Sunday, 23 October 2016

Photo on Sunday 2016-38

A lovely sign I saw at the quay in Hauguesund yesterday while waiting for our company surprise trip to start. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Cathedral window in Prague Castle
Years ago I worked in a biscuit factory. It was okay work, not too hard and I got to eat as many biscuits as I wanted. People who say that after a week you get fed up with it? They don't know me, especially those cinnamon biscuits... That is however beside the point. 

One day, I was supposed to go on the other side of the conveyor belt and in order to do that, I had to go underneath part of the machinery, since there was no way around. I had gone down and was almost clear when I thought I was already completely clear. I straightened myself and my shoulder hit the machine very badly. I cried out in pain, which is very rare for me: usually I just fall flat on my face without uttering a sound. I was taken away by the first aid lady who looked at my shoulder, taped the small wound shut and I think I had a short break before returning to work. 

It healed nicely though and I never thought of it again. Then a few years later I started driving a bus. And whenever the seat and the steering wheel weren't properly aligned, I could feel my shoulder acting up. But a hot lamp or some tiger balm (not made from real tigers) and I would be right as rain. 

I only realised a short while ago, that the wound sustained in that silly mishap in the biscuit factory is the root of all my troubles. With the head I mean. It is very likely some muscle got trapped for a short time and never got the chance to become untrapped. I had better call the doctor again...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A while

It's been a while. A long while actually. No inspiration, or too much for that matter and in the end, nothing happened! But I decided to break the silence. Get blogging again. Show the blogosphere I am still here.

Top of Hest, 352 meters above sea level
So, what have I been up to? Well, apart from work, not much. I climbed a mountain, signed up to become a member of the local triathlon club, sorted my Christmas dvd's and other dvd's, built two cabinets and muddled on in life. 

And that has basically been it. The mountain wasn't that high, the membership isn't official yet, the two cabinets needed some adjustments to keep them up and the muddling is basically normal. As for the dvd's: they are in alphabetical order again and I sorted them into two (three) piles: love (C), love (o) and they're okay (C & o). 

Oh yes, and in the middle of all that, I have started crocheting something that was supposed to become an armchair arm cover, although it might now turn into a blanket. Who knows?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The normal routine

In an Italian restaurant in Vienna(!)
And before I know it, our road trip to Central Europe is only a memory and work is the order of the day again. Waking up at 4.30am every morning, driving/cycling to work and drive a bus all day. But some things have happened in the past week...

On Saturday I went to visit a Facebook friend, whose home is soon to be empty. Was I interested? Well, after visiting his (rented) home, I am in two minds about it. The view is good, the location is good and it is quite sheltered (my father's wish). There are two bedrooms, a large bathroom and in principle plenty of space. But (you knew it was coming)...

In the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków
Even though there is plenty of space, the kitchen area is quite small. And I did not see any possibility for all my stuff to find a place. The living room is okay space-wise, especially since the hallways have more than enough room for my book cases. The bigger of the two bedrooms can hold my bed, which is huge, but not with a lot of room to spare. The smaller of the bedrooms can hold a double bed, albeit a smaller version of my own. 

I think I am safe in saying, I will most likely not be moving there. I would rather stay where I am a bit longer, save up a bit more and try and find a place of my own next year. After all, there is no hurry to leave here.

In other news. Yesterday I spent the whole day in my pyjamas. I hadn't planned on that, but it just happened. I had decided to make a book of all of the blog posts of our road trip and then fill it up a bit more with other photos that never made it to the blog. In the end it took close to 8 hours to finish it up and by that time I had 150 pages!! I was quite worried that it would cost me an arm and a leg and probably a foot, but I was pleasantly surprised. Much cheaper than my worry in any case.

The only thing left to do now is make next year's calendars. For that I first have to sift through all the photos and pick the best ones. Since Brom was such a good blogger, he will be allowed to make one again.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Brom's photo on Sunday 2016-36


I have an idea for next year's trip. Like the six (out of 13?) Chinese cars we saw in Vienna! Although I think we should start at home and not in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). 

Mara: It sounds great, but unless I want to survive on porridge for the next ten years, I don't think this is going to happen Brom! And definitely not next year!!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Reflecting on Eastern Europe

We didn't visit this museum in Prague
I had been to Prague once, prior to our recent road trip. January 2003 on a study trip through Europe. We were there all of three hours. Most of which were spent in a nice and warm coffee house. In my recollection at least. I knew it was a beautiful city from what I did see and had wanted to go back ever since for a proper look. So, when this holiday came up and my sister said: "I would like to go on a road trip and I would like to head East..." Prague was a place that was going to be visited, without a doubt.

Synagogue in Prague.
Jews are an integral part of the history of most Eastern countries
The uneasiness started almost right away. We were going to be traveling to the former Eastern Block, That part of Europe that sends millions of people to the Western part to work. The part that seemingly seems to have quite a high crime rate. Steal cars, rob tourists. And of course it is a backward place. How could it not be: it was hidden behind this Iron Curtain for so long. 

King Charles IV of Bohemia.
The Charles Bridge in Prague is named after him
Well, my prejudices were exactly that: prejudices, because once we entered the Eastern Block, the roads did not change from nice tarmac to rubble. The signs were still the same. The houses were well-cared for. There were new businesses in shiny new buildings. It certainly wasn't grey and drab as I had feared. 

A little doggy on the pulpit in a church in Kraków
Our hotels were all shiny and reasonably new. The only place where we couldn't drink the water was Kraków, but since we only saw that after two days in the place... The food was good and there was plenty of it. The only thing that was really different was the fact that I didn't understand a word. Which makes for a more tense frightening uncomfortable time. I speak five languages, but none of the Slavic ones (like Czech, Polish or Slovakian) or Uralic ones (like Hungarian). 

Even through wars and communism, Poland remains Roman Catholic to this day.
Pope John Paul II 
In the end, the only sign we ever saw that any of the countries were still not completely out of the 'behind the Iron Curtain position' was in Slovakia and a little bit in Hungary and then only when in the small villages that no tourist ever sees. A bit more grey, a bit more drab, but still people owned cars and satellite dishes and probably all other mod cons. 

Inside the Cloth Hall in Kraków. Built as a  trading center, it has been used for that for centuries
The inner city of Kraków was on the very first Unesco World Heritage List!
Nobody stole our car (well our parents' car), nobody tried to rob us (or if they did, Brom must have scared them off) and the language barrier wasn't that big either. Most people we had dealings with spoke English or in some cases German. And in Budapest, there was one person who answered us in Dutch!

Beautifully renovated homes/farms in Northern Slovakia.
In the South, they had the same shape, they were just shabbier and a bit more drab
People went about their daily lives as they do everywhere else. The Iron Curtain had been gone for over 25 years and the young people had taken full advantage of that, dragging most of the country with them into the new age of freedom and possibilities. The Polish and Bulgarian people I work with on a daily basis should have prepared me for this, but I think my mind was stuck in the 1980's. I am pleased to say though: it has been dragged into the 2010's without any problem!

Solar panel field in Southern Slovakia
Will I be going back? Well, probably not to Kraków, mainly because we have seen all of the main touristy things. But there is Wrocław and Katowice close to Kraków, there is Warsaw and Gdansk and there are plenty of more rural places I would love to visit. Of Slovakia we hardly saw anything. Mountainous in the North with the Tatra mountains (beautiful) and quite flat and farmland in the South. I would like to explore a bit more though. 

Part of the Citadel in Budapest. Damage from the shooting taking place in the latter stages of WWII is still visible.
The grey concrete left of the windows had to be put in due to a very large hole made by heavy fire.
We only saw a tiny bit of Hungary and most of that was spent in Budapest, where we spent most of our time in one street enjoying a local green street fair thingy. So, Budapest is definitely on the list to see again. Plus Lake Balaton and the more Eastern parts of the country. I don't think we saw that much of the Czech Republic either. Prague for two hot and tiring days and that is about it. And yes, I would like to visit again. 

Anybody making cotton candy is civilised in my book
Here in Budapest, Hungary

Friday, 30 September 2016

Reflecting on Anne

Each red block represents one person.
A total of more than 100,000 red blocks stand in Westerbork
When my sister and I first started thinking about our road trip, there were a few places we really wanted to visit. Like Vienna and Prague. And when we looked at a map, we realised there were a few other places that we wouldn't mind having a look at. Like Kraków in Poland.

Teddies were taken, along with everything else
Once we had the basic outline of where, we needed to find the things to see. I didn't want to spend three weeks looking at churches only, so other sights were wanted. And near Kraków, there was concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. 

Arbeit Macht Frei
The entrance to Auschwitz I
Neither of us had ever been there and we both felt it was something we needed to do. Then I realised that Anne Frank had been there for a short time and from that thought it was a hop and a skip to follow her road, through the first Dutch transit camp to Auschwitz and then on to the concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen, where I had been before.

Part of the possessions taken from the victims
Here pots and cups and such
Concentration camps are tricky beasts. They all served the main basic goal: get rid of the unwanted, but the way in which it happened was different. Westerbork wasn't really a concentration camp as such, it was mainly a transit camp: send people on to get rid of them. And they did: over 100,000 people were sent on to other camps and only a fraction of those survived.

The women's part of Auschwitz II (Birkenau)
Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau) were completely different. Here, the main aim was either work them to death or gas them to death, with a few other methods thrown in for 'good' measure. As long as they got rid of the Jews it was okay in the minds of the Nazis.

Part of the men's part of Auswitz II (Birkenau)
Bergen-Belsen was yet another camp completely. As calculated as Auschwitz, but completely different in its approach. Work them to death was the main aim, although in the end it was starvation that worked equally well.

The post in which Brom says goodbye to Anne, originally had the word died in the part about who survived. But they didn't die, they were killed. Bullets, gas chambers, thrown under a train, starvation. All with one aim: get rid of the Jewish population. 

Bergen-Belsen with the memorial in the background
Me and my sister talked about it several times. I know I am quite strict and like to follow the rules. Would I have gone along with them? Or would I have gone against them anyway? Would I have been brave or would I have cowered away? I don't know and I will hopefully never have to find out either.

Anne Frank
I wish Anne's diary had never been published. Because she would have survived or even better, because she wrote a boring diary about her life, without war and without hiding. I would have loved to have heard from her in other ways though: as the famous actress she wanted to be for example.

Photos 1-6: Gera
Photos 7-8: Mara
Photo of Anne: Anne Frank Museum

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Back home

A panorama photo of the River Danube through Budapest
Yesterday was the last day of my holiday and it was spent traveling home. My parents had been very sweet and had driven my sister and I (yes, and Brom) to the airport. I wanted to reclaim some money from a purchase I had made in Germany, but I hadn't read the form properly and already checked in my luggage, including the tax free item! That will teach me next time!

Since I traveled business class (or some such), I had an extra luggage allowance and I made real good use of that! I had managed to keep everything in the two suitcases, since I really didn't want to have a carry-on as well. I wouldn't have known how to get it home for a start. The two cases were heavy enough as they were.

A sneaky photo back
Miss Oswin was a bit unsure when I got through the door, but she soon realised I was the treat person and climbed on my lap and drooled all over me. Before she was allowed to go outside for a bit! I did actually buy her a few souvenirs as well. I give her treats that I buy here in Norway, but in Prague and Vienna there were several other flavours available. Four bags of treats made their way into my luggage. 

Even though we visited or traveled through seven countries in total, I only managed three flags. Since Slovakia was only a drive-through, we never saw anything touristy. In Hungary I did see a flag, but it was too small and I figured once we hit the souvenir shops, I would get the proper size. Well, opera got in the way and we never got to a souvenir shop that sold flags. But I did manage to get the flag of the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria to add to my collection. I had one of Poland, but it wouldn't stand in my vase, so I needed a new one. 

Me and my sister Gera
This morning was an early morning again: back to work. I had not been looking forward to it, especially since the weather is not that nice either, but in order to go on other holidays I will need to work and earn some money! Mind you, playing the tourist does become tiring in the end as well. Plus that castles, churches and beautiful town centers did start to blend a bit in the end. 

There will be a few posts coming up regarding the holiday. Thoughts and reflections so to say, that I didn't want to bother Brom with when he was writing. And when all that is done, I will make a book for me and my sister with all the posts and a lot more photos of this holiday. As a reminder of a beautiful holiday. And of course in due time there will be calendars made as well and you will get the chance of winning one, but more on that when they are made/about to be made.

Photos by my sister Gera

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Brom apologizes


Over the past two and a half weeks I have been on holiday with two quite dopey girls. Although I must admit, they did behave quite good this time and didn't do too many strange things. Even if some people think it strange that they take me on holiday and let me write about it! 

The door to the prison in the castle where we had dinner with Andreas.
Yes, we had dinner in a castle!!
There have been several things happening during our road trip that I haven't told you about. Like the case of the missing car key. Which happened on the same day as the hole in the tire. 

One exhausted doggie on top of the mountain
Mara and Gera both had their own car key on loan from Papa (Mara) and Mama (Gera). And when they left Vienna they used Gera's key. On arrival in Augsburg Mara wondered where her key was. She looked in her suitcase: no. In her handbag: no. In her souvenir bag: no. In the games bag: no. In her back pack: no. When she phoned the hotel in Vienna, they told her to ring back the next day! 

ET Gera phone home!
The next day she thought she would first look through her suitcase again. She unpacked the whole thing and right at the bottom... was the car key! I think that was quite dopey.

The Dancing House in Prague
During our day in the Alps we spent the day with Andreas, a very nice gentleman. And even though he didn't like to go up in the cable car (even less than Gera), he took us up that mountain anyway, so we could have that beautiful view. He said he would have preferred to walk up and down those 900 meters! 

That's Andreas, right at the top!
Now, that sounded very strange to us, but he had told us he was a runner. And not just any run either. A marathon was just for training fun. He ran mountain runs. He had done a 86 kilometer (which is over 50 miles) run in Switzerland, crossing six mountain tops. It took him 20 hours! He said he was the second to last to finish, but half of them didn't finish at all, so I thought he was a winner anyway!

Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle
On our way from Augsburg to our last hotel we had to cross some beautiful countryside. And all of a sudden we saw a sign for Wild Gera! And then not long after, we saw a sign for Tame Gera!! Of course we didn't have a camera at the ready and we didn't want to drive back, so we haven't got the proof. But we did look it up on Wikipedia and they said that the Wild Gera and Tame Gera are both contributary rivers to the River Gera. But that river has nothing to do with the town of Gera!

Dinner in Kraków
And then on Sunday night (after the Wild and Tame Gera) we arrived in a lovely hotel. Mara had been there many times before and she was recognised by the owner. Unfortunately Mara wasn't feeling very well and only had a tiny bit to eat. After that we went to our room so I could dictate what she should write about that day. Mara told me though: short and concise and if it can be even shorter, it would be even better!

Taking a selfie of the three o...
After she had written the very short version (in which I didn't even get to mention the name of the church: Vierzehnheiligen or Fourteen Holy Helpers Church in Bad Staffelstein), she put in some photos (a sheep with a bird instead of me!), closed the lap top and went to the bathroom to throw up! Fortunately she felt better after that.

Taking a selfie of the three of u...
When we had returned home, they wanted to open the front door, but both dopes had left the house keys in their suitcases! Gera was the first one to find it (Mara didn't even try) and then tried to open the door! Nope! Papa and Mama had CHANGED THE LOCK!!! 

Taking a selfie of the three of us in the German/Austrian Alps
Fortunately the garden door was okay, so once Mara got in, most of the luggage came in through the kitchen window (including me!) and then the big suitcases came in through the garden door. There was however a great yum waiting for me! So it wasn't all bad!

Papa's home made apple pie.