Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Playing catch-up after holidays

I'm still playing catch-up after being on holiday for the best part of 6 weeks - which explains why I've been offline for so long!

I feel so very blessed in these times of economic depression to be able to go away at all, unlike so many - but that is a big plus of being retired. Susanna and I didn't have a proper holiday last year, in part because of her hip surgery. So this year we planned a big one, travelling by train to Central Europe, saving airplane carbon emissions and exploring echoes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So many new places - so many new experiences. It will take months to process and reflect on them - meat for many posts here in future. But for now I can only summarise.

We took the car on the ferry to Wales and England on a royal progress to visit children and grandchildren - how I wish they lived closer!

We left the car in London and took the train through the Channel tunnel to Cologne for a few days, a lovely city despite the awful destruction wrought in the final days of the war by allied bombardment, with a side trip to Charlemagne's capital of Aachen.

Then the night sleeper to Prague, quite undamaged by the war, where we stayed in a hotel beside St Mary Tyn church on Old Town Square, and I was fascinated to discover the refounded Czechoslovak Hussite Church.

From their to Vienna for a few days where we met up with friends from Florida with whom we hired a car and toured Austria in a counter-clockwise direction: Melk, Linz, Salzburg, Lienz in East Tyrol (perhaps my favourite place), Baden and back to Vienna.

Then leaving our friends, on to Bratislava by train since the Danube was in flood and the hydrofoil was cancelled, another lovely ancient city in the process of being restored after years of neglect. There I had my wallet stolen and a heavy cold turned into bronchitis, prompting me to investigate the Slovak health system - very good and cheap. It was as hot as hell, but we had an air-conditioned hotel room, so we decided to stay on and skip the planned visit to Budapest.

Finally, back home: train to Vienna, on to Munich, the night sleeper to Paris, and back to London by Eurostar, taking just under 24 hours. Drive to South Wales, overnight in Loughor, the Fishguard ferry and back home. Where after three days largely spent trying to get new plastic cards, driving licence etc we took a lovely long weekend in Donegal with the Irish Tree Society.


Daniel & Sonja said...

HI Joc, was beginning to get worried. Sounds like a really great holiday.

Joc Sanders said...

It was, Daniel, it was! God is very good! Congratulations on your well deserved prize!