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The Roving Rogers 4

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S: The Roving Rogers 4

FC: The Roving Rogers 4 2012

1: We | We left home in late May 2012 driving to Sydney from where we were to fly to Vienna. Taking back roads through Lismore and Grafton we climbed the steep road to Point Lookout in the New England National Park out of Ebor from where we had this magnificent view.

2: We stayed at Artarmon for three days before boarding flight V201 for London and a BA flight to Vienna which we reached after some 30 hours travel. We met up with Len and Barbara in London. The photo is of the Kaerntner Ring tram which is similar to the Melbourne tourist tram.

3: For three days we tramped the Vienna streets soaking up the history, sights and of course the offerings at the wonderful coffee houses such as Landtmann's and the famous Cafe Mozart. Our hotel, the Best Western Beethoven, proved a winner which was a relief as I'd picked it out through Trip Advisor. It was centrally situated and had good, big rooms and a great breakfast.

5: We met Don and Philippa in Vienna after their tour of eastern Europe and following a ride on the ferris wheel at Luna Park Vienna style, we went to a folk night of music and dance, but we should have known better as we have never had a good meal at this type of entertainment.

6: Visiting the many attractions of Vienna kept us busy as we looked at the Opera House, St.Stephan's where we listened to a marvellous bagpipe and church music concert, Stadt Park, Belvedere Palace the highlight of which is Klimt's "The Kiss", the Vienna Woods and some caves where the Nazis manufactured pilotless aircraft during the war. The Spanish Riding School practice session was a disappointment.

8: Our cruise aboard the "Affinity" commenced in Vienna and ended in Amsterdam thirteen highly enjoyable days later. We took an upmarket cabin which had a sliding window but no balcony of course as the vessel barely fitted through some of the locks as it was. There were about 120 travellers on board who came from Australia, N.Z., Canada, and the U.S. We all got on very well. Meals were varied and of excellent quality, optional tours were interesting with the only thing to criticise being the lack of decent wifi.

11: The morning after we boarded "Affinity", we joined in a tour of Schloss Schonbrunn which has magnificent interiors rivalling Versailles, and watched a very smart girl making apple strudel in which we all shared. In the evening we attended a delightful concert for which we had front row seats.

12: On our first day of the cruise we visited the abbey at Melk which we had visited many years ago. The stained glass window above dates from the thirteenth century. The next pages show one scene from the abbey and a photo of the town on Grein.

16: Typical river scenes

18: Brezovik, Czech Republik

20: Cesky Krumlov Undoubtedly one of the best days of the cruise. This UNESCO Heritage village in the Czech Republic was quaint, cobblestoned, walled, with every turn offering a new vision. Travelling by coach from the ship through rolling green hills and thick forests interspersed with picturesque villages, we reached Cesky Krumlov not really knowing what magnificence we were to see. We walked and walked and walked taking in all that the town had to offer. What a day!

26: Passing down the Danube we went by the old Main Canal entrance before going through the beautiful Danube Gorge to Weltenburg Abbey.

29: The oldest Klosterbrauerel in the world. That is, the oldest bock beer. As shown on this photo of a poster, the Abbey was founded in 1050.

34: Weltenburg Abbey | Each evening aboard "Affinity" there was some entertainment. This gypsy violinist was amazing with his fast playing.

35: Regensburg was the northerly most point settled by the Romans in the 2nd.century and was abandoned in the 4th.century. The gateway pictured left, although renovated, is the original entrance through the town walls used by the Romans.

39: When in Germany last, we were agreeably surprised at the high quality of fruit and vegetables. No difference was noted this trip. Shops and markets everywhere had only the best, flawless produce on show.

41: Some Things to Remember Our ship "Affinity", one of the Avalon fleet, sails under the German flag and was launched in 2009. It has 69 cabins accommodating 138 passengers, is 110 m.long, 11.45 m.wide and carries 38 crew. Its weight is 2000 tonnes with a draft of 1.6m.. The ship's width is the maximum able to transit the Main Canal. We firstly travelled upstream along the Danube River which rises in the Black Forest with its mouth in the Black Sea. We then entered the Main Canal which links the Danube to the Main River which itself eventually joins the Rhine. Once in the Rhine we were travelling downstream. The present canal which has 16 locks is 171 kms.long and was completed in 1992. The Danube is 2870 kms and the Rhine 1232 kms long. We were constantly amazed at not only the river traffic, but the rail and road transport either side of the entire waterway. Barges carried all manner of cargo with barge captains often carrying their own motor cars for use at their destinations. We lost count of the many beautiful little villages we serenely sailed by and the number of churches, monasteries, old castles, and vineyards which dominated our passage.

42: Nuremberg was disappointing because the tour of the town didn't work out and photos were not allowed at the courts where the Nazi trials were held. The next page shows two superstitious souls touching a good luck charm!

44: The WWII Luftwaffe supplier now runs hotels. The photos on this and the next five pages were taken in Bamburg, the old town of which, is one of the prettiest towns we have ever seen.

51: Rothenburg "A willage in a walley!" We first visited here in 1981 with Don and Tricia and the revisit did not disappoint.

54: We have seen shop signs similar to these right through Europe. They add a lot of colour to a streetscape.

56: Christmas shops are big business as are tourist shops and the selling of beer!

57: Wertheim After breakfast early one morning we walked through the little riverside village of Wertheim. Small, pretty and friendly, we were there a little too early for the shops. On this old wall next to the village well was marked the extent of record floods over the years. The high water for 1784 was well over my head height.

58: The village well is intact but out of use today. The pulley wheel has a date inscribed - 1762. Eight years before Australia was discovered!

59: Pity about the parked car!

61: Heidelberg After a pleasant morning we were taken by coach on back roads through beautiful forest country, past quaint old world little villages, to Heidelberg. We remembered the wonderful day we had here in 1981 and all progressed well this time too, until the rain sheeted down later in the afternoon.

65: View of the Neckar River from the ramparts of Heidelberg Castle

66: A disappointing end to a day at Heidelberg

67: From Heidelberg we moved down river to Rudesheim which proved to be somewhat of a highlight. Sailing quietly along at a speed of about 25 knots, we passed innumerable small and lovely villages, vineyards by the hundred and many locks.

68: This little train picked us up at our ship and set us down in the lovely town of Rudesheim

69: An unusual museum had dozens of late 19th.century fabulous music machines, the forerunners of juke boxes and pianolas. It was said that the machines cost as much as would a new house in those days. Oh, to be rich enough to own one!

70: As we drank the specialty very alcoholic coffee at the Rudesheimer Schloss we were serenaded with Bavarian music. The final number however, was Waltzing Matilda!

71: Rudesheim from the cable car ride

73: Back to our ship, we now entered perhaps the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River. A never ending panorama of vineyards on the most improbable slopes, ancient castles, monasteries, churches, and colourful houses with all manner of rooflines. A wonderful couple of days!

79: After the magnificence of the past two days we docked in a miserably wet Cologne and found the city hadn't improved much since our previous visit. Next we arrived in Amsterdam, spent a day sight seeing and on a canal ride, followed by an evening strolling through the Red Light district - awful! We disembarked and taxied to the Fita Hotel, our home for the next three days. The hotel was excellent.

84: One of the stalls in the Flower Market | We took a trip to the terminus on a tram so as we could see typical suburbs.

85: Early burghers of Amsterdam Amsterdam Museum | Movie of German Occupation troops Amsterdam Resistance Museum

86: We took a day tour to Bruges in Belgium. Great canal ride, historic buildings, wonderful chocolate

88: We flew to Hong Kong for a 3 day stopover, the highlight being a day tour to Lantau Island to see a primitive fishing village, a 30 metre high Buddha, monastery and to ride a cable car which took over half an hour to get down from the mountains.

89: Winsome at the fishing village market | Stilt houses in the fishing village

93: Once back in Australia we stayed a couple of days in Sydney then drove to Victoria via Cooma and Bombala where we had wonderful views of the high country. We visited Margaret, saw John in hospital, shared Bronwyn's birthday at the football and at Tim and Kate's, then drove home on back roads via the Warrumbungles and Stanthorpe arriving six weeks after our departure.

94: Our favourite Warrumbungles from the back road approach We called into our first house in Morwell and I must say it looked only a little better than this wrecked farmhouse

95: This was the holiday we never thought we'd have. After last year's trip to Russia and France we thought we wouldn't travel to Europe again, but when we read the blurbs about river cruises shortly after our return, the die was cast. Friends had travelled on Avalon and recommended it. They were right in their recommendation - it was a magnificent experience. Not only was the "Affinity" comfortable and well organised, the food and service top class, and excursions enjoyable, the added benefit was that no cases had to be packed and unpacked at each destination as must be done on a coach tour. Our plan to drive to Sydney prior to the tour, then to Melbourne before coming home worked well and it was terrific to meet up with our southern family members. Was this our last extended trip? Who knows!

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