Posts Tagged With: Europe

Impressions of Vienna

On my business trip to Vienna we had limited time to sightsee: one evening, a full day before work began and one afternoon and evening once our business had concluded. I had hoped to attend some kind of musical performance whether it was classical music, opera or even the Boys’ Choir but as August is European Vacation Month I didn’t find anywhere offering these attractions during the times we had free.

As I was the only one of our group who had been to the city before, thanks to the stop on my Viking Danube cruise in 2017, I played a bit of tour guide and was glad I’d done a blog post about it!

Our first stop was the Schönbrunn Palace. Instead of having a personal guided tour we did the audio guide and did the shorter tour. Photos are still not allowed inside but the gardens were more beautiful in August than they were during my prior visit, which was in October.

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Impressions of Copenhagen

We arrived on a beautifully sunny day and took a free walking tour. The one we chose met at the dragon fountain in front of City Hall. Copenhagen is a lovely city, very clean and safe. Taxes are quite high, making it an expensive place to live, but those funds go toward helping keep people from being homeless. We did see a few beggars, but not nearly as many as you might see in another world capital. Here are a few of the places we saw during our brief stay.

Copenhagen City Hall

Dragon Fountain

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Categories: Denmark, Europe | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Let me say right off the top that this is not going to be the most comprehensive hotel review I’ve ever done. We arrived in the evening and had an early morning flight out so our priority was sleep.

We took the train to the airport from the main train station and from there followed the signs to the Hilton. It’s well-marked but be aware that it is a bit of a hike and you will be going outdoors at some point. If you have a lot of luggage you may want to use a baggage cart to make your journey go faster.

Hilton Munich Airport
(photo courtesy Hilton Munich website)

As we followed the airport signs we were eventually directed to this hallway. Lit up like this it’s kinda hard to miss, right? At this point you’re still outside.

From the Munich Airport Terminal follow this hall to the Hilton’s elevators

We walked through the doors at the end of this hall and the elevators to the Hilton’s main floor were on the right.

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Categories: Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Tour of Munich

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

We had two afternoon/evenings and one full day to see Munich which I’m sure was not enough but we did a lot of walking and took the hop-on/hop-off bus around the city to get a feel for the area. I’m sure we could go back for several more days and still not run out of things to do and see! But here are the sights we saw:

Karlstor

In the late 1700s the elector, Karl Theodor, had the old city walls torn down. This created space for a number of new plazas. Three of the original city gates were preserved, including this one that was previously known as Neuhauser Tor when it was built in the 14th century. It was renamed Karlstor after the Bavarian elector and in 1899-1902 was integrated into the semi-circular wing of Rondell am Sacchus to give it the look seen today.

Karlstor – Karl’s Gate

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Categories: Europe, Germany | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Visiting Dachau

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

I must admit I was originally a little hesitant about visiting Dachau, a former Nazi concentration camp. I was concerned the horror of what had occurred there would be too overwhelming. But I decided it was something important I needed to do and I’m very glad I visited.

Getting There

It’s quite easy to reach the city of Dachau from Munich, especially since we were already at the main train station. We took the S2 train to Dachau, which is about a 25-minute ride. Then we caught the 726 bus to the camp entrance. The site is open from 9 AM to 5 PM each day except Christmas Eve. If you’re using public transport, I would try to arrive either right at 9 AM or wait until midday. We arrived in the city of Dachau mid-morning as did several tour groups. They filled up the first bus that arrived so we had to wait awhile for the next one on the route. But the bus does let you out right at the front entrance to the camp.

Services

In the Visitors Center you’ll find the ticket counter, restrooms, the cafeteria and the bookshop. We had a snack in the cafeteria after we toured the site and found that not only do they have typical snack foods, they also had hot meals available.

If you’re not with a group you can join a 2.5 hour guided tour for just €3.50. Tour times depend on which language the guide will be speaking. Audio guides come in a number of languages and are available for €4. Along with the guide booklet, you can go at your own pace and as you come to an exhibit that interests you, just enter the exhibit’s number into the guide and it will tell you about what you’re seeing.

There is a free film included with your admission. The theater is located in what was once the maintenance building and is now the exhibition space. The film runs about 20-25 minutes and is shown every half hour. Check the times to be able to view it in the language of your choice. Minimum age for the film is 14 (excluding babies) as there are, obviously, disturbing images of the camp victims. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Germany, Historical Site | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Review: aloft Munich

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

After wrapping up our tour of Iceland we took an early-morning Icelandair flight to Munich where we’d spend the last few days of our trip. With the time change we arrived in Munich in the early afternoon. We took the train to the city center.

You know the old real estate slogan “Location, Location, Location”? That’s absolutely true of the aloft Munich. It’s literally across the street from the Hauptbanhof, or Main Train Station. This makes it not only easy to get to anywhere the train goes, but it’s also a stop for the intra-city tram system and the hop-on/hop-off buses have their offices and stops nearby as well.

aloft Munich location in relation to the Hauptbanhof

 

aloft Munich
(photo courtesy marriott.com)

We reached the front desk and were greeted by a friendly clerk who seemed to be working almost the whole time we were there. He noted that my Gold status did not qualify for a free breakfast. We were given keys to our room on the first floor (and since we’re not in the US, that’s the floor above the ground/current floor). The elevators are right beside the front desk so they’re hard to miss. Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Europe, Germany, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, Starwood | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Week in Iceland

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

When I signed up I thought our tour of Iceland was very reasonably priced. I think I mostly got my money’s worth but what seemed to be a nearly week-long tour (Sunday to Saturday) turned out to be really a 3.5 day tour. The group left the US on Sunday and arrived at the hotel midday Monday. So we had a half-day on Monday, all day Tuesday, an off-day (?!) on Wednesday and all day tours on Thursday and Friday. We had welcome and farewell dinners included, breakfast each day and our 3-star hotel. And a lot of that time was spent riding the bus. That’s not a knock on our tour operator because short of busing people to new hotels each night I don’t know how else you’d run a tour but it’s just something to think about if you’re considering visiting Iceland on a tour. If you’d like to visit on your own, English is everywhere and the only trouble you might have getting around is trying to verify any written directions against posted signs. The Icelandic language has some non-Roman characters and some names are quite long so if you’re driving by yourself it might be easy to miss a turn if one nearby has a similar name!

That being said, I’m glad I went and my roommate and I decided we’d like to come back during a warmer time of year than mid-October unless we want to see the Northern Lights.

A lot of places think the saying “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes” was coined just for them but I’m here to tell you it is definitely true about Iceland. In any given half-hour you’re liable to have some sun, rain, fog, partly cloudy skies, maybe a little hail or snow. It’s kinda crazy though I’ve never been anywhere that I saw so many rainbows in such a short period of time. We didn’t see much of the sun during our visit, unfortunately. But we gained an appreciation for the hardy souls that live here year ’round. Several of the folks in our tour group were avid skiers and while I knew there weren’t many alpine resorts in Iceland I figured they were quite good at cross-country skiing. But when I asked our guide about it she indicated that is just not done here. While someone might ski over to a neighboring farm, the weather is so changeable that it’s dangerous to go out distance-skiing as you might get caught in a storm. Wow!

So here are some of the highlights of our trip.

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja, or the church of Hallgrímur is a Lutheran church in Reykjavik. It is one of the tallest structures in the country and the largest church in Iceland. It was named after a 17th century poet and clergyman. The notable tower was completed first but it took 41 years to build with construction completing in 1986.  Its exterior is quite impressive and as I was going through my photos I realized I personally failed to get a single one of the outside of the building!  We only had fifteen minutes to stop here so my roommate and I split the photo-taking so that’s her photo of the exterior as well as one of the shots from the tower.  The views from the tower give a nice overview to the surrounding area and I thought it was worth the price to see it.

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Categories: Europe, Iceland, Tours | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

For our tour of Iceland the tour company had us staying at the Plaza, one of six hotels in the area owned by CenterHotels. The CenterHotels website says they offer “six first class hotels in the city center of Reykjavik” but then follows it up by mentioning their 3- and 4-star hotels. Well, I’m sorry but a 3-star hotel is not “first class”. I realize that the whole tone of this paragraph makes me sound spoiled and entitled. Several folks on our tour did not seem to have a problem with the hotel. But I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed as this hotel was definitely a step down from any we’ve used in the last several years. Lodging in Iceland is expensive and I guess our tour was so reasonably priced because we were at a second-tier hotel.

That being said, if you’re not as choosy as I am, the hotel has a fantastic location and the price includes breakfast. The staff was great and very international and for the most part very young. They always seemed to be smiling and were quite helpful.

Photo courtesy Center Hotels website.

The hotel has two wings and I’m not sure if they’re connected above the ground floor or not. (Our room was on the ground floor so I didn’t spend much time exploring other floors.) I do know each wing had its own elevator. The halls and the rooms both had hardwood floors. I believe my roommate and I actually got a slightly larger room, believe it or not. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Hotel, Iceland, Lodging Review, Other Hotels | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

We arrived in Reykjavik from the airport on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. After temperatures in the 70s (F) in Amsterdam, it was no surprise to find the weather a good bit colder in Iceland. Our driver dropped us off at the back door of the Radisson Blu 1919. As there was road construction on one corner we couldn’t tell the building was as pretty as some other photos of it that I’ve found online. In 1919 the first steamship company in Iceland was formed and its headquarters were in this building – thus the 1919 in the hotel’s name.

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Categories: Europe, Hotel, Iceland, Lodging Review, Radisson | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Tour of Amsterdam

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

We had two days in Amsterdam. There’s a lot to see and it’s a popular city so I’m just going to hit the highlights of what we saw.

Basilica of St. Nicholas

While we were up and at ’em fairly early on the Friday, it seemed most of the tourist things were not. This church was near our hotel and as it was almost opening time we took the opportunity to stop in and see it. It’s the primary Catholic church for the city and dates to about 1887.

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Categories: Europe, Netherlands | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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