Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I cannot remember a time when I walked into a house and immediately looked up. Why stare at white space, possibly stuccoed? That is, before I visited Schloss Bückeburg in Germany.

The royalty of old wanted their guests to look up, down, and all around. Why waste space? Why not flaunt your money? I often found myself unsure where I should focus. And it’s not just this castle; many of the churches and castles in Europe have decked out the ceilings, windows, doors, and light fixtures.

After their political power was taken away in 1918, the family continued to live in the castle and currently Prince Alexander and his wife live there. They host parties twice a year, and if I had come a month or so later I could have enjoyed a Christmas festival! Oh well.

Instead I listened to a German tour (none in English) and did my best to understand. It helped that my uncle purchased a guidebook in English for me, although I waited until after to read it so I could pay attention to the sights.

The gateway entrance from the town.

Herbst (autumn) in Deutschland.

A corner of Schloss Bückeburg. There are 251 rooms in all.

The main entrance.

The courtyard.

As I gazed up at the ceilings adorned with elaborate frescos and moldings, I wondered ‘why?’ They’re gorgeous, but quite unneccessary. It’s not like you can look up for that long without your neck hurting, and I’m sure there were better ways to spend money. Nevertheless it serves as a source of tourism now for the town; I am an example of that!

The corners each have an image symbolizing the four seasons.

Not sure what season this is...fall?

Always best to impress the guests!

A light fixture in the Great Hall.

The chapel is very elaborate and also poorly lit, hence the coloring.

Light fixture in the men's smoking salon.

A lamp in the 'yellow room', where the women gathered after parties.

Chandelier in the yellow room.

Ceiling paintings in the 'Golden Hall'.

The most elaborate door I have ever seen.

No, not the princess; a photo shoot was taking place.

Slanted windows seen in the spiral staircase.

And, back outside into the real world.

Advertisements

I am safe and sound in Germany, with some unexpected twists along the way. After an extra day in Paris, I booked a train ride to Cologne and sat in the train station for roughly six hours reading ‘One Day’, people watching and trying to keep warm.

I was nervous that I would miss my train, but made it safely on board. When we arrived in Brussels to switch trains, I went up to the platform and panicked when I saw the train was getting ready to leave. Unable to find a conductor, I jumped on and asked another passenger if this was the train to Cologne. ‘Yes,’ he said, but when he looked more closely at my ticket he realized I was supposed to be on a different train.

Too late.

The doors had closed and the train started moving. I panicked, but the men said they would vouch for me when the man came through to check the tickets. And they did, but he still had to follow policy and charge me 59 euros for boarding his train. So much for buying a Eurail pass and saving money!

At least there were some open seats on the train, though I managed to find the one beside an elderly French man who was muttering to himself and speaking to me in a mixture of French, English and German about anything and everything bothering him. I was saved when a new passenger boarded the train and informed me I was in his seat, making him the man’s new victim.

So, now I will be double-checking that I have calculated military time correctly and that I thoroughly understand the ticket information. Thankfully I am now with family and enjoying the comforts of sleeping in a house and not a hostel.

Tchuss!

Translation: thanks, but no thanks. There have been too many experiences to count that apply to this statement.

SALES TACTICS

The only shoes I brought with me to Paris were a pair of sandals and a pair of hiking shoes. Considering the colder weather and sense of fashion here, I was keeping an eye out for an alternative. Easier said than done given the high prices of Paris. When I saw some shoes for 29 Euro, I tried them out but also figured they weren’t very well made.

Along with the very chemical odor coming from them, there were no half sizes available and I either would be squishing my toes or tripping over myself. I considered the latter, but the owner only had the shoe in black and the grey ones were what brought me into the store.

That didn’t stop her from practically shoving me out of the door with them.

‘Oh, black is better! You can wear with jeans or dress! Grey does not look good when it rains,’ she encouraged.

I considered, but the quality just wasn’t worth it. How do you say that to someone who is lingering over your shoulder telling your sister that she can shove something in the toe of the shoe to make it fit her tiny feet and repetitively asking ‘why not?’ when she decides against that option?

You don’t. We told her we were going to continue to look around and then literally ran out of the store, looking like shoplifters. I kept looking over my shoulder, half expecting her to chase us down and insist we buy them. After a few minutes we slowed our pace and laughed at our escape.

UNWANTED ADVANCES

The only men who really approached me and my sister in Paris were those trying to sell us little Eiffel Tower figurines. That changed when we got to Rome. While walking to find breakfast we were woken up by a man who got right in our faces, whistled and then made kissing noises.  Talk about invasion of personal space.

Later we were trying to figure out where to eat dinner, wandering around the streets. Often times a restaurant employee will stand on the sidewalk outside the establishment trying to attract customers. One man decided gasping and proclaiming, ‘I love you!’ would lure us in to eat. Wrong. We ate at a very tasty place down the street where the waiter had a better understanding of manners.

Besides the affectionate advances, there were also the sales people (if you care to call them that). Flinging flashy toys into the air, waving fake purses in your face and selling beer at ridiculous rates.

I’ve got to hand it to them, though, they’re magicians of sorts. When the temperature dropped in Rome, they sold scarves to drape around your shoulders.

Then, when the rain started falling a little later, suddenly the scarves became umbrellas. I had barely felt a drop before they were waving them in our faces.

Thankfully I learned from Ghana that a blank stare straight ahead or curt shake of the head is typically all it takes to send them running toward another unlucky tourist.

A run through Roma

We arrived in Rome late Monday night and, because we were only staying two days, had  to pick and choose what to see. It was difficult, but we did what we could and left ready for Venice.

Here are some pictures for now, I’ll add more stories later!

TUESDAY:

WEDNESDAY:

Straining my neck

The past three days here in Paris have largely consisted of new sights, as is expected. Along with some tasty croissants, crepes and cheese; although not too much because the exchange rate is not currently in our favor!

In order to see many of these grand sights, you have to look up. So I’m in need of a neck massage and/or some ibuprofen. Sight seeing really takes a lot out of your feet and back, too. Totally worth it, though. Plus I was planning on being exhausted when I return, so I went ahead and purchased a Groupon deal for a massage.

There’s a good deal of weaving in between the hawkers and others seeking money from tourists. Future travelers to Paris, beware the men trying to put a friendship bracelet on your wrist, the opportunity to gamble on a game of ‘which cup is hiding the pea’ and the countless people claiming to be deaf who want your contact info. If you’re not scammed by one of them, you might have your pocket picked by an accomplice. As long as you are aware of your surroundings and avoid engaging them in conversation, you should be fine.

Have I mentioned the weather has been gorgeous? We have yet to tour any museums just because of the blue skies and sunlight bringing warmth to these fall days. My favorite type of day.

View of the city from Sacre Couer.

Pigeons, pigeons everywhere.

An artists' palette of colors.

Clever.

Sacre Couer, peaking out over Montmarte.

Fall colored flowers outside the Louvre.

A lovely perch.

Mid-autumn in Paris.

The door of Notre Dame.

Celebrating its 850th anniversary this year.

That famous monument.

“An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing.”
-Samuel Smiles, author

Another two sleepless flights later, I am in Paris! Feeling pretty proud of myself, too, because I managed to store my large suitcase, buy a metro ticket and arrive safely at my hostel all while speaking my broken French.

I arrived before check-in and took some time to stroll around the neighborhood and I am in love; with the architecture, the roads, the trees, the pigeons.

Pigeons are to Paris–and I hear Venice, too–as chickens are to Ghana. In other words, expect more pictures of pigeons. I especially enjoyed watching one cross the road via a cross walk earlier. Unfortunately I was too busy staring at it to take a picture.

I’m also very happy because I get to experience autumn. I was worried I would arrive back to the US after the leaves had all fallen.

This poor guy lost part of his foot.

Montamarte

Colorful grafiti.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” 

― Pablo Picasso 

His words apply to my day in multiple ways. The most obvious being that the hostel I am staying in is located in Montamarte, a portion of Paris where Picasso once resided and worked.

In a more abstract way it applies to my visit to the Montamarte Cemetary, which first appears to be a small village. The tombs and headstones range in age; some decaying, others recent.

The elaborate detail and artwork on each one was eerily beautiful. I debated about taking pictures and decided that the families created such beautiful tributes for people to admire their loved ones.

I found the plants growing amidst the headstones to be symbolic of life amidst death.

Montamarte Cemetary.

More pictures to come!

You know the saying

Time flies. As a whole, nine weeks passed by quickly. There were moments when it felt like much longer, but that’s to be expected anywhere.

These past two days have been relaxing, despite the chaos of packing. I went on my last motorbike ride yesterday and, despite the tire popping, it was a nice day to zoom around town. The weather was hot, but a nice breeze made it unnoticeable.

I was also in a great mood because two of my articles were published in the Business and Financial Times here in Accra. I’ll add images later; the internet connection is slow today.

Everything’s been a little off today, actually. I woke up to the sound of thunder and pouring rain, which is odd because the rainy season is supposed to be over.

My theory: Ghana doesn’t want me to leave. I’m sad to go, too, but don’t have long to dwell on it because I have to think about the ins and outs of my next trip! I’m going to keep blogging about my experiences, just as soon as I find an internet cafe because my laptop is still broken.

Three little birds...singin': "Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"