Planning on 2 + months in Europe. First month with Illene - Berlin, Bilbao, walking the Camino in Spain and Lake Como Italy. After that, on my own. Milan, Budapest, Munich, Black Forest and London.
  • Day62

    London

    June 11, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    Last day in London and of this trip. Home tomorrow. Spent the AM cleaning up and "pre-packing". Had been thinking that I needed to do at least one new thing on this trip. When I left here after a month last year,one of the neighborhoods I did not get to was Shoreditch. Shoreditch is an revived warehouse area in East London known for its quirky shops, a creative hub of London, good food and street art. So off I went.

    And there is street art everywhere including entire buildings painted with art. Took tons of pics will attach a few. Walked 3-4 miles in the narrow streets, poking around corners and checking out the curious shops and looking longingly at the myriad of street food trucks and kiosks. An area called Boxpark - a unique store front shopping block - all the shops are very small - probably about 400sq ft. (10x40) An entire block long - every kind of shop imaginable with very different types of items and clothes. Wish I had more room in my suitcase. But much fun. Also hit Brick Road - a street with dozens of restaurants, and more quirky shops. Old Spitifields Market, touted as the best in East London was a wonderful mixture of open air shops, restaurants and food trucks.

    A major decision was where to have late lunch/dinner. Wanted to east outside as it is another warm, sunny day in the city. Decided on a food truck an had a duck wrap with hoisin sauce, slivered cucumbers and spring onions! Delicious - lots of tender duck.

    Back to flat in time for a quick "lie down" and then out for my favorite show - Les Miserables. Wonderful as usual - strong leads and the show never fails to impress with its music and story. The theater is still full and prices for tickets above anything else I saw this week - and it is over 30 years old!! Amazing.

    Miles: 6.7
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  • Day61

    London

    June 10, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Up and out for a day in London parks. Had brunch out this AM, was tired of my yogurt, berries and cereal and ready for something more substantial. Had mashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and smoked salmon!! Should last all day. Then off to Regent's park, the primary reason, to get tickets to Peter Pan in the park's open air theater this afternoon. Regent's Park is known for its Rose Garden. The roses are still beautiful, maybe a week past their prime. Picture do not do them justice but a lovely walk thru the roses on a warm, sunny day in London. Sold out for the afternoon show today so got tickets for this evening. Back to flat for my phone charger and off to walk the famous parks of central London. Took tube to St. James station and walked through St. James, Green, Hyde parks and Kensington Gardens. Lots of sights to see as usual. Always something new going on. Lots of Londoners taking advantage of this Sunday afternoon. The spring flowers are gone but still beautiful roses, lots of lavender and of course the English gardens with grasses and shrubbery that they manage to put into such lovely pictures. On the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, Christos has an installation that is set to open on June 18. Especially meaningful as 4 of us went to his last installation, the Floating Piers, on Lake Iseo 2 years ago. This one is colorful barrels that are being fit together into a huge pyramid (with the top cut off). See pic. It will float around the lake all summer! A stop for frozen yogurt and a rest in the lawn chairs that are stationed at various places in the parks.

    Back to flat to grab something to eat and back out to Regents Park for Peter Pan. An open air theater and the entire experience was terrific. The show is very hard to explain. A dark remake of Peter Pan WWI with the opening and closing scenes in a field hospital in France with the war going on around it. The fantasy scenes, pirates, flying children were spectacular. The interpretation takes the concept of children that do not want to grow up from Peter Pan and compares to the young men (mostly) that lost their lives so early in WWI for Britain. It never fails to amaze me how these playwrights think of these things. An evening to remember. Website if you want to know more. https://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/peter-pan-review

    Miles: 10.3!!
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  • Day60

    London

    June 9, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    A late start from the day, slept until almost 9AM!! To bed after midnight 2 nights in a row is highly unusual for me. Today is a double header theater day so down to the West End for a bit of shopping and the first play at 2:30PM.

    Was in search for a tie for a friend of mine and have been looking since Milan as the criteria are quite specific. Finally found what I have been looking for in the Saville Row environs of London. Quite the area, all high end men's clothing stores. It was a fun find. Then to the matinee for today, The Moderate Soprano. The drama is a new play and the sometimes funny story of John Christie, who built and founded the Glyndebourne Opera house in pre-war Sussex. A touching love story as well and very well done.

    Found my way back to the Southbank and the busy area around the National Theater. Spent an hour watching the fascinating scenes around me with a glass of wine. Had a lovely pre-show dinner in the Terrace Restaurant at the theater - small plates, wonderful Croquettes and an asparagus salad. Tonight's show was Julie, an old drama by August Strindberg - Miss Julie, con temporized to modern day London. Vanessa Kirby, Princess Margaret in The Crown, was the lead and outstanding. The play is rather depressing but the acting and staging was terrific. A thoroughly enjoyable day.

    Miles: 5.7
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  • Day59

    London

    June 8, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    Feeling much more rested today! Catch up on E-mail and "life" in the AM. I have not done any shopping for 2 months and have a list of things I want to get here in London. So need to start on that today or, as usual, I will be shopping at the airport.

    A warm sunny day in London, the city sparkles. First off to go to the National Theater (for those of you who like theater this is the theater in London that does the filming of one of their performances that show in our movie houses) for tickets for Saturday. The National always has new/innovative and unusual remakes of old standards. They do more drama than musicals. Saw Angels in America here last year, this year it will be Julie. A old drama that I had not heard of before and it just opened last week. The gal who plays the lead was Princess Margaret in series The Crown - Vanessa Kirby. Will let you know.

    Then a wonderful lunch at one of my favorite London places - Wagamama. An upscale noodles place and they now have a location on the busy Southbank area of the Thames near the National and the Royal Festival Hall. Duck Ramen in the wonderful London sunshine. All is right with the world. On my way back to the tube, I went past the box office of a play I had been looking at, new, called the Moderate Soprano. I went in and, as luck would have it, they have a matinee on Saturdays, so bought a ticket. So double header tomorrow.

    Then off to Harrods for my annual trip around the store. The store is always changing and I continue to be amazed to understand how so many people really "shop" there. Harrods's defines upscale shopping for me. I just look for the Harrods gift store, get my mug and little things for friends that might appreciate the sentiment. A real treat today as I was walking by one of the many restaurants - an Italian and Pizzeria - and a chef (at least he was all dressed in white with a bakers hat) was singing Italian opera!! What fun! Did not get my camera out in time.

    Home for a "feet up" and change for the evening's outing. Tonight is the Harold Pinter drama - Consent. Had never seen and it was excellent. Acting was terrific and the rape subject is timely with the #metoo focus. An interesting way to approach a legal issue through the life of 3 couples. Would highly recommend.

    Miles: 7.5
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  • Day58

    London

    June 7, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Up to get organized for London. Did not even unpack last night, fell into bed. Spent AM time cleaning up and doing some theater planning. Have a list of plays I would like to see, have 5 days and plan on 5 or 6 plays. Off to "downtown" and the discount ticket kiosk. Got tickets for Dream Girls tonight and then went to the box office for Consent - a Harold Pinter drama - for tomorrow night. Got my Oyster (transportation card) for the week, walked around the usual hordes of tourists in the Piccadilly Circus area. Back to flat to get groceries at the Waitross (supermarket) right across the street.

    Lunch and some more planning time and out late afternoon for a walk in Holland Park with an entrance right across the street. Had been here last year in April and it was so beautiful with all the tulips in bloom. This year, all of the latest planting (I think they were iris) were gone and they are getting ready to replant the next annual. Some roses still left in the Rose Garden but not a lot there either. So not as pretty this year but still a huge park and so much more to see and do. Lots of babies in carriages, toddlers - some terrific kids playgrounds - and, as always in London, heard part of a rehearsal for their Opera in the Park series, and lots of people just out enjoying one of the fantastic London parks.

    I checked out the Kyoto Garden, a Japanese park within Holland Park. It is still very beautiful and comes up as one of the 5 best parks in London. Back to figure out the washing machine and out for the theater. Dream Girls was good, not great. I marvel at how many good singers there are in the world. This musical has a lot of them. The lead was terrific and one of the fellows (their manager for those of you who have seen the play) was also excellent. Walked around for a bit after the show to see the usual mobbed night life in this area (the West End theater district) of London at 11PM at night. Always fun - for just a little while.

    Miles: 7.5
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  • Day57

    Bad Wildbad to London

    June 6, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    A long travel day so not much to report today. Left my beautiful spot in the Black Forest around 8:30 for the drive to Munich, about 3 1/2 hours. Uneventful. Flight was not until almost 5P so a long wait in the airport. Left a little late and arrived London an hour late. Then the various forms of transportation to get to my final destination, my new flat in London. Gatwick Express to Victoria Station, tube to Earl's Court to pick up key (owner of the flat is on vacation). Then a walk to the apartment about 1/2 mile away. All went smoothly and arrived about 8:30PM.

    Long days in London this time of year. Still some light at 10PM and also at 5AM. Out to dinner and some much needed wine. High Street Kensington is just around the corner, tons of cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas. Entrance to Holland Park right across the street and a supermarket around the corner. Tube is about 5-7 minutes walk. Very convenient to all. Had light dinner at Cafe Concerto - very good as was the wine!! Back to flat to fall into bed.
    No pics today.

    Miles: 5.0
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  • Day56

    Bad Wildbad

    June 5, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 68 °F

    Last day in the forest. Have loved it here. Would recommend this place to anyone looking for peace and quiet yet close enough to towns and cities. Landhaus Gruden - Sommerberg/Ba Wildbad. I booked through Home Away/VRBO but they told me it might have been a bit less to book on Booking.com. You pretty much do need a car but you could take the train to most places. But it is easy to drive here, the roads are good and wide enough. (unlike Italy)
    dWent for my last walk in the forest this AM. The area around here is pretty familiar by now so found some of my favorite spots and sat for awhile. Went to "town" for a quick salad lunch and then to the spa/baths. Palais Thermal - there are 2 large spas in town, my host said this was the best so that's where I went. The place was really beautiful. They have kept the Roman bath decor on the lower floor but the upper floors are very modern and amazing. I do not know how many pools they have - they were all over and I am not sure I found everything. They do have 9 saunas - both indoor and outdoor. All at different temperatures. They were all large - about 4-5 levels. The place was not at all crowded so had the 2 saunas I tried to my self. But the best spot to me was the upper Panoramic deck on the top - outside. Spectacular views of the forest on the top of the mountain and the funicular going up the mountain. The pool is an infinity pool on all side. Really something special. And it was also funny. I had read in one of the brochures that "garment-free" sunbathing is allowed on the top deck until evening so I was not sure what to expect. Much to my surprise for some time I found myself to be the only one wearing a bathing suit !! Whoever said Germans are a "staid" race needs to spend an afternoon here !! Life is full of new experiences.

    Dinner locally - Auerbahn - good trout and a lovely outdoor dining area.

    Miles: 5.9
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  • Day55

    Bad Wildbad

    June 4, 2018 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 68 °F

    Another relaxing day, walking and enjoying the incredible scenery all around me. Off this AM to find a new area to walk. Drove 10-12 miles in a different direction, parked off the main road and went for a lovely walk along a rapidly flowing stream with the forest all around me. Walked for 3-4 miles and then back to the car to find a new place to walk. Decided I was hungry so saw this lovely place up on a hill - lovely outdoor area to eat and whiled away an hour an a half - taking in the scenery and having a terrific lunch. Salad Neptune. Will attach picture - 3 pieces of wonderful salmon or steelhead - not sure which - (menu all in German). Will attach pic. Their presentation of salad is wonderful here. Just always too much food. Hated to leave any of this as it was all wonderful. But under that mound of greens was potato salad and coleslaw!!!

    Back to Bad Wildbad to look around at places I had not seen yet. Needed some new face lotion - this being a spa town, choices were numerous. Checked out the "baths" I am going to tomorrow, compared to US prices, this will be a bargain. Gas, grocery store, etc. Back to home for a "lie down" and then out for a "second to final" walk in the woods. Weather is incredible - low to mid 70s with sun and puffy white clouds. The evening is wonderful here, the tourists are gone and the forest is left to those of us staying on the top of the hill. Quiet and peaceful.

    Back for some back yard/garden time to ensure I enjoy all of the sunshine for the day. I have essentially spent 2 months living outside with the exception of sleeping. I could get used to this. Just checked the weather for London and it should be in the low 70s when I arrive!! A nice conversation with the host of this place while he was grilling their dinner. Also met Elfrieda, their cat, the world's best mouser. She has a never ending source of meat with the forest out the back door.

    Miles: 5.6
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  • Day54

    Bad Wildbad

    June 3, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Lazy AM catching up on "paper" work. Needed to check in flight to London, ensure all set for Home Away in London, and figure out how to get from Gatwick to the last apartment on this trip. Also starting to look at theater in London. Then off for the day.

    First a walk in the woods out the back door to find the bridge that my host mentioned when I first got here. The bridge is a newly built 1km long pedestrian suspension bridge in the forest that is just being finished. The dedication is scheduled for mid July. The bridge is on the Fairy Tale trail in the woods. Lots of Fairy Tale iconography in this area as the Brothers Grimm, revered for their telling of fairy tales, lived and wrote here. I followed the trail a short ways and found the bridge, quite an engineering feat. It starts and ends in the woods but spans over open space with terrific views of the towns below for about 1K other 0.65 mile. Though it does look like they still have a ways to go to be ready for 7/15. Another amazing thing to see and do right out of my front door. I really just lucked out on this place - wanted to be in the forest but had no idea where. Since I wanted 11 days, lots of other places not available for that long. Sometimes luck is better than skill. Walked a bit more and came across a Hang-gliding take off spot. Watched one fellow got ready and took off - have a video but you cannot put videos into this blog. Not sure I could just run out and jump off a mountain. :-)

    Then off for a ride. Target was Baiserbroon - about 30 miles away. I have found a good website - https://theculturetrip.com/europe/germany/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-spots-in-germanys-black-forest/ -- and I am knocking them off one by one. Have done the top 3 so today is number 4, about 30 miles South of me. The town itself was nice but the terrain in this area was beautiful. There is more open space from the forest so you see pristine, steepled towns in the distance when you turn every corner. Also visited an old (built in the 9th Century) monastery, lovely grounds and garden - Benedictine monks. Found a place to park and just picked a path and walked for an hour+. Paths everywhere and lots of folk out for Sunday afternoon walks but still not hard to get away. Back to home to get the last half hour of sunshine in the back yard garden. Relaxing Sunday.

    Pasta for dinner - last meal I will cook here. Finished a book I have been listening to - The Exile - Richard North Patterson - very good. And then finished the first season of Berlin Station on Netflix. Very good as well.

    Miles: 5.9
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  • Day53

    Bad Wildbad

    June 2, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

    Breakfast with the other guests today. Talked with a couple from Australia who travel a lot so nice to hear and speak some English instead of my highly inadequate German. Off to Baden Baden, about 30 miles away, and the "capital" of the spa towns in the Black Forest. A horse racing town as well, a major European race this weekend. Horses (sculptures) all over town, just like the cows in Chicago and the bears in Berlin.

    A great day in a lovely small City - Baden Baden. Season is starting so plenty of tourists around The city is known for its "baths" but also for cultural events all year around. Spent some time finding where to park and then off to find the TI for a map. Beautiful weather - around 70 sunshine and puffy white clouds - I will never have another vacation like this one which such amazing weather for 2 months!

    First booked my tickets for the early evening concert in one of the "largest concert and opera houses" in Europe" - the Festspielhaus - a 6PM start time so perfect timing. I do not relish trying to find my way around this forest at night.

    Just wandered the town for 4 or 5 hours. A big pedestrian only section with the numerous cafes and shops. Baden Baden is an upscale town and the shops reflect that concept - Missoni, Louis Vuitton, Escada, etc. I tried the Faberge museum thinking it sounded interesting - not. Small, dark, minimal English and minimal any kind of description. Story of Carl Faberge and all he did mostly before he did eggs. Jewelry, dinnerware, etc. Only 2 eggs on display (they were beautiful) but many more eggs for sale in the gift shop. :-) And from the prices, I think they were real. So that was only a 30 minute stop.

    I had read about the lovely park that goes through the town and, indeed, it was beautiful and goes for about 2 miles - long an narrow with a river running through it. Many of the big museums are along the way, rose garden, huge belle epoch villas, lots of bridges to walk back and forth and a very pleasant way to spend a couple hours. Treated myself to a late afternoon upscale lunch/dinner in one of the lovely cafes overlooking the garden. Rizzi - great carpaccio and a Thai creme soup with scallops!! And, of course, a German Reisling. Life is good.

    Then to the concert, the concert hall is huge (seats 2,500) - only built 20 years ago. I was surprised to read that it was that new as the entrance looks old. Checking on line, the location was an old railroad station and the kept that as the entrance and then built the very modern structure within and behind. The acoustics were terrific - I sat in the 2nd balcony and it was like I was next to the stage. Pianist solo for a Liszt piece, terrific. All was great. Home and only got "lost" once.

    Miles: 6.3

    The orchestra was the Dresden City Orchestra
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