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Europe 2014Photos from our trip to Europe in 2014
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Photos from the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Once two separate towns with Pest on the mainly east bank of the Danube with Buda on the hilly west bank. It was here that we boarded our Scenic Cruise the ship the Scenic Diamond where about a week later we would disembark at Nuremberg to catch our bus to Prague. Landmarks such as Castle Hill and Saint Matthias Church with its mixed Catholic and Islamic influence from the Ottoman Turks who occupied the city for 150 years are located in western Buda while the Parliament which I photographed at night from the sun deck of the Scenic Diamond lies on the River's east bank in Pest.

68 files, last one added on Apr 11, 2015



From late Thursday night the 28th until mid afternoon Friday the 29th we sailed on the Scenic Diamond from Budapest to Vienna. Early on the Friday morning you can see the Castle prominent from Europe's smallest national capital city, that being the Slovakian capital of Bratislava just before we crossed the border into Austria.

64 files, last one added on Apr 12, 2015



In the evening we visited the very impressive Palais Liechtenstein to witness a concert. The Liechtenstein Museum contains much of the art collections of its owners, namely the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, rulers of the principality of Liechtenstein. It was built in the 18th century. The frescos are amazingly beautiful.

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The Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence in Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural and historical monuments in the country. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

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Our visit to the Schönbrunn Palace was plagued with terrible weather so after seeing the palace we returned the boat. Our room was down in the very bottom of the boat at water level where we were greeted by the sight of beautiful swans coming almost right to our window. By late afternoon the weather cleared and we took a short walk along the river and more photos of the gorgeous and for us Aussies, exotic white swans.

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Night shots from the sun deck of the Scenic Diamond of Vienna to finally round off our Saturday

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The beautiful village of Dürnstein on the Danube in Lower Austria's Wachau Valley. Itwas first mentioned in 1192, when, in the castle above the town, King Richard I of England was held captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria after their dispute during the Third Crusade. Richard the Lionheart had personally offended Leopold the Virtuous by casting down his standard from the walls at the Battle of Acre, and the duke suspected that King Richard ordered the murder of his cousin Conrad of Montferrat in Jerusalem. The village of Rossatz lies on the opposite bank of the river with a regular ferry service between the villages. The castle ruins which we climbed up to offer a wonderful panorama of the valley with the church steeple prominent in this wine growing area.

92 files, last one added on Apr 18, 2015



We only spent a rushed couple of hours Dürnstein in the morning before reboarding our boat to Melk with its magnificent late 11th century abbey. Here you will find scenic shots along the river. Some of the passengers opted for the push bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk.

64 files, last one added on Apr 18, 2015



The town of Melk from the Slavic word for 'border' is first mentioned as Medilica in 831 in a donation of Louis the German. The area around Melk was given to Margrave Leopold I in the year 976 to serve as a buffer between the Magyars (called "Turks" in that time's sources) to the east and Bavaria to the west. In 996 mention was first made of an area known as Ostarichi, which is the origin of the word Oesterreich (German for Austria). The bluff which holds the current monastery held a Babenberger castle until the site was given to Benedictine monks from nearby Lambach by Margrave Leopold II in 1089. Melk received market rights in 1227 and became a municipality in 1898. In a very small area, Melk presents a great deal of architectural variety from many centuries.

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Český Krumlov is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Old Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district which we visited a couple of days or so later. Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. Its castle is unusually large for a town of Krumlov's size and within the Czech Republic it is second in extent only to the Hradčany castle complex of Prague. Inside its grounds are a large rococo garden, an extensive bridge over a deep gap in the rock upon which the castle is built, and the castle itself, which in turn consists of many defined parts dating from different periods of time. Even on this bleak day, it was beautiful. Being on the Vltava River, we had to take a bus there and later the bus would take us back to the ship at Passau just inside Germany from over the Austrian border.

121 files, last one added on May 24, 2015

10 albums on 1 page(s)

Western Europe 2004In August 2004, on my first ever visit to Europe, I arrived in Cologne Germany where I was picked up by my Dad's cousin Edmund for a two week stay in and around Geilenkirchen, about 60Km west as the crow flies from Cologne. Geilenkirchen is less than 10Km east of the Dutch border and less than 30Km north of the Belgian border, so on this two week visit I got to visit three countries, sometimes even on the same day, including the "Dreilandenpunkt" or "Three lands point" of Germany, Holland and Belgium. Then in early September 2004, I arrived in Poland on the Berlin-Warsaw Express Train, for a ten month stint teaching English in the country of my ancestors. A wonderful experience from which I made friends for life.
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Photos from Konigswinter (Kingswinter) near Bonn In Germany. These were taken on 29th August 2004 just before I went to Poland. The lookout at the top is called Drachenfels (Dragonrock). The river seen from here is the River Rhine. At the end of this set of photos are photos of a pretty little wine growing village on one of the tributaries of the Rhine.

56 files, last one added on Oct 03, 2006


1 albums on 1 page(s)

Poland 2004-2005This is where I spent the bulk of my stay in Europe in 2004/2005. To live and work in the country of my ancestors was a most wonderful and rewarding experience. I spent time equally with other foreign teachers as well as Polish people which enriched my experience no end, and has left me with wonderful and indelible memories. While my home base of Radom, just 90Km south of Warsaw, seemed at times to have an image problem, I can never really denigrate the town. I had an amazing social life there, and despite the 30% unemployment, the fact that I was a native English speaker, meant that in this town of 300 000, with its 36 language schools, I never had trouble finding work, unlike in Australia. The great irony is that while my grandparents left Poland in September 1924 for Germany, due to lack of work in Poland, almost eighty years to the day, on the Berlin-Warsaw Express I crossed the same border in the opposite direction due to my inability to find MEANINGFUL FULL-TIME PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT in Australia.
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Photos of my weekend in Krakow Poland on my 42nd birthday on Sun October 24th 2004

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Photos of my trip to Lublin, Zamosc, Skierbieszow, Bug River and Ukrainian border --- I crossed about 50 metres into it on Easter Sunday --- Electric fence stopped me going further!!!!

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Scanned images of my newspaper story in the local Radom newspaper "Echo Dnia" --- "Daily Echo" on the 1st April 2005.

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Photos from my weekend in Sandomierz with my boss Greg 1st-2nd May 2005

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My time in Warsaw with Oxford Graduate Robbo on Saturday 28th May 2005. It was over 30 degrees Celsius ---- really hot for Poland

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My time in Czestochowa and Jasna Gore with Oxford Graduate Robbo and Irenna on Sunday 29th May 2005. Again, it was HOT!!! Over 30 degrees celsius, which is really hot for Poland

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Photos of gorgeous Zakopane, in the Tatra mountains, near the Slovakian border, taken during my visit there from Saturday 25th June to Tuesday 28th June 2005. Many Photos are taken right on the border. Look for the half metre high white border marker

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Photos from my first day in Poland. I caught the Berlin-Warszawa Express Train from Berlin on Monday 6th Sept 2004 at 12:30pm, and arrived in Warsaw 6 hours later. The LAST photo I took about 200km west of Warsaw looks like a UFO! What do you think?

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Radom was the town in Poland that I was based in. It is 100 Km south of Warsaw. Many Radomites kept asking me "why radom???", meaning why didn't you choose a beautiful city like Krakow, Gdansk, Zakopane, Wroclaw etc. It is a town with a major image problem with 30% unemployment, but nevertheless I had a great time there as can clearly be seen in these xmas new year photos and later I appeared in the local gazetta and on local radio. It also had a pub with a great atmosphere called "Nasza Szkapa (Nasha Shkarpa)"--the publican Janeusz was a big factor in giving it a great atmosphere and even people who have been to the more attractive cities in Poland admit that they have not found a pub with the same atmosphere. So, I certainly cannot say that I hated Radom. I had a great time there with both the other foreign teachers and Polish people there. For example, the assembling of the xmas tree was done at Radek's flat --- a great Polish friend of mine with two foreign teachers: Barbara from Australia and Irenna from Scotland.

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Beautiful Kazimierz Dolny (the little Krakow about 150Km south of Warsaw) on the Vistula River (Poland's longest river which virtually runs the full length of Poland from south to north). The photos were taken in February and June 2005, ie in winter and summer. It is interesting to compare the photos from the contrasting seasons.

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10 albums on 1 page(s)

Polish Holiday 2008This is the Polish leg of our Holiday 2008, from mid May to just before mid June 2008. A wonderful re-visit of my Polish roots. Starting with Gdansk, in Poland's north on the Baltic Sea, we gradually covered Poland to its southern extremity at the beautiful mountain town of Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains on the Slovakian border.
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Photos from our exhausting trip which started in Kaohsiung with the bus trip to Taipei Airport, and ended at the railway station in Gdynia, near Gdansk in Poland. It took 40 hours. We traveled by bus from Kaohsiung to Taipei, then flew from Taipei to Frankfurt in Germany, then caught a high speed train from Frankfurt to Berlin, a regional train from Berlin to Angermunde near the Polish border, (which we only caught with 2 minutes to spare), then another German regional train from Angermunde to Szczecin, just inside Poland, then finally a four hour trip on a Polish train from Szczecin to Gdynia, near Gdansk. Our China Airlines flight flew over Northern Siberia inside the Arctic Circle, so you will see photos of Northern Siberia still covered in snow despite it being late Spring. Also, even though we left Taipei at 11:45pm, just before midnight, three hours later the sun was rising over Eastern Siberia, and from that point we only saw darkness again about 24 hours later, just before we got to Gdynia.

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Finally we are in Gdansk, in the suburb of Oliwa where our friends Barbra and Marek live. Barbra is an Aussie English teacher who I met in Radom in 2004, while I was teaching English there, and Marek was my flatmate there from December 2004 to July 2005. I ended up introducing them, and now they were getting married on the 31st May. The park near their flat was Park Oliwski or Oliwa Park, a very beautiful park.

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Our first visit to the beautiful town centre or "centrum" of Gdansk. The city where the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe was spawned with the creation of the Solidarity Trade Union by Lech Walesa, the shipyard electrician, and the first shots of World War II were fired. This album features the Mariacka or St Mary's Cathedral, with it's magnificent views from it's baszta or tower. When it was first built in 1493, after construction was started in 1343, it was a Catholic church, but then from 1529 to 1945 it was Protestant. After being destroyed in World War II, like 90% of Gdansk's Centrum, it was rebuilt and reverted back to being a Catholic church after more than 4 centuries. Furthermore, the whole of Gdansk's Centrum was reconstructed after the War exactly as it was before.

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Poland's Trojmiasto or Triple City is made up of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. Sopot is a beautiful Baltic seaside town with the beautiful Grand Hotel built in 1924. Sonia and I had lunch there, ...well sort of. We ate crackers there on the park seat, the only way we could afford to have lunch there. Barbra told us that she once paid 20 zloty or $10 Australian for a lousy cup of tea with a tea bag in it at a job interview, as it was the only thing that was affordable on the menu. But that aside, it is really beautiful along with the parks which looked just gorgeous in the Polish spring. One photo shows a sign saying "Zakopane 790 Km", which is of course on Poland's southern border with Slovakia in the Tatra mountains. In other words, on the opposite side of the country. Near the end of our trip we would make it to Zakopane which had the corresponding sign in it's Centrum: "Sopot 790 Km"!!

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Our second day at the Gdansk Centrum. We first visited St Bridgette Church, which was the church of worship and sanctuary for the members of the Solidarity Trade Union. Inside is a monument to Father Jerzy Popieluszko , who was murdered by Polish Secret Police in 1984. Next we visited the Post Office Museum, which was the scene for some of the most dramatic events of the first days WW II. For 15 hours the postal workers resisted the Nazi onslaught on the 1st September 1945, before being overwhelmed. The museum commemorates their heroism. However, photos were hard to take, with various KGB minders telling us at first we can't take photos, then saying we could, then saying we can't. Personally, I could not see the problems with taking photos, as most of the museums allowed you to photograph, albeit sometimes minus the flash

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The magnificent Teutonic Knight's Castle at Malbork, about one hour's train ride south of Gdansk. It was built in the early 1300's and in 1309 it was made the capital of an independent Germanic state setup by the Teutonic order. In 1457 the castle was taken by Poland and used as a fortress. This castle is one of the grandest in Europe.

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The beautiful Oliwa Cathedral which was very close to where we stayed with Barbara and Marek, and to the lovely Oliwa Park. Sonia thought it was one of the most beautiful churches she ever saw. The angel held high above the altar is awe inspiring and was the first thing that struck me as we entered.

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Oliwa Park on the same day as we visited the Cathedral. Photos of the church are the Oliwa Church, which is separate from the cathedral, and where Barbara and Marek were married.

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Our train trip to Hel, yes Hel, but with only one 'L'. Hel township is at the point of the Hel peninsula, north of Gdansk, and north east of Gdynia. From Gdynia it is only 15 minutes by water taxi, but that will set you back 600 zloty or $300 Aussie. So we opted for the two and a half hour train trip from Gdansk, which was free for us on our Poland/Germany Eurail Pass. There is very reasonably priced Catamaran service to Sopot, Gdynia and Gdansk, but it only operates on weekends, so that option was not available to us, as we visited it on a Monday. As for the town, it is one of Poland's premier tourist destinations, but for us, having such incredibly beautiful beaches in Australia, it did not impress us that much, although it still had it's charm. The tall lighthouse inside the National Park was an impressive site and gave you a good view of the peninsula's surrounds and the town centre was rather quaint. In the end, we could say that we've been to Hel and back, although, Hel, in Polish does not mean anything in particular, but since many people in Gdansk said that "You have to go to Hel", who were we not to comply?

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Tuesday is Tourist Day in Gdansk, meaning that many museums have free admission. This was the day to go and see some of Gdansk's famous museums. The first of which was Arthur's Court or Dwor Artusa, which was a meeting place for the wealthy burghers of Gdansk, who were inspired by the chivalrous traditions of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was absolutely brilliant, especially with some of the magnificent huge paintings echoing centuries of history. Next was the Old Town Hall, which was almost as impressive, with the glorious view of the town centre from the baszta or tower. One interesting historical artifact was some old German currency, with notes valued as high as five million marks!!!! Yes, five million marks, which I imagine date back to Germany's chronic inflation in the early 1920s, brought about by the forced reparations it was forced to pay after World War I. Later, we visited Uphagen House, acquired by Johann Uphagen, a town councillor in 1775. Of Belgian/Flemisch descent, he had it demolished and a new residence put in it's place, which, after the destruction of World War II, like much of the Centrum, was beautifully recreated.

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Once joined to the mainland, Spichlerze Island was created when the new Motlawa Canal was dug in 1576. To get to it, you cross over the Motlawa River from the Green Gate on the eastern side of the the Centrum. Some of the ruins from World War II are still standing, and a good view of the Centrum's water front and the great old Gdansk Crane, built in the 14th Century can be taken in. Later, more shots from the Centrum, including the quintessential Gdansk icon of Neptune.

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The beautiful village of Kartuzy, only 30 Km west of Gdansk or 40 minutes by bus. The Collegiate Church dates back to the 1300s and is situated close to it's smaller lake "jezioro Klasztorne Male" or "small Klasztorne Lake" just south of the town centre. Kartuzy is the capital of the Kashubian Region and the town also has a small but delightful little Kashubian Museum. One photo shows the prayer the "Our Father" in the Kashubian Language, which to me looks similar to Polish, but is clearly is a separate language. Fortunately, we had a beautiful late spring day to enjoy this delightful little village

263 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

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