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On December 27, 2018 we flew to Bangkok (Thailand). From there we flew to Mandalay (Myanmar). There we boarded our ship "RV Thurgau Exotic 3 " with 20 further passengers. We sailed southwards on the Irrawaddy river to Yangon (Rangoon) where we toured the city by bus and visited the most famous Shwedagon pagoda. From there we returned on the 9th of January via Bangkok and Frankfurt to Vienna. During our river cruise we enjoyed many excursions, by bus, by local "taxis", by horse-drawn carriages, or just walking through many local little villages. Our really wonderful guide took us to many handicraft shops - silk weaving, wood carving, varnish works, pottery producing shops, marble buddha carving shops; and of course, also to many markets and - what else - pagodas! One of our most fantastic experiences was our balloon flight over the thousands of pagodas in Bagan - one of the larger cities in Myanmar. The crew on the ship was really excellent - we felt that they really were happy to serve us and make our stay as pleasant as possible. We also had various lectures on various aspekts of life in Myanmar: Buddhism, food, clothing, local customs. We also had two beach parties, and a special one on New Year's eve with a midnight buffet with champagne
(See pictures here)



In September 2018 we flew to Zurich (Switzerland). We toured through the Swiss Alps by train. Airport Zurich - Interregio train - Lucerne (Luzern); Lucerne - Golden Pass line - Interlaken - Montreux; Montreux - express train - Visp; Visp - narrow-gauge railway Matterhorn/Gotthard train - Zermatt; Zermatt - Gornergrat train - Gornergrat; Zermatt - Glacier Express - St. Moritz; Muottas Muragl cable car - Muragl; St. Moritz - Bernina Express - Tirano (Italy) - St. Moritz; St. Moritz - Landquart - Zurich - Airport. Not only were the train streches through the most beautiful parts of the Swiss landscape, but we were also able to view the many impressive mountain ranges and glaciers. Our tour also included two ship excursions, one on Lake Thuner and one on Lake Geneva. During the whole trip we had beautiful weather!!
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In March 2018 we flew to Hamburg (Germany). We stayed there for 6 days. Besides visiting of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall we enjoyed a fantastic concert there. We also had a fantastic cruise through the harbor area where we saw large cruise ships and even larger contatiner freighters. We spent a long time in the Miniatur Wonderland. We had long walks through the various parts of the old city - Warehouse city, Harbour city, Kontorhaus city and also the area around the main train station and the inner Alster area, including the town hall market. The differnt museums we visited included the Maritime Museum, the famous art museum in the Kunsthalle, Ballin Stadt [a memorial park and former emigration station], the Spice museum and the Warehous city museum. Our various excursions were excellently commented by our travel guide.
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In January 2018 we flew to Nice [Nizza] (Provence, France). We stayed there for 6 nights. From there we visited the surrounding areas of the Cote d'Azur. Our hotel was situated just a few blocks from the coast with its extended promenade ("Promenade des Anglais") and pebbly beach. Our excursions included visits to 4 different museums - Chagall, Cocteau, Miro and Picasso in different villages. We also visited three famous gardens, which were also beautiful during winter, thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate. We also had tours through the interesting parts of the various places we visited: Nice [Nizza] - of course, Monte Carlo, Eze, Vence, Antibes, Menton and Cap Ferrat with its fabulous villas, where we also visited the villa Rothschild - at least as interesting as many museums. A highlight of our trip was the ballet performance at the Nice opera on the 31st December and our gala dinner at the hotel afterwards - of course with plenty of wine and champagne.
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In September 2017 we flew via Oslo (Norway) to Longyearbyen (Norway) - the capital of the islands of Svalbard/Spitzbergen, where we boarded the icebreaker "MV Ortelius". We sailed northwards with stops and land excursions in various fjords. One whole day we sailed through the pack ice, where we also saw our first polar bear. The trip lasted a total of 11 days.We had the best of luck with the weather, especially the temperatures and sunny weather. Of course it was cold and windy, but we were especially lucky to be able to have made two land or zodiac (rubber boat) excursions almost every day: these were always adapted to three groups - slow (just manage to walk), medium (photographers), and mountain goats. Also, our passage between the islands of Spitzbergen and Nordaustlandet (the second largest island to the north-east of the main island) was an almost unique opportunity because it was ice-free when we were there. Our "expedition" team was really superb - not only guiding us on our excursions, but also with interesting lectures not only during the excurstions, but also with beautiful picture presentations in the evening on the ship. Because the Ortelius is not such a large cruise ship, our adventurous captain was happy to take us into narrow fjords - some of which had not even been described in navigational charts. With a few rather long zodiac trips, we were able to penetrate into even remoter regions. In spite of the Ny Alesund, was another highlight of the trip.
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In April 2017 we flew to Paris (France). First we had a short tour through Paris and spent some time in the museum, l' Orangerie which features Monet's famous water lilies paitings as well as many other impressionist paintings by artists such as Picassso, Renoir, Gaugin, Rodin, Cézanne etc. We continued on to the Champage region where we spent three nights with visits to famous Champagne wineries with, of course, tastings. Our tour then took us westwards to Normandy. Here we visited many famous cities with their old city centers and beautiful cathedrals. When we reached the west coast we visited the sites where the World War II Normandy invasion took place. Here we saw a 360° movie about the invasion. A further highlight was Mont Saint Michel. On the way back to Paris, we stopped at Giverny where we visited the house and gardens of Monet where he spent most of his life and where he also painted the famous pictures that we had seen on our first day - a beautiful end to our trip. Our trip, with a few good friends, lasted 9 days. We had too much good food and wine, often for lunch we enjoyed our groumet picknicks.
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In October 2016 we flew via Frankfurt (Germany) to the island of Malta. After an interesting guided tour of Valletta -the capital of Malta - we boarded our ship, Sea Cloud. The actual speciality of the trip was to celebrate the 100th "birthday" of the two Sea Cloud sail ships (Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II) - the two ships sailed this whole trip together in parallel. As we left the Valletta harbour, Sea Cloud cruises arranged for spectacular fireworks visible not only for us but all Maltesians. We sailed north to the island of Sicily where we stopped at Naxos-Taormina where we had lots of luck with the weather on our remarkable tour up the volcano, mount Etna (Ätna), up to almost 3000 meters. Our tour included up to a side crater (the main caldera was a little bit smokey) with a walk around its rim. When we left Naxos, we sailed through the narrow straight at Messina and further north to the island of Stromboli which has an active volcano - it erupts about every 5 - 10 minutes. It was wonderful to see at night. After a further days sailing we reached Palermo where we also had a great tour of the city, and in the evening, an exclusive visit to a beautiful palazzo with a concert given by local musicians. After Palermo we had a rather stormy day at sea before we arrived at Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia. Here we also had a great tour of the city and later a trip to a local winery also with people from Sea Cloud II; we were rather surprised at the good quality of their wines. Another beautiful day at sea, and after a 9-course capitan's farewell dinner, we arrived at the island of Mallorca (Spain) the next morning. We disembarked at Palma de Mallorca and spent another two days there. Here we also had a guided tour through the city and through the countryside - including a train ride through the mountains to a beautiful bay with lunch at the beach there (Soller). In the evening we went to a wine tasting with Sea Cloud II people which also included a flamenco concert.The whole trip lasted 9 days.
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In September 2016 we flew via Munich (Germany) to Turin (Italy). (Deutsch: Piemont / English: Piedmont). The trip lasted 4 days. We went to 8 wine tastings. This was hard work, not a vacation, because at the meals we tasted further! We also admired the beautiful cities and villages in this area (Alba, Asti, Barolo, Barbaresco, Turin etc.). The scenery is also beautiful, so we see again that the best wine grows in the most beautiful areas (in Austria too). Before every wine tasting, we had a tour through the winery and we again learned a lot about wine making - not only new methods, but especially also about the old traditional ways. We also spent one morning seeking truffles - with a local truffle-hunter and his truffle dog - "we" actually found four black truffles. We were a small group of 8 people plus our trip guide and wine expert (who also arranged this trip). We had our own comfortable van for our excursions. We spent our nights in a hotel practically in the center of Alba. On the last day we had a half-day tour in Turin.
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In March 2016 we flew via Frankfurt (Germany) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) to San José (Costa Rica) where we boarded the sailing ship "Sea Cloud" in the Costa Rican harbor Puerto Limon, on the Caribbean coast. We sailed northwards with stops and land excursions in Nicaragua: beach party with swimming and snorkeling, Honduras: zip line tour - over the treetops of the jungle, Belize: excursions to two major Maya ruin sites and a super snorkeling tour around the famous "Great Blue Hole", Mexico (Cozumel) with an all-day beach buggy tour including snorkeling and sight seeing, and finally we spent a few days in Havana, Cuba including an old-timer sightseeing tour, a three hour guided walk through "old Havana", and also a trip to sites famous for their relevance to Hemingway. We flew back home directly from Havana. The trip lasted a total of 16 days.

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In November 2015 we flew via Frankfurt (Germany) and Houston (Texas) to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and stayed there for 7 days relaxing in our time-share apartment. Marion - a very good old friend of Monica's - and her husband, Nick joined us there for the whole week; we spent many pleasant hours together. Besides walking around Cabo San Lucas and testing the margaritas and beer in various places, we made a deep sea fishing trip with Marion and her husband. Among other things we went on a trip to Todos Santos and San José del Cabo. Marion also very much enjoyed her swimming with dolphins - something she had been dreaming about for a long time. The second week we went on a cruise on a small ship (56 passangers) up the Gulf of California. We went snorkeling, sea kayaking, hiking and went on a mule ride.
One of the best snorkeling was with wild sea lions and later even with whale sharks - the largest known fishes - what an experience! The weather was always sunny and warm. The flight back led us back to Houston and then to Frankfurt and Vienna.
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On April 18, 2015 we flew to Paris (France) for a 9 day trip to visit the wine region Burgundy. We were a small group of 8 people, friends with whom we had visited France before. We toured the region in a van, driving about 1,600 kilometers! We visited many villages where we walked through the beautifully restored old parts of town. We not only also visited several well-known wineries for tastings, and, of course, buying wine, but also had a mustard tasting in a Dijon mustard factory in Beaune, and also a snail tasting in a snail farm (yummy!). Of course we also saw many cathedrals, abbeys and museums. We also climbed up a mountain and were rewarded with a most beautiful view of the Burgundy countryside. Well, what should I say about the food and wine? We gained about 5 kilos (Gerhard and Monica combined) - I guess that explains it all.
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On February 2, 2015 we flew via Oslo (Norway) to Bodø for a short trip (6 days) to visit the Lofoten islands and further north to Tromsø to see Northern Lights. After a tour of Bodø city, we drove to "Salstraumen" where one of the most remarkable tide effects is found. The tide forces itself through a narrow passage, creating massive vortices. From Bodø - which is already above the Arctic Circle - we went by ship to the Lofoten islands (a group of islands off the coast of Norway), where we toured the islands by bus to Svolvaer; fortunately we had beautiful sunny weather so we could really enjoy the spectacular mountains and fjords with their many picturesque villages. Then we boarded a "Hurtigruten" ship again with more spectacular sights. After spending the night on the ship we reached Tromsø in the afternoon. We saw some tourist attractions in Tromsø, but the highlight of our stay there was a visit with Sami people which included a reindeer sleigh ride, a typical Sami meal with reindeer meat, and a short introduction about the Sami and their culture. Unfortunately our "Northern lights safari" was unsuccessful because no clear skies were in sight. The next morning we started on our trip home - very lucky to escape the blizzard that was brewing there.
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On October 7, 2014 we flew to Bilbao (Spain) for a short trip (6 days) to visit Bilbao and to taste wine ( almost 50 different wines!! ) at 8 wineries in the famous wine area Rioja. For two days we visited Bilbao with it's famous new Guggenheim museum - and other impressive architecture, but also the very interesting old gothic quarter. After that we stayed in the city of Logroño, the capitol city of Rioja, from where we undertook our different tours to the Bodegas (wineries) of this famous Spanish wine region. The wineries we visited were some of the best of the region - some also with impressive modern architecture. The size of some of these was also remarkable - producing up to a million bottles per year! Our tours were arranged by a dedicated "wine tasting and gourmet" travel agent, and in the pleasant company of 13 further wine lovers.
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On December, 29 2013 we flew to Milan (Italy) to spend New Year's Eve there. The trip lasted 4 days. The main reason of our trip was to see the famous Milan opera house, the Scala. As a highlight of our trip we enjoyed "La Traviata". However we also had very interesting and informative guided tours to other sights, such as the Milan cathedral, the fresco painting, "The Last Supper" of Leonardo da Vinci, the many famous elegant shops including the mall Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Our tours also included other beautiful churches, quaint alleys, museums, and, of course, great food and wine in typical Italian trattorias.
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In October 2013 we flew via Frankfurt and Baku (Azerbaijan) to Ashgabat (Turkmenistan). From there we went on a chartered train along the old Silk Road from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan. The trip lasted 14 days and was a little bit strenuous because there was so much to see! There were 92 passengers on the train who were separated into 6 separate groups for the local bus tours. We were lucky to be in the smallest group of 6 persons - and lucky to have such pleasant people in our group. We had the best local tour guide - perfect in organization and very knowledgeable. We made excursions by bus from various stops, with the absolute highlights, of course, in every stop in Uzbekistan. Also really interesting was the visit to a little local village in the mountain region of Uzbekistan - they receive visits from the "west" only 4 times a year when this train stops close by. All lokal people were very friendly and actually enjoyed it when we wanted to photograph them! We always enjoyed the very good and varied lokal foods both on the train and at various restaurants (some of us did have some stomache problems although we did our best to prevent them with copious amounts of the medicine - vodka). The trip was organized very well.
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In March 2013 we flew via Dubai to the Seychelles (a group of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar) where we sailed on a small ship (22 passengers) to 10 of the various islands of the archipelago. The trip lasted 12 days. More than 25% of the Seychelles area and islands are a nature protected area. We enjoyed nature hikes on all the islands we visited - often guided by the responsible rangers of that nature preserve. There were also daily opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. The flora and fauna on all the islands were truly awesome! There exist many endemic species - so we saw many plants that we had never seen before - among them also many fruits. The islands are also known for their spices, and also for their Coco-de-Mer. We had a very pleasant time on the ship itself - a good excuse to enjoy the (too much) food and cocktails, but also the excellent care and attention of the crew.
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In January 2013 we flew to Naples (Italy) and continued by bus to Sorrento where our hotel was located - on a really beautiful spot where we had a fantastic view of the Gulf of Naples and the volcano Vesuvius. The trip lasted 6 days; our guided tours took us to Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii and Naples. Not only did we see many beautiful cathedrals and abbeys and the Roman ruins in Pompeii, but also local orange and lemon plantations - with tastings of their products. We especially liked the typical speciality, "limoncello", a sweet lemon liqueur. We also visited many Nativity Scenes [Krippen] that are especially common and, therefore, very elaborate in this area. They include not only the scene in the stable with the holy family, but also scenes of the daily life in villages and most of the professional guilds represented. We even visited a "live" scene. On our tour to Naples we returned to Sorrento by ship. We were really lucky with the weather, it was beautifully sunny and warm throughout our stay.
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In June 2012 we flew to Paris (France) and continued by a very fast train (TGV - 250 km/h = 155 ml/h) to Rennes in Brittany. The trip lasted 11 days and we drove round Brittany (Bretagne) on a bus. Besides the great food, especially the fantastic seafood, there was very much to see: from ancient historic sites, many cathedrals, picturesque Medieval towns with their half-timbered houses, fishing villages, spectacular seaside cliffs and beaches, and an incredible profusion of flowers everywhere. The highlight of the trip, without a doubt, was Mont-Saint-Michel.
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In April 2012 we flew via Dubai (UAE) and Muscat (Oman) to Salalah (Oman). The trip lasted 11 days and we drove over 1,500 km [930 ml]. From Salalah we went on various excursions: to the anthropological museum, to various very old ruins of forts and trading centers, also the many natural sights to the east and to the west of Salalah. Of course we also visited the old town part of Salalah with the famous frankincense [Weihrauch] souq. We usually ate at our beautiful hotel directly on the Indian Ocean, but also enjoyed many local "restaurants" (we never had any stomach problems!). After that we started our 4-wheel drive part of the trip, the first three days in tents - much to the chagrin of Gerhard who ached all over - sleeping and sitting on the hard desert ground! We headed north through the frankincense plantations directly to and through one of the largest deserts in the world, the Rub al Khali (extends over almost the whole area of Arabia). For us, that was one of the most fascinating parts of the trip - the many, many varied facets of the desert, the dunes, the wadis, the mountain ranges! Our two jeeps drove the dunes - the real thing, not the short tourist jeep drives that are usually offered. Also the many camels that roamed the desert - and really found food, were fascinating. After driving about 700 kilometers [435 miles] through the desert, we reached the coast of the Arabian Sea where we had our last tent camp. Then we headed further north first along the coast with its many fishing villages into the mountains. One of the highlights here was the village Misfah, a beautiful oasis on the slope of a mountain with lots and lots of water. Another fantastic sight was the "Grand Canyon" of Oman, Wadi Nakhr. There we spent the night in a beautiful mountain resort with a spectacular sunset. Our trip then continued on towards the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, north of Muscat, the capital of Oman. Of course, here there were also many sights to see, (now only) the second largest mosque of the world - with the second largest rug in the world. We also toured through the very modern part of Muscat - primarily government buildings and palaces for the Sultan. After visiting the fish market and various meals at very "local" restaurants, it was already time to leave. We flew home from Muscat via Dubai.
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In January 2012 we flew via Dominican Republic to San José (Costa Rica). After two days in San José, with trips to the Poás volcano and to the turrialba region we boarded the sailing ship Sea Cloud II. First we sailed eastwards in the Carribean sea to Panama. We sailed through the Panama Canal - one of the highlights of the trip. We then sailed further into Panama, into one of the remaining primitive, undeveloped areas of Central America - the Darien jungle where we visited a primitive tribe. Then we sailed westwards to a idyllic small island, Granito de Oro in the Coiba National Park where there was a good opportunity for swimming and interesting snorkeling. Then further northwestwards back to Costa Rica where we had several hiking excursions: Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Curu National Reserve and Carara National Park where we "sailed" through the trees of the rain forest and hiked over hanging bridges. At the end of our trip we had a beach bar-b-que lunch. The trip lasted 16 days; we enjoyed the hot humid weather, but, unfortunately little wind (so not much sailing). The ship was very comfortable with fantastic food (and of course, cocktails)!
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In October 2011 we flew to Thessaloniki (Greece) and continued on by bus via a little mountain village to Ioannina. We then continued on, by ferry, to the island of Korfu. After visiting the island we sailed back to the mainland and drove south via Atra to Patras where we boarded a ferry to Ithaka (the island of Odysseus). After that we returned to the mainland and drove back toward the north where we stayed at Konitsa. During the whole trip we had many stops where we visited old abbies, antique forts, ancient ruins and museums; since this was a trip organized by the Austrian alpine club, we also went on many beautiful hikes over mountains and through deep canyons. We flew back to Vienna from Thessaloniki again.
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In February 2011 we flew to Toulouse (France) and continued on to Lalbenque by a van. We stayed there for 4 nights in a beautifully renovated old hotel. For 2 nights we stayed in a hotel in Souillac. We visited the surrounding areas (Périgord and Quercy) with many cathedrals and beautiful old buildings. This area of southern France is full of quaint old villages - also renovated for modern living without distroying their medieaval character. However, the area of Périgord is especially know for its truffles - that was also one of the main purposes of our trip. We went to one of the most famous truffel markets close to our hotel in Lalbenque. Also, at our hotel we had a lengthy lecture about truffels and we actually went on a truffle hunt with a truffle dog (she actually found a few!). We always had the most delicious food and very good wines. At the end we visited the city of Toulouse.
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At the end of July 2010 we flew to St. Petersburg (Russia). We stayed there for 6 days and visited all the famous places of interest like the Hermitage, Peterhof - the summer residence of Peter the Great, Isaac's Cathedral, Catherine Palace in Pushkin, etc. We also went on a boat trip through many of the canals and rivers where we saw many of the old villas, parks and monuments. We were really impressed by the city - not only had museums, churches, and palaces been beautifully restored, but the city had also become very modern and "western" with expensive cars causing road jams, and restaurants like McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken all over the place.
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In June 2010 we flew to Paris (France) and continued on to Bordeaux on the TGV (a very fast train). We were a small group of 6 people with an excellent guide and stayed in a beautiful old Château (castle). From there we visited the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding areas (Bordelaise) with many cathedrals and beautiful old buildings. The two main purposes of the trip were culture and wine! The Chateau where we stayed is an old castle dating back to the 12th century. It is beautifully restored and has all the most modern and elegant comforts. There we had our breakfast every day and a fantastic gala dinner at the end of our stay. In case you are interested, have a look at:
http://www.chateaux-france.com/lamotheprincenoir. We went on different all day excursions every day of the six days of this trip. Lunch was usually a delicious picknick at a scenic site (of course with different wines and local specialities), and dinner was always at excellent restaurants serving local dishes, one day our lunch consisted of the best oysters we had ever eaten. Then, of course, the wine tastings - we visited all the well known wine regions of the Bordelaise and tasted the wines in various chateaus - as many as three or four each day - we lost count ;-).
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In February 2010 we flew via London and Dallas (Texas) to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and stayed there for 7 days relaxing in our time-share apartment. Besides walking around Cabo San Lucas and testing the margaritas and beer in various places, we went on a ATV- (Quad-bike) tour through the desert into the mountains. One day we also went snorkeling and kayaking. The second week we went on a cruise on a small ship (65 passangers) in the Gulf of California. We went on various excursions, the main one was a whale-watching trip to Magdalena Bay on the west side of the peninsula. We also went on some guided hiking trips with nature experts. One of the best snorkeling we did was with wild sea lions - what an experience! The weather was always sunny and warm. The flight back led us back to Dallas and then to Paris and Vienna.
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In November 2009 we flew to Dubai. We saw not only Dubai, but also Abu Dhabi and Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and Oman. We stayed three days in Dubai where we had a dinner cruise on "Dubai Creek" and also went on a one day trip to Abu Dhabi. Then we went to Sharjah (north of Dubai) and stayed there for seven days. From there we went on a one day trip to Oman (dhow cruise with swimming and snorkeling!). One of the highlights was a wild desert safari in four-wheel-drive Jeep with the evening in a desert lodge with belly dancing and fantastic local barbeque food. We also visited Al Ain, one of the oldest inhabited sites in the desert - as a large oasis it was a central meeting point of the routes through the desert. There we saw interesting archeological excavations; and also went to a camel market. The weather was always sunny and warm (not hot), only inside rooms and vehicles (even in the bus station huts) it was very cold (Aircondition !!). One of the things that impressed us the most was the fantastic architecture, many, many fantastically beautiful high-rise buildings in the urban areas - of course also the islands that have been created off the coast. There are many huge shopping malls with all the well-known designer shops, and incredibly also ski slopes and ice skating rinks.
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In April 2009 we flew via Athens to the island of Rhodes (Greece). We stayed close to Rhodes City in the same hotel for a week. From our hotel we made daily hikes at differet places of the island. We visited various abbeys, castles - some of them built by the Crusaders (Johanniter), Roman ruins, and ancient greek temples.We also toured through the old part of the city of Rhodes where we also visited various museums. One day we took the ferry to the little island of Symi - according to travel guides, one of the lovliest places in all of Greece. The weather was always sunny and warm - just perfect for hiking. We had an extremely knowledgeable and pleasant local guide as well as perfect organization from our Mountaneering Club.
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In March 2009 we made a trip to Egypt. We flew to Cairo (18 m. inhabitants) where we visited the oldest capital of lower Egypt, Memphis, the step pyramid in Sakkara (the oldest pyramid) and then major pyramids and the Sphinx at Gizeh. In Cairo we also had a guided tour of the famous Egyptian museum, a major Bazaar, and the Citadel. From Cairo we flew to Luxor where we visited, on the west side of the Nile, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Artists and the Collossi of Memnon. On the east side of the Nile we visited, among other famous sites, the Karnak temple. From Luxor we started our river cruise, first northwards to Dendera with its famous Hathor temple. Returning southwards to Luxor we visited the temple of Luxor at night - a singularly spectacular sight. Then we continued our cruise up the Nile - southwards to Edfu with its temple, Kom Ombo with its temple and then to Assuan (Aswan). In Assuan we visited the famous Assuan dam and the Philae temple. We also enjoyed a short sail on a felucca (typical Egyptian sail boat). From there we flew to Abu Simbel where we visited the spectacular temple complex of Ramses II and his wife, Nefertari. This was certainly a highlight of our trip, not only because of the impressive size and beauty of the temples, but also because of the incredible effort invested to move it in its entirety 64 meters (210 ft) higher to avoid being flooded by the rising waters of the Nile which became the reservoir Lake Nasser (500 km long (310 miles)). Then we flew back to Vienna via Cairo. The whole trip lasted 9 days. Except for one desert sand storm, the weather was always sunny and warm.
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At the turn of the year 2008 / 2009 we flew via Palma (Mallorca) to Málaga (Spain). We visited also Granada and Ronda. The whole trip lasted 5 days. The weather was sometimes rainy but mostly sunny and not cold. In Málaga we had two guided walking city tours around the center of the city - the old part of Málaga. We lived in a very nice hotel in the very center one block from the cathedral. We also walked around by ourselves especially on New Year's eve where we saw the local festivities. Of course we also enjoyed the good food and wine in local restaurants. The day's trip to Granada took us through extensive olive tree plantations on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Our main sightseeing destination in Granada was the famous Alhambra - the second most popular tourist destination in Europe, after the Vatican. The trip to Ronda took us via many steep winding roads through the Sierra Ronda to this old little village, one of the famous "white" villages. The village Ronda has two parts, the old and the new; these are separated by a deep chasm - a sight worth seeing. One of the oldest and largest bull fighting arenas is in Ronda. Here bull-fighting history was made; it is still a very alive and popular sport here. Ronda is also known for many famous visitors who lived here, among them is Hemingway who wrote two of his books about this village ("For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Death in the Afternoon").
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In November 2008 we flew to Bangkok (Thailand) where we stayed 2 days; the trip included one whole day sight-seeing in Bangkok, part of which was on a boat touring the city through various canals and the Chao Phraya river. This city tour also included Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn. Then we continued on, via Gaya (India), to Paro (Bhutan). We toured there for 10 days in Jeeps (two persons per jeep!). Every day the weather was beautiful, cold at night but sunny and warm during the day. We visited many of the Dzongs that are so typical of Bhutan - fort-monasteries (Klosterfestungen), two of which were high up mountains - we had to hike up to heights of about 3000 m (10,000 ft). On our tour we also had spectacular views of the country and the Himalayas. We stayed in beautiful hotels, except one which was rather simple (taditional) but in walking distance to a venue where we twice attended one of the traditional dance festivals. These are not meant to be tourist attractions, but are religious ceremonies performed for Bhutanese people since hundreds of years. We also had lunch once in a typical farmer's house - one of the best meals we had - sitting on the floor! Archery is the national sport of Bhutan; we saw an official competition and also an infomal one where our drivers participated - the distance to the target is 140 m (460 ft); they also let us have a try - however, only at 20 meters. We also went on various shorter hikes and visited many temples (no shoes, no photography). We flew back from Paro to Katmandul (Nepal) - with absolutely spectacular views of the Himalayas including Mt. Everest. From Katmandu we flew back to Bangkok and continued on to Vienna.
(See pictures here)



In January 2008 we flew via Madrid (Spain) to Quito (Ecuador), we went on city tours of Quito and on a day's trip to Cotopaxi National Park; Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano on earth! We then flew 1000 km (625 miles) to Baltra (Galapagos islands). There we went on a 14 day cruise on a small ship, the Angelito (12 passengers) from which we made daily excursions to the different islands. We visited 14 islands, several with multiple stops and land excursions every day each lasting about 2.5 to 3 hours. These were led by Maja, an extremely knowledgeable and pleasant local guide. On these various excursions and snorkelings, we saw all the different and unique local animals and plants at very close range; to see how fascinating this was, you really have to have a look at our pictures! Besides many snorkeling opportunities, after almost each excursion we had the great opportunity to relax and cool off by swimming around the Angelito in fantastically clear waters. Most of the time the weather was hot and humid, but still very pleasant on the well-designed Angelito. We flew back from Baltra to Guayaquil (Ecuador) from where we - after a city tour of Guayaquil - flew back to Madrid and continued on to Viennavia Madrid (Spain).
(See pictures here)



In October 2007
we flew to Arrecife, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) for a 7 days vacation. We stayed in a small apartment in a beautiful resort.We drove around the whole island and visited the volcanos, large areas of lava, the famous beach resorts, but also small fishing villages and vinyards! The wine was not all that spectacular, but we did have great food - mainly seafood. There were spectacular sights, and also museums. Almost the whole island seems to have been designed by Cesar Manrique - very artistic and tasteful - he saw to it that there are absolutely no billboards or advertisements anywhere, instead the roads and highways are all lined with palm trees or other plants - cacti. All houses are in the same traditional style - whitewashed with green windows and doors - a beautiful contrast to the black volcanic soil.
(See pictures here)



In September 2007
we flew to Pisa in Tuskany(Toskana) (Italy) for a 14 days vacation in a beautiful big old villa, which we had rented with a few friends. We visited Firenze (Florenz), Pisa, Lucca, Siena and San Gimignano car and mon wich included some days hiking and a train ride on the famous "El Pacifico" train across the Sierra Madre. We stayed in Lodges in El Fuerte, San Rafael and Creel. After this fantastic tour we flew to the Baja where we spent a few days in Loreto an then went on to our time share apartment in Cabo San Lucas. We went on two exciting ATV (all terrain vehicles) excursions in the desert and on the beach. Then we flew to Baltimore where we visited with Monica's Mother. We also went up to West Virginia to Monica's brother.
(See pictures here)

Mai 2002 we made a trip to China again. The last time we were there was 1998. It has changed a lot! This time we visited the Three Gorges on a 4 day ship tour on the Yangtze River, the Terracotta Army in Xian, the very south at Guilin, various other cities and of course Beijing and Shanghai. The landscape was terrific and the cities were exciting. The culture and the people are so strange to us. The weather was quite good (hot) and we liked the Chineese food - so it was a really remarkable trip! (See pictures here)

March/April 2001 we visited Florida (USA). Besides Miami Beach, Cape Canaveral, Orlando(Walt Disney's Epcot), St.Petersburg (Salvador Dali museum), Everglades and the Florida Keys we also chartered a ship (Miss Alma a 36 foot motoryacht). For the first time Monica and I managed to operate a ship by ourselves without a skipper (bareboat). It worked really well and we went from Sarasota to Captiva (Ft.Myers) and back in one week. Our friend Brigitte was with us again and made a video movie about this trip.
(See pictures here)

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