Monday, July 31, 2017

Last Week in Münster

Time was running out on our time in Germany, so we crammed as much into our last full week there as we possibly could. Carson worked in the mornings and afternoons, and we would head out for adventures in the evening, or meet midday to cross something off our "things we must do" list.

One night, we went to this place (Sausalitos I think?) and took advantage of their happy hour specials. I got this massive burger (I didn't have a clue how large it would be!), and Carson had nachos. 

As we walked home, we noticed a large crowd, so we headed their direction and caught the very last movement of the Aaseranaden at the lake.

The next evening, we were just taking a walk around the lake after dinner at home when we heard music from The Lion King. We were walking in that direction anyway, so we just picked up our pace and arrived early enough to catch the last thirty minutes or so (you can probably tell just from the lighting in the picture above, but the second night, the music began later). We really were glad we caught the music that night. It was a movie music night, and we listened to a variety of tunes that included Indiana Jones, Rocky and various Disney movies. The crowd was enjoying it too, swaying along with the music and some even singing the lyrics quietly amongst themselves.

We continued that walk to a park where we could do a few pull ups, which I was terribly bad at yet sore for days after I tried. On the way back, we passed the LVM Insurance building and Carson had me high-five this hand statue that I think is so ugly.

These horse statues are up all over town advertising for a polo event that will happen after we leave. It's sad to see dates on things and know we won't be around - how on earth did a year pass by so fast?

One afternoon, on a particularly nice day, we met at Belag Bar and had sandwiches. Carson had a pulled pork open faced sandwich, and I had a sandwich with bacon and eggs. He's visited this spot before with a colleague but I hadn't been, so it was on his list to take me.

After we'd eaten there, we walked over to the lake to do something else we'd been planning to do: paddle boating!

It was a really hot day (I PRAYED for warm, sunny weather for our last week, knowing it was totally selfish, but we had warm, sunny weather and I'm so grateful and happy), but there was a nice breeze on the water and we could have stayed out there for much longer than the hour we'd paid for. I was ready to just stay out one more and pay later!

We wanted to eat or have drinks at one of the restaurants at the marina on the lake, so since we were there already, we made it happen. We went for happy hour and enjoyed the view. Our apartment would be somewhere to the right (you may recognize the large LVM building that we walk past from previous pictures)

Here's a shot of our walk into town. I felt pretty trigger happy about capturing our life in Germany, so I got some random ones of streets. This is a street we often met on in the evenings. There's a Deutsche Bank ATM just out of the shot on the right, and that was our meeting place. The street doesn't look busy, but it really is, and the side of the street I'm standing on is usually so crowded that it's frustrating to walk down.

I can't remember why exactly, but one night, Carson slept on the couch, and the blanket around him looked very much like a weird jumpsuit.

One day, we walked around the botanical gardens.

I was trying to get a shot of this butterfly, so I handed the camera to Carson since he's taller and probably able to get the right one - look at this!

We pass this Macaron place often on our walks to and from downtown, and I always comment on wanting some, so Carson stopped by and picked some up for me.

This is the LVM Insurance (Versicherung) building on Kolde-Ring, which was our street.  The hand statue is just beyond this funny horse.

And here's the entrance to our apartment - Kolde Ring 60.

One morning, we went to Waffelschmeide for waffles. Carson's is the fancy one.

Later that evening, we had a cookout with Carson's colleague and friend, Andrew. Andrew is from Canada, so we had fun relating as North Americans and also quizzing him on some of the differences between our countries (like Canadian football!).

We enjoyed some bratwurst and the first (and only, I guess) watermelon we had in Germany.

I tried to get a good nighttime picture from the bridge of the view downtown. I don't think my camera is up for these kinds of challenges, but you can see the Uberwasserkirche and the big cathedral.

On our walk back, we encountered this lost kitty. She had a collar with a phone number, but we couldn't read it so well (instead of what we'd use as an area code, they put "MS" for Münster, but we didn't know what that meant) and thankfully another lady was outside and helped us out and called the cat's owner so that she could return it. The owner didn't pick up, so we just hoped that the cat is safe and sound where she belongs!

Friday, July 28, 2017

See Ya Later, Scotland! (Scotland #5)

We left our tour group at the top of the castle hill and headed down to find some dinner. It was a lovely evening in Edinburgh, and we enjoyed the slightly warmer temperatures and the non-gray skies.

We actually ate dinner at McDonalds because we were hungry, but not THAT hungry, and it was almost 10pm by the time we ate, which meant we were passing a lot of closed businesses.

I really wanted to wait until it got dark so that I could have a picture of the castle lit up at night. We hung out waiting for it to be dark enough and finally called it "good enough" at 10:45. The nights stay light so much longer in Europe!

The next morning, we slept in. When we had to check out, we left our bags behind the counter at the hotel and set off for food and the Scottish National Gallery. We walked through the Prince's Street Gardens, and liked these ruins at the base of the hill with the castle.

We grabbed lunch from Pret and ate our sandwiches on a sunny bench in the gardens. We people watched (there was a very happy, very zippy dog running around in excitement about being outside) and sat there and talked.

Next, we hit the gallery. There's a building out front with special exhibits that isn't free, and one behind that is, and we chose free. We enjoyed walking from room to room admiring paintings. My favorites were Impressionist paintings, which was no surprise to me.

After the gallery, we walked to the hotel to get our bags, and then over to a coffee shop for a Flat White for Carson, Earl Grey for me while we waited for our bus to the airport to arrive.

Our flight home was delayed just a little bit, but that was okay, because our trains back weren't for awhile anyway. Carson snoozed on the flight back.

And then he doodled in my notebook about his experiences in Scotland.

We took separate trains back to Münster that night, Carson on a regional train, while I took a couple of express trains. We got back and walked home. This was our last trip while in Germany, and our very last of many walk home from the Hauptbahnhof! There's no doubt in my mind that while car travel is so nice, we will miss this kind of travel!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We Saw Nessie (Scotland #4)

Early on Wednesday morning, we woke up and walked past the castle to meet 
our tour group for a visit to the Highlands. It may not look like it, but it's 7:30 in the morning here.

There were lots of tours to choose from, but we picked one that went to Loch Ness because of the famous monster who lurks there, and we thought we'd get to cover more ground and see more of Scotland that way!

We went with Timberbush tours. I can't remember our guide's name (he was an older man), but he was fantastic. He regaled us with stories of Scotland and the places we passed, and also played really interesting history stories over the loudspeaker in the bus. I feel like we learned a lot about Scotland, and that it was done in an engaging way. It's rare to say that over 12 hours on a bus goes by fast, but the time really flew by and we enjoyed every moment.

Here's our route for the day. We were scheduled to make five stops, but we ended up making two unscheduled ones for pictures.

The day was also beautiful. It didn't rain at all, and the sun was shining so bright that we got to take our jackets off and bask in the lovely day. Our guide told us that there are only 20 or so days like this a YEAR. That proves that I wouldn't last long in Scotland, because after just a couple of their gloomy days, I was really needing this sunshine.

Here we are passing the famous Kelpies statues, the largest equine statues in the world

And we saw lots of sheep, just as I'd expected.

Our first stop mid-morning was a scheduled one in Callender to a place with a restaurant, gift shop, and these Highland Cows outside. Their names were Hamish and Honey.

We picked up some shortbread cookies to share.

Our next stop was an unscheduled one for photos because it was such a beautiful day. It's going to look so fake and edited, but the only things I did to the following photos included cropping, straightening, and a little bit of contrast when the sun got too bright.

The next stop was a scheduled one in Glencoe, in the Highlands. The stop was quite full with buses, so we had to go to a lower stopping point versus a higher one, but that wasn't a problem to us!

I just wanted to point out the difference in leg length here... 

The Harry Potter movies were filmed in various parts of the Scottish Highlands. There's a train that runs through that was used as the Hogwarts Express (yes, tourists can ride it!), and you can see where the forest was filmed. Some of the Quidditch games were superimposed on the background of many of these green highland hills.

We stopped for lunch and had fish and chips. The line was long and we had to rush.

We made another unscheduled stop at Ben Nevis, which is the highest point in Britain. It's a little over 4,000 feet high, which makes it not so mountainous by some standards, but the guide was so excited about it, and it was still impressive with the rolling hills.

At last we arrived at the Clansman Hotel for our cruise of Loch Ness. 

As we were waiting for the boat to pull up, Carson and I saw something mysterious in the water that wasn't a wave. Was it a giant piece of seaweed? Something funny they put in the loch for tourists? I'm not sure because I didn't hear anyone else utter a word, but here's the picture:

We boarded the Jacobite Warrior at 3pm for an hour long cruise.

We turned around at Urquhart Castle, some ruins that were first built in the 13th century. We'd had the option to get off the tour bus here and explore it, then take the boat back thirty minutes to the tour guide, but we opted to take an entire hour cruise (it was cheaper).

On our way back, we drove through the city of Inverness, and then past lots of beautiful places, green fields, cows and sheep and castles.

We stopped for thirty minutes in Pitlochry.

We got back to our spot near the castle and then trudged down, hungry and looking for dinner at 9pm when we got back. What a great tour! I'd definitely recommend the tour company we chose. I think all tours are on the expensive side, but we budgeted (this is really the only thing we did that we had to pay for) and I think it was worth it!
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