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By this Author: Nors Stephens

Assisi to Sorrento 04 09 2015

sunny 29 °C
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After a wonderful stay at Assisi we left for Sorrento. The bus trip was great as we drove through the Apennine Mountains towards the Bay of Naples. Along thd highway there are alot of tree nurseries with all different shapes and sizes. It is an area where they grow vegetables. We could see towns on the hills similar to Assisi. This was the Tuscany region. Tivoli was also in this region and wanted to go but not enough time.

We had good views of Mt Vesuvius but hard to take from the bus. The views going by the bay of Naples to Sorrento were amazing and somd freaky moments as the roads are so narrow. A wonderful day and great fun going for walk in Sorrento.

Looked over the cliff tops and people sunbake on wooden jetties.

Posted by Nors Stephens 02:44 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Florence to Assisi 03 09 2015

sunny 29 °C
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Today we set off for Assisi but first went to Piazzal Michekangelo for great viw over Florence. As up early not many people and stalls. Another hot day but not so humid.

Great drive to Assisi a beautiful place. So clean with narrow streets. Very hilly as photos show. We visited the Basillica of St Francis with a guide but no photos onside. The walls have frescos on them showing the life of St Francis. Was a large church very high and was damaged by an earthquake in 1990s and restored however some frescos have not been. 30% of buildings were damaged in the earthquake

There is a new town built in the valley below where most people buy today but you can buy a villa in old Assisi for Eu 2000.per sq mtr the guide said. We went to the lower church then down under that to visit the tomb of Saint of St Francis. There were alot of tourists visiting (Spoke to Japanese/scottish/Brits/Americans) who are there on a pilgrimage.

There is an upper and lower town one before the basillica and once past going down. There over 5 million tourists a year. Felt at home went past a jeweller shop and there was a gecho between bracelets in the shop window.

Assisi is a place well worth going to.

Posted by Nors Stephens 01:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Florence sightseeing 02 09 2015

sunny 32 °C
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Today sightseeing around Florence starting with a trip to the Accademia Museum. The original statue of David is truely amazing. 1 piece of marble. Therer are other statues and paintings but David is the feature. We visited the oldest bridge as in the photo the Ponte Vecchio originally built in the time ov the Roman legion. It wax rebuilt in stone in 1177.There are gold and silver smiths, artists and other stalls on the bridge.

We then went to the Bassillica di Santa Croce with beautiful paintings and funeral monuments and tombstones for many famous Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Vittorio Alfieri. Was very interesting but wish we could read Italian.

We went into the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore which was very interesting. Very big inside but not as glamorous as some.

So many historical statues and sites to many to describe. After walking around most of day headed back to hotel for rest and go to local restaraunt for dinner. Still muggy and hot.

Posted by Nors Stephens 01:21 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice-Pisa-Florence 01 09 2015

sunny 33 °C
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Left Venice for Pisa on the way to Florence. Great drive through the Tuscanycountyside. Lots of tunnels again. There are many tree nurseries along the way with all shaped topiary and differdnt size trees.

We were picked up at the bus and taken to the Unesco site on a choo choo train. So many stalls but same stuff as everywhere else.

We went in the church and the baptismal tower where the accustics are amazing. The leaning tower is breath taking amazing and seems like a miracle.
Only a certain amount of people a day are allowed to climb the tower, I think 900 odd, and capped per hour. After lunch and lots photos later carried on to Florence. Very hot humid day.

Posted by Nors Stephens 23:44 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice sightseeing 31 08 2015

sunny 35 °C
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Early rise today and on road by 8.00am off to Venice Islands. So foggy and when we arrived at boat still really thick. Was a little scarey boats fog horns sounding but phew arrived safely and walking tour began. We went through the Dogers Palace abd the Basilica on San Marco Church. Amazing buildings and history. The builders back then in time were amazing. Lots of maintenance being done everywhere.

Lucky we could take photos in the Basillica but not the church. Painted roof and paintings are wonderful. The cues to get in the church wss so long lucky we had pre paid tickets. Free time then for our booked trip on the gondola. As a group we had 6 gondolas. 1 had a singer and guitar player. Was great 5 in ours and watching Barry get in and out was funny. So hot and humid well in 30, fog gone relaxed going through canals was great. it was so busy with water taxis also on the canals.

Bused home then John and I went for walk to Spar supermarket. Just like at home. Same wrapping but different wording but just same.

Tired good night.

Posted by Nors Stephens 14:00 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Budapest to Graz 29 08 2015 Graz to Venice 30 08 2015

sunny 32 °C
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Today disembarked sadly, onto the bus to Graz. We drove through the countryside through Austria then through part of Slovenia. We didnt have to stop at any borders as the countries are all part of the European Union.

Beautiful greeen pastures lots of sunflowers that are waitinb to be harvested. We arrived at Gratz checked in then went for a guided walk in Gratz old town.

Sunday went back into Gratz and retraced our steps into old Gratz. Went up to the top of the castle and had a great walk around. Sunday only bars cafes and churches are open so no shopping. It was a hot day again so glad to get on air condioned bus headed for Venice.

Such amazing scenery, beautiful lakes, high mountains, great viaducts and lost count of the tunnels. Its so hard to describe what we see whizzing by in the bus. Again we go for rest stops at servos also great food. Thd loo is .50cents Euro but if you buy something you get that ofv the purchase. Works so well and very clean.

Was a long day and as school due to go back traffic heavy and was an accident. We arrived at hotel 6.30 pm had dinner bed.

Posted by Nors Stephens 13:38 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Budapest Hungary 28 08 2015


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Berthed at Budapest around breakfast across from parliment house. We went on a bus around pest side first up to a look out Gelkert Hill. We had a look through St Stephens Basilica. Nice church. We could see bullet marks in the wall from war times. We did the Buda side but this name has no particular the guide said. We went passed the baths but they were behind an enclosed area so did not. We went past embassies of different countries and shopping districts, not stopping though.

After lunch back on board had a sleep in afternoon did some packing then went for a walk. They are putting new tram lines down so not so easy to walk around where the ship was docked.

After dinber entertained by Hungarian music and dance. Each place we have stayed the cook has included food from the area.

10pm went up the river looking at the lights from our ship. Last night on board a fabulous ship.

Posted by Nors Stephens 14:14 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Bratislava

sunny 32 °C
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We were picked up from the ship in a little red train and had a guide called Monica. We went on the normal roads to Bratislava's castle on top of the hill. It was very plain in comparison to others we had visited built in Gothic then remodelled on the outside. Saw great views over the city. Slovenia is bordered by Austria, Czech republic and Hungary. Mainly agricultural. The country was under communinism rule for 40 years until the 1980s.

We went back to the ship on the red train and had a beautiful BBQ lunch on the sundeck. We were picked up by larger buses and taken to the countryside to a normal family home. As we had Monica as guide in morning we went with her again and great choice. All the guides have studied or studied and all knowledgable. Not all locals from the area but when you get one like Monica that is its great.

We arrived at the home and met by the family dog. We all went around the back amazing garden. Different varieties of apples. pears. tomatoes and grapes among the herbs and other plants. We had a coffee, cake made by the wife and sampled the wine and port the owner makes.

Was such great conversation with Monica translating. The dog saw us off the property but the cat was still asleep.

Driving back was great with all the crops growing near the road. You can relate to Aust or NZ as you drive along.

Back on board more delicious food and a show put on for us by the crew. So simple but funny. Another fabulous day.

Posted by Nors Stephens 13:35 Archived in Slovakia Comments (0)

Melk and Durnstein 25 8 2015


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Arrived in Melk during night. Went for a fabulous tour of the Melk Abbey. it is the home to Benedictine Monks about 30. Used to house over 100. It is currently used as a school for 900 children. it is an amazing place and tourists help fund the running of the school and maintaining the place. Last week of school holidays so didnt see students. we walked back to the ship through the streets.

After lunch 15 people (Not including us) rode bikes to our next stop in the afternoon Durnstein a lovely village. Visited the village at our own pace as was very small. Very hilly but the lower levels still flood. Amazing the levels of the 2013 floods.

Set off today for Vienna.

Posted by Nors Stephens 13:33 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Vienna 26 08 2015

sunny 30 °C
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Woke up to a beautiful view at Vienna. It has been very hot with temps up in the 30s.

Had a bus tour past beautiful buildings in Vienna and places of interest. Alot of walking as the city centre is walking.

Went into the cathedral then were left free time for rest of day. We at my suggestion went up the 2nd tower in the old wooden lift. My god when we got out had to go out onto a platform and stairs attached to the side of the tower. You could see down. So scared. lol

Horse drawn carriages everywhere so did a 40min tour and was great. Found the famous Fielmuller cafe famous for Schnitzel. What a size. People queing outside looking at us. From there visited the city garden then back to the ship.

I went to a musical performance for our group which was an hour as others stayed back. My culture for the day.

Posted by Nors Stephens 22:01 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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