The quirky old Court House now Visitor Information Centre at Yarram

We headed from Traralgon to Yarram via the Hyland Highway connecting to the South Gippsland Highway then through Yarram and Alberton heading off the highway to the little seaside village of Port Albert. The road to Yarram is a combination of farmland, forest and plantation with lots of corners and a nice road. The closer to the coast you get the straighter the road gets.

Port Albert

Our return home was again through Alberton to Yarram where we struck out to Devon Meadows and onto Balook via the Tarra Valley Road where we experienced a magnificent example of the micro climate of a Temperate Rainforest which was very welcome since the temperature was 35 degrees centigrade. The road was very narrow (single lane at best for a lot of it) with many corners both exceptionally tight and less so but that was an advantage as the view was so spectacular to rush through it would have been somehow disrespectful. The massive tree ferns and many smaller varieties with rainforest trees and shrubs and mosses made a spectacular backdrop to the valleys and stream views we glimpsed and were immersed in along the way, just beautiful! NB: Very few advisory speed signs on corners and road needs to be respected.

One of the beautiful Tarra Valley walks

Once we climbed out of the valley we turned on to the Grand Ridge Road where the devastation of the Black Saturday fires was very evident. The last time we rode up here was soon after the roads had been re-opened when we rode slowly up to pay our respects to the magnificent surroundings we had ridden through many times and figured we would never see again in our lifetimes. That day the Grand Ridge Road ride was through an avenue of blackened tree trunks and bare black ground with huge black streamers of bark blowing in the wind. Today the vista was one of white and grey trunks looking like skeletons standing sentinel. It was good to see the amount of recovery evident, but also heart breaking to see how little.

Thankfully the Bulga National park (again temperate rainforest) was spared from the fire and is still there as also some of the bush in the vicinity, but most of the country we travelled in through on the Traralgon to Balook Road had been devastated and that was a combination of recovery and devastation. Very sad.

Recovery of the bush overseen by eucalypt skeletons on the Grand Ridge Road near Balook

The road surface on this stretch has deteriorated greatly being a combination of road surface cooked by fire and increased logging activity to salvage burnt timber. In spite of this it is a nice ride down to the valley floor with lots of corners to enjoy and good advisory signs re speeds on corners and some great views down to the valley floor without the trees to obscure the views. It was pretty hazy today so didn’t allow for a spectacular photo and I didn’t have the heart to photograph the damaged hillsides.

Tips to remember:

The Hyland Highway has many milk tankers and logging trucks as well as cars and boats on their way to and from favourite fishing spots so make sure you (all of your body) sticks to your own side of the road.

Services available:

Traralgon – 160kms east of Melbourne on the Princes Freeway
Fuel: Multiple choices including Premium Unleaded and 24 hr.
Accommodation: Multiple Hotel, Motel, Serviced Apartment, B&B and Caravan Park options
Food: Multiple choices from small cafes to bistro’s bars and fine restaurants
General Store / Supermarket: Multiple choices from small to large
Motorbike shop: Parts and service BH

Loy Yang – Locality only / Power Station – no services

Gormandale – Small settlement
Food: Small General Store – Hot pies, coffee & cold drinks available
General Store / Supermarket: Small

Won Wron –Locality only, no services

– Medium sized town
Fuel: Including Premium Unleaded BH
Accommodation: Hotel, Motel, B &B and Caravan Park options
Food: Hotel, bakery and café options
General Store / Supermarket: Good sized supermarket
Motorbike shop: Parts and service BH

Alberton – Small settlement
Fuel: Usually available – BH (currently being refurbished..…supposed to be re-opened by Christmas but not yet)
Accommodation: Basic hotel
Food: Hotel
General Store / Supermarket Small
Boat sales and service: Very neat and professional operation

Port Albert – Small settlement
Fuel: Available – BH
Accommodation: Basic hotel, motel holiday B & B & caravan parks
Food: Hotel, café, seafood restaurant and take-away fish and chips (yum)
General Store / Supermarket Small

Devon Meadows – Locality only – no services

Balook – Small settlement and National Park (Bulga Park)
Accommodation: Guest house and Caravan Park
Food: Cafe

Traralgon South – Small settlement
Fuel: Available – BH
General Store / Supermarket: Small

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No promises but I hope to transfer our 2009 Darwin bike ride over to the blog during January and if I ever get registered again with wikispaces will do likewise with the 2010 UK odyssey and will let you know when it's done.

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The first glimpse of the Great Dividing Range as we head along the Licola Road

We enjoy the run up to Licola with Norm having carted logs out of Breakfast Creek, Hickeys Creek and Seaton log dumps many years ago. The terrain from Glenmaggie up becomes increasingly rugged and rocky with central Australian red rock terrain and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Flinders Ranges or further into Central Australia. We saw wonderful soaring eagles this trip which is a pretty common sight. The temperatures are generally warmer in the winter months though it is a mountain area so weather can change quickly especially further north than Licola.

A view from near the top of CRB (or so the hill was known by log truck drivers some 35 years ago) down across one of the many valleys on the Macalister River

Traralgon to the Seaton turn off just before Cowwarr runs through dairy, beef, wheat and sheep country and is largely flat to gently undulating. Once you turn off onto the Seaton Road you start heading for the hills and by the time you start moving through the Lake Glenmaggie area the road changes to an exercise of climbing up and down the mountains with multiple corners from really tight to big sweeping corners and everything in between all the way to Licola and beyond. Beautiful riding and the views down into the valleys of the Macalister River are awesome.

The ride back into Heyfield was enjoyable also and it was great to see so much water in Lake Glenmaggie.

The bridge at Lake Glenmaggie – good to see the water levels so high, there has only been a river under it for many years until the last year or so

From Heyfield back through Rosedale again passes through dairy and beef country and the roads are generally flat and straight then you encounter a bit more interesting terrain and bush and farmland as you head in and through Gormandale and then some native and pine forests amongst the farmland as you head back to Traralgon literally through the Loy Yang Power Station (an impressive view ) and home. (This area is an enjoyable afternoon coffee run to clear the cobwebs for us to and from Rosedale.)

A view from the lookout over the Open Cut to the Loy Yang Power Station....and a couple of good looking bikes of course!

Tips to remember for the Licola road:

One of the advantages of the commercial traffic is that the road surface is maintained pretty well and Advisory signs are pretty good.

The road is used by BIG log trucks for the majority of the year so you seriously need to plan to not just have your wheels on your side of the white line but you whole body as well.

The roads are reasonably narrow with little or no shoulder before it drops away to the valley floor and often where there is a shoulder it is likely covered in round pebbly gravel so not somewhere you want to end up.

A glimpse of one of the wider corners descending down towards the bottom of CRB. Good to see so much prolific growth after fires and flooding a few years ago when there was huge degradation of the soil

Given the rocky terrain rock falls are not uncommon though the most common areas are well signed.

If there have been heavy rains you will likely encounter washes of pebbly gravel across the road so cause for caution also.

Wouldn’t recommend night time riding in the area as there are many wombats, wallabies and kangaroos and often quite visible in surrounding paddocks from late afternoon on. Cattle grazing in the area are predominantly black and given there have been fires and floods in the area of recent times fences may not necessarily be as secure as they should be so another potential scary night time hazard if wandering.

The Licola General Store

Services available:

Traralgon – 160kms east of Melbourne on the Princes Freeway
Fuel: Multiple choices including Premium Unleaded and 24 hr
Accommodation: Multiple Hotel, Motel, Serviced Apartment, B&B and Caravan Park options
Food: Multiple choices from small cafes to bistro’s bars and fine restaurants
General Store / Supermarket: Multiple choices from small to large
Bike Shop: Service & parts - BH

Glengarry – Small town
Food: Hotel and cafe
General Store / Supermarket: Small

Toongabbie – Small settlement
Fuel: Available – BH
Foods: General store / Cafe
General Store / Supermarket Small

Cowwarr – Small settlement (turn off onto the Seaton Road before the town)
Fuel: Available - BH
Food: Café and Gallery / Art space / Restaurant (Old Butter Factory)and Hotel including fine dining
General Store / Supermarket Small

Seaton – Locality only – no services

– Small settlement
Fuel: Available – BH
Accommodation: Caravan Park and Camping sites
Food: Small General Store – Hot pies, coffee & cold drinks available
General Store / Supermarket: Small

Lake Glenmaggie – Locality only – no services
Accommodation: Caravan Park

Heyfield – Small town
Fuel: Available – BH
Accommodation: Limited Hotel Motel and Caravan Park
Food: Hotel, Café and Bakery
General Store / Supermarket Small
Bike Shop: Service & parts - BH

Rosedale – Small town
Fuel: Available - BH
Accommodation: Basic Hotel and Motel
Food: Hotel, Café and Bakery
General Store / Supermarket: Small

Hiamdale – Locality only – no services

Gormandale – Small settlement
Food: Small General Store – Hot pies, coffee & cold drinks available
General Store / Supermarket: Small

Loy Yang – Locality only / Power Station – no services

Enjoy the ride!

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We had a ball on our trip and the more we do the more we refine what works for us.

Toll devices for the bikes
– Last trip in France we found a huge variation of operation at toll booths. Some were cash only, some were card only and some you took a ticket at the start of the journey to pay at the other end and some you didn’t. All of that is difficult to manage with big bulky bike gloves…especially in the rain or for that matter excessively hot weather when bike gear is acting like a sauna. We were surprised also that only a small number have drive / ride through lanes so traffic is slowed down incredibly.

To cut a long story short we decided we were going to get rid of that stress factor this time around and figured there had to be some sort of toll device that we could access only to find that the only universal all European toll devices are those used in Trucks and we didn’t want to pay that sort of fee. I finally found a German based company who provide toll devices for all countries in Europe which we ordered and used in France and Spain and they worked a treat. I purchased arm pouches from a NSW company who have weatherproof bike tag holders and we were set. The only down side to all this was that the instructions we received with the tags while comprehensive were confusing and we hardly saw any booths that looked like the photos provided, but in spite of all that it was a lot less stressful than having to have the right cash at the right time and having to dig around to find it! The company is TollTickets and you can find them on the net at:


GPS – Last year we only had one GPS unit on Norm’s bike which is what we used in Australia and I transferred it to my bike at home here if I was going somewhere new by myself. It worked well most of the time in the UK last year but was a stress if we got separated in traffic or at roundabouts when I sometimes wasn’t sure just which exit he had taken. This time I had my own GPS unit and it was a LOT less stressful so would recommend that to any people travelling together also as you can keep an eye on what exits and count up and even if you end up somewhere unexpected can still get back on track. We use Garmin ZUMO 550’s.

GPS – also a good speed readout at eye level instead of having to look down to the fuel tank at the speedo on the bike

‘Australians on tour’ sign – We had a sign (in French) on the back of my bike this year appealing for some good will and leeway if deemed necessary but the big bonus was all the toots and enthusiastic waves and thumbs up signs we got as a result. It was a real buzz to see and hear the reaction and was also a talking point when we were parked up so we will likely do this in the future.

The view on the road

Effective when parked up as well, this was in Potes Spain talking to a young lady from Germany teaching English (she loved the bikes and was happy to practice her English as well…and it was excellent!)

Leading and following – We have worked out a system with whoever is in the lead for pulling up at intersections where there are STOP or GIVE WAY signs, so long as we are close enough to pull up at the same time in the same lane without holding up traffic. Whoever is leading pulls up on the side of the lane in the direction we are to turn and the second rider beside furthest from the turn so that we can both turn into the lane together. This is particularly helpful if the traffic is heavy and there aren’t too many opportunities for getting into the flow of traffic.

Notebook for blog – I find the blog a good way to keep track of our travels and will be a good record to take to the nursing home with me when I have no memory of my own (ha ha) not to mention that I find it a good debrief for the days travels (must be sick) anyway, I was happy with the Sony Vaio notebook I had this year for doing the Blog. It was much more user friendly than the little netbook I had last time and also had an SD card slot so I was able to load photos straight from the camera cards without having to take extra leads and card readers so bigger weight but less ‘stuff’ overall……….and in the last 12 months access to wireless internet has increased dramatically to the previous year so I didn’t bother with the whole dongle routine which was miserable in comparison.

Where the blog was launched from and enabled some Skype contact as well

Comfort levels - Comfort levels are key to enjoyable travel being that rather than an endurance test at times. One of the best investments we made was Oxford handgrip heaters. We use these heaps and not just in particularly cold weather. They can make a difference between needing to stop and don warmer clothing sooner than you want to stop and keeps the hands and arms comfortable with warm blood moving about instead of cold white hands that don’t want to unwrap from the handgrips. Couldn’t recommend them too highly. We also have them on the bikes at home.

God bless our grip heaters, yummy and warm and adjustable. The switch is nice and handy in the centre of the handlebars.

Packing – Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise! I would pack even less in spite of thinking that hasn’t been possible before each trip we have done thus far. This can be dependent on not having all one night stays so that there’s time to get the socks and undies and anything else that needs washing dry of course. I usually take days to pack and keep reducing and reducing…clearly I need a bit longer to reduce again though we had plenty of room in our cases and they were light enough to be under the domestic weight limits so we did well….and had we not had the cruise at the end of the trip I wouldn’t have had to take as much ‘street clothing’ with me. Good luck to all the packers!

Yep, this is the case in the throes of being packed and I had room in it when I came home even though I didn’t wear everything I took

Packing / Gear on bikes – One of the things to remember about what you take with you is that everything you wear when the weather is cold has to have a place to fit when the weather is hot and you peel what becomes unnecessary layers off. Last year after the first rain and retrieving our waterproofs from our suitcase..…in the rain, we bought a waterproof pack and zip tied it on Norm’s parcel rack to hold the waterproofs and when we put them on we replaced them with the small back pack Norm carried with all our documents (insurance policies rego papers, passports, accommodation details for the night etc.). This year we also arranged for a couple of basic panniers to be fitted to Norms bike to enable us to take some bike covers with us to cover the bikes at night which is a security measure (takes more commitment from would be no hopers to damage or fiddle with a bike) and protects them from the weather. It also meant we had room for essentials like polishing rags and Plexus and some motor oil and the like as well as ample room for waterproofs and anything else we wanted room for. It also means on the side of the road in a sudden downpour you can access or stow your gear and stow without having to be super precise. It also gave us room for an occasional purchase which wasn’t bad. We’re happy we have the mix right now.

Carrying the gear. Suitcase, panniers, small pack on parcel rack and backpack. All sorted!

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Rosey was right yesterday, we were hanging out to get the bikes out and were delighted when the morning dawned beautifully sunny since rain had been forecast. It was good to be back on the 1,100 again (especially the soft seat) and we got on the bikes and headed down to catch up with Norm Snr and mow his lawn, both of which we have obviously been unable to do for the last 2 months. He was in good shape which was great and pleased for us that we had enjoyed our break. We had some good laughs and hugs together before we headed back home.

The bikes waiting for us on our front lawn before our departure

We enjoyed rediscovering the ‘Old Sale Road’ on the way out to the ‘Nilma Lillico Road’ then on to Neerim South and met a big number of four wheel drives loaded up to the hilt set for a camping weekend in the country with the Melbourne Cup long Weekend starting for those from Melbourne.

Heading down what is known by the Neerim locals as ‘The Red Hill’ and looking out over ‘Mount Toorongo’ (which used to be Mount Macdonald)…..near Mt Baw Baw.

We lunched at the Noojee Pub and headed up the road to Mount Baw Baw then peeled off to head through Willow Grove and home

So......we are back in Gippsland where we have many many opportunities for great bike rides both short and long and comfortable and challenging so get on your bike and come and enjoy them!

Enjoying being back in the mountain country not long after the turn off to Willow Grove with big Eucalypts all around at the bottom of the hill known to locals as ‘Long Harold’. I have no idea where the name comes from.

When we have had a chance to debrief and review our adventure on the bikes we will post a ‘Debrief’ entry on the blog with a few comments of what we liked best, least, learnt about ourselves, others, what we might do differently and how that may have changed our planning for another time.


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Well we are home again and still cannot quite believe what a great series of awesome adventures and experiences we have had. How fortunate are we!

With strong tail winds we arrived back in Melbourne nearly an hour earlier than we anticipated and headed to our Canterbury B&B (Sharen and Kens apartment) for a big sleep before we hopped on the train and back home to Traralgon where we caught up with children and grandchildren which was great.

We woke to a day of glorious Australian sunshine which was great to see after so many recent grey and wet days at the end of our trip, not that we let the weather stop what we want to do…and talking of that, now….…the planning begins for next year’s trip exploring the balance of the UK and Ireland…and perhaps a bit more of Scotland.

Needless to say we will be out on our bikes tomorrow to see Norm Snr. To quote Rosey after we had been home for a bit she said ‘it’s a wonder you haven’t been down to give your bikes a hug and tell them you missed them’….pretty perceptive girl that one! Ha ha.

See you all next time!

The four travellers enjoying the Australian sunshine after a good nights sleep and breakfast....but we missed the great service from the MS Amaverde staff!

Bits and Bobs:

If you want some creative ‘out of the square’ thinking for some upcoming travel don’t hesitate to contact our travel agent extraordinaire Sue Ritter from Travel Plus Australia Pty Ltd, call (03) 9887-8836 or email travel@travelplus.com.au

Our holiday accommodation:

MS Amaverde – APT River Tour Amsterdam to Budapest

What can I say! We have loved everything about our time on board. The ship itself is beautiful (new) with lovely public spaces and a luxuriously comfortable feel to it. The whole crew has been awesome. The rooms are comfortable and spacious with an interior and exterior balcony both of which we have enjoyed. The bed was comfortable and cabin servicing twice a day. The food has been to die for (12 Chefs would you believe!) and all the staff has been incredibly welcoming and efficient. There have also been lots of opportunities for on shore tours and even push bike legs if that appeals. Our tour director Balazs has been brilliant. We have loved his sense of humour and efficiency and have been unbelievably impressed by the courteous patience he has shown towards passengers who I would have been tempted to tell to grow up or go someplace else! Would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone wondering about such a trip…or who have never considered it….and definitely this tour company to do it with!

MS Amaverde

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We had many kilometres to travel through the night but the last lock held us up for an hour with three boats ahead of us the outcome being we didn’t make it into Budapest when we had anticipated. Not all bad news however…..instead of having to decide between packing and catching the shuttle boat across the river to the city meant we wouldn’t have a reasonable time to explore so we packed instead.

Budapest..….along with most of Hungary has had a very difficult past. To quote our tour guide this afternoon they have averaged on a 25 year basis being liberated from successive regimes by the next one for many many years. The last ones were the Russians who once they ‘liberated’ the place ‘fell in love with Budapest’ to quote them and stayed for 40 years. No matter where we look we are grateful that in Australia we have such a ‘short’ history.

The city itself is quite beautiful though struggling under the huge burden of refurbishment costs. We visited the old city (The Buda part of the city…...think of Albury Wodonga here, two cities one each side of a river making up one city Buda and Pest) with buildings showing the visible scars of bullet holes and missing chunks from walls from the Russian invasion. Even in the Pest side of the river which is more modern there were many bullet holes visible in walls and although it had been built to look like Paris and Venice (and many of the gracious streets reminded us a lot of Collins Street in Melbourne) it looked tired and in need of a lot of work and I felt sorry for the Hungarian people…..such a legacy to work out from under! We loved our visit to the Opera House which was just spectacular!

After dinner tonight we left our moorings for an illuminated cruise up the Danube River and it was quite spectacular. Where today I had a sense of observing ‘a grand lady not at her best, tonight the Hollywood cameras were out with their ‘soft’ lenses and we saw her in her true beauty and potential…..just a treat. I hope the Hungarian people can restore this beautiful city to its true glory and I wish them the best.

Shock horror….we leave the ship at 4.30am in the morning for the airport and fly to Rome for our connection, even so early not without breakfast, such is the exemplary care of the staff for all in their care. It has been such a lovely trip!

These are the Parliament Buildings which we couldn’t explore today as Parliament was sitting. With the Hungarian history I am just grateful they still have the buildings. Our boat is 135 metres long and these buildings would have to be at least three time that. Very impressive.

Part of the Chain Bridge..…one of the oldest though restored after WWII as all bridges were destroyed then. ‘Chain’ in Hungarian also refers to a necklace which was understandable seeing it all lit up on our illuminated tour tonight.

St Mathias Church. Quite beautiful. The tiles on the roof are a Hungarian invention..….a lightweight colourful glazed tile.

Part of the ‘Fisherman’s Bastion’ supposed to protect the fishermen’s workplace / river in times gone by..…though from the hill surrounding the Palace where this is situated it is hard to figure out how they would have done that. There are a series of ramparts between towers many of which have been converted to restaurant spaces overlooking the 'Pest' side of the city. Would be lovely on a fine day.

The Heroes Square dedicated to many heroes past and this is also where the statue of Stalin was erectd but toppled by the Hungarian Resistance and Budapest Citizens when the Russians were overthrown.

The Parliament Buildings again but through an arch of the Fisherman’s Bastion across the River Danube in the rain. Ah well….the limited photo opportunities meant fewer choices had to be made. Sorry I couldn't provide some relief from buildings with some greenery!

Bits and Bobs:

A little play on words which appealed to me..…sorry it is so blurry but it was taken from the coach!

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Quiet cruising this morning with an information session re our disembarkation which is the day after tomorrow….unreasonably early. How quickly time has passed.

We motored in varying degrees of fog today until we docked in Bratislava after seeing many different versions of summer / holiday cottages / huts along the riverbank with a few luxury ones thrown in for good measure amongst the beautiful forest. We saw a few fishing lines thrown in and evidence of places to relax in warmer weather.

We took the opportunity to do a Wheelhouse tour this morning (Norm having done an engine room one a few days ago) which was interesting.

We had some quiet time after our walking tour of Bratislava and had a farewell cocktail with the captain including an opportunity to applaud the entire crew and hotel staff which was great…..including the 12 chefs…no wonder the food has been so awesome. We then had our farewell dinner as we have other things happening tomorrow night…and a very early start for some (us included) the next morning.

In the wheelhouse

The front part of a cruise ship for this line being pushed downstream in front of a barge for fitting out in Amsterdam. The middle section has already gone and the third and last of it still to go.

The Bratislava Opera House which was closed for refurbishment….as were heaps of other buildings. For a town with a population not a whole lot larger than Traralgon I don’t know how they can manage to fund such activities!

The first square we came to on our walking tour. The newer hotel on the left is the Carlton. The three buildings (in one) to the right of that was the original Carlton hotel (now the Radisson). The square was intersected by tram and walkways.

A lovely leafy area with lots of opportunities for eating and relaxing on a warm sunny day…..as opposed to the raining cold ones with water dripping from the trees like today.

St Michaels Gate, the only remaining gate from the original city wall.

Another square, the tower being part of the Original Town Hall complex along with the building to the right and souvenir stalls under the trees to the left

The exception to the rule….a ‘woman’ on a horse instead of a man! This is the Empress Marie Therese the Matriarch of the Hapsburg Dynasty who was the mother of 16 children who were pretty much all married off in strategic political / royal marriages and ruled Europe for 600 years.

Bits and Bobs:

A display in front of a Bratislava florist with typically beautiful displays of table decoration posies and wreaths with all sorts of things we don’t see in Australia. I’ve been very impressed by the artistry of the floral arrangements we have seen throughout our whole trip. Truly beautiful.

A quirky bit of sculpture outside the Paparazzi Restaurant

And another…….apparently has his head rubbed for good luck by the look of the shine on top of his hard hat.

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Another cool day today, 3 degrees when we left for our walking tour and 10 degrees when we returned to the ship at 4pm but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beauty of this city. At the end of the day we had an early dinner then headed to one of the Hofburg Palaces for a concert which was wonderful then enjoyed an illuminated tour of the city on the return to the ship. Happy to report my butt and legs are surprisingly comfortable after yesterday’s pushbike ride though the knees are a little second hand. Pleased overall.

The battery went flat on the camera today…...probably just as well!

Saint Stephens Cathedral is in the process of being cleaned. The façade has just been revealed nice and clean instead of black. Many of the buildings we saw were in the process of refurbishment and cleaning. Many more than when we were last in Vienna in 2008.

Our tour group enjoyed a coffee (me a hot chocolate) at Cafe Central, a traditional and beautiful Coffee house….without the smoke we remember from 2008. The exterior.

The interior courtyard where our group gathered. A beautiful space and the cakes (many choices) were sublime. No one rushed to leave.

The interior courtyard of the Hofburg Palace. Looking forward to returning tonight for the concert.

Part of the Parliament Buildings which were quite beautiful.

The Town Hall which we discovered in the distance over the tree tops on our own time exploring but didn’t have enough time to check it out fully (a third of the city is green space). There was some sort of display in there free of charge, we figured that bit out. The red under windows were geraniums. Looked great..

Bits and Bobs:

Another sign…this one for the Black Camel restaurant....the best in Vienna our guide told us. The quirky side of it is the sign under the camel. It says (basically) by appointment to the palace and there has been no monarchy in Vienna since 1918.

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Another chilly morning (5 degrees Celsius) when we headed off for our walking tour of the Melk Abbey and we thought we were ABC’d out but we just loved this Benedictine Abbey which is still a functioning Abbey, school and church community. The building itself has been magnificently maintained and the history beautifully presented but in a living sense with vestments and other articles still used even though they are on display. Just beautiful. Shame it was foggy as we had potential of spectacular views from the panoramic terraces but they didn’t happen. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

Within the second courtyard of Melk Abbey. The main dome of the Church visible in the centre. Two sides of this courtyard are occupied by the school, one by the Museum, and the fourth by the monks.

The ballroom used by Imperial guests and the Abbot for audiences only

Within the Church at the Abbey which is testament to many lifetimes of work by artisans…including modern day with beautiful flowers painted on the bottom of every altar

Part of the very ordered Baroque garden at the Abbey

Following lunch I took leave of my senses and decided to do the next leg on a pushbike…….yes I know what was I thinking? Perhaps not….or perhaps I was just desperate for a ride…even without a motor? Who knows, anyway I did it and survived thankfully. The views we had as we wound along the Danube were just spectacular with numbers of little villages and settlements dotted along the river with extensive grapevines and orchards and beautiful autumn colours climbing up and over the hills and rugged rocky outcrops. I was glad I went.

On the bikes and no my hair isn’t a motley colour I had my new head hugging hat on under my helmet so the cold air didn’t give me an earache and it worked well.

Our first stop at 10kms just after we saw the ship disappear around a distant corner. We enjoyed a cold apple juice while a number of others enjoyed a beer or coffee.

A view across the Danube …every village had a church.

Waiting for the ferry to take us across the river (6kms till we’re in). It was an ingenious ferry which was a catamaran hull and operated solely with the use of a rudder and the current of the river while attached to a cable strung high above the river which keeps it vaguely in place. That's me in the red and white helmet and leather motorbike vest for which I was very grateful...also the gloves and polar fleece jacket which I took on and off as we rode depending on how many hills I encounterd!

Bits and Bobs:

Found another sign that took my fancy in Melk

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