I’m always on the move, frequently abroad. Without a taxi it’s often impossible. But my experience with taxis is very mixed and unfortunately often not only positive. The vehicles are dirty and stink of cigarettes. The drivers are impolite. When I ask them to close the window or switch off the radio, I am ignored. I have to load and unload the cases myself, the credit card is refused and cash demanded. The worst is, I feel cheated, if I have already driven the route and suddenly it is a good deal dearer and who knows what happens when I don’t know the normal prices. Riding taxis around the world is like a bag of surprises, it may be great but it can also be a terrible experience with a high degree of frustration. The chances are about 50/50 and very often the main feeling is that it was simply OK. Continue reading
There are cities, which are alive, inspirational, pulsating and time and again surprising, so that you can’t see them too often and where a lifetime is too short to discover everything worth seeing. London is certainly one of them. Where to begin and what to see? I’ll leave the classic sights unmentioned, all you have to do is google. If you’ve ticked them all off, what about Covent Garden Market? Not only because of its many small shops, which offer astonishing things, and the inexpensive flea market, which has even more surprising things on offer, but above all for the artists performing there. There is always something on: street comedians, singers, jugglers, living statues. It’s never boring.
Or what about a “Bond in Motion” exhibition not far from the market? All the cars, with which James Bond had spectacularly raced and chased all the rogues in the world, are exhibited there in the original version. They are accompanied by the appropriate film excerpts and some requisites are also there. A must for every James Bond fan.
A visit to London should also include an evening at the theatre. Musicals, dramas, comedies or Shakespeare for those, who like it classic. The tickets are not cheap and you shouldn’t be naïve and think that one can pick up tickets at the box office. If you don’t book in advance, you’ll probably have to miss the culture.
Even with a small budget, quite a lot can be seen. For example, all the museums in London can be visited free of charge. The Tate Museum of Modern Art for example. Even if one can’t get on with modern art, from the 10th floor there is an excellent view, almost as good as from the London Eye, only one can enjoy it FREE as long as one wants. In addition, there is a wonderful corner, where small children can play. And also worth mentioning is that a modern residential block has been built so close to the Tate building that one can see not only city, but also the interior decoration of 14 floors, because the English don’t believe in curtains and therefore don’t have any. Quasi a “live ” course on interior decoration by the upper class at the beginning of the 21st century.
And if you’re travelling on a restricted budget, then close to the Tate Museum there is an old food market with many delicacies, but also opportunities for attending courses in baking or learning how to butcher. You can try much of the food free of charge and an inexpensive, wonderfully smelling lunch can be bought at one of the stands.
Food in London is a world of its own and one should find the courage to eat things one doesn’t yet know. Everything is there and in all price ranges, you can eat Chinese, Indian, French, Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican and so on for 7, but also for 120 pounds. It’s worthwhile. For breakfast try porridge, it fills the stomach and lasts until the evening.
What surprised me was the number of homeless people, who could be seen everywhere in the centre and gave the impression that they had taken root where they slept. It wasn’t simply people in sleeping bags, which one knows from other cities, but real tented camps with household equipment and only the stench of urine reminded one of the limitations of living in a tent.
You can live very well with a lot of money in London, but I think that, as a visitor, you can live well and also see a lot on a small budget. The courage to enjoy unusual experiences is certainly rewarded in this city.
I’m booked on the flight at 6.40 am from Dublin to Zürich. The evening before my departure the reception cannot make my bill, but as customer service they offer to wake me up. I say OK and ask for 4.45 am.
But next morning I’m already awake at 4.15 am and deal with all my mails that have arrived since yesterday evening. I am ready and prepared and wonder why the hotel telephone has not rung. At last I notice that on the telephone a light is on and a message has been left on the telephone answering machine. But the telephone didn’t ring. A special way of waking guests. Continue reading
We planned to go and see a flamenco performance and spend the rest of the evening drinking a good wine, eating tapas and just having a nice night out.
On our way to the theatre, we noticed that the streets were being barred and that there were police officers everywhere. Continue reading
We went to Tripsdrill and found everything a child’s heart could desire. Good play areas, animals to marvel at and stroke, water chutes, looping coasters, horse-drawn coaches, boats, carousels, games and spending the night in a tree house.
What does the mother’s heart desire in such a children’s paradise? Enough clean toilets, food that doesn’t consist only of chips and sweets. Prices, which don‘t bankrupt you, no queues before the attractions, cleanliness and a well-kept environment.
We were just lucky. It is the second half of April and the temperatures are climbing almost to 30 degrees. Summer at the beginning of spring. The Germans are at school and we in Switzerland have spring holidays. The park is empty and there are no queues anywhere.
In 278 BC named Trephonis Trulla by the Romans, in the vernacular the name of the location also described a place, in which the impossible is possible. In 1890 the first picture of the legendary Old Wives Mill at Tripsdrill appeared. In fact it was built in 1929 by Eugen Fischer. This was the year, in which Germany’s first adventure park was born.
In Tripsdrill you can find everything the heart desires. It is not kitschy, it offers lots of exhibitions on life and work in the past. In the midst of the vineyards, with a wine exhibition and wine tasting, we lived in a tree house in a wildlife park. In the morning we were awakened by the howling of the wolves, who slept 300 meters from us.
We visited 100 attractions, played, laughed, ate, fed the donkeys, stroked the miniature goats. I climbed into an Old Wives Mill, got wet but not really prettier and younger. I liked the wedding market with all its offerings. We rode in the cradle, pulled twins out of the well and admired the wedding procession and the pithy German humour. Three days fun without end, super sleeping in the treetops with nocturnal forest noises, which didn’t disturb us one bit, because every evening we were so dog-tired with my youngest. Simply only happy, fulfilled days.
The adventure park closes every evening at 6.00pm. On one of our last rides the man asked where we were living. I said “in the tree house, around the corner”. He winked and asked whether we had space free. I disappointed him, after all we were not alone but four of us were together on holiday. It just shows that one can even make contacts there. To all singles and happy couples or families, I can only recommend it.
I have the good luck of attracting unique events and exceptions. Like during the Christmas holidays, when I was travelling in Florida. After 29 years, snow and cold in Florida. If I’m honest, I couldn’t care less about the snow, that’s not the reason I have travelled such a distance. An hour from home I could enjoy the powder snow. But fortunately, Florida is big and snow in the North of Florida still means 16 degrees and sunshine in Miami. Continue reading
Then I was on a student exchange in Leningrad. It’s years ago and in the meantime the city is called St. Petersburg. Then as today I lived close to the centre. Our student home then was five storeys high. The dormitory was large enough for 30 girls. The girls’ showers were on the fourth floor, the boys’ on the second. Everything was Spartan.
At 9.00pm the porter locked the main door and, whoever was not inside, had to wait until 6.00am until it was unlocked again. For a twenty year old ambitious economist, as I then was, this rule cried out to be disobeyed. It didn’t take long before I discovered that the cellar of our home was connected to the cellar of the next house. The other house stayed open the whole night. The way into the cellar was barred, but I was probably not the first or the last to disobey this youth unfriendly rule, One of the bars could be pushed aside. When one is young and very slim, a perfect way in. Continue reading