After this month, we traveled thru the Czech Republic, back to Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, and returned to Turkey - see Nov 2003 for this log.
Week ending 11 Oct 03 (Bob)
More of Scotland - When visiting Scotland, the biggies are castles and Scotch and we tried to sample several of each.
Castles - There are scores of them, from ruined piles of rock to magnificent palaces - the ones we stopped at were:
Scotch - Single malt scotch is produced only in Scotland, distilleries dot the country-side ranging from the world-famous to the local brands imbibed at the local pubs. The way to do this would be to take a bus tour and leave the driving to the driver. We limited our sampling to:
St Andrews - A visit to Scotland would not be complete without a stop at the Mecca of golf, St Andrews. It was a very cute town (that lured our motor-home into a spot too low to pass and too narrow to 'U' turn) with more golf shops per capita than we have ever seen. The St. Andrews University also makes its presence known as students rush to and fro. We popped down to one of the links and watched a few people tee off - some with style, and others clearly duffers. T-times must be booked far in advance, but golfers, must play at St. Andrews given the chance
Edinburgh - This wonderful old city captured us for 4 days as we wandered into kilt shops, through museums, along streets of centuries-old buildings, past the Edinburgh Castle, and took in a Scottish show with pipers, kilts, dancing, and singing - and HAGGIS! This item of food, made famous by a Robert Burns poem (for reasons that totally escape us), is a 'must try'. A sausage-like meal, wrapped in a sheep's stomach - it tasted much better than it sounds! Bill, the Master of Ceremonies for the night brought the Haggis out on a platter of deer antlers, and presented it to us, with all the flair of an artist - all the while reciting Burns' "Ode To A Haggis"!
Back to England
Back in Ringwood - Our UK tour must come to an end (temporarily we hope), so we have returned to our good friends Peggy and John in Ringwood, south of London as we prepare for cross the Channel to the Continent and thence to Turkey. Stay tuned for more as we tackle Europe.
Visiting Friends - Our last week in the UK involved visiting friends and sharing experiences. Around SE Britain and London we visited:
Crossing to Europe - We vacillated over where to cross to the Continent, and finally decided to head for Holland since we planned to drive through Germany and the Czech Republic before heading south. This means we needed to cross from Harwich to Hook of Holland. We showed up on Thursday, made a booking for Friday, and by 1100 we were under way on a 3 1/2 hour trip across the North Sea. The ferry was very nice, with lots of comfortable seats, several restaurants, a casino, entertainment, 3 movies, and a couple of bars - if you were bored it was not their fault. By 15:30 we were on the highway looking for our first caravan park in continental Europe.
Racking up the Countries - National boundaries are surprising close in Europe, so on our first day we whipped across The Netherlands into Germany before stopping for lunch. This may set the pattern for the next month!
Berlin - A huge construction project - that is what Berlin seemed to us. Reunification of Germany and the relocation of their capital to Berlin has required a new Parliament and its associated buildings, so one of the postcards they sell is a sea of cranes silhouetted against the sky. The removal of The Wall in 1989 is a drastic change from Bob's prior visits in 1966 and 1982! The Brandenberg Gate, the icon of Berlin, used to be just out of reach across The Wall - now it hosted souvenir stalls and a World Football ticket booth. We visited Checkpoint Charlie and were inundated with data about atrocities and escapes while the nearby park displays crosses remembering a few of the 176 who died trying to escape over The Wall. No big city is complete without shopping, so we stopped at KaDeWe - they come close to Harrod's in London with an outstanding and expensive selection of everything from designer clothes to Reese's Peanut Butter.
Saxony Switzerland - A few hours south of Berlin on the Elbe river sits this pretty parkland. We found a campground north of Dresden and drove around the countryside for 2 days. With loads of steep cliffs inhabited by castles and palaces like the one at Hohnstein to the left, it is fascinating country. Tours were not too useful since all material was in German (Imagine That!) but we still enjoyed the views. In the heart of the park lies the Elbe, a peaceful river with lots of commercial and tourist traffic surrounded by plateaus with lush fields, deep gorges, and forests with their beautiful Fall colors showing. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were deep in what used to be East Germany, and although there were some old factories and rough roads, they appeared to have been reasonably well off. On our last full day, we visited Kunsthanfwerkerhaus, a handcrafting center that produces 600,000 products from Christmas decorations, to dried flowers, beautiful painted nutcrackers (we succumbed), carvings, wood cutouts of nativity scenes, rotating scenes of German dancers ... the list goes on and on. It was a fascinating place to visit!
Impressions of Germany - Granted that our visit was very brief, but that hasn't prevented us from giving our opinions before:
Czech Republic - After 3 days near the border, we took the plunge and drove across the border to a new country - another one liberated as the Soviet Union fell apart. Prague has a magic sound to it, and we are looking forward to a good visit there next week!