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My EF plus 30 day adventure in Western Europe or traveling with teenagers can be a different experience especially when they're not yours, by Baldworth

My EF plus 30 day adventure in Western Europe or traveling with teenagers can be a different experience especially when they're not yours, by Baldworth

Jul 26th, 2006, 06:45 PM
  #21  
 
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Oh this is good. Keep going.
chicagolori is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 09:01 PM
  #22  
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There will be more tomorrow. I am trying to upload about 500 or so pictures from the trip to be viewed at Kodakgallery.com. Hopefully by the time I finish with the report I will have the pictures uploaded, labeled and they will help explain some of what happened along the way.

Baldworth
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Jul 26th, 2006, 09:14 PM
  #23  
 
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This looks like it is going to be good

One minor thing " . . . the outside of Westminister Abbey (they wanted about 13 pounds to tour)"

It is REALLY too bad you didn't go inside -- BTW the Abbey doesn't cost £13. It is £10 for adults and £6 for students.
janisj is online now  
Jul 27th, 2006, 08:38 AM
  #24  
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There were six of us and on one wanted to spend that much on the first day of travel. Besides, if is 10 pounds then that is $18 and we had too many other museums that were already part of the package tour to see and I couldn't do anything at that point without the whole group folowing. I'm sure it was spectacular but I would have had to deal with a small revolution and it wasn't worth it at that point.
baldworth is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 09:32 AM
  #25  
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OK. For those who want to read a long trip report instead of a long title here goes with:

Day 4 -
We left the hotel at 8:30 to catch the ferry that would take us across the English Channel to Holland. We went through customs just like going on an airplane and traveling from country to country and checked our bags the same way. The main thing that I notices was that we had to wait for about 20 minutes while motorcycles were ridden onto the ferry with leather clad riders. There must have been at least 500 if not more like a thousand. Once we got to board we found a table and set up our group area just like any place we had eaten in England. This was becoming a habit. Circle the wagons and don't let any foreigners in. I was already tired of this routine as I had enjoyed some of the best times in my life meeting not only people from other countries on my previous trip but those in other groups such as the one from Idaho. I wanted to sit with other people and interact but they were having none of it. Every time we sat down anywhere it was always a table for six and always the same table if we ate in the same place more than once. I would have to do something about this but not now, it was too early in the trip. I would wait until we had been traveling for a while and break off then. Meanwhile, we all at one time or another wandered the ship and scouted out what was available. There was a movie theater (not free)a store, two or three restuarants, a sports bar, and a casino as well as the usual amenities. N found the store and proceeded to buy a bottle of Dooleys, toffee flavored vodka which he and S and I drank over the next three hours while we played spades to pass the time. It was good stuff and S bought a bottle for her mother before we finished the ferry ride.

All in all it was a comfortable, smooth way to cross the channel and get to Holland. We arrived in Holland about 3:00 in the afternoon and were picked up by Geoff our bus driver from Holland through Paris or about fourteen days. This was to be our home on wheels and where we would spend long hours riding to cities, around cities, to and from sights in cities and sometimes to and from dinners and places like the Hofbrauhaus. Geoff was from Belgium and we would soon learn most of the words to "The Belgian Song" his offering to us on the way to the hotel that evening. For now his job was to get us into Amsterdam and drop us off at the main train station where we would get our first taste of the city.

The city was wonderful, full of life, coffee shops, canals, street performers, every style of clothes anyone could ever want, the red light district, World Cup souvenirs, museums, and many other things to see and do. While waiting for the group to take advantage of the WC we were auditorally attacked by a very loud street preacher who was determined to save the entire city, IN ENGLISH! He must have mentioned the devil at least 25 times as well as fornication and many other evils he was sure the people of Amsterdam were addicted to and we were so glad to get away from him we almost ran down the street when everyone showed up from the lou. We walked down the main street to Dam Square and located our meeting place so that we could have about 45 minutes of free time before returning to the bus and proceeding to our hotel in Edam and dinner at the "Hotel't Tolhous". WE just had time to make a quick run through the "red light District" and get N accosted by a guy who was willing to sell a nineteen year-old American "anything he wanted". It was an interesting experience and I'm glad we were all together for this one. We rode back to the hotel, about 30 minutes away, in very scenic Edam and saw windmills, numerous cows, small bridges with weighted draws that could be easily raised for boat passage, and a huge dike where the bay was created by holding back the water from the reclaimed land. The views were awesome.

While waiting for dinner in the hotel lobby, something happened that seemed uneventful at the time but would prove to be the first in a series of events involving one of the students and anyone around him at the time he had alcohol in his system. He plopped down on a couch in the lobby and put his feet on the couch, shoes and all. My room-mate, B, told him nicely that we were in a hotel and he probably shouldn't put his feet up on the the couch since he probably wouldn't do theat same thing if he was at home in his own house. Be sat up and removed his feet but clearly resented anyone telling hi what to do. For the moment it was forgotten. Remember this later.

We went into what turned out to be probably the best dinner we had the entire trip. It was a buffet that features o many different things I couldn't begin to teel you what all was there. There were at least five different entree's, many different vegetables, potatoes of two or three different varieties, and desserts of all descriptions. It was phenomenal! I found the biggest plate I could locate in the cupboard and proceeded to fill it with as much as I could to the tune of about fourteen inches across and three inches high. I ate all of it and was so stuffed I couldn't do anything for about fifteen minutes. By the way, we were all six at a table at the end where we would also eat breakfast the next two mornings. Circle the wagons. After dinner we took a 45 minute walk in the town of Edam just to wear off dinner. It was serene and quiet and a total contrast to Amsterdam. Afterwards, we went into the bar and had a few Heinekens with the TD. Heineken was the most available beer, especially on tap, on most of the tour. After about three and a shot of abileys, it was time to go upstairs and go to bed. Our last two travelers had arrived from San Fran Cisco, S had a room-mate at last SA, and were complete.

Thirty minutes later I was disturbed by a knock on the door. One of my room-mate's students had lost his wallet in the room where we ate dinner and my room-mate B was fast asleep. I threw on some clothes and went downstairs to help T look for his wallet. This was actually his passport holder and had all of his money, about 300 euros, as well as his passport and all of his identification. We looked all over but could not find it. We notified the front desk that it was missing and returned to our rooms. It was about midnight. Iwas awakened again about 30 minutes later by the guys across the hall who had come in fromsomewhere and were now very loud in the hall outside my room. More later.

Baldworth
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Jul 27th, 2006, 09:08 PM
  #26  
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Day 4 part 2

Something that I neglected to mention that we did while in London was to visit the main train station at King's Cross where they actually have platform 9 and three quarters set up for all Harry Potter fans to have their picture taken. It was great fun. After dinner that night we tried to take N to a casino he had heard about on Edgeware Road but none of us were dressed properly for the upper class gambling set and they wouldn't let us in. It was somewhat of a relief but I think he would have lost all of his money anyway and we would have spent money on expensive drinks. Covent Garden and the Nag's Head Pub was after that.

We spent the rest of day 4 now into day 5 trying to get the kids from North Carolina to quiet down in the hall as they had asked everyone to be quiet after 12;00, not an unreasonable request but one that was not easy for them to comply with. The manager came up twice and asked them to get quiet, the last time being sometime after 2:00. Needless to say they slept evry chance they got the next day and several of them looked beary eyed most of the trip.

Day 5 -
This was our day to spend in Holland where we had a tour of the Anne Frank House followed by a canal tour and a presentation at a diamond factory. It was a very moving experience to be in the same place where her story unfolded over the course of WWII and the Holocaust. I took a picture in the lobby of Shelly Winters with her best supporting actress oscar and almost got removed from the premises for it. They don't allow photography of any kind. I believe it is just so that they can make money off everything that is sold there but I did get that one picture before I knew and some great pictures of the outside and the cnals in the area.

We then took a canal boat all over the city with a very strange pilot that I dubbed Captain Jack. He played a pre-recorded tape through most of the tour but it ran out and he took us to places that must not have been on the planned cruise. He then began to talk to us in his broken English which we found very amusing and play his favorite "American Music" on his music system. He played the theme from "Grease" and a few other cheesy songs that most everyone knew in some fashion and proceeded to regale us with stories of his family life while he gyrated to the music. He even looked a little like Elvis when he pseudo-danced as he piloted the canal boat with great skill. His favorite word in English was WOW! and he used it to describe everythiing from his favorite music to his wife and addressed us as peoples. We all laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed all of the cruise, both the canned voice part and that narrated by Captain Jack. We went through a diamond factory afterwards that was for me a reasonably forgettable experience but one of those that help EF pay for the trip or get lower rates for certain tours and accomodations. I wrote it off as necessary and moved on. After that we went to Dam Square again and dispersed for an afternoon of free time. We had planned to go to at least one if not two museums and then check out the coffee houses in Amsterdam fo the afternoon. The main museum was having some work done and had a line/queue of about an hour and a half so we moved on to have lunch and decide plans for the afternoon. We ate near the park with the I AMSTERDAM sign in block letters and decided that most of us wanted to see the Van Gogh museum nearby. S and N wanted to look at other things and shop a little as S had seen a Van Gogh exhibit previously in Atlanta and N just wasn't interested in any museum that wasn't already payed for. We spent about fifteen minutes in line and then an hour in what could only be considered a wonderful exhibit of Van Gogh's work. Most of his better known pieces were there but some of his besst known work either resides somewhere else, such as Strry Night, or travels from place to place and wasn't there. It was however a great exhibit. Afterward we met the other two in the park again and found out that they had been to a cofee house. We decided to follow up on our initial idea to check it out and spent the next hour or so there. I will not go into the details of that experience except to say that we spent most of the next two hours after we left wandering aimlessly and couldn't seem to find our way to our meeting place until a few things became clearer. We did make it to our dinner meeting place on time at Rembrandt park and sat almost quietly while the rest of the 50 talked loudly and joked over dinner. Enough Said.

We had a great ride back to the hotel in Edam and I got some great pictures of the sun setting over the water. T's passport holder with his money and everything else magically appeared under his bed when we returned to the hotel. Don't ask how because I really don't know and the main thing was that he got his money back. The night was a little quieter that night and I let my room-mate handle anyone who was rowdy in the hall. We also had settled the ATM problem we had as L's card, not being a debit card, would still not work anywhere. We had called home the night before and her husband had taken $1,000 out of the credit union where she had hoped to access it and deposited it into my account with my wife's help so that I could get money out for them as needed. Problem largely solved.

One other thing, part of the reason we wandered around Amsterdam for an hour and a half lost, beyond the obvious, was that we didn't have a map other than the one in my Rick Steves 2005 Europe Guide Book. Rick Steves is very good for a lot of things but city maps are just not one of those things. I used my book as a resource for eating places, gelaterias, sights to see, country maps, prices and what was free, etc... but I'll never again be in a city (especially one with so many canals) without a decent map. I brought this up the next day with the TD in Heidelberg and we were never without city maps again. You just can't be expected to navigate a city without a decent city map. When you travel in a large group the other thing you must have is the name and address of each hotel you are staying in for each traveler. It can become essential as we will see in Rome. The next day would be a travel day and we would put Holland behind us, cross the Rhine, travel on the Romantic Road, visit a medieval walled city for lunch and a city wide yard sale, and arrive in Heidelberg Germany before dinner. I'll leave you for this day with a few words from "The Belgian Song" as our bus driver introduced us to it on the way home that evening. "Aunt Veddecker its great to be a Belgian. I'm not English, I'm not French and I'm not Dutch. I'm a Belgian so thank you very much. I'm not Spanish, Portuguese or German. I'm not Irish, Danish, or Italian. I'm a Belgian so thank you very much." There is more about eating french fries with mayonaise and recognizing famous Belgians with a very short list. You get the picture.

Baldworth
baldworth is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 09:35 PM
  #27  
 
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LOL baldworth, what a fun report!! You are a teacher? Wish I had had a teacher like you when I was a student.
Looking forward to the next installment.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 09:46 PM
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Not to be picky or anything, baldworth, but you have a long report AND a long title

I will have to read this when I get a minute. Am packing for our own 25 day adventure.
noe847 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:01 AM
  #29  
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Day 6 -

This was one of the more uneventful days of the tour although it was our first long day on the bus. We left Edam about 9:00 and traveled across Holland to the German border, headed for Cologne(Koln). As soon as we began certain things became clear. Some of the kids were mixers and some of them were intent on staying within a group and keeping to themselves. A group of girls from San Diego huddled together and spoke Spanish almost exclusively when they were together. Their self-appointed leader was the newly arrived K who had lost her passport in San Fran Cisco, borrowed money from her chaperone SA, and somehow managed to either find enough money or charge a pair of 300 euro Christian Dior sunglasses. Poor little K, don't you feel sorry for her? Neither did I.

My group sat in the back of the bus while all of the other adults sat in the front and I shared a seat with one of the girls from North Carolina as there were no more empty spots when I got on. This was another pattern that would begin here and last for awhile. Certain of the California kids would get up early each morning we were going to be on the bus and grab seats at or near the front of the bus before anyone else had a chance to get on. This would not have been a problem in and of itself except that as we began to move southward it began to get hotter and the bus had a problem with the air conditioning system and could not seem to work beyond the middle seats. My group would suffer through the heat in the back of the bus throughout Italy and only claim front seats when on the way from Florence to Lucerne, Switzerland. For now though, we were in the back. It was interesting sitting in the back and listening to the interaction as some kids made the attempt to talk to each other and others made it a point not to. I marked this for future reference.

Koln was very scenic and you could see the cathedral, tall and black, standing out against the clear sky and city outline from a great distance. We ate lunch, I bought a T-shirt written all in German and we toured a fantastic Gothic cathedral. The whole time we wandered outside the cathedral, which was a central location in Koln, their were groups of Germans roaming the streets dressed in national colors or wearing some form of the German flag who were chanting something in unison abut their country and its chances in the World Cup match that day. It was wonderful to witness that kind of national pride leading up to a sporting event without any displays of idiocy or violence. This went on the entire time we were there and overshadowed the details of the great cathedral. My suggestion is this; if you want to see a great Gothic cathedral Koln is a great place to start if you are in the area. It is all of the things that a Gothic cathedral should be. After lunch and the continuing show, we moved on.

We crossed the Rhine and began to move more south. I was having trouble with the international cell phone that EF had provided and could not get hold of the guy who was supposed to meet us in the airport in Hamburg on the 14th of July. There had been a chance that he would be in Heidelberg on the same Saturday that we would and he knows his way around the city so I was hoping we could meet him there as well as in Hamburg. It was not meant to be. The phone was working for calling home but I would not speak to Y until we were in Barcelona after the EF portion of the trip. Remember that we added six days onto the end of the tour for three of us and five for two others who would end in Dublin, Ireland instead of Hamburg. The point is that it wasn't happening that day so we moved on to Heidelberg.

We traveled through German wine country down the Autobahn with cars passing us at incredible speeds and bus politics beginning to develop. From the stories I was hearing, while many of the kids slept, most of these kids came from families with a least a decent amount of money and fairly expensive homes. They were not used to roughing it at all and expected things to be done for them. They drove expensive cars or planned to when they learned to drive (except for some of the NC kids who were a little more down to earth).

We finally arrived in our village or town about fifteen or twenty minutes outside of Heidelberg, Germany, checked into our third hotel where we were actually on the ground floor away from most of the noise and the kids and went into the restuarant for dinner. Most of our meals consisted of some kind of pork and potatoes but this night we also had a very good soup as a starter and the pork was very good. My room-mate, who was sitting at another table of course, made the waitress mad when there wasn't enough soup to go around at his table and he dared ask for more. German waitresses tend to be a bit gruff unless you soften them up a bit and I guess his demeanor didn't suit her. Anyway, after dinner most of North Carolina decided to take the train into Heidelberg and find a club as they attempted to drink up Europe, a contingent from California including the adults and ten to fifteen kids found a bar and watched Mexico paly in the World Cup. We decided to buy a couple of bottles of wine and sit on the hotel porch and eat cheese with the wine.

That reminds me of something important that I left out as it wasn't originally planned. There had been an optional excursion planned for the full day in Amsterdam to see flowers and visit an old Dutch village and a clog and cheese store as well. The optional excursion didn't get enough people to sign up so EF decided to send us all on our bus to the clog and cheese store, probably some agreement they had again to make the overall cost of the tour lower. We didn't mind at all as we had a very good demonstration about how the wooden shoes are made and another about how the different types of cheese are made. Afterward we left through the store with the chance, of course, to buy clogs and cheese with samples of each type of cheese. The cheese was very good and most everyone on the tour bought some as well as several who bought clogs for themselves or someone back home. The guy who showed us how to make clogs spoke about ten different languages, including fluent Mandarin Chinese to one Chinese member of the California group we'll call J who would come to spend a lot of time with my group as the tour progressed. Most of us left the store with something.

Which brings us back to the porch at our hotel outside Heidelberg. N had bought some garlic flavored cheese to eat that evening and we sat through the evening and ate the entire wheel, about the size of paperback book except round and thicker, and polish off the medium sweet white Rhine Wine. It was a very pleasant evening only marred by my daughter S who was determined to go into town and find a club, while we convinced her that she had already had enough to drink and needed to sty there. This was the first of many lessons in the drinking of wine with the right food at the right time and in the right place. German white wine from the Rhine can be very good and the cheese made it all fit together well. Even ST had some and seemed to enjoy it. We broke up the party about 12:00 when the hotel was closing up for the night and wanted to turn out the lights on the porch.
baldworth is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:55 AM
  #30  
 
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This is a great story, Baldworth! It seems you are a very patient chaperone. I can't wait to hear (read) the rest!!

katya_NY is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 09:15 AM
  #31  
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ttt
baldworth is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 10:47 AM
  #32  
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Day 7 -

We spent the morning touring Heidelberg and Heidelberg castle. The castle is not as spectacular as some but has many interesting features. It is the home of the world's largest wine cask, has a grand view of the river from the back balcony and shows the effects of many efforts to storm or blow up the castle. They also have wine tasting in the basement including a very sweet but very tasty white dessert wine that only runs 50 euros per bottle. We enjoyed the castle.

After the castle we wandered down to the city and then over to the river for some great views of the castle. We then boarded the bus and began the ride to Munich. We rode over toward Stuttgart and joined the Romantic Road just past Rothenberg. The aim was to have lunch in Dinkelsbuhl, one of the few remaining walled towns left after the ravages of the Black Plague, the Thirty Years War, and World War II. This town is not a recreation. It still has a wall all the way around and a moat in front of that with limited entrance only by way of a few bridges. It was like stepping back in time and we found a place for lunch without spending very much money. After lunch we walked around and found a town-wide swap meet or yard sale featuring all sorts of memorabilia, crafts and various other things. N bought a WWII era gas mask for his father and we all managed to find something that we could haggle over the price and take home without feeling that we were just buying souvenirs.

Afterward we traveled down the Romantic Road until we left it to head over to Munich. When we got to Munich it was almost dark and a storm was building as we found the Hotel Domicil, the same Munich hotel we had stayed at two years ago. Just as we arrived and got the OK to unload after getting the bus parked in the right spot, the heavens unloaded. We formed a human chain and all of the guys helped Geoff get the bags unloaded and to the dry safety of the hotel overhang. Being in the number one unloading spot, I got the wettest of all but we got the bags taken care of and most of them didn't get very wet.

Once we got into our rooms and I was able to dry off a little, the logical thing to do was to go to the bar and sample some good Bavarian beer fresh from the tap. B and I went to the bar and started another trend that would last all the way through Madrid; wherever he and I went to have a beer or other adult beverage a small crowd would eventually gather and join us for most of the evening. This night we were all wet and the beer was good so we passed the remainder of the evening sitting in the bar and even met a guy from Transylvania who we referred to as Dracula, that may have been gay, may ahve been after one or more of us, claimed to have killed twenty men in some sort of civil war, and had one bloodshot eye to go with one normal clear one. It was an interesting evening and many of us drank too much, including my daughter who developed her first hangover the next morning and delayed our joining the group for the tour of Munich. Day 7 over after B used his credit card to pay for the majority of the beer to which he needed to reach a $40 minimum. We all gladly helped him.
baldworth is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #33  
 
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Really interesting story - and please keep up with the details. I love it all!

You must be a saint - I would have lost patience long before!
LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 09:32 AM
  #34  
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Have I run everybody off? I hope to get back to this later today but I have to compete for computer time with wife and three teenage daughters, two of which were at band camp all week. I also went to my 34th class reunion yesterday and got back about 3:00 am. Life happens.

TTT
Baldworth
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Jul 30th, 2006, 11:08 PM
  #35  
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Day 8 -

The morning broke with a lack of space for breakfast as the outside chairs and tables were wet form the previous night's rain and both EF groups were scheduled at the same time for breakfast. Eventually things worked out and I actually sat down to breakfast without an entourage. I didn't notice that S and R were not present until R walked up to the table and greeted me with the news that S was hungover and sick. Throwing up sick and not able to get out of bed at this point was the state for my oldest daughter. Ah, her first official hangover as the previous night we had all drank too much at the expense of B and then Dracula. I was feeling a little off but managed to get going and coffee helped but she was sick after she got out of the shower and was in no shape to go anywhere. I made arrangements with my group and the TD to go on the bus tour of Munich and we would try to meet them at the Marienplatz at 11:00, and if worse came to worse before dinner at 6:00. I stayed with her, she stopped throwing up, and we both caught up on some extra sleep.

She took a little longer to get ready than I had planned on and we didn't get started toward the train stop down the road until 10:30. We had found the station easily enough but could not figure out the ticket machine and finally just got on a train. It turns out that we were going in the wrong direction and the airport really was our endpoint so we went two stopps and boarded the train going in the opposite direction. Without tickets and without a clue as to how to get them, speaking no German, and with my hand on several euros in my pocket the plan was to plead ignorant tourist if anyone actually asked us where our tickets were in anything close to recognizable English. We had 14 stops to go before we reached the city center and the Marienplatz stop. Our luck held and we managed to ride the entire way without a ticket, got off anf found our way to the meeting place, at 11:25. No one was around the square when we got there but we did manage to find the group leader and his girlfriend from the NC group and verify the next meeting time before our group was supposed to go to Dauchau, 2:00. We decided to go up into the tower above St. Peter's and then eat lunch and walk from one city gate to the other if possible. The view from the top of the tower was spectacular and there just happened to be an older German gentleman with two visitors who appeared to be his daughter in law and his grandson and he was pointing out all of the basic sights from the tower. We followed and listened as he pointed them out. When we descended we went to the market for fish sandwiches, walked from one former city gate almost to the other, bought some souvenirs for her two younger sisters, and headed to the meeting point. Everyone was glad to see us but it appears our group had actually done quite well without us for once. Imagine that! We boarded the bus and headed for Dauchau.

About 20 minutes later we arrived at an empty parking lot that was in a different location than I remembered entering Dauchau from two years previous. Something wasn't right. When we got to the new entrance in front of the old train entrance with the sign reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" or Work will set you free, the camp was closed. Our TD hadn't checked his facts and the site is closed on Mondays. We really couldn't have arranged to go any other day so there wasn't much he could have done about it. We decided to spend the afternoon at Nymphemburg Palace on the outskirts of Munich and off we went. Most of us didn't want to spend the euros necessary to visit the inside so we wandered the grounds of the Italian style villa and chilled in the shade of the stairs or the woods behind. It was a letdown from Dauchau but it was all we had. When we were done we headed to dinner at another brauhaus and more pork and potatoes. The night was young but it was time to go to the Hofbrauhaus, the place where Adolph Hitler tried to start the Nazi revolution in 1923 and failed with his beerhall putsch. This place is now a caricature of itself complete with old Bavarian gentlemen in their lederhosen hanging around for pictures and the oompah band playing a variety of songs both German and American. The place is still a lot of fun even with us arriving at 7:30. The beer mugs hold a liter and people stand up and sing out loud and some choose to dance in front of the bandstand. Some sip one beer, some try to down a few, and most don't get past their second one unless they are there for a while. Afterward everyone was happy and it was a raucous ride home until bellies full of beer mixed with a bouncy bus ride and several kids began throwing up the beer that went down so smoothly just thirty minutes before. It got very strange very fast. When we got back to the hotel apparently there was an issue with one of the NC boys who didn't want to help clean up what he had thrown up. He was telling off anyone who would listen and establishing a pattern of speaking loudly and profanely to anyone around, including my room-mate who didn't deserve to be spoken to that way and who's only offense had been to ask BE to move his feet off the couch in Edam four nights previous to this. We were beginning to see BE's true colors when he ingested any alcohol, we just didn't know it yet. Everyone else just went to their rooms and tried to clean up as best they could while those responsible for the mess on the bus cleaned it up except for BE. We were finished with Munich and would leave the next day for lunch in Innsbruck, Austria and our destination in Venice, Italy or at least The Lido Jessolo where we would be staying.
baldworth is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 06:05 AM
  #36  
 
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hmmm... what will happen next? This reads like a novel more than a trip report! I look forward to the continuation!

katya_NY is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 11:49 AM
  #37  
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Day 9 -

Day 9 opened with a trip south from Munich towards Innsbruck, Austria through the Alps. The scenery was absolutely fabulous and the first view of the Alps for most of the students on the trip. Innsbruck is in a mountain valley where the River Inn meanders through the meadows. It was the sight of two Winter Olympics, both the planned one in 1964 and the unplanned one in 1976 when the original sight fell through. The older part of town is very scenic and remenscient of the Middle Ages. The buildings have signs out front that describe what type of business without words only using symbols and wrought iron. The mountains are all around as you look up. We ate lunch in Nordsea or fish place that mainly sells sandwiches but has other seafood and fish items as well. They are all over most of southern Germany and apparently in Austria as well. Good food, reasonable price.

After lunch we went in search of Schnopps, which is made in the mountains of Austria, and after twenty minutes of searching and asking questions came upon a shop. As it turns out, the shop was not only a schnopps shop but the very one featured in "Passport to Europe" on the Travel Channel with Samantha Brown and she had pictures on the wall of Samantha Brown and many other celebrities who had visited her store. The proprieter was very helpful and explained the differences between the various kinds as we tasted them. We all bought some and left feeling a great sense of accomplishment as we had found what we had all been looking for. Mission accomplished!

The ride through and out of the Alps was very scenic but the best has to be coming out of the Brenner Pass near the tail end of the Dolomite Mountains through endless terraces of vineyards and castles. It is a breathtaking ride if you like either part of the scenery and especially if you like both. On every hilltop there is either an old castle leftover from the middle ages or the ruins of one. I was in heaven again.

We finally pulled into Lido de Jessolo about 8:30 in the evening very hot and sweaty from riding in the back of a very hot bus and looking forward to a swim in the hotel pool. Once we parked we could clearly read the sign that read "Pool closes at 7:00". It wasn't going to happen. We put our baggage in the lobby and moved to the dining room for dinner. The food was good but Venice had been the highlight of the Italian cuisine two years prior and this was a letdown. The highlight had to be my daughter S who had been training for a year in Italian to ask the waitress "Excuse me maam, vegitareano", referring to her friend R. This was the result of all of her preparation for traveling in Italy? We ribbed her about it the rest of the trip, even when she used the Italian to help out in certain situations to come.

After dinner some of the kids headed to the beach area along the Adriatic and B and I headed for the store to find my favorite Italian drink, Limoncello. As far as I am concerned there is no better summertime drink. We found a variety of brands and types and purchased two. When we go back to the hotel we decided to set up shop in the back lobby for two reasons; first the room were not air-conditioned and second, the World Cup was on and it was the best place to watch with more than two people. As was the case two nights before, many of the others on the tour gathered in the lobby with us to watch the game and sample Limoncello through both World Cup games. At least the hotel supplied us with ice. Others joined us as they came in from trips to the beach. It was a good evening. Next day, water bus to Venice and our tour of the city that would be the favorite for many.
baldworth is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 12:36 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,849
I am enjoying this perspective - but, as I said before, you have much more patience and understanding than I!

Please continue . . .
LCBoniti is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 01:09 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I'm finding this interesting. How old are these kids that ended up puking all over everything?
crefloors is online now  
Jul 31st, 2006, 06:31 PM
  #40  
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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The kids who were throwing up on the bus were in the 16 to 18 year age group, mostly 18. They should have been old enough to know better but as I said before some wanted to drink their way through Europe and a few had real issues when they drank anything.

Day 10 -

Venice was very hot and even more humid. There were no air conditioners in the rooms. A cold shower felt good in the morning. At breakfast we sat at a table made for 10 as we had the evening before. I forgot to mention that the previous night we had filled up a table before the last two of my group had come in for dinner and they had actually had to sit with the TD and the bus driver to eat. Oh the horror!
We all survived.

After breakfast we boarded the bus to meet the ferry to take us to Venice. It was about a twenty minute ride and we were there. Once there we had some scheduled events and a reasonable amount of free time. We had to go through a glass demonstration that was very hot and average compared to a previous demo. Then we were given a demonstration of the different types of glass and the colors and the prices involved. I don't think anyone bought anything but I don't really know as I left as soon as the demo was over. Too expensive! We had a little while so we took pictures of each other with pigeons in various places and then met our city guide for a walk through Venice. She was very good and she even pointed out the different types of windows from the different periods. We saw parts of Venice that I never could have found and got some great pictures. Afterwards it was time to go on a gondola ride and I had decided to pass this time. It cost 25 euros per person and I had done this two years ago. The last time we were supposed to get a 45 minute ride and only got 25 so it was somewhat of a dissapointment. I also had figued up the actual cost of the ride and knew that this was one place EF and other companies allow their TDs to make a little extra cash. I just couldn't justify the expense again so I decided to take pictures while others got into and out of the gondolas. I wandered around for awhile after waiting on everyone to make sure they got on the ride and no one missed getting tickets to the Doges Palace if they wanted them. We wer all free to go to the Doges Palace at our own leisure during the free afternoon. When the ride was over we all decided we wanted two things; inexpensive Italian food and air conditioning. We found both at a reasonably priced restuarant found by my daughter that served very good pizza and other dishes. My daughter finally got to use her Italian and communicated with the waiter very well. The best part though was when she looked at him with the map of Venice in hand and asked where are we, intending to find out our location and getting a smiling answer of "Venezia" in return. This was obviously his favorite joke for tourists and when we pursued him further he showed us exactly where we were. We decided we would all like to go back to the Rialto Bridge and then try to find the old Jewish Quarter after touring the Doges (Dukes) Palace. The palace was very nice once again with its huge halls, wonderful frescos, and exhibits of armor and weapons. This Gothic hall was built to show off the power of Venice and its ruling body , which was actually a council headed by the Doge or Duke of Venice. It was really all about commerce. After the walk through we filled our water bottles and soaked our bandanas an headed out to find the Rialto which was well marked and the Jewish Quarter beyond which was not so well marked.

The first was simple and easy to get to and the second was not difficult with the map in my Rick Steves guide (Best of Europe 2005). The only trouble is that it was not marked when we got there and we were running out of time and had to make our way back almost after we found it. We had walked through about 2 thirds of the area on that side of the islands and I found our way back using the signs for Piazza St Marco with a few minutes to spare. We were tired and sweaty but we had seen a lot of Venice and some places that only those who get adventuresome saw. The ride back on the ferry was quieter and many fell asleep. That night it was time for many of the kids to go to the Disco so after dinner they all changed into their dancing clothes and accompanied the TD to the dance club. B and I took up our positions in the lobby and watched more World Cup as we sampled more of Italy's wines and chocolate. It was too hot to go to the room until after midnight and even then it was muggy. It was a restless sleep. The next day was time to travel to Rome.
baldworth is offline  

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