Author Archives: gailgrant49

My summation (just my opinion), of our river cruise

Amsterdam was very cool with all the canals and the very narrow and lop-sided buildings. There were an amazing incredible number of bicycles. The city was dirty. I have to remember that it was a holiday so maybe it isn’t regularly so. I wished that we had gone to the “Gardens”. I find that if I don’t pre-book an excursion it doesn’t happen.

I was amazed that the river was so peaceful and “calm”….and clean. It was almost like being on a lake with all kinds of bird life…especially swans! Yes there was “some” industry but it was mostly rural and/or pastoral with little quaint villages along the river and castles up on the hillsides. They were cool! And… Germany… garbage (including no cigarette butts)….anywhere! I was impressed! And if buildings or bridges were damaged because of the war(s) or just because of the fact they were all old, they were all reconstructed and well cared for.

Being on a river cruise, every day it was a new port and sometimes two (nice that they are included in your purchase price ……unless you want to see something out of the usual you could pay an extra charge) and so it becomes tiresome and the places all run together in your mind. I think I prefer ocean cruising for that reason. Atleast on them, every couple of days you have a “day at sea” when you can unwind, catch up on correspondence (write your blog) and digest what you have seen over the last couple of days.

Austria was much like Germany in that it was clean but the villages became cities. They got larger……not so “quaint”. Bratislava, in Slovakia, is a very large city too.

And then there was Budapest. Huge! Magnificent in its heyday but now crumbing…..and dirty! As in other cities, crossing a street no matter if they are narrow and small, is taking your life in your hands because from out of nowhere some jackass will attempt to run you over….horn screaming! And that included being run over by bicycles in Amsterdam.

Our ship was absolutely lovely…..very modern and shiny…..all glass and chrome. The rooms were spacious and the “balconies” weren’t really balconies but you could raise the top half of the floor-to-ceiling window so it was like being outside without freezing or getting wet. Very nice! For a good portion of our ride up the Rhine and down the other side (Danube), the sundeck on top level was closed…..railings and chairs collapsed down…..not that it was warm enough anyway, because the bridges are too low (especially on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal).

I think I’ll stay home for a while now. That is one trip ticked off my bucket list.

One other comment I have to make concerns what I saw while flying back into Amsterdam. Since returning home, there was a news report stating that the Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of produce. Amazing for such a small country. From the air, you can see firsthand that not a square inch in that country, is not cultivated.


Budapest, Hungary-May 10-15/19

We arrived here in the afternoon of the 10th and in the evening had a night cruise to see the spectacular sights from the water. Oh my! It really is something with the parliament buildings, the castle, the numerous lovely bridges, etc., all lit up. Wow!!!

Chain Bridge…opened 1849

Buda Castle..started in 1243…now houses Hungarian National Gallery and B. History Museum

There has been a settlement here for about 2000 years.

The Buda Castle was built in 1243.

Prosperity really began in the late 15th century. As with most of Europe, it too was run over by one conquering force after another. The cities of Buda, Pest and Obuda became one in 1873.

It was between 1867 and WW1 that it really began to prosper. You can see it in the huge number of buildings and the size of them. One can imagine how absolutely spectacular the city must have looked in its heyday. Unfortunately, for the most part, with WW1, WW2 and the period of communism when it was behind the Iron Curtain, the beautiful old city is in a state of disrepair. Buildings seem to be of sound structure, not that I am an expert but…… Anyone in the reconstruction trades, will be guaranteed on-going work for ever.

Below will be examples of the architecture both good shape and deteriorating


Restaurants on the sidewalks….bicycles on them too (these in the Jewish quarter)
Bicycles for rent

At the Citadella

Citadella on Gellert Hill

The view from the Citadella

The rail station

Electric trains in middle of streets

Typical street…..two sides parking and one lane of traffic….one way!

This building has seen better days as do a lot!


The Chain Bridge with its lions guarding it!

Stairs to the Buda Palace

In front of the Buda Palace

War statue at the museum in the Buda Palace

Part of the outside of the Buda Palace

Examples of that very prosperous time…The largest parliament building (neo-gothic)in Europe was built in Pest 1884-1904.

The parliament buildings by day!

The 2nd largest synagogue in the world in 1859….below!

Tree lined street in the Jewish Quarter

In 1896, the first underground in the world was built under Androxyy Street. There is a promenade that runs along between the street and homes of the rich. Wooden planks were put down along it so the horses wouldn’t disturb the owners. Heroes Square was also built in 1896.

Heroes Square

Heroes Square

Gellert Hill was named after the priest who converted Hungarians to Christianity. For his trouble he was put in a barrel and thrown off the hill. There is statue to commemorate him. Also, at Hotel Gellert (art nouveau) ….is where one of the mineral spring baths are located.

Monument to Gellert, the priest that brought Christianity to Hungary

Gellert Hotel and mineral springs

Some of the structures built into the bottom of Gellert Hill

I’m not sure how structurally safe that path would be!

One of the highlights of our stay in Budapest was going to the thermal baths at Szechenyi. It is a huge facility. There are 3 pools outside of varying temperatures and depths. Inside there are 15 smaller baths.

Front entrance to Szechenyi Spa and Mineral Baths

The outside looking right

Looking to the left

Inside looking to right

Sort of middle

Looking to the left ….the coolest and shallowest pool. Steaming in the rain!!!

And a little more to the left!

Leaving the baths

Bratislava, Slovakia-May 9/19

Bratislava-May 9/19

It’s raining….it’s miserable….! We are taking a little train. 5.4 country—- .5 million city cuz not many feel like get soaked.

5-6000€/sq. m. for luxury condo in Bratislava.

Wedding cake building … home of philharmonic orchestra….below!

Head of country is a woman PM who will be inaugurated in June.

Presidential palace in Rocco style formerly belonged to the Count Grassily family….above.

Part of European Union community and use Euros.

Autos…..(a million / year…. 3 manufacturers BMW, Citroen-Peugeot, VW) and technology industry are the 2 main employers.

Most streets have cars parking on the sidewalks ….kind of odd.

And this is the way we park in Bratislava!

Our guide told us, “you don’t have to go to Egypt to see a pyramid. We have an upside down one here!”

2500 years ago the Celts settled. They there until until the 1st BC then the Romans and the Slavs in 6th Century.

The towers of the castle (palace) are from the 13 and 15 th centuries but the building itself has been in existence since the 9th century.

Mary Theresa of the Hapsburgs, was the most important and most loved ruler. She abandoned witch hunts and instituted and built hospitals and schools

“UFO” bridge…. built in 1972 looks futuristic.

UFO Bridge as seen from the castle.

The “Old Bridge” that is only 3 yrs old but was rebuilt to look the same as the one before…..old!

In a park down by the pier, this statue that says it all!!!

Fertile very flat farmland.

Vineyards produce grapes for White Riesling 80% & Red “Blue Franc” 20%

We have been hearing of how it was when the soviets were here… couldn’t go 8 kilometres down the road…… to Austria or wherever without possibly being shot. Electrified barbed wire fences etc.

In the afternoon we went to visit a family in a village called Cifer.

Very accommodating, mom spoke really pretty good English…. 3 kids and a husband who was away working inAustria because they make more money working away. They had a lovely garden and outside living space. Wine cellar with stainless vats…impressive. The family showed us a painting of the great grandmother. The mom and two daughters had the same huge blue, blue eyes as the gg.

Lunches are free to children and seniors ride free on the trains … now that there is election coming up. After election they expect it will be taken away….hahaha!

Boring Industrial looking buildings are from Soviet era.

Lots of electric trolleys…. no metro.

Melk and it’s Benedictine Monastery-May 7/19

It was finished in 1739. It is a Benedictine monastery with 29 monks & 900 secondary day students that pay 90€/month to go here. By the way, it seems that all students only go until lunchtime or 1pm. I don’t know what time they start though. Pink is a typical colour of baroque so inside staircase was painted pink. Main hall 600 feet long was like a hotel. Guests came with 250 people in tow. Ceramic heaters… chimneys in walls …very large …moulded white. In 980 ad it was a fortress then was donated to monks. Crucifix 800yrs Old. Marble room isn’t really marble … dining room. Library is 12 rooms. This one … oh my!!! All handwritten! Incidentally, no picture taking is allowed…..sorry! So no pictures of the inside.

Beautiful gardens at entry to Melk Abbey

Only one inside view of the abbey

In the staircase, the “pink” baroque style

Overlooking the old city of Melk, from the abbey

Now that is truest an old wooden clock….inside the abbey

The exterior of the chapel band the amazing library atMelk Abbey

As I start the walk down into the old city on my way back to the boat.

This is where my unfortunate phone met with the cobble stones! It continued to work but the lenz was smashed! Thank goodness cuz it was my source of pictures!

Old town Melk

Love these narrow alleys with their arches ( as before, to keep the buildings from collapsing into each other and the plaster corners to made to protect the corners

Looking back and up at the abbey!

A refreshing, non-building space on my way back to the boat!

On the gorge of Wachau…..the 12th century Schonbuhel castle.

The terrain is now more steep.

The next 32 kms there is no bridges…..use ferries, the first is a cable ferry.

Aggstein Castle …900’ above the river

Schonbuhel Castle

Vienna, Austria-May 8/19

Neo-franscisco church near the river and where we were moored, is the English speaking Catholic Church of Vienna shown below .

There are 4 channels to the Danube River.

Vienna (Wien ) is named after Wien River

46% of area of Vienna is green or parkland

68% of country is mountainous.

There are 5000 employees at the palace of Hapsburg’s, Shohenbaum. They can apply to live there.

Beware of cyclists…. no respect for anyone. Sounds like Victoria cyclists.

This is the day of “liberation of concentration camps”

Work week is now 12hour/day brought in by the new government that is like Trump ……called “Liberal”…. not!!!

1/3 of housing is social housing.

“Monument Against War and Fascism” near the palace where 400 buried in bomb shelter. They just left them in place…..below!

St Augustine is the church of Hapsburgs.

19 courtyards, 3000 rooms,

St. Augustine Church…..belonging to Hapsburgs

Lipizons …4 of 5 born black or brown but change to white at 3-4 yrs. None are females… only male.

Leaving in front of the palace are 2000 year Roman ruins

Graben means most. In the area around St. Stephen Cathedral has all the very posh stores like Chanel, Massimo Dutti and Tiffany. Funny that the name of the street is Graben.

Self cleansing tiles on roof of St. Stephens . The Cathedral itself is made of soft limestone. It turns dark from pollution. The north spire is a metre higher. There are 10,000 catacombs under.

The Sky of Stones…..very cool!

70% of energy is environmentally clean.. mostly from water.

The worlds first giant Ferris wheel!

From one extreme to the other….the.very to the ultra modern

Dürnstein-May 7/19

What a gorgeous quaint little town. Probably my favourite! No guide, just me walking through it!

The castle where Richard the Lion-hearted was kept imprisoned

Path up into the vineyards

The path to the castle

Inside courtyard… cars parked behind those doors

The view near the end of the road inside the town. Below is a highway that goes right under the town

Me outside the lovely town of Dürnstein

The “gate” at the entrance… that’s a road!

The view of the Danube coming down out of the village… on my way back to the boat.

Just leaving Dürnstein but all along this waterway, I have never seen so many swans. This spot had close to a dozen…. together

Linz-also May 6/19

We didn’t have a tour here. We were waiting for the people that went into Salzburg for the day to return so just wandered the streets. Here are some pictures.

The Amabella following us closely in this beautiful windy section of the Danube. The lock now are wide enough to hold our two boat together.

Linz city centre plaza

Love this bike in front of a store in Linz

Electric street cars …..Linz

Beautiful door!!!

This one and the following showing products for sale…love them!

The “new” cathedral……holds 20,000

More doors

This one is gorgeous!

The New Cathedral started in 1862 finished 1924, holds 20,000 worshippers. Like all cathedrals and many buildings all along this river corridor, they are continuously under reconstruction.

Inside a building

Just look at the size of that door …….compared to Jeanette

How’d you’d like to live on a street with that name???