Friday, July 21, 2023

Blog Europe 2023 Part 1

Emirates have a new flight that departs from Sydney at 6am and you arrive at London at 8:15pm on the same day.  We went to Rydges on Saturday, ate at 17:30, in bed by 21:00 woke up at 3am walked to the international terminal.  It all went seamlessly, all the luggage was on the carousel and the emirates chauffer service worked efficiently.  We arrived at Virginia and Pierre’s at 9:30pm.

We had one meal at Caro in Chiswick before I left for Bath on Friday for the 60th reunion of the Old Sulians as graduates of the City of Bath Boys’ School are known.  Reunions can be tricky affairs and this one was organised by Anthony Mayer (my Oxford counterparty) and it all went surprisingly well.  The weather was glorious, Bath is looking in tip-top condition, and the three organised events went off well.  Bandook is highly recommended, the George Inn at Bathampton is as reliable as ever, and I would not return to The Architect at the Empire Hotel.  We took the train there and back.  The train to Bath was meant to be 9 coaches but was actually 5 so as we boarded we were met with announcement that seat reservations for the journey were cancelled.  Somehow we both got a seat but on the return leg we boarded 1st class and bought the £20 upgrade on the train.  Well worth it

On Monday 28/6 we flew to Amsterdam.  BA were efficient and we arrived on time.   It took us over 2 hours to get to Passport Control.  The queue was enormous; No e-Passport terminals and only 3 controllers.  If you are going to Amsterdam catch the train.  Unfortunately, next year the train terminal undergoing renovations so find out first if you can.  Fortunately, our luggage was still on the carousel and our driver was waiting.

We now joined my sister, Wendy, and Anthony Mayer at the Movenpick hotel next to the Passenger Terminal to catch the Viking cruise to Basel in 2 days.  On Tuesday we started with a Viking walking tour of Amsterdam beginning at the hotel and finishing at the Dam Square. We then caught a tram to the new Van Gogh Museum where Wendy had booked the tickets for the four of us..  Our plan was to have lunch at the museum but the restaurant was undergoing renovations so we skipped lunch and did the Van Gogh highlights tour that was superb.  That night we went to dinner at Hemelse Modder, a 2 Star Michelin restaurant on the Oude Waal; great restaurant and highly recommended.

The next day we transferred to the Viking Sigrun and started our 7 day cruise up the Rhine to Basel.  Each day was similar.  Morning walk around the town, followed by light lunch, nap, talk in the late afternoon, drinks, dinner and some form of entertainment.

29/6/23 Windmills of Kinderdijk:

19 Windmills used to transfer water upwards between two polders.  Originally there were were over 150 which were then replaced by steam engines and then electricity pumps as they were more reliable.  Think Net Zero in reverse.

30/6/23 Cologne

Cologne Cathedral took some 800 years to build and has two stunning towers and great stained glass windows.  We found the “Saturn” window that was sponsored by the department store chain with the eponymous name.  The Kölsh beer brewed here is pretty good.

1/7/23 Koblenz and the Middle Rhine Castles

City at the conjunction of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.  Famous for the “German Corner” that contains the massive equestrian statue of the Kaiser William I with Otto von Bismarck holding the Holy Roman Crown who together created Germany in 1871.  The other famous statue is the spitting boy (Schāngelbrunnen) in William Horter Platz who is also seen on all the manhole covers.  In the afternoon we then did the famous Middle Rhine Cruise with its 21 castles and the Lorelei Rock.  We finally docked at Rūdesheim where we were treated to a massive firework display at around midnight.  (Annual event lucky to be there.)

2/7/23 Speyer

It is said that the tourist guides have called the Middle Rhine Cruise the ABC cruise which is short for Another Bloody Castle.  You could say Speyer is an ABC town for Another Bloody Cathedral.  That would be doing it a disservice as 8 Holy Roman Emperors are buried here.  This is the town where the Protestant  religion got its name in 1529 where 14 free cities and six princes protested the Diet of Worms that had banned the writings of Martin Luther and branded him a heretic.

3/7/23 Strasbourg

This year Strasburg is currently in France.  Over the past 150 years it has switched between France and Germany four times.  Accordingly, Churchill said it would be the perfect city to host the formation of the EEC and it has come to pass with the various European institutions such as the  European Parliament and the Council of Europe operating in this city.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame is one of the finest examples of late Gothic architecture in Europe.  It is famous for its Astronomical Clock with sculptures that animate at different times during the day.  It has magnificent stained glass windows including the 5 Emperor Windows and a magnificent rose window.

The other interesting area is the picturesque Petit France where soldiers that had contracted syphilis were sent to recover.

4/7/ 23 Breisach and the Black Forest

Cuckoo clocks, fairy tales, schnapps and Black Forest cake in abundance.  Very picturesque place to live but not so good for the urban man.

5-7/7/23 Basel

This is another impressive town.  On arrival we were transferred to the Movenpick hotel located near to the SSB rail station and also a major tram hub.  I have never seen to many trams in my life.  Using the Basel City Card which we were given meant free travel on the trams which we did for the first two days.  Great restaurants abound: au violon was pretty good. 

Funniest thing was the Tinguely Fountain.  The Kunst Museum is one of the first art museums opened in  1661 and is very impressive.  It has a good bistro for lunch.

We are now at the halfway point of this holiday and I will stop Part I here.  Part 2 begins with the train trip to Venice.


                                                                                                                Chris Golis Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence website: Linkedin: Email: mobile: +61-418-222219

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