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Oakley's Travel

A short trip to Darwin for the Australian Masters Athletics Championships before heading off in July for overseas.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 05 August 2017

Location: Singapore, Singapore

The Singapore Flyer gave us expansive views of the city with only six people per capsule there was plenty of room to move around and take photographs.
On to China Town where we enjoyed sugar cane juice and a Singapore meal, it was a pity it was so hot and we could not fully explore China Town.
As with Capri we have seen Singapore from the land the air and the water.

Time to pack and head for home after a wonderful month of touring.

Here endeth "The Oakleys Overseas" Blog

Tuesday, 01 August 2017

Location: Singapore, Singapore

Today was sightseeing with a capital "S"
A cruise along the Singapore river in a bum boat was an interesting trip back in time as well as a lesson in conservation. All the Chinese merchant's houses, shop fronts and warehouses have been turned into colourful modern cafes that still retain their original architecture they made a colourful contrast to the modern skyscrapers in the background. The trip gave us a tranquil view of Singapore as the traffic was either above us on flyovers or underneath us in tunnels.
Next on the list was the Gardens by the Bay complex with its Flower Dome, Cloud Dome and a grove of tall trees which were highly decorated.
The Flower Dome was divided into climatic gardens eg Australian, South African etc. it's not possible in a blog to describe the magnificence of this area.
We were greeted in the Cloud Dome by a spectacular 35m waterfall tumbling over various water loving plants. We were able to walk along a catwalk that took us above the falls, again describing this is hard to put into words.
A quick bite to eat at Satays by the Bay was freshly cooked over hot charcoals provided us with a tasty dinner.
Onto the giant trees where we witnessed an outstanding light and sound show. The whole complex was a great photo opportunity and as they say in the classics a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, 01 August 2017

Location: Singapore, Singapore

As usual the Naples railway station was chaotic but we navigated ourselves to the right platform and carriage.
Arrived in Rome after a fast comfortable journey.
We had an interesting dinner with a Russian family from St Petersburg during which we discussed schooling, Russian and Australian way of life in their limited English and our non existent Russian.
After an early start and the usual high speed drive to the airport we were confronted with a mass of people coming and going to all corners of the globe. Even though we were very early we did not count upon the extraordinary queue at the passport control centre. It took us one and a half hours to pass through. This meant we just made it to the departure gate.
Arriving in Singapore airport was a contrast to our European experiences.
Our accommodation on the 12th floor has a magnificent view.
During our brief stopover we will try and see as much as we can as well as enjoy the opportunity to relax and have a later start with a leisurely breakfast.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Location: Capri, Italy

Continuing...
After disembarking the ferry we were faced with an 800m walk in the heat only to find that our Sorrento ferry was the last dock in the harbour then a 10 min wait, we were all exhausted and somewhat dehydrated. We were glad to board and catch the cool air as we headed home.
Despite the heat and crowds we had a wonderful day on the Isle of Capri.
A refreshing shower and we were rehydrated at the Forno Bar in the city square.
All in all our time in Sorrento was wonderful.
Packing and ready for our next leg to Singapore via Rome.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Location: Capri & Anacapri, Italy

After a late bus pickup it was a helter skelter drive down a corkscrew road to the Port of Sorrento and boarded a ferry for a 25 minute ride to Capri.
We boarded a bus which slowly made its way up to Anacapri which is the other half of the island. After a short talk from our guide we took the chair lift up to the highest point of the island. It was a slow and relaxing trip which gave us a panoramic view of some of the coastline. On dismounting we walked to the viewing area. The views were outstanding rocky outcrops in the middle of the blue sea which was cut by white furrows of boats cruising along the coast. Another slow ride down all very peaceful with only the whirl of the chair lift and the chirping of birds to break the silence.
After lunch another nail biting drive down to Capri.
What a mess! Hundreds of tourists dodging cars, tourist buses and scooters. Every 10 min there was a traffic jam where no one would give way, lots of horns, loud voices and gesticulations.
Our time in the town square and 37deg made us dive for what little shade there was to be found.
The next part of our day was a cruise around the island, it was a blessed relief to feel the breeze as we motored along. We were able to see the coral, green and white grottos but could not get near the famous blue grotto as the sea level was too high....to be continued

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Location: Rome, Italy

Wednesday was the Amalfi Coast.
We can now see what people talk about a hair raising ride, buses scooters cars etc all on a small narrow strip of road.
We could not drive down into Positano but were able to see the unique terraces built into cliffs, what a magnificent sight. A long winding drive brought us to a restaurant high on the cliffs in Scala. We had lunch overlooking awe inspiring scenery. After lunch we drove to Amalfi noting all the lovely villas perched on the hillside. We were then treated to a cruise along part of the coast where celebrity villas and convents were converted into five star hotels. Free time was spent around the city square.
Onto Ravello were Richard Wagner composed operas and Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein. We sort refuge from the 37deg heat in St Andrea Church - we know it as St Andrew, it was a beautiful church highly decorated and polished up for a concert to celebrate the festival of Ravello that evening.
Everyone on the bus was grateful for the airconditioning and the sparseness of the traffic as we took an inland route back home.
A quick shower was followed by a wonderful meal at our favourite cafe watching the fashions of the locals and tourists.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Location: Sorrento, Italy

This a catch up blog. Arriving in Rome after a high speed taxi ride to our hotel for only one night it was central but tiny and the next day we managed to navigate our way through Rome's railways station and boarded the fast train to Naples. There were only eight in the carriage three being business men with no luggage so we had no problems. Arrive at another chaotic destination in Naples.
Naples is a scummy town and it took us ages to get out of the city, once out we had a pleasant drive to Sorrento. Our hotel is very central and a lovely room with a balcony and a short walk to the main central square.
In Amsterdam it was beware of the bikes but here it's scooters.
Today was a visit to Pompeii which we found very interesting and informative however the heat and crowds took some of the gloss off the visit we would have liked more time to have taken photos and spent more time inspecting the ruins.
Sitting on the balcony overlooking the town on a balmy night what more could you want.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Location: Budapest, Hungary

After a light lunch on board we disembarked and were driven to our hotel which was situated in the middle of the Jewish quarter. Later in the afternoon we visited the largest Synagogue in Eurasia. It was five minutes down the road we had an English speaking guide who filled us in on the architecture of the Synagogue and some of the Jewish traditions.
In the complex were a number of graves that symbolised the Hungarian Jews and their families that were put to death.
The tree of life was a shimmering silver sculpture with the leaves having the names of those people who helped shelter or saved many Jewish lives.
We were sorry not to get to the Jewish shoe memorial.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Location: Budapest, Hungary

Early arrival in Budapest provided some good photo opportunities.
After lunch off on a bus / walking tour to see the well known sites, Heroes Square,Jewish Synagogue, the hilly suburbs of Buda and the flat area of Pest.
Budapest is a city of bridges and statues. The bridges named after Habsburg royalty and statues after Saints and Generals. Overtime Budapest lost large chunks of land and population to Austria, Slovakia and Russia .
The centre piece of Budapest is Buda Castle perched high on a hill it commands a magnificent view of the city, especially from the Fishermens Bastion which in the past was a lookout for fishermen. The church of St Stephens provided a spectacle it had been recently cleaned and stood out gleaming white against the blue sky.
Our pre dinner entertainment was a troupe of Hungarian dancers.
A night cruise along the Danuabe provided a spectacular ending to the cruise, all the buildings along the river were floodlit and the old buildings outshone the new.
Complementing the buildings the statues high in the hills were illuminated and provided a striking contrast to the dark sky.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Location: Bratislava , Slovakia

Slovakia is only an hours drive from Vienna, on the way we passed through a town called Carnuntun which was a large Roman centre and has a reconstructed Roman City quarter in its midst. The other outstanding feature were the scores of wind farms which stretched as far as you could see.
We visited the Bratislava Castle which serves as an administrative centre to the Slovakian Parliament which is over the road. The view from the Castle gave a good overview of the city which showed a stark contrast between the utilitarian Communist housing, factories etc and modern day developments.
The old city was a maze of streets and squares with many shops and cafes it had a Parisian atmosphere.
It was so hot that the city council was giving away cups of water and had walk through water moisturisers to help cool down as we walked through the squares.
During our two hour free time we enjoyed a lovely lunch with the locals.
On the way back we stopped at a little village which had wine cellars which were decorated and painted like little hobbit houses.
The night ended with a cocktail party and the Captains farewell dinner.
Tomorrow we sail for Budapest.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Location: Vienna, Austria

The first day in Vienna took in all the highlights such as the Opera House, Ferris Wheel etc. and other historic buildings on the ring road. In th afternoon it was a guided tour concentrating on the inner city especially the Emperors Palace this was the winter Palace for the Habsburg Dynasty which ruled Austria until World War 1. The other imposing landmark was st Stephen's Cathedral and like most of the churches was undergoing restoration. As it was 34 deg we were glad to get back to the air-conditioning. At night we attended a classical music concert at the Palais Liechtenstein which started with champagne in a large reception room. The rooms were full of gold leaf statues walls and ceilings the program include a selection from Mozart, Strauss and other Austrian composers. After the concert we had supper of apple strudel and rich cakes.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Location: Melk, Austria

The Abbey of Melk is truly an impressive group of buildings. It was the home to the Babenberg family while accommodating Benedictine monks for over 900 years.
You enter the Abbey through an imposing gateway into a large courtyard and then into a smaller courtyard. One wing was set aside for the Babenberg family and their guests while on the opposite wing was the Monestary and never the twain shall meet.
The museum section showed the history of the Abbey and many religious artefacts, some still in use today. Out of the museum onto a terrace that had sweeping views of the countryside.
The Monestary library had to be see to be believed with 1000s of books old and new set upon row after row around the room. A quick visit to the church itself as the monks wanted minimal disturbances.
Our last stop was a formal French style garden which covered a large acreage and was immaculately cared for by twenty three gardeners.
Another hot day 36 deg.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Location: Salzburg , Austria

We were glad to board the train and head for Linz to rejoin the ship, on the way back we were entertained by singers in traditional costume singing selections from Mozart and Sound of Music.It was a hot journey home - 36deg and the air con was just average.
We were exhausted on arrival back on the ship after a long day 8am to 7.30pm and walking 8k.
Annette's walking with Pam and Noela kept her in good stead.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Location: Salzburg , Austria

After a quiet day Monday cruising down the Danube today was the reverse, with the Salzburg Hills alive with the sounds of tourist buses.
From Passau we drove to the station and boarded the Majestic Imperator bound for Salzburg. This was a reconstruction of the train which was built for Emperor Frans Joseph and his wife Sisi. The carriages were individually furnished in the most opulent styles.
A two hour journey during which champagne, coffee and pastries bought us to Salzburg where we had a fast paced tour of the main features. It was just as well we had visited Salzburg before so did not miss much because of the fast pace.
On to lunch at Castle Hellbrumm this was a country retreat for some noble and had hectares of parklands. No prizes for guessing what was for lunch - Weiner Schnitzel.
Just inside the gates was the rotunda where Leisl sang sixteen going on seventeen and this morning a plaque was unveiled in memory of Charmain Carr who played Liesel in the movie. This was done by Nicholas Hammond who played Frederich who is on our cruise with his partner Robyn Nevin.
A hour long drive to Mondsee followed to view the interior of the church where the wedding took place.
Apart from the church being a tourist magnet, Mondsee is a holiday town situation on a beautiful lake.To be cont....

Monday, 17 July 2017

Location: Nuremberg , Germany

On the way down we walked over beer vaults, huge underground cellars used for beer storage and during the war for the safe keeping of art treasurers etc. given that 90% of Nuremberg was totally destroyed. Being a Sunday most of the shops were shut hence very few people which meant walking around was a pleasure.
We visited two churches and being very ecumenical one Catholic and one Protestant, a rather ornate waterless fountain and watched a mechanical animated tableau on the top of a church which takes place at 12 noon each day.
After dinner there was an informal presentation by Nicholas Hammond, who played Fredrich Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. He spoke about the making of the movie and the misfortunes and fortunes of the Von Trapp family after they escaped Austria.
On balance I would have liked more time on the Nazi era and the German people rather than Medieval history and cobblestones.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Location: Nuremberg , Germany

A short early morning drive bought us to a huge unfinished red brick building based on the Coloseum this is where Hitler proposed to hold National Congresses of his political party it was proposed to have a suspended glass dome designed to highlight where he was seated it was never finished as money was siphoned into the war effort. Nowdays it is used by the city council and other organisations as a storage house.
The centre piece of Nazi propaganda was a long and wide outdoor area where military parades, rallies etc. were held with Hitler standing high above the area ranting and raving about Germanic power and supremacy but no mention of war.
It was early morning when we arrived and only a few people were around so it was eerily quiet. Our guide gave us a detailed account of the happenings that took place here and around the Nazi centre piece. The photo shows Zeppelin Field as it was during the Nazi across. Driving through the parklands it was hard to imagine what had happened in the past.
From the recent past to the distant past when we arrived in the old town with its fortified walls and castle built on an outcrop of sandstone which gave the army a magnificent but strategic outlook over the surrounding countryside.
To be continued....

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Location: Bamburg , Germany

Our arrival in Bamburg coincided with not only the weekend but their annual magicians and jugglers festival which brings hoards of participants and onlookers all which meant street choking crowds.
Bamburg is well known for its breweries, thirteen in a town of 70,000 people and eighty one in the region. It's unique beer, smokey beer, which has a taste of bacon,I can't verify this as we did not taste it.
In the middle of town is a white water kayak course which passes the old town hall which also sits on an island in the middle of the river.
As Bamburg was not bombed their are many buildings dating back to the mid 14th & 15th centuries. The two most impressive was the Cathedral with its soaring interior, spectacular altar.
The second - the Arch Bishop of Bamburg's Palace was palatial and surrounded by a small village.
The rose garden behind the Palace wa a lovely place to sit and relax. It contains 140 rose plants and 44 species all planted in well attended beds.
If you could remove the excess crowds Bamburg is a fascinating place.
After dinner we were entertained by a singer and her European song book which featured popular songs from European countries eg Danny Boy - Ireland, Never on a Sunday - Greece amongst others.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Location: Wuzburg, Germany

Wuzburg is the main city of the Franconian wine industry. All the surrounding hillsides are planted with vines in neat vertical rows. Our excursion bus took us through the farming areas to a small town called Rothenburg. This is a small but perfectly preserved Medieval village. The old town is surrounded by a city wall around which you can walk if you have a spare 45 minutes. As expected for a tourist town there are numerous cafes, hotels as well as everyday shops but all house in Medieval buildings. The most amazing shop was the Christmas shop which had a maze of rooms crammed with fascinating mobile and static decorations. The centre piece of the shop was a huge decorated Christmas tree. Sadly photos were not allowed in the shop.
At night we were entertained by a Bavarian group who played traditional folk songs which had the passengers up and dancing.


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Recent Messages

From Marg Detez
Singapore looks spectacular!
Response: It was a great place to spend a few days before the last leg home. We love Singapore so clean and beautiful weather.
From Marg Detez
Will look forward to the Singapore pics!
Response: We had trouble with Wi Fi in Singapore now we are home I will put them on.
From Jacinta
So glad you enjoyed 'Gardens by the Bay'. It was the highlight of our trip to Singapore!
Response: Wonderful place off to Singapore flyer and China town today
From Steph
A leisurely breakfast or two sounds like the perfect end to you holiday
Response: Slept until 8am then a lovely cruise on the river and off to Gardens by the Bay now.
From Steph
Enjoy the last leg. More heat to come but lots of air conditioning escapes provided in Singapore
Response: From one melting pot to another!
From John Moody
You have had some wonderful experiences, Russell and Annette - we loved the cruise to Budapest. Can't comment on Naples because we haven't been there!
Response: We have had a wonderful time John and are slowly working our way home. We leave Rome tomorrow for Singapore for three days.
From Steph
Love those views from the water. Super!!!
Response: We didn't know where to look next.
From Steph
Sorrento to Amalfi .....would really like to return there one day.
Response: Loving Sorrento great hotel very central wish we were staying longer. Did Capri today another wonderful place.
From Jacinta
I remember our high speed taxi ride in Rome too! A scary experience! Pompeii is very fascinating and we also had the crowds but not the heat. Sorrento sounds lovely.
Response: All day today along the Amalfi Coast and another early start tomorrow for Capri.
From David
Sounds like the rail travel was without any problems. I suppose you will have to return to Rome by the train so I hope it will be just as uneventful
Response: We were lucky and hope the luck holds out on the return journey.
From Margaret Detez
Boy, did that bring back some memories! We had a chaotic arrival in Naples too in the middle of the night. Horrible place!
Response: Let' hope our return journey through there isn't as bad
From Steph
Good luck with the train journey from Rome!! Look forward to hearing about it
Response: Got to station 1.5 hrs early organised chaos great to see our train and platform come up on the board. Train pulled up in front of us and only one family and three business men with us. Had our padlock at the ready but no need. Hair raising trip to Sorrento but arrived in one piece. Very beautiful.
From Elaine
I have enjoyed reading about your river trip & love the photos.I am so glad that your journey ended in Budapest and not the the other way (Budapest to Amsterdam) as the night cruise is so spectacular and is such a great way to end the tour.
Response: We agree it was a spectacular night and we are so pleased we did Amsterdam to Budapest.
From Pam and Peter
Pleased to read Budapest was so enjoyable. And the night cruise such a highlight. Love the photos esp of you two!! Cheers!
Response: So far a wonderful trip on our own now and heading for Rome airport this morning
From Steph
We had a lovely lunch today with your girls. Mary Poppins amazing!! Enjoy the after dark view of Budapest ...it was a highlight for us
Response: Lovely you could all have lunch together wish we could have been there. Looking forward to seeing the DVD. Congratulations to Georgia & Harry such a great achievement.
From David
All sounds good but I expect you will be close to the end of the cruise
Response: Just got back from the highlight of the cruise beautiful night and a magic experience.
From David
I remember Melk well. The library was something to be seen
Response: Still a working library, amazing
From Elaine
Love reading about your trip and seeing the photos.Happy travelling Elaine
Response: Having a wonderful time Elaine we hope book club went OK.
From Steph
We didn't do the Salzburg leg of the trip and I must admit I'd like to. That rotunda is such a Sound of Music landmark!
Response: It was a great day Russell isn't a fan but also enjoyed it. Just getting into Vienna
From Annette & Geoff
We have been reading your diary entries daily and looking at your wonderful photos. We are glad all is going well and that you both are enjoying the wonderful cruise. I was interested in Nuremberg as my Uncle bombed there on 30/31 March 1944 - Bomber Command suffered its heaviest casualties in a single raid of the entire war this night - 95 bombers lost. Unfortunately we missed Nuremberg on our trip in 2015. Keep having a great time.
Response: It was a very moving experience.
From Marg Detez
What an interesting trip. European history has so many layers.
Response: So much information to obsorb every day.
From David Eynon
Sounds like the court room in Nuremberg was not open for inspection and that is a disappointment because i really enjoyed seeing it. The Zeppelin Field is a place with much history
Response: We passed the courtroom but it was being used at the time.
From Pam and Peter
Enjoying your diary entries immensely.
What an interesting cruise you are having. So much to see and do.
A great experience!!
Response: Great cruise APT have been excellent. Catch up when we get back.
From David
I remember Bamburg well especially the Bishop palace and garden. It all sounds very good and brings back memories
Response: Lot's to see and we were lucky as it turned out only three of us went with the guide and he was excellent.
From Jo
Love the dairy, also had the sun deck closed whilst we went under bridges fingers crossed you go all the way as I know friends who had to vacate the boat because if water levels too high & low.if you get time in Budapest try and do a tour of the Opera House it's beautiful.
Response: So far we have been lucky with the locks. Will make the most of Budapest.