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This weblog is my online journal. I set it up specifically to document my big European vacation where I will do nearly nothing except beg curators to show me stuff. I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Post trip clean up
This is the first weekend back. Almost right away after returning I decided that I needed to move furniture. I like moving furniture - but I couldn't find my special wrench and then I did - aand so I moved the beds but didn't get to the rest of it. Anyway - yesterday I rearranged the rest of the furniture and the closets and now I have everything where I want it to be. I have a workspace setup now so that I can actually work on flowers. I even got to try out the new Optivision goggles and I just know it's going to cut down on eye strain but will probably cause me to get manicures because my nails look like crap at 7times magnification.
I still have to organize some pictures and send off some emails to get some more info. I also need to get a real computer - and get that all setup so I can scan and print but I'm not sure yet where I want to set that up. I want it to be somewhere confortable but not the livingroom or the bedroom. I'll have to think on it and then I might have to just get a laptop and a wireless printer.
12:19 pm est

Monday, September 13, 2010

And then there was lunch...
I think I left off at lunch,
Switzerland is a strange country where they cling to the Franc so all of everything is listed in Francs and they will take Euros but nothing is listed in Euros. So we went to McDonald's and got lunch and it cost us 25 Euros - they would only take the bills, not the coins. Very strange. And that equates to about thirty dollars - for two lunches at McDonalds! Unreal.
After that we went off to find the gate but there was no way in because it was pretty late at night and they don't fly at night there because of noise or some such thing. We settled in on the couches by the Starbucks but after getting all tucked in two men settled in (taking cushions and laying them out on the floor) and refused to shut up. I even asked them to shut up - no deal. I guess they left after 1am - I was asleep at that point. Mom didn't get any sleep. We made it to our 7 am flight without any problems and flew off to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam airport doesn't seem as big as the airport in Zurich. And our flight there was delayed a bit. Mom took all the Euro coins to the airport store and bought a bunch of candy bars and an orange. And then they took her sissors away from her at security.
I watched two movies on the plane and we arrived on time. Customs took mom's orange away and my sister picked us up at the airport and fed us lunch.
It was a great trip!
Tomorrow I'll cover some more.
9:18 pm est

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trains Planes and Autos
I tried to update the other day - it all got lost so here it goes again...
We got up, had breakfast, did the final packing and saying goodbyes and got a ride to the train station. We left with a good hour to spare because we still had to buy a ticket from Basel to Zurich. We got to the counter and the agent points out that the train we are taking only runs on Sunday and it is not Sunday. Oops. The train we need to be on leaves a half hour earlier - we are good to go. We got on our train. Waited an hour and got on our next train. But our next train went to Zurich central and not the airport. Oops.
We arrive in Zurich and the train station is HUGE. It's a city unto itself. I think it's bigger than the Grand Bazaar. We find the ticket agent, we find the train and we go to the airport. HUGE - clearly Zurich is composed of an airport and a train station and little else. Inside the airport we find the check-in counter probably minutes before it closed for the night - good thing too because I didn't want to haul them around all night.
Then we went to McDonalds for lunch.
11:40 am est

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Last day of adventures

Koblenz 6-9-10

We got up and walked to Christine's (mom's frined) which is two blocks from where we are staying. We had a lovely breakfast there and then the three of us wanked down to the bus stop where we met Bridget (the woman who's flat we are renting) and took the bus to the city.
Bridget is preparring to take the tourguide test this November so she practiced on us. She did an awesome job even though I was giving her a hard time because I want to know the dates of things. We got to see pretty much everything that was left to see (as 85% of the city was distroyed in WW2). My favorite was the fountian that Napolean built to celebrate his victory over the Russians that the Russians later wrote "seen and approved" on. I also climbed to the top of the Kaiser Wilhelm statue of German Unity.
We returned to the flat at about 4 and rested for a bit before returning to Christine's for supper at 6. We were there, laughing and drinking and telling stories, until 10 when wwe returned to get some sleep.

Today will be all travel to get back to Zurich and then fly out tomorrow. It has been a great vacation.
Except my suitcase died and I need to take it back to the store and yell at them for the shotty construction.

1:48 am est

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Koblenz 5-9-10
We got up and had a very lovely breakfast before checking out and heading the one block to the train station. The second train had to detour and skip the stop to the Frankfurt airport because of an accident. It had nothing to do with mom - she's been very well behaved since the church incident. We got into Koblenz just about five minutes late. Mom's friend picked us up at the train station and now she and mom are deep into stamping land so they set me up on the computer so I could stay out of their hair. It must be working because I have no clue what they are up to. We will get a tour of the city tomorrow.
I spent a little time updating the website but I'm not on my computer so I don't have the ability to add pictures. Our apartment (flat) in the city here is very nice and sizable. I will enjoy our time here. Mom is having a great time now that she is with her friend.
10:36 am est

Saturday, September 4, 2010

And here be today


So  this morning we got up and had a huge spread of stuff to choose from for breakfast. Huge.  We ate, we checked out of the hotel and I got to check my email but that was the extent of it – no emergencies. We walked the ten blocks to the train station and got on the first of our three trains for today. On the second train we were there for three hours and I swear mom was going to adopt Naomi – our seatmate for the trip. She and Elizabeth (another seatmate) took quite an interest in what I was doing so I showed them the work box and the binder of doom. They now both have my website address.  I couldn’t believe how excited they were for me – and neither spoke much English and we don’t speak German so I kind of needed the props to explain what I was doing in Europe.  

So we arrived in Bamburg at 3:20pm and got directions right away to Koblintz. We kind of determined that Information was to far away so went over to the taxi stand and found a very nice driver who pointed us in the direction of the hotels and I figured that we get a hotel and have her take us to the cathredral right away and we’d be good. Got the last room in the entire town it sounds like because everyplace is pretty booked up. First in Xanten and then here. Oh well – we got the last room in this hotel  and it was the 5th one we tried! Anyway – made it to the Cathredral at quarter to four and then asked exactly where the crown is (I have a big picture of it) and what time they closed. Upstairs and 5pm.  We’re all good then. And they had other reliquaries there – too late for me but I took pictures anyway to see the progression of the artform. And in case you are wondering – it’s much the same as being able to tell how old a Cathredral is by looking at the decoration – Gothic, Ren, Rococo – you might miss some of them but over all you can get the right century down.  I can tell most paintings by style of dress, most books by style of calligraphy. I don’t do so well with sculpture, wood carvings, or furniture (except Jacobean – I loved that era) but I can now date the flowers and I have a feel for different regional styles. It’s kind of creepy that I can look at the pictures (like flashcards on my desktop – in random order) and tell which shrine it came off of.

So we found the crown – took some pictures – it’s got a very worn out appearance to it. Saw the whole of the museum quickly, went next door and saw the Cathredral and then walked back to the hotel. Stopped at St. Michaels on the way and I found reliquaries there too but I couldn’t get close enough to them to see if there were flowers on them too.  Then we went searching for dinner (found pizza) and are now comfortably in the room.

During dinner mom asked if I was going to put bones in my reliquary – the answer is yes and no – we had a big discussion about it and she knows how I feel. I’m going to leave it at that – if you know me real well you know the answer.

1:37 pm est

Here is my post from last night

Xanten and Kalkar 9-3-10

Got up this morning and mom was in a hurry to get out of Rheine – she’s all “lets get up early” and I keep trying to explain to her that I don’t get up early for anything and I’m on vacation so I’m not rushing around and stop rushing me.  And besides if we go too early then she’ll miss breakfast and she loves breakfast. As it was we got to the train station with plenty of time to spare so I asked the train office about the direct train to whereever it was we changed trains rather than having to also change in Munster. We got a reservation for that one and then as we were waiting for it a train full of cars went past and I had no idea that autos rode trains so I took a picture – it was a very very long train. I was eyeing up the new Cross Polo – it is a cute little car and it comes in aqua!

We made it into Xanten at about 2pm and found a hotel and the Information station and then headed over to the museum by the church. We asked for Dr. Grote whom we were told worked there but he is only in on Tuesdays so I got his cardso I could email him. We showed the binder of the flowers and they told us that it was at the church so we went next door to the church. We asked at the church and they were no help either – even after we found a couple who spoke English and had them translate for us. I then found a little one in the base of an altar and so started taking pictures. There were only three silk and two beaded flowers and the whole of it was 12 by 7 inches but I took a good twenty pictures when this workman walks by and laughs at me.  We talk briefly he leaves and when he comes back I’m still taking pictures. Then we get to chatting and he takes me over to the museum to see the real relics.

Here’s the thing – decissions by committee don’t work. There are three women sitting at the museum desk and they can’t decide if I should be allowed to go see the relics if I’m not going to pay the museum fee! The workman is actually the secretary at the Cathedral – he has the key and he and one of the desk ladies took me up to the back room – through 8 locked doors (I left mom in the lobby so I wouldn’t have to worry about her) to the bones of the musuem to see the bones. I took some pictures  and thanked them – I’m thinking the flowers might have been buried in the section of the church that was being worked on but I’m sure if I contact the curator I should be able to get pictures from him as I now have a contact to go to.

Still having plenty of time left in the day mom convinced me to try going out to Kalkar right away so we did. Wefound the bus – the bus driver told us where to get off and it was two blocks walk to the Cathredral. We got in and I fould what I was looking for right away. I started snapping pictures and then the tour guide from hell shows up and starts yelling (in polite tones) at us for being up on the altar. Mind you – she didn’t catch me up on the altar like I was at the other church (don’t tell anyone about that) but I was just standing there taking pictures. She was all “you can’t be there, you need permissions, the alarms…” Bottom line was she had an audience (her tour was waiting for her) and she was putting on a show.  I think she embarrassed the rest of the people working there. I waited until the tour was at the other end of the church and went back to taking pictures.  I took 180 pictures today 130 at Kalkar. So it would appear that I can’t be intimadated. Had she been logical I might have listened. I don’t follow rude.

So far I have taken 1033 pictures and the vast majority (950?) are details of shrines. I never enjoyed looking at vacation photos and hearing about the vast relatives of the friends I have. I will never subject anyone to the vast quantity of pictures I took unless they ask J because noone could be as interested in this stuff as to stay awake trough that many pictures. But I think I have all the details I need to get making garden number 2 from the Hypernomicominon – and I know that’s not the spelling but that’s what I call it. Garden one was glass, garden two was silk, garden three was gemstones. I think there was a fouth too but I don’t remember what it was made of (or I don’t remember if it was told what it was made of).  It’s forming up real nice in my head at this point.

So – because we snuck both things in today we have tomorrow free and there is some triatholon in town this weekend so we couldn’t get a hotel room for tomorrow night anyway so WE ARE GOING TO BAMBURG! And for that I am very excited. Mom gets the last few days to spend with her friend in Koblintz and then we have to get to Zurich for the flight back so I really only have one last day to find shrines. I did hit most of them though and I’m pretty excited about that.

12:49 pm est

Darn it
I wrote a whole post last night and I can't find an outlet for the zip drive!
Guess you will have to wait....
1:49 am est

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I just love it here

Rheine 9/2/10

OMG – We had another great day!!!

So we got into Rheine last night (yesterday afternoon) and got ourselves situated with a train schedule to Xanten and we had gotten directions to the Kloister and did a little walk about to see what the town has to offer.  We had supper at the most amazing restaurant where we sampled the local cuisine. We are in Westphalia and if I had to claim a region of Germany as my own then this would be the one I’d choose. There is very little tourism here and the prices are reasonable to us and very few people speak English here but they all make the effort to make us feel welcome. It is a very nice place to be.

Today we got up and had breakfast. Breakfast had a lot more local flavor than the ones previous and I had a sandwich of prachudio with peppered Swiss cheese and those little tomatoes with cheese and oil. Tea of course and frosted mini-wheats rounded out the meal.

We set out for the Convent and mom decided we just must take the bus which was good because even after the bus ride we had to walk about a mile. It was a pleasant walk through the woods and then we arrived at the Convent Bentlage. We went in and asked the man at the desk to see the reliquary shrines and he said that yes they were there in the museum and pointed us in the right direction. Down the hall we got to another desk where we each paid 8 euros to enter and see the museum. Booklovers please note that they have a very fine collection of medieval texts on display. Anyway,  we walked in and looked in a few rooms and then about the fourth one – there it was – I should say there they were – two very large and very fine shrines. Very wonderful! Very large. Very very everything I came to Europe to see for myself.

I whipped out the binder and mom got out the tape measure and I grabbed the camera and I started taking pictures and mom started measuring things for me. Then a woman comes in and sets a flashlight down between the shrines and leaves. I played with the flashlight too – I think I figured out that it wasn’t for me (she spoke no English) but it was there so I used it. She came back about 15 minutes later with a tour group of about 15 people and gave them a very long explanation in German of the shrines and I caught bits and pieces but she used her flashlight as a pointer (yes – of course I had left it where I found it J) and took it with her when she left. After she left I took a few more pictures until mom came and told me (yes – she still wanders off but she keeps checking doorways for lockable doors) I wasn’t to take pictures.  She then went off to the bathroom and I went back to taking notes and comparing things.

And then she returns with the curator! She went to the bathroom, met the curator, asked if she was the curator and then said her daughter was studying these reliquaries and she was sure I had questions and so the curator and her assistant finished their inventory and came to the room with the shrines to answer my questions. She said she could talk about them all day and I said I could listen all day so she answered some of my questions right then and there and then we went down the hall to the cafeteria where we had beverages and she answered more questions.  She was surprised that I knew of the Convent because they had not been around that long (she got there when they started the work restoring the shrines in 96) and they have only been open for a few (7?) years.  But I knew of all the shrines and she added to my knowledge of some of them. She too is upset with Koln for being closed for renovations and she was surprised that I had not been to Ebstorf or Walsrode but there just is so little time left.

Dr. Mechthild Beilmann is a most awesome curator! She showed me the whole book on the restoration of the shrines and another on an exhibit they did at the convent to introduce the shrines. Beautiful books with lots of juicy good pictures (in German of course) that she gifted to me!!!!  And I was given postcard close-ups of the shrines and wonderful information on the other shrines. It’s like heaven.  I had some of my questions answered, everything she said jived with what I knew, we were conversing on my favorite geeky topic. I envy the people who got to spend two years restoring the shrines.  It was blessed goodness oh yet again and still.

We, mom and I, finished seeing the museum and then walked back to the bus stop in a light rain. My binder fits in my purse along with my new books and I think that’s why I bought this purse in the first place – it doesn’t look that huge. We just caught the bus (a bit of running was involved) and made it back to town. Stopped at the train depot and got the schedule to Xanten for tomorrow morning. Did some shopping where I got the most excellent coat – I know I’m obsessed with coats but mom encouraged it and it’s “all the rage in Italy” so the guy said. I had looked at it last night and just came back for it. We found a Woolworth store! We had supper at the same place as last night but I had two glasses of wine (I’m getting luscious?) and the waitress was the same one as last night and was just as nice and brought us dessert after some more lovely meals. And then we came back to the lovely room (and it really is) at the Freye hotel.

It was a most excellent day. Again. I just wish I had another 6 weeks of vacation so I could get more done! I'll make due though :)

2:03 pm est

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I have yet to download the pictures from yesterday after all the excitement and not getting to bed until after I told everyone about mom and the church and had two whole glasses of wine. It had been a long day.
Did you know that if you get a crappy hotel room they generally cost less and encourage you to spend more time out-and-about? It is a little known fact that can save you money and encourage you to see more of the sights at the same time. I recommend switching between hotel star zones - when I travel alone I've been known to spend every other night in the car - same principal.
Today we got up early - threw on the same clothes as yesterday and had breakfast (mom has this thing for breakfast and we're only eatting two meals a day with no snacking at all really and I think I lost my ten pounds but I feel better - more energy.) Then we headed out for a trip to get some local cash - back to the same place as the other day - but they weren't open yet so we went around the corner to Swiss Axe (love love love their jeweler supply stuff) and got myself a 7X scope headgear thing. I can't wait to try it out - I think it might be helpful if I ever need to go lock picking.
Anyway - - we rode three trains today. We got to Rheine on time, found a good hotel - grreat hotel actually. Found the Information and they didn't nickel and dime us. The prices are reasonable. The food is super super wow good. Really it was better than that but I have a limited vocabulary tonight. I really need a shower and some pillow time.
12:56 pm est

2010.09.19 | 2010.09.12 | 2010.09.05 | 2010.08.29 | 2010.08.22 | 2010.08.15 | 2010.08.08

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This is a picture of the Bamburg Reliquary Crown. It's in a bit of bad shape. It was also in a coffin for a lot of years so I guess that would be expected.

Pictures of Herentels

Pictures of Geel

Pictures of Xanten

Pictures of Kalkar

Pictures of Bead Flowers

Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there!

Treking thru the wilds of Europe in search of shrines.