Week 4 June 2009:
We started our overseas trip on the first day of the week. We flew out of Sydney bound for an overnight stay at Singapore. The flight was delayed for an hour or so because a passenger saw a chisel fall out of one of the 747ís engines. Fortunately it had been left there and not sucked through the engine.
The flight took about six hours and we arrived at Singapore at 2am Sydney time. Walking from the air conditioned airport out into Singapore is like walking into a very warm, wet blanket. The temperature and humidity, even at this time, were rather high.
We went to the Jurong Bird Park. We travelled by train and bus. Singapore trains are clean, fast and cheap. The Bird Park is home to 600 species from many parts of the world. The birds are in aviaries that resemble their natural habitat. Certainly worth a visit.
We flew out that night bound for London. The flight took over 11 hours and we arrived at Heathrow at 5.20 am UK time.
Found our hotel near Kensington. Our room was in the bowels of the earth. It was hot, cramped and already occupied by cockroaches. We only stayed two nights here.
Spent two days in London. Met our eldest daughter and her family at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately the Queen wasnít home.
We also visited a couple of museums and walked in Kensington Gardens as well as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, walked along the Thames and crossed Westminster Bridge.
The next day we began our Europe trip by boarding a bus and travelling to Dover where we saw the White Cliffs. From there we boarded a huge ferry and travelled across the Channel to Calais. From here we met our tour director, boarded the bus that we would be on for the trip and travelled to Brussels were we spent the night.
From here we travelled into Germany and went on a cruise down the Rhine River. Plenty of castles above the river. Lots of push bikes beside the river and no cars. Along this part of the river was designated a car-free day.
From here we travelled to Innsbruck, in Austria, for a short stay. Beautiful lake and mountain scenery. Drove near the spectacular Dolomite Mountains and arrived that afternoon in Venice.
The next morning a boat took us across the Lagoon and we landed near St Marks Square. Saw a Venetian glass-blowing exhibition and walked through Venice beside the Grand Canal. This was the peak tourist season and Venice was hot, crowded with tourists and suffering from a shortage of places to sit and toilets. We sat on some steps near a restaurant and were chased away by a bloke in uniform. He was either an admiral in the Venetian navy or perhaps a waiter. Probably not the best time to visit Venice.