Author Topic: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels  (Read 11764 times)

Glaurung

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Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« on: August 19, 2014, 08:24:26 PM »
Pentagathus suggested I start a new thread for this (instead of cluttering up Going to be Away?), so here it is. I will re-post here my last post there, so that people can pick up the thread of the discussion.

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2014, 08:25:47 PM »
Welcome back :)
Many thanks.

How was the land of Germans?
It was good. It contained nice scenery, interesting towns, trains, beer, schnitzel, wurst, sauerkraut, and pastries, all of which I enjoyed. It also contained rain, which I did not enjoy.

I also visited the lands of the Danes, the Swedes and the Czechs. Much the same comments apply to these too. My train from Sweden to Germany crossed the Baltic Sea on a ferry - one of only three places in Europe where this happens now.

Oh, and if you could just give me some of your vacation time...
It'sss mine, my preciousss, all mine.  :gollum:

Jubal

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2014, 09:02:08 PM »
Best food out of the four countries?

Also, what are the other places with ferry trains?
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2014, 09:42:34 PM »
Best food out of the four countries?
That's a difficult one to answer. I didn't eat anything genuinely Danish (too expensive, given the exchange rate) or Swedish (also expensive, and I was only in the country for three hours or less). Czech food seems to be very similar to German - a lot of pork, ham and sausages, with dumplings, potatoes and cabbage.

Also, what are the other places with ferry trains?
The one I travelled on is Trelleborg (Sweden, near Malmö) to Sassnitz (on the island of Rügen); this route has now finished operating for the year, and may be Trelleborg - Rostock instead next year. The other two are Puttgarden (Germany) - Rødby (Denmark) on the direct Hamburg - Copenhagen route, and Villa San Giovanni - Messina, between the 'toe' of Italy and Sicily.

I can think of three more that used to operate but have been replaced by fixed links (bridges and/or tunnels):
  • Dover - Calais: there used to be an overnight London - Paris train this way
  • Helsingør (Denmark) - Helsingborg (Sweden): replaced by the Copenhagen - Malmö bridge and tunnel
  • Nyborg - Kørsør: internal link within Denmark
There are, or have been, other train ferry routes which carry freight wagons only - one across the Bosphorus, and another across Lake Van, both in Turkey, for example.

Pentagathus

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2014, 09:45:28 PM »
Which parts of sweden did you visit?

Oh. Well.
How expensive are alcoholic beverages in Denmark compared to here?

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2014, 10:01:47 PM »
Which parts of sweden did you visit?
Just the extreme southwestern corner: a quick peek out of Malmö Central station at the surrounding city (some nice buildings), and the short train journey to Trelleborg - through open farmland, rather than the expected endless forest.

How expensive are alcoholic beverages in Denmark compared to here?
53 kroner (about £6) for 400ml in a restaurant (with 500ml and 300ml also available); it's somewhat cheaper for bottles from a supermarket. However, since I was coming from Germany, where it's typically 1 euro (80p!) per bottle, I bought one there and took it with me.
The really expensive country is Norway - I think beer is at least £8 or £9 a pint there :(

Pentagathus

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2014, 10:17:09 PM »
Yeah but everything is expensive in norway, some of my friends from Trondheim take a train into sweden when they want to do a large food shop.
And sweden has the stupid systembolaget bollocks, can't even buy from an off licence half the time. What would their ancestors think of them now?

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 10:00:18 PM »
Meanwhile, I'm back in Germany again, this time just for a long weekend (this is not unusual!). I'm in Saxony (Sachsen in German), the southern part of the old East Germany, around Dresden and Leipzig.

I flew in to Leipzig yesterday evening, after work - I'm quite impressed that I can now get to various parts of Europe after a normal day's work. En route, I grumbled at evolution for fitting Eustachian tubes with (nearly) one way valves. I also decided that if I ran an airline, I would only accept booking for children under 5 if they were going to be sedated while on the plane. Sometimes I might want to sedate the parents too...

I've spent today wandering around the area west of Leipzig by public transport, seeing some of the country and indulging my interest in trains. As ever, I'm impressed by the German ability to make public transport work. I bought a day ticket covering three German states (Länder), valid on all forms of public transport - trains, buses, trams. I had planned a route in advance involving numerous connections, including some between different modes (train and bus), and it all worked - most journeys were on time, and all the connections were held.

What did I discover today:
- the south-eastern corner of the Harz range: a scenic hilly area with deep river valleys;
- an unexpected mining area (copper, I think) around Mansfeld and Eisleben;
- several interesting historic towns: Eisleben (birthplace of Martin Luther) and Merseburg. Merseburg was a particular surprise: it's in the middle of a major chemical industry area, but there's a well-preserved historic centre, including a cathedral and Schloss (loosely, castle).

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2014, 09:30:19 PM »
(Placeholder for the rest of my September German trip, which I still want to write about.)

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2014, 09:52:01 PM »
So, this time I'm in Sardinia, and it's spectacularly beautiful. I've only been here since Saturday afternoon (about 54 hours so far), and travelled around a fairly limited proportion of the island, but I think I can say so with some confidence. It's definitely going on my "place people should visit" list.

The landscape is very rugged - not quite mountainous, but very hilly, often with elaborately weathered rock outcrops. It's also a patchwork - forested valleys, rocky plateaus, farms and scrub land - all surrounded by a convoluted coast of inlets and islands. I have taken an awful lot of photos!

So far I've travelled around the northern end of the island; tomorrow I head south somewhat, and then right across the island from west to east.

Jubal

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2014, 11:09:00 PM »
Apparently the bronze age/nuragic fortresses are very impressive there. They kept building them and defending them until pretty much the Roman period IIRC.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2015, 12:07:55 AM »
I thought it was about time I revived this thread.

Last Saturday, I visited Stonehenge - the closest I'd got before was driving by on the A303 road, over 20 years ago, and I thought was about time I saw it properly. I'm glad I did: obviously it's one of the best known prehistoric sites in the world, with pictures and information readily available from many sources, but going there provides a sense of scale and of place that I think is impossible to gain in any other way.

How did I get there? I walked. OK, only from the new visitor centre, which is about a mile and half from the stones. It saved me a long wait for the shuttle bus, but it also seemed appropriate that I should approach this most ancient site in the same manner as the people who built it and used it must have done. It also helps a lot with the sense of scale and place that I mentioned: the path from the visitor centre leads over a gentle ridge, so that as you come around a corner of woodland, the landscape opens up, dropping gently to a river valley in the distance, with Stonehenge itself a small and almost continuous cluster of stone on a low rise about a mile ahead. Dotted around all over the visible landscape are barrows (burial mounds) and other earthworks, some newer than Stonehenge and some even older.

From the ridge top, a well-worn path leads down to the stones, and I joined the steady stream of people heading towards them. Ahead, I could also see the shuttle bus stop, and the much denser mass of people walking the last hundred metres to and from the stones, and around them. It seems ironic (or perhaps very fitting) that Stonehenge, apparently built as a temple some 4,500 years ago, should once again have become an object of ritual visitation; perhaps the sheer number of people now taking part makes up for the lack of formality in the observance.

The number of tourists visiting Stonehenge means that the site is also a study in how to balance the competing requirements of access and conservation. There are something like a million visitors each year; it would be very easy for the site to be "loved to death" - as indeed was happening up to 1977, when the stones were roped off and the public prevented from getting closer to them than a few metres. I would have liked to get closer, even between the stones; I think the layout would have made more sense from the inside. But if I could, everyone could; and then something unique and irreplaceable would be worn away, footstep by footstep, touch by touch. The current arrangements, with a path and grassed area providing a complete circuit of the stones for visitors, are probably as good a compromise as might be hoped for.

comrade_general

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2015, 12:50:59 AM »
Nice. :)

I've also been to the ropes. You should have waited until night and then snuck inside. That would be cool.

Glaurung

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2015, 07:51:34 PM »
You should have waited until night and then snuck inside. That would be cool.
Cool, but likely to lead to me being arrested and prosecuted :(

Also, I might run into people who've booked a "Stone Circle access" visit with English Heritage - since this costs £30 a head, they probably wouldn't be happy with an interloper coming over the fence. Some digging on the English Heritage website has revealed that such visits are available, at specified times outside normal opening hours (so early morning or late evening), with lots of restrictions on what people taking part can do.

Wikipedia thinks that there is public access to the stones at the solstices and equinoxes, but I'm not sure of the extent to which this is true.

I've also been to the ropes.
When did you go? If it was before 2013, you might like to consider going back some time: the A344 (the road running immediately north of Stonehenge) has now been closed, which I'm sure must make the whole site a lot quieter.

comrade_general

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Re: Not in Nargothrond, or, Glaurung's travels
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2015, 12:40:38 AM »
It was 2001 so well before then. Maybe on my next trip over. :)

Exilihenge!