The Vault Regulars

Monday, December 30, 2013

A walk around Hamburg dockland.

A good meal last night at an Italian Restaurant. Good quality and not expensive in comparison to UK.
Today we had a walk around the town. Its big and sprawling and you can walk miles. Did i mention it is Germany’s 2nd largest city.

Why Hamburg for Christmas, some of you may be wondering. Well it had nothing to do with me. Sheila’s sister, partner, cousin live in Australia and they were touring Europe. It just so happened that their plans had them in Hamburg for Christmas and so the plan was devised that Sheila, Dorothy  and I would meet up and the rest is history.

I had no preconceived ideas about Hamburg having never been before. I cannot speak German which bothered me slightly and i had no idea what we would find to do etc etc.
I had no need to worry. It’s a fantastic place to go for Christmas and everyone we met and tried to speak to were so friendly and patient with our lack of language. Knowing only the very basics, hello, goodbye, thank you, please and of course how to order a beer, we managed ok. Most Germans speak very good English like the rest of Europe.

We had already walked most of the Christmas markets so decided we would head for dockland which still had many old warehouses. Many had been converted into offices or tourist attractions.
The building below caught my eye for some reason.

Shame that the doors were locked as this building has the oldest Paternoster lift in Germany still in working order.
There is lots to see along the Elbe river, obviously lots of shipping, ferries, floating restaurants, tall ships, paddle steamers, Fish and Chip shops, the Elbe tunnel and many wonderful pieces of architecture.
Here are a few of the sights.
 Hamburg Town Hall

By the time we had reached the Elbe tunnel it was raining and starting to go dark. We decided it was time to head back. We should have taken the local train back to Hamburg Central but decided to walk instead. It was quite a walk back. Much further than we had anticipated. But we did get back even though it was now quite dark as we found the hotel.
Another lovely day. Time is going so quickly. Tomorrow we are getting a train to Lubeck.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A day out in, you've guessed, Hamburg.

As we walked past the lake following the aroma of Bratwurst being grilled and Gluhwein being warmed up we noticed a boat trip just about to depart from the jetty. We managed to get on board and had a delightful hour swaning around the Alster inner and outer lakes of central Hamburg.
There are many stunning and I mean stunning properties along the route as well as parks and rowing clubs. Lots of joggers, cyclists and dog walkers were using the shoreline path.

It was a calm day, blue sky to the north and quite a pleasant temperature.The sky over the city was quite hazy with the sun casting a luminescent light.
The Alster lakes, which there are two, are man made and some interesting points about them can be found HERE

Then above the waterfront buildings we spotted a hot air balloon which didn't seem to rise too high or travel far before disapearing below the skyline.

 Hamburg Skyline
The attractive shoreline

Back on solid ground we carried on wandering through the Christmas markets and eventually stopped for a coffee. Up from behind the Town Hall appeared the balloon again. It was tethered and so obviously a tourist attraction rather than a trip across the city. We decided to go and find its location and see if we could go up.

We found it after about a 15 minute walk, paid the 15 euro and entered the metal basket.
Up we rose to a height of 150 metres I think it was. That might not sound much but I can asure you it was high enough.
Fantastic views over Germany's 2nd largest city.

 Looking down through the basket as we rose higher.

Maybe i shouldn’t put this but the whole thing was held in place by one pin (Thats the lowest one, in the above pic). If it failed, sugar! There was a sensor on the upper pin but i don’t think there was one on the lower pin.
I’m sure they know what they are doing.

Again, once on solid ground we headed back to the lakeside markets and they were getting busy. We bought sausage and hot wine and mingled with the locals and tourists eating delightful local delicacies.
I was quite tempted to buy some Alpaca wool gloves but resisted as I have loads of gloves at home. Sheila bought herself a very nice leather purse as a momento.

A delightful day was had and my expectations of Hamburg exceeded. Tomorrow we planned a sightseeing day and i couldn’t wait.

There are quite a few more images of the day here. If you want to take a look.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hamburg or Hamburger sir.

Debbie, that's Sheila's sis booked this hotel ages ago and at the same time checked out Christmas lunch menu. She then booked a table for all 6 of us.
The menu wasn't great but adequate for us.

So 12.00 noon came along and we made our way to the restaurant and to our table which was nicely set out in Christmas flora etc.

Then we were given a menu. Burger and chips or Burger without chips. We all looked at each other in bewilderment, a bit speechless. Debbie asked for the Christmas menu which she had been sent when we booked the table but we were told we couldn't have that because we hadn't booked the food.

But we booked a table for Christmas lunch we explained. Yes but you didn't book Christmas lunch was the reply.

Now if you were running a hotel and months in advance somebody books a table for Christmas lunch, would you not find it a bit strange if they didn't book the meal. In that case would you not reply when you confirmed the table booking that no meal had been booked, and was it an oversight?

But no. They let us book a table and no meal. Crackers or what.
So we splashed out the Euro's and went for the full burger and chips. They did offer us ice cream for desert which was very kind of them wasn't it.

To be honest I wasn't upset but Debbie was a little upset as you can imagine. We still had a laugh which was more than our other guests on adjacent tables were having.
After lunch we departed to our room for a bit of a party which went on until 8.30pm, I think.

I don't think the hotel staff were very happy this morning as they have cleaned the room but left all the empty bottles and there is quite a few. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas in Hamburg ho ho ho.

Because of the awful weather we were having yesterday we 3 got to Manchester Airport in very good time. On route the motorway was flooded in a couple of areas and the traffic was crawling. I would have hated to have been stuck in it later on.
The flight in front of ours was cancelled and the peeps put up overnight in the Crowne Plaza. We kept our fingers crossed and it worked, we left Manchester only 40 minutes late.
It was a good flight in a new CRJ 900 aircraft. A bit like a stretched Leerjet without the accessories.
Sheila's sister was there to meet us when we arrived at the hotel.
We are staying at the Barcelo Hotel in the Centrum of Hamburg.

Sheila's other half of the family which included Patrick and Anna were curled up fast asleep. Well it was 11.30pm.
After a good chinwag and a few beers we also turned in.

So today we have done some serious provisions shopping. Red and white wine, Champers and beers and I think we bought some crisps for some reason. Tonight we are off to an Italian restaurant on the waterfront. We have been told that we don't need to book a table as most German folk stay at home on Christmas Eve.

Hamburg railway station foyer.

Anyway, this post was to say to all who have read or contributed to this blog in any way, Have a Merry Christmas and have a great time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Salomon xa pro 3D ultra shoe

Numerous times I have mentioned on this blog and commented on other blogs about just how well made my Salomon xa pro 3D ultra shoes are and how the materials have lasted in comparison to other shoes of similar ilk.
My first connection with these shoes was when i advised Sheila to buy a pair for the gym and general use. I bought mine about 6 months later when I realised just how good they were.
I have now had mine for about  6 years. Initially, (the first couple of years) I used them regularly for off road running as well as weekly gym work.
I also used them lots of days as just casual wear and holidays.
Although I have bought a number of other shoes since, Adidas, Carn, Inov-8's, non have come near to outlasting the Salomon's. They are the daddy by a long long way IMO.
I have never kept a record of how many miles I have done in these shoes but a conservative estimate is 1500 miles.
They are still secured with the original laces and although I have used a number of different insoles, i still have the original insoles and they are still serviceable.
There is obviously some areas of wear on the lugs of the contragrip sole but they are far from worn out. I have never repaired them, glued them or stitched them anywhere.  There are still many more miles in them.
Even though they are unlined and mesh the sensifit uppers have never split like others do in the areas of most bending and around the little toe areas. I have an area on the tongue, about 1cm long where the stitching has started to come away.
The sole has stayed attached to the upper and the lace eyes have not split through. The toe protector has not started to become detached and the heel pull has not come away.
They have been hand washed in luke warm water so many times it is uncountable. The colour is still good and they don't smell that bad either.

I'm not going to go into the spec of the shoe in this post because it's available HERE for anyone who wants to read about them and its in far more detail than i would do. Just scroll down the page and hover the mouse over the headings for a spec description.

The shoes are still available and have obviously stood the test of time. You can pick them up for around £75. I think that's just about what we paid for ours all those years ago.

Here are some photo's of mine.
 Salomon XA PRO 3D.
 Signs of wear on the heel but not right through. More than likely caused by misuse when putting the shoe on without loosening off the laces enough.
 One small hole has appeared just inside the eyelet. 2nd up on the rhs.
 Under sole showing the wear points which, considering the mileage are still in fair condition. The outer heel and the central foot area being worst affected.

 2 shots, No splitting mesh or sole breakout.
 Inside tongue and ankle support intact.
 Zoom inside the shoe. (As best i could) to show inside is all intact.
 Showing no real wear and tear.
 Stitching on both tongues starting to come away. (Easily fixed)
 Again you can see the stitches on the tongue of the shoe that has come adrift. 
Toe protection still in good condition. Laces still as good as new.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Martins 2013 Christmas Walk

Martin has been arranging this annual walk for years, and I mean YEARS.
Sheila and I have enjoyed 3 now. The venue varies and this years walk and Christmas Lunch was excellent. Made even better by the company. There were 25 of us.

I had been kind of planning my recovery programme so that I would be fit enough to do this walk. As usual things don't always go as planned and I was just a little behind where I wanted to be. So I was a bit nervy starting off.
It was good to meet Gayle and Jeff again. Below is a photo of Gayle and Jeff which i nicked off Gayles blog, (naughty), because i didn't get one. Don't they look very very clean. This pic was taken a while ago. Ha

Shame Gayle's other half  Mick was away on business. I believe he is in Israel rewiring the star above Bethlehem. And of course Martin and Sue and Roger from LDWA walks and numerous others who I spoke to but never asked names.
We started the walk from the pay and display car park (£3.50) just south of Tideswell village in Derbyshire. It was a grey day and lightly spitting with rain. Everybody was on time and we were away at the designated time of 10.15am after the group photo.
Heading south down the dale we came across a huge carved vole, I think it was a vole anyway. There was lots of chatter from the group as is usual when so many folk get together. How have you been, where have you been, read the blog and got the tee shirt etc etc. All good stuff.
 We followed  the River Wye for a way downstream crossing over at the bridge adjacent to Litton Mill. Plenty of trout were spotted as we made our way over.

A short rise brought us onto the old disused railway line which we followed for a short distance before leaving it to head upwards on a steep slippery path which terminated at the ridge line above Priestcliffe Lees.

It was indeed steep and had a few of us blowing hard. On the way up I had a chat with Gayle about some thinsulate hand warmers I had been hoping to get sorted out.

At the top we stopped to admire the views and get our breath back before moving into a more sheltered spot to have a quick brew.  Sue offered chocolate brownies and nobody refused as far as i could see. The wind had become quite strong and chilly and it was good to get back moving.

On decent paths we followed Bulltor Lane and along the top of High Dale. Then past Top, Middle and Lower Farms at Brushfield.

  A steep decent through old wooded trackways brought us back parallel with the river in Monsal Dale. Quite a few English Longhorn cattle mingled in the gorse and grass. They were no trouble.
A little further on and once through a number of deep muddy sections we crossed the river at the weir. A five minute stop was taken as its quite a picturesque spot for photographs.

It was a steady climb for the next 10 minutes through woodland until the track leveled out. Skirting the south edge of Monsal Dale the views get better and better. Not much further on we had our first sighting of the old railway headstone viaduct built in 1863 by the Midland Railway. It is 300ft long and has 5 arches. Now disused it has become a great walking and cycling route.

Into view next came our lunch stop, The Monsal Head.

I had been in here once before but a long time ago. Removing our very muddy boots and gaiters we were seated in the large hall.
The first alcoholic drink was on the house and then we were served a wonderful three coarse lunch.
Sheila and I chose Goat Cheese Ciabatta, which was absolutely gorgeous, with a traditional Turkey Christmas Dinner and followed by Apple crumble, mince pies and coffee.

We have to say, it was terrific. Everything about the meal was first class, so a big thank you to Sarah and all the staff at the hotel for doing us proud.

During the meal Martin gave us all a quiz sheet where we had to name photographs taken from his blog. There were prizes, oh yes. This year i didn't win anything. I think i came 4th or 5th. I didn't do too well. I think my memory had gone on holiday. Jeff and i talked gear, as you do.

When it came to leaving, i was definitely full to bursting. Thankfully we only had a short leg of the walk to do and it was either down hill or flat. Thank you Martin for arranging it this way as i doubt that i would have made it going the reverse route. The wind had now become quite fierce, the hotel is in a very exposed position being at the highest point in the dale.

Once down onto the viaduct we lost the wind as we were sheltered from it. The tunnels were open after many years of closure. A sign said the tunnel lights go out at dusk. Strange, i thought, shouldn't they come on at dusk?

Anyway off we set along the track bed and through a tunnel or 3. Lots of soot still clinging onto the roof and sidewalls from the hundreds of steam trains which used to pass. Exiting each tunnel the sky was growing pinker and pinker then redder and redder until we had a decent sunset sky. Unfortunately we were in a gorge so the visual extent of the sunset was limited.

Dusk was just falling as we made our way off the track bed and back over the river. Darkness fell as we entered Tideswell Dale and my torch was only used for the last few hundred yds. Great planning that Martin.
Our total distance 16.4km.
I had no adverse reaction so that was pleasing. In fact i felt much better apart from the obvious tiredness of muscles that had no been used for a while. Oh and the full stomach was complaining a little.
As luck would have it, we had no rain, snow, hail, or sleet to contend with but 20 minutes after getting back to the car the heavens opened. 

Thanks Martin and Sue for organising the day. It was very much appreciated.
Here  is a link to all the pics i took on the walk.  I have put it in so that if anybody wants to take a copy they can do. I havn't sorted out them out so there are a few crappy shots. There are no copyright restrictions so you should be able to download what you want. Any problems just post a message.

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