Monday, June 15, 2015

Butterflies 2015

Each year the local Bereaved Parents group has a Sunday when you can release some butterflies.  This year it was held June 14.

In the past few weeks they have been doing a lot of work in the area of Springbank Park to upgrade the area with a much nicer sawdust trail, many more plants, clearing of some brush and the building of the second monument.

Instead of names listed on white coreboard, the names -- including David's - are listed on the new monument that is the same and stands back to back with the first monument.  Another day I will get some pictures of the area now.

Both daughters, 4 grandchildren, 1 boyfriend, 2 of my friends, my Sister and Brother-In-Law all attended.  Had rained all morning which meant the hot dog lunch was cancelled.  The rain did stop for when they were doing a brief ceremony to mark the new monument.

As we moved out to the open area the sun came out and the weather was really quite warm.  It was nice to have the various families open their own butterflies this year and I think they enjoyed it.  Didn't take long for the butterflies to take flight.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Coming home -- May 20

We had reached the point where the only focus of our trip was the final part of getting home.  Travelling on our own we wanted to get to the airport early to ensure we had time for everything.

Headed across to the train station and purchased tickets to Schipol airport. 
May I note here that there are numerous trains and buses that go to the.  The trains are enroute to many places outside of Amsterdam.  We tried for the 9:30 train but weren't certain of the destination as all the names seemed to be everything but.  Realized afterwards that the airport was about the third stop listed so caught the next train -- 25 minutes later on a train that was headed 203 km to Vissingen
And the cost was just over 10 Euros for the two of us. 
Big difference from what Toronto is planning to do and the cost they have suggested.  No wonder they don't have to worry about the cars the way we do here in Canada.  I have a car but would certainly use public transportation if it was done like Europe.  And don't say about the distances and populations because the Windsor - Montreal corridor could certainly support it.  There are many areas in Canada that could support it and with it integrated into a cross Canada train it would certainly encourage an economical alternative to the almighty car.

A view from our platform to the area behind where the ferry connects.

It didn't take very long to reach the train station below the airport and now began the trek to find the right areas and such.

The airport itself is huge!

We asked an employee about the KLM area and were directed to it.  Once there a KLM employee directed us to numerous machines set up where you printed out your boarding pass.  Asked about checking the bags, we were directed to a short line where we could do the weighing and tagging of our luggage.  Once completed the front of the machine came down and our bags disappeared until the end of our trip.

Through passport control and we were in the departure area.

Not too many eating places that we found but one served sushi so we had a lovely mixed tray.  Around the area were numerous shops and they were ALL duty free.  Did more shopping in that area then we had done all throughtout the trip.  Had the best idea of what space we had and didn't have to worry about lugging it around with us.

We were in the side three seats so slightly more room.  Unhappy father directly ahead of my aisle seat as his wife, approx. 5 month old baby and a 4 year old were in two of the center seats.  He wanted to be beside here but there was a party of two booked for the center so he was not too happy.  Think he was more problem than the kids.  The baby got a cot that hung on the wall in front of the mother which seemed very nice and was certainly handy.

Must say that the food was very good but then I don't fly often and was just glad to get some.

7:30 arrival time in Toronto.  The long multiple moving sidewalk in Toronto was NOT appreciated.  Seemed as it should have been booked as a separate trip.  Customs is all automated and our bags were coming down as we approached the carousel so no delay at that either.

Thought Andy might meet us after all his "stalking" but Alex did instead.  I was pleased to see him but he hadn't been given all the instructions so Andrea was making a quick dash to Tim Horton's almost before speaking to him.  He had parked at the far side of the parking garage so went over and got the car to meet us outside.  Cars pulled out in front of us just as he arrived so that worked out well.

The next day Andrea, while on her second Timmies, drove me home with Mandy along for the ride.  And to ensure she stayed awake going home.

We met my sister and BIL for lunch and it was very nice to see them.

Apparently both Andrea and I were up quite awhile on Thursday before the tiredness hit.  The adjustment seemed much easier than what we had at the start of the trip.

Went back to work on the 25th.  Will adjust eventually to being back to work and the daily routine.  Now I just want to consider where and when I can go next.

Two last pictures taken out my front window
 The first one was taken the day I left: 
The one below is taken just a few days after coming home.  No matter what you may be doing or what has happened to you -- the World just keeps on moving and changing.

Enjoy each and all moments.  They go by too very fast.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Hotel #3 - May 19 - 20

Just to remind everyone, Andy had booked our hotels and trains and such for us.  He had concerns about this last hotel but it wasn't at the very top of the prices nor was it at the very bottom and the reviews stated that it had a good location.

So when he asked us how it was the reply texted was "It has a good location".  For some reason that didn't ease his mind at all.

The place consists of two buildings that aren't obviously joined.  The one on the right has a doorway straight ahead set back about 36" and a door set at an angle to walk into the "hotel".  The room is wide enough to have two small tables on either side of the room and an area to walk to the back where the night man stood when we arrived.  I must mention that the entire room is in shades of brown and black and has a very high ceiling.

The night man tried to be very helpful but was new so uncertain about several of our questions.  Since we could see the shape of the stairs in the office we knew there were a lot of them and very step ones.  Since he wasn't about to take our bags upstairs we had to be moved from the second floor to the first floor which for us would have been the second floor.  He did say he would check with the Owner when he came in later to see if we could leave our bags in their back room.  Turns out that they state they do allow the bags to be left all day.  Had to pay the city tax (about 5 Euro) and a 10 Euro deposit for the one key allowed.

There was no way we were going to do the trip until we had to so we headed out to a restaurant right across the road for supper.

There was an Argentinian Steakhouse across the road so we choose it.  The seats and benches were all covered in cow hide.  It was a long narrow room with another larger room opening up off it near the rear.  They had an extensive menu and the choice of three cuts of beef in a range of 3 different sizes.  We both chose the mid-size priced cut and the smallest size and then had two appetizers -- skewer of large roasted mushrooms and French fries.  The mayonnaise was already on the table in large pouches like ketchup comes here and no extra charge which was a nice change.  The meal was very good.

Now --- the hotel.  From across the street.  Have used some of the pictures that they had on their site and most are ones I took myself.
The upper stories of the two buildings -- the black front and the white fronted building.
 The view looking towards the train station.  You must agree that it is a good location.
 A nice view of the train station.  And do you also notice all those things in front of the station?
 If you said buses and trams you are absolutely right.  So you can tell instantly what you have when they are running and you are on a nice wide street.

Yes, it was noisy until they stopped running after midnight on this Tuesday night.
Fairly comfortable but low beds.  Those two windows that had the HOTEL sign between them -- those were our windows.
Turn to the wall that would be on your right and there was a desk with these lights.  Only problem is that none of them were plugged in and we didn't want to go looking for outlets.  Under the desk was a small frig that needed to be plugged in also.  Not that we would have put anything in it.

This is a view below of when you turn left from the first picture of the beds.  There are some shelf areas and the area beside it is just open space for the one light that was plugged in.  Actually this area is over the stairs coming up.  Our sink was nice and handy but don't stand there when someone comes in. 
A better view of that side of the room. 

To the left of the door was the door to the shower room.  Those are very small tiles -- about 5" maybe -- so you can tell the width.  Again a very high ceiling and a good six feel back.  No windows.  Yes there was a light in the ceiling but we could not find a way to turn it on and with those other lamps I am sure we never would have turned it on.

When you opened the door to the hallway, this was our view:
The rolled up hose at the end was a fire hose.  the handle on the right led to the shared toilet room and beyond it the other door led to the stairs between floors.

The shared toilet.  Long and narrow and tiled.  What more can I say?

The floor in our room was laminate flooring and the pictures didn't turn out as I so wanted people to see them.  There were 1/2" gaps between the ends of the boards in the middle of the room!  Someone wanted to do a very quick and inexpensive job and they most certainly did.

The next morning the Owner was there and couldn't understand why we hadn't taken the room he had booked for us.  He was told quite plainly that with mobility issues we had only wanted the one flight of stairs to do.  They were easier to do going down as I travelled them sideways and had both feet on one tread before moving to the next one.
Even found a YouTube video someone had take of a different room.  Think we did better.

Another point about the location -- we were just a 10 minute walk from the Red Light District so Andrea did a trip over to see it.  I must admit to being glad when she got back but she had felt safe while out so I am glad she did get to visit it.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Train to Amsterdam - May 19

Great breakfast at the hotel.  When it is this good and is included it does make sense to enjoy it.

Decided to take a tram tour of the city to see the downtown and all.  The hotel didn't mind holding our bags for us and the tram is just across the road.  Only cost 8 euros and had a hour ride.  Was fun just to sit back and see all the houses and gardens rolling by.  People watching was also fun as had school kids and seniors.

Saw this bird on one of the platforms and very curious as to what type of bird it is so any input appreciated.

 This is where we turned around at the end of our trip.  Was interested to see that it is on the Rhine and that the seven other towns were listed.  Here Lambeth that touches "old" London can't get regular bus service even though it is now part of London but this town is 17km away from Karlsuhe city centre and has service every 15 minutes.  Have included a link telling the history of the system and ideas behind it.  Only wish our politicians had as much sense to do this!!!!

Finally time to collect the bags and head to the train station.  Karlsruhe has elevators to the platforms and all clearly marked so it was easy to reach our platform.

A lot of the trains were inter-city so they were two story much like the Toronto Go train. 

 And if you hadn't come prepared there was snacks available before you got on the train.
 Advertisement for some shows coming up in the Cologne area.
 Some of the inter-country high speed bullet trains.
 On the platform at Cologne where some people were checking out exactly where their car would be when it reached the platform.

Got into Amsterdam in the early evening. 
Came out of their station which services the trains, buses and ferry and walked to the right of where we had started our canal cruise and crossed the square.  A turn to the right to cross the street and our hotel was just down a few doors.

Every trip should have one hotel like this! Definitely an entry of its own.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hotel #2 - Karlsruhe, May 17 - 19

This one gave us history and elegance.

Built in 1922 and the elevator is wood and glass from 1942.  For some reason, it now has a heritage designation.  Andrea has some pictures of it but my flash camera didn't take any good pictures.
And some views of the stairway that circled around the elevator.

Just to the right of the bottom of the stairs was a waist-high cylinder where you pushed a button, put your foot in one of the openings and your shoe got cleaned. Wish now was had tried to see if it actually still worked but I bet it does.
Had the third bed in as we had hoped our friend now living in Hamburg might join us for the day.

Only get one key for the room but what a key!
There was a stretch of rooms across the street front and then some down a hall at right angles to the main building and our room was on the rear of the building so had this balcony outside our window which is reached from the main long hall.

Picture to give you an idea on how deep the window opening was.  Should also note that the windows opened inwards but when the opening handle was turned the opposite way they would open from the top.  Really neat and appreciated especially at night.

The view of the bathroom from the small foyer.

Tub and shower area.  Shower was a nuisance as you were standing too close to the water handle and the tub closer.  You could turn the water off mid-shower or block the drain and have the water rise around your ankles.  Two things I also noted -- they do like the floating toilets with a push button AND a cover on the toilet paper that I eventually learned to tear against.
The bidet that was directly across from the toilet.
And double sinks which was lovely.

And the clothes closet that was in the front foyer immediately to the right as you entered.  The bathroom was directly ahead and the bedroom to the left so a very generous size.
Right half of the cupboard.  The other side was for hanging clothes.

Liked the look of the headboards.
Above is a picture off their web site that shows the view from the opposite side of the room without the 3rd bed.  Below the TV is an area with a display of food and drink available from it or the bar which is behind the door below.  Desk to the left and luggage bench to the right.
Across the front of the hotel were numerous casual tables and chairs for relaxing and a car park.  It was free to get into but you would be charged going out or have made arrangements at the front desk.  Across most of the front inside was a high-ceiling very light room where the breakfast was served.  Found the food to be very generous with scrambled eggs, sausages, cereal, juice and such so no Continental Breakfast here.  Picture below is off their info from where the serving tables are to the hotel reception area beyond the doors straight ahead.
Would highly recommend the Schlosshotel in Karlsruhe to anyone.  Situated at one corner of the zoo and basically across the street from the train station.

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