Saturday, July 22, 2006

DAY 40 - 20.7.2006

Our next destination was Salzburg. It has a rich musical culture and everything there revolves around Mozart. That's because it is the birth town of Mozart. The road leading there was very good as we were expecting more difficult roads. Once we arrived in Salzburg we searched a parking place outside the city centre. It wasn't a long walk from there as the city is quite small.

We went to this market place to get juicy fruits for a breakfast. After breakfast we started to walk around the city. We followed the tips of our travel guide visiting all these parks and squares. We also walked by the house of Mozart and ate the famous Mozart Kugeln chocolates in front of the house. After all the major sights we went to a laundromat to wash our clothes. We ate lunch in a nearby shopping centre's restaurant.

With clean clothes we returned to our car and left Salzburg. We wanted to go to Hallstatt for the rest of the day. Hallstatt is a 900 people town 30 km from Salzburg. It is famous for it's saltmines and ice caves (btw, salz means salt in German). But we were more interested in it's mountain lake:) As we got there we went straight to the beach. Water was once again clear and warm. This would be the last swimmable lake on our trip, so we had to enjoy it to the fullest. We watched the sunset at the lake and continued driving after that.

DAY 39 - 19.7.2006

Venice was about 500 km from Rome. I had driven as far as I could the earlier night and Arttu continued in the morning. After some hours we reached Venice. We left our car in a big parking house in Mestre and after breakfast we took a train from there to Venice. The train cost only one euro and took about 10 minutes.

Everyone knows Venice and it's canals. And most of all we wanted to experience those canals. Unfortunately it costs 76 euros to go for a 50 minute Gondole ride, so it was a bit over our budget. We decided to take waterbus (called Vaporetto) number 1 which goes along the Grand Canal to the other side of the town. It was a nice way to see the city from canal's viewpoint. After our boat ride we continued our sightseeing tour on foot. They say it's wonderful to walk in the narrow streets of Venice but much nicer to get lost in there as then there are no other tourists on the roads. And so we did, actually a couple of times:)

After spending the whole day in those narrow streets, we returned to our car. We stopped at a gas station to eat something for dinner. We have noticed that many people eat at those gas station restaurants. And why not as the food is so great there. I fell in love with Paninis in gas statiolns and I had to eat two of them this time. Our mission in Italy was to try as many different foods as possible. We tried pizza, spaghetti, panini, penne pasta and gelato. Unfortunately as it was time to go to Austria, we had not succeeded in trying Italian lasagne:( Mission failed! But at least we haed accomplished another mission: spending 3 days in Italy without getting our car stolen:)

Before leaving the gas station I noticed a sign with a picture of a shower, BINGO! And it didn't even cost anything, actually the hot water cost but who needs it:) We had sweat for several days now so the cold shower felt so good. After we get to home from this roadtrip I'll go to shower at least 4 times a day to make it up for the past weeks.

Once again I had the night shift to drive the car. Near the Austrian border I had to pull over. As there is not much lights in the Alps, the stars were very visible. I had to take a 5 minute break to enjoy the bright star sky. Not far from that place we decided to spend the night there. We wanted to continue in the morning so that we could see these mountains on daylight.

DAY 38 - 18.7.2006

We woke up early and headed to Rome. We had read that it's not so joyful to drive in Italy because of the rushes and the way they drive down here. But the bigger problem for us was to find the city centrum. Rome has 2.5 million citizens, so the city is very big and directions are not that good. So driving there was once again stressful. Finally we found a private garage near the city centre so we left our car there. The place was quite expensive but we were ready to pay for our car's safety. And now we had the possibility to leave most of our stuff in the car. We had major language problems as we were explaining how long would we be there but after a while we managed to clear everything by talking bad German:)

We didn't really want to stay another day in Rome and because it's impossible to see everything in one day, we planned which sights to see and which not. First we wanted to see the Vatican as the waiting lines for Vatican museum are the longest. We got there 45 minutes before the opening and already there was over 100 meter waiting line. Once we got inside we didn't really want to see other than the Sistine Chapel where there is this famous Michelangelo's ceiling.

After seeing all the interesting sights there we went to the centre of the Vatican. The square where the Pope says new year's greetings in every language. It was quite impressive. And so was the church of St. Peter's. We payed to get up to it's tower. To there it was over 540 steps so it was quite exhausting:) But it was worth it.

After Vatican we started going through Rome's sights in the old town. Main attraction there for us was the temple Pantheon. After Pantheon and it's nearby sights we headed to the Ancient City where the Colosseum and it's friends were waiting. The whole area was amazing. We paid to get inside Colosseum and Palatine Hill. After seeing all the ruins of the old Roman Empire we went to see some other sights including the Fontana Di Trevi. Story tells that if you throw a coin into the fountain you will be guaranteed a fast return to Rome, and if you throw 2 coins you will fall in love there. We all threw just one coin:)

At 8 pm as we were walking to the new town we noticed all the fast walking in the hot sun to take a toll on our smallest traveller. Lauri (aged 14 by the way) felt sick and threw up the remains of the Pizza we ate for lunch. He got the attention of several Italians on the little street. I have to say that Italians are extremely helpful people! Everyone were offering their help to poor little Lauri:) After Lauri had rested a bit we continued our walking. Unfortunately the sun was already setting so we didn't have time to see all the famous Italian designer cloth stores like Prada and Gucci. But it wasn't such a big loss as the window shopping would have left us feeling just miserable:)

We took a taxi to our garage and said arrivederci to Rome. They say all the roads lead to Rome and so it seemed as every road we took didn't really get us out of the city, but finally we made it. I want to visit Rome again but never again by car:) On our way to highway we were overwhelmed by the number of prostitutes standing next to the roads leaving the city. I would have thought police would do something about it but I guess I not. Well, it's one of the oldest professions and we were in one of the world's oldest cities:)

DAY 37 - 17.7.2006

Italy... mmm... we had waited for Italian food for few weeks now. We drove to Genova in the morning. Unfortunately Italians seem to go to work quite early as we ran into some traffic. The suburbs were in pretty bad condition, which made our drive to city centre not so enjoyable. In fact it caused an immediate culture shock on the brothers. They were expecting something else from the Italian Riviera. Avenues made of diamonds or something like that:) We drove to the beach and found out that there was only one free public beach. The beach was very small and full of old people at the early hours. It didn't bother me as I was ready for the last day on the beach. But it bothered the brothers and they wanted to leave Genova right away. Fortunately I managed to talk them over to see at least the city centre by walk after our morning swim.

The city centre was quite nice actually. I think we all were glad that we didn't miss it. At 2 pm we were back at our car. According to our plans we should have stayed in Genova the whole day and see Pisa and Firenze on the next day. But as I was the only one voting for that, the democratic solution was to go to Pisa today. And so we were on a hot road again:-
We had read that they let 30 persons in the leaning tower of Pisa every 30 minutes so we wanted to be there early as possible to be able to climb up to the tower. Once we got to the city of Pisa our hopes disappeared. There was an unbelievable amount of tourists. Masses of people were walking towards the tower from the tourist buses. And there were lots of souvenir stands along the road selling all kinds of leaning tower related stuff.

I had pictured the tower to be a lot smaller. Once we got there we noticed that the tower was huge. And very beautiful as it was so bright white. All the pictures about the tower don't really give justice to it. We went for drinks to this nearby cafeteria as we had to charge our batteries. After that we went to ask about the tickets. They cost 15 euros. That's not bad but for the first free tour group we should have waited for three hours. So we decided to skip it. We were also worried about our car as we had heard some bad stories about car thieves here. After few more photos we returned to our car. I don't think I'll get another chance to visit the tower because in some years it has to come down. I just hope that someone gets it on video:)

After finding our car in a good shape at our parking area we went to search for a restaurant as it was 6 pm and we had not had our lunch yet. Unfortunately there was not a good one on our way to autostrade so we had to go to a McDonald's. And what a big mistake it turned out to be! It took me 30 minutes to get my meal! Not that there was a big line but the sales persons just kept screwing up everything. They really got on my nerves.

Once we got on the road again, we drove to the nearest gas station to wait for the sun to come down a bit and charge our batteries. It was way too hot for driving as we weren't in a hurry. We decided to skip Firenze as we weren't really in mood for it's many museums. Of course the city has a lot else to offer but we decided to drive to Rome instead. We drove near Rome and slept at a gas station.

Friday, July 21, 2006

DAY 36 - 16.7.2006

We arrived in Nice after 7am. We parked our car next to the ocean. This day was the second last chance to get a good tan. So the day was dedicated to our wonderful sun shining once again from a clear sky. Before eight there was already several people on the beach and after some time we noticed that there wasn't any more parking places free. So it was perfect timing for us.

Nice is part of the French Riviera along it's famous neighbours Monaco and Cannes. Riviera's beaches are not like the ones in Spain and Portugal. There is no fine sand, instead there are big round rocks. Because of that it required some adjusting when trying to find a comfortable position for sun bathing. But the beach had it's positive sides too: no sand flying and it was nice to search beautiful stones. I took few as a souvenir.

We stayed at the beach till 5pm. After that we went to walk along the beach avenue. We wanted to eat in one of the restaurants which had a sea view, so we chose this one place with free wireless internet connection to customers. We all took pizzas from there. After our late lunch we walked back to our car through the old town. We wanted to see Monaco on the same day so we had to hurry.

Unfortunately many others were leaving the beach at the same time so we got stuck in traffic. We wanted to drive to Monaco along the shore. The scenery was great. Finally we got to Monaco. As we were looking for parking spots we drove by the casino Monte Carlo. The parking area was full of expensive cars and people trying to see famous people. Once we got the car parked the sun had already set down. It was a shame as we also wanted to see Monaco on daylight. The good way to see Monaco fast is by walking along the famous Monaco's Formula 1 Grand Prix as it goes by all the important landmarks. Lots of people were also driving alont the circuit with fast cars. At the harbour there were many big ships with their proud owners eating on the back deck. There's also many people in nice clothes so the city feels really glamorous as you walk there. After seeing enough we returned to our car and went to drive along the circuit. Monaco GP was about a month earlier so of course the streets looked normal by now, but luckily we had our F1 specialist, Lauri, with us who knew all the turns:)

It was time to go to a new country. We welcomed Italy and said goodbye to France and Monaco. Although I'm pretty sure I will return there as Nizza was such a lovely place and I want to visit Monte Carlo casino with a pinstripe suit:) We drove across the border and spent the night in one of the gas stations.

DAY 35 - 15.7.2006

Our next stop, Annecy, was behind the Swiss border, but not far away. We drove there in about half an hour. Annecy has a population of 50 000 and it's located in the French Alps. The city has a long history which explains it's narrow streets and old houses and castles. Two French girls from my university had recommended the place for us.

After parking our car we noticed that there was a market place two blocks from our car. We went to get the morning fruits from there. We bought nectarines from there. Actually we have eaten those quite a lot these weeks. They're just so tasty and cheap:) We continued to the tourist office. When I asked what places are worth to visit, the lady there gave me a walking tour map. You could see that the city is visited very often as they have these kinds of guides to give away. It just makes our search for sights a lot easier.

We made the suggested walking tours around the old town and along the lake. The scenery was very nice. The city reminded me about St. Emilion as they both look like medieval cities with castles and walls.

Like our visited cities in Swizerland, Annecy also is built next to a mountain lake. But it's beach beat it's Swiss opponents easily. The water was amazingly bright and 50 meters from the waterline you could still see the sand in the bottom of the lake. We had seen these pedal boats before and now we just couldn't resist them. We rented a 5-passenger pedal boat for an hour. It was unbelievably relaxing. We just lyed on the little boat and jumped to water whenever it became too hot to under the sun.

After our time was up we went to this normal beach and continued our relaxation there. After Annecy we would have once again quite hectic schedule and long drives. Anyways, I recommend Annecy to everyone as it's such a beautiful and unique city. What are you waiting for? Go book the flights NOW!:)

After Annecy we were going to Nice. We had to options: choose the motorway with longer distance and expensive road tolls, or the small roads with shorter distance and unpredictable roads. We chose the small roads as they seemed cheaper. The first part of the trip was good as the roads were good and nature offered us a nice show as the nearby mountains had thick clouds and lots of flashlights. But unfortunately when the smaller roads started, we turned to those mountains and now the rain was on us and road went along mountains making the average speed low. After 50 kilometres of struggling, the roads became better and our faces turned to happy faces again:) At 11 pm we pulled over, ate something and went to sleep.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

DAY 34 - 14.7.2006

We woke up at 9.30 without an alarm clock. We had no hurry, the whole day was dedicated to Geneve's sights. Geneve has played an important role in history and nowadays many international organizations like the UN or the Red Cross have their headquarters there. Our first sight was this water fountain on the lake. It is called Jet d'Eau and it is the highest water fountain in Europe, with water shower reaching as high as 140 meters. It has become the symbol of Geneve, which you can find in most of the postcards.

After Jet d'Eau we continued our sightseeing tour. We went to see the old town, gardens, HQ of UN, the hotel where the world leaders met in 1864 for the Geneva Convention, all those basic sights. The shopping streets were big and there were many shops for rich tourists. Those kinds of shops that wouldn't let me in:)

After seeing enough we rushed to a beach. Our feet had deserved a small rest after all that walking. Next to the lake there was this outdoor movie theatre called Orange Cinema. We had read about those already in Zurich and wanted to try one. Unfortunately in the evening the wind was very strong and we weren't so interested in the movie they were showing, so we skipped it. Instead we went for a late night swim and to sleep. We had a good parking place for our car so we wanted to sleep one more night there.

DAY 33 -13.7.2006

What is great about Swizerland is that it's so small country that distances between major cities are very short. We were driving to the capital Bern from Interlaken and it was only 60km away. But that is what our plans for Swizerland was all about: relaxing in beautiful scenery and taking a break from all that driving.

But now we had arrived in the city where Albert Einstein had conceived the theory of general relativity. Bern is the capital of Swizerland with only 124 000 inhabitants. After all the wooden houses burnt down in 1405, the city was rebuilt of sandstone and from that time it has remained unchanged to the present day. The sandstone buildings give Bern a prestigious look. When you walk the streets it feels like you've gone back in time. In the main walking street there's a sign to this one apartment where Einstein lived for few years. We didn't want to pay for the few euros to get in there. It's not like Einstein was our childhood hero:)

We ate a little breakfast at Bern's university as we had to charge the batteries of our cameras. After that we continued our walking around the centrum. We stopped at every stop which the lady in reception had marked in our map. They say Bern is Europe's most flower decorated city so we wanted to check both the botanical and rose garden. Speaking of flowers, our allergic reactions were not bothering in Bern... weird. We took a little nap in the rose garden. After that we went to this bear park, but oops... we had slept a bit too long missing the bears:( Name Bern comes from the German word meaning "bear", so that is the reason why they have a bear park.

So after a little disappointment and small rainstorm we returned to our car. We were going to Geneve, our last stop in Swizerland. It was almost a 2-hour drive there. On our way we crossed the 7000 km milestone. Once we got to Geneve, we left our car next to the lake and went for a late night swim. After we had tested the water of lake Geneve, we returned to our car and started cooking Finnish pea soup that we had brought from home. Mmm... delicious as always:) Now we were ready for sleep.

Friday, July 14, 2006

DAY 32 - 12.7.2006

We woke up at 7am. Next city on our list was Interlaken, Southwest from Luzern. Interlaken is a 20 000 people town in the middle of two big lakes surrounded by mountains. As we were driving there we saw some of the most enchanting views of our trip. The morning sun made the mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys look so beautiful, that we had to stop few times to try to capture part of those in camera.

In Interlaken we parked our car and went to search a hotel where to get a map of the city. The city was pretty much what I had expected. Big mountains and lots of tourists. But the water was not so clear. As we were walking around the city we noticed that there was a large extreme sports competition this weekend. Unfortunately we had no time to wait two days for it to start. We went to swim on the western lake after enough walking.

If you want to try some extreme sports in Swizerland, then this is the place to be. The town is full of small businesses which offer extreme experiences. There is so much you can do: paragliding, skydiving, river rafting and the one I would have wanted to try, canyoning, where you go along the river with protective gear and do lots of jumps into the rapids. Unfortunately, you can imagine how much these experiences cost. So no fun for us:)

We had asked from information office about where we could get a nice view. There were lots of mountains which peaks you could reach with a chairlift. So we drove our car to one place where those leave. We decided to try the one of the cheapest mountains. A ride to the top of the Männlichen cost 20 euros, so it wasn't so much. And it was worth it! We had never been on 2250 m altitude next to the snowy mountains. The views were breath-taking.

Once we got down we drove on to see this one mountain village. It's quite weird that in Swizerland some small mountain villages don't allow cars in the city without a permit or at certain hours. This small village didn't allow driving during 20.00-24.00, but it was only 6pm when we visited the place. Those mountain villages look very... cute:)

Once we got back to interlaken we went to a supermarket and then for a picnic to the eastern lake. We had bought sausages and bread so we made hot dogs. After dinner we made a small walk along the lake. This time the sunset coloured the mountains beautifully. Tomorrow we would go up north again so we had to farewell these mountains.

DAY 31 - 11.7.2006

We had to wake up at 9am, although I would have wanted to stay in that bed for the whole day:) Birgit had to leave 10.15 to a train station, and we were giving her a lift. After saying goodbye to Birgit we were on our way to Zürich's airport. We would once again get a new addition to our road trip team. This time it wasn't a 2 meter high freak of nature, but a 1.5 meter high little man:) Arttu's little brother's plane was arriving at 12.10pm.

Once we got Little Lauri in our car, we headed south to Luzern. Luzern is a city of 60 000 inhabitants and very famous tourist destination as it is a classical Swiss town. We parked our car few kilometres from the city centre and started our sightseeing tour from there. Immediately I got a strong allergic reaction from something there, but I didn't bother to find out what was causing it. Like in Zürich there was also a mountain lake next to Luzern. The water was once again very clear, but we managed to resist it. The old town of Luzern was pretty, but it didn't take long to explore it. One of Luzern's most famous sights is Mount Pilatus. We were hoping to get good photos of it during sunset. So we found a nice park along the lake to wait for the evening.

Once again we managed to avoid paying high internet prices as I found a free wlan spot. We checked our emails and posted four days to my blog. I think the city of Luzern was providing that internet access as the name of the connection was Luzern.wlan. And that's how it is supposed to be!

The sunset didn't colour Mount Pilatus as we were hoping for, so we returned to our car. We drove to a bit safer place to have a peaceful sleep.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 30 - 10.7.2006

We were relieved in the morning. We found this supermarket next to the train station and noticed that the prices were reasonable. Our visit to Swizerland was saved! And there is also lots of fountains in the centrum where you can get drinkable water. We enjoyed a big breakfast in a park.

But now we had another problem. We had taken lots of pictures at the castles so our camera's battery was empty. And no way we could go to an internet cafe to charge batteries with those prices. Luckily Zurich's university is right at the centrum so we went there to charge out batteries. Zürich's university is very nice. It's quite old building. Reminded me of Riga's university. As we were in the university I received an sms from this Swiss girl, Birgit. I had contacted her earlier via the Hospitality Club and now she answered me. She was willing to host us for the night. We had to think about it.

After our batteries were full we went to this Arboretum to enjoy the sunny day and have a little swim on the Zürichsee lake. The water was tempting as it was quite bright and clean. So we decided to relax there for two hours and continue our sightseeing after that.

There isn't really sights in Zürich, but it is an extremely nice city. There are about 350 000 inhabitants so it's a relatively small city, which we prefer. I would very much like to live there if the prices just wouldn't be so high. We went to the train station to test this one phone card we had purchased. We also called to Brigit and she gave us instructions of how to get to her house. She was living with her mother in Wettingen, near Zürich.

When we returned to our car we had a pleasant surprise: we got our first parking ticket, yippee!!!:) 40 francs which is 30 euros. Are we going to pay for it? NO! Screw you, Swiss cops:) After we had filled our water bottles we headed to Wettingen. It was easy to find Wettingen. And soon we were at the door of Brigit's house. There were two of her friends there as they had a little holiday celebration. Unfortunately I don't remember their names anymore. Sorry, girls:) We had drinks on the balcony which the girls had earlier redecorated. We didn't stay up late as Birgit and some of her friends were leaving to Dublin on the next day.

It was nice to sleep in a house after a while... and in a bed:) Oh, and the shower was great too. I can almost remember the time when I used to live in a house... mmm... the good old times:)

DAY 29 - 9.7.2006

We woke up at 9am from the gas station where we had driven last night. We were on our way to south Germany to see two famous castles. It wasn't long drive there. After parking our car we started climbing as the castles were up on hills. The Neuschwanstein castle was beautiful. It was the inspiration for Disney castle in Disneyland. We took several pictures of it. There was also this river near the castle and we walked along the rapids. The water was quite cold so it felt gooood.

We had not noticed that with the road we were driving we first arrived in Austria. After seeing a bit of Austria... or it's tunnels, we arrived in Swizerland. We had to buy autobahn viguette in order to drive on highways in Swizerland. Unfortunately they sell only those for the whole year. So we had to pay 30 euros to drive on Swizerland's motorways for 5 days... stupid.

We noticed that the gasoline is cheeper here than in Germany, but once we got to Zurich all the rumours about this expensive country became true. We had to exchange some money because in here they use francs. Cheapest internet cafe's rate was 3.5 euros for half an hour, and the local big mac index was over 8 euros!!! First we thought we will starve to death in here. Earlier we saw some miserable looking backpacker near the train station begging money, now we knew why. If you don't get out of Swizerland fast you will end up on the street begging:)

We went to this one restaurant to watch the WC final. I was a bit disappointed of the end result but Zurich wasn't. There were so many Italians on the street partying. As we returned to our car later on the night, we realized that Italians didn't party so hard as it was quite silent at our car. Well, maybe it was because it is a work day tomorrow. But for us it's another sunday:)

DAY 28 - 8.7.2006

After waking up we went to that castle I found the earlier day. We walked around the park and then headed to the city centre. We had slept quite late because we didn't have big plans for the day.

After breakfast we went to this Englischer Garten. This English Garden is Europe's largest public metropolitan park. And on a nice day like this people go there to play games and relax. We even saw some guys surfing... yes, surfing on the water. At the edge of the park there are these big rapids, and there were about 10 guys with their small surfboards.

After a long walk in the park we headed west. We wanted to go Munchen's Fan Fest area because tonight there was Germany vs. Portugal, WC bronze medal match. We arrived there about 3 hours before the game, so we got ourselves pretty good spots on the grass hill. When the game started the area was full and the atmosphere great. I only saw one flag of Portugal so it was pretty obvious which team the crowd was cheering for:) For our luck Germany won and the after party was ready to start. There were huge fireworks for Germany's victory and after that they played music and Germans celebrated. After one hour of partying we left the area. We took an U-bahn to city centre and walked to our car.

DAY 27 - 7.7.2006

Alarm clock rang at 8am. We had arranged a meeting with Vanessa in the city centre. Walk from our car to the centum took about an hour, so we took an S-bahn to get there fast. We were going to Deutsche Museum so that is the reason for the early wake up. We ate our breakfast at a park and went inside the museum after that.

The museum was about science and technology. There were 6 floors so once again we managed to spend 5 hours in there. Those kind of museums should be seen in two or more days, but we don't have neither the money or time for that:) We were quite tired after those 5 hours. Because there were so many different subjects, most of them were not interesting. But it was worth the lousy 3 euros.

After the museum we went to eat some pizza. After a little walk we went to an internet cafe to charge our batteries and put some photos on this diary. After some surfing on the web we went to this one arcade hall to play this one video game I used to play as a kid. By then we had already said goodbye to Vanessa. She got a lift from her father back to home as she had a graduation party the next day.

When it was about 9pm I decided to return to our car. I was quite tired after our long day and few short nights. When I got to our car I took a little walk around the neighbourhood to wait Arttu who chose walking instead of S-bahn. I discovered that one block north from our car was this big castle we had seen in postcards. The castle was called Schloß Nymphenburg. It's park area was large so I decided to leave it for tomorrow.

Friday, July 07, 2006

DAY 26 - 6.7.2006

For Jari the alarm clock rang at 7am. Jari´s train left at 8am to Frankfurt. I got to sleep till 8.50. We had arranged a meeting with girls at 9.05 as we were leaving to Vanessa´s home town, Ulm. It was one hour drive to there. And of course there were no clouds in the sky as we had to drive:) We ate breakfast there and went to small tour around the city.

Ulm is not a big city but very famous in Germany for it´s beautiful old town and Europe´s biggest Protestant church. The church was very impressive. We had seen many churches during our trip but none of those had been built like this one was. The old town was also as beautiful as promised, we had to take several pictures.

After we said goodbye to Vanessa we continued our trip with the other Vanessa to Munich. It was 130 km from Ulm. As we were driving Vanessa heard from the radio that it had promised rain to Munich for the evening. And once we got to Munich it was raining. We had an umbrella and a rain coat with us, so the rain didn´t affect on our sightseeing tour. We went to walk around the city centre. And after it got dark we returned to our car and Vanessa went to her father´s place.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

DAY 25 - 5.7.2006

We forced ourselves up at 8.30am, because we were late from our sight schedule. Yesterday we didn´t have time for the Porsche museum so we wanted to check it out today. It was nothing like MB museum, it was a lot smaller and it took us about 45 minutes to see everything. After that we took S-bahn back to the city centre and went to the Staatsmuseum, the city museum. It was wednesday so students got in free. If we would have wanted to see Monet´s paintings we would have had to pay. But the free tour was good also as there were paintings of Picasso and Dali. I´m not a big fan of art, but Picasso´s paintings just are fun to watch. There was also modern art and that was just terrible! I hate modern art, it doesn´t require artistic skills, just some insanity.

After our art tour we met Vanessas at the train station and then we went to this mineral bath. Stuttgart is famous of it´s mineral waters and so there are few mineral bath spas. We chose mineral bath Leuze because in there was a finnish sauna, and we missed sauna so badly:) It was like a spa, with normal swimming pools and mineral water swimming pools. The mineral water pools were nice experience as it formed bubbles on the skin. We didn´t like the taste of the mineral water though.

After some swimming we wanted to go to Saunas. As a Finnish sauna people we were a bit surprised about German sauna culture. We didn´t expect to see women at the same facilities, and people were lying under the sun naked. It felt like a nudist colony. What´s wrong with German people?=D Anyways, as they say: In Rome do as the Romans´ do, so we blended in. We tried different saunas, and there were some nice modifications. Smell seemed to be more important factor than the temperature. The "Finnish" sauna was also nice. We got some complaints as we didn´t know that you had to sit on a towel and keep your feet on the same towel. After the whole experience I still prefer our own sauna culture:)

After 3 hours of soaking in the water we left the place cleaner than ever, or at least so it felt as it had been some time since the last shower:) Before the spa we had also taken our laundry to laundromat so as we came back our clean clothes were waiting for us. First time in three weeks. Yeah, I know, we´re dirty and smelly men:)

We did some shopping, or rather watched Jari do the shopping. Ate at a chinese all-you-can-eat restaurant and when the clock turned 9 in the evening, we went to watch the Portugal vs. France match in the Fan Fest area. After the first half they closed the area as police informed that there was big storm coming. We moved to an internet cafe to watch the rest of the game. After the game it was raining... a lot! Luckily I had a gore tex jacket in my backpack, but Arttu and Jari had to run to our car wearing swimming pants and shorts, what a sight=)

It was a beautiful storm. There were lots of lightnings and they were close too. Really made our hearts beat faster at times. When we got to our car we hanged our wet clothes and put our heads on our pillows and listened to the raindrops hitting on the roof of our car.

DAY 24 - 4.7.2006

We woke up at 9am and after breakfast we wanted to go see the Mercedes Benz museum. We had to take an S-bahn to get there. The museum was a big building, 9 floors. The museum told the whole history of MB, so it took us 5 hours to go through everything. It could have taken more but after first floors we stopped reading all those infos.

We wanted to see also the Porsche museum but we didn´t have time for it as we decided to go reserve us a good sitting place from where we could watch the Germany vs. Italy match. We went there about four hours before the kick-off and found ourselves a nice place.

The waiting was boring but finally the game started. We didn´t know which one to cheer for. There would be a big party if Germany would win, but on the other hand we would like to see other nations on the finals so that there would be others than just Germans on the streets. It is always too crowded when Germany plazs. Well, Germany lost in the end. They were pretty calm about it. We were expecting some riots:) After seeing enough Italians partying we returned to our car.

DAY 23 - 3.7.2006

After waking up we noticed that we had parked our van 20 meters from a supermarket. So the breakfast was quite close. We ate it at the park and started our sightseeing after that.

Next to the river Rein there are two big hills. On the other there is this famous tourist attraction the castle of Heidelberg. And on the opposite side there is a hill with church ruins, towers and viewpoints. We decided to walk up the hill with better views first. Road to the top of the hill was pretty good and the views were great. There were towers and a church. But the most impressive sight was this thing called "thinkstätte", it was like an amphitheater with seats for 8000 persons. The road there was named as "Philosopher´s way" and at the top of the hill there were the ruins of a church where this priest and philosopher lived. Indeed the philosopher had very inspirational surroundings.

After we came down from the hill we went to that castle on the other side of the river. The castle was very impressive, although it had suffered during World Wars. I had never been in such a big castle so it was worth the few euros to get in there.

After the castle we came down a bit to the main shopping street. We bought postcards and watched the large number of tourists who had come to see the castle.

After seeing the biggest sights we returned to our car. We arrived in Stuttgart at 7pm. We parked our car quite far from the centre. We headed to the city centre as we were going to meet this old HC-friend Vanessa. She and another Vanessa had been my guests last summer in Tampere. Vanessa showed us around the city. We decided to spend two more dazs in Stuttgart as there was quite much to see.