Archive for February, 2017


Located in Lower Saxony, Germany. Early history shows human settlements in and around before 12000 B.C. The actual town began to develop around the 9th century, early founders two Dukes of the Welfen Dynasty, and growing as a merchants’ town. During the 12th century the most powerful noble Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe), Duke of both Saxony and Bavaria, founded not only Braunschweig with its many interconnected market towns, but also Munich, Lübeck and Lüneburg. Interesting to note: His father in law was King Henry II of England. By the 19th century Braunschweig was made capital of an independent Duchy. Braunschweig’s centre piece the Saxon lowland Castle (Burg) Dankwarderode from the 12th century exists today restored. Reconstructed during the 19th century and major damages suffered during the war.

The interesting part is about the Lion statue, which was built in honor of Duke Henry the Lion in the 12th century and erected in the center square of the Castle. It is the largest and oldest preserved bronze sculpture of the middle ages. The original Lion – to prevent from being destroyed during WWII – is now inside the castle museum, and a replica erected in the castle square.

The legend of the Lion: Henry the Lion went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. From there he brought a lion back with him. When Henry died 1195 the faithful lion as a result refused all food, and died at Henry’s grave. I was born in Braunschweig, and left my home town in Fall 1961. I remember from this Lion saga, that as children (not during the bombings of our home town but after 1945) we went to the Castle. At the large front portal there were large it appears claw marks in the stone, marks – the story goes – were made by the lion.

Brauschweig also has a dark past. Adolf Hitler who came over from Austria in 1913, paid deciding visits to Braunschweig in the early 1930th, starting the “brown” wave of the Reich and was made a German citizen February 1932 in Braunschweig. Which led to Hitler become Chancellor of the German Reich (consolidation of Austria, Germany and who knows else) on 30 January 1933. Not too late to revoke this “citizenship” thing ? [ http://www.spiegel.de/international/revoking-the-fuehrer-s-passport-hitler-may-be-stripped-of-german-citizenship-a-471168.html ]

Between September 1943 and April 1945 Braunschweig suffered at least forty large Allied bombing raids by the British AF and the American USAAF mostly B17 bombers; the worst October 1944 by 233 Lancaster bombers, destroying 90% of civilian targets. The American bombers focusing onto industrial sites. April 12, 1945, followed the invasion of the 30th US Infantry Division in Braunschweig. Subsequent occupation by British forces. I know, I was there, five years old then. [British Forces Germany, permanent deployment to end by 2020. As of 2015 there were still over 5,000 troops in Germany.].

Today’ Braunschweig: largely reconstructed areas, rebuilt formerly historical quarters, modern buildings, some ridiculous American inspired funky buildings, and populations having moved here from anywhere in the world.

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Part II of Budget Travel blog. [https://renataveritashistory.com/2017/02/09/travel-on-a-budget/ ]

Home away from home. This post on cheap Transportation, excludes car rental. Besides standing by the road with your thumbs up referred to as hitch hiking (which I did in the past several times, long illegal and very dangerous); when on vacation transportation is one of the most important requirements. Even if someone rents a car.

Usually I research transport facilities prior to departing. Get my metro, bus, sky train maps, be prepared. In fact get my city maps immediately after my flight arrives. Of course if you go on a package trip with all included and some guide takes care of you, no worries, but I am independent and like to be prepared.

Example, Spain, Alicante, Arrive from Berlin, masses of travelers inside the arrivals hall of the airport, standing in line for car rentals. I walk out of the arrivals, across some street to the other side, there is the public bus. Cheap and no delay.  

Well, travel on a budget for me does not include Taxi for that matter. Too expensive, too unsafe. A few times I had nightmarish experiences with taxis. In fact, in many countries – even Europe – there are advisories against taking a taxi. Taxis only if there is (which is the odd times) a woman driver.

Good example, St. Martin, in the Caribbean, a tiny island shared by two countries Netherlands and France [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin ]. I spent some time there shortly after the big volcano Montserrat eruped in the 1990s. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/05/volcano-earthquake-caribbean-montserrat-maarten ]. I was in a resort on the French side of it. Wondering why there were so few tourists despite it was summer season. {Because of this major eruption.} One day, from St. Martin I tried a trip to the Dutch side St. Maarten, Philipsburg.

Went with a guy who gave me a ride in a truck. To get rid of that type, I simply slipped away inside a store. But needed a ride back to my resort hotel St. Martin. There was this very nice local cab driver lady who gave me a ride. I did not have much cash money on me. As I speak French, it was easy. I offered her all my French Francs for the trip, not much, she took it. What a decent thing to do ! When coming back, met some Americans who told me they spent US$20 the same trip that cost me couple of dollars. There you see !

Marrakesh, Morocco, took a taxi to the major Square and walled in Souks, Jemaa el-Fnaa, but had I not been able to speak French, they would have driven me to doomsday that day. If in Tunisia, or Morocco taxi drivers will drive you anywhere you do not want to go.

In Europe anywhere we have very good, efficient and reliable transportation systems. No need to do extensive research. Get a map, get costs for bus passes (cheaper than single trip), mostly also try to get discounts. I always do. Including train. I love trains. Always prefer the train to anything else. Cheap, fast, easy ! Any major airport to any town or city usually has an express bus system, but check for trains – they are much less expensive and usually reliable.

Except – can happen – when in Monte Carlo, Monaco, trains fell out, waiting hours, finally a special train from Prince Albert II, Principality of Monaco, was installed and all of us got back to Cannes, France. Things happen, not always only in London, when the Tube strikes.

Canada has a large rail system (close to 50,000 km to traverse). Primarily today for commercial freight transport: CN (Canadian National), CPR (Canadian Pacific) Railroad. VIA Rail is for passenger transport. A private corporation operates the Rocky Mountaineer rail system. After thirty years in Canada, in 2008 for the first time I took VIA Rail from Quebec City to Montreal. Late Fall. It was cold.

Mexico for long distance travel, their bus system was one of the best. Big comfortable coaches, separate washroom for ladies, gents, and each passenger got some lunch and water included in the price. TVs each isle. Local buses not so good, old and outdated suspension systems, watch your back.

Further back in time, I took the train from my hometown to Berlin, during the time of the Berlin Wall and the DDR (GDR). Berlin lies at that time in the Russian zone. All trains were special trains with special bars for windows and underneath the train also, to catch those who tried to escape the Russian zone into the West. At stops along the way, the VoPos/Volkspolizei came in to check passengers. At that time it was always a good idea to keep your mouth shut, else you end up being pulled from the train and put into a Soviet DDR prison.

Also during that time took the train from Munich to Zagreb, then Yugoslavia. Long trip, many countries to traverse. Was like in the movie Dr. Zhivago, passengers with all sorts of farm animals, no room, one had to sit on a suit case all that long trip. Usually in those Eastern States people speak also (besides Russian or Serb Croatia) German or French. When taking a train into the country side from Zagreb, I had a Serbo Croatian dictionary with me. Not realizing that most peasants could not read.

Good tip: Before travel to Europe best not to purchase any rail passes. They are cheaper on location. Plus, often rail lines have special deals. Europe, trains are a wonderful alternative. Locally Bus systems are preferred. Certain other countries outside of Europe, wait times can be very long. Never traveled to any country where I did not find public transit maps and schedules at the airport on arrival or any train station. Also check not only government trains systems, but also private companies operating trains (like in Italy).

Travel on a budget

Home away from home. This post on food and vacation rentals.

Though I hate to generalize, but I can safely say – after traveling alone most of my life – that no matter if you find a way to “travel on a budget”, this only works if you NOT travel alone. Almost all accommodations advertise “sleeps 3, 4, 5, or even 12” (whatever that means). The odd times, I can find “sleeps 2”. Never once seen “sleeps one person only”.

Rule of thumb: As a single traveler you usually pay more. This applies to renting vacation accommodations. [Cruises, you always pay double.] However, even the odd time I found vacation rentals for 500 a month. Lots of ‘foot work’ to dig that up. Mostly it is much more.

I am considering for example the Bahamas, because it is half way between the Pacific Coast where I live and Europe, where my family lives. Plus, it is pleasant climate and few restrictions for Canadians. In the following link [ http://www.bahamasonabudget.info/ ], someone implies that “
One of the biggest costs away from home is
food and drink” (quoted from that web site). No matter which country you travel to, from experience I found that accomodation is the most expensive item when traveling. Food is not. Having a decent “roof over your head” is priceless and costly. Unless you travel in a group (most people do not) and share with half a dozen others. What kind of fun is that ?!

Eating out in restaurants on the other hand can get pricey. Because of service costs. While food items bought in super markets, grocery stores, any kinds of markets, is cheap. No matter which country one travels to. Mostly it is much less expensive than the city where my home is. The other reason I do not eat restaurant food is, that I am a good cook and do not trust what others present me with. Drink likewise. Anywhere in the world, one bottle of good wine cannot be more expensive than 20 or 30 dollars (in a store), in fact in Europe more like under ten . Restaurant ?, try get a glass for that.

Conclusion. To save while traveling: try get accomodation/vacation rental with at least a small kitchen. Try, not to eat street food in certain countries. Make sure the food you buy is clean. Wash your own laundry. Do your own cleaning. Find the best deals where to buy groceries and a decent cup of coffee. [Example: Here in Cannes, Côte d’Azur, one bistro asks 5 for one cappuccino, next door it is 2.50]. To look at (food) cost of living, first thing I do is check out how much a cup of coffee and specialty coffee costs. [Transportation = next post.]