All good things must end, second week cruising then home

The second week of our Amsterdam to Budapest was equally as good as the first if not even better as we settled into the routine. Breakfast, walking tour, lunch,  another walking optional tour OR rest, dinner, cruising and begin again.

As we left the Rhine and Main rivers behind and traveled through the Main Danube canal (man-made to join the Main river with the Danube we sailed through some amazing scenery.

Due to falling river levels our captain made the decision to sail through night past Regensburg to get us past a very low stretch of water. This meant hearing the ship push through the gravel at times during the night but he got us there so we didn’t have to leave the cruise early and bus the rest of the way. Still another low water stretch to navigate north of Budapest.

As we had past our next tour during the night while beat the falling river this mean an hour half bus ride back to the beautiful Regensburg (Latin: Ratisbona) a city in Germany, Bavaria province. Munich approx. 125 km from Nuremberg 105 km from the Bavarian Forest and the Jura mountains meet.
We visited St. Peter’s Cathedral, which is the thirteenth. Century started to be built in the Gothic style, but only in the nineteenth century. Century completed courtesy of Ludwig I of Bavaria (tower two, based on the original plans).
The Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke), which was built between 1135 and 1146th The today oldest existing bridge over the Danube.
Back on the bus and on board for dinner it was such a bonus to get to see some of the countryside
that would not have been seen if the river was at usual levels.

The next stop was Passu where we disembarked for our full day Romantic Austria Tour. 15 of us set of through the hills of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. It is just how I imagined it to be, one beautiful sight after another, everywhere you looked to was picturesque and green. We visited place like Mondsee St Wolfgangs and St Gilglen. we had two hours to lunch and explore St Wolfgang we decided on Wiener Schnitzels at the pub washed down with local beer.  This is a day that will be long remember and hopefully one day we will come back for a longer stay.

After the day in the bus we caught up with the ship at Linz and even drove past the balcony where Hitler gave his speech to the people of Vienna ( something they don’t like to discuss and are embarrassed about even to this day).

We spend the day or so  resting and just enjoying the river before we arrived in Vienna where were doing another walking tour. Our guide wandered us through the old parts of Vienna and highlight for me as we were passing the stable of the famous Spanish Riding school the Lipizzaner stallions they came past us to head out for their training session. Pure luck and in right place right time to get a perfect look at the guys prancing their way to work.

After another night cruising we were in Bratislava in Slovakia this was one of my favourite places along the river , we had the usual morning guided tour through the old town with whole afternoon free time. It was brilliant, my four little girls are going to look so good in their outfit purchased from the ultra modern shopping plaza, such a contrast to the old town.

The low water finally got us and we were sad to say goodbye to the Avalon Impression before boarding buses for the three and half hour bus ride through Hungary before board the Avalon Vista for our last night on board. The transfer was so well handled by the staff and crew of both ships. There was no impact on us at all in fact it was an absolute bonus to see so much more of Hungary than we expected.

Budapest is a story in itself, what a beautiful interested and lively city. We loved our couple days here and loved exploring everywhere on foot and the tour by night to see the lights was so worth staying up past my bedtime.

All in all it has be a wonderful trip and as I write we are closing the bags and heading to the airport after a super night in the Sofitel, our room overlooked the chain bridge across the Danube and the Royal Palace was standing resplendent across the river. The view from our room at night was truly breathtaking. A very perfect ending to a trip of a lifetime filled with too many highlights to remember them all, thank goodness I will be able go back over this blog and absorbed all we have done and seen. Thanks to everyone that has followed along this journey with us


NB I will add more detail to each post once I am home and have a bit more time

I will make these look better when home – out of time now





























The sun goes down on our first week of cruising

During our first week of cruising I decided to take some time away the blog and spend time just
soaking up the views enjoying the food and some great company.

What can I say this cruise so far has been everything and more than I expected and we are looking

forward to another week of luxurious relaxation.

We set off from Amsterdam last Saturday during lunch after doing the fantastic Schanns Windmill tour on Friday before boarding for our first amazing dinner and then a canal tour around Amsterdam.

By dinner we were sailing through the beautiful Dutch countryside and looking forward to arriving in Cologne tomorrow

The add poles and aluminium sheet
to the required height
Levi bank Cologne

Our first off ship walking tour through Cologne was interesting although Cologne was full of history it was also not as clean and attractive as most German cities. The highlights were the Cathedral and purchasing some cologne the original and much copied around the world cologne.

Corner cleaned for Pope’s visit
600 years to build

They having been making in same spot since Farina settled in Cologne, Germany in the year 1709 where he founded Farina gegenüber, the world’s oldest perfume factory still in existence. His subtle fragrance Eau de Cologne became rapidly famous worldwide and in the 18th century was an indispensable accessory at all royal courts and Napoleon used this exact cologne instead of taking baths.

Back on board is was time to settle in for evening and another fine dining experience. The food just keeps coming and along with the wine and the walking sleep came easy every night.

Our next stop was at Rüdesheim am Rhein where took another half day walking tour and visited Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett An amazing collection of lovingly restored mechanical music machines.

You’ll be mesmerised by the self playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.

The next couple days we stayed on board and spent time on deck watching castle after castle, both sides of the river, Tony our cruise director gave a great commentary filled with lots of historical facts and figures.

Our local guide

After a couple days off it was back off the cruise for another walking tour of Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia, Northern Bavaria, Germany. 

Located on the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia..

The next stop and walking tour was in Nuremberg, a city in Bavaria, is distinguished by its medieval architecture, including the fortifications and stone towers of its Altstadt (Old Town). 
At the northern edge of the Altstadt, surrounded by red-roofed buildings, stands Kaiserburg Castle. 

Both these places were very pleasant to wander around and especially Nuremberg which still has all the original city walls from medieval times

Our first week closed with a glimpse of yet another castle just as the sun was setting. 

Looking forward to week two although low water in the Danube may change things around a bit.

Whatever happens I know it will be another restful, memorable and enjoyable week.

A week in review movie (coming soon)

Our last stop off before the Tulip River Cruise

After six glorious days in Switzerland we are headed back to Germany and laid our heads down in Frankfurt for a couple of nights. The main purpose of this stop is to visit the historic Rothernburg.
Every year millions of people are attracted to the medieval city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. No wonder: the 12th century castle is still standing and in excellent condition. The ancient city walls still fully enclose the centre of the city, and visitors can walk on the ramparts. We walked, walked and walked then climbed down the narrow steps at the end. It was unreal to be in such ancient location on a wall that others walked many generations ago.
For centuries Rothenburg’s hospitality has been the reason for many famous people visiting the medieval city centre. Throughout its history emperors and kings were frequent vistors Today politicians and celebrities from all over the world come to Rothenburg. It is a very special city, which invites you to wander through the streets, or take a break in one of the many cafes and simply enjoy the romantic atmosphere.

The name “Rothenburg ob der Tauber” means, in German, “Red fortress above the Tauber”. This is so because the town is located on a plateau overlooking the Tauber River. While buildings within the walled city reflect the city’s medieval history, this part of the city is in many ways a normal, modern German town with some concession to the tourist trade. Many stores and hotels catering to tourists are clustered around the Town Hall Square and along several major streets (such as Herrngasse, Schmiedgasse).
more on this later 
After pleasant day resting on our direct train to Frankfurt we disembarked and headed a couple blocks away from the station to our hotel. We stayed at the Mercure Hotel which was very comfortable and the bath even came with it’s own duck. (I obtained one for Miss Emi but not knowing I was expecting another grandchild until I got home it quickly became new baby’s first gift)
After getting settled we decided to seek out some dinner and decided we could go a decent steak or similar we wandered down street and decided on Kakadu, bound to find a steak here and it was wonderful.
Breakfast in Buffet Car of train to Wazburg
As mentioned previously the main purpose for our stop off in Frankfurt was to take a day trip to Rothernburg. 

So up early and off to the station, we decided to grab a roll/pasty and coffee to have on the train for breakfast. We boarded our train but as it was peak hour and with many commuters on board we found ourselves in the buffet car, so decided to keep the rolls for later and order breakfast. It was terrific and certainly hit the spot, there is nothing like enjoying a sumptuous brekkie and watching the german countryside slide by.  

After changing trains aWürzburg Hbf we off on the last leg of our journey to Rothenburg just under 3 hours for the trip but such a great way to travel.   

We left the train and followed the crowd to the main town centre, explored a little before heading off to find the medieval wall. 

You get to experience a little of what it would have been in the good old days of this medieval village.   

The imposing defence facilities at the Spital and Röder gate served to keep away uninvited guests and impressively conveyed in the age of nuclear weapons how well deterrence in the Middle Ages worked. 

Out of all the mediaeval city-fortifications, here unfolds the most tremendous, self-contained and best-preserved cityscapes
We spent a pleasant day wandering around this quaint city with all its shops and eateries, a little focussed on the tourist trade, but this is obviously where they try to capture the tourist dollar. 

The highlights were the walk around the walk and the bear shop (where some good purchases were made for future grand babies) Although if I knew then what I know now I would have bought a few more, stocks depleted already.  

We finished the day with a gelato which was excellent before wandering back to the station to catch the train back to Frankfurt. I would encourage anyone that has the chance to stop by Rothenburg as is a little bit magical.

Meanwhile enjoy the views around Rothenburg, before the post continues below

Grandma give the new knees a good workout

Very steep and very worn from the footsteps of hundreds of years

After early breakfast the next morning we walked down to find red bus starting point, which we eventually did but in doing so stumbled across the The Römer building.

The Römer (German surname, “Roman”) is a medieval building in the Altstadt of Frankfurt am Main,

Germany, and one of the city’s most important landmarks. The Römer is located opposite the Old St. Nicholas church and has been the city hall (Rathaus) of Frankfurt for over 600 years. The Haus Römer is actually the middle building of a set of three located in the Römerberg (a plaza).

As we had to wait until 10am for first bus to take off we settled into a Italian cafe on the square for coffee and a waffle (no lunch needed today) . The owner was a funny little guy who was in no rush about anything but the waffle was good.

Onboard we decided we only had time to do the lap around the red route before walking back to the hotel and check out. Some of the sights along the way were interesting but certainly with a financial flavour.  

We passed by Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany. The twin towers are sometimes nicknamed debit and credit. All in all Frankfurt would be worthy of another visit if in the area. 

We boarded our final train for our journey into Amsterdam which was a direct train meaning that we could sit back and enjoy the 4 hour trip in comfort and in a fairly empty carriage.

The day ended with challenges before a highlight and relief. When we left the train, it took me awhile to sort which direction we needed to go to get to hotel I could see it but navigating the canals and deadened proved annoying. To top things off the wheel on my bag decide to give up the ghost so became drag instead of a bag.  

By the time we were approaching the hotel the light rain had become small hail and boy we were please to step inside the Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre. This hotel was the meeting point of the cruise so I decide this was the place to book for our pre cruise night. The relief was that I could now hand of all the planning organising and thinking about arrangements to the cruise staff for next 7 days. The highlight was our room with a spectacular view of the river IJ and a hot shower. Oh and the room service trolley was a welcome sight. Excited about cruising tomorrow, first job go and buy a new bag. 

Neuschwanstein Castle, Cuckoo Clocks and Munich’s Rathaus-Glockenspiel

After a our time in Berlin it was time to head off on the next leg of our journey, Munich. As per usual I had us waiting on the platform with long before we really needed to be there. It was cold but it made us appreciate our very comfortable carriage on board.

The best part of travelling by train is the ability to relax and enjoy the scenery or get up and move around when needed, of course the buffet car which are well suppled with delicious eats. We got in the habit of buying a roll on the platform before boarding and only ordered coffee when needed. The food at train stations in Europe is amazing always a fantastic selection and so hard to choose, but I usually came away with baguette with various filling, just love those rolls.
It was a pleasant day spent watch Germany countryside slide by, always something interesting to see and the staff on board really look after first class passengers.

We arrived in Munich right on time, another feature of European trains they are one time almost all the time. Our hotel the Le Meridian was right outside the station and so we were all checked in by 5.30pm and decided on dinner in the hotel restaurant Le Potager as we still feeling tired even though we hadn’t done much except sit. Our room was very comfortable and we looking forward to spending the next four nights in one place.

Day one in Munich we found a Coffee Fellows near the hotel for breakfast which consisted of a sensational bagel with cream cheese for me and and a bacon and egg on bagel for mum, fresh juice and coffee got us set for the day.

It was red bus time 
we decided to get our bearings by doing the circuit and look at the sites from onboard. This is always a good choice todays route included Palace of Nymphenburg, the former summer residence of the Bavarian elector princes and kings with its beautiful and spacious gardens. 

Ludwig I

To get an impression of modern Munich, you will visit the Olympic grounds where you will find other attractions like Sea Life, the BMW museum and the new BMW Car World. You will have a fantastic panoramic view from the top of the 290 meter high Olympic Tower. 

We passed through the former artist quarter of Schwabing where we strolled along Leopold street. 
The frequent stopping points make this tour an unforgettable Munich( or anywhere) experience. 

We left the bus at  starting point near the station before walking back to the old town and visiting Marienplatz  and the famous Viktualien Food MarketCity Hall, Cathedral, Church of St Peter. 

After a pretty long day we headed back to hotel, picking up a bit takeaway( another baguette for me) from the train station for dinner and turned in pretty early. Up early tomorrow for our Castles Tour day trip so early night is appreciated by us both.  

On the agenda for day two Linderhof and Oberammergau 2-hour visit to King Ludwig’s Linderhof hunting lodge Sightseeing and shopping in Oberammergau, famous site of the Passion Play  and the highlight and main purpose of our trip was a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle

 More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland‘s Sleeping Beauty Castle

We took the short time allowed for shopping in Oberammergau to purchase two cuckoo clocks  (called the store from Switzerland and ordered a third clock) that were being packaged up for shipping home before we were back on the bus. I think we made a quick sweep of the main shopping area and were back on the bus( first I might add) within 30 minutes.  Oberammergau is a fascinating place, especially with all the painted houses  and I will always remember our stop at Oberammergau due to the cuckoo clock that goes off on the half hour in our sitting room. I always try to make one significant purchase to remember my trips and this was it for this trip. 

Our day trip was long but it was all that we imagined and made seeing these places so easy and so well organised, not sure if the two people that missed the bus from Neuschwanstein Castle  which as we thought was the highlight of the day, not sure how we climbed such a steep hill and so many steps inside the castle but we did it. It was downhill all the way for the 2km walk back to the village and our bus where after an ice-cream we thankfully collapsed in our seats for the 2 hour journey home. Bus was quiet on the way home, wonder why? It was about this point in our trip I think our fitness levels had improved but boy all the walking if it didn’t kill us it made us feel stronger.

Day three in Munich was Sunday so all was quiet except for soccer fans pouring in from all over for a soccer game, we had a lie in before finding a restaurant in hotel nearby for a decent breakfast of bacon, eggs and all the trimmings then heading to town square to watch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel play at 11am. It plays every day at 11 a.m. (as well as 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. in summer) it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. This was fun and if you have five minutes to spare watch the video I have posted on the right of this blog. After watching display we wandered the streets then joined the congregation of the parish church of Saint Peter, whose 91 metres high tower is commonly known as “Alter Peter” – Old Peter – and which is emblematic of Munich, is the oldest recorded parish church in Munich and presumably the originating point for the whole city. 

 No we didn’t climb the 299 steps for the 360 degree view from Old Peter but if we had this is what we have seen.

No shops open on sunday but most restaurants and beer halls were open for business and it was surprising the number of people just wandering around in the city, I guess the football could have been one reason but people just seemed to be out enjoying the day.

My favourite view from the bridge above the Neuschwanstein Castle

Next morning we had a little time to explore shops before boarding our train to Zurich, which was just a stopover on our way to Interlaken Switzerland our base for the next 6 days. The train ride and the night in Zurich was uneventful and was really just that a break in our journey, next time I would go right through to Interlaken from Munich in the one day.

Who’d thought I would ever find myself in Berlin, Germany

After a very comfortable night where we both slept reasonably well and woke feeling quite refreshed. With the packing done we checked out of our hotel after deciding we would get something to eat at the station once I had validated our Global Pass train passes.

A short walk to the station, dodging bikes and the pedestrian traffic which all seemed to be going the opposite direction to us. We quickly had our passes validated, travelling first class allowed us to make use of the lounge facilities where we could relax and eat from the complimentary breakfast bar while waiting for our train ( as usual I had us there with oodles of time to spare but I really hate rushing when trying to find our way).

We boarded our direct train to Berlin from platform 10b at 11:01am for our 6 hour trip in very comfortable carriage, no-one else in our section which was great. spend the day napping and watching the great scenery pass us by, can I say it again, this is the way to travel in Europe.

As the day was drawing to a close we arrived in Berlin, we left the train one station too early, a problem easily rectified by catching the next city train from the other side of the same platform, and finally getting off at Berlin’s Station Hauptbahnhof (Central Station).

Within minutes of stepping on german soil we were in cab being whisked to our hotel in Potsdamer Platz district. Our hotel was the very fancy Wyndham Grand Hotel which has built inside an old sandstone factory and was so well done. We checked in and freshened up before heading down to The Post restaurant for our first real meal since leaving home, I had the Rinderfilet (Filet of beef) and mum settled for Zitrus- Maispoulardenbrust (Lemon corn poulard (chicken) breast). This was a memorable meal and the service great but we both hit the wall quickly and it wasnt long before we fell into bed exhausted.

With one full day to make the most of our day in Berlin we up early and walked down to Potsdamer Platz square for a roll and coffee for breakfast all while trying to work out where the main stop was for the red Hop on Hop off bus was.

After wandering around for awhile we eventually located the stop not too far away but not in it’s usual stop due to road works.

We purchased our 24 hour ticket and as it was fairly cool we decided we would do the full circuit first then decide where we would get off for a closer look. With 20 stops around the city such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenberg Gate,  Jewish Museum and not to mention a section of the Berlin Wall which was a surreal experience.

After our lap around the city we decided to get off at Checkpoint Charlie and have some lunch before continuing on our way. Lunch was the best tomato soup and a pizza at a little Italian place (Sotto Sopra) within sight of Checkpoint Charlie, amazing to think this was such an important place in history and here we were having our lunch.

After lunch Brandenberg Gate was our chosen stop to explore further this amazing city. Unfortunately
by time the bus got back to this stop there was some sort of demonstration taking place so the bus was forced to re-route in very heavy traffic. Upside was we got to go down some interesting streets that aren’t on the usual route.

We decided to hop off at the famous KaDeWa department store.

About KaDeWa (taken from website)

What apparently started as an adventurous idea by the Berlin merchant Adolf Jandorf in 1905 surpassed all expectations when KaDeWe was opened in March 1907. 

As the leading department store in the country, it presented customers with an array of desirable goods from around the world – from the latest Paris fashion show looks to exotic south sea fruits.

Always a firm step ahead of the competition, KaDeWe today, as well as offering a vast variety of products, is also setting new standards in service. 

KaDeWe caters for a wide range of needs with luxurious beauty rooms and lounges, a wedding and gift service, a hotel and home service, tailor, hairdressers, buggy rental and a bureau de change. In its world-famous gourmet department on the sixth floor, Berlin’s premium department store even plays host to exclusive parties high above the roofs of the city.

The same ritual takes place every day at KaDeWe and sometimes on Sundays too when, shortly before 10 am, the original iron gate dating from 1907 is lowered so that customers can embark on an exciting shopping adventure. Each day up to 180,000 customers from around the world are welcomed in cordially by the KaDeWe before being attended to on more than 60,000 sq m of sales space by some 2,000 employees, for each of which customer needs and first class service take pride of priority.

We would have loved more time to explore this wonderful interesting store, definitely recommended as a must do for anyone visiting Berlin.

A short taxi ride found back in our fantastic hotel and we changed and headed down for a burger and soup from the hotel restaurant. Again early night and pack up for the next stage, Munich here we come.

Hotel: Wyndam Grand Potsdam Platz

Getting Around Taxis: Reasonably priced and easy to hail, carry hotel business cards to show driver for address


  1. Seeing the actual Berlin Wall
  2. Visiting KaDeWa Department store
  3. Soup and Pizza at (Sotto Sopra) near Checkpoint Charlie
What a deal on a super hotel…

Where to this year…

Travel plans for 2014 include a trip to China and Europe.   

The China trip is part of MacWool Wool Growers Tour. About 30 keen woolgrowers will set off on March 2, escorted by Don, Kerrie, Sharpy and myself.  We will visit Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chongqing, YangshuoGuilin and a highlight is sure to be the three day cruise on the Yantze river

Travel China Guide 

A week after returning form the China trip Mum and I set off to Amsterdam to do an 8 Day Tulip River cruise as well as visiting Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.