Thursday, April 17, 2008

Europe Itinerary

I arrive in Krakow at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday May 14th.
I have to take a train and then walk to the Hostel, so I should be there by Friday.

The day I get there I can check out Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

Huge 10-acre square, the largest in any of Europe's medieval cities, features the 16th-century Renaissance Cloth Hall and the splendid 14th-century Gothic Basilica of the Virgin Mary.

Although it's not like I can find a map that actually prints. Ok, google maps does.

Thursday May 15th go to Auchwitz.

Friday the 16th I'll be sleeping on the train (hopefully) so I have all day, until 10:30 pm.

I could check out Church of the Virgin Mary (Kosciol Mariacki) its One of the most famous of Poland's churches, this Gothic structure features two striking towers, the taller of which is a magnificent Gothic spire with a gold-plated crown built in 1666.

Looks pretty cool, and doesn't the town square look awesome?

Theres also the Ethnographic Museum (Muzeum Etnograficzne) which looks kind of strange:

I don' think I'd be too interested in that.

This sounds cooler, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is about half hour drive from Krakow, in a little village called Wieiczka. The mines date back to the 13th century and it truly is an amazing experience. There are thousands of steps to underground corridors and different terraces which one can walk down. Along the way there are fascinating sculptures made out of salt. For centuries, salt was picked by hand and carried up to the surface. On the bottom level is a chapel all made from salt. Just awesome, sculptures of Christ and the Apostles and even the tiled mosaic floors all made centuries ago. The galleries in the mine are 150k long and reach the depth of 300m.It used to be one of the world's biggest and most profitable industrial establishments when common salt was commercially a medieval equivalent of today's oil.
Now, how to get there. It says you can take a bus from the main post office for $5 round trip!

Now I need a train from Krakow to Prague. There's one that leaves at 10:25 and arrives at bloody 9:45 a.m. You can buy tickets here for $81 US plus a $18 handling fee, I think I'll take my chances there. Eeek!
Can I sleep in this:


Anyway, so I arrive in Prague at 10 am on May 17th.

The currency in the places is confusing. I must remember:
Poland: 1 Zlotych is $.46 CDN, so it's about half
Prague: 1 Koruny is $.06 CDN, so multiply everything by 20. Or move the decimal and divide by 2 (ex. Admission is 180 CZK or $9 CDN)
Berlin: 1 Euro is $1.59 CDN, so multiply everything by 1.5
Easy as pie! Well, difficult pie.

There appears to be a subway system in Prague:

On the 17th I could see the Museum of Communism

It sounds awesome.
So I'll line up a few more things for the 18th and maybe the 17th.

The Church of St. Nicholas (Chram svateho Mikulase) is listed as the number one thing to do in Prague. Dunno why.

The pictures look ok but I have seen churches before.

The Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is a popular pedestrian bridge is filled with musicians, painters, vendors and tourists during the summertime. The review says guys dressed as sailors try to ask you on boat cruises, so I'm there.

Next we have Lobkowicz Palace a museum on the top of a hill with this view:
This appears to be beside Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad)

The largest castle in Europe contains more than seven hundred rooms.

The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock (Staromestska Radnice) looks cool:

Doesn't it? I don't want to put too much as stopping here was an afterthought but the Prague Zoo looks cool too.
I'm leaving on Monday the 19th for Berlin, the train seems to leave every hour and takes about 5 hours (ugh!).
So if I take all Monday to get to Berlin then I have the 20-24th, four days.

I've planned nothing gay so far, so when in Berlin I must see the Gay Museum, which has stuff dating back to 1790. Also nothing is translated into English. Helpful!

The Daily Life Museum looks cool, exploring daily life in Communist Berlin.

Apparently the Parliament Building (Reichstag) is a "must do".

I wrote to them in advance for a free tour, as it says to do. We'll see what happens.

I'm finding it hard to plan things to do at night. There is theatre, some in English, I've found web pages helpfully out of service, and a black light theatre in Prague. I guess I can always do what I did in London, walk the streets until I get lost and then pray not to get robbed.

The Zoologischer Garten (Berlin Zoo) looks cool and I love animals. Hence the whole not eating them thing. With a few days in Berlin I must check this out. The site raves, says its one of the best zoos in Europe, the oldest zoo in Germany with the worlds largest number of species. Plus they have an aquarium.

Here's a rare homo sapien, lets hope the emphasis is on the homo.

Of course, the Berlin Wall is a must for me. With Checkpoint Charlie:

It says the wall is all over Berlin and you can't miss it. Watch me miss it.

The The Holocaust Memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) sounds good but look:

Its bloody pop-art with a thousand pieces of blank concrete to symbolize graves. Yipee. Maybe I'll give this a miss. Although across the street is the memorial to the gay men murdered in concentration camps, between 15,000 and 600,000 men. It's supposedly still being built and doesn't seem to have a website. Oh good, it opens May 27, I leave on the 25th. Handy!

Now this is more like it, the Berlin Insider Tours. 6 hour Concentration Camp tour, a Third Reich tour and a Cold War tour. I'm in heaven! It says you can just show up and pay and the 6 hour tour costs less than $30! And it starts right beside the zoo.

Discover the remains of the 1000 year Reich and see Goering's Air Defence Ministry where the Luftwaffe co-ordinated the Battle of Britain, the site of Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry, and the ruins of Himmler's SS and Gestapo HQs by the "Topography of Terror" exhibit.
Take an imaginary stroll down the North-South axis of "Germania" designed by Albert Speer - from the towering Great Hall to the monumental arch.
Visit the site of Hitler's New Reichs Chancellery, the seat of power of Nazi held Europe, and the exact location of the F├╝hrer Bunker - we provide a step by step account of Hitler's suicide, the last days spent in the bunker, and the fate of his remains - our information stems from the latest Soviet archives and detailed research.
Up and beyond the average we follow the route of the Soviet attack towards the final battlefield for the Reichstag and stop before the Soviet Memorial flanked with T34 Tanks and Red Army Howitzers.
We describe Post Great War Germany and explain the Nazi's rise to power, Hitler's "Lebensraum" Policy and the path to war and Europe's destruction.
As Berlin became a stage of fire and death Hitler reiterated the original premise of Nazism - total victory or annihilation - we outline the ramifications it held for the new world.

So it says you have to see Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor):

Wasn't there some Nazi march here? Also it says this is near the hotel Michael Jackson hung his baby out the window.

There is KZ-Sachsenhausen a concentration camp, but it seems to be part of the concentration camp tour.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is a must:

It was bombed during WW II, you can see half the roof missing.

The Altes Museum has a lot of Egyptian stuff, like this cool necklace:

The Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) is a maybe.

It's the stadium used for the Nazi's 1936 Olympic Games and for some reason is still used as a soccer stadium.

My flight leaves Berlin 9:10 am on Sunday the 25th. Why so early????? Back in Toronto at 2:35 pm and back to work Monday :(

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