Friday, 28 June 2013

European Russia: Part 2

Taking just a little more than 7 hours, my train journey from St Petersburg is a short, comfortable and uneventful journey, the only downside being that I arrive at Moscow Oktiabrskaia station at 05:15. Someone was waiting for me at the station and took me to my hotel. Along the way we passed a dramatic sight which I missed the opportunity to photograph. The sun was just rising, the sky was red and Monument to the Conquerors of Space looked spectacular.

No hotel problems in Moscow, I stayed at the very pleasant Hotel Zarya north of central Moscow but just a few stops away on the Metro. I was able to grab a couple of hours sleep before breakfast giving me a full day to start exploring Moscow.

The nearest metro station was Vladykino (Владыкино). I bought tickets for 5 rides for only 150RUB, and one ticket takes you anywhere on the Moscow metro, one price, no zones, the best value item in Moscow. I take a simple journey with no changes to Borovitskaya (Боровицкая) which I later discovered is geographically located in the very centre of Moscow. As you emerge from the station on to Mokhovaya Street the towers of the Kremlin (Моско́вский Кремль) are impossible to miss as you look east.

From Trans-Russia 2013
Although the Kremlin is just a short walk east of the station I decide to head south for a bit to see if I find anything interesting in the knowledge that I can always return to the Kremlin. I hadn't walked far when the golden dome of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя) came into view. I spent some time walking around the grounds of this spectacular church before taking the footbridge across the Moskva River (река Москва) to an island -- Balchug -- …

After wandering most of the day the sky became increasingly threatening so I decided to make my way towards the public entrance to the Kremlin. The queue to enter suggested that there were likely to be was more people inside than I wanted to deal with, and I do hate queueing. So I continued walking through the Alexander Gardens to Manezhnaya Square and then into Red Square (Красная площадь). While Red Square is a large space, it is not as big as I had expected based on all the footage I had viewed over the years. While in the square there was a cloud burst and a torrential downpour, the first real rain I'd seen in my weeks of travelling.

GUM, from Trans-Russia 2013
I took the rain as a cue to visit GUM (ГУМ) and sit out the storm with a coffee. Like all the places I'd seen in central Moscow, GUM was pretty amazing, and seemingly a world away from images formed during the Soviet era!

My second day started out much like the first, this time I was planning to visit some of the metro stations with a view to their architecture rather than location. The first station I visited was Arbatskaya since it was one of the stations that intersected  9  from Vladykino. I visited several other stations including Oktyabrskaya and Mendeleevskaya.

From Trans-Russia 2013
I managed to spend some time in Gorky Park (Moscow) and nearby Fallen Monument Park. Unfortunately there was extensive landscaping work taking place in Fallen Monument Park so many of the iconic statues were not to be seen, still worth a visit though.

I continued my Drunkard's Walk and as the sun was setting I found myself in the Tverskoy District, north of central Moscow. Time to get the metro back to my hotel.

Two days is certainly not long enough to see any significant fraction of what Moscow has to offer. That said, I did enjoy my time here and would certainly recommend Moscow as a city to visit. Much more interesting than one-dimensional Leningrad!

TR #60 from Trans-Russia 2013
I did experience one wrinkle in my travel arrangements while in Moscow. When I booked my train I was scheduled to leave Moscow from Yaroslavsky station, the western terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway. When I collected my tickets it turned out that I would actually be leaving on TR #60 from Kazansky station (Казанский вокзал‎)! I faffed about a bit at Kazansky trying to find the platform but no great problem.

Monday, 24 June 2013

European Russia: Part 1

I was woken from a deep sleep by an officious, uniformed woman. I'm not always quick at becoming alert in the morning but on this occasion I instantly realised that this was a Russian border official and that she was holding my passport in her hand. Good news, all is ok and I can proceed on my train journey into Russia. It is a little after 04:00 and the border process with Latvia had only taken 4 hours.

After a couple more hours on the train I arrived at Vitebskii station in St Petersburg. I'm collected at the station by a driver and taken to the Apple Hostel where I'm told that I cannot get my room until 13:00 but that I'm welcome to take a shower while I wait. I get talking to an Australian woman who's been here a couple of days and accompany her on an errand to the Mariinsky Theatre to orient myself a little in the city.

When I return I'm told that they actually do not have a room for me and that they've booked me a room in the Retro Hostel and handed over 3600RUB refund. I  am  not  happy! I'd pre-booked a walking tour of the city with the same people who booked me the room here and I was due to meet them here at 14:00 so waited. When the guide came she was appalled at what had happened and spoke for a long time with the hostel to no avail. She then spoke to her boss to book me a room elsewhere and in the meantime walked with me to the Retro Hostel where I dumped my bag before taking the tour. By the end of the tour they had not succeeded in finding me another room that night but did get me a nice one for the night after.

The Retro was good value for money at only 500RUB but by 03:00 there were 12 people in the 10 person dorm. I was not sad to leave.

From Trans-Russia 2013
I included St Petersburg in this trip since we'd considered it as a honeymoon location, but went elsewhere, and in all the years since had never got around to visiting. Some people I know who have visited speak well of the city so I decided it would just be a small extension to my trip. At first the city lived up to my expectations. Since the city was planned to be a European style city much of the architecture was familiar, the only real exception being The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, built very much in a Russian Style. I've been told that the church is unpopular with some local people for this very reason.

By the end of my time in St Petersburg I had come to dislike this planned, European style. While whole streets of the building look very grand, Nevsky Prospect being the prime example, behind the façade there is often a run down tatty reality. All three places I visited for accommodation fell into this category. Once through the façade there were worn, crumbling dark staircases leading to individual residences that could be delightful behind yet more steel doors. The planned uniformity also gives the city a one dimensional feeling, most cities are an interesting blend of architectural styles, not so with St Petersburg.

Hermitage
HermitageFrom Trans-Russia 2013
This is not to say that St Petersburg is not worth visiting or that there are no attractive features. I took the opportunity to visit the Hermitage Museum and while for me it didn't meet my admittedly high expectations it was indeed an impressive museum. Unfortunately, the one section closed off for renovation included the one and only piece that I specifically wanted to see!

It was a lively time in St Petersburg with University Graduations taking place, part of the reason finding a room was difficult, and public concerts celebrating the longest day.

St Petersburg is built on a number of islands in the delta of the River Neva which should have warned my about the likelihood of insects. On my last night in the city it was hot and humid and my bedroom window was open… and in the morning I was covered in hundreds of mosquito bites!

I leave from the St Petersburg Moskovsky railway station headed for Moscow on the night train Tr #29

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Home to Russia: Part 5 and retrospective

The last leg in this journey is by far the shortest but the end point is also where I am most likely to encounter a serious problem, i.e. a problem with my Russian Visa.

I'm getting ahead of myself, so back to Riga where I am scheduled to catch train 038P. So that I am not surprised by anything on the day I pop into the station the day before to see what would happen. I enter the station and then walk down the tunnel that leads to all the platforms. Platforms and tracks here are synonymous (unlike Poland) and come in pairs 1;2, 3;4, 5;6, 7;8. ... the end, where is platform 11? I go back to the station and eventually find that platforms 10;11;12 are reached from platform 1, obvious?

This kind of wrinkle is why I recce'd the day before. The train was at the platform half an hour before departure allowing plenty of time to go through the checks at the carriage and board. Looking good.

From Trans-Europe 2013
On the day I head straight to the platform and down to carriage 13 to board, I've an electronic ticket so no paper just my ID (passport). No luck, my ID is not on the list. To be on the safe side I'd printed Russian and English versions of the ticket but still no joy, if your name is not on the list you do not get on. Tension is rising...

I call my agent in London who booked the tickets and they confirm that there is indeed an electronic ticket and I hand over the Russian speaking agent to the ticket clerk, still no joy. I'm not on their list so I do not get on. Time passes, tension continues to rise...

I'm told I need to go to a ticket desk and get a paper ticket, so off I rush. When I get to the counter I'm fortunate to find three Russians in the same state that I am and the counter staff do something and tell us all to go. 5 minutes to get back to train, running up steps and along to platform with 20kg rucksack warms me up a little. When I get back to carriage 13 I wait 2 minutes and a new list appears and I'm on it! I climb aboard find my bed and before I can sit down we're off. That was close.

One of my fellow travelers in the compartment was one of those like me not on the list. His name was Alex and he speaks English. The other occupant of the compartment was a Russian that didn't speak English.

We have six hours travel ahead before we reach Karsava and the border, we should arrive a little after midnight. The shaky start to our trip gives plenty of reason to engage in conversation. Alex works for a Russian telecoms company and has traveled extensively in Europe and North America as well as to Ukraine and Belarus. As student he worked in the UK on a farm for several months. Our fellow traveler was a retired member of the Russian Navy. While he now lives near the Latvian border he served in the Arctic and out of Vladivostok. The rain had internet connectivity and we did some sharing of photos of places we had each visited. Alex had lots of photos of his time in UK and still keeps in touch with the farmer he worked for. They were keen to see my photos of Central Asia and Iran, places they knew little of.

Conversation could sometimes be slow with Alex acting as interpreter but it was a pleasant evening and the time went quickly. We arrived at the Latvian border and formalities for me were quick and painless, they were little more onerous for the Russians. We then traveled through no mans land for several minutes before arriving at the Russian border post. Things were not so simple here, procedures took another 3 hours before reaching their conclusion...


Retrospective


When planning this journey I only had one fixed point, the start. I had a choice of endpoints, St Petersburg or Moscow and eventually came to the decision that if I was going to visit Russia I might as well visit St Petersburg as I'm unlikely to do it at a later date. With fixed start and end points I could start on a route. The route as far as Warsaw was straightforward but then there were choices to be made. There were three "countries" to consider along the way that I have never visited, Lithuania, Latvia and the Russian enclave of Kalingrad. Train travel in this area is not straightforward and the added complication of needing a double entry Russian visa I decided on a route from Warsaw via Vilnius (Lithuania) and Riga (Latvia) to St Petersburg. In retrospect I think it would skip Vilnius and go for Kalingrad.

The journey east was a journey from the familiar to the increasingly unfamiliar. From Cologne onward the terrain changed very little, mostly flat with occasional undulating areas either cultivated with cereal crops of covered in forest. The trains themselves and the track that they run on seemed more like a journey back in time starting with the Eurostar and ICE trains that run at up to 300kph, through slower electric trains that might manage 200kph and finally tired old beasts that rarely exceeded 100kph and averaged much less.

The languages, unsurprisingly, changed from French which I can speak reasonably to German which I can also get by with through to the eastern European languages which I do not speak but at least use the Latin writing system. It will get harder as I continue my journey and have to contend with Russian and the change to the Cyrillic script.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Home to Russia: Part 4

This leg is about travelling from Vilnius (Lithuania) to Riga (Latvia). Unfortunately the railway system is not very helpful when it comes to travel between these two capital cities. I did find a route via Daugavpils that would take about 13 hours and require an overnight stay in Daugavpils! And to add insult to injury my onward train from Riga to St Petersburg goes via Daugavpils.

From Trans-Europe 2013
The bus looks a much better option. I book a seat on Lux Express and once again cannot resist the small delta for a first class ticket. Spacious, relaxing, toilet, coffee, snacks, WiFi... whats not to like. An the scheduled journey time is only 4½ hours for the roughly 300km trip. We arrive 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

A wise choice if I say so myself!


72 hours in Riga


The longest stay of the trip so far. I'm staying at Hotel Irina which is right opposite the Riga Central Station and a few minutes walk from all the main tourist attractions. I quickly find that I like this city, while it has obvious tourist attractions they are set amid an interesting lively city that is full of local people going about their business and enjoying the open spaces. The Old Town of Riga may be a World Heritage Site but it isn't a tourist ghetto.

Like many cities in Europe there are a lot of historic places of worship from many denominations. Riga is no exception, in the Old Town alone there must be a dozen or more half a dozen of which are particularly dramatic.

The Old Town isn't just building and squares, there is a lot of green space, perhaps a mile long with Riga City Canal flowing through the various parks. Very relaxing and well maintained.

From Trans-Europe 2013
You do not have to venture far to see a less manicured, but none the less interesting, view of Riga. Just venture south of the railway tracks...     here you can see the unloved Soviet era building, the Latvian Academy of Sciences (Latvijas Zinātņu Akadēmija), reminiscent of the similarly unloved Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) in Warsaw.

On the other hand there is the vast, bustling Central Market (Centrāltirgus), a mixture of outside stalls and 5 huge buildings built from reclaimed zeppelin hangars.

The largest of these is solely a meat market! That is not to say that there isn't meat being sold in the other hangers, there is, but this one is HUGE!

I managed a second breakfast in one of the halls (sounds like something a hobbit might say), a coffee and a swet something or other cost the princely sum of 0.45Lat (~50p). A small fraction of what you need to pay north of the railway tracks.

Across the Daugava river more signs of modernity are clear to see with the slender Radio and TV Tower looking slightly south and the dramatic National Library just across the river from the Railway Station.

Trans-Europe 2013

Monday, 17 June 2013

Home to Russia: Part 3

Today is another long travel day, planned duration of travel: 9:56 , Changes 2.

The first train of the day (TLK10011) is scheduled to leave Warszawa Centralna at 07:22. I arrive at the station by 07:00 to allow plenty of time to find my platform. The board shows an on time departure from Platform 2 so down I go. Platform 2 (and all the other platforms) have two tracks, which one will be mine? The overhead signs show the train details just before arrival and all the trains have their number on the front a side of each carriage, so no sweat.

Like all my continental trains so far a seat reservation is required, no standing. It is another Inter City (IC) train with carriages similar but just a little shabbier than the one into Warsaw. I share a first class compartment with two others. Yes, first class again, it was only an extra 10€.

We have to cover ~300km on the first leg to Šeštokai which is just over the border into Lithuania. We have to change trains here because of a break-of-gauge, i.e. where the Polish Standard gauge (1435mm) meets the Russian gauge (1520mm).

When the ticket inspector arrives I get some news that there is a change of plan. My timetable from Deutsche Bahn fails to mention that the trains stops at Trakiszki and that we have to take a bus to Šeštokai. At this point there are now only two of us in the compartment and luckily my fellow traveler speaks some English and warns me of what will happen.

This hiccup has a silver lining as it provides an excuse to engage in conversation. It turns out that he a young engineer from Minsk, Belarus, who had been working for a couple of weeks in Warsaw. We talk a little about the mutual difficulties of him as a Belarusian getting visas and the problems for me getting a Belarusian visa. We then have hours to chat about Life, the Universe and Everything else.

Since he was a native Russian speaker I took the opportunity to brush up on pronunciation of my limited vocabulary. He did at least understand every word I said, and I do mean words not sentences :-).

The bus transfer goes well and takes significantly less time than is scheduled for the train journey. We have only managed an average speed of about 50kph.

From Trans-Europe 2013
From here on the trains have a single class of service. The carriage is occupied by several local youths who are playing very loud music that is not to my taste. Luckily this leg of the journey to Kaunas is only about 1½ hours and we even go a little faster, perhaps as much as 60kph!

The final connection time at Kaunas is very short but we make it easily. What a contrast, a nice comfortable, modern double deck train that gets us to Vilnius in 1¼ hours at about 80kph!

I say goodbye to my fellow traveler who is going to spend some time in town before he catching his night train to Minsk and then I walk the short distance to Florens Boutique where I'll be staying for my visit.


A weekend in Vilnius


It is time to slow the pace a little, I have never been to Vilnius before so I plan to spend the weekend here. I'm up early again, there is another hours time difference from Warsaw and walk the short distance to the Gate of Dawn (Aušros Vartai), the only gate remaining of the original nine city gates, and through into the Old Town (Vilniaus senamiestis).

From Trans-Europe 2013
I'm told that there is an interesting bar Apuokas on Subaciaus which is the first turn through the gate. I'm not desperate for a drink but figure it might be easier to find in daylight. As it turns out I didn't find it but the road led my up to The Bastion which provides a good view over Vilnius.

Now that I have left the main route into the Old Town I continue down the hill to look at one of the many churches in Old Town. Saint Ann's Church and Bernadine Monastery is one of the places you are supposed to visit and here I was, the church and the monastery are in two completely different styles. It was pretty lively as there seemed to be a queue of weddings lined up to take place. I had to come back at a later time to get some photos that weren't full of people.

From Trans-Europe 2013
I meandered my way back into the more mainstream areas and eventually decided I needed a coffee. I tried a Coffee Inn, it is a local chain that I rather liked. Reasonable prices, stay as long as you want, free and fast WiFi.

I spent the remains of the days wandering around the Old Town, there really are a lot of churches of different denominations and styles.

In the evening I looked again for Apuokas, it was easy to find when it is open! I managed to get a draft beer of some description which tasted fine. There were no beers in the bar and no list of them and the bar maid was a rather formidable lady who spoke no English ( I speak no Lithuania) but we sorted something out. When I sat down to drink my beer in peace and watch some locals playing darts I saw a menu, pity she hadn't told me there was one. I discovered what beer I had actually bought and ordered a bar snack. I was a really good bar snack, yellow split peas with heavily smoked ham lardons, served hot. I cannot recall ever eating a better beer snack.

From Trans-Europe 2013
I'm up early again on Sunday and decide to visit a different area. I walk straight to the Cathedral and then to climb to Gediminas Castle. It is another good vantage point and provides views back over the Old Town as well as views across the Neris river to the new town. Being early on a Sunday morning there were not many people about but the funicular was already open and there were more people than I like to be around early in the morning.

Actually I'd had enough of touristville for a bit and headed across the river to mooch around the new town. There weren't many people around and after passing some old, neglected buildings I ended up in sparkling, shiny, new, downtown Vilnius. Quite a contrast. I enjoyed a peaceful lunch before heading back to the mêlée I was anticipating in Old Town.

Photos of trip across Europe
I finished all the main sights, visited a different bar, not as good as Apuokas, and called it a day.

I'm booked to leave at lunch time on Monday, the town is much less frenetic than at the weekend. Note to self: avoid weekends! Two days was plenty for Vilnius.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Home to Russia: Part 2

Once again the day started well, an early breakfast in the hotel set me up and then I take the short walk to the station. I've plenty of time so take a final walk around the Dom and then take my seat on the train. Today's journey is scheduled to be 10 hours with a change in Berlin. When I booked I was given the option of a first class ticket for an additional 10€, which sounded like a good deal, and took it.

From Trans-Europe 2013
First class on an ICE is significantly more comfortable and spacious than 2nd so very happy to have paid the premium. When the ticket inspector looks at my ticket I get some bad news, the ticket is good, but the train will be late getting to Berlin and I'll miss my connection.

I realised when we approached a stop at Bielefeld that this must be the same train that I took all those years ago when as a schoolboy I took the train from Cologne to Bielefeld. Seems that I am retracing some of my steps.

We are on only a few minutes late when we arrive in Hanover and I'm optimistic that they will make up the delay but this hope is dashed. It seems that floods that have been impacting Central Europe are to blame and we travel slowly through some areas of extensive flooding.

From Trans-Europe 2013
We eventually arrive in Berlin Ostbahnhof just over an hour late and my first task is to rebook onto a later train, I'm in luck there are two more today but the earlier one, with a change at Poznań, doesn't get in till almost 10:00pm and the later non-stop doesn't get in until almost midnight.

In the end I opt for the early train with a change, not necessarily a wise choice given my recent experience changing trains, but the ticket lady gives me two tickets so that if I miss the connection I can just get on the later one. I am optimistic that the belt and braces approach will work out.

From Trans-Europe 2013
The train is an Inter City (IC), note the lack of Express in the description, it is not as quick or comfortable as the ICE but not too shabby either.

As we head east from Berlin the train is still travelling through gently undulating terrain but we also travel through extensive forests as well as the familiar farmland of predominantly cereal crops. We pass through more areas of flooding between Berlin and Poznań but it doesn't slow us up and we arrive on time and I manage to make the connection in the 5 minutes available.

As the day wears on each train is slower and less comfortable than the one before. Our destination is Warsaw (Warszawa) which is a long way in the Central European Time Zone and as such sunset is going to be pretty early and I'll be arriving in the dark. While I have learned from my casual arrival experience in Cologne I am always wary of walking around cities I do not know in the dark. Perhaps I'll take a taxi.

We arrive as scheduled and I decide that the station area is light and lots of people are about so I'll walk to my accommodation for the night. I find it quickly and easily. I'm pretty tired and fancy a beer before bed but cannot find anywhere that will accept something other than złoty. Fair enough, but worth a try!


A day in Warsaw

As with Cologne I allowed myself one day in Warsaw. I have also visited this city briefly once before in the winter of 2004 with one of my daughters.

First task was to find a kantor and change some money. Excellent rates of exchange, British Currency Exchanges are a ripoff.
Advice to travelers from Britain: bring Sterling and change it in Poland, you get lots more złoty for your pound.
When last here we only visited the Old Town (Stare Miasto) so I though I would head that way again.

Royal Castle, WarsawFrom Trans-Europe 2013

The whole place was rebuilt after World War II and even when I visited almost 10 years ago I thought it had a bit of a Disney feel to it. In mid-winter it felt a bit Disney, in high summer it seemed even more so! There were enormous crowds, countless tour groups of many nationalities as well as a large number of school groups.

From Trans-Europe 2013
I wandered the sights for a few hours and decided it was time to move on. I did a bit of random rambling before deciding it was time for evening refreshment. I'd seen enough tourist restaurants offering food from around the world or authentic, traditional Polish fare and wanted somewhere away from it all. I found a little hole in the wall place and since I couldn't understand the men, or share a common language with the lady taking orders, I chose what the person ahead of me ordered. It turned out to be veggie, but tasted fine, what else could I possibly want? Hmmm, a beer.

Photos of trip across Europe
Next task was to find a bar, found one nearby that had a sign with one word I understood piwo (beer) and another promocja which I thought might be promotion, and a price of 7złoty. No English, French, Spanish, German speakers so no conversation. Just a couple of nice beers.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Home to Russia: Part 1

Day one of what is only the first part of a longer trip starts well but ends a bit on the flaky side.

All starts well when my daughter picks me to take me to Stratford upon Avon to catch the first of many trains. We share a coffee at the station and then I'm really off. I've done quite a bit of research putting this trip together but I try not too over prepare.

When I get to Marylebone Station I have to take the tube to St Pancras Station... there is no tube station called St Pancras! Where the hell is it? I can not remember now how I determined that it is next to Kings Cross station but with that information in hand the journey is simple. The upgraded St Pancras International Station is certainly an impressive blend of the old and the new.

From Trans-Europe 2013
Boarding reminds me of Japan with all the car numbers marked on the platform and my Eurostar train (EST 9140) leaves right on time! A comfortable, uneventful journey. The emergence from the channel tunnel announces that we are passing through northern France though the subtly different landscape and steeply sloped roofs of some farm buildings are another clue that we've left England.

The architecture of Lille Station is truly spectacular, this is not in Englad! We arrive at Bruxelles-Midi Eurostar terminal on time and 20 minutes is plenty to change platform to catch the next train to Köln. This time it is a comfortable ICE train but after about an hour a we come to a stop. We are eventually informed that there is something on the track, what we aren't told, and we are delayed for about 45 minutes. good news: I don't have to make a connection. The efficient Deutsche Bahn do have updated connection info for those that are making connections!

We arrive in Köln (Cologne) late, which contributes to my second example of not "over-preparing". I leave the station and head off in a roughly northwest direction towards my hotel only half a kilometer from the station. Cannot seem to find it, haven't got a map, spiral around figuring it's got be here somewhere. Ask a couple of folks and they've never heard of Ursula Platz. I figure that I must have messed up and start working my way back in the direction of the station when I find someone who does know where Ursula Platz is.

Boy have I screwed up! It is on the other side of the station, I have actually walked south east from the station, 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Back to the station, leave from the other side and I'm at my hotel in less than 10 minutes.

If we'd arrived on time, i.e. before sunset, I probably would not have made this stupid mistake. Still, never hurts to get a warning to be more careful.



A day in Cologne


From Trans-Europe 2013
I am not in a desperate hurry to get to Russia otherwise I would have flown. I allowed myself just the one day in Cologne for a look around.

I spent most of the day in the Altstadt (Old Town) though I did venture across the Rhine for a while. As a teenager I had passed through Cologne and changed trains at the Central Station, I vaguely recall seeing the famous Cathedral and now know that those recollections are valid, Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) towers above the station.

Nothing other than the churches of the Old Town caused me to get out my camera but I did enjoy tramping the streets and frequenting various cafes and bars.

I really enjoy a good English ale, there are many of them but there are also some poor beers on offer in some establishments. In Germany I have never has a poor beer, lager is different in style but when you get a good one it is really good. Needless to say I did try a couple in the time I spent here.

36 hours after arriving it is time to move on again...