A Travellerspoint blog

Europe 2015 - Western Germany

Last post.....couple packed days of sightseeing in western Germany. First day, the black forest and the second day along the Rhine River - both very scenic. We've enjoyed the trip, but are now looking forward to getting back home to our usual routines (funny how that works). Thanks to those who've popped on here to see what we've been up to, hopefully you've been at least a little entertained. See you soon!

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach - where we had lunch

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach - where we had lunch

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River - Bacharach

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Along the Rhine River

Posted by BETHAU 11:39 Archived in Germany Comments (3)

Europe 2015 - Switzerland

We had a small taste of Switzerland, mostly by train. The first train, Bernina Express, left from Tirano, Italy and ended in Chur (pronounced Coor), Switzerland.

I found us a B&B in the vineyards outside Chur in Malans. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there. I was cosy in our room, enjoying a good book day, but my mom almost lost her mind....

We then took the Glacier Express train from Chur to Brig, enjoying a nice lunch onboard, then hopped a short regular train to Spiez for the night. We loved this B&B and Spiez - very beautiful.

Today, we left Switzerland for Frankfurt, Germany. This will be the final leg of our trip. We'll be doing a couple of day trips, so stay tuned for another post or two.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from Switzerland.

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express - Palu Glacier

Bernina Express - Palu Glacier

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express - Morteratsch Glacier

Bernina Express - Morteratsch Glacier

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

Bernina Express

View from Malans B and B

View from Malans B and B

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express (Japanese tour group)

Glacier Express (Japanese tour group)

Glacier Express (Japanese tour group)

Glacier Express (Japanese tour group)

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

View from Spiez B and B

View from Spiez B and B

Spiez

Spiez

Spiez

Spiez

Posted by BETHAU 09:46 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

Europe 2015 - Tirano, Italy

It's our last day in Italy. Tirano is a beautiful town, the type I was idealistically picturing in my mind.

Tomorrow, we're hopping the Swiss scenic train "Bernina Express". After, we'll spend a couple of nights in a vineyard in Switzerland, followed by another scenic train route "Glacier Express". I'm hoping we'll have good weather for all of the above.

Before I wrap up this post, I'll leave you with some more pictures from Lake Como. We spent yesterday village hopping via boats.

Leaving Varenna (starting point)

Leaving Varenna (starting point)

Headed toward Menaggio

Headed toward Menaggio

View from the Boat

View from the Boat

Heading into Menaggio

Heading into Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio

Headed into Bellagio

Headed into Bellagio

View from Bellagio

View from Bellagio

View from Bellagio

View from Bellagio

Bellagio

Bellagio

Bellagio

Bellagio

Leaving Bellagio

Leaving Bellagio


Back to Varenna

Back to Varenna

Varenna

Varenna

Varenna

Varenna

She and her Companion Shared my Dinner

She and her Companion Shared my Dinner

Waddling off to find another Sucker

Waddling off to find another Sucker

Posted by BETHAU 08:23 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Europe 2015 - Lake Como, Italy

As I draft this entry, I am relaxing in our really homey B&B, enjoying a glass of chianti and an Italian drama on TV. I'm feeling buzzed on a single glass of the wine and just checked the alcohol content on the label to find it's 13% - no wonder! In the movie, there is a German Shepard who seems to be the star of the show - so cute! While watching the movie, I'm trying to pick out words I understand and get really excited when I do.

Yesterday, the train trip out, around, then back into the Italian Alps was not bad at all. It actually helped that we transferred trains a few times so we could stretch our legs. Beautiful scenery again, but then I admit I'm partial to the mountains.
IMG_20150614_130136_723.jpgIMG_20150614_135043_180.jpgIMG_20150614_135214_126.jpgIMG_20150614_135451_360.jpg

The comical part of the trip to Lake Como was the actual arrival in Mandello del Lario in the pouring rain and me getting us lost in town because I didn't dare pull out the paper map. The funnier aspect is that this has happened to me before - when I thought I'd take the scenic drive up the Florida Gulf coast and got caught up in a monsoonal type rainstorm. Anyway, we did find the B&B looking a bit like drowned rats, but our host was fabulous and made us feel right at home.

I've really been enjoying Italy. The people here are happy and friendly, patient with my very limited Italian and helpful. It is making me consider learning Italian (conversational) because I'd love to come back again.

We had the morning and early afternoon free of rain, so we wandered out for groceries and cappuccinos/croissants (yum!). When we brought the groceries back to our B&B, we ran into our host's aunt who tipped us off to the local weekly market. My mom found some sandals and we also picked up some fresh spit fired chickens to tide us over during the forecasted rainstorms over the next day. I also got a few pictures of the waterfront.
IMG_20150615_124649_896.jpgIMG_20150615_124706_702.jpg

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will likely be a rainy cabin day. I'm sure many of you can relate to that. Wednesday will be some boat trips and restaurant visits. Looking forward to some authentic Italian pasta and fish (the latter a northern Italy specialty).

Posted by BETHAU 02:43 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Europe 2015 - Merano, Italy

Nice travel day yesterday thru the German, Austrian, and Italian Alps. The one person sitting across from us on the train is from (you guessed it) MN! It never ceases to surprise me just how small the world is.
IMG_20150612_111948_709.jpgIMG_20150612_113233_003.jpgIMG_20150612_113838_923.jpg

Today, we immensely enjoyed the small city of Merano, nestled in the Dolomites. My only regret with this stop is that we didn't book another night! A beautiful river runs right thru town with biking/walking trails everywhere. The Italian people are very friendly and helpful.
IMG_20150613_155453_640.jpgIMG_20150613_150341_200.jpgIMG_20150613_150211_850.jpgIMG_20150613_144810_260.jpgIMG_20150613_145122_892.jpgIMG_20150613_150420_695.jpgIMG_20150613_160943_445.jpg

Tomorrow, on to Lake Como!

Posted by BETHAU 11:04 Archived in Italy Comments (4)

Europe 2015 - Munich, Germany

Hello Everyone,

Finally posting, it's been an adventure just getting acclimated over here. Haven't been able to find free wifi, but did secure a pretty cheap SIM card for my old cell phone today - $34 for 1 GB of data. So the withdrawal shakes are starting to die down now.

Our flight over was fairly typical, not paradise of course, but no major scares. Although I do have to say this trio of girls right in front of us starting singing loudly at 7am. I fought the urge to kick the backs of their seats forcefully. The highlight and happy surprise of the flight was the sunrise over Greenland!
IMG_20150608_010242_835.jpgIMG_20150608_013917_726.jpg

Munich......really struggled with what to say, but I'll go with watered down honesty - it's just not my cup of tea. It seems like maybe 75% of people I passed just hate their life - not friendly, don't smile. Guess it seems strange to me coming from the Midwest. On the bright side, getting to enjoy many US shows and movies dubbed in German, like right now Alf on Gilligan's Island. Also have officially seen Two and a Had Men on three different continents!

We did take one fun excursion along Germany's Romantic Road, with a couple of stops. First, Harburg Castle, which was established in the 12th century.
IMG_20150610_034023_047.jpgIMG_20150610_034303_332.jpgIMG_20150610_040033_163.jpg
The second stop, Rothenburg, part of which survived WWII. It was a quaint little-ish town.
IMG_20150610_062032_823.jpgIMG_20150610_090351_467.jpg

Tomorrow we'll be on our way to the Dolomites (part of the Italian Alps). Really looking forward to the mountains!

Posted by BETHAU 11:09 Archived in Germany Comments (3)

Argentina/Antarctica 2013 - Homecoming

I'm very excited to say I'm on my way home. I had one of the more scenic flights over the Andes between Argentina and Chile:

IMG_20130329_090620.jpg

IMG_20130329_090941.jpg

IMG_20130329_091051.jpg

IMG_20130329_091119.jpg

IMG_20130329_090459.jpg

IMG_20130329_090537.jpg

IMG_20130329_091156.jpg

I often say that I'm happy to go on vacation and I'm happy to come home. Sadly, I'm very much a creature of habit. However, if you ever begin to question your current daily life, a trip, especially an extended trip, can answer that question. In my case, making me more appreciative for what I already have. Also appreciative of having the opportunity I just had to travel and see some pretty incredible sights few others get to experience.

Life is very precious, it's good to look around once in a while and recognize all you have, and even to appreciate the opportunities you've had in the past that are now behind you. No matter where you are in this life, remember each day is (or can be) a fresh start.

Stay tuned, I will have one more post forthcoming. I'd like to put together some sort of video to share. If you subscribe to the blog, you'll get an email alert when it's available.

Thanks to all who've shared my journey with me and have either wished me well or otherwise aided in my safe travels and return home! A very special thanks to my parents whose love and generosity amaze me.

Posted by BETHAU 12:46 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Argentina/Antarctica 2013 - Wine Tasting

sunny 80 °F

After a full day of travel followed by several days of rest to zap the second cold of my trip (travelling isn't all glamorous), ventured out to a wine and olive oil tasting today.

Water to the vineyards comes from the winter snow melt in the Andes, which is stored in reservoirs, and then elaborately channeled to more than 1000 vineyards via irrigation channels. The irrigation channels also makes the city itself an oasis in the desert. The two largest wine varieties produced are malbec and cabernet sauvignon.

As you can see from the pictures, the Andes looked almost translucent today.

Wine Tour --

IMG_20130325_170933_914.jpg

IMG_20130325_171148_348.jpg

IMG_20130325_170757_791.jpg

IMG_20130325_172514_663.jpg

IMG_20130325_160931_693.jpg

IMG_20130325_165416_080.jpg

Olive Oil Tour --

This mill is over 200 years old and still in use to grind the olives
IMG_20130325_174622_255.jpg

Delicious tasting
IMG_20130325_180252_633.jpg

The hostel has been a nice spot to recoup. Tonight I enjoyed a lovely meal with a couple living in Uruguay. We also enjoyed a bottle of wine I picked up on the tour - it was a bottle meant to share.

IMG_20130325_142833_418.jpg

IMG_20130325_142708_607.jpg

IMG_20130325_142812_575.jpg

IMG_20130325_142750_914.jpg

Posted by BETHAU 08:27 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina/Antarctica 2013 - Antarctica

sunny 30 °F

It's almost impossible to describe Antarctica. The one word that stands out is simply incredible. Each day was a fantastic journey and I'm extremely happy that I made the decision to come.

I've been joking to folks that I've met along the way in my travels that I'm doing this all backwards. My first trip truly abroad to South America and Antarctica instead of Europe. My first cruise to Antarctica instead of the Caribbean. It will be hard to top this experience. In the near(ish) future, I plan to visit the Arctic to see more ice and the polar bears.

Speaking of the northern latitudes, I want to road trip this year to see the Northern Lights again - it's been way too long. If you haven't heard, it's supposed to be a very active year for solar activity. If anyone else is game, let me know, perhaps a quick trip up to Canada (or maybe even northern MN) is in order.

Back to Antarctica, my mind keeps contemplating the early explorers, on ships to parts unknown and seeing these sights for the first time without maps or modern technology. Same with the pioneers who settled the US. People centuries ago took great risks. Today, we live relatively safe lives. No wonder there are such occurrences of anxiety and depression these days.

This is the year I turned over a new leaf. I will be adding more adventure to my life. As I write this entry, out my window is a large glacier wall and they just announced a whale sighting close to the ship. I think this is a pretty good start to my new lease on life. I'm trying to soak in the memories for a later time.

One memorable night we had a barbeque outside on deck at sunset. While we ate, two whales circled around the ship.

We were also able to cross the Antarctic Circle and make a stop there. Sometimes conditions prevent a landing, but we were very lucky. We've had a good amount of luck on this trip according to the crew - the seas have been fairly calm, we had sunshine the first few days, and we saw all kinds of unusual animal interactions.

I've seen four different species of penguin. Several individual penguins in the gentoo family have come up to nibble at my boots and pants. I saw another fellow traveler laying on the ground taking pictures while a couple of gentoos jumped right on top of her. They're very cute and inquisitive. Apparently some deranged woman on another trip tried to sneak a penguin home with her, getting as far as catching one. Not entirely sure what the staff did with her after that...

Our last hurrah was a landing on (in) Deception Island. Initially we had to pass by this stop on the way down the Antarctic Peninsula due to unfavorable weather conditions. The crew really wanted us to see it, so they made it our last stop before heading back to South America. Deception Island is actually an active volcano that has blown its top off and seawater has filled the inside of the crater. There is one narrow passage that the ship was able to pass through. We spent quite a bit of time ashore inside the volcano, climbing to see the sights, walking along the beach that is actually steaming due to the heat from the volcano. My roommate and I got charged by a very large fur seal twice. We were pre-instructed to act tough and tell the seal to stop, which we did plus some other choice words until the seal got confused and backed off. It finally dawned on me that my hat has some brown faux fur lining that may have lead the seal to think that I was a seal, so I promptly removed it.

After this Antarctic cruise, just one more stop in Mendoza Argentina, and then I'll be heading for home. I will have more pics and videos once I get home and get through all of it. Here are some photos for the time being:

Firsts --

First Iceberg Sighting
1stIce.jpg

First Land Sighting
1stLand.jpg

First Penguin Sighting (they┬┤re coming back from feeding)
1stPenguins.jpg

Penguins --

A Pair of Adult Gentoo Penguins
AdultGentoos.jpg

A Baby Gentoo Penguin
BabyGentoo.jpg

Baby Chasing Momma for a Meal
FoodChase.jpg

Momma Feeding Baby
LunchTime.jpg

Seems this Penguin is Still Hungry
StillHungry.jpg

Another Baby Checking Me Out
ThisGuyCheckedMeOut.jpg

Chinstrap Penguins Sunbathing
ChinstrapsSunbathing.jpg

The Lone Macaroni Penguin - Can You Spot His Yellow Head?
OnlyMacaroni.jpg

One Brave Adelie Penguin Coming Up to Investigate Us
CuriousAdelie.jpg

Seals --

Seal Claiming the Iceberg
SealIsland.jpg

Seal Air Drying After a Swim
DryingOff.jpg

Seal Nap
NapTime.jpg

Seal Smile
SealSmile.jpg

Seal Standoff
SealStandoff.jpg

Seal Out at Sea Taking a Breather
RestingSeal.jpg

Whales --

Killer Whale Pod (though technically this particular breed is part of the broader dolphin family)
KillerWhalePod.jpg

Humpback Whale Tail
HumpbackWhale.jpg

Ice --

One of Many Icebergs
Iceberg2.jpg

Another Iceberg
Iceberg3.jpg

Surrounded by Icebergs
SurroundedByIcebergs.jpg

Colorful Glacier
ColorfulGlacier.jpg

Hiking --

Spectator Photo
HikinginAntarctica.jpg

Participant Photo
MoreAntarcticHiking.jpg

Not a Bad View from the Top
ViewFromTheTop.jpg

Beautiful Skies --

Antarctic Sunrise
BeautifulSunrise.jpg

Magical Sky
MagicSky.jpg

Water Like Glass
WaterLikeGlass.jpg

Amazing View
AmazingView.jpg

Sun Halo
SunHalo.jpg

Sign of Rougher Weather Ahead
SignWeatherWillTurn.jpg

Spectacular Antarctic Sunset
SpectacularSunset.jpg

Polar Crossing Celebration --

My Roommate and I Ventured out on Deck
RoommateAn..cleCrossing.jpg

Volcano --

Heat Venting Out the Top of the Hill
HeatEscapingTopOfHill.jpg

Two Lovely Ladies Enjoying a Stroll on Top of an Active Volcano
LovelyLadi..gTheVolcano.jpg

More Heat Venting from the Shoreline
SteamingBeach.jpg

Posted by BETHAU 07:26 Archived in Antarctica Comments (3)

Argentina/Antarctica 2013 - End of the World

semi-overcast 49 °F

The bus ride from El Calafate to Ushuaia was interesting. This is typical travel across land here - expect the unexpected. First of all, the bus drivers smoke while driving - just open their driver-side window and light up. I can't remember when that was last acceptable back home. Caution to anyone considering similar travel here in the future - come prepared for bathroom breaks where you may or may not have soap or even toilet paper. I've learned to carry both. On long trips the bus bathrooms are not pleasant either. Still, I've experienced worse camping, so it was more of a minor inconvenience - I guess depending on your expectations....

The ferry ride from the mainland over to Tierra del Fuego was definitely interesting given that I haven't been on one before. The ferry carried the bus, semi trucks and various vehicles and all of the passengers across the Straights of Magellan, which you may remember from world history or geography. I've included a couple of shots of the ferry:

Ferry pulling up
IMG_20130306_130748_326-1.jpg

Our bus loading
IMG_20130309_130818.jpg

My poor Algerian seatmate was not able to make the crossing as he was denied entry into Chile, which we entered just prior to the Straights. Without a prearranged visa for Chile, he had to hitch a ride back to the nearest town with an airport to fly to Ushuaia (in Argentina) instead. By flying, he leaves Argentina then lands in Argentina, bypassing Chile. Apparently he didn't realize the bus would need to go through Chile. Luckily for me, US citizens don't need a visa for Chile. After the crossing and travelling on gravel roads for some time, we crossed back into Argentina.

One last notable item about the bus journey is that I managed to pickup a bit of a stalker at the bus station. Luckily he was not on the same bus as me, but unfortunately our buses basically travelled together. I was finally able to discourage his interest by ignoring him and standing close to other people. It was the only time I have felt truly uncomfortable on this trip. This far south in the continent is actually very safe and I've met many women travelling alone here. Like anywhere else, you just have to listen to your gut and follow common sense.

Tierra del Fuego is absolutely beautiful with beech trees covering much of the land. It's very hilly (and mountainous) terrain with lakes and rivers. Due to poor lighting conditions, I was not able to take pictures on the way down, but I enjoyed the scenery immensely.

I did manage to make up for the lack of pictures from the bus yesterday on a 4x4 excursion north of Ushuaia. It was a fun time. Luckily, I eventually made friends with a guy from Buenos Aires that spoke pretty good English, and also chatted briefly with a couple from Bogota in Colombia who spoke some English; otherwise I had to rely on my very broken Spanish and hand gestures. I eventually won over the guide with my questions and general interest in the information he shared about the area, in which he was well versed in all different aspects. After the excursion, I went out for beers with my new friend from Buenos Aires where we discussed our somewhat mutual professions and compared our counties. Here are some shots from the 4x4 excursion:

Views from within town
IMG_20130307_131733_783.jpg

IMG_20130307_131629_080.jpg

IMG_20130307_130957_686.jpg

Views on the road north of town
IMG_20130308_100109_051.jpg

IMG_20130308_100002_288.jpg

IMG_20130308_100531_452.jpg

Heading down towards the lake
IMG_20130308_110958_834.jpg

Looking back up the hill
IMG_20130308_104616_249.jpg

Moss on the trees is something to see
IMG_20130308_110621_901.jpg

We just followed along that entire lakeshore
IMG_20130308_124302_986.jpg

Close-up of part of the 4x4 path
IMG_20130308_115422_495.jpg

Crossing the lake channel
IMG_20130308_123731_368.jpg

Break for lunch (a feast!)
IMG_20130308_125541_507.jpg

Walk on the beach after lunch
IMG_20130308_142313_879.jpg

Final stop - beaver habitat - apparently someone just offed the beaver :(
IMG_20130308_145104_158.jpg

Later today, I embark on my Antarctica journey. I'm very excited about all that I'll see and am also a bit nervous about crossing the Drake Channel between South America and Antarctica, which can be very rough seas. I heard from someone returning from another trip that 80% of the passengers were sick from the crossing. I'm hoping the seasickness pills my mom gave me will provide relief - fingers crossed.

I'm not sure whether I'll be able to post at all while on my boat trip. If so, I'll attempt something. If not, I'll probably post again around 3/21 (give or take).

Posted by BETHAU 09:18 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 10 of 15) Page [1] 2 »