The Netherlands   -    Donau boat ride    -     Passau      -     Prague

10 September.
We arrived in The Netherland during a heatwave. 27degrees. Our hosts Cees and Cyntha van Bossum had to go to a party but their daughter let us in. We had a perfect place to stay for a few days. Just across the central railway station across the Ij river. There is a free shuttle boat and another five minute walk to their apartment which overlooks the harbour.
To see Amsterdam a lot of walking is involved. I just wanted to taste the atmosphere which I find fascinating despite all the tourists like us. Spend a few hours in the Rijksmuseum, ate a few kroketten and saw a lot of canals. Cees acted as a guide for the afternoon. The second day apart from walking around we took a canal boat tour. After dinner a drink in the Eye, which is a striking cinema arts complex on the shore. Because it was still warm a was possible to sit outside which is a rarity this time of year and day.
13 September and the train to Zwolle where Marian picked us up. We have a relaxing few days here before we leave the Netherlands. One big party. Han Steenkamer's 80th birthday. This was the last change for us to catch up with the family. The last two days we just pottered around the garden.
                             Amsterdam                                                                                Martien and Susan

17 September. We had to get out of bed at 4AM and we were on the road at 4.45 AM Being a Saturday not much traffic and it was still dark. Marian drove us to the pickup in Utrecht and from there with the bus towards Passau. One overnight stop. The weather deteriorated and it poured from time to time. Dinner and breakfast in Engelhartzsell. Next morning a nice breakfast and lousy weather. It rained all day but we arrived in Passau at lunch time but it is no fun walking in the rain especially when you see al those fascinating sites and they don't turn out to well on the photo. During dinner we sailed off through the first of many locks, but stopped after a short time to unload about a hundred pushbikes. There is a large contingency of vey loud Americans on the boat for a boat, bike  holiday. No complaints about the dinner.

     Dutch registered cruise ship My Story in Bratislava                                        Parliament building Budapest
18 Sept.  Next day the weather has not improved but we did not need good weather to visit the trapist brewery and distillery. We did not see the business end of this but the plain looking church on the outside was magnificent on the inside. In the end we did end up with a little bottle of liquor. The Donau flows very fast and we have to go through a lot of locks. 
20 Sept. First we visited where the Iron Curtain once was in Devin. After this to Bratislava and the capital city of Czechoslovakia. We had a tour through the city and some free time to walk through the old part. 9PM on the way to Budapest. They just finished the European Union conference and the city had been spruced up for the occasion. We did a city tour with a very enthusiastic German speaking tour guide. Surprisingly we can follow a large proportion of it. When we woke up the next day we just arrived in Budapest. The weather had cleared up the last few days even though the temperature was still around 18 degrees. We did two tours in Budapest one a city tour and one a folkloric dance show. After the city tour we explored by ourselves. All public transport for over 65s is free and we passed that test. I was a bit apprehensive in case we could not find our way back but after taking a few trams and underground it was easy. Now we could explore the sights in a bit more detail.  The night show was OK the free wine and schnapps even better.  23 Sept. Next morning we woke up in Vak. The reason we stopped here is that they drop off the bikers and they can bike the 45 KM to Esztergom.     23 Sept. Next day we were supposed to be arriving in Vienna. But because of technical trouble we did not make it. We had to drive by bus for more than an hour to Vienna to visit the sights but the worst was that Susan had booked the concert at night but this got cancelled. We had a bit more time in Vienna and the ship will hopefully be repaired tonight.  Vienna has a lot of very impressive buildings. Nearly the whole centre of town are massive buildings from hundred of years ago with the occasional modern building which replaced a bombed one during WW 2.     24 Sept.  The ship repaired and we are on the way again with about 5Hrs. delay. Apart from majestic buildings there are statues to remind us of the plague which happened around 1740 in Austria and Hungary. The places we stopped were cut short because of the technical trouble.
           Statue to remind us of the plague                             Popular tourist sign                      A castle along the Danube

25 Sept. Last day on board and woke up with a heavy fog. Paid the bill packed our ports and waited for three hours for the ship to dock. We are running about two hours behind time.  The trip was very successful despite the first days bad weather. The rest of the days were perfect. After we disembarked we drove with a taxi to the air B&B. This turned out to be in an old monastery. Four flights up, one room for ourselves which normally is the lounge of the host and shared facilities. The host is a priest. We walked to an old castle on top of a hill and all around town from 11AM to 6PM and were exhausted. Same thing again the next day only the monastery was on the other side of town. Time to pack up again. The taxi was exactly on time and a three our drive to Prague. The first impression of the hostel was not very favourable but the room on the fourth floor is fairly large and most importantly there is a lift. There are shops all around us and we don't have to walk far to have a meal. There is even a view over part of Prague. The last day in Passau we both caught the flu. The suitcases felt if someone put in en extra 10 KG. Four days later and and went in to town only once. After a lot of medication the fever and coughing is not getting any better. We just rang a doctor, they don't come cheap here $380. As it turned out this was only an estimate and for one person. The total bill was including medications $800. Day four all we did was sleep.

Old town hall with famous clock        Charles bridge with Prague cathedral in background                        Statue in front of Prague cathedral

2 October. We were fit enough to walk in to town and back again. Stopped on the way back in a large shopping centre where we has a Mongolese lunch. 3 October and the only must see item is the Prague cathedral and castle all in the one big fortification. The weather forecast was rain in the afternoon but it started to rain as soon as we got there. And as everywhere a million tourists. We still walked around for four hours. Another item to see was the Jewish quarters and museum. When we got there the museum was closed. We had a last look at the old Prague on the way home and will be on the plane 4 October and home the 6th. A quick update while we are at the airport. The taxi picked us up exactly on time. The weather is lousy, raining and cold. It was quiet at the airport. After some hassles with our electronic return visa we went through security check and a seven hour wait.  Good internet connection and everything is up to date again. We are still coughing but it is slowly getting better. All in all a very worthwhile experience although at times a exhausting one.