East Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch

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Switzerland seems to integrate housing estates, farms and factories very well.  Ordinarily, there is always worry about noise or smell when you have a combination of places in the UK maybe.

Grusch is a postcard-perfect small Swiss town with around just 2,000 people.   Its part of the Canton of Graubunden, and has been around since 1340.   This area of the country is German speaking.

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A lot of the houses are these distinct nice wooden chalets with balconies and shutters.   Someone put a mannequin out on the porch with a costume.   I think the Swiss have their own unique sense of humour.

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Where else do people have an outside shed/workshop and not worry about someone taking stuff.

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This herd of Jersey cows were friendly and licked my hand.   These types of cattle are prized also in Britain for making better quality and quantity of milk, they would suit the Swiss well for making cheese and chocolate.

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This railway siding is right by another old factory, where the track has been laid from the beginning to help raw materials or finished goods from industries to get sent around by train, rather than clog up roads.   So, so, so far ahead of Britain in this regard.

Grusch looks even better at night with the snow with the 30cm or so (ie; standard school ruler) of snow glinting in the moonlight, and a lot of stars visible without any light pollution.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch

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East Switzerland – 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland

After leaving Friedrichshafen in Germany, once leaving the lake, I got on a train and went directly to Grusch, a small town on the east side of Switzerland.  I chose this town as it was close-ish to the tiny nation of Liechtenstein and all other places I looked into staying were not open during the winter.

Switzerland is probably the most famous non-EU European country.  I’ve been to this lovely country before but the other side going from Basel to Interlaken to Geneva.  Flights are cheap because cities like Basel, Zurich and Geneva are kind of dead centre in the middle of Europe, thus being a great hub for transferring to somewhere else.

Everything else is definitely not though.  The Franc, seen often as “CHF” the local currency is almost identical to a US$ but everything seems to be 2 – 3 times what would cost in the UK.

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This hostel cost me CHF62.60 for two nights, £24 a night.  That’s absolutely unheard of for Switzerland.   But actually, the Sporti Grusch is a restaurant for skiers and snowboarders, with three rooms in the basement.

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This is my room.   The bunk is built into the wall.    I didn’t have to share with anyone. There is a shared bathroom which you have to go outside to use.    This is a great place for a scouts or youth group I think.   I’m used to simple places to sleep so this is quite adequate for me.   There is no lounge to sit and read.    So during evenings I sat in the restaurant with usual Swiss prices and drink tea.   Beer is about £9/pint, food is also very high so I visited a local shop.

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This was parked next to my hostel.   It seems Swiss landowners can’t rely on local municipality services to clear snow and have the means to clear it themselves.  This 1990s Toyota truck has been adapted for this purpose.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation –

Sunshine over Westminster

I’m walking around after work with a lot of worries with decisions with work and personal issues.

Rather take the two-stop only Waterloo underground line that goes from Bank to Waterloo I decided to walk it.

Many people in London are weary with Brexit confusion, worrying crime level increasing and the general frenetic sense of life in the capital city.    Although actually when I look at around there is construction and people recruiting new staff.

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This might be just a weather formation, but I like this glow in the distance.

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The sun shines brightly through the clouds in the direction towards Westminster.  Sometimes I’m seeing groups of Christians praying over the UK for the Lord to bring a fresh revival over our city.

I often like to head to the Emmanuel Centre which is 100 yards away from Westminster in London when there are events on.   I’ve seen a worship musician from Malta who decided to leave a homosexual lifestyle, my old congregation King of Kings from Jerusalem Israel do music and teaching, Barry and Batya Segal who are also Messianic Jewish musicians and ministry couple from Israel, and Christ for all Nations worship event many other things.

I think the Lord is going to do more special things in the UK.

 

Germany 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

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A pleasant walk along here, but the coast is misty enough in the morning to not see the Swiss neighbours.

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The Zeppelin museum here is great!  This has part of the body of an airship, videos and exhibits of these mammoth flying machines.

This cast iron tower at the end of the pier is a nice centre point in the middle of the coast of Friedrichshafen.

The youth hostel here is about 2km from the town centre and clean and pleasant but extremely quiet at this time (beginning of March 2019)

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This boat takes you to Switzerland for 10 Euros or 12 Swiss Francs.

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Among cranes and equipment on the dock of the coast of the Lake.   Look closely at this bench, it has the German and Swiss flags.

I smiled and said hi to security guards before boarding the boat, expecting that they would want to see my passport and ticket.  They didn’t.    I’m curious to know how many instances of travelling from one country to another where no one really cares about your credentials.   Looking behind me is an EU sign for people coming from the Swiss side as Switzerland has never been in the EU bloc.

The boat journey reminds me of going from my home city of Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, its short and simple, there is a decent cafe on there.    I chatted for about 30 mins to a Nigerian IT guy who was going for an interview for a job in Switzerland.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

 

Germany 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel

Back in 2007, I got a job as an IT contractor for NICE Systems, an Israeli based software developer and worked in their Southampton UK office.   I didn’t plan on doing this, even though being interested in Israel and technology they do, I was just looking for work, and happy to work for any employer that has a pleasant working environment.   A recruiter called me up and offered me this back then.

I supported their staff in UK and Europe by phone and email and sometimes chatted to the teams in the headquarters in Israel.

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Bus from Munich to Friedrichshafen, which goes all the way to Zurich.

It was while working there I felt I should do some volunteering in Israel which lead to me leaving a normal career and flying out to the Holy Land in 2009 and started blogging about some of my favourite things, bible places and travel.

Israeli hi-tech business NICE Systems has two offices in Germany, in Frankfurt and Friedrichshafen and also in Switzerland close to Zurich.  I believe they bought out several companies based in Europe.   I’m not in contact with them now, but I chose to visit Friedrichshafen on this trip before I got to Switzerland as its an ideal place on my onward journey to Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

With all the big mess with Brexit right now, I thought it is interesting how companies operate in different countries to get the chance to fish for talented people in different places, which can be done spanned over multiple countries and continents, not limited to the EU either.

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Rolls Royce the British luxury motorcar maker, and still is British with vehicles built in Chichester UK, but owned by BMW group (see part 2.)  but also Rolls Royce who make engines for planes and aircraft who are a different company altogether, I was surprised to see has a research and development place here in Friedrichshafen, and are doing a big recruitment drive (March 2018) now.

DSCF0654I’d like to think that modern Germany no longer has antisemitism and hostility to Israel and has learned lessons from dreadful mistakes from the Nazis getting in power.  But this sticker I saw on a sign says otherwise sadly.  On the upside, this may be instrumental for Jewish people in Germany and the rest of Europe to encourage them to move to Israel as per the Bible’s promises.

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Here’s another surprise I saw in Munich.   This is an electric Jaguar, yes a British car, being used as a taxi.  In Germany!  I’ve only seen one of those up close back in the UK as I think this is a very new model vehicle, being a credible competitor to Telsa.   Despite Germany’s formidable reputation as a maker of premium automobiles, I don’t think BMW, Mercedes or Audi have an equivalent vehicle in a SUV type form factor yet.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

 

Germany 7. Deutsches Museum

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The Deutch museum has yes even more cars.   This is a general purpose museum of all things historical achievements in Germany.  Also trains, trucks, tracks, signalling and many other things.

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Self-driving cars.  We know this technology is getting close to be ready for highways in the western world.  This self-driving Mercedes Benz S class from back in 2000, and has three desktop clone PCs in place of the back seats.   I guess if it were running software from back then like Windows NT its highly dubious if it should be safe to go out on its own!

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Porsche with stainless steel body, think this was built as a one off.

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All things engineering.

Get there early.   I didn’t – so I saw only half of it, looked at my watch (which was set to UK time) as 4pm, and a message over a tannoy system said the museum was closing so I missed a lot of it.   This is a truly superb collection of German engineering.  https://www.deutsches-museum.de 

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen

Germany 6. Tourism and going out in Munich

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When you think of holidays in Germany, you normally think of Munich and beer.   I was here in March, so the wrong time of year for this big famous event.

The pubs here like these big beer halls, are pretty huge, with waitresses with lacy blouses and aprons who serve you at very long tables.    These pretzels are great too.

I think there is live music offered, and relatively easy to chat to other people here.

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Yes, it seems people want to buy these kinds of costumes to get into the spirit of the Oktoberfest!!

IMG_20190224_113043945My Youth hosel was around the corner from here and the main station along with many other hostels.   Most of the folks seem to be very young, often American teenagers on their first trip to Europe, who go a little crazy finding that they can finally drink without needing to be 21 as in the US.

The food here, is well, nothing special.   I like sausages, and these frankfurters were ok, but it seems a bit small portions.

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Right by this grand looking archway in the centre of the city was a couple with a table full of Christian literature.   I’m really glad the local churches here are reaching out to the public with the gospel with teaching in not only German, but also Chinese and Arabic and other languages.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen

 

 

 

Germany 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village

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This place is also close by the BMW museum and BMW world and the actual factory plant’s front gates, just by a big park.

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IMG_20190223_132359334 1024These apartments built for this event are a little strange, they are tiny, their original utilitarian concrete form has been brightened up with a lot of artistic makeover by their current young and creative owners.

These dwellings were built for the 1972 Olympic games which were hosted here in Munich.

 

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The Olympics should encourage friendly competition between nations without prejudice or political agenda.   Sadly this particular year would be twinged with tragedy, as Palestinian group Black September kidnapped some Israeli athletes and an attempt by the Germany police to get them out failed to result in the death of 11 Israeli athletes.

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These monument stands in the Olympic park to commemorate the athletes lost.

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There is a video on a permanent loop with footage from the 1972 games, you can clearly see also a clip from David Ben Gurion announcing the new state of Israel from Tel Aviv in 1948.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen

Germany 4. Neuschwanstein Castle

 

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Built in 1869, Schloss Neuschwanstein is in the town of Schwangau and is the quintessential fairy tale castle.  Schloss is simply the German word for castle.

This iconic asymmetrical cylinder turreted structure is the basis for the Disney logo.   The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner. It was open to the public shortly after his death in 1886.  Over 1.3 million people visit this jewel of southern Bavaria each year.

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Yes, it looks lovely in the snow, but construction and scaffolding in progress aren’t quite so desirable for photos.    There was no snow in Munich where I was staying, although this is a two hour train ride away.

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You have to get your ticket in advance, and get a tour in English or German.   You have to be outside the entrance of the castle itself at the right time for your tour.    When you are waiting for your slot, you can just wander around the other attractions.   You can walk up a zigzag path up the hill to Neuschwanstein, or you can take some other type of transport like this.

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There are a number of other interesting buildings in the complex including two other smaller castles close by.

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Photography and phones are verboten during the tour which is a real shame, as the insides are just as exquisite as the outside.   There are Jesus and the apostles and other scenes painted on to the ceilings.

Once the tour is done, which was probably about 45 minutes, and you exit out of a little door in the side.    The overwhelming number of the visitors I saw at this place are from China, when I got back on the train to head back to Munich, I sat on the nearest empty seat and surprised to hear the people next to me are Israeli and are speaking in Hebrew, seeing as the basis of my blog on travel and faith, started in Jerusalem.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen

Germany 3. BMW World futuristic showroom

Coming out of the BMW museum, across the plaza is a big space age looking building.

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BMW World is a giant dealership which complements the museum, but with free entry as a special dealership showroom on a big scale of all their current new products.

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Every car is represented, as well as BMW Motorcycles.

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Not every car is for sale, some seem to be just ideas.   This i8 electric as a police car?   hey if the Dubai cops can do it, why not in Munich?

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Mini is a British marque but owned by BMW.   There is a decent collection of merchandise on sale with the Mini logo on shirts, bags and other items.

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Rolls Royce is British, but also under ownership of the Germans.  Here, this ultra prestige marque has a cabinet with swatches and samples of interior fabric and paint options as well as more specialised customisations like LED stars set into the interior roof, that’s what the thing is on the right of the top picture.

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This place has a car park underneath with a sloped road that goes up into the middle of the showroom, offering an extra-special experience to take home a new car that’s been ordered.

Later on, I got to see even more motoring exotics in Germany….

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches museum – 8. Business in UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen