After Spain I hopped on an Air Berlin flight back to Germany and spent a few days in Köln and Hamburg before finally returning to Berlin for a few days at a friends apartment. I ended up getting sick in Berlin so I didn’t take many pics there but here are some of Köln and Hamburg, both cities that I like, and both that were nearly completely rebuilt after being destroyed in the war; today they are a strange mix of old and new. Hamburg in particular has transformed itself from an industrial port city to one known for art, music and culture (though the port is still important).
Pictures: Köln and Hamburg
All in all a fantastic trip – as this travel blog attests to, I certainly saw a lot. Hope to get back to Europe before too long (not 10 years as was previously the case!). As someone who likes cities and infrastructure, my observation is that we could learn much about both from the Europeans, whether it be their excellent transit systems, high-speed trains, or abundant well-designed public space. To those who say we couldn’t do that here, I ask why not?
Next trip will be to Caribbean and Brazil with my Dad in December - look for updates then!
Well I am actually back home now in Toronto and so am catching up a bit on posting the final batches of pics from my trip. These are from Spain which was the Mediterranean destination that I chose – since I only had a few days and wanted to have some quality time on the actual sea, the trip was limited to Sitges, a gorgeous resort town near Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga, as I wanted to see the south / Andalusia. What a beautiful country (with beautiful people too!), even though I only saw a small portion of it (though the fantastic high-speed trains allowed me to see a lot of the countryside between the cities at 280 km/h!).
Fallen a bit behind in posting on my whirlwind travels but thought I should get another post up here. Since leaving the UK, I spent a couple days in the low countries, taking the fabulous Eurostar to Brussels and thence to Bruges, which is a beautifully preserved mediaeval city in the flemish part of the country not far from the sea. Lots of great architecture and canals as you’ll see in the pics. From there I went to Haarlem (in part because it is close to Amsterdam and the hotels were cheaper) and then one night in Amsterdam proper. Both were fantastic: beautiful little streets and canals and especially in the case of Amsterdam, a ton of energy, and just a great cosmopolitan feel. Enjoyed sitting by canals and in small parks soaking it all up (along with the occasional wafts of other smells…).
Bruges Haarlem and Amsterdam
Just in London again and wanted to post the last lot of pics from Scotland including some great scenery at Dunnottar Castle on the coast, which was the seat of an important Scottish noble family until they got caught up in some Jacobite silliness in the early 18th century and had their lands seized by the king and left to go to ruin. The landscape and beaches are, in my opinion, as impressive as the castle. Also some nice pics of Christine and her family, as well as where they live and the local village / farmland near Inverurie. Off tomorrow back to the continent and Bruges and Amsterdam so more to come!
More (pretty) Scotland Pics
Let it not be said that Scotland isn’t easy on the eyes. Christine and I went for a hike up a local mountain (Clachnaben) the other day and the views were stunning and varied. This area is roughly where the highlands begin and they extend north and west from here right across Scotland. The summit was about 600 meters so needless to say my legs were a bit sore the next day!
Here are some pics of Castle Tolquhon in Aberdeenshire that I visited with Christine and her kids. Apparently it was quite the hub of the local gentry social scene in the late 16th century and even James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) visited. Fell into disuse in the 19th century and is now just a hub of curious tourists like me!
Tolquhon Castle Ruins
Spent a few days in London on my way to Scotland staying with an old friend from university days, Carrie, who has a lovely flat in a north London suburb. Didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the Tate Modern and the Southbank area including the Burrough Market. Loved the Tate, building and collection; what a fantastic way to repurpose a building that might have otherwise been torn down. One wonders whether something similar could be done with the old power station in Toronto’s Portlands? Also checked out the National Portrait Gallery, which I loved, especially the portrait painting competition that was on display (sponsored by BP -uh-oh!); a great overview of current trends in painting and some great pieces. Also great that these public art galleries are free to the public – so civilized!
Also had a stopover on the way in Paris on the train so there are a couple pics below from there including the gratuitous eating of a crepe in Place de la Bastille.