OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (Full Version)

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Gil R. -> OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:03:26 PM)

So, for professional reasons I finally find myself living in Cologne until spring, and it occurs to me that there is enough collected wisdom to help me figure out two things of which I'm completely ignorant.
1) I need to get a phone, and it seems my options would be: buy a phone and become a subscriber, just as back in the U.S. I'm with Verizon; buy a calling card and use that from other phones, however that works; use my cheap, old Samsung by replacing the chip (or whatever it's called) in the back. I need to be able to make calls within Germany, but also to the U.S., and to receive them. I don't think I'll be making nearly enough phone calls to justify an expensive phone or expensive plan. Thoughts?
2) I'd like to see some of the places associated with WWII, but don't know which are most worth visiting. Europe doesn't really seem to do what we do in the U.S. in terms of preservation. Cologne is quite close to the Market Garden targets -- so is there anything to see there? The Bulge isn't too far off, either. Plus, important WWI battlefields are within driving distance. Any recommendations? Is there a good guidebook to these places?

Thanks!




TulliusDetritus -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:10:16 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.

Europe doesn't really seem to do what we do in the U.S. in terms of preservation.


That why we have the Coliseum and other hundreds, I mean thousands of preserved places (aka monuments) which are much much more older than er... the US themselves [:D]




Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:17:58 PM)

I meant battlefield preservation. It seems that most battlefields aren't preserved as such, and don't have helpful explanatory signs. That was certainly true of two Napoleonic battlefields I've been to.




Alan Sharif -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:19:00 PM)

Got to agree with TulliusDetitus, we do preservation BIG STYLE, here in Europe. Cannot advise you on the Cologne area, but there will be plenty to see.




TulliusDetritus -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:24:08 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.

I meant battlefield preservation. It seems that most battlefields aren't preserved as such, and don't have helpful explanatory signs. That was certainly true of two Napoleonic battlefields I've been to.


Oh I see, may bad [:)]

I guess over here in Europe we tend to preserve the artistic monuments. Battlefields are basically well... just fields... potato, corn, wheat fields nowadays etc.

After all, more than 2 milleniums of fights and struggles left many battlefields across the continent. We have them literally like mushrooms (the bloody, violent history of the continent). If we had to preserve them where would be building our cities, supermarkets, casinos, parking lots etc etc? [:D]




Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:24:37 PM)

So I'll rephrase the question in the way I was implying it: which battlefields that are within a day's drive of Cologne -- an American's day of driving! -- will be found to be most closely resembling how they looked on the day of battle and will have the most extensive explanatory materials to help one know what he is seeing?

(I'll briefly note that I'm a Ph.D.-wielding ancient historian who has written about quite a few of your oldest monuments.)




Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 3:26:31 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.

I meant battlefield preservation. It seems that most battlefields aren't preserved as such, and don't have helpful explanatory signs. That was certainly true of two Napoleonic battlefields I've been to.


Oh I see, may bad [:)]

I guess over here in Europe we tend to preserve the artistic monuments. Battlefields are basically well... just fields... potato, corn, wheat fields nowadays etc.

After all, more than 2 milleniums of fights and struggles left many battlefields across the continent. We have them literally like mushrooms (the bloody, violent history of the continent). If we had to preserve them where would be building our cities, supermarkets, casinos, parking lots etc etc? [:D]


Yeah, that's occurred to me -- if everything got preserved, where would people live? But I have to think there must be some places which battlefields people can visit and not consider it something of a letdown.




TulliusDetritus -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 4:33:04 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.
Yeah, that's occurred to me -- if everything got preserved, where would people live? But I have to think there must be some places which battlefields people can visit and not consider it something of a letdown.


In the end it's all about mentalities. Preserving battlefields is a really American thing. This does not mean other cultures do it. They don't in general.

The German case is special [:D]

What WW2 site are they going to preserve?
1) a place where they lost? No, it does not make any sense
2) a place where they crushed their enemies (they didn't)? That might sound like glorification. Dangerous waters, if you know what I mean

I think the only place in Europe with a similar American mentality would be Russia. I think they have some sort of preserved things: Kursk, Stalingrad. If you can afford a visit that is.

Other option, you take a map, visit an old battlefield and obviously are forced to imagine everything helped by the historical notes you collected. But no matter what, you might see a potato field there, a highway there and a farm over there. Life continues as always.




Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 7:55:26 PM)

I've enjoyed seeing many farms at the sites of American Civil War battlefields, so I can dig that. And I don't have a problem with going to a place that has changed and trying to figure things out -- but shouldn't someone have done a guidebook for that? If so, I'd welcome the title.

So none of the WWI trenches got preserved?




TulliusDetritus -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 8:15:46 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.
but shouldn't someone have done a guidebook for that? If so, I'd welcome the title.


http://www.euro-t-guide.com/See_Type/WWII_1.htm




sterckxe -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/25/2012 9:41:09 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.
So none of the WWI trenches got preserved?


Where did you get that ? Last year I organized a battlefield tour which visited Belgian, British and German trenches in the Ypres area. Bunkers, musea, the lot.

There's a lot more WWII stuff still around too - from Castle Hartenstein of Market-Garden fame to bunkers and guns in Normandy.

Anyway, contact me for tour documentation and maybe join our band of wargmers on a little tour

Greetz,

Eddy Stercckx







Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/29/2012 12:56:34 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: sterckxe

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.
So none of the WWI trenches got preserved?


Where did you get that ? Last year I organized a battlefield tour which visited Belgian, British and German trenches in the Ypres area. Bunkers, musea, the lot.

I was reading into one of the comments above.

There's a lot more WWII stuff still around too - from Castle Hartenstein of Market-Garden fame to bunkers and guns in Normandy.

Anyway, contact me for tour documentation and maybe join our band of wargmers on a little tour

That would be great. I don't think I'll have time until late winter/early spring, but there's no way I'm living in Cologne and not hitting some of these places.

Greetz,

Eddy Stercckx









JW -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/29/2012 3:48:29 AM)

Not WWII, but Waterloo. Very well preserved with the exception of Lion Hill, which was erected in the 1820s and destroyed the integrity of the center of Wellington's position. However, much of the battlefield, which is quite compact, is well preserved, including Hougoumont, La Haye Saint, La Belle Alliance. And you can walk much of the battlefield, at least the central portion where the British and French faced each other, less so where the Prussians attacked on the flank. Interesting to walk the route that the Old Guard took in its final assault on the British positions. It is the only one I can think of preserved in any way like an American National Military Park.

As noted, there are many places involving WWII to visit, but you need to research and do your homework. While stationed in Germany I went on a terrain walk with some of the 2nd Brigade, 8th Infantry Division staff back in about 1986, of some of the Huertgen Forest battlefields. With a guide and US and German veterans. There is still a lot in that area including fighting positions in the wood, bunkers, tank tread, etc. But you have to know where to go.

Cologne has remarkable places to visit itself, like the cathedral. Hope you are taking advantage of that. And visit Trier, which has extensive Roman ruins. So many places to go. Such a beautiful place. My wife and I spent a total of 5 years in Germany during my military career, all in what was then the 8th Infantry Division area, south of Mainz, in Baumholder and then Bad Kreuznach. We loved Germany and loved that area.





danlongman -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (10/29/2012 5:38:08 AM)

The Ardennes area of Belgium and Luxembourg is interesting to look at and so is Sedan in the adjacent part of France.
It gives a pretty good idea of how difficult it was to move mechanised forces through....
There are some well preserved Maginot Line fortresses that offer tours notably the Hackenburg Fortress a short drive north
of Metz. There are graveyards everywhere. Verdun is full of monuments and musea(ms). The Somme Battlefield is likewise
covered with memorials. Part of Vimy Ridge was ceded to Canada and Parks Canada runs a pretty nice facility on that
battelfield. The monument to the Newfoundland Regiment is nearby. Do yourself a favour and try not to tell the natives
how the Americans invented history. It does not go over well. There are many tours available in the area of the D-Day beaches.
I have always found traveling distances to be much more enjoyable by rail in France and Germany and only used a car
for areas where I would do extensive local travel. I found it very prudent to remind myself that I never knew what quaint
local custom I was violating when outside of the big cities because I usually was. As an aside point my Quebec accented Canadian
French went over well in Normandy and was incomprehensible to people in Alsace and Lorraine.
I envy you the experience.
cheers





HanBarca -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/1/2012 12:45:19 PM)

quote:

2) I'd like to see some of the places associated with WWII, but don't know which are most worth visiting. Europe doesn't really seem to do what we do in the U.S. in terms of preservation. Cologne is quite close to the Market Garden targets -- so is there anything to see there? The Bulge isn't too far off, either. Plus, important WWI battlefields are within driving distance. Any recommendations? Is there a good guidebook to these places?


There's some museums at Bastogne, but nothing worth the title of "preserved battlesite".
For market garden, I think there's nothing left, even though the bridge at Arnhem has been rebuilt identical to the WWII one.




simovitch -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/1/2012 7:34:50 PM)

There's so much more to see in the Ardennes than Bastogne, if you know where to look. Old bunkers on the Schnee Eifel, dragons teeth and foxholes galore along the international highway, Clervaux, Baugnez, Rocharath-Krinkelt, Vianden, and numerous other towns are as quaint as they were in the '40's. St. Vith was almost completely rebuilt and not much to see there, but the Our River valley is still fairly pristine. Great little Museums in Baugnez, Poteau (the ride in a US halftrack was a blast...), and La Gleize and the big Bulge museum in Diekirch are all a must see.

Hürtgen forest is absolutely beautiful and locations like the Kall trail still has foxholes and the occasional artifacts, and the 116th "Greyhound" cemetery and memorial site is well worth visiting. All not very far from Cologne. Bring a GPS.




MikeGER -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/1/2012 8:03:49 PM)

Gil R. check out this place
i have been there, but thats some time ago ...loved it.

http://www.oorlogsmuseum-overloon.nl/en/?PHPSESSID=a4de4d504749e28d65c315855bcc15c0 [:)]

its not so far from Köln

If you happen to be Germany right now?
Switch on the TV to the channel "Das Erste" (that with a "1" in the corner)
there will start a movie about Rommel's last seven month in 15 min (20:15) followed by an half hour documentation about him.




Oliver Heindorf -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/1/2012 10:17:25 PM)

Not much knowing about point 2 but I am native in Germany and I am sure I can help you about your phone thing.

The way you described is the best and cheapest way to make phone calls . (i.e. get a replacement card) (SIM-Card)

you can order the cheap replacement phone cards the easiest and cheapest way via the internet.

cheap prividers are : ( just a small list)

www.callmobile.de
www.congstar.de
www.bildmobil.de
www.fyve.de
www.simyo.de
www.discotel.de

Just to mention a few.

If you gonna use the old samsung phone try to figure out if it fits the german GSM or even UMTS standards. I tell you this as for example european GSM frequencies of D-Net is different to the one used in the USA. Older cell phones may cant use the other frequencies. If the cell phone ('handy' in germany) cant use the european frequencies, you are simply out of the game with your american cell phone / handy. But this is not a problem. You can buy a cheap cell phone without any contract (!) for about 20 €. That will work fine. Put the SIM-Card from the carries above in the cell phone and you are fine.

Make sure you get a pre-paid cell phone card from the providers above. The best Network is D1 (Deutsche Telekom) and close behind is D2 (Vodafone). Other carriers are Base/E-Plus (E1) and O2/alice , old designation E2) if you use a prepaid card it is the cheapest way.

any questions, drop a line.


edit: you need to have a valid adress in germany to get a phone card via the internet from these vendors.




Gil R. -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/4/2012 1:32:04 PM)

Thanks for all of the suggestions. It looks like multiple trips are in order, in different directions (which is good news). I think I'll try to reach the Bulge areas in December or January, since that's the right time of year. Other areas can wait until spring. And I think that even though I might not find a guidebook like the one that I want, enough of these websites I've been finding have stuff I can print out.

MikeGER, thanks for the tip, but I haven't yet gotten a TV. I got here Oct. 2 and had post-season baseball on the internet to take up my time (often until 5:00 a.m.), and now my TV hours are occupied mainly by Hulu (which I can get through a legitimate VPN, I was pleased to discover). But I probably should get a TV to help with my German.




JennyCheng -> RE: OT: Seeking advice on Euro-phoning and WWII tourism (11/4/2012 2:46:35 PM)

ALL THE ADVISES ARE GREAT.ALL YOU GUYS GOT THE POINT!




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