Saturday, 9 June 2012

First Leg

So we left Ottawa with a delay of about one hour due to intense thunder storm activity in both Toronto and Ottawa. From the lounge which is on the top floor of the airport we could see the storm coming.
 my trusted Samsonite Oyster, bought it in 1982 and has traveled around the world with me ever since.

The flight was quiet and we arrived in Frankfurt in the mid-morning. Frankfurt is a giant airport and is connected to a large train station through which come all kinds of international ICE trains. So once we collected our luggage and went through Immigration formalities we simply walked the short distance to the train station and boarded our train to Amsterdam. First stop is Cologne and then Dusseldorf before entering the Netherlands and proceeding to Amsterdam, a 3 hour trip through lovely countryside.

The crew on the Deutsche Bahn high speed train were very nice and even jolly, all announcements are in German and English.
DB High speed inter-city express ICE

I have never visited Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf or Amsterdam. I know the airports or train stations because you transit through them but never entered the cities proper. I think that in the future we should do a Rhine river cruise. We did a Danube river cruise some 11 years ago from Budapest to Nuremberg and that was wonderful.

The distance between Cologne and Dusseldorf is relatively short about 20 minutes on the high speed train. Our next stop is Duisburg. The rail system in Germany like many European countries is very well developed and is very clean, safe, convenient and well organized. You can in a matter of a few minutes or a few hours travel to many points within one country or Europe.

I also like the layout of towns and the size of buildings, apartment buildings are usually 6 to 7 floors high and come with green areas, common gardens and shopping of all kinds within walking distance.
Daily shopping is a pedestrian activity, no need to take your car. If you want the big box or the shopping mall they are usually at the city limits or just outside the city or located in large train stations or on a main commercial street in the heart of the city, thus not killing small family owned businesses.

I feel relaxed just sitting on the ICE train, there is a restaurant car and they have drink and snack service at your seat.

We are now leaving Germany and entering the Netherlands and the first city is Utrecht. Because we are within the Shengen zone, we entered the zone at the airport in Frankfurt there will be no need to go through Customs and Immigration control again. The Shengen Treaty promotes free movement of people amongst the signatory countries in Europe.

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