A long Weekend in France – Part 2

2017-12-09 at 16:57

Todays plan – a circle from Douaumont to Reims and Auberive after that over Souain-Perthes-lès-Hurlus to Sainte-Menehould. Visit a few more cemeteries and see some French country side.

Douaumont Ossuary

Douaumont Ossuary

A memorial build within the Verdun battlefields. It contains more than 130.000 fallen soldiers of the French and German side. In front of the memorial is a big graveyard with more fallen soldiers. The battle of Verdun was the longest in human history and lasted 303 days. In 2000 it was estimated that the battle took 714,231 soldiers. Recent estimates go up to 976.000 casualties during the battle with 1.250.000 suffered at Verdun in the first world war.
When you drive to the monument you pass trenches and smaller memorials. A whole village that was destroyed and not rebuild after the war. You drive through peaceful forest that was planted here in 1930 – still 100.000 missing soldiers under that forest. And every time they find the remains of one they bring them into the Douaumont Ossuary.

The largest single French military cemetery of the First World War with 16,142 graves.
The largest single French military cemetery of the First World War with 16,142 graves.

Muslim part of the grave yard
Muslim part of the grave yard

10 soldiers in one grave
10 soldiers in one grave

Grave

Douaumont Ossuary

At last 130.000 soldiers are buried under the building
At last 130.000 soldiers are buried under the building

All of them unidentified combatants of both nations
All of them unidentified combatants of both nations

Mitterrand and Kohl lay down wreaths 1984 in memory of the fallen soldiers
September 22nd 1984 the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (whose father had fought near Verdun) and French President François Mitterrand (who had been taken prisoner nearby in World War II), lay down wreathsin memory of the fallen soldiers. They where holding hands for several minutes in driving rain as a gesture of Franco-German reconciliation. And there are some mad monkeys that think Europe is a bad idea! This is the longest time we had no war with the French. In fact no war at all in the European Union since WW II.

Memorial for the Jewish soldiers
Memorial for the Jewish soldiers

Why could they not ask for German translation?? Forbidden lawn?? And even spelled wrong
Why could they not ask for German translation?? Forbidden lawn?? And even spelled wrong

La Pompelle Marker
This stones mark the furthes points the Germans reached during the 1918 offensives. This one in La Pompelle was paid for by the Mexican Association of War Veterans. 200 Mexicans fought in this sector!

Fort de Vaux

This was the second fort that fell into German hands after Fort Douaumont.

Flags over Fort Vaux
Flags over Fort Vaux

Memorial for Rayand's last pigeon
Memorial for Rayand's last pigeon

Hospital in Fort Vaux
Hospital in Fort Vaux

Canon in Fort Vaux
One of the Canons

Enough of the war for today!

Reims

Breakfast in France
Coffee break before we hit the city

Cathedral Notre Dame in Reims
Cathedral Notre Dame in Reims. The first church was build here in 401. In 816 the first King of France was crowned here. After that it was remodel, it burned down and rebuild a few times.

Cathedral Notre Dame
The main entrance in the front

Cathedral Notre Dame
A fire destroyed the towers in 1481

Cathedral Notre Dame
Inside the Cathedral. The 3 windows all the way in the end are designed by Marc Chagall

Cathedral Notre Dame
This is pretty amazing

Cathedral Notre Dame

Cathedral Notre Dame

Public library
Public library – one of the many Art Deco buildings in Reims. After the First World War 80 percent of the city was destroyed. So a lot of buildings where build in the 1020s. I have to go again next year and have a look!

Louis XV in front of the Place Royal
Louis XV in front of the Place Roya

What a nice house
What a nice house

500 years Jeanne D'Arc
500 years Jeanne D'Arc

Reims

The town hall in Reims
The town hall in Reims

Hôtel de Ville, Reims
Hôtel de Ville, Reims

Detail of the town hall
Detail of the town hall

A horse looks out of a wall
A horse looks out of a wall

Sube Fountain
Sube Fountain

A living wall
A living wall

Auberive

Road in Auberive
Road in Auberiv

French cemetry in the front - German one in the back
French national cemetery Le Bois du Puits

They put them 6 feet under head to head
They put them 6 feet under head to head – which is quite unusual

5359 German soldiers - 3124 that could not be identified were laid in an ossuary at the end of the grave yard
5359 German soldiers – 3124 that could not be identified were laid in an ossuary at the end of the grave yard

Book with the names - in case you want to find your great-grandfather
Book with the names – in case you want to find your great-grandfather

Name book

Now it looks quiet and peaceful
Now it looks quiet and peaceful

The clouds made the whole visit even more intense
The dramatic sky with the clouds made the visit even more intense

Flat land and a wide sky
Flat land and a wide sky

We drive to the next place
We drive to the next place

Souain-Perthes-les Hurlus

Souain War Cemetery - French side - more than 30.000 graves
La Crouée War Cemetery is the name of the French side – more than 30.000 graves

Under this stone are 11320 fallen German soldiers
Souain German War Cemetery is the name of the German side. Under this “Unknown soldiers” memorial are 11320 fallen German soldiers buried

Names and rang

Another 1900 graves on the German side of the grave yard
Another 1900 graves on the German side of the grave yard

The Jewish got different stones
The Jewish got different stones

The old stone with outdated information
The old stone with outdated information

 
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A long Weekend in France – Part 1

2017-12-05 at 22:53

A few weeks after my short trip to the US I was very happy to go on a short trip to France for a few days. I had no exact plan only a hotel booked towards Bitche. When I saw a war monument from the first world war I had the idea to look a bit round the old battlefields. Visit some fortifications and grave yards. And so we did. If you plan this well you can go and explore this area for weeks but we only had a few days and no plan – so we only stopped at a few places – Bitche, Barst and Douaumont⁩.

But first we passed those cows. How can you not stop and pet them?? Somehow I like cows – not the fact that they contribute so much to global warming. (Livestock emissions make up anywhere between 14.5 and 18 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Comparably, the transportation sector is responsible for around 14 percent of emissions. And that was what we put out there in 2016 but now we learned that cow farts are even worse!! Researchers where off by as much as 10%!!!) So putting all that to the side we had to stop – good for you since you can look at them too – sorry – no touching for you!

Highland cow from Scotland
Highland cow from Scotland

Highland cow baby from Scotland
Highland cow baby from Scotland

The Bitche Citadel

Bitche was formed from the towns Rohr and Kaltenhausen in the 17th century. The name comes from an old stronghold (earliest mentions in 1172). The French constructed the citadel in 1624 – it was destroyed and rebuild and further fortified 1740. They did such a good job that the citadel was impregnable all the way into the 20th century.

Bitche citadel
Entrance to the fort

Bitche citadel'
Entrance to the fort

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Wall of the Bitche citadel
Wall of the Bitche citadel – they used the same red stone so it looks as if the citadel is growing gout of the rock.

Wall of the Bitche citadel

Bitche from the citadel
Bitche from the citadel

Lets move on!

Barst

Part of the Aquatic Maginot Line – Barst has a few bunkers and a anti-tank wagon. I did not know how important this one is – I did not even took a picture of it 🙁
Anyhow the Aquatic Maginot Line has the word Aqua in it because it was rather different from the other parts of the Maginot Line. It is at the river Saar border and if the Germans come you can flood the whole line of defense. This make it impossible or very difficult to pass with tanks and heavy weapons. And it would slow down an attack so the French could bring more troops to defend it.

Small graveyard in Barst
Small graveyard in Barst

Barst

Two bunkers in Barst at the Aquatic Maginot Line
Two bunkers in Barst at the Aquatic Maginot Line

View from a trench toward a bunker
View from a trench toward a bunker

Trenches
Trenches

Fort Douaumont

Much of the trench war in the first world war in this region was around Verdun. Verdun was protected by a ring of 19 forts. Douaumont was the biggest and the highest one. The French generals judged Douaumont ineffective after Germany took a few forts in Belgium very easy – with the help of the new 420mm Gamma howitzers. (A crazy super-heavy siege gun – you need to poor a bed of concrete to operate this monster) So they left it almost undefended. In February 1916 less than 100 Germans took the fort without a fight (only 3 days after the battle of Verdun started). One German climbed inside and opened a door. He captured a few man inside with only a bolt-action rifle – like in a bad American movie. Later more Germans arrived and not a single shoot was fired in the capture of the fort. It became an invulnerable shelter and operational base for German forces just behind their front line. The french army had to get the fort back which took 9 months and would cost the French army 100,000 lives.

The original plans of 1914
The original plans of 1914

155 mm Gun-Turret in Douaumont⁩
155 mm Gun-Turret

Machine-gun turret
Machine-gun turret

75mm Gun-Turret
75mm Gun-Turret – the gun was destroyed from a Gamma howitzer shell

Observation post
Observation post

Back of Fort Douaumont
Back of Fort Douaumont

Sleeping room
Sleeping room

Toilet
Toilet

The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret
The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret. Galopin Gun as the French call it. They build this one between 1907 and 1909. You can turn it 360 degrees and after you shoot you can lower it again to protect it. There are two counterweights to lift the 37.000 kilogram gun tower. You only need 3 men and 2 minutes to lift it 60 cm to its fire position. A grenade could cover up to 7,2 kilometers and weighted 43 kilogram.

The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret
The mechanic of the 155 mm Gun-Turret

Counter weight
One of the two counter weights

This place is huge
This place is huge

I see red wine!
I see red wine!

This could be the underground entrance
This could be the underground entrance

Washing room
Washing room

There is something growing here
There is something growing here

679 German soldiers are buried behind that wall
679 German soldiers are buried behind that wall. There was a fire that detonated grenades and flamethrower fuel. This killed hundreds instantly.

Enough of the war for today. Lets go to the hotel and have a glass of red wine as well.

 
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4 Days in the US – Day 1 From Chicago to Fitchburg⁩

2017-11-29 at 18:21

Another Long Man mission. Fly to Chicago and deliver some parts – have a few free days to explore – fly back. I like those kind of missions. Got a car for 4 days and booked a few nice hotels. Spring was late this year so it was not as green as I hoped for but it was a free trip so why complain?? First stop ‎⁨Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩ via Frankfurt and Chicago.

Stuttgart Airport
Stuttgart Airport – even a decent time of the day. Usually when I do this kind of trips I am on the first plane out of Frankfurt to Chicago which leaves at 07:25. That means get up at 03:00 – drive to Heilbronn – pick up the goods and race to Frankfurt Airport to get the flight.

Stuttgart Airport

Nobody looks really happy today
Nobody looks really happy today

Not a lot of leg room
Not a lot of leg room

Lufthansa A320-200

Loook! An Air Berlin plane!
Loook! An Air Berlin plane!

Off we go - the Albtrauf in the back
Off we go – the Albtrauf in the back

It is blue over the clouds
It is blue over the clouds. I really love it on a rainy day. You have a gray day and go in a plane – it takes off and gets over the clouds – voilà! Sunshine!!!

Look - LEGROOM!!
Look – LEGROOM!!

But it is only the shuttle bus in Frankfurt
But it is only the shuttle bus in Frankfurt

The plane is somewhere - we do a sight-seeing tour of FRA
Usually I do not like it when they ferry you with the bus to the plane. But this time it was different. The plane is somewhere out there – we do a sight-seeing tour of FRA 🙂

Quite interesting
Quite interesting to see the planes from this site

The back turbine
The back turbine

A United plane
A United plane

Finally in my United plane - a bit better than Lufthans on the way to Frankfurt
Finally in my United plane – a bit better than Lufthans on the way to Frankfurt

I want to be able to do that!
I want to be able to do that! Board a plane and fall asleep – how nice would it be. No waiting for the food, no looking for the next movie – only a cruise in dreamland.

Stupid Premium Economy - the exit row in front of me was empty but of course you have to pay for it. And so was most of the Premium Economy part of the plane as well.
Stupid Premium Economy – the exit row in front of me was empty but of course you have to pay for it. And so was most of the Premium Economy part of the plane as well.

Vegetarian lunch
Vegetarian lunch

The wine was not really drinkable - the beer was!
The wine was not really drinkable – the beer was! I had two young Germans in my row. They where on the way to Vegas. And they had a few 1000 to blow. But no clue about beer. Lucky for me they wanted German beer – Warsteiner – one of our TV Beers – so more birds for me 🙂
The flight attendant was German and did look at me like I had a funny hat on – why would you drink American beer? Well she accepted my explanation with the TV beer and handed me a Goose. I told her later that this is a really good beer – much better than Warsteienr if you ask me. Turns out she does not drink beer in the first place.

But they only had a few of the birds so I had one of them as well
But they only had a few of the birds so I had one of them as well

Watched a few movies
Watched a few movies

Snack before touchdown in Chicago
Snack before touchdown in Chicago

Closer to Chicago
Close to Chicago

Close to Chicago
Closer to Chicago

Chicago

Immigration at O’Hare International Airport – the longest I had to stand in line was OVER 3 hours!! That was with the morning flight when a lot of planes come in. Now they have a different system with a lot of machines. Scan the passport, do this do that – do not smile for the picture and whatever. Since I brought some sample I marked the custom form for the goods. After that is was waiting waiting and waiting but not 3 hours more like 45 minutes. Finally it was my turn and I had to explain two times what I bring and after that I had my stamp and was off to customs. They X-Ray the bag and Adios! Good! Germany booked a car for me – at Hertz. So you go out and wait for the shuttle bus to bring you to the rental office.

  • Enterprise 11 times
  • Avis 10 times
  • Thrifty 10 times
  • Alamo 10 times
  • National 9 times
  • Budget 8 times
  • Dollar 8 times
  • Hertz 0 times

WTF??? Somehow I should bring stuff to Fitchburg⁩ in ⁨Wisconsin and not look at the shuttle buses from other rental companies! I see one upstairs – hmm since I waited now more than 30 minutes why not try upstairs at departure? – upstairs I go. Same same – but different! Now more National and Alamo and less Avis buses. I see one coming at arrival again. Running down like a rabbit runs from the fox I got in – let’s go and get the car!
Only 4 more customers in the bus – looks like I do not have to wait today. Ha Ha Hertz had a dirty trick up their sleeve! I dunno how they did it but there where about 25 customers in front of me. Hmmm they might send only one shuttle every 40 minutes or so – this way the line will not be all the way out of their office. Another hour and some minutes pass and finally I get the keys.
The nice thing with renting in the US is that you can choose your car at the parking lot. You rent a class and go and see what parks there. If you have time you even wait a bit if something better comes in. Lets see – I need a nice color and something I fit into. USB etc they all have so no need to check that. In the end I opted for a KIA with 349 miles on the clock. Who does not like the smell of a new car?

Finally in the rental car
Finally in the rental car

My ride for the next few day - a KIA whatever. Lots of plastic but it drives well
My ride for the next few day – a KIA whatever. Lots of plastic but it drives well. I was a bit confused about the toll system here. The last times I paid cash but some of the toll stations do not have an option to pay cash. And I had next to no coins as well so I stopped at a gas station to get something to drink and coins. Just in case. Next both I put my coins a man who worked there told me the car has an I-PASS thing on the windshield. You can open and close it and decide if you want to pay with it or with your credit card or cash. Ok – good to know….
There was not too much traffic and I got into ‎⁨Fitchburg a bit after 18:00.

Fitchburg⁩

Had to bring the samples to two technicians waiting for them in the
Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg. They where happy and I was tired. Of course there where no room booked for me but I was too lazy to find something else so I checked in the Wyndham. Nice place next to a small mall. So no need to take the car to get some food. To tired to go to a restaurant that has some vegetarian options anyhow.

Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩

My room at the Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩
My room at the Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg⁩, ⁨Wisconsin⁩

Mini Bar, Microwave, Coffee Maker and an Ice Cooler
Mini Bar, Microwave, Coffee Maker and a Ice Cooler – looks like I need that little ice cooler later!

Sink opposite of the bathroom
Sink opposite of the bathroom

The bathroom
The bathroom – no space for a sink there.

If you ever go to Fitchburg⁩ use my affiliate link and stay at the: Wyndham Garden Madison in Fitchburg

Went over the street and scouted for some dinner options. Hmm took me the longest time in front of that fridge!
Fuck - which one?
Fuck – which one?

The choice for today. Hummus, Avocados, Bananas and Baguette. And - BEER!
The selection for today. Hummus, Avocados, Bananas and Baguette. And – BEER!

House of Cards in real :-(
House of Cards in real 🙁

Here you find day 2: 4 Days in the US – Day 2 From Fitchburg⁩ to Mukwonago
Here you find day 3: 4 Days in the US – Day 3 From Mukwonago to Libertyville

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Back in Thailand – Winter 2016/2017

2017-03-14 at 08:56

Enough of the zigzagging round Europe. Time to see some sunshine and blue sky. Mid November it was – time to fly to BKK. Did book the flight quite early this year after all the cheap offers in my mail box. 528€ with Lufthansa from STR over FRA to BKK. Back BKK over ZHR to STR. Of course the cheapest offer was 430€ with China and I got it after I booked the ticket.
So my Lufthansa flight was Wednesday the 23rd and Monday evening two days before the flight Lufthansa pilots announced they will strike. Starting Wednesday! Great news!
So Lufthansa has a hotline – but only one or two people working that hotline I guess – and after about 10 to 15 minutes the computer tells you to go to the web site and change the flight yourself. So I tried the web site and the phone at the same time. Guess a few more people tried that as well. Nothing worked – every time I had changed the ticket the server gave me an error – so I looked up the Lufthansa number in New York and VOIP them. 6 minutes later I was rebooked to Swiss from STR over ZHR to BKK the same day as the original flight. No sure why Lufthansa can not even deal with a strike that they know is coming? And it was not even the first time. I really have to change back to one of the Golf airlines again.
The first leg was quite nice – small plane and all. The second leg was impossible – I had more leg room in the small propeller plane!! Absolute no space to move – and not only me. That was a quite new Boeing 777-300ER – and do you think you can move the screen? If the person in front of you leans back your movie is over – unless you lean back as well. What a BS! Even the average customer was complaining. To bad I have the same plane on the way back 🙁
The small one to Zürich
The first leg – STR to ZHR.

Adios STR
Adios STR

En route to Zürich
En route to Zürich

Guess which Airport that is
Guess which Airport that is

Swiss No Space Inside Plane
Swiss No Space Inside Plane

No space Swiss Airlines
See the old guy? He was something like 166cm and he did fit into that seat. But you are better not over 170cm! And see the screens – you can not tilt them a millimetre. So comfort in this plane: Zero as in there is none!

Dinner
Had my Vegetarian Meal and two red wines. And after a movie and 2 sleeping pills I was finally sleeping a bit.

Little fluffy clouds
Little fluffy clouds

Breakfast
Breakfast

Over Thailand

Blue sky over Thailand
Blue sky over Thailand

A few seconds before touchdown in Bangkok
A few seconds before touchdown in Bangkok

Airport Transfer
The last few times I took the train down town and a taxi – this time I was lazy and took the good old mini bus again. Takes forever but you save the hassle with finding a taxi that turns on the meter at the place where they know that you are a tourist coming from the airport.

Pad Thai
My good old Noodle Lady in the park was on vacation so I had my first Pad Thai in the evening somewhere on the street.

Booze only from 11-14 and 17-24!
Booze only from 11-14 and 17-24 at 7/11! I know I do not get my beer here – I support the small shops – and they do sell the whole day as well. I was only here to get a new toothbrush – sorry small shops – only seven has it.

Leo at my favourite bar
Leo at my favourite bar: Nom Tung Loaw in the little alley next to Soi Samsen

Andy is the Man
Thank you Andy for coming over to my neck of the woods.

The boss man on the left
The boss man on the left

Possmann
The next day I went to see Scott. Ended up at a Couchsurf meeting at Silom. Later we passed this – ha!

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