bear at present methinks. Would be totally different place in summer. Dresden was well worth the visit . And don’t the Germans love the bubble wrap jackets!

Or veder sane das folkies

Update : Ok, the train left on time no problems. It is an odd system they use though . I thought all first class seats had reservations by default. We certainly did and of course someone was sitting in my Seat 61 ( experienced rail travellers in Europe would be aware of the excellent internet site ” The Man in Seat 61″. That was me today ). ” Are you sure you are Seat 61″ . ” Let me have a look. Oh no I am seat 54 ” . Hike it sweetheart . For the next few stops it did seem like musical chairs. And there were at least 3 people at each end standing in aisle as appeared to be no seats ? Hello WHS?? And this was first class remember. We then get to a Hamburg and the train splits in two with our half going on to Copenhagen . The fun continues. Then we get to the Ferry part where the train actually drives onto Ferry. Cool. ” Ladies and Gentlemen, for safety reasons you must leave the train while on Ferry and go to upper decks” WTF, people have been standing for two hours ! Anyway we went up on deck where it was a tad brisk but something different certainly. A 45 minute ferry trip and then board train again and drive off. And when we get to Nykobing in Denmark they tag another train on the back. It was an interesting day. Would have been a day out for your average train tragic.

In general though the surprising inefficiency played in our favour. We ordered a hot meal and a warm beer (sadly) . It was pretty good. Took forever for them to come and take away our glasses which was a pain on a high speed train. But they forgot to charge us it appears …

Safe and Sound in Copenhagen

Day 30 – Even Steven

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Travel

So it was an uneventful train ride to Copehagen

Oops, gotta stop writing these days in advance….

Devoted followers would know that God and Mother Nature had conspired to ruin our lasting impression of Berlin. On the day we should have been on a train for 27 hrs heading to the North Pole she turned on a glorious day in Berlin. Well suffer in your shorts sweetheart and read the memo. We are still here !

So in an odd way after the disappointment of yesterday we were back on even keel with a simply clear beautiful day in Berlin. Of course we had nothing really planned although some reading on cruises which we wanted to do was disheartening with reservations required, too long etc. So going by the seat of our pants, which to be fair had expanded a bit last few weeks, we headed off towards Museum Island to laugh at the people wasting time indoors on a day like this. Of course the temptation, not avoided, is to take 101 photos of same icons you took on all the cloudy days. As we wandered slowly towards Berliner Dome looked down on river and appeared to be a cruise about to leave for one hour and only a third full. There was Ginger,Mary Ann, The Professor…..Yay, we jumped on and had a lovely trip up and down for the hour. Then it was ashore and into The Radisson to see the massive indoor aquarium and a shocking coffee. Hey the wifi was free. Knobber Knobber.

A slow walk home and then time to part ways for a couple of hours. CLP wanted to see the Jewish Museum. I hear the Circumcision Memorial is a cut above the rest. I said I will check out some photos on the net. She can’t stand to be away from me for more than 5 minutes but am slowly weaning her off. Off she set while I went upstairs to start reviewing the 1000 photos taken that morning

She returned as threatened and had indeed taken some lovely shots which I will now claim as mine. Time was slowly fading away but there could still be time to finally get that beer in Berlin. Let’s go out and look for a Biergarten near the river 25 minutes away and watch the sun go down. Nothing like a walk to get up a thirst. And then another walk to next watering hole. The sun had set as we made our way home and had a simple Italian meal at the restaurant next door.

And a bottle of Chianti………

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Day 29.2 – The Fog Never Rises

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Travel

After the largely wasted morning changing travel plans it was time to venture out into the fog and make the most of the day. For some odd reason that included a visit to a Palace – Charlene’s Slot. So a long U train trip left us a long walk down a tree lined avenue to some scaffolding with a castle cleverly hidden behind it. I say Palace but really it could have been a library from the outside – large building, non descript, gold Sheila on top. Inside was 3000 rooms with paintings and furniture and stuff, the same deal you get with all these royal types. The Porcelain room was mildly sleep preventing. There were some gardens out the back I think. Again the Fog.

Then it was time for a twice as long trip to Pretzeldick Bare to see some beer gardens that close after September. I rang ahead, said I was in town and voila, it reopened for today. A thronging crowd too. So a couple of beers and a big sausage in a small roll of course. Then it was back home for a little rest before checking out the recommended restaurant Gastrotube tonight in Alexander the Spatz. There may be another visit to another light show at the Dome. Apparently

Then have to ponder what to do tomorrow

I suspect beer may be involved somewhere.

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Day 29.1 – The Bitch from Berlin

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Travel

If you are adverse to fruity language leave now. Time to vent then I will be ok

Now it was a foggy morning which held hope for a sunny day later (Update 1100 hrs still thick fog!) so little Anal Flashy was checking our train trip tomorrow to Copenhagen on DB BAHN site. There has been a local S Bahn strike this weekend but U trains still running fine and after all our train is an ICE. Of minor concern was fact that when checking our station it said ” stop cancelled” . As were the first 8 stops of the 12 stop trip. No other info available . We were heading off to the Castle this morning so thought we should go via the HbF station to check as a phone call largely useless. We should be able to find a DB SERVICE or HELP station surely . Remember those terms viewers

So about 40 minutes in total to walk and train there because there is only 1 U train that serves that station and can only be caught from Brandenburg Gate. We found the DB SERVICE station and lined up for our HELP only to be confronted by a slightly less attractive version of Rosa Klebb if she had been German and hit with the ugly stick. I am still a little stunned so my recollection of conversation is also a bit foggy .

Our trip to Copenhagen tomorrow has been cancelled ?

Yes

Here are our tickets . These are cancelled ?

She takes tickets ,turns them over and stamps cancelled on them . Hands them back! Yes

How can we get to Copenhagen tomorrow?

You can’t , the train is cancelled

Can we go somewhere else?

You can use this ticket to get to Hamburg ( Editor :- note DB site says this stop is cancelled also)

Can we then get train from Hamburg to Copenhagen.

No

So how would we get from Hamburg to Copenhagen?

Maybe a bus .

Can you tell us anything about the buses in service

No.

You useless fucking bitch. If you don’t understand the word SERVICE then fuck off and get another job. Like in the zoo

So it is now a couple of hours wasted and we have no idea what to do or where we stand. Let’s go to Berlin Tourist Info. Helpful enough and suggested a bus may work but has to be direct from Berlin ( No fucking bus runs from Hamburg – thanks bitch ) . Ok sounds good. Sorry, all buses full next 3 days

Ok back to SERVICE DB point while holding phone to ear because if get the Bitch again waving the next customer through and pretending to be busy. Ok this time we got Frau Blucher who was mildly more helpful as in

Yes that train is cancelled

Can we get on Mondays train leaving at same time?

I can transfer ticket to then but you have to go to ticket office upstairs to arrange seats.

Ok do that SWEETHEART

Up to ticket office, not a long wait and at this stage we have seats on Mondays train which at this stage is running. A helpful lady this time, almost apologetic.

We then have to contact our landlord to see if can stay another night ( yes! ) or have to find a hotel. Then contact Copenhagen to inform them of our fate

Update Midday : Still thick fog

So at end of day we lose 24 hrs in Copenhagen which probably means no Hamlet castle sadly. Realistically, and in this weather,I have seen all of Berlin I need to so tomorrow looms as a wasted day. Maybe finally get that beer. We will be out of pocket maybe 120 Euro all up for extra stay – may recoup on insurance. Least of my concerns

All in all not much to moan about – you travel across the world , shit happens. Mind you out of 3 long distance train trips 2 have now been screwed up – no more for this little black duck in Europe

In general Berlin people have been great and friendly. But this turd behind a help desk needs a one way ticket to Topographie des Terrors. If I could speak German you dumb cow I would not be lining up at a help desk. It is mid morning – you must be a real ( insert naughty c word )by 4 pm!

I have not finished with these DB folk. Strikes happen ( although probably not in Adolf’s day to be fair ). It is your job though to at least help stranded people in your country who don’t understand the system or the language. I had always heard good things about DB. Methinks someone was telling porkies.

The owner of the apartment has been very helpful and will be saying so in my review on VRBO trust me.

Breathe. Breathe.