We took the decision to "ditch" our car. two main reasons, my eye sight is not perfect for driving. my left eye  has for some years been troubled by 'macular degeneration', plus with the amount of traffic on roads nowadays, much of the pleasure has now gone out of motoring. Additionally, we are  are blessed in B-o-A by excellent public transport. Should also mention our really good Taxi service, often needed by me to reach the town centre as I now need to stop every 300 metres as walking is now a becoming strain to me.
Last year I had to report that i collapsed, resulting in a broken femur, and thus we where forced to cancel a Fred Olsen cruise to Hamburg. We found another cruise to the same area in later April - so for this we booked. The departure port was planned to be Dover, could not work out as the operator had hopped however, our
boat being hampered by bad weather while returning from its previous cruise intended to end in Southampton. Thus resulting in all that had reached Dover being "bussed" to Southampton, expensive for "fred", but an extra ride for us. We had passed through Southampton on our way to Dover, as I prefer what the railways term the 'southern route' because I like the scenery of this journey. Doubt we will do so in future though because, we found a much better route for qthe return; train from Dover to Waterloo East then just an easy walk to the main station, then get the service which travels to Bristol, thus passes through B-o-A Perfect!

So we got to Hamburg, unfortunately not berthing as close to the city centre as I would have hoped. I had thought about revisiting the "miniature's wonderland" that we'd enjoyed five or more years ago, reckon thinking about it just as well not, so we had to rely on buses to show near by places of interest. This our only trip out was to a large district devoted to fruit, this is just south of Hamburg an next to the Elbe. reckon it was a good idea

what they did, being that the land, understably was wet and marshy, they engaged the Dutch to give advice on drainage with the view to using the area for fruit. I understand this to be Germany's largest area devoted to such orchards. Presume the houses and churches we viewed above were built at the same time the orchards were established interesting styles with the thatched roof's which came as low as the first floor, our guide failed to mention the reason for such designs - though she had plenty to say on other aspects of this district ! The two 'photo's above indicate the width of the Elbe - to me a really interesting river. Ferries crossing in front of us, I took particular interest in that I saw very little commercial shipping downstream of Hamburg, usually there many ships plying between this imense inland port and the open sea as a glance at the marine traffic AIS dislay indicates. I well recall that on one of my visits to this amazing City how intrigued I was at the size of passenger Liner in port for refurbsihment.
Virtually seventy miles inland, surely no other port outside the America's could be so active in this trade?

Must say I was surprised and intrigued by the time and distance between ports in the North Sea. Fred Olsen had sent us an itinerary but confess I only viewed this following our return, but from this it appears we took a good day and a half between leaving Hamburg and reaching Amsterdam. This city, as Hamburg was of course known to me. We did manage to walk as far as the rail station, from here I roughly knew where the "red Light" district was, but regret to say my 'state of health' stopped me from walking round it - damn nuisance - doubt I'll get another chance.
The next and final city our cruise took us to, was Antwerp. Unlike the previous two, this was a 'new one' to me, and interesting I found it. We took advantage of a coach to get us to view the really interesting parts, and in view of my use of rail stations the one in in ths city. Certainly I do not recall a more 'posh' station as this. The reason being our guide informed us a former Royal leader had wanted this station to be as 'flash' as possible.
Almost six months since ceasing the use of a car. Interesting that that I so rarely miss it - one thing I do not miss being the fact that it has to be used in order to keep the battery in good order. An advantage of residing in a decent sized town being that use of a car can be avoided. End of May for example, we took a trip to Exeter. Here we based ourselves for two other rail rides,  one to Barnstaple - a good base to use for bus rides to iIlfracombe for example, which we enjoyed, or Bideford, or even Westward Ho. Enjoyable riding round on the top deck of a bus!

Following day we journied down to Plymouth. From here another intriguing little branch line travels to a place called 'Gunislake' - nothing there, but people do use this train - interesting.
Not good is it? Lack of updating I mean. Might be thought to be due to a low mood on my part, thank goodness, i'm pretty lucky in that respct - far worse regarding actual 'medical' health sorry to say. Walking being one of my main problems. By good fortune however, here in B-o-A a 'travel' company has appeared which would appear to suit me really well, most certainly to judge by the first couple of trips we've been with them, the first to Scotland in August, this for the Edinburgh Tattoo, and the second a really long trip down into Austria to be continued