Notes from Puzzle Palace

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Lübeck and Rostock Germany

 20 May

Travemunde (Lübek) Germany

Germany holds a special place in my heart.  I have always felt a great love for this country.  You see, I came of age here and it is "home" to me.  When I lived in Hong Kong and got the chance to travel here I would well up with tears and be overcome with emotion every time I landed in Germany.  

Today was no different.  I still love this country and enjoyed stepping off the ship with my beautiful lover by my side to share the adventure with me.  We left the ship around 10:30 and went for a wander around town.  I had 2 shops in in mind that might sell puzzles but was sadly disappointed.  

We went to the Seabar for lunch and I had a curry wurst with bread.  I’ve been thinking of this since we knew we would be landing in Germany. It was my goto lunch when I lived here and I still love it today.  At home I often make the sauce myself.  You just can’t go wrong with a curry wurst.  

From here we went to an Edeka for some milk and brought it back to the ship before heading on a tour to Lübeck.  The bus ride was quick.  15 or 20 minutes tops.  We got there and started a walking tour.  Our guide took us down back roads and alleyways so we would see a different side of Lübeck than the normal tourist excursion.  Yeah right. I’ve been here before, and Tomas Mann’s grandparents house is not a 'good' stop.  I think it would have been better had she just shown us the main attractions and be done with it.  

I had a bit of fun with the devil, and not the one I married.

Later we went to a beer tasting.  There were 4 beers to taste, and 2 were good for me.  2 not. First, I do not like IPA’s so that one was out.  The first beer was good to begin with, but after tasting the others I didn’t care for it.  Add to that the change in smell as it sat there and It was really undrinkable.  The pretzels were good though.

When that was over we were given 1/2 hour in town to buy marzipan.  Ok.  No.  I found a place called toyshop and off I ran.  25 minutes later I came out with 5 puzzles.  Happy Happy Rox. 

We boarded the bus again and headed for the ship.  On the way, we saw a car we liked so we got back off the ship and walked over to take a look and a photo for our records.

We then headed back and had a lovely dinner with a couple of ladies newly on arrived for a two week stay.  

21 May 

Warnemunde (Rostock) Germany

We pulled into port at 7 am but that is simply too early for us so the curtains stayed shut.  Today we met with a friend of ours from the area to exchange puzzles, have a long overdue beer, and visit a puzzle shop or two in Rostock.

We met our friend Hendrik Haak, owner of and fellow IPPer at the boat before taking off on a short drive to Rostock for lunch. 

For us this trip to Europe has been heavenly.  We’ve been able to meet friends we haven’t seen since 2019.  How time flies.  I can’t believe it has been 3 years that we haven’t had our annual puzzle party.  This is the saddest part of the pandemic for everyone I think.  Not being able to see friends.  For this if nothing else, I am glad the ATW was diverted.  

Hendrik and I had a lot of puzzles to exchange.  I’ve purchased quite a few from him and he in turn had a bunch sent to me in the States. Normally we would exchange these at IPP’s, but since there haven’t been any, we are doing a delivery this way.  

We exited the boat and I asked the girl at the hospitality desk the first question I learned in my German class that being a good hausfrau I was obligated to take.  "Wo ist der bauhnauf?" I’ve waited over 40 years to ask that of someone and have it mean something. She laughed and asked if I wanted the answer in German and then pointed to the door.  How silly, it was right across the road from where we were standing.  Off we went. 

Hendrik picked us up around 10 am and we took the short drive to Rostock where we visited a puzzle shop, Wupatki. 

Inside we found a lot of puzzles. A few of which we don’t have yet, but most of which were of course duplicates to us.  This is the normal way of things for us.  It is a two story shop with kids toys and games downstairs and the things we are interested in upstairs.  It took me the usual 10 minute walkthrough to see what was available, and then I did the second much slower lap. 

As usual, I bought a number of puzzles but this time we were prepared with bags to bring them home in.  After payment, we walked down to the waterfront and made our way to a restaurant for lunch. 

We had a nice walk through the town and it was explained to us that the city was mostly bombed during the war so everything was relatively new. There was a wonderful statue erected by the city by a wandering minstrel.

I thought this to be rather sweet.  We also saw what was obviously a shoe store based on the ornamentation outside the shop.  
Another interesting sight we saw was the Glockenspeil at the Fünfgibelhaus (house of five gables).  This is actually a musical instrument and plays a 1/2 hour concert at noon every day from May-October.

The final statues we saw was Der Brunnen der Lebensfreude (the fountain of joy).  It is affectionatly known locally as the Porno Fountain. It was erected in 1980 and contains 10 sculptues.  The most interesting is the man and woman swimming together.  I'm not sure what they were thinking...I was drawn to it by the undulating ground it was on.  Only later did I notice the various nudity and shiny bits on the statues.  

Later, being too old to sit in the biergarten in the icy cold rain, we opted for a table inside the attached restaurant.  We ordered the obligatory German bier and began a what was a wonderful lunch.  As usual, I had a curry wurst and pomme frits. I don’t know what the boys had, nor do I care. I was in heaven.  Hendrik commented that my lunch was usually snack food-as if I didn’t know that.  I usually ate it at 4 am returning home from the bars.   

After we had finished our lunch, we walked back to his van to drive back to the pier.  George jumped in the back and had a nap while I chatted about the rain and grandchildren with Hendrik.  An all too short 20 minutes later and we were back at the ship.  Somewhere along the way I purchased a few hundred puzzles more from him.  Afterwards, we said our goodbyes and headed on board.  I’d like to say it was to puzzle away the afternoon, but this age a very good beer means that would be a lie.  I napped.  

We thought that all aboard was at 4:30 in the original itinerary, but that too had changed and it ended up being 10pm!  Had I realized that earlier I would have spent more time with our friend.  Next time!  I’m ever hopeful that we will be able to attend Dutch Cube Day this fall.  It’s been 4 years since the last time we attended.  I think we need some more puzzling time.

Now I’m off to set up the rest of our puzzling visits along the way.  Until next time, Happy Puzzling and Smooth Sailing. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Copenhagen: 3 days worth

 17 May

Copenhagen Day 1

                                                            (photo from FaceBook)

We arrived at the port at 11. The weather was cold as expected.  The room was freezing and I was fearful of opening the heavy curtains for fear of letting in more of the cold.  But then I noticed that the towel I had pushed up against the jam was not in place and the door was opened slightly.  I guess when they cleaned the room they open the balcony door and forgot to shut it.  Boy did I close that up quickly!

We had lunch in the Waves grill today in an effort to be finished in time to go on our excursion.  We are docked around 7km from the city center and while there is a shuttle bus going in, it’s not quick enough for us to go into town, eat and come back.  

After lunch, we headed out for an excursion entitles "the Castles of North Zealand".  The bus ride was about an hour to the first castle. This was the Kronborg castle where we were able to see the ramparts.  We spent around 20 minutes there before being rushed back onto the bus to visit the castle that the queen lives in during summer.  This stop was a whopping 10 minutes.  I was so unimpressed that I didn’t even get the name of the place. 

We watched the guards walk back and forth a bit, and a new contingent march in and then it was back on the bus.  

We did find a puzzle of sorts, but were unable to even begin the hunt because this was just a stop to show us the façade.  It’s like taking a kid to the gates of Disney and telling them to look at it but you’ll never be able to go in.  By this time, all of us were a bit put out.  Someone commented that we had one more to go and I asked if we would even be allowed inside?  Why bother if not?  

10 minutes drive later and we got out.  Not only were we allowed inside, but it was well worth the entire trip. If anyone from Oceania reads these posts of mine, ditch the first two castles.  They are a waste of 2 hours time. The real prize is the Frederiksborg castle and I’m sure no one would complain.

This place was amazing!  We loved it.  Interestingly enough, it had burned down, well, as far as a castle can burn, in 1878.  It was restored later to look exactly as it had at the time it was built during the reign of King Christian IV (1588-1648). It has since been turned into a museum that was founded by C. C. Jacobsen as a separate part of the Carlsberg Foundation.  Our guide told us to go ahead and drink the beer as it is supporting the museum.  

We started out in the Knight’s room which had a lovely ceiling.  It was all done in white and carved out with a variety of figures and fauna. Along the walls were a number of deer that jutted out.  

From here we next went to the chapel.  Holy moly!  This place was certainly built to impress.  The gold all over is just incredible.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that much in any place outside of the Vatican. Everywhere we turned there were coats of arms of different people on the walls.  The paintings were amazing. 

In the Kings private prayer room there was a silver prayer bench and one of the most interesting ceilings.  It was covered in Bakelite protrusions.  I’m assuming they were probably ivory before the fire.  

The best part of the chapel though was the organ.  We lucked out and arrived at the same time as a local organ group and the tour guide played it for us.  There are over 1000 pipes on it and all of them are wooden and original.  He was excited to tell us that we have no way of knowing how the spoken language sounded, but we do know the sound of the music.  

When we finished with the castles we returned to the ship.  Since we were so far out in the sticks, we called it a day.  

18 May

Copenhagen Day 2

Today our plan was to go puzzle shopping and to look at a few of the sights around the city center.  Our first stop was called Gamesweb, and it did not disappoint.  While we had most of what was in stock, we were able to get a Philos set of puzzles and a few extras.  I had picked up an escape room game, but the shopkeep wouldn’t let me buy it.  As it turned out, it was a walk around Copenhagen except hunt sort of puzzle.  I appreciated his honesty.  

From here we left our bag of puzzles and headed out to Christiania.  I had read on the internet about the art in this place and was looking forward to seeing it. I had read that this place was a hippie commune formed in the 1970’s out of an abandoned military base.  Apparently there was a housing shortage and all of the base was unoccupied. People broke down a wall and put up some others.  

I also read that it was a haven for marijuana and hashish dealers but had been cleaned up and was no longer like this.  Lies!  All of what I read was lies!  

We came in a side entrance and saw a shop that sold handicrafts.  There is a beautiful mural on the wall as you enter, and a bit further down there were some sculptures and a sitting ape. That was the extent of the art we saw.  

We turned left and wandered down to the pusher street. We were indeed greeted with big signs that said no photographs and we paid attention to it.  I think we made it around 10 feet into the street when the overpowering smell of hashish burning assaulted our senses (Yes I can tell the difference in the smell of these two items.  I’m not a saint you know.)  Looked at George and said I’d had enough, let’s go. I know if I’d have taken another 10 steps I’d have been stoned and would have just collapsed on the ground and never left. Besides that, there was a massive brick of hash on a table and not junkies hanging out, but thugs.  I knew this wasn’t the place for me and we left.

The next corner had a number of stalls selling buddhist icons, tie dyed cloths, and knotted bracelets amongst other things. Exactly what you would expect to see in a place like this.  No puzzles I’m sure, but we didn’t stop to look.  We headed for the gates, took the required photos of them, and left.

Our next stop was for lunch.  We found a little restaurant along a canal and went inside for a delicious meal of Lobster bisque and haddock.  We added caviar to the dish and it was amazing!  So much nicer tasting than the stuff on the ship and a very generous portion of it.

We wandered back to the Games shop and went into a few more along the way, but they are just role playing places.  No puzzles to be found.  After a bit more walking, we found some milk for me and headed back to the ship for a well deserved nap before tonights event.

This evening was the first ATW dinner event.  We were told these are spectacular and that past guests really looked forward to them.  By this point, had we been on the original itinerary we would have had 3 by now.  Tonight was the first.  

At 6 we headed out to the blue planet.  An aquarium.  We were given a Ted Talk (why the fancy name for a lecture?) on the building and some of the other architecture in Denmark.  Were told the tax was at least 23% and then ushered through a rainforest area into the tunnel with fish surrounding us before finally being thrown into a theater for a show. 

The show was a talk about Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid and then … A diving mermaid showed up in the tank.  It was fun and all, but I saw the same show at Wikiwatchi springs in Florida when I was 10.  If you haven’t seen it before, it was amazing.  One neat thing though was when she blew rings.  That takes skill. I’ve tried and just can’t. 

After the show, we returned to the ship and passed out.  I believe we must have slept for at least 10 hours.  How did I get so tired?

19 May

Copenhagen Day 3

Today we were lazy.  We stayed on the ship until around 11:00 and then left for a visit with a friend.  Sadly, we missed the bus and were stuck.  After sounding like a real harpy, I agreed with George and we started to walk.  I knew it was about 3km to the train station and we could take the train.  

Lucky for us, about 1km into the walk we found a taxi and hoped in.  It was a Tesla Model S, but so much smaller than our own car.  Eventually we got back to the city center and we went back to the Games Store to take a few photos for this post.  I also found 6 puzzles I wanted.  From there we went to a book store where I found a Lord of the Rings Escape room box.  

We window shopped a bit and talked to a guy about pottery molds,

then we went to meet Jane for lunch.  It was a wonderful meal.  Really Danish.  But the conversation was even better.  It is so nice to finally get to talk with friends after all of these years of not seeing anyone. 

Even better, Jane had a small gift for us.  A Peter Hein Triple Cross in the box!  Her generosity is amazing.  She said she never plays with it and the best place for it would be in the museum.  We cannot thank her enough.  

After lunch, we just went back to the ship, had another nap and then went to the captains cocktails.  Oh joy.  More free drinks.  The last one was cancelled because of our little outbreak, but this one went off. Dinner was with some good friends and all enjoyed the laughter. Copenhagen is done.  Tomorrow we head to Germany!  

Until next time, Happy Puzzling (I know I will be!) and Smooth Sailing.