Thursday 30 September 2010

2010 Trip -30th September

Hong Kong - city of high-rise
Jet Lag! After a slow start we ventured onto Hong Kong's public transport system. A taxi, a train, a ferry and a bus took us to Stanley on the southern end of Hong Kong Island. We wandered around the Stanley Markets and didn't buy much at all. A bus and a train then took us to Kowloon to shop in the electronics area and then the "Ladies Markets". Again, we didn't buy much. We thought we would find some authentic Chinese food for dinner but ended up eating Japanese. Two trains and a taxi to get back to our hotel. Hong Kong has a great public transport system. Australia could learn a lot!

2010 Trip - 29th September

I think we lost today! We spent it flying from Amsterdam to Hong Kong via Zurich. We left Amsterdam at 7:45pm last night and finally arrived in Hong Kong about 4:30pm today and then caught a taxi straight to our hotel.
The Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel is quite a place. We dined downstairs at the Cafe Lounge choosing the buffet. What a buffet!
Roast pig anyone?

Tuesday 28 September 2010

2010 Trip -28th September

Our last day on board. The trip has been absolutely wonderful.  After breakfast, we caught a "Stop n Go" bus to the 'Anne Frank House' museum. It was a stark reminder of the not so distant past. As we wandered through there were a number of people that were obviously emotional at what they were seeing and hearing. We then ventured by foot to 'Madame Tussaud's'. This was an interesting place and we 'met' some famous people.  A lovely lunch and then back to the boat to await our 5pm transfer to the airport.  Very odd seeing different people on our boat.  OK.  It's their boat now.  And we head off to Hong Kong (shopping, shopping, shopping).

2010 Trip -27th September

After sailing throughout the morning, we arrived in Amsterdam around lunchtime. It has been raining on and off all day. We had a short bus ride to another dock to board a canal boat for a tour around the Amsterdam canals. We returned to the ship to spend time before dinner packing our bags ready for our departure tomorrow. Our final dinner on board the Amadagio had a Dutch theme. As always it was a great meal. The weather cleared a little so we had a short stroll after dinner before heading for our cabin for the last night on board.

Monday 27 September 2010

2010 Trip -26th September

We left Koblenz during breakfast today and sailed until lunchtime to arrive in Cologne. The largest city we have visited so far on the cruise. The Cathedral was amazing. It was begun in 1248 and took over 600 years to complete. We also visited the Lindt Chocolate Museum. A visit to the Lindt shop was a must for Linda. We docked right next to it!

We realised that we are getting close to the end of the cruise as today we had a 'disembarkation briefing'. It has been a fantastic time! The ship and all the staff have made the whole time wonderful. We've made some friendships onboard with other guests that it has been great to share the experience with. - Thanks guys.
Cologne Cathedral

Sunday 26 September 2010

2010 Trip -25th September

We cruised all night and all morning. Mid-morning we turned into the Rhine river as we began our last section of the cruise. During lunch we arrive at Rudesheim. We travelled by mini train to Sigfreid's Musical Cabinet, a private collection of mechanical musical instruments. We caught the chairlift to the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Rhine valley. The views were spectacular! After coming back down to earth, we wandered the narrow town streets and Linda enjoyed a local specialty, Rudesheimer Kaffee - coffee with brandy and whipped cream. It was prepared at the table in a special way. Linda said it was strong! Just as we finished our afternoon tea (Rob ate strudel again), a band began to play in the street outside the cafe. Very entertaining!
The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising along the Rhine. This section is lined with castles. We past 30 castles before arriving in Koblenz during dinner. After dinner we strolled around Koblenz (under the guidance of our Cruise Manager). It is a very cosmopolitan town with a seemingly vibrant night life. Tonight we'll remain docked in Koblenz so we are all looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Saturday 25 September 2010

2010 Trip - 24th September

We arrive early this morning in Wertheim. After breakfast we heading off on a walking tour of the town with a local guide. Small narrow streets hardly wide enough for one car so vehicles are banned from 10am each day within the town walls. This town was one of the few that were not damaged during WW2 and so is appears as it has for centuries with some buildings dating back to the 10th or 11th century. We were then met by buses, as our ship had already sailed, to rejoin the ship for lunch at the next town. While we enjoyed lunch we cruised further down the river to Miltenburg. It is an even smaller town also untouched by WW2 and time. Most of the buildings in the inner town dated around 1500 with some back to 1300's. It seemed to be less touristy than other places we have visited with less souvenir shops but still with a good range of specialty shops (clothes and jewelery). We had a quiet and relaxing afternoon onboard and then after dinner we were treated to a "crew talent show". What a hoot!!!

Friday 24 September 2010

2010 Trip - 23rd September

Wurzburg was our first stop today and the residence palace of the prince bishop.  So beautiful and ornate.  Another filming location for the three musketeers starring Orlando Blum.  Although they were filming in Germany, the movie is supposed to be set in medieval France and London.  They were in the process of putting everything back together after the crew had been there.  A photo shoot was underway on one of the bridges there so we saw the cast (from a distance).  Back to the ship for lunch and then bussed to Rothenburg.  Oh the most beautiful little town we've seen yet.  Rob says almost like going back in time.  We bussed back to the ship and were supposed to see a glass blowing demonstration on board but while the demonstrator was unpacking his car someone stole his torch and tools.  So he gave a talk and we'll see a demonstration in his home town (Wertheim) tomorrow.  Linda got a migraine during dinner but Rob went up and listened to a group called La Strada (violin trio from Belgium).

Thursday 23 September 2010

2010 Trip -22nd September

So this morning started with an announcement from 'Bertha' for the trip for the day in Bamburg.  Bamburg is the town where special smoked beer is made.  It smells like beer that has had smoked bacon soaking in it.  Rob didn't mind this beer.  Linda didn't want to try.  The smell was off putting enough, let alone not liking beer at all.  Back on the boat for lunch and we had to travel this afternoon.  So an afternoon on the boat was spent with a lecture of the European Union by a professor from Nuremburg.  The history lesson caused many to fall asleep.  A few games of cards and a quiet dinner, introduction of our new cruise director (yes I had to hand over my role - sorry Bertha's role) Kata (she's Hungarian).  Early to bed - big day tomorrow.


2010 Trip -21st September

A different day today as we spent the morning sailing through locks and along canals. About mid morning we reached the 'Continental Divide'. This is the point where we ceased our upward climb through locks and began our downhill run through locks towards the coast.  This afternoon we arrived in Nuremburg where we did a medievil tour of the city.  Lots of history of this town.  The buildings of this city were not as old as we thought because of how severely it was bombed during the wars.  So buildings were only about 40-50 years old but still in the old style.  We wandered around the city for a couple of hours then back to the boat.  We had a Bavarian dinner and entertainment tonight (yodelling). They even played the 'chicken dance'.  During dinner, Jan, our cruise director advised us that he had to leave our cruise because his wife was having complications during the birth of their son a month too early.  Leaving us he said that 'Bertha' was in charge until the new director arrives tomorrow afternoon. A few of us then had a late night in the lounge listening to our piano player and dancing the night away.
Linda & Ann do the chicken dance

2010 Trip -20th September

We had a slower start to the day with a Bavarian feast for morning tea on board our ship. We had a walking tour of Regensburg in Germany. ABC - "another beautiful city". Oskar Schindler, made famous by the movie "Schindler's List" lived here for about 5 years after WW2. After returning to the ship for dinner, we enjoyed a "Roaring Twenties Night" on board.  This was an interesting night where we were involved in a skit/entertainment.  There were 8 chairs in the middle of the room.  Eight people were given titles.  There was the 'barkeeper', 'john', 'the red lion bar', Rob was 'Peter' & I was 'Bertha'.  A story was told and every time your title was given you had to get up off your seat and run around the other 7 people in the story.  Started off slowly for 'Bertha' but by the end 'Bertha' was continuously running around the group.  Much fun was had by all.  Now I'm known as 'Bertha'. 

Monday 20 September 2010

2010 Trip -19th September

So we headed to Linz during the night and went straight off the boat and headed to Salzburg via Mondsee.  Mondsee was the place of the church from the Sound of Music.  Along with other Sound of Music sights in Salzburg we saw where Mozart was born and lived.  Beautiful sunny day but a little chilly in the Austrian Alp area.  Gorgeous scenery.  So picturesque as we then travelled by bus across the Austrian/Bavarian (German) border to Passau.  We joined the boat again here. After dinner we were entertained by a group called "Sounds of Austria" - a little bit of Mozart opera, a little folk music and of course songs from "The Sound of Music".

2010 Trip -18th September

Miky's birthday day started early this morning as we arrived in the village of Durnstien.  After a walking tour and a local wine tasting it was time to move on to Melk.  Most stayed on board but 15 of us decided to cycle along the bank through a few small villages - 33km - three hours to complete.  Linda did about 5km before she decided that 33km was way too ambitious at the speed they were wanting to travel at.  So with two others caught a cab to Melk.  Rob, (I was very proud) complete the cycle.  Well done.  The highlight in Melk was the large Benedictine Abbey.  After dinner back on board we enjoyed a movie music quiz night.  It was a long and tirng but great day.

Saturday 18 September 2010

2010 Trip -17th September

We left for Vienna last night about midnight and docked this morning at 7.30am.  Left Amadagio at 8.30am to go to Schoenbrunn Palace - beautiful.  The gardens were spectacular and saw 20 of the 1400 rooms.  Very ornate.  Back to the boat for lunch and the afternoon was our own to venture around Vienna town seeing the sights, St Stephens Cathedral (very dark/bleak, gothic), horse carriage ride around town.  Apple strudel was a must.  Check out the photo.  Then back to the boat again for dinner (early 5.30pm) so we could venture out again to a wonderful concert of a 11 piece orchestra, two ballet dancers and 2 opera singers in the most gorgeous building - the Austrian military museum.  This was a great night.  We are so spoilt.  Too much food, too much wine, plenty of picturesque sights.  Wait till you see what tomorrow holds for us.

2010 Trip - 16th September

After a lovely night with Hungarian folklore entertainment our boat, the Amadagio, left dock at 9pm last night and arrived at Bratislava, Slovakia at lunchtime today.  So relaxed morning on the boat.  Well not really relaxed - we had an emergency drill, a briefing and piano recital (which we have every afternoon (& evening).  This afternoon we took a trip to the regions of communist Bratislava and ended at the castle.  Back to the boat for an evening of entertainment - the Aphrodites (quintette of flute, violin, viola, cello and piano) was fantastic.

Bratislava - castle gates

Thursday 16 September 2010

2010 Trip -15th September

We visited the Budapest Opera House - our 1st tour with the group from the ship. We then crossed the river to the Buda side to visit the Castle area, including Mathias Church, the Fishermans Bastion and Old Buda. The afternoon was free time so we wandered to the Bupdapest Central Market and then strolled along Vaci Utca (Budapest "Fashion Street"). After dinner on board, we departed the dock and briefly cruised around Budapest before beginning our journey along the Danube.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

2010 Trip -14th September

The day began with a tour of St Stephen's Basilica..... WOW!!!!! Incredible, magnificent, awe-inspiring, these words do not even begin to describe in interior of the Basilica. There was even a tenor singing with organ music while we wandered around. We had our final meal with Greg and his family before we headed for our ship. It was great to share time with them in Hungary.
The first day on board was fairly low key, with a short briefing and dinner. The food is fabulous and tons of it - 5 courses every night! (not to mention - breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and of course late night supper)
St Stephen's Basilica

Tuesday 14 September 2010

2010 Trip -13th September

Well today was so great.  We visited with Greg, Rita, Michaela, Luke and Effie (Rita's mum) travelling by metro underground train and trams to Hero's Square, Papa & Aunty Margarets home in Budapest (where they left hungary from) and their school, took a boat ride on the Danube, saw many beautiful buildings and heard a little bit of history, shopping and dinner at a restaurant where they had traditional gypsy hungarian music played live.  We were all so tired by the end of the day and slept well.

Monday 13 September 2010

2010 Trip -12th September

After a late breakfast, we checked out of the Ramada Plaza and headed to Margaret Island. It's our first sunny day in Hungary. We hired a motorised "golf car" and drove around the island to get the "lay of the land" before we walked to look more closely at each section. It is beautiful oasis amongst an otherwise congested city. Linda could not resist the green apple fairy floss. Late in the afternoon we met up with Linda's cousin, Greg, from Melbourne, and his family.

Sunday 12 September 2010

2010 Trip -11th September

Today we set out for Jarlsbereny where papa (Linda's dad) was born and to visit family.  Again another rainy day.  We arrivedin the town hoping to find information office to get an interpreter but didn't.  How were we going to communicate with family.  Oh well.  Arrived at the home of Joseph & Kathy Szabo (cousin to my aunt) and they were very happy to see us.  They were expecting us in the last two days but we didn't know that's what Aunty Margaret had organised for us.  Anyway.  Many hours were spent trying to understand each other - unsuccessfully.  A phone call from Australia saved a little bit of confusion.  Thanks for saving us Aunty Margaret.  Joseph took us to the street where my grandmother and great grandmother lived.  My father and his sisters were born here.  Strange feeling to actually be here.  Challenging communication verbally didn't take away from the communication of love of family.  Hard and rewarding day.

A few photos of our new grand daughter - Charlotte Grace Corner

Saturday 11 September 2010

2010 Trip -10th September

Today we decided to go to Lake Balaton (a very large lake in Hungary about 77km long and 14km at it's widest) and we went to the south end of it to a Festetics Palace at Keszthely.  It was so beautiful.  I took a couple of photos (oops wasn"t allowed) inside.  We had to wear some funny things on our feet to protect the floor.  It was a miserable day - raining everywhere - so guessing we didn't see the lake at it's most beautiful.  Many other beautiful buildings on the way.  Rob faired a little better today with the driving having driven about 400km's.

Friday 10 September 2010

2010 Trip - 9th September

After much waiting in airports and travelling yesterday we finally arrived in Budapest.  It was a little emotional for Linda as we flew in.  The reality of it hit home.  Has been waiting for this for ages.  After trying to find a supermarket (unsuccessfully) and Rob struggling with driving on the wrong side of the road in a manual car (try to imagine that - gears in the wrong hand, mirrors in the wrong positions, cars coming at you, you have to think all the time, agggggghhhhhhhhh).  Rob says more stressful than driving in Kenya (where the traffic is crazy).  We were so tired and went to bed really early.

Thursday 9 September 2010

2010 Trip - 8th September

Today we travelled (all day - not feeling the best).  But our beautiful grandaughter was born today - Charlotte Grace 7lb 14oz.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

2010 Trip - 7th September

We spent all day in our room as Rob was still ill and was worse over night. The day of rest has seen him improve. Hopefully by tomorrow he'll be 100% again as we continue on our journey, flying back to Nairobi to catch our flight to Zurich and then onto Budapest.
We had a short phone cal from our son, Brendan at 3:15pm local time (10:15pm Sydney/Melbourne) to tell us that Kim was in labour. We are expectantly waiting news of the birth of our grand-daughter.

2010 Trip - 6th September

We began the day by visiting a Crocodile Park - the largest in Africa with over 10,000 crocs. One of the staff even arrange a private viewing of feeding some, even though it normally only happens a 5pm. The park also contains botanical gardens and a spider and snake collection. As we were leavng the croc park Rob began feel ill but we continued on with the day plan.
We enjoyed a cool drink in a little cafe by the ocean at Bamburi Beach which is on the "north shore" of Mombasa. Linda enjoyed a walk along the beach getting her feet wet in the warm water.
We spent the rest of the day in our room so Rob could rest.
Internet here is slow and we have to sit out on the verandah to get any signal.

Monday 6 September 2010

2010 Trip - 5th September

After a late breakfast, we began our 1st full day in Mombasa with a drive around town, a guided visit to Fort Jesus (next door to our accommodation) and a walk around the old town area.  We also visited the Mombasa Sports Club.
It appears that after our sometimes hectic schedule in Nairobi, our time in Mombasa will be far more relaxed. Today was quite warm and tonight is very pleasant. Although the locals seem to think it is cold. At 9pm it is still probably about 20C. The people are so friendly and welcoming but we have been warned not to walk around town after dark.
I'm really enjoying sharing this trip with my gorgeous wife.

Here's the view from our room at the Mombasa Club.
From 2010 Trip

Sunday 5 September 2010

2010 Trip - 4th September

Today we spent much of the day a Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi. We expected heavy traffic like we have seen for the last few days but we made the drive in record time. At least we were not late for our flight!
We travelled to Mombasa on the coast and were met at the airport by the brother of a lady the Linda works with at Youthworks. He has arranged our accommodation at the Mombasa Club and has also arranged a driver to show us around. Although the locals say that it is cold, it is about 28C. The Mombasa Club is a private "Members Only" club that was established in 1897 by the British. It really does look the part with high ceilings beautiful timber stairs and period furniture. It is just like I have seen in movies - "clubs" in India and Singapore.
We even have to "dress" for dinner.

Saturday 4 September 2010

2010 Trip - 3rd September

Today was our last full day in Nairobi and our last day with Pete and Keama. We spent most of the day doing last minute running around and enjoying one more banana milkshake (Java House simply has the best banana milkshakes we've ever tasted).
This afternoon we met with 2 of the young men that Kenya Help sponsors, mainly to catch up and inform them of the appointment of our 2 new Kenya Help reps here in Nairobi.
We then farewelled Pete and Keama as they headed to the airport for their long flight back to Australia. We'll miss them but we know that they have missed their girls even more and their girls have missed them. Thanks Pete for all your help.
We finished the day by sharing dinner and a marriage enrichment session with a small group of couples from Lifespring Chapel. It was a wonderful evening and we hope that they found it useful. We were made to feel very much at home and definitely part of their group. Asante sana! It was a great way to finish our time in Nairobi.

Friday 3 September 2010

2010 Trip - 2nd September

We began the day by driving about 1½ hours to Pete's father's farm at a place called Murang'a.
It is a 5 acre farm ("shamba" in kiswahili) where he grows various crops such a maize, bananas, mangoes and others. This was Pete's father's first time to see Keama and it was wonderful to see the joy in his eyes as he saw his grandson for the first time.

We then returned to Nairobi to have lunch with some friends, Dave & Mary at the Amani Ya Juu garden cafe. Dave is the pastor of Parkside Community Chapel, a church plant of Lifespring Chapel.

In the evening we met with our friends, James and Susan, who hosted us last year when we visited Kenya on our mission awareness trip. The traffic on the way there was horrific! When we visited their home last Sunday, Susan busy being the perfect host for us and also James's nephew and his fiance. It was great have this evening to sit and chat over dinner with them. We are developing a special friendship with them that spans the vast distance between our homes.

Thursday 2 September 2010

2010 Trip - 1st September

Today was another "catchup" day. Linda has a chest infection and a day of rest has been needed. We met via Skype with our Kenya Help team back in Australia to discuss the appointment of a local co-ordinator here in Kenya. We have been interviewing people while we are in Kenya. We will announce the decision publicly after we have informed the applicants. We took the opportunity of the quieter day to review some other photos taken during the Marriage Enrichment seminar. They have now been uploaded and added to our "2010 Trip - Photos".

We finished the day with dinner at a local Japanese restuarant. It seems strange to be eating Japanese in Kenya. I was not sure how to thank the staff, "asante" or "arigato".

Wednesday 1 September 2010

2010 Trip - 31st August

Today was a quiet day. We stayed around our accomodation "Kijiji" most of the day, ducking out for a lunchtime meeting for Kenya Help.  Tonight we had dinner at Pastor William's home. It was such a blessing to be so welcomed into their home at Dagoretti Corner.
If you are in the Nowra area of NSW, do not miss seeing Pastor William when he visits Bomaderry on 25th September 2010. For details see the Kenya Help web-site.