A Travellerspoint blog

August 2019

Krakow

85 °F

This is my second visit to Krakow and I enjoyed my time spent here, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as the first time. Let’s put my opinion in perspective, the first visit was in the fall and this time it was in the summer. So, summer time is crazy crowded, sticky hot and more expensive, but It’s a great place to stroll on a nice summer night. There was a stage set up with entertainment in the main square and booths filled with food and trinkets. Ice cream taste fantastic and drinking beer on a hot summer day is the best. The restaurants are a great place to people watch and the horse and carriage scene is nice to look at but if you are eating a nice meal, the horse smell doesn’t always compliment your food. Now, fall gives you less crowds, cheaper hotels, but the cold weather isn’t always comfortable. You tend not to consume as much ice cream but for some remarkable reason, the beer still tastes great. Dining in the outdoor restaurants is still enjoyable because they have plenty of heaters and blankets to keep you warm and because of the cooler temperatures, the horse and carriage scene is much more pleasant. Personally, if I were to come back, I would choose the fall over the summer.

Main Market Square
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Street food in the main square
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People watching
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Wawel Castle and Cathedral
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Wieliczka Salt Mine
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Beautiful Buildings/Churches
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View my previous Krakow write up:
https://joannereyes.travellerspoint.com/7/

Posted by joannereyes 11:46 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Luxembourg

Postcard pretty city.

The beauty of this city is unprecedented. The greenery/forestry against the stone buildings/walls is inspirational. It’s definitely a small city but for 3 or 4 days, a lot of enjoyment can be had. There is a bit of a language barrier unless you speak Luxembourgish, French or German, but given the right attitude, that can be more fun than problematic. Plenty of shops to spend your hard earned money and plenty of great restaurants to enjoy while recuperating from your days adventure. A definite must see is the American cemetery where General Patton is buried. Everyone was helpful or maybe they just felt sorry for us, but I’d like to think it’s because they have a more genteel manner than most.

Luxembourg city has significant height differences. To overcome these, there are two elevators in the high city. In addition, there's a funicular between Pfaffenthal and Kirchberg. Of course, we took the elevator down and walked up. Not always the sharpest tool in the toolbox.

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Night scene
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Camping in the city (probably not legal)
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Enjoying a drink after work
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Great fun statues
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Even the trash cans are cute
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The Grand Ducal Palace
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Notre Dame
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My favorite part of the city
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Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
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General George S. Patton
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Lieutenant Nancy Leo is the only woman buried in this cemetery
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Posted by joannereyes 08:10 Archived in Luxembourg Comments (1)

Brussels

70 °F

Before I get into our Brussels adventure, let me take you on our journey from Scotland to Brussels via a layover in Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport). Our first flight on KLM (yes, I’m mentioning them for a reason - please read on) was 90 minutes of, oh my god, these young Scottish hooligans like to drink their beer (did I mention it was a 9:00am flight and evidently KLM will give you all the drinks you want). I think the Scottish are wonderful people, it would have been nice if theses nincompoops could have used their indoor voices on the plane. Okay, that’s just me being an old fuddy-duddy complaining about kids without manners, but when we landed, I was telling myself our next flight has got to be better. Oops, guess I spoke too soon. While looking for our connecting flight on the departure board, I get a message on my KLM app that my flight has been canceled. Confound it, what to do, what to do? I know, I’ll go ask a KLM rep. After walking a bit, we finally found a rep who looks up our flight on his tablet and says, “no, the flight hasn’t been canceled, go to gate blah blah blah”. Happy the flight wasn’t canceled, we walk about half a mile to our gate just to be told, yes, the flight was canceled. Of course our next question was “why was the flight canceled?” And you guessed it, they used the default answer of weather. (My weather app didn’t show any bad weather but hey, what do I know.) Anyway, he tells us to walk the half mile back to where we had just come from and there will be a KLM rep to tell us what to do. So now we wait in line (of course it’s a long line) until finally a rep comes up to us and says we can use our plane ticket (which was more expensive) for a train ticket - just go get your luggage (at least another half mile) then go to the train station (which luckily is in the airport) and have them reserve you a seat. So we walk, and walk, and walk some more because no one from KLM is there to assist us in navigating this huge expansive monstrosity of an airport. Finally, after walking a total of 2.5 miles at Schiphol, we get our train tickets with only a few hours delay. Yep, a bit of exercise to go along with the headache of traveling. Oh, but wait, I’m not done yet, please read on. The train ride to Brussels Midi was uneventful (hallelujah) and our hotel is close enough to walk (only a little over a mile - don’t judge). As we are walking, within a couple of minutes, some guy (presumably a Good Samaritan) yells at me that something is on the back of my jacket. So as I was trying to figure out what was on my jacket, thinking that yes, once again I got hit with bird droppings, because for whatever reason, I seem to be a target (hint, don’t walk too close to me) ;). As it turned out, someone had squirted something (the not so good samaritan’s partner in crime) on me and then tried to grab Mitch’s luggage when we were distracted trying to clean off my jacket. Fortunately, it was all for not because Mitch saw the thief reach for his luggage and was able to grab it before the scumbag was successful. Of course the wannabe thief, was denying everything as he was running away from the scene of the attempted crime. So, long story long, all that was lost was my jacket because whatever they squirted on it wouldn’t come out. We feel very fortunate that this journey ended well enough but here are a few take aways to think about:

1. Distraction is the name of the game - don’t let the charlatans win
2. KLM sucks
3. Schiphol Airports gargantuan size is overwhelming
4. Don’t be cheap, take a taxi
5. Thinking back on my first flight, my Scottish friends weren’t so bad after-all.

Now for my Brussels adventure:

It was hard for me at first to put those swindlers aside and enjoy the city of mussels, friets, waffles, chocolate and beer, well, hard but not impossible. The center square is magnificent, the numerous pedestrian walkways are fantastic and the restaurant scene is outstanding, that is once you get past all the bars. Yes, the bar scene is well and alive in Brussels. The buildings are majestic, the subway system is easy to navigate and clean (It was difficult to find ATMs but there are a few in the subways and a lot of food stands only take cash so have currency at the ready). We spent three days here and could have easily spent a couple more to see everything. You will see plenty of homeless/beggars around the many pedestrian streets which is sad but all too common in major cities however, for some reason they were more prominent here. This city is a city of tourist and a lot of money is being spent so watch your wallets and enjoy all the great grandeur that Brussels has to offer.

Grand Place Brussels
A delicately sculpted town square erected over centuries to become the representation of Brussels history.
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Atomium
The Atomium represents a single unit of iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. There are 9 spheres representing atoms which are connected by tubes with escalators and lifts. Each sphere is about the size of a large apartment.
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Manneken Pis
Many great legends bring this little statue to life in the hearts of visitors, and the question is why was this statue erected? One story tells of a tourist father who lost his son in the city and after receiving help from villagers to find the boy, he gifted this statue to them. Another, more daring, tale is one where the boy was a spy during a siege of the city. He literally put out a ploy to bomb the city by urinating on the explosives! Many stories such as this have given the Manneken Pis a firm place in Brussels’ city-life but none would compete with its present-day glory.
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The people of Brussels don’t simply look upon the cute statuette and show it to tourists. The Manneken Pis plays a full part in the city’s annual calendar and even has an outfit for every occasion. Peeing boy's wardrobe ranges from Santa suits to national costumes from countries around the world.
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To give peeing boy a playmate, another statue was built called Jeanneke Pis in the 80s. This other statue is a little girl fountain, but she is lesser known and hides in an alleyway a short distance away from Mannekin Pis.
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Brussels Opera
In the 18th century Brussels opera was second only to Paris.
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Brussels Park
A perfectly rectangular-shaped park that stretches from Place des Palais to Rue de la Loi, this is a park designed to catch your attention should you stumble upon it on the way to the Royal Palace. Fountains, statues, basins and a symmetrical pattern of footpaths cut through this park like angular lattice work.
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Mont des Arts
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National Basilica of the Sacred Heart
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Street art
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Street scene
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Hare Krishna
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Street food
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Posted by joannereyes 01:13 Archived in Belgium Comments (1)

Glasgow

overcast 65 °F

First impression, disappointed I still wasn’t in London. Glasgow is a bit dirtier than London, the buildings are darker and heavier looking, but the food scene is so much better. So much better! The language barrier was difficult at times, oh wait, they speak English you say, not so fast. They speak a form of English, but it is definitely more like Scotglish (English spoken fast with marbles in your mouth). I know, that’s a little harsh but it’s true, the accent is distinct and at times, it was rather fun trying to guess what they were actually saying but other times like during our tour of a brewery it just seemed like a waste of money. Glasgow is a small city and easy to get around, they have a few nice pedestrian streets and a couple of beautiful squares to visit but the most gorgeous place to see is their botanical gardens. I’m not really a garden type of person but the beauty of these gardens was so impressive it is worth a visit. The weather was typical Scottish, cloudy with drizzle every day but that didn’t hamper any of our adventures.

When planning this visit to Scotland, our choice was to stay here or Edinburgh, we chose Glasgow because it was more reasonably priced. We took a day trip to Edinburgh which was fun, but I’m happy with our stay in Glasgow because it was less crowded and as I already mentioned, the food scene was fabulous.

These little guys were everywhere raising money for the Children’s Hospital
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Glasgow
City of moss
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Heavy, dark buildings
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Glocks everywhere
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Pedestrian walkway
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Always a little drizzle
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Glasgow Cathedral
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Glasgow Necropolis
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Glasgow - Merchants City
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Glasgow Botanic Gardens
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Tennents Brewery
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Edinburgh - Scott Monument
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Edinburgh Castle
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Edinburgh Old Town
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Edinburgh
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Posted by joannereyes 08:05 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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