Sven and Andreas' vacations – Published for friends at Wordpress :)

Month: July, 2021

Day 9: Weimar – Bamberg

After another splendid breakfast in Hotel Elephant, we went prior to check-out for a walk through the Ilm Park in Weimar, followed by a path through the city that does not cover all the tourist sites and has an alternative look on the city.

Our train ride today consists out of a short ride to Erfurt, followed by just a 45 minute high speed trajectory to Bamberg – which was completed uneventfully.

We checked in at Hotel Brudermühle in the core city center, just next to the Regnitz river.

Just after arriving, we wanted to take a walk around – however, we saw a tourist bus stopping just merely in front of our hotel. We took it without even thinking further. It took us up to Schloss Altenburg that sits above Bamberg. We had a great view around. Also a theater play for children took place while we have been there – Ronja Räubertochter. Back in town, we descended at Bamberg Dom and explored the city center by foot a bit more. We decided to take an early dinner and got a table for two at the Schlenkerla beer garden.

Pretty tired after being well served with food and beverages, we continued our round and retired to our bed after taking the last in our hotel.


Day 8: Exploring Weimar

Exploring Weimar is anything else but just a sight seeing tour. You need to be ready to be confronted with any kind of thing – from politics, through Philosophy, art works in music, architecture and literature – up to crimes against single people, groups, races, religions and humanity.

Weimar is diverse – has always been, is today and as far as I can see, it will be in the future.

After seeing Goethe’s garden house yesterday, we chose to visit four museums today – all with a different perspective and theme.

  • Bauhaus Museum
  • Nietzsche Archive
  • Neues Museum Weimar
  • Gingko Museum

Bauhaus has been a rather short lived trial to build up a ‘New Style’ in teaching and put in service of craftsmen’s ship. Architecture, art design and production after World War 1. Coming from designers as Van der Velde and Gropius with their rather distinct socialist mindset, it was a wave of new thinking, revolutionizing, designing and restarting mass production of individual goods in Germany. This went from houses, things of daily life use to rooms, chairs, tables, art pieces up to the organisation how to give training to achieve these ideas. Nothing was really forbidden, so many substreams were formed – even introducing different religious formats for professors and students – called masters and trainees. Unfortunately, this created a lot of friction with other people – who were thinking that a more nationalistic approach would be better. Eventually after five, six years Bauhaus was discontinued due to the raising political pressure – and some years later, even prohibited under the NS regime.

For me, Bauhaus has been very courageous for the 1920s and showed a forward, future directed vision. Things are in use today that Bauhaus claimed first. I would even claim the sentence ‘Without Bauhaus principles, today’s IKEA furniture would not exist’ as my true own opinion. Clear as well that they did not have loads of friends during this time. It was only a question of time until backward thinkers and people with a view towards the past took over and removed/prohibited those ideas.

We continued by having a look at the Nietzsche Archive. Another very interesting personality and philosopher at the end of the 19th century. His ideas were bright, under discussion and thought towards the future. However, Nietzsche became sick and developed a mental disorder the eventually killed him – the year 1900 saw his passing in Weimar. His sister, who cleverly took custody of all of his belongings, writings and ideas has then done something very awkward. She changed certain pieces as such that it could be interpreted as if Nietzsche was predicting the NS time with its racial, religious and human crimes due to the dominance of the Aryan race. This has clearly not been in the interest of Nietzsche at all – but has put his sister in position of power and economical success during the NS time. Even the highest level were communicating and visiting her. In the archive, original telegrams and letters of Hitler and Mussolini are on display. The contradiction is interesting. It needs to be noted that the inner design of Nietzsche’s house has been completed by Van der Velde – later connected with Gropius and the Bauhaus style.

After some ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’, we continued our museum visits at the Neues Museum. Many sculptures and pictures of contemporary art are on display here. Very enjoyable to see and enjoy.

On the way back to our hotel, we have been passing many pictures of witnesses – inmates of KZ Buchenwald – depicting the brutality of the NS regime and architectural modifications of Weimar during this time.

We shortly dropped in the Gingko Museum and bought some remembering pieces for this incredible stay in this charming city. With the brain full of positive, negative, intriguing and sometimes even sad impressions, we retired and took a lovely dinner in our hotel to close the day.

Weimar is a ‘must visit’ for me. In today’s perspective, it is a true European city with a lot of developing history, mind changing thoughts and a requirement to walk through the city with an open eye and ear all the time.

A clear indication that we need to come back to this town.

Tomorrow, we continue to Bamberg.

Day 7: Leipzig – Weimar

After waking up and having an excellent breakfast in the STEIGENBERGER hotel, we took a short walk through the City Centre of Leipzig to visit Thomaskirche and the Bach museum.

Inside Thomaskirche, in which Johann Sebastian Bach directed many of his sacred cantate pieces as Thomaskantor, you can also find his tomb. Directly next to the church, there is a large Bach monument and his museum which is worthwhile visiting.

Afterwards, we checked out and proceeded to Leipzig Hbf to take the train towards Weimar.

After an hour of uneventful journey with changing trains in Erfurt, we reached Weimar on time and walked some 800 meters to our hotel ELEFANT. We checked in and got a lovely suite which was delicately arranged.

We refreshed ourselves shortly and set out for a walk through Weimar and its park along the river Ilm. There, we found the garden house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which we visited. The audio guide we got was very good – also available in other languages than in German.

After taking a short rest on a park bench, we continued our walk along the river Ilm and found our way back into the city center. Close to the National Theater – which was key during the agreement on a constitution for Germany between WW1 and WW2 – we have taken a ride on an observation tower above Weimar that gave us a vast overview upon the city and its surroundings.

Eventually, we closed the day in the LAVA restaurant, followed by a Gin Tonic at the hotel bar.

Day 6: Ostseebad Binz – Leipzig

We can’t leave the Baltic Sea behind as such – hence a bath in it at 0730 in the morning was obligatory and very lovely. We enjoyed our stay in “Strandhotel Arkona” very much – great site, lovely people, charming environment.

After breakfast, we checked out and boarded our ICE3 train to Leipzig. Today, a direct train connection taking 5h20 of travel time. In comparison, this is quite long – mainly due to the absence of any fast track infrastructure in the North East of Germany. Up to Berlin, we hardly achieved 130-140 kmh velocity, only after Südkreuz stop (one of three stops in Berlin), we reached 200 kmh (=125 mph) for a while.

After arriving in Leipzig, we walked to our hotel, the STEIGENBERGER Grand Hotel Handelshof, in which we reserved a suite for one night. We got the one called “Gustav Mahler” in the fifth floor. The hotel management arranged prior to our arrival some pastry (Leipziger Lärche) and a bottle of Cremant de Loire in our room – very enjoyable reception indeed!

For dinner, we arranged a splendid meal in the Ratskeller of Leipzig.

Afterwards, we took a little walk through the old town of Leipzig, passing Thomaskirche, Altes Rathaus and Nikolaikirche before settling down at our hotel bar to close it with a traditional Gin Tonic.

Day 5: A day on the beach – Ostseebad Binz

A rest day on the beach was planned…

– and we enjoyed like little cats. Meow, meow… 🙂

Very easy indeed if you have a room in a hotel that sits in the first row on the beach, a room with a view on the sea and with a service of the “Strandhotel Arkona” team that has been absolutely exceptional.

Just have a look…

Excellent and calm organisation during breakfast and dinner – both included in the room rate. High availability and wide choice of food offers from Vegan arrangements towards traditional fish and meat dishes, including fruit and local specialties. Not to forget the dessert section, the wide range of offered bread and the selection of beverages. The international restaurant team – we counted at least seven different nationalities – was running the service precise, efficient, fast and with a touch of empathy that pleases every single guest with his/her needs and requirements. You can clearly see the signature and experience of the F&B manager, Mr Remler, who is speaking several languages himself and can accommodate any international guests at ease.

Just as an example, I would like to mention a Cuban/German family that we met – heartily welcome in fluent Spanish, the husband in his wheelchair with enough place to move around easily in the full barrier-free restaurant and hotel. Just great!

Representing the service employees, I would like to mention two – Tanja (beverage services in the restaurant) and Martin (bar service in the late evening) – as representation for the whole team who have shown their dedication towards us, their distinguished guests. Just great to see this in international perspective.

It has been professionalism as it needs to be – as it is requested by guests and as good gastro culture requires it.

Means eventually, when we come back to Binz in one of the next years, we fully know already where we will stay and which room we will book – in “Strandhotel Arkona” in a room with a view to the sea.

After dinner, we took a short walk on the promenade and closed our day with a traditional Gin Tonic (while speaking some Spanish and Euskara) before dozing off in calm with an open window – just listening to the waves hitting the beach line.

Day 4: Hamburg – Ostseebad Binz

Today, we have taken the train from Hamburg to Germany’s biggest Island: Rügen.

After once again a great breakfast in our hotel in Hamburg, we packed up and checked out. The kind hotel crew of ‘Europäischer Hof’ was very helpful again with some questions we had.

First, we took S21 from Hauptbahnhof to Bergedorf where we boarded the Intercity train. The ride was very comfortable and spaceous. Unfortunately, still due to the bad weather events last week, our train needed to take a detour and arrived 45 minutes late. We had great seats with a table – and the people charge was pretty minimal.

After checking in with ‘Strandhotel Arkona’ – same as I had booked during my stay here in Binz in 2018 – we took a short rest in the room, followed by a playful refreshing bath in the Baltic Sea just in front of the hotel.

We took dinner in the hotel as it is included in the room price. The restaurant chef spoke fluent Spanish with us which I enjoyed a lot – as he has been working on the Islas Canarias and Costa del Sol earlier. Buffet service with high quality food was offered for starters, salad, main course and dessert. We enjoyed a glass of Störtebecker dark beer with it. Lovely service indeed!

After dinner, we took a short walk through Binz, visited the pier and had some cocktails in town while listening to some nice live played Piano music.

We will stay two nights in Binz. Tomorrow, a day on the beach is foreseen. The weather is calm and partly sunny, the sea water has 22 degrees. We are all set for a relaxing day.

I have also taken two videos of trains in Bergedorf, one a passing Polish Container train and one an arriving ICE3 train:

Day 3: Lübeck during day – Hamburg in the evening

Finally waking up at 0900 – wonderful… like the breakfast buffet in our hotel “Europäischer Hof”.

After some nice cold cuts, fruits and a hanseatic cup of tea, we decided to go by train to Lübeck at 1030. It is situated close to the Baltic sea side, located some 65kms northeast of Hamburg.

First, we walked into the city center passing ‘Holstentor’, the famous bridge gate to Lübeck that was also depicted on 50 Deutschmark bills earlier. We were then passing through the Old Town narrow streets, visiting the market next to the town hall and the church of St. Marien. The church itself got pretty much destroyed in 1942, several objects inside are damaged, including the church bells that are exhibited there – broken, melted and crushed into the floor after falling from the collapsing tower.

We had lunch in the ‘Ratskeller’ restaurant where we have tried out a Lübeck traditional product – the ‘Rotspon’ red wine. This is actually not produced there in Schleswig-Holstein in the North of Germany. It is red wine from the Bordeaux area in France that is transported in Oak barrels to Germany and stored there for some years in the Hamburg – Lübeck area prior to be consumed. This has the result that the young French wine ripens significantly and gets a superior quality. The food and service has been absolutely excellent – such as the interior decoration of the restaurant itself. We had a great time and can positively recommend it. Surely we will come back.

Afterwards, we provided ourselves with Marzipan from the Niederegger Outlet in the city center. Lübeck is known for its high quality Marzipan products throughout Germany.

We continued by having a 1 hour boat tour around the central island of Lübeck. We have seen a lot of nature, modern and old architecture with explanations from the captain in German language.

After a short stop for some clothes accessories, we went back to Hamburg at around 1710.

After a short rest in our hotel room, we went for a nice walk in very favourable evening weather in Hamburg. We walked northbound towards the Alster lakes, went through along the quays of the ‘Binnenalster’ and its connected channels. Eventually we arrived in the harbour area again, stayed some minutes and took a S-Bahn train back to our hotel, finishing once again a wonderful day on our trip.

Day 2: Obernburg – Aschaffenburg – Würzburg – Hamburg Hbf

We got up at 0700 in the morning… again very early. Our mood was accordingly, but not an issue.

My dad prepared a splendid breakfast that did not let us down in the morning at all.

We packed up our stuff and joined Obernburg train station at 0942. Our Regional train to Aschaffenburg arrived on time.

After changing trains in Aschaffenburg, we took our ICE3 train towards Würzburg – on time – and joined the capital of Lower Franconia after 40 minutes of uneventful ride time. Our connection train there – direct towards Hamburg – was announced late, but arrived eventually on time as well

The trip to Hamburg was absolutely uneventful and very comfortable in an ICE2 train. We arrived approximately in time.

Our hotel “Europäischer Hof” in Hamburg is close to the Central Station, just 5 minutes by foot.

We received our room after proofing that we are vaccinated. We refreshed ourselves a bit and decided to take a walk towards the city center and the harbour area. First, we have been passing the destroyed church of St. Nicolas. It became a museum for peace and remembering as it was destroyed in the Operation ‘Gomorrha’ bomb raids in 1943 and 1944 during the second world war. One remarkable piece was the ‘nail cross’ donated by the city of Coventry – that got severely destroyed by German bomb raids in 1940.

The obligatory ‘Hafenrundfahrt’ was a little more difficult to do this time as many of those touristic ships were still out of service. But eventually we found a possibility onboard of one of the smaller Barkasse type of boat for EUR 20 per person.

We thought that Hamburg harbour was a kind of empty, not a lot of activity indeed. And not as many tourists either.

After arriving back in the Landungsbrücken area, we continued exploring Hamburg St. Pauli by foot after taking Hamburg Stadtbahn for two stations. Our Hotel provided us with Hamburg travel cards that are valid in the whole area of Hamburg for every train, bus and ferry service – quite convenient!

After a short walk of Reeperbahn, we decided to return to our hotel environment and have dinner in the Paulaner restaurant.

Tomorrow, we will stay in Hamburg – let’s see what we are going to do, as far as we have heard, we will not have any rain – great!

Day 1: Rambouillet – Paris – Frankfurt – Aschaffenburg – Obernburg

Here we go again, we can’t wait to see other places than home – after this long confinement at home due to CoViD-19. But it was necessary to do so to slow down the pandemic and prevent spreading somehow.

Waking up at 0600 is never an easy task, but our booked train left Paris Est at 0906, hence we had no other chance but taking the 0645 TER from Rambouillet train station, just to have enough redundancy in case something happens. The regional train system is really good in our region of Ile-de-France around Paris, but you just don’t want to have a mess already on day 1.

We arrived on-time in Paris Montparnasse and took the Metro line 4 to Paris Est. Not so many people, however, Paris never sleeps.

We arrived as planned at our TGV train station an hour early. Hence we had enough time to take a little French breakfast in one of the open cafés on the terrace in the Morning sun, very enjoyable indeed.

Our TGV to Frankfurt left on time and carried us in high speed (up to 320 kmh or 200 mph) through Champagne and Lorraine towards Germany. As high speed lines are absent in Germany between Saarbrücken and Frankfurt, travelling through Germany took as long as our trip between Paris and the French-German border – but it’s just half the distance.

From Mannheim to Frankfurt, we took an alternative route via Darmstadt – the tracks via Gross-Gerau have not been chosen this time. This resulted in a small delay of some minutes which was not an issue at all, arriving shortly after 1300.

In Frankfurt Central station, we went to the Paulaner restaurant in Markthalle to have our lunch, finished with a lovely Bretzel and an alcohol-free Paulaner Weizen… just great!

When joining the platform on which our ICE should have been departing at 1354, it was announced that the train was 45 minutes late due to the latest weather issues in Northrhine-Westfalia.

Here – important for me – I would like to remain in silence for a moment as dedication for all the victims of the weather catastrophy that happened in the week before. Surely, we will light some candles in a sacred place (no matter if church, temple, mosque or pagan) as remembrance and in a moment of thoughts and mourning. Also a word about my courageous son, also known as ‘Little Bretzel’. Sven has been helping to evacuate people as being on voluntary duty for German Red Cross Water Rescue division in the area during two consecutive nights. His employer gave him two days off without any question. The world needs more people like this, I am really proud of you.

After a further non-eventful stop in Aschaffenburg, we got the little Regionalexpress train to Obernburg where my dad picked us up.

We had a lovely evening together on the balcony, enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine and a family cold cut dinner at home.

Tomorrow is the day!

Suitcases are packed, cats are taken care of, the fridge is empty – and we can’t wait to get going!

Finally two weeks of vacation after a pretty strong year – and finally the end of our second confinement after 9 months of being at home.

Saturday morning, same as last year… it is the 0645 train which we will take from Rambouillet train station to Paris Montparnasse as first ride of our trip this year.

We plan to use exactly the same connection to Obernburg as we have done in 2020 – TGV from Paris Est to Frankfurt, ICE to Aschaffenburg and a little Regional service to Obernburg-Elsenfeld.

But in comparison with last year, a lot of things are different:

  • We are fully vaccinated thanks to Pfizer – Biontech
  • We are Antigen tested this evening – both negative
  • We have our European Vaccination Passport installed on our mobile phones applications – French and German. All vaccinations and tests have been imported and are electronically available

These things were neither available last year.

Just under eight hours to go… we are looking forward so much to having a great time, seeing beautiful things and sharing them here with you – our valued blog readers!