Going a little out of order here, feels like I should end this trip summary with Paris so here are a few pics from Germany first. I took a train from Brussels to see some equipment I purchased. I wish I had the opportunity to take some pictures on the short little site seeing drive we went on as it was truly beautiful seeing this small city on the border of the Netherlands - the Rhine over flowing its banks, ducks and swans a plenty, people walking and riding their bikes everywhere, old houses with thatch roofs, the castle in Kleve....instead you get to see blurry pics out of my train window which very well could have been Belgium for all I know.
I've been working with Germans for the last 7 years and I've been to Germany twice now to two very different regions. Here is what I know - it's a beautiful country with a lot of history. The hotels are utilitarian beyond belief. The food is fried and heavy and not to my liking. They drive their VW's down the highway at 200km/hr in the rain. (slower traffic actually drives on the right, a concept Americans can't seem to grasp) The people are logical which can be trying at times. Try explaining to a Germany why we have to plan for someone to make a mistake and then try not to be offended by the look on their faces. But the people are also the best part of Germany - kind and well mannered, courteous and hospitable and accommodating. And everyone I met spoke at least 3 languages - German, Dutch, and English. We asked about turnover rate in the factory and it was almost like the concept didn't translate.
Let's start with the bad...I'm not sure if married couples get a double bed but as a single lady I get this luxurious suite. It was so low it reminded me of the futon I slept on in college. When you walk into the room you have to put your room key in a slot to complete the circuit for electricity. So there is no way in hell you can leave a light on and waste energy. There is no clock in the room and the tv, well, it works. If you stand too still waiting for the elevator all the lights shut off around you. Fabulous.
The typical breakfast served at hotels is cold cuts, cheese, muesli, breads, etc. I guess I didn't take pics of any other meals - but schnitzel and fries topped with mayo were common, or beef or pork covered in a heavy mushroom sauce. And lots of beer and wine. That part wasn't so bad.
Now just a little bit of the good part, as seen from my high speed train.
The Schwanenburg (swan's) Castle is one of the only structures left standing in Kleve (Cleves) after World War II (picture borrowed from the internets)
...up next, Amsterdam!