Flight EK441 left on time at 21:50 and as we were in the first 2 of the pairs of seats at the back of the plane at $100 each extra, it was quite roomy though there was a divider between the 2 seats that was annoying. Food was OK. In the middle of the night in the dark they dropped off a box of what was apparently spinach and cheese in flatbread. I watched episodes 2-4 of Kiri and a Reese Witherspoon movie.

No hassles on arrival in Dubai at approx 5.15 am but we were about the last to get our luggage off the carousel for some reason. Almost hijacked by an expensive black taxi at the managed taxi queue but realised and headed for a regular vehicle. Hotel staff were polite when we arrived, having been warned that we would be early, but the hotel was full. We were told we could have a room before 11 am. We walked across a tangle of streets to the nearby Dubai Mall which was shut at 7 am in the morning - until 10 am. Looked around, found the Dubai Fountain and then returned to the hotel to sit and wait. They kindly gave us a room just after 9 am-probably sick of us sitting around in the foyer looking exhausted. Hurray- the bed duna was not tucked in at the sides for about the first time in any hotel and the window curtains closed properly and blocked out excessive light. The hotel was cold and even when you turned the air con off, it came back on again. Slept for a couple of hours before returning to the mall to get tickets for the Burj Khalifa Tower at 7 pm. At 6.10 pm walked across to the mall yet again through successive traffic lights which stayed green as you crossed up to four roads under the double bridges. Once into the mall it was a long walk to the rear to go up the tower. Great views with a drink and biscuit but it didn't do a lot for me-not worth the money. The windows were dirty and since it was evening, very reflective. Had tea outside a crepe shop opposite the Aquarium and watched the crowd go past in fascination.

FRIDAY, 20 APRIL, 2018
Had breakfast outside under the hotel pergola.

It was pleasant and they had a huge array of food, including delicious small Danish pastries. Taxi from hotel to airport was fast, efficient and only 35 dirmah this time. We went to the 'already-checked-in-online' row even though we didn't have a printout but it worked. The other checks passed without us being frisked too, a first. Lunched at an American-look cafe in a food court under construction. Disgusting cheese and onion toastie. Left on time in a 380-800 airbus crowded with Germans. Service and food was OK but dessert was strawberry mousse- something squishy as usual. Trip seemed to last longer than the previous 13 hours even though it was only 6 and a half hours. Watched a film about 2 guys trying to find their father then 4 episodes of True Crime. Just managed to finish as plane was landing. I had trouble loading luggage on the trolley while Peter was waiting at the other carousel. The trolley was 1 Euro from a machine. They just don't get it in Germany with their stupid machines. One poor Indian lady had no money and a credit card not accepted by the machine and we had no cash. We should have helped her but we were stressed about the car pickup. No matter how well we plan in advance, there always seems to be a problem in Frankfurt. They knew when we were arriving, what flight and we had already paid for car hire. We had a hopeless conversation with the rep on the phone re car pickup-poor reception in the airport, couldn't hear what he was saying and he had a strong accent. Which terminal were we in? We didn't know. He $%#@ lives there and does this all the time. Had to go to a big blue something in Terminal 2. The blue something was a service centre so we went outside next to the closest door. He rang when he got to the airport and we tracked each other down. He drove us in our black Citroen to the rental place to do the paperwork and it was already getting dark. Peter then drove us to the Shell station to fill up with E10 petrol and to the Holiday Inn in the next town where we had stayed before. We had a hamburger and chips between us and then went to bed in the crumby room.

Woke about 6 am to a lovely day. Had excellent breakfast with a variety of meat, cheese and little icecream cones for your jam.
Drove to Heidelberg using the GPS and road signs. Parked outside the hotel in a probably illegal area-hard to tell-and were permitted inside the locked hotel door.
Halfway between the outside door and the front desk the floor rose by a single step. Peter warned me just in time. It had a bright light all around the edges but I wasn't looking because I was looking at the reception desk. I wonder how many people they have taken down? The woman on reception stated with obvious pleasure that we couldn't have our room until 2 pm, but could leave our luggage. Public transport was available in the nearby square, Down There-a very common place we have heard about in our travels, somewhere near Over There, I think. We were given a parking space in a garage down the road-first left and 3rd arch on right, with a key to open the door and you had to pull the cord to get out. There wasn't any information for tourists except about cultural events and only a quarter A4 sheet size map. At the platz down there, were dozens of buses and trams. An older German couple were struggling with another machine-for tickets. You couldn't read it because of the bright sunlight on the screen and when you could read it you couldn't understand it. We wanted the Heidelberg Schloss-it wanted to know how many zones and other silly info that you couldn’t know. A kind young man helped us in the end and the older couple came back with help too. They told us to go to the Pharmacy Museum at the castle. We ended up with one way tickets as I don't think the young man thought about us getting back. It was a good ride up the hill into the old quarter on bus 33. At the cable car there were hundreds of people, as it was Saturday, but we got on fairly soon. The cable car was disappointing as it went through a tunnel with no view. The castle was very impressive but part wreck. We took photos, had a look at the Apotek Museum and lunched at an outdoor cafe.
Peter had bratwurst and a beer 30 cms high in a glass and I had a beef sausage in a tasty roll. It was lovely weather and people were enjoying themselves. We caught the cable car down and waited at the bus stop worried about getting back, but a nice American lady said she thought we could buy tickets on the bus, and we could. Back at the hotel, caught lift to 3rd floor and had to go down about 4 stairs in one direction then down 6 more in another to get to our room! It was fine and the bathroom lovely but it was hot. I did some hand washing and we went out to an Italian restaurant. I had lasagne and he had penne bake and it was very good; strawberries and cream for dessert. Lovely. Slept OK but there were bursts of screaming and loud cars all night.

SUNDAY 22 APRIL, 2018.
Woke up at 6 am. Breakfast was an excellent spread with unique features including little jars of pickled coloured beans, cheese and pickles, yogurt and fruit. Lovely rolls and cheese spread. Lots of people riding, running, skating, speeding past the hotel windows and lots of noise. We could see a marathon at the end of the street. The clapping went on and on. Caught 33 bus again to Heidelberg University, St Peter's church stop. Had a look at a student prison, university museum and great hall. All very impressive. Walked around streets and main square with marathon and clapping STILL going on. Beautiful day. Had a look at the river Neckar and the lovely bridge then had lunch of potato soup in a German restaurant (as opposed to many Thai, Italian etc) It had wood and musical instruments making part of the light fittings. After that we walked to a bus stop and talked to a couple waiting there. He had just run in the marathon, had been living there since 1991 and status a bit up in air because of Brexit. Quite a lot later we went out to a Chinese restaurant for tea. It was hot, I didn't feel hungry and there were many stairs to go up. Inside it was cold and I had a huge temperature-induced sneezing fit. Felt terrible and could hardly eat anything. The proprietor was not pleased with us.

MONDAY, 23 APRIL, 2018.
Another nice breakfast but hardly anyone else there this time. We drove to the Aldi store which didn't have the phone card we wanted and had to pay for parking as we had parked in the wrong place to get the free Aldi concession! Drove to Fussen without much trouble via GPS. The hotel had many steps, but you could park in the garden area, which was good. The room was up a huge flight of elegant and steep marble stairs and the lock was very difficult. No where much to put cases, a weird bed with a horizontal bunk across the top and no desk apart from a tiny, round table. After a rest we walked around Fussen. The buildings were highly decorative with paintings and style features on the facades. We eventually found a great Woolworths shop and bought an electric kettle and 2 cups. Later out to tea at a gast hof which I had photographed earlier. Food was ghastly but medieval decor and atmosphere great. The salad was 3 hunks of carrot, 2 of a white carrot like vege a slice of tomato, hunk of cucumber and a leaf of lettuce soaking in a bad white mayo. We had aprons and could eat with fingers but my grilled chicken was a thick lump with a pile of medieval chips. Peter had crumbed pork. Walked home in light rain feeling tired, but it was hot. The room was stifling but if you opened the window the car noise was bad.

TUESDAY, 24 APRIL, 2018.
Woke up after 7am and had breakfast quickly. A nice spread in basement. Drove to Car Park 1 only a couple of kms away for the palaces and got tickets at a ticket office up the hill. There were signs and buildings everywhere and it was almost incomprehensible-mainly designed for bus tours, I’d guess. Our tours were 9.55 am for HohenSchwangau and 11.55 am for NeuSchwanstein. We found a horse cart to take us up to Hohenschwangau but it took a long time to fill. It was still a steep walk up to the palace from the end of the horse ride. You had to line up by tour number and go thru the gate when your tour was lit up on the sign. It was a lovely palace but you couldn't take photos. The amazing thing was the murals which are all original and still perfect so it is no wonder they are very careful. (They are only about 150 years old) We caught a horse cart back down to the ticket office and a new cart up to Neuschwanstein just in time for our tour. It was a long way uphill and I felt sorry for the poor horses. The stairs were endless but the castle magnificent and, when you think about it, unbelievably self indulgent, that one man could spend so much money on his own palace. The paintings and particularly chandeliers were astounding. After the tour we walked down and caught a horse cart for the last part once more. Had a hot dog and drink each near the ticket office then went to the Bavarian Museum. It was quite expensive at 10 euro each and was mainly about Maximillian and Ludwig 2 and families of Bavaria. There were lots of fantastic and elaborate table centrepieces. Walked back down hill to the car. The weather was perfect and the views sublime.

Left at 9 am towards Salzburg. We wanted to go via Helen’s Garmisch Partenkirchen and Obergammerau. Couldn't park easily in Garmisch which looked nice in a standard German town way, but Obergammerau was something else. We parked on a side street free for 2 hours and walked over to the nearby church which was tall and plain on the outside. There was a beautiful graveyard and inside the church was magnificent in a baroque way, with part of the ceiling painted pink with flowers, therefore Rococo in style. I found examples of shells to confirm the style. We went to the museum which had lots about Roman soldiers and their links to the place-via ancient history and the Roman soldiers which feature in the 4 yearly play about Jesus. There were wonderful examples of wood carving and cut paper scenes as well. I took many photos.
It was perfect weather, the streets were quiet and it was so lovely. We bought a bell magnet at a nice souvenir shop. After that the going got tough with so much road work it was slow all the rest of the way. In Salzburg it was also very busy and as expected difficult to find the hotel as it was in the middle of a pedestrian mall. Fortunately Peter had read about the parking station so we parked there and took our small luggage with us to find the hotel. Almost no hotel ever has the exact same name as it is given online! Our room was right at the back and had a bath, as requested-a spa bath sitting up right next to the bed! We went out for tea later at an inn. Peter had a cordon bleu and I ordered roast pork with a dumpling and cabbage. The pork was tough and dumpling huge, almost tennis ball size, a leaden sphere of flour and water. We had a nice choc cake dessert between us. Walked down to a bridge and then back to room to find only the hot tap worked in the shower and bath. Peter reported it and the manager said he would send someone. Peter went up 2 times more to enquire and finally told them that we were going to bed-after midnight. Later we found there was no cold water for the toilet either.

The water was on by morning, thank goodness. Someone had obviously turned off a cold tap somewhere. Breakfast was OK, nothing special, and no one said anything about the water. Asked about a bus to the castle but concierge said it was just a 15 min walk (it is so easy for everyone to walk-never mind if you may have any issues with walking or any sort of disability-they are not big on disability in Europe) so we set off and it was OK apart from trying to cross the road after the bridge with about 6 trolley buses in a row and lots of traffic. Passed the main square outside Dom Kirke. That was also being dug up and paved and was an awful mess, especially since it was raining quite solidly. Made it to the funicular and went up quickly. At the castle, which is very high, had to climb dozens more steps.
We had an audio tour for about 20 mins and then were free to wander. It is an amazing place. The state rooms were spectacular in the ceiling and wall decoration and some of that was being restored too.
We bought a fridge magnet, looked at a puppet display and amber jewellery and then caught the funicular down to the cathedral. It was spectacular inside, mainly decorated with moulding rather than paintings although the domes had beautiful paintings with many in ochre tones. For lunch at a café Peter had green garlic soup and I had a toasted sandwich with salad. The salad was in a bowl half full of thin salad dressing, so all the lettuce was totally wilted. Lots of people were having meat and more of the disgusting dumplings-one big dumpling per plate. Had a rest because my knee was in spasms after all the steps. Then went to a busy laundromat which was also a drycleaners with a lady in charge who helped and did ironing and served customers the whole time. It cost 20 euros for 2 loads but was pretty efficient. Stopped raining but very cold, coldest it has been. Saw some interesting dogs.

FRIDAY, 27 APRIL, 2018.
2 trips to the parking garage down road to deliver our luggage to the car. They said nothing about the water so I asked and they took our second day’s breakfasts off. The girl obviously thought we were conning them, but they hadn't apologized or mentioned a word about the hot water and if we had needed the toilet for anything major it would have been quite bad! Roads were very busy with so many trucks and there were constant roadworks slowing traffic to snail pace. We went off the highway to go along the Danube for a while and it was very pretty. Had lunch at a raststop near Hungary. When we went to sit down there was a small room full of tough-looking truckies smoking like trains. Arrived via GPS at the hotel, but the road to the right of the hotel, where we expected to be able to park the car was completely blocked off. We drove on and on trying to go back in the direction of hotel but there were so many blocked and one way streets. Eventually Peter found a park about half a km, away. We asked some boys if it was residents only but they said it was OK to park but we had to put money in the machine. Guess what, we had no Hungarian money so took a chance, and walked to the hotel with some of our light luggage. When we signed in we asked where the garage was. The young man said 'Over there.' We said, 'Where over there?' He pointed with his hand and said, 'Take first right and first right.' I said that first right was blocked off. What was the address of the garage? He didn't know the address but the name of the place was Remus. Peter hadn't seen the blockage so they both looked at me doubtfully. Before we went to the car, we checked out first right and the whole first block of the street was dug up and had obviously been under construction for weeks. We walked past the garage and to the car but getting back was hell because there were one way streets everywhere. Somehow Peter made it because there wasn't too much traffic, just idiot pedestrians walking out behind us when we were reversing out of one way streets. It was nerve wracking. We went out for tea at Niki, next door to the hotel, as we were hungry. Peter had pork and I had goulash soup. Soup was boiling hot with a layer of grease about 3 mms thick on top.

Got up planning to get boat for river cruise. Breakfast was fancy but not as classy as Heidelberg. Lots of people. There was bacon but the bread was stale and they didn't have fresh rolls. The fruit wasn't as good with the pineapple soft at the edges. Still, it was nicely presented and interesting watching people. Walked down to river to get a boat but I talked Peter into doing hop on hop off boat/bus trip. The boat went at 11 am so there was a lot of waiting though the trip lasted only an hour.

Great view from the boat but it was very hot in the sun and cold and windy in shade. Parliament house looked amazing. After the boat trip down the greeny brown Donau (Danube) we waited for the red Hop on Hop Off bus near where we had started in the morning. It said one came along every 30 mins but none came. Then a lady told us it was the wrong bus and to go with her. Her bus had already passed us once before. She became quite angry with us because we couldn't understand how it worked. They all call themselves Hop On Hop Off but there are different companies and you felt as if everyone was lying on purpose. She was good with her sightseeing description of everything but the view from the bus was bad with grubby windows and window frames in the way. We got off and walked a long, painful way to the amazing parliament which is like a gigantic symmetrical church and walked further the whole huge distance around in the blazing sun to find the visitor centre. A nice girl told us it was back where we started. The signage is very discreet as they don't want to spoil the view of parliament! Sure enough, when we found the visitor centre we had walked straight past-it was underground and only marked underground without a single sign above ground so unless you looked down in the right place, you wouldn’t even see it. Shades of Goethe's Haus! Of course, by this time the visits were all sold out. Ironic, given the unbelievable size of the
place. We went to the toilet with immense relief, had lunch at the cafe- a dried schnitzel roll and a goulash soup between us. As usual, the soup was tasteless. We had a look at the shop and bought a couple of small souvenirs then walked all the way home to the hotel, a long way, as the pink line didn't run after 3 pm. There were many river cruise ships near the upmarket section of town where we stopped and had a beautiful piece of walnut and chocolate cake, tea and coffee at a gorgeous out door restaurant, feeling rich and cosmopolitan. Back at hotel, had a rest, went to Aldi and then to tea at a Hells Kitchen called Nagy Fatal (I hoped not). I took a couple of films and, of course, they came and serenaded and sold us a CD. He played Waltzing Matilda. Peter had beef stew and I had grilled chicken breast and potatoes. Cooled off on the walk back as we were right next to the grill in the restaurant and were sweating. It was a very nice evening.

SUNDAY, 29 APRIL, 2018.
Viber with Michael. Had a fancy breakfast again and then tidied up and left.
On checkout the girl put 2 stickers on the parking receipt so it only cost $30 a day. We asked how we used it on the machine and she didn't know-just shrugged her shoulders. These stupid reception people-maybe they could walk round the block, down to the garage, go up in the lifts etc and see how things in the hotels work so that they can answer customer questions. Anyway, the machine scanned the stickers and at the exit there was a man helping so it was fine. We drove straight out, headed for Bratislava. Traffic was very fast as usual. Drove on to Malacky which looked very poor. The GPS didn't recognise the hotel despite every variation we tried but eventually Peter got it on Maps Me and we were on the right road. It was newish, set among the forest and very relaxing.
The receptionist didn't have a record of our booking but they had a room on the ground floor. We had lunch of chicken (water) soup and a club sandwich. The place was full with lots of big family parties. Peter had a swim and I read then we went for a walk around. The restaurant was quite good for tea-all quiet because the crowd had gone and there were only a few of us. For dessert I had 2 scoops of icecream-strawberry and chocolate. They added whipped cream, real choc sauce and a little real strawberry sauce. It was heavenly, the best dessert ever.

MONDAY, 30 APRIL, 2018.
Left around 9 am after a nice breakfast though we had to ask for sugar and tea so they were a bit disorganised. Headed towards our address at Jihlava. Still trouble working the GPS. Long drive across pretty green countryside-not many trees but lots of green fields. The bushes next to the roads were in bloom. Moving from Slovakia, the roads in Czech Republic were ghastly-a bump every 2 metres. Stopped at a Roadhouse type McDonalds and shared a bacon burger and chips and a drink. They were celebrating Halloween for some reason, wearing witch costumes and had free bat biscuits and donuts. Once we got to Jihlava we found the road the GPS directed us to was dug up, but it would not give up trying to force us to go back in that direction. Eventually Peter headed to centrum and it then changed its directions. The grand Hotel Garni was fairly easy to get to as there was not much traffic. Peter parked in the hotel carpark with difficulty thru a very narrow gate. When I said to the receptionist that we were booked in, she looked amazed and said, "You are booked? At the Grand Hotel Garni, Jihlava?" I'm not sure if we looked particularly bad or if she was astounded someone was coming to stay. After a short rest we went out for a walk around town. It looked like millions had been spent a few years ago to pave the whole place with cobblestones and make it attractive to tourists, but perhaps the boom hadn't really come. It was a bit neglected and run down. The parks look ragged and weedy, the fountains not running etc. Later we went out to tea at a place in the square where we were almost the only customers but had amazing gourmet food. I had chicken breast with asparagus and Peter had pork tenderloins.

TUESDAY, 1 MAY, 2018.
The same lady from reception was there preparing breakfast and she was very nice. It was good even though there were only about 4 people in the hotel. We could see many beautifully decorated windows on the other side of the street. Drove towards Litomerice. Mostly fine though tense around Prague and where traffic diverged. Lots of roadworks and roads still bumpy like yesterday. When we were nearly to Litomerice I saw a sign to Teresien and asked Peter if that was a concentration camp. He agreed that it sounded like the place. There were signs on the main road but when we went off road the signs disappeared. We drove for Kms until Peter found it on MapsMe and then it was on the road to Litomerice anyway. It was a stunning experience. It wasn't just a camp or a museum to see but the whole town. Apparently the Germans in WW2 expelled all the occupants and made it into a prison camp and staging place for other camps. They could do this because the town had formerly housed a regiment of the army and had huge buildings and a fortress in the battlements around town, built around 1780.
One building was so big it could sleep 1500 soldiers. Just like Jihlava, other organisations have funded memorials, I suspect, but they are not necessarily being keenly maintained by the locals. In the first building we entered, printed on the walls were the names of 155,000 (approx) children who had been killed, sent from there, and I started crying quite unexpectedly and could hardly stop.
It was an amazingly powerful reaction and surprised me as I have always known about the terrible crimes. The whole town was a ghetto and Jews were shipped there from all over. Some were imprisoned in the small fortress, some in the town. They were killed in many ways if they weren’t transported out. The scale and horror of it all is just awesome. You cannot conceive that human beings could do this to one another and I don’t know how anyone could bear to live in that town now. In Litomorice we walked around
town and had tea at a glamorous local café, down many steep stairs. It advertised lamb with potato cones. The cones were actually potato dumpling again, and wobbled like jelly. Yuk. Our waiter spoke English with a pommie accent as he had lived there. They didn't have any tea apart from Earl Grey and he was not impressed when I said I didn’t want it. Looked at the town walls. Amazing views.

WENESDAY, 2 MAY, 2018.
Breakfast looked sensational but there wasn't much I liked to eat. They had honey in a honey comb and lots of leftover mousse type desserts from the night before but not much fruit. The bread was sweet and dry and the small croissants tough. There was meat and cheese but no cream cheese. We went out straight away to look at the town and see the museum opposite which opened at 10 am. The church was open but you could only look through a big steel gate The altars were baroque but the ceiling rococo with pink decorations. It was a lovely building as were many others around the square. The museum was quite cheap and looked ordinary but it was really excellent with some wonderful medieval and other interesting artefacts.
The medieval staircase was fantastic and it was just overall very impressive for a small town. They weren't selling any souvenirs but I took all the photos I wanted, including reliefs from the early 17th C church of St George.
We next headed for a chateau that we had found a brochure for, and it was through lovely countryside with endless canola fields and lilac bushes in 3 shades-lilac, darker purple and magenta.
Had to wait until noon for the guided tour. We walked around the grounds in perfect weather and admired the castle, the garden but particularly the many peacocks (30). I videoed one particular peacock in an empty fountain. He was putting on a fabulous display which went on and on. Two pea hens jumped down with him and he tried to get them interested by quivering his tail which made a loud shushing sound and rounding them up but they finally ran away.
Another pair were posed on the entrance railing and on the roof above periodically spreading their tails at each other. It was a glorious setting. Then we had the tour- us and a Lithuanian father and son. They spoke English and were happy to have the tour in English. Even the son who was about 12 spoke very well. They kept asking very detailed questions about the royals. The castle was a bit run down but very lovely overall and easy to negotiate.
The guide struggled with her English but was very sweet and got her meaning across. I didn't know who all the kings and queens were anyway. After that we went to the cafe and had lunch-pea soup and a ham, cheese and ketchup roll! It was getting late and we thought we'd better get going for Weimar but it was a lot worse than we expected because there was so much roadwork and so many delays. In Weimar the GPS took us to the carpark but we parked in the street and checked in first. Moved the car to the car park later-a bargain at only 20 euro per night ! It was a mystery trip finding the entrance to the hotel from the carpark as arrows pointed everywhere. We had to go up a set of stairs (naturally) and through 3 doors and then use the card to get in to the hotel. We had a rest and then went for a walk past Goethe's House and into the town square. Bought some breakfast ingredients at an annoying supermarket which was crowded with people but so small that the minute you stopped to find something people were pushing past impatiently, mainly the shelf fillers. The woman on cash register wouldn't take a card and was very irritated at being held up by us, danke. Later went back out for tea to a Chinese place called Bim Bim. I had pork chop suey and Peter had pork sweet and sour. Mine was good, his not so much.

THURS, 3 MAY, 2018.
Went for a walk around Weimar before going to the Goethe Haus. The city was lovely with an outdoor market and pretty shops. No tourist attractions were open until 10 am. At Goethe Haus unsure about entry as there was just a small worn, red sign on a simple door. Inside it was a complete transformation to a huge cash desk with lots of people in uniform in a gigantic entrance hall. I couldn't see any signs at all as to what to see or ask for and I said, "I'm not sure what you have to see," to the lady that was just looking at us and saying nothing. She said that there was the house and exhibition so I got tickets to both. They were about 20 euro each. She asked if we wanted audio tour so I thought why not as it didn't cost extra. It was the phone thing again, but an old model. They then handed us a 30cm square thing like a cork table mat with numbers and pictures of the rooms to go with the audio. I said I didn't want that as it was too heavy and couldn't we use the numbers marked in the rooms. But no numbers ARE marked inside apparently, and they said we must take it. We walked over to enter the haus and a big oldish German guard stopped us and pointed out that we had to leave our gear at the cloakroom, danke. We walked back to do this and the woman at the cloakroom merely pointed us to some lockers. They were up 8 very steep, narrow stairs. We chose no 46 and then tried to take out the key but realised you had to put in 2 e or 1e. We were totally puzzled as to why you had to do that and had no euros anyway, so returned to the cloakroom girl who was doing nothing. She gave me a euro. I asked if I had to put in more but it turned out you could use either 1 or 2 euro coins and get it back when you opened the locker to retrieve your gear-hence, why have euros at all? We had to pack everything away, even handbag and camera and walked back to the big guard again. He let us in this time but only after commanding us to wait while he punched other tickets, and then ours. The house was quite interesting, entered through a courtyard and in much the same state as when Goethe died, apparently. The floors were mainly of wood and the furniture and rooms looked comfortable and almost modern, much like Goethe's childhood home which we had visited in Frankfurt on an earlier trip. The audio tour went into immense detail about everything but it often was wrong because I suspect many things have been changed around since it was made. Pictures between the windows were obviously not what was being described and things which were on our left or right surely depended on where we were standing. Some other people were taking photos so I am not sure why we weren't allowed to. The thing was, there were dozens of rooms going all over the place but no signage at all to show you where to go and no numbers, of course, as they might upset the ambience of the place. It didn't seem to worry them that they had signs on all the sofas saying Do Not Sit Here in 3 languages-those signs are OK. Next we went across to the exhibition. Our tickets had to be clipped again by an aged retainer at the nearly invisible entrance door. We'd spent quite a while trying to work out where the arrow to exhibition was pointing because they didn't have any notice on the door itself. Inside it was dark and they had lots of Goethe's original documents and even some clothing-an impressive display winding in and out once again so that you were unsure where to go. They are obviously very proud of him. All the museums have so much writing and don't just let the objects tell the story. Finally we left the exhibition and went out via the souvenir shop which had mainly Goethe's works and little else. Very tasteful but not very profitable, I would have thought. Went back to hotel, loaded luggage and checked out. When they asked if everything was OK we said the wi fi didn't work and they said sorry, but there was no money off and they obviously haven't fixed up the problem as someone had mentioned it in a review. I wasn't at all impressed by the place. It was soulless, the bed was hard and the pillow uncomfortable. The bathroom was crowded. Headed towards Witenburg without any problems and parked in hotel yard. Went thru yard to reception. Got our room. It was up 38 big stairs, a couple 30 cms high, so Peter had to lug the suitcases. Room was average. Went out to check out Martin Luther–turned left at front gate and went on and on. Asked someone who said we could go via main street. We went through uni to main street and that looked all new. I think it has all just been done up, like half of Europe, with paving stones but they did have neat cement pavers along middle of many footpaths-thank goodness for some average common sense. Not to mention how much poison is used keeping the weeds down among the wide spread pavers. Finally found Luther house all among scaffolding and mess but the museum was open and very interesting.
Learnt a lot about Luther. Walked back along a long, long mall. Looked at restaurants and buildings
and then went back to hotel and ate there. Peter had roast pork and I had pork schnitzel-asked for sauerkraut instead of cream mushrooms. It came as a 2 cm thick wad underneath the schnitzel. Peter's bad too. Had a lovely twin icecream with whipped cream for dessert.

FRIDAY 4 MAY, 2018.
Breakfast at hotel for 7 Euro each. It was OK but many people so orange juice was out and various other things in poor supply-no toast or bread, only rolls. Receptionist was very friendly and nice when we left down the 38 stairs but it was good to be able to park out the front. The room was just average-not much room for suitcases and without any niceties. Drove up towards the Luther church via a dug up backlane-could just squeeze past but others were doing it. Parked in the seminary-very few people. Waited with some other elderly Christians to go into church visitor centre. The church was free and there was actually an elevator to go down. The church was elaborate but austere in terms of colour-no gold leaf. Very tasteful. We went through the Luther exhibition and then a small art exhibit that cost a whacking 5 Euro each and was pretty pathetic-all modern lithographs and prints on religious themes. Outside we had a look at the door that Luther had nailed the 95 theses to-or its replacement.

and then left for Berlin. The drive was fine. Stopped at an amazing road house on the way with food displayed beautifully and so much of it. I don't know if they could sell it all but it looked very spectacular-so colourful and abundant with veges and fruit spilling out everywhere.
Arrived at hotel and went past door to car park of hotel but managed to get around block and park in front. The whole of the town looked ugly with rubbish and cigarette butts but also rather relaxed. Our room was 284-a long long walk from the lifts but very nice with an office apart from the kitchen. We went out for a walk around to have lunch-eventually ate at a Starbucks and it was quite good-a couple of rolls, tea and a small cake. Then went to Checkpoint Charlie
and milled around with lots of people. Bought some souvenirs. It was very ugly and you wonder why they didn't make more effort with so many tourists. We went back to hotel but stopped to get some milk and supplies. Peter, on his MapsMe constantly, found an Italian restaurant for tea. We went there but it was very expensive and I couldn't make myself spend about $25 on a small pizza, so we left. Couldn't find another Italian restaurant so ate at Augustiner Restaurant. It was very noisy and packed with people. We shared a goulash, some salad and chips. The food was so heavy and awful. The waitress asked if we would leave a tip and we said no. She was angry but the place was pretty awful and the prices high enough. No cafes or shops of any kind open to buy snacks. Did scrap book, diary and watched DW and Algezira on TV.

SATURDAY, 5 MAY, 2018.
Got up reasonably early after quite a good night's sleep. Bed comfortable as was temperature with just duna cover not duna. Had breakfast and left for Reichstag via underground. Caught it at MidtStadt and went 2 stops. Had a look at Brandenburg Tor and all the people taking selfies and then walked on to the Reichstag. There were lines of people everywhere but you had to book online so we couldn't go inside. The building was very imposing but I didn't mind too much. We walked along a long street past the Russian war memorial. We saw a sign pointing to the Jewish museum but we couldn't find it. Crossed road and ended in a park and walked all the way back to the gate and then along the street to the Holocaust memorial. I thought it was pretty ordinary from where we were standing, just rectangular blocks of cement but eventually we walked to the centre and found that the immense blocks were high in the middle where the ground had been cut away. There are 2711 of the coffin shaped stelae, apparently and all lined up so that you can see down long lines. The stelae are 2.38m long, 0.95m wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7m. They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north south, and 87 heading east west at right angles but set slightly askew, began building April 2003, finished Dec 2004.
Walked back to train station and caught train back to Midt Stadt. Bought some lunch at train station. When we got back to our room it hadn't been cleaned which was annoying because I wanted to do some hand washing. We had lunch, looked up some places to go and the Museum Island sounded good so we had to work out how to get there. It was on the U6 line . Walked to the alte Museum which was for Greek, Roman and Etruscan art. Of course, there were dozens of stairs and then more. It was a magnificent building and the museum itself very fine with fantastic statues and amphora.
I took lots of pictures.
Then we went outside and tried to go in the church but it was closed for some kind of service. The whole area was a dirty mess but the building so huge and imposing. As it was after 5 pm we decided to find a restaurant on the way back to the hotel and stopped at an Italian place called Oase Cafe. I had a pizza and Peter had risotto. It was good, followed by the usual 2 scoops of ice cream with whipped cream dessert. Walked on back to station and caught train to Hotel U station.

SUNDAY, 6 MAY 2018.
Had breakfast in room, and then headed off for Charlottenburg Palace via Underground. We worked out the route before and it was quite easy apart from stairs. A long walk from Richard Wagner Platz. Looked fairly ordinary from outside. Front grass and dirt and paint orangey yellow. Inside it was a different matter. It was magnificent. Not fully furnished but beautiful decoration and many, many paintings. Much of it was damaged in WW2 but has been carefully restored following historical sources. The best room was a green and pink and gold ballroom.
There were fabulous collections of china and silver.
We looked at the new wing first and then the old wing. I bought a 3 euro pass for taking pictures. Wanted to do the garden but my feet were on fire. It was quite hot again so we went across the road to the Tashkent cafe and had lunch-vegetable soup and creamy spaghetti. Went back via a different route. You never know where you are when you come out of the underground because the stations have so many entrances. Had a rest at the hotel and then went out for tea. Walked to a much advertised Indian restaurant on Potsdamer Plads. We had passed it yesterday. It was huge and looked most glamorous but my chicken sabri was ordinary-all the veges in it were nearly raw and the chicken tasted underdone. Peter liked his butter chicken. There was a big salad with it. Stopped off at the Potsdamer Bahnhof and bought a couple of chocolates at the only shop open, a newsagent/postoffice and got some money from the teller machine.

MONDAY, 7 MAY 2018.
Walked to the Berlin Mall. Of course, it didn't open until 10 am. And wasn't open at all on Sunday. So much for Adelaide's so-called horror shopping hours! Sat waiting for a souvenir shop to open as we liked the look of the buddy bears we had seen around town.
Apparently they only came in after an art installation in 2001, although a bear is the symbol of Berlin. I bought a biscuit cutter of the coat of arms but the buddy bears cost a fortune, even the tiny ones, and I wasn't sure anyone would appreciate them. The guy at the hotel checkout was about as friendly as an iceblock and said, 'Have a nice day' in a MOST unfriendly way. Drove towards Lehrte but there were lots of delays because of roadworks. So many trucks. Got to the Median Hotel about 4.30 pm. The room was strange with an ensuite bathroom with bath and a separate toilet. Lots of furniture and 2 TVs, neither of which had any English stations. Had tea in the hotel dining room. They had a buffet which was 21 euro but I didn't feel I would do it justice so had fish. Peter had pork terderloins which were thick lumps of pork meat with about 10 huge white pieces of asparagus and some white potatoes. They are big on beige meals-apparently haven't heard that it has to appeal to the eye, not just the palate.
Peter seemed quite happy and ate a few of my numerous carrots and peas too. My fish was sort of fried, sort of boiled and was pink inside and I really had to control myself or I would have vomited. We went for a short walk after tea. Slept well.

TUESDAY, 8 MAY 2018.
Went down via the 10 steep steps from our room to the lift. It's like they build steps whether they need them or not. Breakfast was just OK. Had to ask for hot water, bacon was finished. Drove towards Walsrode. Took longer than we expected because of road delays and it was very busy too. Walsrode looked clean and nice. We stopped just behind main street and tried to find a small supermarket to buy some soap. I got some postcards and stamps and a cute lunchbox at a wonderful old-fashioned hardware, gift /post office shop. Found a chemist and was sold some soap which the label described as soap free, I later found. Then drove to the house of my email friend. It was near the forest and looked lovely with flowering shrubs and bulbs. We used the Miele washing machine and then the dryer with great pleasure. After a delicious lunch we set off for the well maintained and fascinating Schulschiff Deutschland
and then Bremen. The streets of the old town, Snoor, were gorgeous with many small craft shops.
We had coffee and cake at a famous cafe before walking through a newer part of the city from 1938. It was all red brick, but in art deco style with public art everywhere.
When we got home, our hostess had made a tasty lasagna. We looked at historical memorabilia before bed and were minded by handsome Carlos, the cat.

Had a nice German breakfast, said goodbye and left. It had been a wonderful experience to at last meet and spend a day with long time email correspondents, and we hope they will make it to Australia so that we can reciprocate.
It was a long drive to Vejle because the roads were very crowded. We stopped off in Schleswig Holstein at a church where we hoped to get info on Peter's G Grandfather but there was an event on and they were not friendly. Should have done more preparation in advance. Arrived in Vejle about 4.45 pm. Drove to Hanne and Eilif's and were so pleased to see them again. They had done a lot of work to the house-new cupboards in dining room, our room repainted, new blinds etc.
Had tea of boeuf and potatoes and went to bed eventually.

On Thursday at 10 am had to be at Lis's place before the family party began at noon. Had to pack a new bag to stay overnight, but it was lovely once we got there-perfect weather. The residence was a former hotel only about 300 m from Lis's house and very fine although a bit aged and run down inside. Peter and Ebbe wheeled a new BBQ to the house before midday. All together we were about 35 people, all direct descendants and partners of Peter's parents.
After a nice buffet style lunch of entrees (chicken and asparagus in pastry cases, tuna shape with shrimps, and bread and butter), meat (chicken pieces stuffed with a salmon and roast meat) and salads (broccoli and raisins and a couple of other strange mixes) and dessert icecream of a cream layer with a sweet blueberry layer underneath served with blueberries and dried raspberry, we sat around and talked and watched the children play in the lovely play yard below. We took a group photo but 3 people had left for a sporting match in Copenhagen. It was a bit drizzly so only the 4 older boys went for a walk. For tea we had bratwurst type sausages cooked by Ebbe and Eilif on the BBQ to make Danish style hot dogs with bread roll, sauce, pickles, remoulade, fresh onion and dried onion. They were tasty.

FRIDAY 11 MAY, 2018.
Next morning breakfast was at 9 am, and then most people went for a walk along the beachfront to the boat harbour where Lis and Ebbe have a lovely boat, Martha.

They said it was an old one from the 1970s so I expected an old fashioned tub but it is a very sleek craft. They have sailed places including the Baltic in it so I suppose it has to be fairly good. The weather was perfect. Thursday was a public holiday, not Friday, but many many people had taken Friday off too to make a long weekend so there were people, everywhere enjoying the sunshine. Apparently last summer they only had 5 days of sun so you can see why they would be out, walking, fixing up boats and gardening. We took lots of photos, especially of Reina the dog carrying a large stick in her mouth and hitting everyone as she went past.

After a lunch of leftovers and the cleanup we went to Birgit's place for dinner. I was very tired after all the socialising. Most people spoke English well or even perfectly but it is still very hard work communicating. For tea we had roast pork with boiled potatoes and a broccoli salad. Dessert was a rhubarb crumble. We went for a walk and had a look at the houses.

Birgit's poodle enjoyed it. We left about 9 pm as Peter didn't want to drive in the dark. It was a very nice day.

VEJLE TO STRIB Hanne drove me into town and we looked around the shops for souvenirs. She didn't understand my desire for ordinary PVC table mats and encouraged me to buy some mats made by RAW. I knew Peter wouldn’t like the shape and I didn’t like the weight. They were about $10 each, so not a bad price, but extremely heavy and plain and I wanted 10! The Danes love their designer name homeware. Peter went to help set up a hunting tower with Eilif. Visited Lis again in the afternoon for coffee and dinner later. Tea was a lovely grilled steak with new potatoes and a salad of finely sliced cabbage and pine nuts dressed with oil and lemon. It tasted delicious but then they got out rhubarb to have on the potatoes! You never know when these foreigners are going to go too far! Peter loved it. Lis and Peter talked a lot about old times and photos. It was very sad to go and know we may not see them for a long time if ever. The whole family is really lovely and I am very lucky to have them as a part of my life. We drove home to Vejle before it was too dark.

SUNDAY 13 MAY, 2018.
They usually have a big breakfast on the weekend with fresh bakery rundstykker, spandauer and brunschweiger- brown sugar on a bun base-very sweet and they eat big bits. We did some washing and later went for a drive around Vejle Fjord. We saw where Hanne and Eilif play golf and had an ice cream at a beach kiosk. I thought I should do the right thing and order in Danish so said, "Ein kugel chocolate." He said, "No worries." I laughed and said , "That sounds familiar" and he said, "I lived in Australia." He'd lived in Noosa. It was funny but there were more customers so we couldn't talk more. Hanne and I had ice creams and Eilif and Peter had hot dogs. We next drove to the harbour in Vejle and the changes were astounding. That's where the 5 slant houses are
and there has been huge development. It was very glamorous. Later I spoke to both Simon and Michael via Viber. We sat up on the roof patio in the hot sun, drank and chatted before they watched the Grand Prix which was won by Mercedes. For tea Hanne made meat balls in curry sauce. The meatballs were cooked in water. She used half pork and half veal, onions chopped up finely in a special tupperware chopper together with flour and milk to make a fairly mushy mix which was light and smooth. Watched some TV and went to bed.

MONDAY 14 MAY, 2018.
Got dressed, had breakfast and went to Bilka which was big. We bought some duna covers, the recipe book, Fester & Gaester starring Dorthe and her twins, a game and a few other bits and pieces including 2 bottles of Australian wine. Then we drove to Ernst's place in Middelfart. The hedges and all the garden had grown a huge amount. We had boiled ham, green asparagus, carrots and new potatoes with a yellowish bearnaise sauce. Dessert was custard and strawberry coulis with cut up strawberries. Merete came with baby Laura who looked very cute. Talked and then went for a drive around Middelfart. Parked, walked along mall and to harbour where there has also been huge changes. Took photos and then back for a smorgasbord tea.

Left for home about 8.30 pm. We are hoping to see them next October, 2019. We went home and chatted with Eilif and Hanne. Eilif had to drive to Copenhagen at 7 am so we decided to get up and say goodbye then.

TUESDAY 15 MAY, 2018.
Said goodbye to Hanne and Eilif. They are always so nice and make their house available as if it was our own. Went down to Vejle Mall. We were looking for some Danish T shirts for the boys. Nothing much was open. Visited the old church-plain but impressive then drove the to tourist bureau which only opened at 11 am for some reason. The girl there was nice and sold us 3 T shirts and some postcards. We then drove quite a long way to Bindeballe Købmandsgård.

It was very good-a real shop but set up like an old fashioned shop with lots of old tins and artefacts. They had a small cafe but only had sweet cakes so we headed off for Egtved where we had chips and a hot dog at a kiosk. Drove on to our destination, Sorup, and to our art hotel. When I asked if the room was upstairs she asked if I had trouble with stairs and gave us a ground floor room for the same price, looking at me most suspiciously. It was a big room called Don Quijote because of artistic decorations. It had a sink and kitchen equipment but we walked up to the local pub to eat. I had a pork schnitzel, chips and salad and Peter had a currywurst. Walked home looking at some really lovely houses.

Got up early because of the annoying bright light thru the bedroom door and soreness because of the hard bed. Had a shower, dropping soap etc because there was nowhere to put anything yet again, not to mention the floor was very slippery and the shower head congealed with salt so that water squirted everywhere! Had breakfast in the front room with all the art and books. Quite a nice spread and only
one other couple. Left about 9.30 am for Leer via highways. Walked around town. Not that old but some very attractive buildings. A bit run down and reminded me very much of Folkestone. Amazingly, inside the reception desk, the hotel had a model of the ship Pamir,

one of the wheat ships that came to South Australia. Looked for a place to have tea as we were hungry. Decided the one near the hotel on water front would be OK and it was good. Peter had spaghetti and I had lasagna. Icecream for dessert-3 kugel with whipped cream. Asked for chocolate, erdbaer and walnuss. She was very busy but brought me choc and 2 walnuss so I asked her to replace one walnuss with one strawberry. She was not pleased but did it & it was delicious with whipped cream. Back to hotel via town square and fountain/monument which seems to put out water down the road for about a block. Bed hard but room lovely with a view of the River Leda and boats from front windows. Weather cold and drizzly.

THURSDAY 17 MAY, 2018.
Woke up early after finally getting up and taping a brochure over the amazingly strong green light of the air conditioner which was right in my line of sight and lit up the whole room. Had breakfast downstairs and agreed that it was the best hotel in terms of comfort. The bathroom had a bench for toiletries bags plus a shelf below, where the hairdryer was stored. There were a couple of hooks and some railings on which to hang damp towels and the shower was easy to get in and out of. There was a cupboard where Peter could put his suitcase but the box at the end of the bed was a waste of space because you don't really put your suitcase at the end of the bed up high like that. View was excellent and breakfast good although I would have liked fresh fruit rather than some dubious fruit salad combo.

Made good progress into Holland and were praising the Dutch until we came to a newly built freeway which alternated between being A7 and A6 and completely stymied the GPS and us. Peter said, "Didn't we pass that sign for St Nicolai before?" and I laughed because you seem to pass the signs to towns so many times, but this UIT (exit) had a truck broken down just off the freeway so it was indeed the same road. We had travelled in a huge circle and then recognised a dairy factory which had fake cows standing out the front. After that we put in towns along the way on the GPS and that worked but we were running late. We crossed a number of dykes-no fuss but big concrete buildings beside the road.

Then we couldn't find a service station with a knife and fork sign. We later decided that they only have a knife and fork if they have a sit down restaurant, but most sell sandwiches etc so we finally got a sandwich about 2 pm. When we got to Lisse the roads were very narrow and we were worried about parking but came to the hotel car park around the back by accident. The room was up two steep flights of stairs but near the mall. It was too late to go out to the tulip castle so we had a rest and walked around town. There weren't any souvenirs and not even postcards anywhere but it was obvious they must have huge numbers of tourists because there were about 10 restaurants with dozens of tables and chairs empty out the front. The wind was biting cold but the sun was still coming out patchily. We rested until 7.30 pm and then went to the Hungry Dragon Restaurant around the corner and had Indonesian type Chinese food. It was very ritzy in decor but we were right down the back by ourselves. The service was slow and food just OK.

FRIDAY 18 MAY, 2018.
Pleased to get out of the 2 storey room-it had a big wooden floor and felt cold and gritty. The bathroom was cramped and cold too. First called at Castle Keukenhof on the outskirts of Lisse.
The tulip season was just over but you couldn't see any flowers at all. I presumed there would be some tulips still, but it seems that on a given date they just chop the heads off all of them everywhere and they are gone. The gardens were free but you couldn't go inside the palace. Walked about, took photos of plants and lovely farm animals.
Left town and headed along freeway to Vlissingen. You could see all the flower fields where the flowers had been stripped. Arrived about midday and went to the hotel. Girl at reception friendly and interested in Peter's origins. I told her we were looking into family history and she recommended the archives in Middelburg so we drove straight back there about 5 kms away because it was Friday and, of course, a long weekend. We had to fill in a detailed form and they wouldn't accept drivers' licences as identification. Luckily Peter still had our passports on him. They let us into the collection but we didn't know what to do.

A nice man showed us how to get the info from the computers but I already had that. Sadly, because of various wars, mainly the Napoleonic, records for 1820 to 1829 were not available. We looked at a few books about Vlissingen they had and then left. Our helper suggested the family were probably members of the English church in Vlissingen. He was very kind and I think eventually understood that what I really wanted was the social history of the time-he just didn't have it. After the archives, we drove back to town then went to the maritime museum which was very modern, over several floors and rather complicated. It had excellent artefacts from sunken ships and much to say about a famous sailor born in Vlissingen called de Ruyter. We also got an armband to go somewhere across the road. It turned out to be fantastic casement fortification based on something from 1500s but mainly constructed by French soldiers under Napoleon, who visited there 3 times.

  Apparently the British bombed the town to pieces and the French withdrew in 1814 leaving a wreck behind them. Because it was a fortress and army town the Dutch army then moved in and the rebuilding began. They needed all sorts of trades especially bakers to feed the soldiers. Hence, Thomas Tapley, a baker in Folestone, Kent, England, could easily have come here to ply his trade and better himself. I always imagined him as a baker with a shop, but there's nothing to say he didn't bake for the army, and I wonder if there are any records to say so. The fascinating thing is that in the display within the casement fortifications a whole room is devoted to the story of the baking of bread and one of the ovens has been restored. A film on the wall narrated by a French rat told the story of the bakers and said that many sold the army bread to the hungry citizens. We went for a walk along the sea front and bought some chips and a spring roll as we were cold and a bit hungry, although the big breakfasts make you unhungry for most of the day. Had a shared pizza and tartuffo for tea at an Italian restaurant and it was very good. Mine host was cheerful and efficient but just a little paranoid from the way he was laying out the cutlery. Walked back along Walstraat, the mall street, and found where the Tapleys had lived in the street

if not actual living quarters. Saw lots of nice shops and the library. All talk of royal wedding on TV.

SATURDAY 19 MAY, 2018.
Had breakfast downstairs. Well managed but busy. Went for a long walk to the library where they had a local book selection, but nothing useful to us.

Walked back along the battlements and called at the museum and asked about the casements. I gave the man behind the desk my email and he said he will get a casement expert to contact me. Went back to our hotel room to watch the royal wedding. I thought the dress was too white, very much like Princess Mary's and the number of page boys and girls quite silly. The little dresses were equally uninspiring-looked like they were made from white bed sheets. We have this problem where we have a big breakfast, can't eat an early lunch and meal times are upset. Went out for another walk to see the English church and windmill. Church was old but plain inside with an unusual green ceiling. There were some old tombstones from 1600s. After that we walked to the windmill. Had to go up a high dike and looked out over the sea. There were lots of monuments to WW2 fighting.
Populations went from 23,000 to 3000 during occupation by Germans 1940-1945. Lots of the town destroyed by bombing. Decided that the local Greek restaurant offered a better choice of food for tea but when we went back later it was packed out so had to find somewhere else. Went back to a restaurant just along from our hotel. It looked pleasant inside. I ordered mixed grill and Peter had ribs. The mixed grill consisted of 3 hunks of meat about 4 cms thick-pork, chicken, beef, so mixed. I had asked for it to be very well done so it was also quite dry. No sauce or gravy, just some mayonnaise and sauce in containers and chips. Peter's ribs were tastier but awkward to handle. They don't seem to eat vegetables.

SUNDAY 20 MAY, 2018.
Had breakfast downstairs. Hotel nearly full. Drove around town a little more to get a bit of overview, along the beach front and then headed out to Bruges. Arrived about midday and parked in front of the hotel nervously as we had just driven through a sea of people down every street. You could hardly move for people on the roads together with horse carriages, cars and bikes but things seemed to get through eventually. Had to park car elsewhere but couldn't get into room until 3 pm as they were booked out the previous night. The car park was as terrifying as usual-such a narrow entrance and a very difficult entry angle but Peter did it well again. We changed into something cooler and went out to the nearby square which was full of people and packed restaurants.

It looked gorgeous and everything was busy. Eventually stopped to eat at a cafe-croque monsieur and a bowl of vegetable soup shared–quite good. Walked around looking at souvenirs and then back to hotel where we had a rest. There was a bell tower opposite the hotel and it was swarming with tourists. Went out again for tea. The cafe we had chosen was booked out again so we ended up going to an Irish pub. I had stew and Peter had cottage pie-so so. Walked around quite a bit to see where canal boats went from and to have a look at various towers.

MONDAY 21 MAY, 2018.
Pinser holiday in Bruges. Had a minimal breakfast in room. Walked to canal cruises and went on that. Saw lots.
Couldn't hear much of what he said. I was feeling hungry so we went back to main square and to a cafe. Had a lasagna between us and watched a huge number of blue and black football supporters gathering for some grand final celebration. Looked like they were waiting for a player cavalcade along the road which was fenced off. The waiter asked for a tip and Peter said no as it had cost about $50 for a beer, a tea, a lasagna and a small salad. Went back to the room, checking out souvenir shops as we went. Eventually we dragged ourselves out again about 4.30 pm and walked around the square,
listened to the music and watched what was happening. Got a McDonalds for tea. We tried to order on the machine and it was impossible. There was also a mix up about meals and non meals. Went upstairs to eat and it was quite nice. Stopped at a waffle bar on way back to hotel. Last customer for day. The waffle came with a pile of strawberries and cream. Offered free chocolate so I said a little bit. He said it is what makes all the difference, but the choc they use is very bitter and strong, in my opinion. Took it back to room and ate it. We also checked out the state of the square. The cleaners were in full action but it would take a while. Forgot to mention about the blue open pissoirs in square. 4 corners in centre with a high bowl. Men just stand there and use it in full view. There were other portable toilets too.

TUESDAY 22 MAY, 2018.
Had breakfast in room using biscuits we'd bought from the small supermarket in the square-dried out petit pain. They would have been OK if the original petit pain weren't so sweet. Took everything down to basement and then paid the huge fee for parking and tourism tax. Stopped at a service station and cleaned up the floors which weren't dirty really-just a bit of grit and stones etc. The guy when we got the car said we would have to get it vacuumed but we decided it was OK. Had trouble with the toilet machine in the service station as usual. It said '70 Cents, No Change' in big writing. As usual we didn't have 2x70 cents so Peter asked at the food counter and the woman said the machine DID give change so we tried it and it did! When we were coming out a line of people were standing looking and a lady said 'No change.' I said, 'It does give change. We've just done it' She looked like she was about to take a risk with her life but finally tried and it gave change.
I actually had my pen out and was going to put a line through the NO in NO CHANGE but there were too many people watching. Arrived OK via GPS in Brussels but you had to have your wits about you. There was good parking in front of the hotel and no one seemed too worried about anything. We unpacked the car and then drove out to the airport where the directions made it quite clear where to go for once. As soon as we arrived a worker got in the car, tried the engine and examined the exterior, we walked over to the Europcar office and filled in a couple of forms and that was that. We asked where the train station was and of course it was 'just over there.' We asked how far and about 5 mins walk. We had to go into the airport and downstairs. We were struggling with a machine when a nice girl said to buy it from her colleagues in the office as it was much easier. She was right-platform 2 in 7 minutes, train to Gent, stopping 3 stations including Grand Central. It was 9 euros each which was a high price for a very short trip. Went out for some lunch in the area near the hotel. Had a croque monsieur and that was fine. Walked through a fabulous shopping mall
and around restaurants looking for tea places. Thousands of restaurants and many souvenir shops. The cobbles everywhere were uneven, patched, and most of the sand between cobbles had been washed away and filled with rubbish and cigarette butts. Went to the beautiful town square with medieval buildings all decorated in gold.
Cobbles even worse-so bumpy and uneven and irregular. Took lots of photos. Back to hotel and then out for tea later to the Shanghai restaurant. Talked to an Indian lady travel agent and her sulky daughter. She did not ask one question about us-we are getting used to people pouring out their stories and not enquiring. You'd think the slightest degree of good manners would suggest that they should ask one or two questions. The food at the Shangai was tasty and it was interesting watching the people. Took the long way home and looked at all the shops.

Had breakfast of petit pain again. Caught the train to the European Parliament. I bought the tickets in French. I asked for return but she didn't understand but then said both ways and I said yes. The train was fast-only 2 stops to Malbaek from Grand Central. A fellow traveller showed us how to validate the tickets before we got on the train. At Malbaek we emerged from the Metro but didn't know where we were in relation to the map. Peter asked a number of people at the bus stop where the European Parliament was, and none of them knew. Finally a young man pointed us in the right direction. Once we got closer there were actually road signs to the parliament-perhaps one at the closest train station (all exits) would have been good. It was a huge number of glass buildings. We went to the hemisphere first. You had to get an audio guide and could go to the 4th floor only. It was the empty Euro parliament room-looked quite good but I expected some kind of show and there was nothing-mainly people taking endless selfies.
Went to the info centre and then to the Parliamentarium which was a huge museum, all dark. You had to slide your audioguide against the icons to hear the commentary. It was painful-so detailed with hundreds of pictures and displays. There were 2 basements of these huge wordy displays and people stood around reading all of them conscientiously, especially Peter. Then there was yet another display about propaganda and the Nazis. It was all in English and quite good and it did make me think about the power of Facebook. It was hard to know where to go and what to do. Directions were not clearly given and they tried too hard to be cool without too many signs. There were lots of stairs but also good lifts. It was free. When we finished we walked back to Malbaek station but our tickets were not return so we couldn’t get through the quite high glass barriers. We had been charged for return but they were one way. We couldn't buy another ticket because you needed some kind of transport card to operate the ticket machine and you couldn’t get a ticket any other way. We asked a young man but he had never used the machines either. Finally we decided to walk back to the hotel but it was hard because we didn't clearly know where we were and the streets are badly marked.
Peter was trying to save my aching feet. The double street names in Dutch and French didn't help. Sometimes the streets had abbreviated names too-one was Loi and Wet-the street was actually Rue de Loi. It was a long and weary walk past many beautiful buildingsbut my feet were burning
hot. It was steamy weather, sprinkling with rain so we were taking our coats on and off. Tempers were stretched to the limit. Eventually we stopped for lunch at quite a nice French cafe. It was then about another 10 mins before we saw the wonderful gables of home. So much roadworks going on, the roads so uneven and bumpy and so gouged out between the bricks they are incredibly dangerous. When asked about the future of Europe at the parliamentarium I said they should ban smoking and clean up their rubbish. Everywhere there are so many plastic bags and so much disposeable rubbish-they need to think about doing things in a less rubbish-producing way. The cobbles in Brussels are the worst we have seen anywhere. There were lots missing in Lisbon, but here they are patched and uneven, bitumenised in places or held with cement and just gouged out and up and down all over the place. There seems to be some ban on traffic in the city centre but I don't know what it is. We saw soldiers with guns in the park and outside somewhere in the Rue de Loi. Had a long rest and then went out for tea.
We debated taking our rain coats as it was still warm but decided yes. As soon as we got outside it started raining and soon it was absolutely pelting down and there was thunder and lightning. All the tourists were huddled in doorways and under umbrellas. We were at a restaurant that was pretty full but eventually we decided to try it. A Japanese lady invited us to sit with her so we did. She didn't speak much English but was very kind. Her husband had died 5 years ago. She was going to Antwerp tomorrow and staying at a hotel a long way away to walk back to in the rain. She asked the waiters for her bill but they took forever because they were so busy. She gave me a packet of Japanese snacks, pea flavoured and they tasted good. We had a soup, pumpkin, lamb chopsvand a waffle dessert between us and that worked quite well. We walked around a bit more and ended up back in the Grand Place again-it is unbelievably lovely except for the terrible cobblestones which are dangerous.

THURSDAY 24 MAY, 2018.
Got ready and went for a walk to find Manneken Pis. It wasn't far but not easy to find until we reached some signs pointing the way. It is only a small statue which is more than can be said for all the souvenirs depicting it. Continued walking around the central area to look at other landmarks. Noted the double street names-French and Dutch-not always the same or even similar. Walked around shops, tried on a T shirt at a Damart shop-think it might have been the same Damart as in Australia. Had lunch at the same place as the first day-frites and salade and 2 orange juices which were much better than in Germany or Holland-fresh. Back to hotel and rested. Room hadn't been cleaned because girl was so busy-she did our bathroom and we said we'd do the rest. Afternoon was pleasant and warm and then as it got to evening, dark clouds came in and there was thunder and rain again just like the previous night. Some of the T shirts talk about rain in Brussels, so it must be a regular occurrence. For tea we went back to this restaurant nearby that we had passed before. The guy out the front remembered us the second time when we said "not tonight maybe tomorrow" and said we had disappointed him so on the 3rd night we went back. When we got to the door he was there and said "It is closed." The other guys were desperate for us to go in and they were all shouting at one another. There was only one other customer in the whole restaurant and they knew if people come in and sit near the window it often attracts customers-people don't want to be where there's no one else. We got free wine, awful, and then ordered from the 12.50 euro menu, much to their disappointment. Peter ordered spag bol and I ordered fish (grilled apparently) I thought that might be all right but it tasted like old shoe. Gradually more people appeared. The customer who was there first looked lonely and spoke to us as he left. He was from Boston and asked if we were from England. We talked about Europe and Boston and he started giving us advice but was very nice-over 65 and cheap train travel after 9 am. Meanwhile our friend was pacing up and down outside, talking on his mobile and looking a bit dangerous. A whole small tour party came in and everyone perked up. We had a waffle for dessert. I'm over waffles. It was all quite entertaining really. When we left the front guy came up and apologised for not recognising us at first. Said he was having a fight with his colleagues. We said that was OK. It must be a hell of a job being out front trying to attract customers all the time and there were not many around on Thursday. Had another look at the square, and shopping mall
bought a pair of pepper and salt shakers and back to room. Lots of people in hotel square making a racket until late. Slept OK as we turned cooling up.

Woke up about 6.30 am. Had breakfast in room, sorted luggage out, left some stuff behind for cleaner, a nice French speaking girl, and went downstairs at 10.15 am. The taxi driver was already there in a huge Mercedes van and drove us without a word to the airport to a dingy entrance somewhere at the back for 54 euros. The airport was extremely ugly with only a very few seats to sit while waiting to check in. We read for quite a while then checked in luggage without difficulty. After lunch we checked in ourselves and went to the departure gate and read some more. The departure was quite early and the flight almost empty but we got held up about 40 mins because of the volume of air traffic at Brussels. The flight was uneventful because there were so few people. I watched "Ladybird" the movie then started on the series "Designated Survivor." It was very American but quite entertaining. We arrived about 10 mins after midnight Dubai time, got out of plane onto a steep ladder and onto a bus that took forever winding all over the whole airport for about a quarter of an hour. Then we had to go thru customs. It was a slow queue at the taxis. Taxi driver didn't say a word as usual but got us there efficiently. Reception girl was very nice despite late hour. Had a cup of tea and a bath and went to bed.

SATURDAY 26 MAY, 2018.
Woke up finally with alarm at 9 am. Had breakfast on first floor. Not up to German standard. After breakfast went for a walk across the street past the museum and found the Dubai Creek not far away. Hired a small boat for 120 dirham - just ourselves and that seemed fair for about an hour.
It was hot but some breeze. The 'captain' hardly spoke any English and spent most of the time on his mobile phone while steering with his feet. On return went for a walk in tourist shopping malls-colourful but nothing was priced-you had to haggle for everything. I bought an umbrella for 30 dirham and a camel for 40 dirham and Peter bought a headscarf and rope to hold it on after negotiating with a young man for 60 dirham. The guy was swearing at us in Arabic.
Had lunch at Sherlock Holmes cafe back at hotel. Listened to a couple at next table. He was just like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman"-talked just the same and didn't stop. After lunch went for a walk to shops again. Quite a lot of the stalls were now shut but many open and still selling pashminas. I went back to a necklace shop to try to get a lapis lazuli necklace but they start everything at 400 dirhams and I couldn’t be bothered.
Left hotel room by 7.45 pm as we had to be out by 8 pm. Had tea at Sherlock Holmes again and then got hotel car at 9.40 for the airport. We had a bit of a look at the shops and then worked our way thru all the security and to the loading gate.
It was a long way but there were still restaurants around. I got a cup of tea and a Danish from a McCafe. Time was moving on so Peter went to the toilet and when he got back, I went to the one further down down. It was a long queue and people were taking forever. Suddenly, when I was next, 2 Gypsy type women came in and stood in front of me. One was quite old and I think the other was her daughter. They tried all the toilets and knocked on the door where the cleaners were as it was taking so long. Meantime the cleaners came out of their cubicle and started shouting at the 2 women who had pushed in. They indicated I should go next and really told these women off. I was as fast as possible but back at the gate almost everyone except Peter had gone. It is a silent airport and I wasn’t wearing my watch but we were not meant to be boarding by that time. We quickly went thru but everyone was just collected in another lounge downstairs being security checked once again-not on the plane. The trip was OK. Our seats were the same as last trip. Not all seats were full. Food was very average and all desserts were wobbly. I decided to watch more of "Designated Survivor." I tried to sleep but couldn't , drowsed off quite a lot but managed to get through to nearly the end of Episode 20 of the first season. I was still trying to watch it as we landed in Adelaide. Took a while to get through customs. The same officious security man was there shouting at passengers in luggage pickup. He is a menace and should be fired. What a first impression of the place. I had written the immigration cards in dark purple ink so had to go over them in black as the scanner wouldn't be able to read them. I said my scanner had no trouble with coloured ink but no one answered so I thought I'd better shut up. We called Michael and he was there to meet us. It was lovely to be home, as usual.

Holiday 2008 Beijing, Europe, Delhi
Holiday 2010 H. Kong, Germany, Dk, USA
Holiday 2012 England, IOM, Ireland, Denmark
Holiday 2013 USA, Canada
Holiday 2015 Scandinavia
Holiday 2016 New Zealand
Holiday 2017 Spain, Portugal, France, Andorra
Holiday 2018 Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, Holland
Holiday 2019 USA