Trip to Germany and Poland
Mike and Judy Henderson
May 9 - 30, 2015
Our friend, Dianne, set up another trip to Germany - similar to the one we took with her two years ago. This time, however, we're taking off the training wheels and doing some travel by ourselves, in addition to the spending time with Dianne and her group.
We fly to Dusseldorf, where we spend a day or so, then to Hamburg where we meet Dianne and the rest of the group. We travel with the group until we reach Cologne, where we leave the group to fly to Warsaw. After a few days in Warsaw we return to Dusseldorf and then back to LAX.
So here's the story, day-by-day.
5/9/2015 We're off! We fly to Dusseldorf today, actually arriving on Mother's Day (May 10). Here's Judy with our suitcases waiting for the limo.
The limo did show up.
And we made it safely to LAX.
Two of our ever-present avocados are in hand, ready to be given to the driver.
We were able to use the Quantas lounge while waiting for the flight.
And then on board - Air Berlin A-330. We have a sort of cubicle with two seats next to each other. The seats go completely flat. I tried to take a picture of the cubicle but it's very difficult to get a shot that conveys the seating. Here's Judy enjoying a "welcome aboard" glass of Champagne.
A view of business class. There appears to be only about 20 seats in business.
Once we got aloft, they served dinner. This was the appetizer. The food and the service was excellent.
After dinner, as is usual in flights to Europe, they turned out the lights and we tried to sleep. Here's Judy in "lay flat".
5/10/2015 Happy Mothers' Day! We're in Dusseldorf now. We took the train from the airport (the S-1) to the central train station and then a taxi to the hotel. Villa Achenbach is an elegant remodeled home built in 1907 on a tree-lined street. It's very nice, with large rooms - we probably won't have as nice a hotel again on this trip. We're on the second floor, in the room just above the flag in the picture, and there was no elevator. Not a problem except to get the luggage up the steps.
Our room - post nap, accounting for the wrinkled bed.
And so all the pictures aren't just of Judy, here's a picture she took of me in front of the hotel.
On Sunday many establishments are closed in Germany but we found a very nice Italian restaurant near the hotel - La Luce Due - and had dinner.
5/11/2015 Returning to the hotel, we fell into bed early and slept for 10 hours. Breakfast at the hotel was typical northern European - scrambled eggs, lots of sliced meat and cheese, bread, fruit, juice, coffee, etc. And the breakfast room was elegant.
Returning to the hotel after dinner last night we saw a woman checking in who was carrying a cello case. She and her husband, who is a pianist, were giving a recital at noon the next day (today), at the Hotel Steigenberger. It's near the Marktplazt and the cultural center of town.
A short tram ride took us to the area and we wallked along the Konigsallee, seeing all the high end stores in Dusseldorf - sort of like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Here's Judy along the Konigsallee - the stores face the canal across a street - on both sides of the canal.
We were invited to attend the recital so we went to the Steigenberger Hotel shortly after 11, and the recital began at noon. The couple, Sabine Frick and her husband, Hinrich Alpers, are both German but met while they were students at Juilliard. They are now married with three children, and they have an active recital schedule.
It was hard to get a picture of them both playing so I was only able to take a picture afterwards. Here are two pictures of them - one serious and one laughing. I couldn't decide which to use, so I used them both.
After the recital, Judy and I walked through Dusseldorf. Unfortunately, all the museums are closed on Monday. But here's the Marktplazt just to prove that we were there.
We were both a bit tired by the end of the day so we headed back to the area of the hotel and had an ice-cream treat at a local shop.
After a very short nap, we went to dinner at a tapas restaurant, Cala D'Or. It's only a short walk from the hotel and the food was very good.
5/12/2015 A 50-minute flight on Germanwings brought us to Hamburg. We were met at the airport by Judy's cousin Angela and her husband Thomas.
At their home in a suburb of Hamburg we were joined by Angela's good friend, Andrea, and her dog, Adele (who is not shown in the picture). Labradoodles always seem to have something more interesting to do.
Angela set a beautiful table where we enjoyed delicious pastries, coffee and conversation.
Later we went for a drive that included the Ohlsdorf cemetery, perhaps the largest cemetery in the world. It is close to 1,000 acres and approximately 1.5 million people are interred there.
Then we met Angela's mother and father, Hans and Carla, at their home. They are anticipating their 60th anniversary this summer.
We talked and shared some very good German beer. When it came time to leave, I took a group picture.
Then Angela and Thomas drove us to our hotel, the Prizeotel, very close to the Hamburg railway station.
5/13/2015 As we went down to breakfast this morning we found our group just checking in. They had arrived from Los Angeles, through Newark direct to Hamburg. Dianne and Philip are getting everything settled.
After breakfast we walked toward two lakes in central Hamburg, the Aussenalster and the Binnenalster, and then to the center city. Here's a panoramic view of the Binnenalster, which is the smaller of the two.
Brahms was born and lived much of his life in Hamburg. We toured the small museum displaying highlights of his musical life.
Judy in front of the museum.
She's playing the actual piano that Brahms used.
Then we walked to St. Michael's church, where he was christened.
Directly across the street from the church was a restaurant that specialized in Labskaus, a popular regional dish used as a staple on merchant ships in years past. We decided to give it a try.
We ordered one Labskaus and a couple of beers. Labskaus is a fried egg (or two) on a combination of corned beef and mashed potatoes, with red pickled beets and pickles on the side.
We even received a certificate to prove we had tried it. It was good!
We enjoyed our evening meal with Dianne and Philip in a German restaurant.
Tomorrow, we go to Lubeck by car with Thomas and Angela.
And just an added comment, the hamburger takes it's name from Hamburg. From Wikipedia: " The term hamburger originally derives from Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. In High German, Burg means "fortified settlement" or "fortified refuge" and is a widespread component of place names."
Our journey continues here.