Europe, 2006

All images and associated pages copyrighted © by Don Chesnut, 2006

    I signed up to attend the Carboniferous Conference in Cologne 2006 ( and the pre-, and post-meeting field trips associated with it. I also had an additional week after the conference to do a bit of traveling in the Netherlands and Belgium. I kept a daily journal for the two-week trip, and took lots of photographs. I have incorporated the journal and photos in the following travelogue. Or you may just want to view the photographs in the thumbnail directory (no maps or descriptions).

2 Sept 06, Saturday

Elizabeth drove me to the airport and Anne went with us. I took only my orange daypack, my camera bag and a tube. My flight was not till 3 pm so I had a long wait. I tried to get the Amsterdam to Köln leg of the flight cancelled in Lexington, but they didn't have a full-service Northwestern desk. They told me I'd have to get this done in Detroit. I wanted to cancel this flight because I had a 9-hour layover in Amsterdam. I could take the train instead and get to Köln in the early afternoon. When I got to Detroit they told me that they couldn't change it because I had already used part of it. I wished they had told me that in Lexington. If I didn't show up for the flight to Köln, the airlines would cancel my entire ticket and I wouldn't get any refund. I could cancel the flight to Köln, but that would have he same effect. This is some racket they have. If my flight were cancelled, I'd have to pay $2000 for a return flight because I did not reserve it in advance.

I had a 2.5-hour layover in Detroit and walked around the concourse awhile. I boarded the flight to Amsterdam but we had to wait a long time. One fellow had his luggage check in but never boarded the airplane. We had to wait on the plane till they found his luggage and removed it. Then we waited on the taxiway for a long time because the control tower wouldn't let our plane go (others by-passed us). It was raining the entire time, a product of tropical storm Ernesto. For dinner, I had the vegetarian curry. On the plane, I watched the movies "Nacho Libre" with Jack Black and "Lucky Number Sleven."


3 Sept 06, Sunday

We arrived in Amsterdam about 9:30 in the morning. It rained pretty steadily until about 2:00. I had to go through customs. It was very quick. They just looked at my passport and waved me on. They didn't even stamp my passport. I got Euros at an ATM next to the customs exit.

I held open the possibility that I could take the train to Amsterdam and spend a few hours walking around, but with all the rain, I decided against that. Instead, I walked around the concourse, read, and made diary entries.

My plane was late taking off because we had to wait for the passengers from a late arrival. I got to Köln after a pretty bumpy approach. I sailed through the airport and found the train station at the airport. I went to the ticket machine and punched in the code for the Köln Hbf (Hauptbahnhof or Main Train Station) and paid 2.2 Euros. The train arrived right after I got my ticket. I asked the engineer if it was going to the Hbf and he said it was (I didn't have time to study the information boards). After 4 stations or stops (Halt) I arrived. I walked out of the station and immediately saw the large cathedral or Dom that Köln is famous for. I made my way to the hotel and while walking, met a young fellow from Wisconsin who was on a Fulbright teaching English. He had a map out too. He pointed out an old Roman wall and tower that I would have missed. I got to my hotel, Hotel Lasthaus am Ring (, about 7 or so in the evening and checked into my tiny but expensive room. It was expensive because of a convention and tonight was the last night. It was very difficult to find a room to reserve in Köln for that night. After putting my pack in my room, I walked to an outdoor cafe and had a bratwurst, salad and pomes frites and a good Kolsch (Köln) beer. I went back to my room after walking around a bit and went to sleep around 9:30. The windows are open and my room is next to the "hotel" sign. Tonight is apparently a party night with loud bands, etc. The temperature is about 70 degrees F.

4 Sep 06, Monday

I woke up about 6 am, took a shower and had a quick breakfast. I took a cab to the University geology department (Institut fur Geologie und Mineralogie, Universitat Koln, I had to tell the cabbie how to get there. I met up with the group at 7:30. We left about 8 on a big charter bus and went straight to Belgium. We spent all day in Belgium, stopping at sites from Rivage to Vise. It looks much like Kentucky. Our last stop was at 7:30 pm and then we drove to Aachen, Germany, close to the Belgian border. We checked into the Hotel Ibis Aachen Normaluhr on Zollernstrasse (their webpage). My roommate is Wayne Ahr from Texas A & M, a very nice fellow. A number of us walked down to the Aachener Brauhaus restaurant ( on the other side of the Theatre, about 3/4 mile walk down Theaterstrasse. I had a local draft beer, fried blutwurst (a local specialty), sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It was very good. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 11 pm. My roommate and I were a little concerned that there was only one big bed in the tiny room. Someone told us that the bed could be pulled apart into two smaller beds.

Information about the field trip is from...

Aretz, M., Poty, E., and Herbig, H.-G. From palaeokarst to calciturbidites--A carbonate platform-slope-transect from the Mississippian Limestone in eastern Belgium to the Kulm Basin in western Germany. Kölner Forum Geol. Paläont., v. 16, 41 p. [My copy is a pre-publication copy, so details may change.]

5 Sep 06, Tuesday

I got up about 6 am, showered and went down to a very nice breakfast buffet and coffee. We loaded onto the bus at 8:30 and headed for our first stop just northeast of Aachen. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stops were near Düsseldorf, north of Köln. Lunch was a picnic with sandwiches that we made from a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables and a nice selection of bread.

After the last stop at Wuppertal, we drove for an hour to get to the reception/registration at the geology institute at the university. I got my packet of information and a Kölsch (Cologne-ish) beer and snacks. I was worried that my hotel reservation might not be held at night, so I gathered my pack and walked about 1.5 km to the Conti Hotel ( on Brüsseler Straße. They were expecting me and I went to my tiny room on the 6th floor. Breakfast (Fruhstuck) is included. I walked around the neighborhood which has many ethnic restaurants and cafes. I was full from the reception snacks, so I didn't eat. I watched CNN and then went to bed.

6 Sep 06, Wednesday

I got up, took a shower and went to breakfast (cereal and coffee). After breakfast I walked to the institute and put up my poster. I was introduced to the Mayor of Köln. She asked me if I knew anything about the John Day fossil museum in Oregon. She was really impressed with the museum. I had never heard of it. She had just come back from a trip to the western USA starting from Idaho and ending in California. I introduced her to a paleontologist from Idaho who knew something about it and he answered her questions. She was a very nice and friendly lady. She gave the introductory welcoming speech to us at 9:00 am.

At lunch, I walked around to find some tooth paste and I found a tiny grocery store (kiosk) next to my hotel and bought some beer for my beer label collection. I walked around some for lunch and then went back for the afternoon talks. I have made some valuable contacts that may eventually help us with Kentucky's Mississippian strata.

Later, I looked around for an internet cafe. My hotel apparently doesn't offer internet. For dinner, I went to the Thai restaurant next to my hotel. I said Hello and other words in Thai, but the lady didn't respond. She spoke to me in German and I ordered the chicken panang, very scharf. I spoke to her in bad German but at the end, on a hunch, I spoke to her in Chinese and she understood. She was from China. I was the only one in the restaurant eating with chopsticks (called steppes in German). It was good to get a little spicy food.


7 Sep 06, Thursday

There was a big futbol game last night and the locals partied till about 3 or 4 in the morning. I got up, took a shower and then went to breakfast, a smallish German breakfast buffet. The coffee was good.

I went to the conference at the institute. It was pretty cloudy and dark so I took my umbrella. The talks are not divided into sessions. All the talks are in one big lecture hall, one after another. After the talks, I got directions for the conference dinner and cruise. After the last lecture of the day, I left the institute and walked about 3 km across town to the tour boat wharfs. I found the Jan van Werth riverboat (operated by K-D, and waited for the others to arrive. Most people arrived by tram, but a few others also walked. The riverboat went upriver for about 2 hours, turned around and went downstream for an hour. The Köln cathedral was impressive all lit up against the night sky. I tried a few shots with the little digital camera. The dinner was a large buffet with lots of typical German dishes including sausages, fish, sauerbraten, sauerkraut, chicken, pate, cheese, etc. I sampled some of everything. After the cruise was over, I walked back across town to my hotel and arrived about 11:30pm.

8 Sept 06, Friday

I got up, showered and went to breakfast. Instead of going to the conference, I went to an internet cafe. It was open today, so I bought 1 hour for 1 Euro and sent off my e-mail diary details. After I got caught up, I walked 2 or 3 km to the Köln Cathedral ("Dom") and the Romische-Germanische Museum (their webpage) devoted to Roman finds in the Köln area. Köln got its name from the Roman colony, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippiensis. Much of the inner city owes its layout to the old Roman walls. I also went to the huge cathedral and climbed the tower. It was 509 steps to get to the top (or as high as they would let you go). I took several photos from the tower and some inside the church. Relics from the Three Kings (of orient are) are supposed to be there.

After that, I walked back to the institute for the afternoon talks. After the talks, I rolled up my poster and had snacks and beer as part of the final ceremonies.

I went back to the hotel with the tube & poster and started packing for the field trip tomorrow. After packing I looked for a restaurant. Most in Köln do not take credit cards and I'm starting to run low on cash. I went to a Vietnamese restaurant (Viet Thai Restaurant--Nha Trang) on Lindenstrassen and had Pho Bo (beef noodle soup).

9 Sept 06, Saturday

I got up about 6, took a shower and then checked out of the hotel. The breakfast room didn't open till 7 so I missed breakfast. I walked 1.5 km to the institute. Close to the institute, I found a bakery and got a cherry and an apple tort and a cup of coffee. I was the first person to arrive at the institute. I ate my torts as the others arrived. We loaded onto a 24-passenger bus and headed out to the field. The weather was beautiful all day. I am getting a cold with nose problems, sore throat, and coughing. There are a number of others with the same symptoms. I also lost the screw out of my eyeglasses and the lens popped out. I saved the lens but can't use the glasses. I got my spare glasses out of my pack. They are about 20 years old and look like skiing goggles. The prescription is out of date too, and I can't see as well out of them. We went to four field stops today and had a picnic lunch in the middle.

Information about the field trip is from...

Herbig, H.-G., Korn, D. and Amler, M. The mixed carbonate, siliceous, and siliciclastic facies of the Mississippian Kulm Basin (Rheinisches Schiefergebirge, Germany)--Complex interplay of platform, starved basin and prograding orogeny. Kölner Forum Geol. Paläont., v. 16, 54 p. [My copy is a pre-publication copy, so details may change.]

    At the last stop of the day, as the sun went down, we all got a nice beer in a stoppered bottle (it was Krombacher Pils). We arrived at our hotel at about 8 pm in Winterburg, a ski resort. The guesthouse, Landhaus Mörchen ( was very charming. Instead of the usual roommate assignments, we each got a single room. Mine was the largest; a suite with 2 large rooms, hallway in between and a bathroom. We gathered in the restaurant around 9 and I had pork tenderloin in a Béarnaise sauce. We stayed around the dinner table and talked for a long time. I got my Benelux map out and two Dutchmen in the group helped me plan my time in that area after the field trip (Dank U Wel). I went to bed around 11:30.

10 Sept 06, Sunday

Another beautiful day. I got up about 7:30, took a shower and joined the others for breakfast. It was the typical German breakfast buffet. After breakfast, I checked out and took my luggage to the bus. I photographed 3 Posidonia clam fossils. It was too dark to photograph them at our last stop yesterday. I gave them to the hotel lady and she was very interested in them.

Outside, I found a Geld Automat (ATM) and got some more cash. We drove through the Rheinische Schiefergebirge (Rhine Shale Mountains) to our first stop. My cold is pretty frustrating. I've been sneezing continuously. I don't have any medicine because we are out in the field all day and don't get in till after dark. I will have the same problem getting my glasses fixed.

I felt badly all day. The bus didn't have any ventilation or air conditioning and I rode in the very back. The temperature must have been in the 90's (30's C). We got back to the institute in Köln after dropping most of the others off at the train station or the Ibis Hotel. I walked from the institute to the Conti Hotel ( on Brüsseler Straße and checked in by about 7:30pm. This room was on the 1st floor (our 2nd) and was a bit larger than the one I had before at the Conti; it had 2 small beds, but no desk. I went to a Tandoori restaurant on Lindenstrasse about 8 and had the buffet. I had 2 plates-full.

11 Sept 06, Monday

I woke up early, but stayed in bed till 8 am because I felt bad. I took a shower and went to breakfast. After breakfast, I checked out and walked about 2-3 km to the main train station. It's another beautiful day.

I went to the ticket office and bought an ICE ticket to Amsterdam. The ICE is a high speed train with few stops. This one, I believe, gets up to 300km/hour and it is so quiet that it hums. The trip was very nice except that I was sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose constantly.

I got to Amsterdam Centraal about 1:00pm and walked several kilometers to the Hotel Wiechmann ( I didn't have a map, but found my way there by memory (2003 trip). I checked into a room overlooking the Prinsengracht (canal). I asked the owner if he knew where there might be an optician shop and he told me about one, two blocks away. I went to the shop and the lady there fixed the glasses for free. She even adjusted them and tightened up all the screws. She said the service was free and to enjoy my time in Amsterdam. I can finally see!

It is a beautiful day in Amsterdam; the sky is blue and the temperature is perfect. The bad thing is that I'm so sick that I can't get out and enjoy it. I went to a Thai restaurant a block away and ordered some Tom Yum Gai, a spicy soup with chicken broth, some vegetables and a little chicken. It was a small bowl. I ate it all, even though I had no appetite. The broth and spices may help me feel better. If I feel this badly tomorrow, I will take some antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections.

The good news is that the hotel not only has wireless internet, but has computers in an internet room, free to use. I caught up with my e-mail diaries and then went to bed just as the sky got dark.


12 Sept 06, Tuesday

    I felt so bad during the night that I went ahead and took my first antibiotic. That was about midnight. I woke up about 6:30 and showered and went down to breakfast by 7 am (about sunrise here). I took another antibiotic in the morning (I'll take the entire prescription now that I've started). I walked to the train station and validated my EurailPass.

    I boarded the train to Zutphen (Amsterdam to Deventer, Deventer to Zutphen). I got there about 10 am. I went to the VVV (sort of like our AAA, but more useful) ( and got a walking guide to Zutphen in English. I spent about 2 hours walking around and then got a sandwich and beer for lunch. I feel much better today. The difference is amazing. I'm still not well, but am able to do a lot more. I must have had a bacterial infection. The only other people that had it (that I knew about) were on the first field trip; they had the same symptoms that I had, in just two or three days. That's too fast for most viruses and the antibiotic would not have worked. Somehow, we all got a bacterial infection (perhaps in the food).

    I reboarded the train and went to Deventer (DAY-ven-ter), another old town of the Hanseatic League (all three towns for today were in it). I went to the VVV, but they were out of the English walking guides and my guidebook only had a couple of paragraphs. I walked around using a small map that they gave me. I bought some Leonidas chocolate and the famous Deventer koek (cake), a strong ginger cake. It was hot and the chocolate melted quickly in my hands. As much as I try, I still don't care for chocolate. I walked around the busy Old Town and took some photos, but I didn't know what all was there. I would have stayed longer if I had a guidebook for the town.

I left Deventer and went to Zwolle. I walked from the train station, across the old canal and into the Old Town. I found the VVV, but they locked the door a few minutes before 5 and I couldn't get in to buy a walking guide. I did have a map that I bought at the train station for 1 Euro. I walked around town taking pictures in the nice evening light.

It was getting dark as I left and I returned to the station. I took the train to Amsterdam Centraal and it was pretty late by the time I got to my hotel. I ate peanuts and grapes that I had bought the day before and then went to bed.

13 Sept 06, Wednesday

I got up at 7, took a shower and went down to breakfast. The breakfast room looks out onto the canal and faces the sun. One can see all the people riding their bikes to work.

I walked to the Centraal station and took the 9:23 train to Antwerp Berchum station in Belgium. I got on another train to get to the Antwerp Centraal, only about 4 km away. At the station I found the tourist information office and got a map and walking guide. I spent all day walking in the old section and taking pictures. In the afternoon, I went to the fine arts museum several kilometers away. I arrived at 3:30 and spent all my time on the second floor. This floor had the Dutch/Flemish masters including Rubens, who was from Antwerp. The museum closed at 5 and they almost had to push me out. I left the museum, walked past Rubens house (it was closed too, but I took a picture), and went on to the station. I caught the train to Antwerp Berchum and then the InterCity (IC) train to Amsterdam Centraal.


14 Sept 06, Thursday

I got up, took a shower and had breakfast by 8. I walked to the station and took the 9:47 train to Leiden. I got there by 10:30 and walked to the VVV information office. I bought a city map and walking guide. I walked all over the old town and then went to the Naturalis (the natural history museum) by 1:30pm ( I asked if my colleague, Cor Winkler-Prins was in. They made a call, but he must not have been there. Today was a big opening for part of the museum. I walked around the museum and was very impressed with the quality. I walked back to the old town to try to catch some of the special exhibits on Rembrandt's 400 birthday. He was from Leiden.

I left Leiden by 3:30 and went to Delft. It is starting to get cloudy. I got a guide booklet to Delft in a store in the train station in case I couldn't find the information office in the Old Town. I never did find the office. The square in the Old Town was filled with carnival rides and it was hard to get pictures of the old buildings. I photographed them all together. I went to the New Church and climbed the tower. From the top, I got a much better vantage point and took some pictures. William of Orange is buried in this church. Vermeer, the artist, was also from here. They have a number of plaques about him spread around the old town.

At six, I went to the Spijhuis de Dis ( in the old meat market square. I had a delicious meat stew recommended in my guidebook. This is the first real meal I've had in days. After eating I walked around a bit more, taking pictures and then walked back to the train station.

I took the train to Amsterdam Centraal and then walked back to my hotel. The office was still open and the internet computers were available so I caught up on my e-mails. While typing away on the keyboard, the man at the desk got a call for somebody in room 306. That was my room. By the time I got to him, he had already hung up. I guess it was Anne. Hopefully, she or one of the girls will check the e-mails. I'm OK.


15 Sept 06, Friday

I got up, showered and finished breakfast by 8. I walked to the Centraal Station and noticed that it was a bit cooler, about 60-65 degrees F. There are a few high clouds, but it looks like another nice day. [As the day wore on, it got up into the upper 80's.] Yesterday, it was 88-92 and humid. I got on the 9:10 train to Amersfoort and from there, caught the train to Groningen, in northern Netherlands.

    I got to Groningen by 11:55 and walked across a canal to the old town. I passed the famous Groningen Museum (for modern art). It has unusual architecture, to say the least. I found my way to the Grotemarkt plaza where I knew there would be a VVV office. This was a market day and the square was filled with stalls of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and jewelry, etc. I took several pictures. I found the VVV and got a walking tour map and bought a ticket to climb the St. Martin's church tower. Once on top, I took several pictures of the old town. Half of the square had many old buildings, but the northern half was all new. The new buildings replaced the part destroyed during World War II. I also found an old almshouse built in the 1200's (Holy Ghost Guest House) and took a picture out front. I couldn't get in to see the courtyard. I walked back to the modern art museum and had a very small lunch in the cafe (bruscheta). I toured the museum fairly quickly and then walked back to the train station.

    I waited about 40 minutes to catch the train to Amersfoort. At Amersfoort, I tried to catch the train to Amsterdam Centraal Station, but something was wrong with the train and I had to catch another one to Schipol airport and then catch another train to Centraal Station. Altogether, I spent much more time on the train than I did in Groningen.


16 Sept 2006, Saturday

I got up, showered and went to breakfast. Then I walked to Centraal Station. The pace of Saturday mornings is quite different compared to the work week. There is an open market in the Jordaan area that wasn't there earlier in the week.

At the station, I took the 9:47 train to Nijmegen. I got to Nijmegen about 11:30, walked to the VVV and got a nice walking guide. The day was beautiful and I walked all over the old town. This was an important Roman city and there are many Roman artifacts in the Valkhof museum. I took lots of pictures.

I then walked back to the station and took the train to s'-Hertogenbosch (or just Den Bosch). It's name means "Duke's Woods." I got to den Bosch after 4 pm and the VVV closed at 4 on Saturdays. I bought a highly detailed map of the city for almost 5 Euros at a magazine shop at the train station. That was all they had. I made my way to the old town and just wandered around. Apparently, Saturday is a market day everywhere in the Netherlands, because the squares of both cities were filled with markets. Also, because I arrived late in the day, the churches and museums were closed. The large cathedral is also being renovated. This is a very nice little town with lots of interesting little nooks and crannies. There are lots of outdoor cafes everywhere.

    After I walked around most of the old town, I found the old city hall. The cellar or "Raadskelder" ( is a well-known restaurant and is mentioned in my guidebook. I decided to try it out. The interior is very interesting and they let me take pictures (I was there before other patrons started coming in). I ordered a veal salad with goat cheese and a beef stroganov that they cook at your table. The Stroganov is their specialty. First they served me a shrimp and smoked eel appetizer and it was very good. Eel is very popular in the Netherlands and the small ones are supposed to be best. The veal salad was a meal by itself. I only finished part of it to save room for the stroganov. The waiter/chef, Martin Sprengers, started the gas stove next to my table and prepared the sauce. Part of the process was "flambé" after he poured the vodka in. I took pictures. The meal was excellent.

I made my way back to the train station in the fading light. The street sweepers had already started cleaning up after the open markets and the market stalls were all gone.

    I left den Bosch at about 8:45 pm on a train which was supposed to leave at 8:30. I got to Amsterdam at 10 pm and walked to the hotel to pack.

17 Sept 2006, Sunday

I got up at 6, took a shower and checked out by 6:30. I walked to Centraal Station and got on the train to Schipol Airport (I had bought the ticket the night before). At the airport, I found the Northwestern concourse and walked to my gate. I did not go through security after check in. At this airport, they have security at each gate. While waiting, I bought some Neuhaus chocolate for the girls and a book for myself (In the Name of Rome, by Adrian Goldsworthy).

My flight left Amsterdam at about 11:30 am. I landed in Detroit about 2:15 pm and went through Passport Control and Customs. I went through security again and proceeded to another wing of the airport. I had several hours to kill so I read my book and had a corned-beef sandwich at an Irish restaurant and bar. I boarded the plane to Lexington which left around 5:00 pm. I was very drowsy and slept most of the flight back. After landing, I let the people out in my row before leaving. One lady said "Hello Donnie" and I looked to see Meg Smath, a longtime friend and colleague from the university. She said that she didn't say anything to me earlier because I looked so tired.

When I got to the baggage claim area, I saw her husband and friend of mine, Richard Smath. Then my daughter, Mary came running up with a sign saying "Welcome Home Daddy." Emma Guida was with her and then I saw Emma's father Louis walk up. Anne was in the car waiting. It was good to see everyone and good to be home.