Thursday, 20 April 1978
In Vienna 9.00 am. City sightseeing. Klaus the guide had an excellent command of English expression and was very subtle. Vienna occupied by four powers until 1955. Monument to the Russian soldier commemorates 17,000 Soviet soldiers.
Visited the palace of Schönbrunn (1400+ rooms). Inspected about 40 rooms. Decorated walls and ceilings – timber covered with gilt. Original furniture still in rooms. Magnificent ceramic stoves 8-10 feet high in the corners of the rooms. Stoves fuelled by wood from out of the room. Rooms of Maria Theresa, the various Habsburgs, Franz Joseph, Napoleon. Small reception hall, large reception hall 150 x 35 feet. Painted ceilings, oriental rooms.
Afternoon, walked down to the main shopping area. People very well dressed. Lots of dogs and dog dirt everywhere.
Had meal in snack bar. Soup, ham and eggs.
Wednesday, 19 April 1978
One of only four days throughout the entire trip where there was no entry. However, I thought it would be nice to reproduce some very brief words put together by Elsie on their lives.
1952 – Jim and I were married. We moved to Hurstville, where we worked for the next couple of years restoring the house Jim had purchased sometime during the war. It was a lot of work, but all good fun. We were not blessed with children.
1960 – I became involved with the Scouting movement and for the next 20 years I was a leader with 1st Kingsway Scout Group. Jim was a school teacher so we both enjoyed other folk’s children.
1983 – Jim retired from teaching and we enjoyed caravaning and several lovely trips about this beautiful country.
1989 – Jim passed away. I was able to carry on with the help of so many wonderful friends
– especially friends from Scouting days, Church and family. I joined a ‘Probus Group’ , became involved with supporting ‘Stewart House’ and also Legacy. I enjoyed golf, bowls and gardening.
I give thanks for a full and happy life.
Tuesday, 18 April 1978
Frosty morning, fine day
Left Koblenz at 8.45. Motorway very impressive. 15 minutes to boat for 2½ hour trip up the Rhine. River very wide flowing fairly quickly. Lots of barges going both ways. Steep sides of the hills planted with grapevines. Rhine wine 0.50 DM per glass. Sweet Riesling not very impressive. A number of castles used to demand a toll for the use of the river. Travelled down as far as the Lorelei Rock. Rejoined bus 1½ hours. A chaff bag for lunch [containing] a three-course meal – soup, meatball and veges, pear & jam.
A river toll house
Travelled for 2 hours along motorway into Bavaria. Very fertile fields, fully cultivated. Drinks at a self service machine place – 1.20 for Fanta, mineral water.
Castles on the Danube River
The Danube ferry
Further 1½ hours to Regensburg on the junction of the Danube and the Regen rivers . Arrived 7.10. Very nice room with shower and toilet. Tea at about 8.10. Soup, large rissole type and peas and rice. Diced pineapple to follow. Cup of tea 1.50 DM.
No walking. Breakfast tomorrow at 6.30 am.
Monday, 17 April 1978
The Belgium Atomium
Optional tour (£3.50) around Brussells. Atomium (1958 World Fair) viewed from distance. Past Chinese temple transferred from American World Fair 1900 to here. Used as a museum but not open on Mondays. Very ornate carved woodwork. Past embassies and other large buildings. Building for Courts of Justice very church-like. New Common Market building of glass. St Michael’s Cathedral – beautiful stained glass windows of 1537, 1568. Done in a process that used oil colours. Much lighter – very big. Very ornate carved wooden pulpit depicting Adam and Eve scene running from the Garden of Eden.
Special Square that is surrounded by old middle age buildings put up by the various guilds. Bus parked and we walked back. Very cold and cloudy.
Three course meal back at restaurant at 12.00. Salad, pork chop and veg and two rings of pineapple. Left at 1.15.
Travelled along motorway to German border through picturesque farming lands. Neat paddocks fully cultivated to the road edges. Very tidy houses and yards. Brownish bricks and dark roofs.
At border an official walked along the bus just to see that we had a passport. A bank and self service food shop were alongside. (£1 = 58 Bfr / £1 = 3.7 DM [Deutsche Mark])
Continued along motorway. By-passed Cologne (Koln). Turned off to travel through Bonn (West German capital). Followed the Rhine down for many miles. Occasional castles on hills. many barges, some heavily laden to the waterline. Many fine views of the river and the steep hills on the far side which are cultivated to grow grapes. Stayed at a hotel 7km out of Koblenz. Hotel is right on the river’s edge.
Castles on the Rhine
Another castle on the Rhine
Soup, steak and kidney and vegies, yoghurt.
In all the hotels you have to pay extra for drinks, tea or coffee. Tea and coffee served in china teapots (6 DM).
Sunday, 16 April 1978
Raw throat arrived. Redoxon & Disprin.
Taxi at 8.45 to Victoria [Station]. Queued up at sign for 3410 but no activity. After a while another large group came along looking for their sign. Alan Coggan, his wife Noreen and their two girls. A friend of his, Bob, his wife and their three children were travelling with them. They had had a minibus around Scotland & England.
Dover Ferry with Alan (ex-Oatley 13 yrs ago) on same tour
Names checked and moved off to the train about 9.45. Special carriages for Cosmos groups. About 9 bus loads.
Cosmos tour of Europe
1¼ hours to Dover. Through Customs to boat. Boat left 12.30. Smooth crossing 3½ hr trip.
Ostende at 5 o’clock Belgium time. About an hour before we started off in the bus. Very modern bus.
Drove along motorway through Bruges to Brussels (120km). Fully cultivated fields, very tidy houses and yards. Flemish & French spoken.
Some congestion of buses at hotel. Had tea at restaurant. Soup, chicken and chips and peas. Ice cream.
Stayed in hotel. Wit went out to change some money to buy some water £1 = 56 Bfr [Belgium Franc]. 1 bottle of spa water 50 Bfr. Dosed up with Redoxon and Disprin. Tea/coffee 45p each.
Saturday, 15 April 1978
Tube to Embankment – walked up to Charing Cross to catch the 9.35 to Gravesend. Fast train. Windows so dirty it was difficult to see out. 45 min trip. Met by Gillian and Robin and the three kids Nigel, Frances and Darryl. Cortina estate car. Gillian and the kids were very excited to meet us. They have a very neat two-storey semi with spacious windows that Rob has put in. Block about 27’ x 120’.
Special dinner for us. Study of the photographs.
Elsie’s cousin Gillian and family – Elsie, Gillian, Robin, Nigel, Darren and Frances
Drove down the motorway to Canterbury Cathedral (20 miles). Cathedral dates back to 1100s. Lots of restoration work continuously going on. Window glass has been badly eroded away. The nave section is magnificent to view from the seats as you look up.
Frances and her Guinea Pigs
Darren – the Cub
Tea at Gillian’s. Kids anxious to show a movie but time ran out.
Caught 10.17 back to Charing Cross. Back at 11.40. Packed our bags.
Sore throat on right side coming on.
Friday, 14 April 1978
6oC – cold, cloudy
Tube to St Pauls [Cathedral]. There at 10.30. Waited for conducted Super Tour at 11. Taken around by the Verger who had so much of interest to show us and tell us about. The Cathedral designed by Christopher Wren started in 1675 was completed in 1710. Very light inside as it was designed not to have stained glass windows. The choir has been made out of carved timber by Gibbins and the ceiling area has been decorated in mosaic glass.
Taken down to the crypt – Nelson, Wellington. Wellington’s funeral carriage designed from melted down guns from Waterloo was built in 18 days.
Walked up to the Whispering Gallery on the inside of the dome. Up to the circular area where the stone work supporting the cross begins (607 steps) through continuous circular stairway and iron spiral stairways. 3½ [hours] in cathedral.
From the top of St Paul’s Cathedral
Very nice lunch in snack bar nearby.
Walked down Ludgate Hill to Fleet Street to Aldwych Bank. To Oxford Street and a Shetland shop where Elsie bought a skirt & jumper. Looked through some shops and then tubed back.
Tea in small neat restaurant at Gloucester Street. Packed one bag to see if we could fit our gear for the European trip. One bag and the shoulder bag.
Thursday, 13 April 1978
Seemed slightly warmer this morning. Weather forecast – cloudy but no drizzle. Set off to Tower Hill. Drizzle when we came out of the Underground. Turned much colder. Bag inspection etc for bombs.
9.45 joined a tour with a Beef-Eater. Rather gruesome commentary on the history of the Towers and the number of people who had their heads removed from their bodies.
Bloody Tower, Beauchamp Tower, White Tower (Norman), Oriental Display, Fusiliers Museum, Chapel. Lots of suits of armour on display. Raining steadily. Very cold.
Tower Bridge from the Tower grounds
Came out about 1 (3 hours looking). Raining. Beautiful and warm in the Tower Restaurant outside of Tower area. Had three-course meal to warm us up.
Caught tube to Westminster. Joined a super tour at 2.45 (£1.50). Had a delightful guide. Took us around the old [Westminster] Abbey section and cloisters. Around the various chapels. Tremendous amount to see. Famous people everywhere. Some very beautiful chapels (1½ hour tour).
Too wet to walk around. Sat in Abbey. Later walked up Victoria Street to Victoria Station. Air very cold. Tea at Victoria. Too cold to stay out so returned to room. Forecast of cold night and day to follow.
Wednesday, 12 April 1978
Very cold, cloudy
Walked up to bank – very crisp. Jennifer and Jeff came to pick us up at about 10.40.
Drove into town. Walked into Whitehall past Cenotaph, into Downing Street and stood outside No. 10. Up past the Horse Guards – 2 mounted sentries on beautiful black horses. To Trafalgar Square, up Haymarket, Piccadilly Circus (Statue of Eros) to edge of Soho, St James Square, Waterloo steps across St James Park back to car.
Jeff, Elsie and Anthony
The Cutty Sark
Drove along Thames – southern side down to area where Cutty Sark is moored. Walked in cold rain to Greenwich Observatory. Magnificent display of navigation and time clocks, old telescopes. Walked along and astride of Greenwich Meridian. One foot in the East and one foot in the West. Headed out to where Jennifer used to live and the house that J & G lived in until 11 yrs of age.
Heavy clouds as we arrived at J & J’s place. Very comfortable place. Big tea. Wines – parsnip, rhubarb, elderberry.
Timothy (Sheffield Uni), Michael (application for job with tube makers), Anthony (can’t get a word in). Timothy showed some slides of Kent and his trips.
Caught 11.25 train (from Sidcup) – ½ hour trip to Charing Cross. Caught taxi £1.25. Back about 12.25.
Tuesday, 11 April 1978
The gardens area and trees are heavily covered with snow. It’s the coldest April day since 1940. Aren’t we lucky! Elsie couldn’t help laughing about coming to England in the springtime and having it snow so heavily.
From the hotel balcony the morning after we arrived in London
Big walking day:
To Aldwych to the bank (£100 in traveller’s cheques) – Wind very cold.
Down the Strand to Nelson’s Column and Trafalgar Square.
Down The Mall to Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace.
Queen Victoria’s Monument near the Palace gates
Visited Guide shop and Scout shop (all very warm inside).
Cheap fish lunch in Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Called at Cosmos to pick up tickets and tour notes.
Back to Victoria Station to find Platform 7 in readiness for Sunday.
Tube to Knightsbridge and walked around shopping centre. Harvey Nichol’s – very expensive. Arrived at Harrods only 10 minutes before closing – will have to go back – appears to be a very big store.
Walked back to South Kensington. Lots of licensed restaurants but could not find any cafes.
Back to room after tea as it was very cold outside. Forecast of 0oC overnight.