Sunday, September 14, 2014

Munich

We trained it back from Tegernsee to Munich. Unfortunately the weather followed us so we decided to do some inside exploring by going to museums. The first museum we visited is called Residenz or Royal Palace. It began construction in 1363 and it was added to after various fires. In 1944 it sustained major damage from Allied bombs. The reconstruction has taken decades, but it is now open to the public. The austere external facade belies the opulent treasures that lie within.




Each room seemed to be more breath taking than the next. We did not see what the Residenz looked like after the bombs, but I can only imagine. It is astonishing that they were able to restore in such a manner.

There was interesting shopping in Munich as well.  No, I did not buy a dirndl, although these are quite lovely.

They really do wear these. Munich is called by some the city of lap tops and lederhosen (knee length men's breeches made of leather.) Not as many stores for those as there were for the dirndle's.

The rain continued and so we went to the BMW museum.

The architecture of the building brought to mind speed, elegance and design.

Oh, and did I mention power?

The displays inside were artfully done.  Hard to capture it in photos. I did fall in love with this little car from the 50"s. I never remember seeing it before.  Apparently it was quite popular at the time.

It was really just a motorcycle with metal around it, but so cute.
Such a clever way to get in and out.

I wonder how much they paid him to do this ad?


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bavaria

I guess this is my season to visit the Germanic side of life. After we left Amsterdam, we flew into Munich and then took a train down to the lake area of Tegernsee.




We stayed at a luxious spa resort with a commnding view of the lake.


Unfortunately our weather was not the best. Luckily the hotel had an indoor heated, mineral pool that was divine for relaxation and a little exercise. The food at this hotel was fantastic, and if ever you are in the area, I highly recommend it.
Das Tegernsee

The area reminds me a bit of the Italian lakes, particularly Lugano.  There are boats that ferry passangers across the lake and to all of the charming towns that cling to the edges of the lake.


The archictecture was "Heidi" like; balconies, flowers in the windows.



Even though the weather was cool, cloudy and often rainy, we tried to eat out on the terraces whenever possible.  We noticed the sheepskin blankets carefully placed to make sure the patrons did not freeze their butts off.


Of course there were lovely desserts and pretzels wherever we went.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Amsterdam




We met our good friend Marjorie in Amsterdam this last week. Here she is on the phone trying to figure out where her luggage is and WHEN it will be delivered. She was on hold for a long time!

n order to get to Amsterdam, we drove from Umbertide to Florence and then flew from there to the airport in Amsterdam. A few words about the Florence airport. They have totally remodeled it since we flew out of there several years ago. It is modern, with many "Italian" brand stores for no tax shopping. There are places to walk, sit and eat. Imagine! Long term parking was easy. The problem is the number of flights that come in and go out. Even though it is 2 hours closer to Umbertide, we decided it would probably still be easier for us to fly in and out of Rome given the schedules.

This was our first trip to Amsterdam and we loved it. It is a young, free spirited city. Walking is great, the museums and sights are diverse and easy to reach. It is a sexy, cool, city. We will definitely return.

A bit of background about Amsterdam. First of all it is the capital of the kingdom of the Netherlands, although the "seat of government" is The Hague.  In the lobby of our hotel, they had a formal photo of King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima. (BTW if you are wondering about Holland or the Netherlands,it used to be the Kingdom of Holland but it is now officially called the Netherlands.) Am not sure what the King and Queen do other than get photographed, but it seems they have mainly stayed out of media scandals not a small accomplishment in this day and age.


Amsterdam has more than 60 miles of canals.  It is often called the "Venice of the North." There are 3 main canals, with the city center having horse shoe shape. We took a "canal" tour which was  peaceful and serene.



This is a view of 9 bridges down the canal. (Hard to count the 9, but that's what they said.) Amsterdam has 1200 bridges.


The architecture is brick, solid facades, narrow, straight up.

Something about it reminded me of fall days in Boston, although Amsterdam is its very own special place.

We went to the Rijksmuseum. The building itself is an interesting combination of Gothic and Renaisance styles. It was unpopular when it opened in 1885 as it was deemed not "Dutch" enough. It is a fatastic space for paintings.


This is a photo of Rembrandt's "Night Watch". It is his largest and most famous painting. Rembrandt was the first one to paint people actually doing something. He used light to accentuate details that he wanted raised to the forefront. It is hard to get a sense of how large this canvas is from the photo but you can see there are about 10 of standing across it.

We took a bus to a seaside village of Volendam and then on to see the windmills. Both stops were pretty much tourist traps.


Dutch cheese is good, very different in texture and taste from our Umbrian sheep cheese.

I loved the name of this boat.

There were food trucks with freshly made waffles with whipped cream and fruit. Marjorie tried to tempt me but I resisted.