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Recent Entries to this Blog Back on track again!
Posted: 13 Mar 2006
Some friends on the houseboat
Posted: 10 Jan 2006
Some of the countryside
Posted: 24 Dec 2005
On the Houseboat
Posted: 22 Dec 2005
More on Amsterdam and into Germany
Posted: 22 Dec 2005

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Back on track again!

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:50 pm

OK, after some time away for a much needed holiday, and a new Grandson!, I am back again. (Some say "Yay", others say "So what")

Anyway, when we we in London we saw this sign. A fantastic testimony to a great play.

The Moustrap is at St Martins Theatre in London.

We went from London to Amsterdam. I wasn't that thrilled with Amsterdam. It was a dirty, dingy city. However, it did have its high points. Over here in Oz we have multi-storey car parks. Over there they have multi-storey pushbike parks because everyone rides a bike. There are no cars or buses in the city.

Some parts of it were interesting. Like this Erotic Museum. (What do you exhibit in an erotic museum, old protitutes?) We didn't go in, so I still don't know what was in there.

Here is another view of Amsterdam. We found the people (locals) to be quite unfriendly. Whether that is because they don't like tourists, or they are just naturally like that we don't know. However, the only words they say are swear words when you get in their way.

From there we journeyed to Venice. Venice is a dying city, even though it is very popular with tourists. this is because the buildings are getting dilapidated and cannot be maintainedby law (they are on the heritage list, which means that no modification, not even painting, can be done to them). Also, the only work there is tourism. So most of the young folk leave looking for work eslewhere.
This is the Grand Canal.

There are hudreds of bridges. The only way to get around is by boat or walk.

Here is the cathedral in the main square. This cathedral is actually built on water. It stands on 1.8 million special timber staunchons. (Most of the buildings in venice are on stilts or staunchons below the water. Becuase the cathedral is on these staunchons, the number of people allowed in at any one time is limited. We had to go in groups of 5.
They have also found that the cathedral is slowly sinking on the east side. Estimated time to submergence if nothing is done = 12 years. (The catheral is also heritage listed)

Cheers for now

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Some friends on the houseboat

Category: On the Houseboat | Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:04 am

Ah.... back on line again after tech problems!
Well, this is the last in the Houseboat blog, then back to Europe.

We did have some hitchhikers who came along with us for the ride.

Here is one. This little fella appeared one morning in time for breakfast.

And this one for lunch!

And this one visited from time to time as we travelled. He was quite hungry most of the time!

It was then time to say goodbye to our houseboat and head back to 'civilisation'!

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Some of the countryside

Category: On the Houseboat | Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:01 pm

The Murray is a great river and the lifeline of South Australia. It is pretty much our only water source (apart from rainwater tanks in the back yard)

Here are some pics of the river. There are houses and shacks along the river. (Houses are permanent dwellings, shacks are used as holiday homes and not lived in permanently)

The river is becoming overrun by willow trees along the banks. While they look very pretty, they are considered a pest as they are detrimental to the river.

There are many areas where there cliffs which are really great for fishing, as many fish live around and under the crags.

There are also many places where you can moor, either overnight or just for a short while and go for a walk. There are lots of wildlife on the walks from rabbits to kangaroos and bird life.

And of course, pelicans. It's amazing to watch the pelicans fish for food. They seem to know exactly where the fish are (without using a fish finder!) and often surface with 2 or more fish in their bills.

This blog entry has been viewed 804 times

On the Houseboat

Category: On the Houseboat | Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:03 pm

I am starting a new blog, as well as continuing the Europe trip.
My wife & I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary last weekend (18 December) and took all our kids (+ their respective spouses) on a houseboat along the Murray River in South Australia for the weekend (3 days)

So the following pics are all of that weekend. It was a fantastic time. We drove from Adelaide (where we live) to Mannum on the River Murray. Here is a sign (somewhat defaced by bored local teenagers methinks!) of the town.

The houseboat we hired was called "Scoundrel" It was a 12 berth luxury craft with twin 60hp outboard motors, 40" plasma TV, DVD, CD, and sound system in the front lounge. 5 CD sound system and TV & video player in the rear lounge. 2 toilets & showers, sun deck on roof, BBQ, etc, etc. It was certainly luxury.

And here is the captain (well..... one of them!) as we journey up the Murray River toward Wlakers Flat.

We stopped a couple of times along the way to go for a walk in the bush. Here is Joe, my son in law, coming back from a lagoon walk.

We were not alone on the river. There were many other houseboats and other water craft along the way. here is another that passed us as we moored.
Everyone is so friendly on the river. All wave as you or they go past. Even the skiers try to wave as they pass. (Most fall off! ha, ha.)

Here is our first nights site, chosen so we could have a bonfire on the bank after dark. It also had a walking track into the bush and was a great walk. Right now is the season for snakes to come out of hibernation. We did see one 6 foot brown snake but it slithered away as soon as it saw us.
Snakes in Australia are among the most venomous and dangerous in the world. We have a number of deadly species, but generally they do not like human activity and will move away from noise (unless you are between them and their hole)

The river is also home to much wildlife. From ducks to eagles, to pelicans. There is not a great deal of fish. Murray river carp (a menace and considered a pest. It is illegal to throw them back in the river. Once caught they must be left on the bank for the birds. They are not good eating)
The only other fish are the cod and the callop. I don't think much of them as eating fish, but they are fun to catch and then let go.

This blog entry has been viewed 884 times

More on Amsterdam and into Germany

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:06 am

The next morning we were on the bus again. The Autobahn, the main highway through the country, bypasses all the towns and, in many places, is built higher than many of the towns.
So you are basically going over rooftops as you travel. As you pass towns, many places have 'sound barriers' up which prevents taking pictures, but preserves the quiet and serene lifestyle of the locals.
I did manage to take some pictures as the bus whizzed by though.
There are hundreds of these little villages throughout the country side.

Here is another set on the side of a hill. The land in the foreground (brown dirt) is laying fallow at present in preparation for another tobacco crop to be planted. Tobacco is big business in this part of Europe. This picture is near Ufrecht.

And another small village as we sped past. This particular area, in between Amsterdam and Germany, is what they call the 'flatlands'. It is falt compared to many other areas, but we thought it looked a bit like our 'mountains' at home in South Australia. (It is very flat here! Our "Mount Lofty" is only 2000 feet))

At points we intersected the Neder Rijn river (Rhine River) as we travelled. The Rhine is also very heavily trafficked. Plenty of barges and other river craft.

Here is a typical barge.

The houses are also very elegant. Most houses are very picturesque with hand painted ornaments, etc. They are (mostly) brightly coloured and very well kept.

We then stopped a a fantastic little town called Boppard in the Rhine Valley where we boarded the Loreley-Linte for a cruise down the Rhine River. It was wonderful. The weather was great, a little overcast, but the temp was fine.

Here we are on the top deck, enjoying the scenery with some good friends. As you can see in the backgound, the river winds its way between mountains and valleys. On top of some of the mountains there are castles, some of which are still occupied. I have posted pics of them in previous postings in this blog.

Also, the train from Amsterdam to Hertogenbosch in the south runs right along the river for much of the way. A very scenic trip, but fast! I had to be quick to take this pic as in 4 seconds it was out of sight.

And finally, for now, here is a typical riverside village. All the houses are extremely well kept. Freshly painted in bright colours. An idyllic spot for a holiday! What a great place.

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On to France & Holland

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 1:50 am

The next day we joined the bus tour and journeyed down to Dover. It is high security at Dover. Everything checked, including hand luggage.
Here is a pic of the ferry which runs from Dover to Calais. (Actually there are about 6 ferries)

Our first view of France.
It was very misty as we came in to Calais and the beach was pretty much deserted. But it was great just seeing it.

On the way we passed haeps of French farms. I couldn't get over how green everything was. Here in Australia it is quite dry. (Australia is the driest continent on earth. And South Australia, where we are, is the driest state! Even now we have water restrictions.)

As well as some traditional Dutch windmills.

Another fascinating idea. In Australia we have dairy farms in which the cows and paddocks are separated by fences. Because of the abundance of water in France & Holland, they use water filled ditches to separate them. Saves on posts and wire! And the cows can always get a drink!

And we also went on a river cruise along the river Het Ij. Here is one of the bridges spanning the river. Land is at a premium in Amsterdam. people live wherever they can. Flats and units are small with some people buying small houseboats and living on the river itself. (The houseboats are permanently moored to the bank, some even with overhead carports on the roof of the boat!)

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Tower Castle

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 12:34 am

Tower castle is a fascinating place. Situated next to Tower brodge on the Thames River, Tower Castle is where the Crown jewels are kept.
Tower castle is also the site of many gruesome deaths over the centuries. From suicides to beheadings to assasinations.
It was raining the day we went, but it was still a very imposing structure.
One can just imagine soldiers on the battlements, archers at the ready as foreign armies try to breach the walls.

Tower Castle with Tower Bridge in the background. Tower Bridge is, in itself, a fantastic feat of engineering and one of the most well known bridges in the world. Traffic is always heavy over the bridge, although there is a footpath (of sorts) that pedestrians can walk along (You do take your life into your own hands though!)

The Thames River is also a heavily used mode of transport. From river cruises, to barges, to transport of goods, Thames River runs fairly well through the middle of London and has many drop off points.
Here is one of the barges, of which there are many.

On our cruise along the Thames we were fascinated with the variety of buildings, ranging from old structures dating back to the 1700's, to modern buildings of 2005.
Interestingly, at one point in Londons history (around 1920 I think) it was illegal to advertise products or companies on buildings (It spoiled the view the Council said)
So OXO, the condiments manufacturer said they would comply with this order in building their new head office.
They did not advertise as such, just designed their windows to reflect who they were.
Here is a pic.

And finally, for now, a picture of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben taken from the London Eye. It was overcast that day, so the pic is quite grey looking.

This blog entry has been viewed 808 times

After the waxworks

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 4:11 pm

After the waxworks it was back on the bus for some more touring.

I was fascinated by some of the houses in London. They were soooo thin! Here is an example. It was 3 storeys, but very narrow. Hardly room to swing a cat.

And from another angle. We have flats here in Australia, but they are twice the width. Land is at a premium in London and people live wherever they can find room. Wonder how you get your furniture up to the top level!

While we were there they also had a public protest rally in Hyde Park. A 'Bring the soldiers home" rally.
Here are some of the assembling crowd.

And some more.

The rally was reportedly attended by around 40,000 people. Many of them appeared to be Muslim. There were, what I call, propoganda tables set up everywhere where you buy anti-war stickers or banners and make donations to support their cause.
We even had one guy trying to persuade us to have a rally when we get back to Oz.
We tried to say that we don't get involved in other coutries politics, but he was very persistent, even to the point of being rude and demanding.
So we figured we'd see Hyde Park another day.

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Wonderful London still......

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 3:18 pm

In the U.K. , as in Australia (and probably most other places) there is an ample supply of pubs.
Some are very elite and cater for exclusive clientele. Others are family oriented. Others are just plain 'gurgle houses'!
Here is one that we went in for a traditional English Roast dinner.
As we entered I did wonder "Roast what???"

But it was fine. I was assured it was roast beef.... and with Yorkshire Pudding...yummy. We dont have that in Australia. At least, i've never had it until I went in here.
Here we are with some good friends enjoying a great Guinness before dinner.

it was a 'self serve' style and it was really a great meal. I think the best we had while we were away.

The next morning it was off to Madame Tuossards waxworks.
Some pics have already been posted. here are a couple that were missed first time around.

I ran into an old mate, Brad Pitt. Dunno who he was with. Some girl.
Oh well, he'll probably have a different one next time I see him.

Also ran into John Wayne (Isn't he dead?). "Well pilgrim.... don't just stand there. Git a rope and snag those steers"

We also tried out to be Gaurds, but were too short they said! Actually, I was pleased. Those fur hats tickle your ears and those bright red uniforms make you stand out in a crowd too much. Besides, there's no pockets to keep stuff in. Where would I put my mobile phone, PDA, pens, wallet, etc, etc.
So we said goodbye to the Royal Gaurds and moved on.

I also ran into President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Together we formulated a plan for World Peace, Eradication of Poverty and free worldwide pizza for everyone. (thick or thin base, your choice)
They gave me the honour of announcing our plan on worldwide TV, while they stood with me in support.

I then bumped into 4 likely lads from Liverpool. They were just laying around so I started to whistle a tune. They picked it up very quickly and played it for a few minutes. Paul asked "What tune is that?" "One of my own compositions" I said. "Hmmmm... I like it. What is it?" "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah" I said.
And that is how they came by that song! I am led to believe it became quite popular. ;-)

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More around London

Category: My latest Europe trip | Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:40 pm

While on the bus we saw the original "Hard Rock Cafe". A great steakhouse now found in most western countries. They do great steaks (and other stuff), although make sure you have plenty of $$.

The Victoria & Albert Museum is also a great place to visit if you have a few hours to spare. The exhibits are great.

And the Royal Albert Hall is a fantastic place also.

The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences is an arts venue dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband and consort, Prince Albert. It is situated in South Kensington in central London - within the area also known as Albertopolis. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort - the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the heavy traffic along Kensington Gore. The hall also accommodates the largest pipe organ in the UK, and is the home of The Proms.

Since its opening by Queen Victoria on March 29, 1871 the Royal Albert Hall has played host to a multitude of different events and legendary figures and has been affectionately titled 'The Nation's Village Hall'. As well as hosting the Proms every summer since they were bombed out of the Queen's Hall in 1941, the Hall has been used for classical and rock concerts, conferences, ballroom dancing, poetry, adam keep-fit displays, education, ballet, opera and even a circus (Cirque du Soleil). It has hosted many sporting events, including boxing, wrestling (including the first Sumo wrestling tournament ever to be held outside Japan) and tennis. It also hosts the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, held the day before Remembrance Sunday.

The hall is oval in shape, measuring 272 feet by 238 feet around the outside, and has a capacity of 8,000 people and has accommodated as many as 9,000 (although modern safety restrictions mean that the maximum permitted capacity is now 7,000). The great glass and iron dome roofing the hall is 135 feet high. Around the outside of the hall is a great terra cotta frieze, depicting "The Triumph of Arts and Sciences", in reference to the hall's dedication

And here is the Prince Albert memorial. A very imposing structure.
It was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha who died of typhoid in 1861, and was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style.

It opened in 1872, with the statue of Albert ceremonially "seated" in 1875, the memorial consists of an ornate pavilion containing a statue of Prince Albert facing south. This is surrounded by the elaborate sculptural Frieze of Parnassus, which depicts 169 individual composers, architects, poets, painters, and sculptors. There are two allegorical sculpture programs: four groups depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences (agriculture, commerce, engineering and manufacturing), and four more groups representing Europe, Asia, Africa and The Americas at the four corners, each continent-group including several ethnographic figures and a large animal. The sculptor Henry Hugh Armstead coordinated this massive effort among several arists of the Royal Academy, including Hamo Thornycroft.

The centrepiece of the Memorial is a seated figure of Prince Albert. Following restoration, this is now covered in gold leaf. For eighty years the statue had been covered in black paint. Various theories had existed that it was deliberately blackened during World War I to prevent it becoming a target for Zeppelin bombing raids or domestic anti-German sentiment. However, English Heritage's research prior to the restoration suggests that the black coating predates 1914 and may have been a response to atmospheric pollution that had destroyed the original gold leaf surface.

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