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The European Adventure starts here.

Outside the Stock Exchange (where else?) we found the Bull and Bear.

As always with our first picture for the gallery. Taken on my phone.

Now why this? Because when the airlines loose them I will be able to pull out my phone and say ‘ That’s what she looks like ‘. Fortunately, nothing was lost. All the preamble went well, the bus, the check in, the VIP lounge to which we were given a pass but really did not qualify. And comfortable smooth flights. There were a couple of hours to spend at Abu Dhabi, but the lounge facilities made that a pleasurable interlude. Arriving in Frankfurt at daylight was great. We watched the progress of the sunrise as we flew. At Frankfurt the German efficiency was evident and we were soon through formalities and whisked away on the hotel courtesy bus, and were comfortably settling into our room before breakfast. The hotel is set in a green zone amongst huge old trees resplendent in their new Spring foliage. It is away from the city but that was not a problem. A pleasant walk took us to the tram stop where a lady and her grandson Felix, helped us extract day passes from the vending machine. I am pretty sure we were the only ones who actually had tickets. The tram system is very good, and very cheap, and runs frequently. First stop was downtown.

After a lot of walking, time for a rest, we let the trams take us to the suburbs. WiFi at Maccas was on, but could not connect without a password, and of course none of the counter staff knew what that was. We returned to the hotel and crashed in the afternoon to awaken next morning. The flight to Dubrovnik was short and comfortable. A bus conveniently meets each flight and we were soon at the entrance to the old town. The Pile Gate. Pile is pronounced Pillie, so we found out.

That’s before the crowd arrived. There was a cruise ship in port. Our bed-sitter apartment was easy enough to find once we figured out where to look for the street name plaques. The ‘street’ was a steep narrow alley. At least 86 high steps to the front door, then another 26 inside up to our penthouse suite - the best room in the house according to our hostess Tonka. The room was very basic, but clean and comfortable, Plenty of interesting sculptures. This is a very different fountain.

with a View‌

Lots of walking checking out the old town, then a foray outside the walls to see the sunset over the Adriatic, and another early night. Next day was the day for the city wall walk. Something not completely unlike the great wall of china on a much smaller scale and a circular route. Plenty of steps and plenty of unfit fatties puffing and panting their way up and down them. Much heart attack potential, especially considering the beautiful warm sunny weather. The wall story will have to wait ‘till next episode. Time to get out there for some more adventures on what looks like another perfect day.

So, to the wall. This is the outstanding feature of the ancient city of Dubrovnik. It very nicely frames the alleys and by-ways which are lined with the old limestone terrace houses roofed in outstanding terracotta. Outside the wall lies the deep blue sea surging onto the limestone rocks on the west, and the more modern city perched on the side of the hills. There is a walkway completely around the city atop the wall. The path and steps are quite narrow in places and hence it is one-way traffic only. That must have been disconcerting for some folk when they came to a long flight of steps and knew that they couldn’t turn back. The view across the terracotta roofs was particularly beautiful with all the different shades, and the mixture of old and new. What a pity it will be if these people get caught up un the greenhouse nonsense and plonk solar panels all over them. Well, they have gone for satellite in a big way, and every place has a dish. You can see our penthouse windows just below the dish near the bottom on the left. It was interesting to see a few patios, none of which were evident from ground level. The principal industry here is tourism. Every bit of alley with a bit of almost flat ground had a street restaurant, and as you walked past the waiters accosted you to come and eat. We did take up one offer at a delightful seafood restaurant beside the old harbour. Outside the wall we checked out the views and Jill found herself knee deep in the Adriatic when she mistimed the surge of the swell. Further outside, we took to the local bus. Cheap and convenient, it took us to the real town and the port where the cruise ships come in. Lots to see, pirate ships, fishing boats and ferries. We also took the bus to the beach to see how it compared with Kings. There was a place where you could plunge off the limestone rocks if you were desperate, and that was it. The water was crystal clear and just a little cool for swimming but I imagine it would be great in a month or so. We did a good night time check of all the spots. The alley-way restaurants and the illuminated buildings etc. The Pile (Pillie) Gate was very well presented. Early to bed, no drinkin’n’dancin here for us. Early start onto the bus heading for Plitvicka Lakes World Heritage Listed National Park. If you haven’t Googled that yet, then you should!

It was a full day on the coach. Took much longer than we had imagined as it is really not all that far. But, the road from Dubrovnik to Split is mostly like a knife slash across the face of a precipitous cliff. Very winding. By our standards it would have been double centre line all the way. Not so here. The bus overtook everything. Now we understand why they don’t have railways. No photos, sorry, too busy. A few comments about the roads though. They are well constructed and well maintained and there is a fantastic network of good roads criss-crossing the country. They are only 2 lane, but they make our roads look like goat trails.

Plitvicka Lakes. This place really is beyond description. It is just so beautiful. The lakes and the waterfalls, rapids, cascades etc. are magnificent. For power, strength and force in waterfalls you must see Iguassu, but for calming beauty, this is the best. The pictures speak for themselves. We have hundreds, these are just a few. Come and see for yourself.

The timber log walkways are a bit uneven and it would be easy to trip and fall in. We saw some stumble, but fortunately no one went in. And the other funny thing was the seeming aversion for the majority of these bus loads of people to make eye contact, smile, or say g’day in passing in very close proximity. Maybe they are so concentrated on not falling in? However, there were lots of times being asked to take photos of folk on their camera. French seemed to be the commonest language amongst the tourists, so we were straining with our parlez’s and remembering how little French we remember. These photos were taken over a few days with different weather conditions and at different times of the day. Day one started out misty and wet but improved steadily, as did each day thereafter. Day three was perfect with bright sunny skies. The photos are not in any particular order and some are repeats because we experienced them again under different conditions. This is just a glimpse of Springtime. It is said to be beautiful in Summer, Autumn and Winter as well. I’ll wrap up the lakes with a few brighter ones from day three.

from nowhere.

But there’s another thing. Out of the valley, the landscape (in the forests) is dotted with sink holes. They look like bomb craters that have revegetated. They obviously don’t hold water and must be connected to the underground limestone cave system. And, Some of the limestone is pearly white. Brilliant!

And the final one is a question. How does this work? The drop zone at the ‘front’ and no knee room!

Now, there is more to Plitvicka than lakes and waterfalls. The forest trees are splendid in their new growth and of course, the spring flowers that come

Split Friday 6th May Wednesday morning we trundled down to the highway and flagged down the intercity bus. Luckily it stopped. We had no tickets and no reservations! We had seats at the very back of the bus and enjoyed the trip much more, being unable to see the risks the driver was taking. It is a lovely scenic drive. On arrival at Split we located our apartment and hit the streets for awhile. The old town is a fascinating place with much more variety than Dubrovnik. The alleys twist and turn between the old buildings, and it is all ’flat’ ground. There seems to be a lot of shoe shops, and judging by the numbers, the principal diet is pizza. Culturally and artistically Split seems much more developed. We watched a traditional cultural youth concert on an open air stage on the esplanade. (Riva). They also have some sculptures of note. This bronze of Igor is huge. He seems to be a fire-and-brimstone preacher. Jill says it is Moses.

This is a 24 hour clock. 24 (and 0) are at the bottom. The little (hour) hand takes 24 hours to cycle. The big (minute) hand takes 1 hour. It’s a quarter past Nine.

Simple steel sculpture commemorating 1000 years of fishing at Split. I’ll bet they didn’t have hooks like this 1000 years ago. (What did they use? Apart from nets) There is a beautiful peaceful large hilltop park reserve beside the town. We took a hike up there and found this café with a view.

And, he has a lucky big toe. Give it a rub.

Then it was on the local bus to check out Bene Beach, the best?

Same story. Jump in from the rocks. But there was a little sandy beach, good for a paddle for very tired feet.

Ahhhhh.. That feels better! Back in town. More old stuff. The city wall here must have been nice when it was new. Now, it is incomplete, there is no access to the top, but it is, or was, much more ornate than at Dubrovnik. They have quite a few stone carved figures decorating buildings. There is another beach close to town called the Blue Beach. It actually has a stretch of grubby sand leading to the rocks. We didn’t go in here either. But, downtown there was lots going-on on the Riva. That’s where I met my little bright-eyed doll In Split ……….Down by the Riva side. Big Marching band, dressed like Salvos but no tambourines, baton twirling marching Girls, and hundreds of teenagers doing a national dance. Quite a spectacle. There is a national holiday on Saturday and grandstands are being erected and flowering plants are being put into the park garden beds. Oh, besides pizza, everyone here subsists on icecream. It seemed like we were the only ones on the Riva without one. We did enjoy the works burgers.

There are marinas chokers with yachts, motor cruisers and smaller sail and motor craft. The water is an important part of life here and it is ideal for playing. There is a chain of offshore islands right along the coast giving a great Moreton Bay for miles and miles. Life here during the Summer months would be easy to take. Have not yet found any R’n’R D’n’D spots, but honestly, at the end of the day, we need rest! Well, we have bus tickets with confirmed seats to Dubrovnik, where we stay one more night before catching our flight to Frankfurt and the start of the Central European Coach Tour. That will be different with someone else planning our days for us.

On departure Croatia. A few notes to wrap up this part of the adventure. The butcher shops in Split display the whole carcase and the butcher hacks away to give you the chunk you ask for. Notice in this photo the sheep has his sternum intact as is his head. Completely skinned.

And the plethora of restaurants, and pizza. This one says it all.

We also watched more entertainment on the Riva. A very large troupe of schoolkids put on a brilliant song and dance production wearing mostly animal costumes. The bus trip Split to Dubrovnik was very good. This is a beautiful coastline and the day was perfect. The road to the airport climbs out of Dubrovnik and affords magnificent views of the city and the sea, and the cruise ships

In Dubrovnik. The fountains. There is a big one and a small one. This is the big. Water dribbles from some of these spouts from which tourists fill their water bottles. We did not notice any of the locals doing it.

A fitting farewell.

Germany. 10th May 2011 Flying into Frankfurt was a treat again. The view of fields of patchwork earth, crop, rape, fallow and weeds outlined by hedgerows and tree lined roads is always so beautiful. No courtesy bus to this hotel so it was a journey on train, tram and bus to get there. Easypeasy! Great hotel by comparison to what we had during the past week, but, simple things lacking. No tea/coffee making facilities in the room and no free internet. Pretty fundamental these days. Sunday we invested in a bus/tram/train pass and enjoyed the day out downtown and along the Main. Monday after breakfast the tour started. We had to wait while a straggler was located, but made pretty good time once underway. We did not enjoy it too much as the aircon failed and we practically suffocated in the back of the bus. But the scenery was marvellous. The fields of rape seed are the brightest yellow I have seen, and that through tinted windows. But there was something that spoiled the scenery‌ Every where you looked there were monstrous wind generators. Landscape mutilation! It beggars belief that anyone could claim that this is environmentally responsible?

Lunch stop at Weimar, one-time intellectual heart of Germany and host to luminaries as Luther, Cranach, Bach, Liszt, Schiller and Goethe. On to Berlin for two nights at the ABBA hotel. Tuesday morning was taken by a guided tour of the city, on the bus. The guide was amazing. She talked constantly the whole time, and it was all interesting stuff. Berlin is a remarkable city considering it was bombed almost to oblivion, then divided. The Germans have restored and rebuilt almost everything to its former grandeur and then added some. The things everyone associates with Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate are worth a look but they are just side-acts for the real city.

The things on the left of the picture are junk art. Made from sheets of cardboard and old egg cartons.

Communal cycling. A seven seater trike. Magenta Mayhem! After the guided tour we took to foot to have a closer look. There are many interesting sights and sculptures, here are just a few.

Zoo wall

Broken Chain. The local title is Indigestion.

A heap of slate. Fountain.

And this one is a little novelty. You know how at airports they have self-check-in consoles? Well those two white things on the right of picture are self order consoles in a MacDonald’s burger store. Obviously not a big hit with the locals who are all queuing at the counter.

This is Victoria. Absolutely beautiful gleaming golden in the midday sunshine. Zoo Gates

Next stop Warsaw, Poland.

Poland. Warsaw Big drive today, Berlin to Warsaw, 590km. North East. We spent the first half hour driving South, but it was through beautiful forested country on a good road. We finally turned left and into Poland. The good road vanished under construction and the forests gave way to very flat open country. Leached sandy fields barely supporting the rape plantings. Fortunately, only a few wind machines and in one cluster of 8 only 2 were operating which is said to be about normal. There was not much indication of prosperity. First stop was Poznan, and a very pretty place it is. Lunch and a few beers in the town square in front of City Hall was delightful. Back on the highway again, our guide told us we would be in Warsaw late afternoon. The driver made the wise-crack ‘if we are lucky’. As it turned out we weren’t. We were pulled over at Burpengary (Transport Checkpoint) and the scalies (Transport Inspectors) discovered that the driver’s license had expired, so the bus was impounded.

That’s a local speciality. Zapiekanka. Toasted half baguette with mushroom and cheese. Mushrooms are on every menu. The buildings facing the square have beautifully decorated facades It turned out that if he paid a 2000 Euro fine (or bond, not sure) we would be released to travel onwards on another bus and our bus could follow with all our baggage. The Cosmos folk didn’t have enough so we had to do a whip around of the passengers to raise the cash, but then the inspectors said no, it had to be Zlotys. We didn’t have enough, so this bunny had to produce the plastic to cover half of it. All this took five hours so we arrived at our hotel very late in the night. A great hotel, with tea/coffee and free WiFi, and on the local bus route. and the square is littered with fine sculptures. It seems that Neptune (above) comes up quite frequently and mermaids are popular. Strange being so far from the ocean. Also strange. We are at the roots of so many of the great composers and yet we never hear any music. Several times I have requested the drivers to play some soft classical background music on the PA. Twice they have done so. The first was Italian opera, the second Swedish ABBA, then boot-scootin’, but mostly, nothing.

Next morning a tour of the city. Unfortunately, our local guide was a cranky old biddy and we didn’t get a lot from it. A couple of things of note - The monument to Chopin. A truly splendid sculpture. The centre of the old city was almost totally destroyed during the war, but has been completely rebuilt, and they have done a remarkable job of it. There are many interesting sculptures of all sizes. We enjoyed our time exploring the old cobble stone alleys in the afternoon.

Madonna’, who is called the queen of Poland.


The icon is a highly decorated painting with many miraculous deeds to its credit. Millions of Poles make their pilgrimage here annually.

Warsaw is known as the ‘green city’ as it has very extensive areas of parkland in the city area. Only a few flower beds but lots of trees and lawn. Walking on the grass is prohibited!

This is a mosaic copy of the original on an outside wall. Flash photography of the real painting is not permitted. The previous Polish Pope was apparently associated with this place and there is a very nice life size bronze statue of his parents in the car park. The museums have artefacts of incredible value, and the inmates look well fed and prosperous. Despite this, you have to pay to go pp. We had a very cranky old nun as our guide who made the point that ’we do not make jokes here’. She also explained the meaning of the skull and crossed bones symbol, and it had nothing to do with pirates, the jolly-roger, or the Phantom. Oh, and drinking in public is prohibited too. Auschwitz, next stop

Friday morning, on the bus for a relatively short trip to Krakow, and on the way a stop at Jasna Gora, the site of a very important monastery that houses the ‘black

Auschwitz and beyond I’ve been struggling with what to record about Auschwitz and as a consequence falling behind in my diary. Well, I decided that I won’t say much. We all know about the Nazi concentration and extermination centres, but to come here and hear the stories, walk in the barracks and see the images and the artefacts, really brings home the magnitude of the horrendous crimes committed here. Our guide was very knowledgeable and her delivery passionate, her manner of locking eye contact made it very personal. I will not include images, in fact I took very few pictures. This is a place one should see once only. A grizzly reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. So, with that sobering experience behind us, it was down the highway to Krakow. This they say this is Poland’s most beautiful city, and it is with good reason. Hardly damaged during the war, it has many beautiful parks and buildings, and at the centre a very large square dominated by the church with it‘s bell tower. On the hour the clock chimes and is followed by a bugle call from the upper level on fours sides consecutively.

There was also a very good jazz band playing at one of the outdoor cafes so we took the opportunity to take a few rusty dance steps on the cobblestones. Quite a few sculptures. This bronze head on it’s side a great example of ‘functional art’. The kids loved to climb in and peer out through the eyes.

There was a large group in costume doing folk dances.

Many artist at work and galleries in every street. This wall displayed some really beautiful examples.

And, in stark contrast to what we had previously experienced, there was music everywhere. Several buskers per block. Many piano accordions but also guitar and one splendid violinist.

Next visit was the Salt Mine. No, not Siberia. This is a very old mine where they have mined halite (rock salt) for centuries. There was never any forced labour here, it was considered a privilege to have a job here. Entry and exit is by cage in the vertical shaft, 130m. That part is authentic, but the remainder of the tour through the drives and stopes is pretty artificial because it has been adapted to be safe for tourists. There are shops and restaurants and broad stairways and polished wood floors. There are many sculptures in the halite. Most are religious. This exception could have been a Mining Engineer.

That evening we were taken to a Polish Folklore dancing and typical Polish dinner. Started with a shot of vodka then free drinks, so ended up a noisy but enjoyable evening. The musicians and dancers were in costume and they were all from the School of Ballet so you can imagine how good they were. I (as others did) had a dance with one of the girls in the troupe, and Jill got involved with one of the dancing men with a hug and pash on the dance floor instead of dancing.

Next morning onto the bus headed south towards Budapest, Hungary passing through Slovakia. The flat Polish countryside changed to hills and mountains as we crossed the Tatra Mountain range. Very beautiful scenery and towns with high pitched cottages not unlike alpine villages. This is a busy ski destination and the wooded hills have many trails popular with all levels of hikers. The lunch stop was at a McDonalds, and you would never know that you were not at home. The bus driver got a ticket for offloading us in the wrong place too. The hotel was old but nice, and they had this nice little bronze sculpture near the foyer.

Actually, it is plastic! The night entertainment was a cruise on the Danube to see the ‘illuminations’. All the bridges and public buildings and monuments are lit up, and it is a real spectacle too see them from the river. Light rain and pretty cool so we had to rug up and find a sheltered spot. Photos don’t tell the story well enough. Next day sightseeing started out a little rainy. There are literally scores of magnificent public buildings and monuments adorned with huge bronze sculptures of Queens on thrones, Kings on horses and many very

aggressive characters who got their reputation by slaughtering many defenceless people. There is also a large castle on the hill which boasts a beautiful church.

Another thing that fascinates me in all these old cities are the man-hole-covers. This one is not as elaborate as some others we have seen. Beside the church is this mounted King. And that is how he was much of his life.

Budapest also has a large indoor farmers market. It is housed in a beautiful old shed, and this is the cleanest most organized market I have ever seen.

It seems that he got for himself a mail-order princess from Scandinavia. When she turned up she had an entourage of artists, actors, poets musicians, and all folk arty and cultural. She told the locals to stop worrying so much about the afterlife and to loosen up and enjoy this life. Her husband (the king above) took notice of what she said, and when he finally died it was found that he had dozens of mistresses and scores of kids. They all turned up at the funeral. This interesting piece is in the square.

We leave Budapest with a view of the Blue Danube.

Austria Down the highway from Budapest to Vienna is through some delightful scenery in Hungary, but on reaching the Austrian border things change. They have erected thousands of those monstrous wind generators and have completely destroyed the scenic outlook. You know how we complain about Mobile Phone towers and High Voltage pylons? Well they are nothing! It’s like comparing match sticks (phone towers) to chopsticks (windmills). Everywhere you look, these useless machines are there.

And this depiction of the magi, the three wise men. One is a woman, and the traditional black is not there.

Remind me when we get back, to lobby our politicians to make sure they understand the importance of having legislation in place to prohibit erection of these things in our countryside. Vienna. We have been here a couple of times before, but nothing looked familiar. Maybe it was the diversion of the Danube? There is only a pretty ordinary canal through the downtown now. The main river skirts the city to avert flooding. The central feature is the main square dominated by the cathedral. Partly cleaned, partly behind scaffolding, and the balance very black and dirty. It is OK, but there are bigger and better.

Plenty of interesting sculptures outside. Of course the usual big kings and queens, generals on horses and on the rooftop Atlas with his burden.

No explanation for the dimple. Meteor crater? And in the square these big black plastic kung-fu fighters. Fooled me again, they are bronze!

Inside is quite interesting. This is the pulpit carved from two solid blocks of sandstone. The intricate design must have taken years of work by very skilled artisans.

Luckily we had some free time and made it to the Albertina Gallery for a few hours. A whole day would have been better. There is a collection of famous and beautiful works of art. Picasso (famous) and Monet (beautiful and famous). I am resigned to be an outcast in the arty-fart world… I just cannot pretend get my head around Picasso. There were many beautiful sculptures in all mediums. Photos prohibited so I resorted to sketching a couple of them. These ones were in the pictures-ok area.

Be sure to include the Albertina gallery when you visit Vienna. And how about this for a great idea? A grotty old factory with a chimney stack, transformed.

So, that was Vienna, a memorable experience. Down the highway and across the border into Czech Republic. Absolutely beautiful, scenic countryside, and, you guessed it. Not a windmill to be seen!

Prague This was our first ever visit to Prague and we came with very high expectations of seeing one of the most romantic old European cities. Reality is that it is probably the grubbiest, least cared for old city about. Not much romance at all. The city square is large and dirty and surrounded by buildings that would look very nice if they were given a good scrub and a lick of paint. Centre square is a huge bronze of some joker and his team who dared say the micks were bad and got burned at the stake for doing so. It looks like it was a fountain, but now the water part is full of soil. I suppose they will plant some nice flowers there? But the real attraction in the square is the astronomical clock. A very complex series of hands and dials and figures popping out and ringing bells etc. I’ll have to Google that to find out how it all works. ….. Wait a minute.. I don’t need Google anymore. I am married to Wikiwoman. She knows everything! I’ll ask Jill.

So now she is lucky as well as smart!

And they have a nice river with Charles bridge which has very black dirty sandstone sculptures all along.. There is one bronze, of a Catholic priest called John. He upset the king so got tossed in the river and drowned. I guess that evens out the burning? This is John, and you must touch the dog and the woman below him to get lucky.

At night we went to a typical Czech dinner and folkloric show with music and dancing. A really good night out. One of the unusual features was the way they served the wine from a large glass flask which has a metre long glass tube pouring neck. Using his finger as the stopper, the waiter could fill glasses at long range without spilling a drop.

The music was excellent and we enjoyed watching and participating in the dancing with the troupe and also together. One musician played a bagpipe type of thing with the bag (bellows) made from goat skin with the head still attached. So that was Prague. I wouldn’t say romantic, but well worth a visit. Down the road again headed back into Germany with first stop Munich. How about this for a novel bike rack?

Munich From Vienna we travelled along good roads and made good time on the high speed freeways. A brief stopover was at a palace once occupied by King Ludwig and his noble family who obviously had a lot of cash. Nymphenburg Palace. This is the view from the back porch.

They also had their main digs in town, and a road built specially to join the two. Munich also has its square with big ugly statues, cute little ones, and a fancy clock.

The clock plays glockenspiel music while the characters rotate and do some gymnastics. It goes on for more than 10 minutes, so there is plenty of time to get bored. People throng the square before the start but most are gone after 5 minutes. But Munich is not particularly famous for cultural things. Just a few blocks from the square is the famous Hauftbrau House where a whole lot of beer drinking goes on. We slipped in for a cool one in the

afternoon and the place was almost deserted, but the beer was good.

That night we stayed in a hotel quite a way from downtown so eight of us younger partiers went on the train. We had to walk to the tram, and ride to the train, and repeat it in reverse later. Well, the HB House was jam packed. Music was playing, there was a lot of singing and laughing and we even got in a little dancing. The eight of us couldn’t find a table so we split into two groups. That was lucky as we sat with some Germans and a couple of Scots. Talk about a hoot. And 4 litres of beer to boot! They stopped serving at 11:30pm which seemed strange at the time, but it really was a good thing that they threw us out then, or we would never have made it home. Next morning we shuffled off on the bus hiding behind dark glasses. Our final destination was Frankfurt and we travelled along what they call the ’Romantic Road’ because it joins some quaint little medieval villages that were not flattened during the war and which still have city walls intact. We made a couple of interesting stops on the way. At Nordlingen many of the businesses had pig sculptures outside. We never found out why?

But the other point of interest was the fact that the town is built in a regional depression that is said to be a meteor crater. So that explains the dimple on Atlas’s globe in Prague. Next stop was Rothenburg. Now it is bigger and better. Lovely old Tudor houses, all nicely decorated.

Shops that specialise in Xmas decorations. Absolutely fabulous displays. And, guess what? A big clock that does things beside tell time.

The top element is actually a sundial, but it has not been adjusted for daylight savings.

And this one shares my fascination with manhole covers. The drive into Frankfurt was surprising insofar as there were relatively few windmills compared with what we had seen north of the city. What they did have though were acres and acres of solar panels that wiped out prime land. It’s hard to believe that these things can be better for the environment than planting the same area to forest?

A spiral staircase to infinity And this religious fellow who is quite similar to the one I sketched in Vienna, so now I don’t have to show you the sketch. Next stop Dubai.

Dazzling Dubai Our escape from Frankfurt was relatively painless. The hotel was the worst of the tour, and the scungy breakfast left a sour taste in one’s mouth. Strange that Cosmos would do this as we all know that final impressions are lasting impressions. We did the public transport to the airport, easy. Were turned away from the VIP lounge, but had a good flight anyway. The flight landed in Abu Dhabi and we took the Etihad coach for the 1-½ hour ride to Dubai, and taxi to the hotel. A good one that had all the things we take for granted, that the European hotels don’t provide. First thing next morning we took a guided tour which turned out to be just we two with a chauffer. The obvious wealth of this place is shown in the buildings.

And this is the famous Atlantis Hotel on Palm Island, where you can pay a large fortune for a room. A visit to the Dubai Museum was very interesting. The displays of beautiful items kept us there well past the allotted time. No pictures allowed! Then there was the Emirates Mall (2nd biggest in world) which has an indoor ski slope.

This is the tallest building in the world. Burj Khalifa. The top is lost somewhere up there in the dusty atmosphere which envelopes everything in the heat.

The surfing beach. Hotel on the groyne is one of the most luxurious in the world.

In the evening we took a romantic dinner cruise in a dhow on Dubai Creek. The main attraction was the flotilla of dhows with their strings of lights. Very pretty. The entertainment was dreadful.. A magician followed by extremely loud disco music, and no booze to compensate. The meal seemed OK when we ate, but later it wasn’t. We both got a touch of food poisoning and spent the night taking turns in the bathroom. Next day we gently eased our fragile bodies into the heat and dust. Public transport this time. They have a really good metro train system so we bought day passes and rode the train from terminus to terminus, then back again.

This is one of the train stations.

We stopped off at the Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the world! They have a very nice dancing fountain outside that is illuminated and synchronised to music. Our plan to return after dark fell through, mainly due to the enduring after-effects of the romantic cruise. Inside they have a three story high waterfall. Well it is water running down a rough wall that looks quite spectacular with a whole array of diving men.

No end of views of incredible buildings. Too many to be bothered taking photos after a while.

The men are life size models that appear to be cast aluminium. So, back at the hotel, preparing minds and bodies for the 16 hours of flying ahead of us. We recall all the great times we have had over the past month, and are starting to think about the next adventure. But for now it will be great to get back home to what is for us, the best place in the world. Indisputably

Our European Trip  

Diary of our trip to Croatia and a Cosmos coach tour of Central Europe

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