Days 19-21 Update

Day number 19 proved to be pretty bloody cruisey. Went to Mainz and sat by the Rhine River for much of the day at a pop-up summer time beach bar with Kathi, Andrew, Anne, Pete plus special guests.

Migrated to a local restaurant for dinner, where a single small schnitzel would have been sufficient for the entire table. Subsequently felt unwell.

Day number 20 started in Hofheim, before a train ride into Frankfurt for a dose of shopping, and more sitting at a beach bar, this one on the Main River.

Fast forward to the 21st day, and the collective asses were put back into gear.

Went for a cruise from Frankfurt-Höchst to Rüdesheim and back to Mainz.

Through a couple of locks on the Main River, the scenery really picked up once we cleared the industrial areas and made it to the Rhine River.

First was Mainz, then Wiesbaden, Eltville (where the wine street party was on Saturday night), Oestrich-Winkel, and our destination.

Some pretty awesome scenery throughout, especially in Rüdesheim, with its vineyards clinging onto the steep hills.

Caught a chairlift to the top of the hill where there are several monuments. Very nice.

Finished the day with a shop around Mainz.


Trip Day 19 – 21 Frankfurt Area

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Day 18 Update

So the Nurburgring. From Frankfurt, myself Jurgen, Frank and Bert headed off for the 1.5 hour drive west. Traffic turned out to be a non-issue, and we parked right next to our viewing area.

Let me say this from the outset, the Nurburgring has one of the strangest spectator arrangements I have ever seen.

Your ticket only allows you into the spectator area you have purchased, so there is no roaming around the track to enjoy the view. Secondly, to get around anywhere you have to check out of your area. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the spectator walk ways in many areas are right next to the track, but you can’t see what is going on. There is also a four lane main road going under the circuit, which remains open as a public road.

Another innovation is the ‘Ring Card’. It’s a lot like Ithcy and Scratchy money, in that it is just like real money, but more fun. The deal is that you load up your card before you go to a food/bev counter, so you don’t have to exchange coins there. German efficiency.

Like Silverstone, trackside concessions were very reasonable. Bratwust for €3, and a cup of beer for less than €3.

After the GP3 race, I set off to find the merchandise area. With none apparent in the spectator enclosure (we were general admission, in the run up to the last chicane, a DRS zone). Out on the perimetre road, I headed north. A while later in the town of Nurburg, many vendors had stalls set up on the main road, although they tended to sell old season stock, or cheap fake goods.

In the two hour gap before F1, Frank and myself set off the other way in search of… anything. About 30 minutes and a cut lunch later, we found the main merchandise area, which was on the outside of the track behind the pit straight grandstand. In reality it was about 400m from our spectator point, but because of the wierd way the joint is configured, it was much much further.

There were a heap of motor racing styled boutiques, and displays set up by manufacturers. The indoors concourse was pretty impressive.

Back just in time for the race, we were in a pretty prime spot. We managed to get four folding chairs into the track, despite them being on the contraband list. In fact there didn’t appear to be any bag checks at all. There was lot of overtaking and dicing that didn’t make the coverage in front of us, as we were directly across from a big screen.

We were also privy to the Marussia blowing up and rolling across the track.

One slightly baffling thing was the commentary, which was in German, English and French. My basic grasp of German assisted with lap counts and driver positions, but I flat out struggled with the French portion.

Compared to the British crowd, the German’s were a bit meh. Unlike last week where the entire the crowd went nutso for Hamilton on every lap, there was hardly an outpouring of emotion when Vettel won. More like a polite golf clap. Maybe he’s not that popular? It’s not like the crowd was all kitted out in supporter gear like they were seven days earlier.

At the chequered flag, Frank went off to get a refund on his Itchy and Scratchy money, after investing heavily in it earlier in the day. In the meantime, a fight broke out at the bar between some Brits over someone allegedly cutting the line. Germany’s responsible service of alcohol kicked in, and everyone was served an ale in good order.

Somehow we jagged a spot in the traffic queue leaving the track, and we made it home in surprisingly good time. Well played.

Day 16 & 17 Update

Day 16 started with the Technik Museum in Sincheim. Not knowing what I was in for, I had a minor blowout.

The first thing you see from the autobahn is the Concorde and Tupolev sitting on the roof, which you can climb aboard and inspect. Never thought that would happen. Amazing.

In two massive sheds, the place has 300 classic cars, 200 motorcycles, 40 racing cars (including the biggest display of F1 cars in Europe), 60 planes, 20 trains… A bit hard to list the the highlights, but the 6 wheel Tyrell, and a Ferrari F40 sitting next to a Lamborghini Countach would have to be up there. It’s no British Museum, but for a machine nut, it’s pretty special.

Drove through the Alsace wine region in France to get to Strasbourg for lunch. Checked out the cathedral, and had a walk around town- very nice. Everything has a lovely old feel about it, largely because it didn’t take much of a hit in the war.

Next stop was back over in Germany at the Black Forest. After possibly being lost, but taking a lovely detour through some amazing wine country, we arrived in Obertal. A massive storm a few years ago wiped out a lot of trees, but it’s still an incredible place (with great wine).

After a walk through the Black Forest on Day 17, which included a climb up a hunter’s lookout, we headed off to Heidelberg Castle. Another fantastic joint, with a very good audio guide.

Back to Frankfurt for a short kip, before heading off to a birthday party in Eltville, on the Rhine River. It was a bit of a summer festival, where all of the local wineries had stands, coupled with local food vans. €10 bottles of wine = winning.

This sort of thing would never happen in Australia, because-
A) it would end in an all-in brawl because Aussies can’t handle booze
B) the vendors would charge top-dollar.

Went to bed late. Was worth it.

Trip Day 16 & 17 Straßburg, Black Forest, Heidelberg

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Trip Day 14 & 15 Hamburg

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Trip Day 14 & 15 Hamburg, a set on Flickr.

Day 14 & 15 Update

Off to Hamburg on the very quick Inner City Express train, which takes about 4 hours. When you consider the price, time it takes, and the fact that it drops you right in the middle of town, it’s definitely better than flying.

Saying that, the 7:00am kickoff from Frankfurt wasn’t ideal.

Walked via the Chilehaus to the Maritime Museum. It was good, very well done, but it did drag on a bit. At 10 storeys high it was a bit of a hike, and there were an incredible number of model boats. The funny thing was that in the 10 levels of museum there was only one actual boat.

Across the road I stumbled across “Prototype”, which was an uber cool car museum. From the 40 odd vehicles on exhibit, the two that really get your attention are the first F1 cars for Schumacher (Jordan), and Vettel (Sauber). There was heaps of interesting memorabilia on display, trinkets, posters, photos etc. In the basement was an exhibition dedicated to Wolfgang Von Trips.

From there, we found an open top tour bus and did a lap of the city. The tour guide was incredibly funny. If you knew German. But it was still good. Toured past the harbour, downtown, lakes, university district, with a special feature on the red light district, which is apparently a big tourist drawcard.

Alighted from the converible bus when a rain shower came over, and walked through town to our hotel. Had dinner at a local burger chain (when in Hamburg…), where for €10 you get a massive feed. The upgrade from a glass of softdrink to a 500ml beer is 50c. Only seems fair.

With London lag dragging on, we woke up at 10am. Walked through town before getting slightly disorientated while shopping.

Had to walk back to the other side of town for a cruise around the harbour. Had an afternoon meal on a fireboat, before more shopping and the homebound train.

Day 13 Update

The timing of my flights on this trip has meant that I haven’t suffered any jet lag to date. Unfortunately I did suffer an horrendous post-British Grand Prix hangover, even if no alcohol was consumed over the weekend. 120km of cycling on minimum sleep does that apparently.

Twas woken up at 10:30am, probably could have gone a few more hours.

Headed into Frankfurt town for a walking tour of the city. Started out at the Opera, where fortuitously there was a food/booze fair in progress. Had the obligatory sausage on a roll, before headed off to the 200m tall Main Tower. Impressive view from the roof.

Around the corner was the house where Goethe grew up, then we kept on trekking through the part of town that was restored after the war. Chilled out in Romberberg Plaza (where the Christmas Markets are held), checked out the Alte Nikolai Church, then headed over and along the river.

Visited the Frankfurt Cathedral and the marketplace, before going slightly overboard in the shops along the way.

Had dinner at the Kartoffelhaus (Potato Restaurant), then got dropped at the shops to buy supplies for Hamburg. The 15min walk home was via various strawberry, pear, corn and grain fields. Nice touch.

Trip Day 13 Frankfurt

Fountain dogPhotobombedMassive Red BullCrazy German cola namesFieldFrankfurt corn
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Trip Day 13 Frankfurt, a set on Flickr.

Day 12 Update

Because of bicycle transportation issues, I was required at the train station at 6:22am. Ouch.

Saying that, the Virgin Trains service from Milton Keynes to Euston is a goody- about £10 for the 30 minute express trip including cycle. Much cheaper than the alternatives, and much less sapping than peddaling all the way to London.

Went for a ride through Regent’s Park, then back over to Little Venice, and a section of the canals that we didn’t cover on Saturday. It was the daggier end of the canals, but it was still pleasent.

Cut through Notting Hill, which looks like the rest of London, but is on a hill, then through Holland Park, which was nice.

Cruised around South Kensington for a while before the Natural History Museum opened. The things-in-jars collection was interesting, there were a lot of things to look at, but I think for some of the Australian animals on display, they were using the fattest specimens in the range. Platypus aren’t that big…

Next door was the Science Museum, and I really liked this. A lot of mechanical things that I dig. The space section had some cool life sized replicas on display (the Lunar Module is bigger than I expected), but the area that took the cake was the flight section. The things on display here seriously put all air museums in Australia to shame.

There was also a “Google Lab”, which was interesting. Including a thing that took your photo and used a robot to draw it in the sand. Apparently you can log into the museum from the internet and it will draw your face from your webcam. I don’t know how this is furthering humanity, but it’s neat.

On the way back to drop off the cycle, did a lap through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and one last time past the standard attractions like the Queen’s house and the large clock tower.

Tubed to Heathrow, where it became apparent that the English are shit people at travelling. Of the ten people in front of me, nine of them got pulled up at the security screening. There was a combination of wearing your watch, belt, things in pockets, oversized liquids the works. Some of them looked liked seasoned businessmen, but they were all useless. The added bonus of failing the metal detectors is that you recieve a massively invasive frisk in front of everyone, who appear to be cool with this practice. Get it together. Thanks.