Oct 28th - Nov 11th 2013

These pics more or less chronological. We started in Budapest, and headed North West to Amsterdam.
You may well find yourself asleep before we hit Germany, and when I say 'hit Germany' it is not to be taken literally. There will be no more bashing the Bosch, how can you not love a race that loves Beer, Sausages and Lederhosen?

Fantastic mooring in Buda, directly opposite the rather splendid Parliament Building
Same building here is one of
Sue's arty shots
And as dusk was falling
In the evening, the boat cruised around the Danube. All the major landmark buildings were illuminated like this
They used batteries of blue lights into the sky
Taken from the balcony of our cabin at dawn
We had a bit of a tour, starting in Pest, here is Heroes Square
more HS
more HS
It being Heroes Square, there were always wreath-laying visits from various dignitaries. It was interesting to see that the Hungarian version of the MOD messed up their uniforms procurement. The end result was that only large sizes of uniforms were ordered for the officers. This meant that smaller chaps, even if they were better at being officers, never rose above the rank of Sergeant. Here is an example of this procurement folly
To get their own back, and to make the Officers look stupid, the lower ranks henceforth refused to march in step or wear matching trousers
Up by the Basilica, there are some new buildings, beautifully architected so that their windows reflect the Fisherman's Mission
This is not a reflection
G in the same area
The city of Pest viewed from the mission
More views of the Danube and Budapest
The Basilica
Had a fantastic roof
Up by the mission/basilica area we came across these young buskers
It's an area used for wedding shots, we saw this eagle which had just been photographed with the Bride.

Went to a concert at the Palais Lichtenstein, very opulent Sue Mike Fran before we went in here is the ensemble. It was s-o-o-o-o exciting some folks were entranced
In Stadtpark there is a golden statue of Strauss here with Sue

For years Slovakia was under Soviet control, the Country is struggling to overcome the years of functionality ruling over aesthetics, a stark contrast to what we had seen so far in Hungary and Austria. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, but any fule kno that
Welcome to the 20th Century
There are some great vistas
And some delightful stonework
But the renovations are a bit scruffy
And you gotta stop the kids doing this
Natch some of the locals realise this so a plea to the authorities in what was the heart of the city

Schonnbrunn Palace
Sue went to the Palace, whilst I took the Bratislava trip
Looks like it was a nice day to see the Palace and the grounds

We loved this little town. It was here that Richard I (the Lionheart) was held captive when travelling home from the Crusades. Nobody knew where he was, so his trusty manservant Blondel travelled the countryside singing Richard's favourite song. Eventually he heard an answering verse, so Rich was located, a huge ransom was paid for his release. The Duke who imprisoned Rich was excommunicated by Pope Celestine for imprisoning a fellow Crusader. What is this? a history lesson? Get on with the website you fool!
Here we are, moored on the Danube, on a lovely morning where the mist is still rising from the little village on the far bank
Sue by the river
The Wachau area is full of small vine plantations, usually grown on slopes that necessitate hand-picking, here in the village the vine leaves are starting to change colour
I think this is a hotel & restaurant, hope to try it sometime

We didn't have time to go up close, but the dominant feature of the town the Abbey
The old town, around the railway station has some lovely solid, large houses unspectacular perhaps but I find them rather beautiful

Down by the river Sue and some Baroque spires in the background
Salzburg over the rooftops

Unfortunately our schedule here didn't give us any spare time to see the city, we stopped off here at the Court House no trace of Sue's Dad at the trials, apparently Washington DC have the files. Anyway we went from the Court House to.... This is the podium from where Adolf used to have his rants
Zeppelin field, which faces the podium Sue
Same place same wife
After this in the tour we went to the Documentation Centre, very thought provoking. The sheer scale of the buildings planned, and their sense of the spectacular was stunning.

We liked Bamberg although when we set off Sue thought the weather a little inclement so wore virtually all the layers she had taken with her.
The renowned town hall and it's beautifully decorated walls. With our lovely guide-for-the-day Dorothy in the red coat. Whilst she was showing us around, we passed through some large doors each decorated with a large Lion's head. Each Lion had a very large ring through it's nose to act as a door knocker. Dear Dorothy asked us.....'and do you know what prize they gave to the man who invented the door knockers?'
Natch we didn't, so she said they gave him the Nobel prize. Who'd have thunk it eh? A joke about knockers that doesn't involve ladies anatomy is a rare commodity, and totally alien to Anglo-Saxon culture (culture in this context is a bit of an oxymoron).
As well as being coloured, the walls were given an added dimension from their creators, if you look carefully you will see a leg sticking out from the wall
Still in Bamberg, an early design sketch for 'It's a knockout' see the middle panel
Lovely arched canopy example look and be amazed
In the courtyard of the famous Alte Hofhaltung Some lovely little features on the houses, look at the green window shutters
Here is the shutter close-up. OK I like this sort of shit, so you'll have to bear with me.

Main centrepiece was Würzburg Palace
Palace and fountain unfortunately the water was off due to the time of the year
The grounds featured some interestingly shaped trees probably Yew
When you get closer you see that each one has a statue by the trunk, and a tourist
Many of the statues were being stored for the winter
Sue in the grounds and me
Autumnal but still nice grounds
After the grounds we went to the Wine Cellars of the Prince Bishop
As significant Board Members retire they get a wood-carving on a barrel commemorating them
It's a bit tricky taking pics down here but it is an enormous space
more carving
We had a wine tasting look at what we had
A couple of Sheilas from the boat the one with the halo is Manuela, Julie also has a halo but she left it on the boat for her servant Zoli to polish up for her. I hope he is better at haloes than shoes
They do some lovely macabre sculpting, and also some more here in Würzburg

There was one day where we had a more extensive choice of activity.
We could, for example, have visited an artist's studio, or we could have gone to a Kegelbahn, or for a walk, or a schnapps tasting, or a grossennosepicken lesson, or a pottery class. There were other options, but I cannot remember what they were. I confess my first choice would have been the artist's studio. What a lucky escape! The artist offered a sort of colour-by-numbers experience that I am very glad I missed. As luck we have it, we went potty in the beautiful wee town of Miltenburg
Sue creates and here is the finished article
Here at the wheel Angela
And here is Angela and her creation behind her on the left is John, a very fine fellow from Toronto, and to the right some other fool still scraping away decorating a bowl
And once more the boy decorates his dubious masterpiece
What's this? Who let him on the wheel
And here is
John at the wheel with our patient and most excellent tutor. I have forgotten her name, so we will call her Beatrix.
Miltenburg still has some beautiful old buildings
And this lovely shop front. Particularly good since we have a very dear friend with the same name. "You have a friend named shop-front?"
No, you oaf, our lovely friend is named Arnold

At Siegried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. We had a fabulously enthusiastic and theatrical tour guide
Great Scott! It's a mechanical Banjo player
Another amazing instrument, six violins and a keyboard and here is a close look at the violins
Sometimes in these old buildings you look up to see where the drip is coming from that just landed on your face. But in this case we were looking at the ceiling
After the mechanical music museum we took a cable car, here is Sue near the top You can see our boat moored on the Danube just to the right of Sue.
More shots from the top of the vines and here's one of us
After taking the cable car up, we walked back down to the boat, where this plinth was tucked away down a little track, it appears to be some thank you totem to the wine Gods
After Rudesheim we cruised up the scenic Rhine Gorge, where there is lots of this stuff

Just a small Gargoyle
A wedding celebration, a man with a barrel organ which played 'Here comes the Bride' but the children dancing seem to have a message for the monkey

Düsseldorf/Schloss Burg Castle
Great visit to the Castle complete with medieval banquet, and period musicians and jester. Unfortunately no usable pics at present, but it was a fun evening

A sunny ending here we are moored in Amsterdam albeit at at least ten degrees cooler than our start in Budapest

Odds and sods
When we weren't gawping at Churches or Castles some just sat on the deck
and sat....
and sat
and not just Sue
But more often we were out touristing.
Incidentally the shop behind me has the word Gabelmoo in it's name, Gabelmoo translates as 'The man with the fork', we would call him Neptune, and that is the end of the lesson.
The scoff on board was pretty good. Apart from the main dining area, there was a small section for the 'La Rive' menu as for the grub, they didn't even unwrap it for you and the sweets were a tad fancy
There was also another small dining area turned over to a restaurant space they called Portobello, I think that was a better, more relaxed evening. Here with Angela, Mike, Sue, Terry & Fran
We seemed to spend most of our time eating. Look it's Angela, Mike & Sue
One of the evening's entertainments featured a Bavarian Band I love a bit of Oompah.
A game was played where 4 of us stood in a circle, each with their right hand on the hat on the head of the man next to him. As the music was played, the hat was to be raised, placed upon his own head, whereupon his right hand went back to the hat on the neighbouring head. Got it? No neither did the man to my right, he appeared to have two left hands, and invariably an empty head (hat and brain-wise). Here we are before the music started
Sue and Sheilas
The map

And finally, I must be getting old (too blinkin' right, I hear you cry). Two weeks on board, and not once, not once, did I go up to the Captain and say "HELLO SAILOR". What has become of me?

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