Tag Archives: tram

Scotland August 2, 2022: The Royal Yacht Britannia

Our hotel had a free hot breakfast each morning from 7-10. Most mornings, we got there just about 9:59 or so. Today was no exception. The breakfast was pretty good – most days it had baked beans, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cereals, toast, juices. They may have had more offerings but not at the time we arrived.

The coffee machine was most impressive. In addition to black coffee, they had tea, latte, cappuccinos, mocha, hot chocolate, latte macchiato, espresso and some other drinks too numerous to mention. Out of curiosity, I tried the latte macchiato and found it wasn’t for me. Turns out, it’s mostly hot, steamed, frothy milk with a shot of espresso in it. Now I know!

Every breakfast the tv showed the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowling. I’d never heard of Lawn Bowling before so I looked it up.

Bocce and Lawn Bowling are cousins but have some distinct differences. The Bocce Ball is round whereas the Lawn Bowl is round in only one direction and elliptical in the other, giving it a bias and causing it to curve. Second, the Bocce Ball is thrown underhand, like softball, and the Lawn Bowl is rolled.

This is a sample of what we saw every morning sans sound:

After breakfast we decided to walk across the street to the Ocean Terminal. It was a bit hard to remember that traffic was coming at us from the wrong direction and with the construction AND a roundabout right outside, crossing the street was taking our lives in our hands.

Although the map shows a 2 minute walk, it was a bit longer than that because of the construction, which turned out to be an extension of the tram.

The tram extension will be a good thing – eventually. I asked a few people and got varying estimates from 3 to 5 years. Right now, the tram goes from the airport to St. Andrews Square in Edinburgh but someday it will go all the way out to our hotel. How convenient that will be.

Current tram map

The Ocean Terminal Mall is pretty standard except that the stores and restaurants close pretty early – mostly by 8pm. One thing that I thought was pretty cool was that they had an “Indoor Beach” on the first level overlooking the water. When seen from above, it looked pretty much like a large sandbox in a mall. Kids seemed to be having fun, though. They also have a rollerskating rink and cinema. They also had a music and bookstore. We got 2 books for only £7 or $8.55. I got an interesting-looking book by David Attenborough (Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions) which currently sells on amazon for $13.74 and Tom got 1000 Years of Art which I haven’t found on amazon…yet. Tom was most unhappy with the music playing and we left the store quite quickly with Tom sharing his views with the sales clerk.

We looked at a bit of each of the three levels (lots of empty storefronts) until we got to the ticket office for the Royal Yacht Britannia.

A Royal residence for over 40 years, The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the Royal Family.

Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Her Majesty The Queen, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays. For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador generating billions of pounds in trade deals. For the Royal Family and 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home.

Some of our photos from the Britannia (we have hundreds more which will be shared in a giant album at the end of this trip)

After we left the ship, I was astounded to see that someone had used pianos as artwork.

We stopped for smoothies at a small restaurant (that was still open!) and sat on the open deck overlooking the water – a fine end to a great start to the vacation.

On the way out, we noticed a bus stop – including the blue line for Hop on/Hop off busses. Hmmm

After the smallest of naps (I’m still adjusting to this timezone which is 5 hours later than home (4pm in Fairfax is 9 pm in Scotland) we went to dinner. LIke breakfast, we just got in under the 9pm closure. if you noticed the menu from yesterday, some items like pizza and ice cream are available 24/7. I ended up having what they called a “chicken burger”. In reality, it’s 2 pieces of marinated, grilled chicken breast on leafy stuff with a sauce hamburg bun. Like the other meals here it came with fries.

The dinner tv each night was Commonwealth Games without the Lawn Bowling (HOORAY!)

Tomorrow will be an early day because we’re going to take a 12-hour bus tour to the Highlands and we need to be at 6 Waterloo Street by 7:45 am.

Baltic Cruise 2019: Germany

Sunday, September 15, 2019

When we woke up, we could tell that it was going to be a cold day.  This was the first day I wore flannel lined jeans. Little did I know that it would get even colder and I would wear them every port day afterward.

We went to breakfast.  When we got back, we found that our automatic door had locked us out of the cabin.  Somehow the “do not disturb” button had been pushed and the door meant it.  No disruptions, even by us!  Luckily, the room steward let us in.

I have in my notes that we skipped lunch but I’m not sure why.

We got off the ship about 2pm German time. Surprisingly they don’t have T-shirts in the terminal as we left.

While we waited for the tour, we ran into Terry who Tom had met last night.  She’s a veterinarian from Vancouver.

I had initially signed up for a tour of Berlin but the thought of 6 hours on a bus or train was too much so we signed up for…

Rostock by Tram & River Cruise (comes with a snack!)


What the description said:

Journey back in time and discover the highlights of the Hanseatic city of Rostock on a guided walk and take a relaxing cruise along the Warnow River. After a short transfer to the station, board an exclusive tram, which is still Rostock’s main transportation system and ride into the heart of the city. Your guided walk will take you to one of the oldest universities in Europe – the University of Rostock, founded in 1419 and built in Italian Renaissance style. Continue on a leisurely stroll through and explore the quaint shopping streets, which have flourished since the reunification Germany in 1990.You’ll see the 15th century Town Hall with its 18th century Baroque front structure, and St. Mary’s church built around 1398. Enjoy a guided tour of this church before spending some time at your leisure – time permitting. After reuniting with your guide, walk down to the jetty for a relaxing cruise along the Warnow River, transferring you back to Warnemunde. During your approximate 50 minute cruise, you’ll be served some typical snacks and refreshing German beer.

What really happened:

On the bus, we met our guide a young tour director, Johanna, a med student at the University of Rostock.

The tour was pretty much as advertised except we didn’t get to “enjoy a guided tour of this church”

We took a private tram ride through the city to New Market.

At City Hall, we saw a statue of a serpent.  Our guide said there used to be 4.

From https://www.rostock.de/en/sight.html?the-city-hall-serpent

Because of the serpent’s relation to wisdom, it is said that this was traditionally the favourite legend of the Mayor of Rostock.

The bronze serpent by the northernmost double entrance pillars of the city hall front building, in the Neuer Markt, still maintains the secret to its origin. Right at the heart of the city, however, it ‘lives’ an inconspicuous life.

The way serpents shed their skins all year round is a symbol of immortality. This animal in Rostock has already been through several ‘skinnings’ and rejuvenation treatments, The Baroque-style front building of the town hall was built in 1727/29. However, the first oral tales of the serpent only date back to the beginning of the 19th century. It is safe to say that the reptile is over 130 years old, as local historian and city archivist, Ludwig Krause (1863-1924) drew it in 1882. At the time, the limestone serpent was coiled completely around one pillar.

In 1927, the town hall facade was painted and the serpent, very poorly preserved at the time, was laid between the two pillars in a tubular shape made of cement. It has retained its original length of 1.3 metres. It lived through bomb attacks on Rostock, as the town hall was largely undisturbed (maybe because of the serpent), with the exception of the late Gothic council chamber, while most of the surrounding buildings were reduced to soot and ashes.

By 1989, the appearance of the concrete animal had changed for the worse. As the reptile had also been referred to as an eel, people did not attach much importance to advertising this type of fish, which was rare at the time. Since December 1993, it was determined that it was a snake (maybe a viper?) – made for the first time from weather-resistant bronze, but it soon lost its split tongue again. In 1997, the serpent was torn from its base and forgotten about (but found years later). The ‘Rostocker Volks­ und Raiffeisenbank’ bank paid for a new one in 1998. The person behind the idea and the project manager was Dr Hartmut Schmied. Sculptor Erhard John created a novelty mythical creature: a serpent with the tail of an eel, thereby uniting the two legends. The tongue of the bronze animal is also in the shape of a number 5, in Roman numerals –

it is already the fifth-generation serpent (at least) to grace the town hall. The new serpent was formally given the name Johannes in 1998 on the birthday of the city, the 24th June (the feast day of St John, ‘Johannes’ in German). Stroking its head is supposed to bring good luck.

Eel or serpent? This is the debate that has raged over and over again, in light of the most desolate conditions it has been kept in. Legend has it was used as an eel measure for smoked eel merchants who had stands near the pillars in the Neuer Markt. Another explanation links this eel with a supposed flood in 1841. An eel was left hanging between the pillars once the waters receded. However, the marketplace is 16 metres above the normal level of the Warnow River, so there would have been written sources mentioning such a flood.

The cobblestone with the year 1841 engraved on it (new paving of the market) originally lay between the two southernmost pillars of the town hall’s front building and was the reason for another pleasant yet unproven theory. In this year, the old fountain display on the Neuer Markt was demolished and the cast iron fountain was installed. During this process, there could well have been a flooding; the eel merchants and their ‘protégés’ would have been driven into a frenzy and the eels would have swum up to the town hall. The stone from 1841 now lies at ground level directly underneath the serpent.

Much more interesting is the possibility that the ‘eel serpent’ could have been a landmark for travelling craftsmen. Those who really had passed through Rostock on their travels would certainly have seen this serpent and would have been able to describe it. The idea of a household spirit in the form of a snake, as in Mecklenburg legends, cannot be excluded, as the serpent has been attributed in verse to a lot of good, and the city was always in need of good luck. As the council’s wine vault is behind the pillars, the idea exists of a ‘snake in brandy’ being used as a superstitious remedy for drunkenness, but this can be excluded; it would have been nothing more than self-mockery.

Dr J. Becker favours the idea of the serpent as a symbol of wisdom. It is possible that Zacharias Voigt, the architect responsible for the Baroque front building of the town hall, placed it there after its construction. With this new construction, the old ‘Jesus as the Judge of the earth’ painting (from around 1300) was concealed by the new ‘Justitia’ picture (oil, around 1750) next to the entrance to the council’s cellar. Therefore, the councilmen had to hold their meetings between the watchful and wise serpent and the admonishing Justitia.

However, most architects were also clever people and they knew how long building material would last and where symbols were best placed. It is highly likely that the ‘limestone mass’, described for the first time in the 19th century, was mounted quickly and simply. It is presumable that

the animal never was in a condition that could be well preserved. It is possible that folklorists, art historians and historians have been following the wrong paths for decades. However, the challenge has been set to find the ‘culprit’ before the city’s 800th birthday in 2018.

A good viewing spot would be Rostock Town Hall at the Neuer Markt, the front building of the town hall, the middle entrance between the pillars underneath the gryphon, to the left of the northern double pillars, at their base.


A man fell on cobblestones but said he was ok.

Despite the weather forecast being overcast, there was light rain.

St. Mary’s Church was Roman Catholic but is now Protestant, built in typical Notre dame style.

St. Mary’s Church, Rostock, in German Marienkirche, is the biggest of three town churches found in the Hanseatic city of Rostock, in northern Germany. The other two are St. Peter’s (Petrikirche) and St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche). A fourth, St. James’ (Jakobikirche), was heavily damaged during the Second World War and subsequently demolished. St. Mary’s was designated in 1265 as the main parish church. Since the Protestant Reformation in 1531, it houses a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Mecklenburg.

During the heavy air raids by the Royal Air Force in 1942, which lasted three days, much of Rostock was destroyed. The sexton of St. Mary’s, Mr. Bombowski, saved the church by decisive action. Although three incendiary bombs smashed through the roof of the tower, he extinguished the fire with the help from his daughter and a German auxiliary airforce commando.  The daughter died soon after of smoke inhalation.

Then the rain got even heavier

The man in the video above at 1:22 was playing the hurdy-gurdy.  That’s a stringed instrument that produces sound by a hand crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin.

We walked around University Square which is a no-traffic area.

At 1:33 in the slideshow is the Brunnen der Lebensfreude, known locally as the “Porn Fountain”.

A woman and her husband tried to get support for leaving this tour and getting a taxi back since the bus couldn’t come in here. Um, NO

We had some free time. No shopping in Germany on Sundays so went to McDonald’s. The image at the top of the page would have shown the McDonald’s in the strip of buildings if it were just a little longer to the left.

I tried to get the mango/banana shake that was featured on a flag outside. The trainee didn’t understand since he was speaking German and I was muddling by with English. I ended up with vanilla shake with green apple sundae sauce. Not too bad, all things considered.

Our group assembled back on the square (including the people who wanted to leave) and we walked further along to the wall portion/gate.

Riding on the next bus we saw that bounce house in the slideshow (above), then got to the river cruise boat. We took the PTAH (PIano Teachers After Hours on Facebook) photo.

We went to sit upstairs but it was very wet from the rain.

The next bus (number 34) people came on and Terry sat with us.

We somehow told her about my experience with Cushing’s. She, a vet, didn’t know people got that, just dogs.  She wished that they could do surgery on the dogs instead of medications.

There was going to be a festival that night with fireworks.

They dropped us off a bit away from the ship. We walked back past pier 7 and a group of people who looked like they might be something like a Jules Verne society.

Something about him on a sand sculpture.

The Viking Sky arrived. Seemed late to be arriving in port but not my problem!

Back on board, dinner was German night. I was a bit disappointed. No spaetzle, sauerkraut or bratwurst. They did have sauerbraten (not as tender as mine but I didn’t have to take a couple days to make it)

Tom went to a meeting, I organized today’s photos.

He brought “snacks” back. Cookies, cake, pizza, strudel…

We bid fond good-bye to Germany.  Tomorrow is a Sea Day.

My review from cruiseline.com:

Rostock: This was our first port and we did the NCL tour of Rostock by Tram & River Cruise.  The tour was ok but not great.  The Tram portion was good with lots to see.  Then, the walking part started.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of this area.  Unfortunately, being Sunday, all the stores were closed.  It rained and some people wanted to leave the tour by taxi. On the River Cruise portion, there was not much to see.  It was mostly to get us back near the ship.  I say near because we were left on our own to get a taxi or walk back – it wasn’t a long walk, but still…

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