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Germany plus a bit of France 2013

OZDUCK

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We were due to be in Berlin for a family reunion in August. As we will obviously not be able to attend even if it, fairly unlikely, goes ahead I have been looking sadly at photos of our previous German visits. Being another who likes to read the TR section and hopes that it keeps going I am now going to add one covering our 2013 trip. While we did go to some fairly often visited cities we also went to a lot of smaller places that I firmly believe very few others on AFF have visited or even heard about.

We flew into Paris after a few days in Singapore.I will not post any Singapore photos as they contain nothing new.

We arrived at CDG and picked up our leased Renault. This was the second time that we have used the French Tax Free Short Term Lease programme to lease a brand new Renault. We have found that once the length of vehicle lease gets above about 20 days it becomes markedly cheaper than normal car hire. Full comprehensive insurance for all drivers and roadside assistance is part of the deal.

We booked a Clio but got a "free" upgrade to a Captur without about 5km on the clock. This model had only been released a couple of weeks before hand and most people had never seen one before and we never saw another one in the next 4 weeks. The only problem we had was that when we went to get our Umweltplakette (German emissions sticker) from a German Licensing Station the car was not even in their database. However, unlike the stereotype about German bureaucracy, they simply laughed and gave us a sticker as the same diesel engine was in the Clio. It had a 1.4 litre turbo diesel and we averaged under 5L/100km so it was very economical.

reims4.jpg

(You will notice the "special" red tax free number plates. These apparently cause some problems in Southern Europe as they apparently attract thieves and scammers.)

For our first night we only traveled about 90 minutes to Reims to recover from the overnight plane trip. We stopped overnight at an extremely cheap B&B Hotel on the outskirts of the city. Next to the TGV Station and only about 1km off the Autoroute. There was a tram connection to the centre of town right outside the front door of the hotel. The tram system was only a couple of years old at that time. In the historic centre of Rheims the overhead power lines disappear and it runs off induction from buried cables. This keeps visual pollution down exceedingly well. I gather something similar is is used in the new Sydney light rail network.

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One of the highlights of the few hours we spent in Reims was the 13th Century Gothic Cathedral which is bigger than Chartres. It used to be the traditional place of coronation for French Kings including that of Charles V11 in 1429 in the presence of Joan of Arc. We spent a lot of the afternoon sitting at a traditional sidewalk cafe at the back of the Cathedral in the Place Martys de la Resistance drinking and eating local foods. It was a wonderful re-introduction to Europe.



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Some of the windows suffered war damage and new ones were designed by Marc Chagall.

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The Hôtel de ville

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An Art Nouveau theatre facade

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There were quite a few Roman ruins in the city

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robbegong

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Thanks for posting these! I am due (but quite possibly I should be facing reality and say ‘was due’) to visit France including Reims this August. It’s genuinely nice to see your photos and commentary. Looking forward to a time when we can all travel freely again 😎
 

OZDUCK

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The next morning we got back on the Autoroute and headed off to Germany. We stopped for a few days with friends just outside Stuttgart. We meet them at the first Family Reunion we attended in Singapore in 2003 and became friends. They have stayed at our house in Perth twice and we have done the same in Germany. He is my wife's about 33rd removed cousin.

They live in a small town called Eberdingen (Pop. around 6,800) about 28km NW of Stuttgart. It is fascinating to actually live in a normal house in another country rather than a hotel etc. You get to experience what life is really like for the 'ordinary' person. This included lots of Church bells which we have not heard in Perth for years.

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This is looking at the back of their house.

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The house is a 'duplex'

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We didn't go into Stuttgart on this trip but they did take us to a number of places that, as I said earlier, I believe few from here would have visited. The first one was the Steiff Teddy Bear factory and Museum.

This is in a fairly typical small city called Giengen an der Brenz

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The actual museum - the factory is to the left of this photo. It is a very high tech place to visit. There are lots of animatronics, singing 'animals', historical display, hands on bear building etc etc. Everything, reasonably enough, is in German but it is not difficult to work out what is going on

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The founder with some of her creations. I couldn't imagine what some of these bears would be worth to a collector - many thousands of dollars at least.

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Some of their historic dolls

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Dolls House

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Not all of the bears were small. I am the less furry one. And I don't have a tag in my ear.

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There is an extensive display of larger models

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craven morehead

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We were due to be in Berlin for a family reunion in August. As we will obviously not be able to attend even if it, fairly unlikely, goes ahead I have been looking sadly at photos of our previous German visits. Being another who likes to read the TR section and hopes that it keeps going I am now going to add one covering our 2013 trip. While we did go to some fairly often visited cities we also went to a lot of smaller places that I firmly believe very few others on AFF have visited or even heard about.

We flew into Paris after a few days in Singapore.I will not post any Singapore photos as they contain nothing new.

We arrived at CDG and picked up our leased Renault. This was the second time that we have used the French Tax Free Short Term Lease programme to lease a brand new Renault. We have found that once the length of vehicle lease gets above about 20 days it becomes markedly cheaper than normal car hire. Full comprehensive insurance for all drivers and roadside assistance is part of the deal.

We booked a Clio but got a "free" upgrade to a Captur without about 5km on the clock. This model had only been released a couple of weeks before hand and most people had never seen one before and we never saw another one in the next 4 weeks. The only problem we had was that when we went to get our Umweltplakette (German emissions sticker) from a German Licensing Station the car was not even in their database. However, unlike the stereotype about German bureaucracy, they simply laughed and gave us a sticker as the same diesel engine was in the Clio. It had a 1.4 litre turbo diesel and we averaged under 5L/100km so it was very economical.

View attachment 212931

(You will notice the "special" red tax free number plates. These apparently cause some problems in Southern Europe as they apparently attract thieves and scammers.)

For our first night we only traveled about 90 minutes to Reims to recover from the overnight plane trip. We stopped overnight at an extremely cheap B&B Hotel on the outskirts of the city. Next to the TGV Station and only about 1km off the Autoroute. There was a tram connection to the centre of town right outside the front door of the hotel. The tram system was only a couple of years old at that time. In the historic centre of Rheims the overhead power lines disappear and it runs off induction from buried cables. This keeps visual pollution down exceedingly well. I gather something similar is is used in the new Sydney light rail network.

View attachment 212933

One of the highlights of the few hours we spent in Reims was the 13th Century Gothic Cathedral which is bigger than Chartres. It used to be the traditional place of coronation for French Kings including that of Charles V11 in 1429 in the presence of Joan of Arc. We spent a lot of the afternoon sitting at a traditional sidewalk cafe at the back of the Cathedral in the Place Martys de la Resistance drinking and eating local foods. It was a wonderful re-introduction to Europe.



View attachment 212942

View attachment 212943

Some of the windows suffered war damage and new ones were designed by Marc Chagall.

View attachment 212944

View attachment 212947

The Hôtel de ville

View attachment 212945

An Art Nouveau theatre facade

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There were quite a few Roman ruins in the city

View attachment 212948
Excellent .... another TR to help me get my daily fix 😁 might have to dust off my hard drive and have a look at some previous trips.
 
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OZDUCK

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Steiff continued.

You can ride the animals

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Some more of the displays.

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Pinguinos!

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There is a Factory Outlet/Seconds Shop down a the street a bit - just follow the paw prints.

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We bought some bears for our Daughter and Daughter - in law. We kept the yellow one and our grandkids now play with it. It has Velcro patches to show the stomach spine etc.

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OK it is kitsch but fun kitsch and we enjoyed the visit. There is even an attached cafe which serves various stuffed animal themed/named light meals.
 

OZDUCK

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Thanks for posting these! I am due (but quite possibly I should be facing reality and say ‘was due’) to visit France including Reims this August. It’s genuinely nice to see your photos and commentary. Looking forward to a time when we can all travel freely again 😎
Just learn how to pronounce Reims - it is something like Raarzz or Raance anyway it is nothing like the way English speakers would normally say.
 

OZDUCK

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We also went to Hohenzollern Castle just over 60 km south of Stuttgart. It is the ancestral seat of the Imperial Hohenzollern family and is still in their hands. It was rebuilt between 1846 -1867. From 1952 - 1991 the remains of Frederick the Great were interred here.

The castle from a distance

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Zoomed in a bit

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You get sweeping views from the castle

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The main gate

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The castle grounds

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Inside the chapel

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NoName

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Just learn how to pronounce Reims - it is something like Raarzz or Raance anyway it is nothing like the way English speakers would normally say.

Reminds me of an episode of The Amazing Race years ago when some of the contestants stopped to ask for directions to “reems” with the shop attendants looking at them like they were a couple of idiots.😂
 

OZDUCK

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Another small city we visited around this area was Tubingen which sits on the Neckar River. It is a "University Town". I think it was a weekend day when we went and the place was full of German Tourists.

The Neckar

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Like a lot of these sort of places the students are keen on "messing about in boats"

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A pigeon roost by the river

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Around town.


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Flowers on the bridge with the obligatory castle on the hill.

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The central square

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OZDUCK

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We also visited Besigheim, a medieval wine town. This is a lovely town that sits "at the confluence of the Neckar and Enz rivers". It is only a small place but very attractive and hillside vineyards surround it. This is certainly not a place overwhelmed with foreign tourists. It was less than a 30 minute drive from our hosts house in Eberdingen.

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The joining of the rivers

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Plenty of half-timbered houses with the hillside vineyards in the background

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The City Hall built in 1459

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Street scene

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One of the old town gates with its medieval tower. My wife assures me that there was an old communal bread oven near to this spot.

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OZDUCK

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For our last day around Stuttgart we all went to Ludwigsburg Palace. Again it was less than 30 minutes from Eberdingen. This ability to visit amazing places within a short drive is something in which Europe easily outdoes us. We went early on a weekday so there were no crowds.

(Palace photo from our 2011 trip)

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The flower displays in the palace grounds in 2013 were beautiful

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There are the remnants of an old Amusement Park in the grounds with things like this very cute carousel

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We had done the palace tour, I highly recommend it, in 2011 so this visit was just to attend The Kurbis (Pumpkin) Festival The Pumpkin Festival at Blühendes Barock Ludwigsburg from August 30 to November 3, 2019 Theme: Fantastic World of Fairytales. Rather unsurprisingly, it is the biggest pumpkin festival in the world and is held yearly. Each year the festival has a different theme. In 2011 we went past but didn't attend. The theme for that year was dinosaurs and this was on a roundabout outside the palace grounds.

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We obviously couldn't miss out this time and the theme for the year was 'The Olympics'. Pumpkins were arranged to reflect various aspects of Olympic Sports. You could also eat food like pumpkin risotto and pumpkin quiche, both of which were very nice. There were obviously various forms of pumpkin breads and scones. There was also pumpkin wine - it was drinkable.

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The range and quantity of pumpkins and squash on display really surprised me.

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Obviously the younger folk really enjoy it.

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Cossie

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What happens to them all? Possibly animal feed? The boss is of German extraction, her father was born in Dortmund and wouldn't eat pumpkin, nor corn as it was pig food.

Quite enjoying this, we should have been there next month, sigh!

Edited as I made a mistake. :(
 
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OZDUCK

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What happens to them all? Probably become pig food. The boss is of German extraction, her father born in Dortmund and wouldn't eat pumpkin, nor corn as it was pig food. She had a chuckle over the VW story above, that was her family as well, Vancouver to Kelowna for summer holidays, must have been a slow trip. Quite enjoying this, we should have been there next month, sigh!
I think the "statuary" will end up as pig food. However, there were plenty of places selling the various produce for human food. I think this part of Germany eats a fair bit of pumpkins and squash - we also saw and ate plenty of pumpkin soup.
 
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OZDUCK

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So after a very pleasant few days we said our goodbyes and headed towards Nuremberg.

On the way there we passed a very pleasant few hours in the town of Schwabisch Hall (Edit: oops forgot the 'c') which has lots of beautiful medieval buildings. It was mostly untouched during WW2. It also has a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, built in 2000, and holds Shakespeare Festivals. The great thing about Germany is that you can just hop off the Autobahn and run across some beautiful little town that is not well known.

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One of the highlights of the town is St Michaels Church which was first consecrated in 1156

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It takes a bit of effort to climb the church steps. I can't imagine how a bridal party could do it.

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The interior of the church was originally Romanesque and was converted into Gothic in the 15th C. and the chancel was added in the 16th C.

A absolutely gorgeous interior - just excuse some other tourists posterior.

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The main town square and Rathaus

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OZDUCK

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Our next location was Neustadt an der Aisch. It is a small town of no particular touristic interest but it is basically equidistant between Nuremberg, Wurzburg & Bamberg with very good road and rail connections. We visited all three of these places from this town. Someone had recommended this approach on TripAdvisor, plus noting an excellent hotel to use, and it worked out very well.

On the first day we went to Nuremberg. This was the first day of our holiday that we had a lot of rain and it affected the much of our day in central Nuremberg.

The Schöner Brunnen - a 14th C fountain in the central market square.

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Fraunkirche - 1362

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The entrance to the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg

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Looking out over Nuremberg from the castle. Much of central Nuremberg was destroyed/badly damaged during WW2 so many of these buildings have been reconstructed. The castle itself was also severely damaged.

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There is an impressive 'Arms & Armour Museum' inside the castle.

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The old city walls and moat

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OZDUCK

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(As I am writing this TR it is becoming obvious that following changes of cameras, laptops and home PC's a lot of photos of this particular trip have disappeared. While this is obviously good news for your patience it has annoyed me.)

Anyway, we then caught a tram out to the "Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds" Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds.

This is a brilliantly organised museum/research centre. There is not the slightest suggestion in this place of any attempt whatsoever to whitewash the Nazi era. While we we there schoolkids were being taken through so they could learn the truth about what happened. We spent several hours in there and as usual came out chastened by mans inhumanity to man.

This centre sits under the unfinished shell of the monumental Congress Hall which would have seated 50,000.

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We then walked a little way down what remains of the Great Road (Große Straße). "The great road is almost 2 km (1.2 mi) long and 40 m (130 ft) wide. It was intended to be the central axis of the site and a parade road for the Wehrmacht. " After WW2 the Americans used it as an airport for a while.

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We went about 1 km to the Zeppelin Field with the remnants of its iconic 'Tribune'. You will see that the stadium and buildings are in pretty poor repair. This has been a matter of contention for years. Fairly reasonably, the city of Nuremberg doesn't want to create a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and receives little to no money from the Federal Government for upkeep.


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The iconic film of U.S troops blowing up the large swastika was taken from around this spot.

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You can get an idea of the size of this stadium from this photo.

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Like many before me I couldn't resist the urge to stand here.

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A billboard explaining about the condition of the site.

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Finally, a contrast between the banal and the monstrous.

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OZDUCK

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The next day we went to Bamberg

Lots of attractive buildings and streetscapes in the Old Town

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It is situated on the banks of the Regnitz River at the spot where it joins up with the Main River. There are lots of attractive bridges etc.

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An old riverside crane.

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The iconic Rathaus

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Bamberg Cathedral 13th C.

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OZDUCK

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Bamberg cont.

The Neue Residenz Bamberg (on the right) and Cathedral. The Neue Residenz was built in two stages - 1604 and 1697 - 1703. It was home to the Bamberg Price-Bishops.

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We took a guided tour of the Residenz. There was no English tour so we were given a pamphlet and told to tag along with a German Language tour where we would be given some information. It was actually fun and pretty cheap. The pamphlet was very comprehensive and the tour guide would give a 5 minute talk in German and then say things like "This is the main bedroom" to us. By this stage of our holiday we were beginning to pick up a bit of basic German and the place was beautifully decorated. I am not complaining about there being no English Language tour as how often do you run across a German Language tour in Australia?

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Even in the rain the Rose Garden was lovely.

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After this we walked out into the suburbs a bit. There were some beautiful old Victorian era streetscapes.

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