itâ€™s a mixture of rain and intermittent sunshine todayâ€¦after a relaxed breakfast i finally sum up enough energy and take my trike for a ride to the local migros for the weekend shopping: itâ€™s going to be oven-roasted fish with potatoes and salsa verde for today and an omlette curry for tomorrow.
breakfast today is a more relaxed affair than yesterday…mike has another go at the whsmith bookshop — alas, it’s not yet open. i find it rather ironic that for years the european (and the british press in particular) has been mocking germany for their restricted shop opening times: 99% of the shops outside london don’t open before 9:00 (some as late as 10:00) and most close already at 17:30 (some staying open `late’ until 18:00) — the supermarkets being the exception. even before they changed the law governing the shop opening times, most german shops had open until 18:30…
midway through my pot of tea and today’s guardian (paper edition) a stocky, small man literally waltzes into the breakfast room, each step causing the floor to slightly vibrate. he is wearing a pair of red braces and exudes an aura of loudness somehow…funny. when i relate that story to my colleagues later on, i use the word “suspenders” instead of “braces” — not realizing that suspenders has a bit of a different meaning in british english…oh, well.
we take a taxi to the lab and spent the morning going over the work items and then leave with hursley cars for heathrow airport around 11:00. as we are way too early, i need to wait for 20min before i can check-in my bag at the fast drop counter…once that’s accomplished we split as mike wants to spent some time in the landside whsmith while i plan on stocking up on talisker whisky at the duty free shop. instead i first end up at the airside whsmith (buying murder room by p.d. james, bare bones by kathy reichs, and blow fly by patricia cornwell), meet up with mike and we both then go to the duty free shop where i get two 1l bottles of talisker whisky for GBP 27.95 each.
as it’s by now a quarter past one we are hungry and head for the pizzeria and after a 10min wait get seated…not realizing that the pizzas servered here are quite large (i should have remembered that: last time doro and i shared one pizza and that was quite enough) we order a pizza each…after a pint of guiness (me) and of bitter (mike) we stumble over doug and together make our way to the gate.
the flight back is very smooth. in contrast to swiss air who no longer serves refreshments and snacks, british airways has not yet become that cheap: in fact the piece of apple cake we get is quite nice — although the list of ingredients (pictured on the right) seems to be a bit math challenged: if you add that up you get a 104% apple-peach cake…
with a very nice landing (no bouncing around as the swiss pilots seem to be fond of) we arrive on time in zÃ¼rich. as i’m over the duty free limit of 1l whisky, i declare my stuff, pay CHF 22 customs and taxes for the 1l and am still CHF 10.00 per bottle better off than had i bought it at globus in downtown zÃ¼rich…
we start rather early today…in fact, too early for the wykeham arms breakfast times: steve is going to pick us up at 7:45 outside the gate, breakfast is served from 7:30 on: so it’s just a quick tea, a yoghurt, a bite of toast and off we go. the weather has turned bad: it’s now cold-ish and raining. during lunch time it clears up a bit and the sun flashes through the clouds thick with rain still…from the cafeteria at the lab i can see towards the south and a range of wooded hills: just as one imagines a british countryside.
back from an exhausting day of planning and discussing we are picked up by steve again at 19:00 and spent a nice evening at a nearby pub (need to ask steve which one it was)…are back around 21:30 — and tired! outside it is raining and lots of little rain drops are being splattered against the window panes of my room at the top of the wykeham arms. i dig into my feather bed, read a bit in my anne granger watching out mystery
after a couple of good cups of tea at the wykeham arms (and a good night’s sleep) we take a taxi to the lab. the weather is fantastic: clear sky and the sun illuminates rolling fields and woods south of winchester!
i leave the lab in time for a stroll through winchester: looking at dvds at whsmith and hmv (buying a copy of the core and matrix reloaded) while listening in via my p800 to a teleco with one of our customers
dinner one more time at the wykeham arms: chicken pate and dexter beef steak: excellently cooked!
afterwards: watching “the core” on my linux thinkpad (mplayer is just great!) and good night.
groan: getting up early (6:30) is not much fun…we breakfast and make it in time for doro’s train. from the station i take a taxi up to the lab. a huge mail file awaits me (and this was just a two week vacation…) and it takes three attempts to synchronize before i realize that postfix on my office thinkpad has a mail file size limit of about 50MB — not quite up to the task; after hitching that up to 5GB (to be on the safe side) I finally manage to download my mail. sigh.
after lunch my colleague mike and i leave for zurich airport: we are off to the UK again and are not sure whether the train service disruption of the weekend is still causing delays in getting to the airport…we leave early (better safe than sorry). we pass through oerlikon just fine and everything seems to be back to normal again.
at the airport they have changed passenger routing again…we spent some time trying to find our way to the british airways check-in…manage to locate them, get our real tickets, check through customs and security and head for the departure gate. on our way we notice that not only the displays in the check-in area are dead but also the displays at the gates. two of them (side by side) are just booting as we walk by: both are powered by a separate PC running a copy of windows xp…wow…assuming about 1000 displays all over the airport that translates into 1000 windows xp capable PCs each with its own copy of and license for windows xp: that’s easily CHF 1.2M…now, if we had taken linux we could run on cheaper PCs and wouldn’t have had to fork over license fees for windows xp, so we might end up at around CHF 400K instead…but, hey, it’s just our taxes…
19:39 UK: in the car to winchester and to our b & b at the wykeham arms. although we left zurich about 10 minutes late we were 10 minutes early in london heathrow…just to wait for a “certified” guide to lead the aircraft to the dock to show up…then we had to wait for the dispatcher (aka the certified person to operate the finger-dock)…only to disembark the airplane through the rear exit…”welcome to london heathrow”.
the wykeham arms is as welcoming as ever…after unpacking we meet in the pub part, have a beer and sit down for dinner at 21:00…the food is excellent — again (and as others have noted before)! finally to bed.
today’s goal: lunch in meersburg. we get up at 7:30 and do manage to catch the 9:55 train to zurich, where we kill about 10 minutes looking at the swiss heimatwerk shop (very nice watches…hmmm…nice music boxes as well) before boarding the 10:33 to konstanz(ch). the journey to konstanz takes us past winterthur to weinfelden and through thurgau: everything is covered in snow, the trees seem to have little white hats on…winter wonderland.
as in april when i took the same route to go via meersburg to Ã¼berlingen, the train arrives at konstanz (db) instead of konstanz (ch): it stops in the german part of the station and there’s no border control at all…which is a good thing, as i realize that i’ve for once left my passport at home…hmph.
in konstanz we take the local #1 bus to staad and from there the ferry to meersburg…while we are crossing lake constanze the sun fights his way through the clouds and bounces off the water surface in the distance…fantastic!
the meersburg side of lake constanze apparently hasn’t seen any snow at all: fall is still on. we walk from the ferry dock up the mountain side to the main part of the town (pant, pant…quite steep that one) and then make our way to the gutsschenke where we arrive at 12:55 for a leisurely and relaxed lunch, overlooking lake constanze, enjoying a bottle of meersburger weissherbst…
around 15:00 we reluctantly pull ourselves away, acquire two bottles the excellent white wine in the co-located staatsweingut meersburg shop and then tumble down the hill towards the ferry.
this time the cashier on the ferry refuses to honor our sbb/szu ticket…so we pay EUR 3.40 for two single crossing: lesson learned: next time only get a ticket to konstanz (ch) and pay the bus and ferry separately…
today is museum day: after a leisurely breakfast we travel by train to nuremberg to visit the german national museum: quite an impressive building! after buying our tickets for EUR 4.00 pp we descend to the cafÃ© — which actually is located right under the street in front of the museum and links the main museum site with the administrative and work shop part! luckily enough there are lockers where we can drop of our coats and rucksacks.
after a green tea (doro) and an earl grey tea (me: but four tea spoons for a 2.5 cup tea pot is way too much, i ask for and get a second pot of hot water to dilute the brew…very british) we start exploring…soon we find the clothes exhibition with dresses, coats, underwear, shoes and hats from the late 1600s until today. fascinating stuff!
at 16:00 we take part in a one hour guided tour to the highlights of the GNM: veit stoÃŸ, albrecht dÃ¼rer, behaim globe. on our way back to the clothes exhibition we browse through the decorative arts and the healing arts sections.
the last part is the toy and games section across the street in a side building.
back in Erlangen we do a bit of shopping and then go for dinner in the salz & pfeffer restaurant around the corner from our flat: as before, excellent food! this time we sit a the counter (the restaurant is booming and all tables are reserved and taken) and watch the kitchen crew prepare our (and other people’s meals)…
first real vacation day today! in the afternoon we decide to tackle the rain and the cold (summer has taken leave for sure for this year, it’s become rather chilly since the beginning of last week) and walk into town to the new p & e thalia bookshop and a coffee in the “glocken-cafe” afterwards.
at p & e thalia i acquire yet another indian cookbook, look up suriname and paramaribo in one of the maps on display on the second floor while doro browses through calendars and other books. around 17:15 we unfold our king-size umbrella again and step outside, direction “glocken-cafe”…only to find out that it’s closed on mondays. tough luck. but — we retreat to the newly renovated “cafe mengin” and take seats in the winter garden: quite nice.
the goal for our sunday evening walk had been steinbach brÃ¤u …unfortunately, the erlanger beer trail had apparently ended there just recently and the rooms in the basement had been booked for a private event…no beer there
walking back through town we stumbled over “sigwarts kulisse” just across from erlangen’s grandiose theatre: a mixture of pub and restaurant. we both sampled the “dunkles vom fass”: quite nice! food was nice as well (me: lentil soup with wieners, doro: goat cheese pita)
after steam cleaning the living room windows we decided to call it a day (cleaning & renovation wise) and went into town.
first stop: the new release of the p & e thalia bookshop at the hugo: very costly endeavour…