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Australia Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour is a town on the north coast of the Australian state of New South Wales, approximately two thirds of the way from Sydney to Brisbane. Coffs Harbour is largely a family destination, but also attracts some travelers between Sydney and Brisbane. I can tell you that the view in this area is so pretty. Besides that, you also can hang out with your buddies or families to enjoy walking along the harbour and feel the cool breeze. In here also available clubs and pubs with counter meals and entertainment; exotic Asian, Indian, Thai and Chinese and fresh creative cuisine, coffee and cakes from cafes and restaurants. when the sun shines brightly, you can catch amazing scene from the harbour.

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La mejor carretera del mundo

Bueno, tras dar con ella, eso es lo que pensaron los presentadores de Top Gear, un espectacular programa del motor, que se emite por la BBC, cuyo formato, jamás se atreverán a traerlo a España … dado, el “gran” intelecto de directivos y programadores de TV y algunos de los televidentes.

Al grano, estos tres personajes, se propusieron buscar la mejor carretera del mundo … y por razones explicadas en el vídeo que más abajo pongo, eligieron la zona de los Alpes. Sus monturas, tres deportivos aligerados (versiones con menor peso al modelo original) para aprovechar y disfrutar, esa supuesta “mejor carretera”.

Este vídeo es apto para todos los públicos (para quienes no les gusten los coches y para los que sí), la única posible pega es que está subtitulado, pero aun así, merece la pena verlo. Para abrir boca y animar a ver este divertido y emocionante vídeo, pondré algunas imágenes … primero los coches:

Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera


Porsche 911 GT3 RS


Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24


Y ahora, fotos de los enclaves naturales donde, en uno de ellos, podría estar la mejor carretera …

Paso de San Bernardino


Col de Turini


Paso de Stelvio


¿En cuál de estos enclaves, estará la mejor carretera del mundo? La solución, pulsando aquí (subtitulado por javierel22)

Nota: Tras la emisión de este programa, el número de visitantes y turistas se incrementó sensiblemente aun más si cabe, ya que de por sí, esa zona es muy turística. Y no me extraña el que mucha gente se anime a realizar ese viaje … porque lo que se muestra en este vídeo, es verdaderamente espectacular y el que subscribe, también espera formar parte, de esa turba friqui amante del mundo del motor y de las buenas carreteras, lo antes posible … pero eso sí, con un utilitario japonés

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Borobudur Temple is very beautiful in this world

Borobudur is a ninth century monument which is a legacy "Syailendra dynasty" that follow Mahayana Buddhism, is located in magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. This square-shaped monument consists of six platforms topped by three circular platforms, and decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. there is one main dome, which is located in the middle of the top, surrounded by 72 Buddha statues sitting in the hollow Stupa.

Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year in Indonesia celebrates Buddha "Waisak" the monument, and Borobudur in Indonesia is one of the most visited tourist attractionBorobudur Temple is very beautiful and wonderful Indonesia tourism tourism in indomesia BOROBUDUR STUPA
Borobudur Temple is very beautiful and wonderful Indonesia tourism tourism in indomesiaBOROBUDUR STUPA

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World’s Tallest Building - Burj Dubai

Burj Dubai - World Tallest Building

Dubai will have another architectural landmark for the world after its successful Hotel Burj al-Arab, where Andre Agassi and Roger Federer was invited to have a friendly match on the [World's highest tennis court].

Their latest project, World’s Tallest Building - Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower), a 162 floor building has 70 levels lately (05 Sept) with the speed of One level in Three days. It is expect to be completed in 2008.

Burj Dubai - World Tallest Building

Burj Dubai - World Tallest Building

Here are the specifications:

Order year: 2003
Construction start: February 2004
Project type: Mall, residential and retail facilities and world's tallest skyscraper
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Estimated investment: Dh800 million (mall, residential and retail facilities); Dh3.9 billion (tower)
Completion: 2006 (mall); December 2008 (tower)
Retail space: 5 million square ft
Shops: >1,000
Car parking: 16,000 spaces
Key Players: Sponsor EMAAR Properties PJSC
Lead contractors, designers, architects and engineers:
DC Architects PTE Limited, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Bauer Spezialtiefbau, Middle East Foundations, Turner Construction Corporation, Grocon, Lerch, Bates and Associates Incorporated

Image from BBC comparing the other buildings:

BBC Comparison

Here are the progressing pics from the foundation till September 2006:

Burj Dubai - Foundation

Burj Dubai - June 2006

Burj Dubai - 70 Levels

Up to date completion:
Photobucket Dubai - Progress Bar

You can even view the tower from Google Earth:

Burj Dubai - Google Earth

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Dubai Debts Test Islamic Finance

CAIRO - As the world is still recovering from an economic meltdown, an unfolding debt crisis in the flashy lifestyle-Gulf state of Dubai is sending shockwaves around the world, putting the booming Islamic finance to a test.

“A Default by Dubai will put the world of Islamic finance to the test at a time when hard questions are being asked by bankers and lawyers about the protection afforded by financial instruments based on Shari`ah law,” commented The Australian on Saturday, November 28.

Dubai announced Wednesday that its state flagship conglomerate, Dubai World, wanted a six-month standstill on 59 billion dollars in debt.

The move has sent shockwaves across the world economic markets over fears of a debt default.

“The bond that is at the heart of the threat of default and financial ignominy for Dubai is the sukuk,” said The Australian.

There are concerns that Sukuk creditors may not be protected.

UK Islamic Banks Brave Economic Crisis

Islamic Banks Weather Global Crisis

It is not clear how creditors will rank in an insolvency, said Neale Downes, a Bahrain-resident partner at law firm Trowers & Hamlins.

He said investors sometimes have found themselves competing against other creditors rather than being able to enforce their claim on the underlying asset supporting the Sukuk.

Sukuks, which conform to Islam's prohibition of receiving or paying interest, typically work as profit-sharing vehicles.

Companies that issue Islamic bonds make payments to investors using profits from the underlying business, instead of paying interest.

But money can not be invested in alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork.

The Sukuk market has reached $111.9 billion in the eight years to 2008 and a further $69 billion is expected to be issued in 2008/2009, according to the International Islamic Financial Market.

Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry.

Starting almost three decades ago, the Islamic banking industry has made substantial growth and attracted the attention of investors and bankers across the world.

A long list of international institutions, including Citigroup, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, are going into the Islamic banking business.

Currently, there are nearly 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide whose assets are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2013.


Dubai debt problems have triggered fears of a new world economic crisis.

“If you look to government balance sheets around the world you’ll find plenty of potential banana skins,” Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank, told The Times.

“Given the nature of this crisis the probability of further sovereign events remains elevated.”

A financial firestorm swept the US and the world in September 2008, after the demise of Lehman Brothers, one of the Wall Street giants.

It has knocked down many major companies worldwide, causing mounting job losses, falling household wealth and forcing consumers to hold back on spending.

"Dubai is very much a reminder that the lingering effects of the credit bubble are still with us," Barry Knapp, of US equity investments at Barclays Capital, told The Washington Post.

"While there no real direct linkages to U.S. markets and our direct exposure is small, we have plenty of our own bad debts in the US"

Dubai is estimated to have total debts of $88 billion.

Investors have downplayed the gravity of Dubai problems, saying if worst came to worst, the emirate could be bailed out by Abu Dhabi, its oil-rich neighbour.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has already said that it will “pick and choose” how to assist its debt-laden neighbour.

"We will look at Dubai's commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis,” a government official told Reuters by phone.

“It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts."

Abu Dhabi, which pumps 90 percent of the oil that make the UAE the world's third-largest oil exporter, has already provided $15 billion in indirect support for Dubai through the UAE central bank and two private Abu Dhabi banks.

"Some of Dubai's entities are commercial, semi-government ones. Abu Dhabi will pick and choose when and where to assist."

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Fly Emirates!: Three (3) Things About Dubai International Airport 2010

I haven't been this excited about an airplane ride since I was seven

Though I said I wouldn't be posting about layovers, we're going to have to make an exception -- Dubai International Airport was just too juicy. While there is only so much one can say about an airport, Dubai actually does merit some minor discussion. Mostly because DUBAI AIRPORT IS WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WAS. That is, as over-the-top and opulent as you can imagine an airport can be.

Main concourse at the Dubai airport

To shore up my nerd credentials, I'm reminded of the opening lines of The Long, Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams, which go something like this: "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'as pretty as an airport.'" Maybe not, but this a pretty good-looking airport. I had hoped to get out of there and check out the town (take a cab into the city center for lunch or something), but they won't let you leave if your layover is under eight (8) hours, or some similar nonsense. BOOOO. So I was trapped in the concourse and business class lounge. Luckily, it was a lovely concourse and business class lounge (full bar, free high-end buffet, tons of food, comfy chairs, etc).

Three (3) things about the Dubai airport:

More Duty Free

(1) It's sort of like Vegas, only with more duty-free and less oil money: right, so it’s a lovely airport they have there in Dubai. Shiny (REALLY SHINY), new, with all sorts of slick facilities and décor. The duty-free pavilion was, as one might have expected, a caricature of itself. Generally speaking, I’ve always imagined that the duty-free pavilions at major airports exist exclusively for (a) smokers, (b) alcoholics, and (c) oil billionaires whose insecurity demands that they purchase many luxury-branded products at the airport. So you can imagine what things are going to look like at Oil Billionaire Global HQ! My my! It was even crazier than the one at Heathrow (European HQ)! High roller that I am, I picked up a coffee mug (30 Dinars, however in the hell much that is) with “I’m crazy for Dubai!” emblazoned on the side. It was either that or an $8,000 watch.

Fly Emirates!

(2) My most highly anticipated airplane trip since the age of seven: so it probably is mostly about the soccer thing, but I could not have been more excited about my chance to (finally) Fly Emirates (!). First Chelsea, now Arsenal…I’ll admit it, however much Emirates paid for the shirt branding, it worked on me. (I’m also fairly convinced that most of the denizens of F.C. Camena are burning with jealousy right now – so convinced am I of the exotic allure of Emirates Airlines!) Also, I had heard that Emirates was over-the-top with the in-flight service, which made sense, given the general rules in re: airline service (that is, quality of airline service is inversely proportional to a culture’s overall level of gender equality– yes yes, sad but true; Thai Airlines we’re looking in your direction). Right, so correct on all counts. It was a thrill to fly Emirates: the food was outstanding, the service completely obsequious, and they even used real china. Arsene Wenger would have been so pleased!

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Dubai Airport Pictures 2010

There is something terribly wrong with dubai international airport I find myself destined to spend many endless hours in this place. At first i thought it was cool and liked their whole duty free stores but after a 7 hour trip from London to dubai with some guy snoring on your right and another guy that keeps on shoving on your left, compounded by the fact that you got on the airplane at 10:00pm after waking up at 9:00am, and DIA (Dubai International Airport) becomes this vortex for nothingness. The next available flight to Riyadh on emirates is at 6:30pm emirates time and they almost have one flight everyday(they don't have flights everyday) but it just makes no sense to me ?!?!?! Why would Emirates not run 2 flights daily (like they do between Dubai & NewsYork) Dubai is growing based on Saudi investment (recent calculations are at 62Billion Dollars in investments spent from saudis in dubai in 2005 alone) which means that a grat investment oppertonity would be to try and simplify access for saudis. But what you see is that they have the worst Riyadh to Dubai flight schedule of the day (leaves Riyadh 9pm arrives at dubai 11:30pm) forcing people to spend a night in the crappy millennium Airport Hotel (ironically it's 10min from the airport) and you end up with the situation that I am in right now all because I'm on this stupid emirates skywards frequent flyer program.

I admit I'm pissed but man I've been in dubai from 9am until now 6pm (9 hours)and I am so tired. I've been awake now for around 30 hours and I have 2 huge bags so excuse my whinnying, anyway the flight is boarding now so I'm off to KSA, hopefully we will leave on time.

Dubai Airport
Dubai Airport
Dubai Airport
Dubai Airport
Dubai Airport

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dubai hotels underwater

dubai hotels underwater
dubai hotels underwater
dubai hotels underwater
dubai hotels underwater
dubai hotels underwater

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Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort Paris

Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort ParisDisneylandHappy Travel: Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort Paris Paris is a holiday and recreation resort

Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort
Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort
Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort
Happy Travel : Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort

Disneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort in Marne-la-Vallée, a new town in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. The complex is located 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the centre of Paris and lies for the most part on the territory of the commune of Chessy, Seine-et-Marne.
Disneyland Paris comprises two theme parks, a retail, dining and entertainment district, and seven Disney-owned hotels. Operating since April 12, 1992, it was the second Disney resort to open outside the United States (following Tokyo Disney Resort) and the first to be owned and operated by Disney. With 15.3 million visitors in the fiscal year of 2008, it is one of Europe's leading tourist destinations.
Disneyland Paris is owned and operated by French company Euro Disney S.C.A., a public company of which 39.78 percent of its stock is held by The Walt Disney Company, 10 percent by the Saudi Prince Alwaleed and 50.22 percent by other shareholders. The senior leader at the resort is chairman and CEO Philippe Gas.
The complex was a subject of controversy during the periods of negotiation and construction in the late 1980s and early '90s, when a number of prominent French figures voiced their opposition and protests were held by French labour unions and others. A further setback followed the opening of the resort as park attendance, hotel occupancy and revenues fell below projections. Partly as a result of this, the complex was renamed from Euro Disney Resort to Disneyland Paris in 1995. In July of that year, the company saw its first quarterly profit.
A second theme park, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened to the public March 16, 2002.
In August 2008, Disneyland Paris was the most visited attraction in Europe.

Source :

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China The Terracotta Warriors Museum

The Terracotta Warriors are the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Shi Huang Di the First Emperor of China. Of note is that fact that the terracotta soldiers are life sized and that no two are alike. Most researchers believe that each statue is based on an actual soldier of that time. The terracotta figures are life-like and life-sized. The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant sensational archeological discovery ever. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China. It has put Xian on the map for tourists. You can check out the opening hours: 08:00 to 18:00.At the entrance of the museum, you will face a huge modern structure right ahead. It is the Pit No. 1; it is the largest of the three pits .There are more than 6,000 terracotta warriors and horses in Pit No. 1, marshaled into battle line formation. Pit No. 2, was found in 1976 contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. Pit No. 3 also was found later with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses, and now has become multiple service halls where the visitors can have meal, do shopping and take a rest.

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Hong Kong Disneyland

Whether you are old, young or kids but love Disney a lot, Hong Kong Disneyland is the right place for you if you have a travel to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Disneyland is the first theme park inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and is owned and managed by the Walt Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong. The park opened to visitors in 2005. The park consists of four themed lands similar to other Disneyland parks: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventure land and Tomorrow land. The capacity of the park is approximate 30000 visitors per day. The new classic Disney attraction, "it's a small world", opened in this 2008. I like the Sleeping Beauty Castle very very much. It’s so real like in the fairytale. What're you waiting for...? Let's Have a good time together with your family here...

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Venice, Italy - Romance Or Ruin

Venice, Italy - Romance Or Ruin. Travel Europe - European Travel Destinations - Europe Vacation Ideas.This was my first time across the pond, so to speak. When taking the train into Italy from Munich, Germany, I noticed how the landscape had changed, from urban sprawl, to towering jagged mountains, to soft rolling hillsides. In Italy, the land seemed lush, and the buildings were...well....lets just say...well loved. Well loved is a maternal term. Mothers use it to describe their children's preferred toy, favorite pair of jeans, beloved blanket, etc. The child's favorite item was once a picture of perfection, beautiful and clean, and now, it looks like something you would fetch out of the garbage. But in your child's eye it's as beautiful as the day they received it. That sums Venice up for me.

When walking through the modern train station and down the sprawling steps to the vaporetto (water taxi) I was very tired and hungry. Then boarding the boat, I noticed how packed it was. So many travelers, business people, families, all crammed on to a wet, smelly boat. The stench of fish encompassed the boat. That pretty much stifled any appetite I had brewing. The murky water was nasty looking and the weather was rainy. Not what I had in mind for the most romantic city in the world. As we floated down the Grand Canal, I noticed that the buildings looked, for lack of a better term and using my 6 year-old daughters terminology, gross. Yes, gross. They appeared to be in a severe state of decay. The mortar is falling out from between the bricks. The plaster is crumbling and exposing the bricks underneath. The paint is peeling. My first impression was the city looks like a sea-side slum. I was in a state of complete and utter shock. I couldn't believe for a moment that this sight I was taking in was supposed to be romantic? Are you kidding me? I've seen neighborhoods in Gary, Indiana that looked more romantic than this place. Much less, I'm on a stinky, smelly boat, packed in with 100 other people who look so depressed that at any moment they may decide to take matters into their own hands and jump overboard. I felt I was drifting along on a pointless journey in a glorified slum.

When we reached our stop, I trudged off the boat and began walking through an endless maze of sidewalks, alleyways and narrow corridors. Oddly, my mood was lightening with every step. As evening arrived, I was completely in love, with Venice, of course. My husband, his sister, her husband and I took an evening stroll through the streets of Venice on our way to dinner. This special city had definitely grown on me by this time of the day. My spirits were lifted, and my mood was perky. The weather had shaped up as well. It had stopped raining, although the streets were still wet. I can't help but call the sidewalks, streets and vice versa. For the record, there are no cars, bicycles or scooters in Venice. There are only two modes of transportation: feet and boat. That's it. Because of this the city is so quiet. You can hear someone cough several blocks away. Venice is built on an archipelago, a chain of 118 islands, formed by approximately 150 canals in a shallow lagoon. The walk ways (a.k.a. sidewalks and/or streets, whatever you choose to call them) are built above the water, all the while they're seamlessly attached to the buildings that they travel to. By walking the streets, you would never know that you were only feet, sometimes inches above the water. You can't see it, you can't hear it. The only time you see the water is when crossing a bridge or when you're on the bank of a canal, unless, of coarse it's high water season, which is when we visited.

In the fall, the water levels of Venetian Lagoon rise, flooding most of the outlying streets. The city provides risers on which to walk to avoid the water. Many tourists, however, enjoy rolling up their pant legs and walking through the water anyway. There is a much debated topic in Venice as to whether the city is sinking or the waters of the lagoon are rising, perhaps a bit of both. Although seeing old staircases under water on the Grand Canal suggest the city is sinking.

As my first day was drawing to a close, my scowl was a smile. My looming grey cloud of grouchiness was pleasantness. I even spoke a bit of Italian to a Venetian. I held my head high, straightened my back and smiled as I asked him, "Dove il bagno?" I felt so impressed with myself. I have spoken Italian to an actual Italian. How sophisticated am I? That was until he answered me in a seemingly endless stream of words that to this day I can not decipher. But for a moment I felt Venetian! Then as I walked a few yards down, I asked another man the same question. This time my back was not so straight and my head not so high, but I managed to utter "Dove il bagno?" He kindly answered in English, pointing and saying that there was a bathroom on the next street over.

The previously decided "severe state of decay" has rapidly become in my mind a vision of beauty, almost too beautiful for words. I can't describe the feeling I had when I was walking around the city. I began to realize that Venice had to literally fight for all that it is today. Due to its geographical location, on the rim of the Adriatic Sea, Venice was invaded numerous times over hundreds of years. And she has remained in tact. Sure a few walls have paint peeling and a little mortar missing, but she is still here as one. It's almost as if the deteriorating walls say to all who see them, "You may try to invade me, take my riches, and capture my people, but I will still stand."

The endless shops in Venice are such a treat. Every popular fashion designer has a modern, sleek store, which is in contrast to the ancient facade of Venice. The city is known for handmade Venetian masks, as well as so many other trades like glass making, handmade lace and hand crafted paper. Venice is famous for so many things; the gondolas, St. Marks Basilica, Venetian Film Festival, The Venice Art Biennale, simple yet elegant foods, and yes, romance. But, I believe the most treasured aspect of Venice is the architecture. At first it was the architecture that put me off, but in the end it is what draws me back and tugs at my heartstrings. Venice may be sinking, crumbling, peeling and falling to the lagoon, but the rustic, romantic nature of the city will take your breath away.

By: Kris Shebel
Christina "Kris" Shebel has been writing short stories and poetry since childhood, most recently for a private school as their Public Relations Liaison. Writing is a creative outlet for Kris to share her snappy, chatty writing style and quirky sense of humor with others. She lives in rural Michigan City, Indiana with her husband and their daughter and enjoys spending time with her family and two dogs and two cats.

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German buildings pics 2010

German buildings
German buildings
German buildings
German buildings
German buildings

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European cities that has a skyline

We got into Frankfurt after dark and headed straight for dinner at a very Thai restaurant (they had the whole place decorated as if you were in Thai jungle hut). The food was good though - I haven't seen any Thai restaurants in Budapest and this was perfect to satisfy my monthly craving for pad see iew.

We began exploring Frankfurt that night by walking to the Main River, which is only a five minute walk from Alexander and Claudia's apartment. There are several pedestrian bridges that cross the river, all of which are lit up in the evening. The downtown financial district is close to the Main River, so you can see all of the lights from the tall office buildings as well.


Frankfurt is one of the few European cities that has a skyline that includes skyscrapers. I thought it was standard for big cities to have a cluster of skyscrapers, but it's actually more American than European. Many European cities have a height limit imposed on buildings, where no building can be taller than a certain church or monument. It was only after looking up at the Frankfurt skyline from the river that I realized I hadn't seen many skyscrapers since being in Europe. Alexander further informed me that the tallest building in Europe is in downtown Frankfurt.

The next morning Claudia and Alexander had grocery shopping to do so we took off on our own across the river to the Rathaus. The Rathaus is set on a square lined with other uber-German buildings, perfect for tourists like me to snap pictures of.


The square was full of people due to union demonstrations that were to take place that day. Just as we were leaving, the parade of union demonstrators began emptying into the square, still chanting, beating drums and waving flags. Police were on hand for the event, but they didn’t appear too concerned, and the locals lounging outside the Starbucks looked on lazily while they sipped their coffees and puffed on cigs.

Democracy in action.
The polizei are way too cool in sexy leather jumpsuits.

We watched awhile before venturing into the shopping area, which had several malls and gallerias. We didn’t really want to do any shopping, but were more interested in getting to the top of the biggest galleria to look down at the city (in a literal, not snooty sense). We were successful.


We made our way back through the crowds of demonstrators to Alexander and Claudia’s apartment, where lunch was being prepared for us. I had noticed fried brie on the menu at Oma’s Apotheke in Hamburg and had been tempted to order it, but hadn’t after Claudia said, “It’s so easy to make at home.” So fried brie was what we were going to have for lunch. It’s made by coating a wedge of brie with egg and breadcrumbs and then pan-frying it. The finished product is served with fruit preserves and toast. Of course, it tasted amazing, although I think if I ate like this all the time, I would be the size of a small car.

Alexander and Claudia's Apartment.

All four of us were going to go to the Frankfurt v. Nurnberg soccer game after lunch, but discovered that the game was actually on Sunday. Alexander suggested that we “go find a castle” instead. How cool is that? You certainly can’t go spontaneously looking for castles in the States. We drove to the Rhine River Valley, which is the wine region only about an hour drive away from Frankfurt.

On the way out of the city, we encountered another protest – this time college students protesting the new German policy of requiring payment of college tuition. College has traditionally been free for German students, but the country can’t afford such a policy anymore and is requiring payment of a low tuition fee. I can see how that could suck if you weren’t expecting to pay anything, but what they’re being expected to pay is less than what you would pay at your average American community college. I suppose it’s all relative.

"No way, we won't pay!" (I'm guessing. You know I don't speak German!)

Our first stop in the Rhine River Valley was the Eberbach Monastery, where monks produced wine for hundreds of years. There are no longer monks living at the monastery, but the wine-making tradition continues. The historical buildings were undergoing some renovation, but it was a nice place to visit. Alexander and Claudia also bought us a bottle of wine from the monastery for us to enjoy later. Yum!

Eberbach Monastery
Greenery around the monastery - I love fall!

Rudesheim was next on our Rhine River Valley tour. Rudesheim is a little town on the Rhine River that is rather overrun with tourists, but still quite cute with its very German looking buildings and the vineyards and castles surrounding it.

The busy alleys of Rudesheim.
Rudesheim, sans tourist hordes.
The local castle.

We took a ferry across the Rhine and drove alongside it on our way to the castle where we intended to eat dinner – the Schoenberg Castle in Oberwesel. There seemed to be castles positioned at every bend in the Rhine, now surrounded by forests and vineyards. We arrived at the Schoenberg Castle just before dark.

The view of the Rhine from the Schoenberg Castle.
Schoenburg Castle
The Schoenberg Castle (I borrowed this from their website, as ours didn't turn out - too dark.)

The castle was very nicely decorated inside and was actually cozy and warm. There were lots of little doorways and passages, and dinner itself was quite good.

Claudia sittin' pretty in the castle.
Pat relaxes in his castle home.
Val is a dork. Alexander knows this to be true.

Back in Frankfurt that night, we met up with friends of Alexander and Claudia's for drinks first at the apartment and then at a wine bar. We definitely had our fare share of wine today. Pat also discovered his appreciation for pernod, a French spirit made from anise. Claudia is a big fan of pernod and had some on hand for us to try (Claudia and Alexander totally spoiled us on this trip).

The next morning we explored Frankfurt a bit on our own. Everything seemed to be closed because it was Sunday, but it was nice to be outside in the mild weather and enjoy the changing colors. Frankfurt also has a few cool sites to visit, so we made the rounds.

An artistic entry to the Frankfurt subway.
The Old Opera House.

The soccer game between Frankfurt and Nurnberg was one of the highlights of our trip. Decked out like true Frankfurt fans (wearing jerseys courtesy of Alexander), we all piled into the stadium-bound bus with crowds of other fans. The stadium was huge and very well-designed; we were sitting in the last row but still had a great view of the entire field. Through the glass wall right behind our seats, we could see the Frankfurt skyline. The stadium was packed with fans (I think it was sold out) and everyone was up and cheering or singing the entire time. It wasn’t a great game (the play was a bit sloppy), but the whole game was high energy and a lot of fun. Last but not least, the stadium food was great and not overpriced; Pat and I both had beers and bratwursts.


Our trip to Hamburg and Frankfurt seemed to come to an end so quickly; early the next morning we were on a train bound for Budapest. Despite our protests, Alexander and Claudia woke up early and drove us to the train station; Alexander sent us home with the Frankfurt jerseys we had worn to the game. We had a great time in Germany, in large part due to the endless hospitality and great company provided by Claudia and Alexander. I’m hoping they come visit us in Budapest or in San Francisco so we can return the favor.

Frankfurt central train station.

The 10-hour train ride back sucked because we studied for our Comparative Freedom of Speech final the entire way (except for an hour when our train caught on fire – we were a bit too distracted until the fire was out and we were safely on our way again). However, studying on a train is much nicer than studying in a library – at least you get to enjoy the passing scenery every time you lift your eyes from the book. In addition, we spent only 10-hours of finals week actually studying, the rest of the time we were gallivanting around Germany. Study abroad rocks!


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