Today I begin my journey to Europe and I will be arriving in Frankfurt tomorrow and taking the train to Brussels where I will meet a driver to go to the Vimy Ridge Canadian War Memorial. The flight to Frankfurt was uneventful and first class travel on a Boeing 777 is very comfortable.
We took a cab to the Train terminal only to find that there was a train terminal at the airport. So, we had to buy a train ticket back to the terminal. I left for Brussels and met my Carey Limi driver at the Mariott Hotel in Brussels for a four-hour round trip ride to the Canadian WW1 Memorial in Vimy, France. That was a special visit for me as my Grandfather, Stephen Attrell, fought there as well at Paschendael and he not only survived both horrific battles, he survived the Spanish Flu as well.
On Friday I boarded the train for a long journey to Hamburg where I met Jay and Bettye, Dick, and Cindy for dinner at a local German restaurant. We stayed at the Four Seasons Fairmont, a very nice choice, and met several others of our group of 26 people altogether.
On Saturday we boarded a boat and cruised the canals of Hamburg before leaving to board the Crystal Symphony, our cruise ship, mid-afternoon. Hamburg is the second largest shipping port in Northern Europe and has more canals and bridges than Venice. We then met for late dinner seating at three tables all together and I got to know more of the very interesting group a little better. All have been long-term friends of Jay and Bettye and many have joined them for this annual occasion.
On Sunday, I got up early for a three hour bus and boat ride tour of all the sights in Hamburg. I’m still getting used to the time zone change and have had to take Ambien at bed time each night. We had our formal dining room and as usual, the food was extraordinary as was the service. This was an all-inclusive cruise and so the wine was included as is all services at the cappuccino bar.
On Monday we arrived in Amsterdam and I took the bus and boat excursion throughout the city. After an early dinner I took the evening excursion on the canals in a boat and got experience the extensive night life in what is a beautiful but very wicked city where the residents are over 60% less than 30 years of age. Most leave the city eventually to raise a family in the countryside away from the city.
On Tuesday I slept in and spent the day relaxing. On Wednesday we arrived at St. Peter Port in Guernsey and I went on the rib boat tour around the canals and captured some really good wildlife photos.
On Thursday we had a day at sea and it was very relaxing.
On Friday, we arrived at La Coruna, Spain and I boarded a bus to tour the many sites of the City including the Tower of Hercules and the beautiful beaches of the City.
Saturday, we sailed to Oporto, Portugal, famous for it’s vineyards, and I went on a tram tour of the riverfront shopping areas on a busy weekend.
Sunday, we arrived early in Lisbon, Portugal and I left the ship by taxi to travel to my hotel, and after checking in, I took the same taxi to the hotel where Dave and Sherri Meyer were staying and we had breakfast on the patio.
I then walked about 2-3 miles throughout downtown and then back North to my hotel where I met Dick and Sam (Linda) for lunch. Our Limo arrived early afternoon and we visited the area North of the City and some of the many famous sites in the beautiful hill country and along the beach. We met up with other members of our group who were flying home back at the hotel for dinner.
We checked out early Monday morning and began the long trip home. We first flew to London Heathrow and the split ways. My flight left mid afternoon back to Dallas and I arrived back in Dallas early Monday evening.
It was a fun and entertaining trip where I made new friends. Some of them will be on our next group trip to Italy, Greece, Ephasus, Istanbul and Germany next year.