A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about olympic

The Palaces of Potsdam

Berlin - Potsdam

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Berlin on kmmk17's travel map.

After a busy day in the centre of Berlin, today we were going outside the city to Potsdam, home of the Prussian Kings, and capital of the German province of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin. Unlike the rest of the trip, which was mostly to places I had seen on previous trips to Berlin, the journey to Potsdam was a new experience for me.

Glienicke Bridge

Glienicke Bridge

We began by heading down to the Glienicke Bridge on the border of Berlin and Brandenburg. This bridge was closed during the Cold War, and used for the transfer of spies. Now reopened, we were able to walk into the former East Germany.

Potsdam High Street

Potsdam High Street

We then got on a tram and arrived in the centre of Potsdam, walking down the main shopping street, stopping for ice cream, before making our way into the Sanssouci Park, where the palaces of the city are located.

Sanssouci Palace

Sanssouci Palace

We began by walking firstly towards the impressive Sanssouci Palace, overlooking the park above terraces and a water fountain, before continuing along the central path towards the New Palace

Orangery Palace

Orangery Palace

This park was huge, but also cool and shady, and whilst walking through every few minutes the view of another palace came into view.

New Palace

New Palace

After reaching the New Palace we headed north to the bus stop to make our way back to Berlin. Annoyingly there were construction works on the train line, and so we had to get a replacement bus from Potsdam to Wannsee, which was a bit of a nightmare to find, but eventually we were on our way back to the city.

With it being mid-afternoon, we decided to make our way back to the hotel via the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1936 Olympics. We had originally planned to go inside, but as our feet were aching, and only guided tours permitted (due to the imminent hosting of the European Athletics Championships) we decided to head back to the hotel instead after viewing from outside.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

By now we were very tired, but with another full day yet to come we spent the rest of the evening chilling in the hotel and claiming another free drink from the bar!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 04:25 Archived in Germany Tagged park palace bridge city berlin border royal olympic Comments (0)

The Seoul of Korea

Cherry Blossom Adventures - Seoul

overcast 18 °C
View Cherry Blossom Adventures on kmmk17's travel map.

After a busy few days in Beijing, we were headed on to our second city on the trip - Seoul, capital of South Korea.

Getting up early in order to make our morning flight, we arrived at Beijing Airport to find Air China had seated us in different sections of the plane. Annoying, but at least it would only be for an hour or so. We then found after boarding, that this had happened to numerous people on the flight and we were both surrounded by other people also separated from travelling companions. Ridiculous! Another tick against Air China.

Winter Olympic Legacy

Winter Olympic Legacy

Nevertheless we arrived at Incheon Airport in Seoul by mid-morning, finding it still filled with lots of Winter Olympic merchandise, and enjoyed the free WiFi with our first access to Facebook, WhatsApp and Google Maps in days. After struggling to get cash out from the local ATMs we eventually made it onto the train and headed into the city. Grabbing supermarket supplies we checked into our hotel early, dropped our bits and headed out to explore the first part of the city.

War Memorial of Korea

War Memorial of Korea

Our first sight in the city was the War Memorial of Korea, where military equipment and memorials sit outside the museum. After a wander around the complex, we headed on towards the Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam.

World Peace Gate

World Peace Gate

After a quick walk around the shrines, we headed to the World Peace Gate, at the front of the Olympic Park. Walking past this gate and the eternal flame, we headed to the flagpoles, where the flag of each country that participated in the 1988 Olympic flies. This is particularly interesting as many countries have since changed their flags or disappeared entirely since the end of the Cold War, which are being kept here as a historic record of the event itself, and thus it was possible to walk past flags of the Soviet Union, Zaire and South Yemen.

Flags from the 1988 Olympic Games

Flags from the 1988 Olympic Games

After a long day, the last place on our list was Dongdaemun, the best preserved of the original city gates into the city. Starting at the modern Cultural Park just to the south, we made the short walk north to the gate itself, where I took a short walk up past the city walls for a vantage point over the area. After a long afternoon we headed back to the city centre, completing our loop of the outer city, and grabbed food before bed.

Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun

Having enjoyed our first lay in in days, we eventually headed out for our full day touring the rest of the city, beginning with the City Hall area. With a train just about to leave I jumped on it, to find Chris had got stuck behind some people and had missed it. Luckily the next train was just a few minutes later, and we eventually reunited not long later.

Emergency Supplies

Emergency Supplies

Leaving the metro station, which like others in the city also serves as an evacuation shelter - with its own food and medial supplies in the corridors, we arrived just in time to see the changing of guards ceremony outside the Deoksugang.

Ceremony at Deoksugang

Ceremony at Deoksugang

We got to watch most of it take place and even had a photo opportunity with one of the guards at the end, before we entered the complex itself to explore.

At Deoksugang

At Deoksugang


Cheonggyecheon

Cheonggyecheon

After taking a look at the City Hall square, walking north, we viewed the gentrified Cheonggyecheon stream, walking past the US embassy where there were a few protests, before arriving at the Gwanghwamun gate of the Gyeongbokgung royal palace.

Gwanghwamun Gate

Gwanghwamun Gate


Bukchon Hanok

Bukchon Hanok

After having a walk around the entrance to the complex we then headed westwards towards the Bukchon Hanok, a traditional Korean village located in the heart of the city. Spending a bit of time walking around the area, we headed to the Changdeokung palace, resting outside before continuing to the Changgyeonggung palace.

Changgyeonggung

Changgyeonggung

We then started heading back, through some side streets in the jewellery area, making our way down to the Jongmyo shrine, before heading to the Insadong shopping street. After having bought our souvenirs, we then headed via the Jogyesa shrine back to our hotel having now toured the city.

Inside the Jogyesa Shrine

Inside the Jogyesa Shrine

The following day was our last in South Korea, and was planned to be spent the DMZ. However a couple of days before we had received an email to inform us that due to the upcoming conference between the leaders of both North and South, in order to prepare, trips to the Joint Security Area were cancelled for the next month or so. A real pity we wouldn't get to see the blue UN huts, but having managed to rebook our tour, we still managed to head to the border zone itself and see some of the other sights.

Heading back to the City Hall area, we checked in for our excursion and boarded the coach. Not long later we headed north, arriving at the first checkpoint around an hour later, and having our passports checked.

Dora Observatory

Dora Observatory

We began at the Dora Observatory, for views from a small hill over the border area. From here we could see not only the border, but the first parts of North Korea on the Kaesong area on the other side - including the North Korean Peace Village, with the huge flag pole. We could also hear the propaganda broadcasts from each side - although when asked, our tour guide stated that due to different dialects she couldn't understand what the North was broadcasting anyway!

Views of North Korea

Views of North Korea

After time to take in the views, we then headed towards the Third Infiltration Tunnel. This tunnel is one of the four that have been found, dug by the North Koreans into the south. Due to its location in this area it is now a major tourist site, being included as part of tours to the DMZ. Unfortunately today the monorail had broken and thus we had to walk down the 350 metres to the bottom before walking the length of the tunnel up to the border line, where it had been sealed with concrete barricades. With Koreans generally being smaller than westerners it was a struggle for myself to walk along the tunnel, and many of the taller visitors hit their helmets on the top of the tunnel.

At the visitor centre

At the visitor centre

After a strenuous climb back to the top, we headed across the road to the visitor centre, to watch a video on the history of the tunnel, as well as see models of the DMZ.

Inside Dorasan Station

Inside Dorasan Station

We then boarded the bus again and made our way to the Dorasan Station, a modern station complex built during the last period of cooperation between both sides in the last 00s. The station in the last on the railway line in the south and if peace is achieved it is hoped that the line will be reconnected to the north. However being located within Civilian Control Area, the only visitors are tourists. The station has a gift shop and many plaques, and we also went onto the platform to see the special DMZ train as well as signs indicating the distance to North Korea.

On the platform

On the platform

After visiting most of the sights, we headed to a restaurant outside the immediate border area in Imjingak for Bulgogi, and then taking a look at the immediate area, include the Bridge of Freedom. This whole experience felt very surreal, as the risk of conflict in this area is so high, and yet it was so touristy, with an amusement park and souvenir shops, this could be a theme park!

Overlooking the Bridge of Freedom

Overlooking the Bridge of Freedom

Heading back to the city, we chilled for the rest of our time before our early morning rise and finally heading to Japan the following morning.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 08:59 Archived in South Korea Tagged temple train memorial city tunnel border shrine war olympic eastasia Comments (0)

Busy in Barça

Catalonia - Barcelona

all seasons in one day 23 °C
View Catalonia on kmmk17's travel map.


After almost a week by the beach in Salou, we took the train back up to Barcelona for the final weekend, in what felt like an entirely separate holiday.

After just over two hours, we arrived at our hotel around the corner from the Sagrada Familia. With much to see, we quickly dropped our bags off and headed into the city.

We began by walking over to the Hospital de Sant Pau, a UNESCO protected former hospital when the heavens opened. As we walked through the rain towards the Sagrada Familia, we ended up close to a flat where a fire has erupted on one of the roof top air conditioning units. With the road closed and many people standing watching we watched as the fire was put out before making it to the Gaudi Park outside the Nativity side of the cathedral.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Originally we had hoped to go inside the cathedral itself, however when we got there we realised that tickets for the whole weekend were not going to be available. As a special event was taking place, only morning slots were open, which had by now all sold out.

Catalan Parliament in Ciutadella Park

Catalan Parliament in Ciutadella Park

We therefore made our way over to the beach, before walking around the zoo site to the Ciutadella Park. Walking past the Catalan Parliament and the lake, we made it to the Arco de Triunfo, our last sight of the day, where a big protest movement towards the upcoming disputed independence referendum was being held. We could tell that this was about to kick off - with a week to go there was so much tension in the air.

Arco de Triunfo

Arco de Triunfo

Before heading back towards the hotel, we stopped for food, and then had a few hours to chill. We waited for it to get dark before heading back out to the Sagrada Familia for views of it lit up.

Sagrada Familia by night

Sagrada Familia by night

The following morning we got up for breakfast which felt like a step down. Having stayed in only a 3* after our week of 4*, we went down to find no pancakes, no chocolate syrup and no champagne! Nevertheless this was still a decent breakfast in a decent hotel. No worse than on any of other holidays this summer!

Plaça d'Espanya

Plaça d'Espanya

After having our fill, we made our way out for our full day of exploration in the city. Starting at Plaça d'Espanya, we went up to the roof of the bullring-turned-shopping centre for a view over the roundabout, Palau Nacional and Montjuïc before actually heading up there on foot.

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

After stopping at the Palau Nacional for views over Plaça d'Espanya, we then ended up at the site of the 1992 Olympic Games, before making our way across Montjuïc towards the eastern end with views over the port.

Barcelona Port

Barcelona Port

After a lot of uphill walking we then made our way down the cliffside path towards the city centre. After seeing the Columbus monument, we walked up Las Ramblas before entering the Old City and Plaça Sant Jaume. This was full of protesters for democracy, and after eventually making our way through the crowd, we continued towards the Barcelona cathedral.

Protesters in the Old City

Protesters in the Old City

By now we were feeling really achy, and so after a short walk we stopped for a break at the Plaça de Catalunya. Our final sights today were the Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, two fancy buildings designed by Gaudí.

Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló

Although still relatively early, after yet again walking around 10 miles, we headed back to the hotel for a long rest. Going back out for dinner later we decided not to view this evening's festival entertainment as we wanted to rest instead.

On our final day, we left our bags at the hotel and made our way out to Park Güell on the outskirts of the city centre. Full of Gaudi architecture it was unsurprisingly filled with tourists.

Park Güell

Park Güell

After having a look around the park, with views over the city, we made our way across the city towards Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona stadium filling up the remaining time before we needed to head to the airport for our early evening flight home after a busy but lovely week away.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 13:44 Archived in Spain Tagged architecture park hotel city cathedral catalonia olympic Comments (0)

Manic Munich

Bavaria - Munich

sunny 26 °C
View Bavaria on kmmk17's travel map.


After two busy excursion days, our final day in Bavaria was to fill in the rest of the gaps in Munich before flying home late in the evening.

We began once again with an earlyish start, grabbing breakfast, before dropping off our bags and checking out of the hotel. We then headed out to the central station, grabbing the S-Bahn train to Dachau. After half an hour we arrived in the suburban city, and changed to a bus full of other tourists all headed to the Concentration Camp Museum.

Entrance to Dachau

Entrance to Dachau

The Dachau Concentration Camp was the first opened by the Nazis, and is now open as a free museum almost every day of the year. We began walking the short path from the bus stop to the entrance gate, with the typical "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work makes [you] free) sign, before entering the vast site, and heading towards the main building.

Arbeit Macht Frei

Arbeit Macht Frei

Inside the building, which was formally the administration, were many placards detailing the rise of the Nazi regime, many of which are still sadly present today, before going on to explain the history of Dachau more specifically.

Walking back across the roll call area, we entered one of the reconstructed huts, with different sections showing how over the course of time, the camp got more populated, and thus density of beds was increased.

Early Layout of Beds

Early Layout of Beds


Former Hut Sites

Former Hut Sites

We then headed up the tree lined centre, past the site of former huts, to the chapels built within the site, before heading west to the crematoriums. These were built within an extension of the camp site, and were relatively underused for the extermination of prisoners, although still included the gas chamber labelled as "wash room".

Crematoriums

Crematoriums


Stove

Stove

After a depressing morning we headed back to the city centre for some other sights.

Unfortunately Munich wasn't the easiest city to get across, as most of the metro system runs off the backbone of the central corridor, meaning seeing the football stadium from Dachau took an hour and a half by public transport, but just 18 minutes if we decided to drive...

Allianz Arena

Allianz Arena

We therefore decided to make the most of the inevitable trip back to the centre to get some souvenirs, before heading back out to the Allianz Arena. Whilst neither of us are particularly bothered about football, it is an icon of the city, and after having to transfer to a different train en route (and given gummy bears for the inconvenience), we could see the stadium from the station itself. As our legs were aching like mad by now we therefore had a quick look and headed towards the Olympic Park.

BMW Headquarters

BMW Headquarters

Upon arriving, we took a short walk across a bridge, overlooked by the BMW headquarters, and entered the landscaped park seeing the stadium and arenas from the 1972 Olympic Games. Again, as our feet ached we didn't explore too much, and we also knew that if we made it to our last site, the Zoo, before 3pm we could be in time for the Polar Bear talk.

Olympiapark

Olympiapark

Hurrying through the underground system across the city, we eventually arrived at the zoo with ten minutes to spare. I explained to the cashier in German which tickets we needed, but forgetting the word "auch" and using "as well" instead, she had me sussed... no matter how much more German I could use she would always talk back in English. Far too inefficient for her to be wasting time when she was better in English than I was in German.

After hurrying through I then noticed on the map that we had been wrong all day.... the talk was at 3:30pm! We therefore had 40 minutes to get to the other end of the park, and so didn't need to rush. Therefore we started to look at the animals en route, guessing what their German names were before arriving.

Red Panda or 'Kleiner Panda'

Red Panda or 'Kleiner Panda'

Getting towards the Rhinos I wondered what they could be called, as Rhino sounded like a Romance/Greek word not a Germanic one. However walking past the Café Rhino sign, I thought I must have been wrong. Then wondering how a German would say it in my mind, I said it to myself in a German accent just as a German lady behind said the same thing in the same accent... ?

One of the Rhinos

One of the Rhinos

However after going into the Rhino house, where a little child was shouting "Nashörner" at the animal I soon realised I was right at the start - Rhino was not the German word at all!

Polar Bear Cub

Polar Bear Cub

Carrying on the path, it was not long before we arrived at the Polar Bear enclosure. We had aimed to arrive for the polar bear talk for the simple reason that it would therefore be more likely that the 9 month old cub would be on show, and luckily he was. Jumping around copying his mother, watching the cub was a real experience. And then he ran to the side for a swim in the window-side pool. We therefore got to be less than a metre away from the animal, as he swam and used the glass to push himself down with his paw.

Polar Bear swimming

Polar Bear swimming

After sitting around for twenty or so minutes, we continued around the zoo with such diverse animals as baby orangutans, Steffi the elephant and cows... Yes, despite Bavaria being full of cows, they were inside a zoo enclosure - surrounded by a moat so they didn't escape....

Baby Orangutan

Baby Orangutan

After a while at the zoo we then headed back to the city centre having seen almost everything. It was thus time for dinner, bag collection, and the airport.

Grabbing food, I confused the lady with my English so much that she then proceeded to talk the wrong language and to the customer for the next five minutes. Sitting down was well needed, but when it came to getting back up this was such a struggle. Having walked 40 miles in the last three days, I literally had to struggle down the stairs as my legs had seized up!

Making it back to the hotel, we changed, repacked and set off with our bags towards the airport. Getting on the S-Bahn, we headed out of the city when our train developed a fault. The announcement told us to wait on the adjacent platform for a train to change to, yet despite the fault having only just occurred, as we stood at the platform we could already see our replacement train coming to collect us...

Making it to the airport in plenty of time, we headed to border control. However once there, we got stuck behind an Asian family who had no idea what they were doing, with their friend standing in the way in order to wave a goodbye. We got into the EU queue (whilst we still could), but as it was much shorter, the Asian family's friend told them to use that queue instead - despite them not being European Citizens. Luckily we had got ahead of them, and after easing through, it was their turn. Bad luck for anyone behind as they had a tonne of questions and needed a full on visa check...

Security was also pretty slow - lots of random checks as well as an incompetence to actually ease the now developing queue. Having been held back from going through security itself because of a slow family ahead, I took as much time as I fancied repacking my bits at the other end.

After a busy trip we were tired and ready to go home, and luckily with no delay it wasn't long before we boarded and eventually landed back in Luton.

The trip was incredibly busy, and could have done with an extra day, but nevertheless was great. The trip to the Neuschwanstein castle being a particular highlight, and I would highly recommend it if in the area.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:08 Archived in Germany Tagged animals walking history airport zoo city war bavaria olympic macabre Comments (0)

A Completely Different Land

Canada - Montreal

all seasons in one day 20 °C
View Canada on kmmk17's travel map.


Having spent five days in English speaking Ontario, we were now headed for our final destination, the capital of the French speaking Quebec - Montreal.

I was interested to see just how different it would be. For all, this is still the same country. However upon arrival it became clear the answer was 'very'. Although still having maple leaves everywhere, Montreal felt much more modern, and there was a big drop in the amount of English available. Whilst people seemed to understand it and we were able to get buy, this felt very different, as well as there being a marked increase in the amount of regional flags.

In the run up to the holiday the weather looked abysmal, and so we were braced for some atrocious weather. Up to this point we had been very lucky, however as we emerged from the metro station to walk around the corner to our hotel, the heavens had opened and it was pouring down. Worse still, this particular point was a wind tunnel and we spent the few minutes in the open getting drenched. Worse still, as we checked in the rain stopped, and we realised a short wait could have kept us dry....

Never mind, it had now stopped, and to make the most of what was now a sunny warm day we quickly left to take a walk up Mont Royal, for views over the city which we would explore fully the next day. Walking up some steep slopes, we eventually made it to the entry of the park, where more steep slopes lay before us.

The view from Mont Royal

The view from Mont Royal

Eventually however, we reached the top, and although we weren't sure exactly what we were looking at, the view from the hill over the city was still nice. We then headed back down and towards food and bed.

The following morning we made the most of our last lay in, before leaving the bags at the hotel to explore the city. Beginning with Canada Place, with views over the neighbouring tower blocks and cathedral, we entered a nearby building and made our way into the Underground City - a network of interconnecting tunnels that link many of the buildings together without needing to access the open air - ideal in the freezing Canadian winter.

Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville

Eventually emerging at the Palace of Congress, we were by now in the heart of Old Montreal, and after walking through Place d'Armes we saw the Notre Dame Cathedral and bought souvenirs in some of the shops before we reached the heart of the Old City.

The Old City

The Old City

Carrying on down, we made it to the promenade on the St. Lawrence River, walking along the jetties before making our way to the Metro Station.

1976 Olympic Park

1976 Olympic Park

Our next sight was the Olympic Park, where the 1976 Olympic Games were held. Unfortunately the park hasn't had much love since then and a lot of the concrete has started to crumble. Nevertheless it was an interesting sight.

The Biosphere

The Biosphere

We then headed back towards the centre, and back out to the islands in the middle of the city. Getting off at the metro station, we then headed towards the Biosphere before walking around the island and heading back to the city.

And this is pretty much where the holiday ends. After grabbing our bags we made our way to the airport in plenty of time for our six hour overnight flight back home.

Canada was a nice place to visit, and it was particularly interesting to see both the English and French sides. Of the two major cities, I think I preferred Montreal but they were both nice, as was everything else we saw. Unlike America the people are very courteous and friendly, however it lacks the culture of Europe and Asia. Nevertheless it was worth the travel to see it all.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 12:09 Archived in Canada Tagged rain history montreal quebec city island sun hill olympic Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 9) Page [1] 2 » Next