Friday June 21, 2013

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All good things come to an end … and our Mad Midlife river-cruise-which-became-a-coach-tour through Holland, Germany, Austria and Hungary (with a side-trip to Prague in the Czech Republic) is pretty much over.

We had time to sleep-in and relax on Wednesday in beautiful Oberammergau. Located about 100kms southwest of Munich, this small alpine centre – surrounded by forested (and, in winter, snow-covered) mountains – is famous for its peace and quiet, its wood carvings and house-paintings, plus (as I’ve already mentioned) its Passion Play.

The Passion Play (in case you don’t know) dates back to the year 1633, during the Thirty Years War. After months of suffering and death due to the Plague, the villagers made a vow to God that, if they were spared, then every 10th year thereafter they would perform a play about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. There were no more lives lost to the Plague … the villagers have kept their word for more than 375 years.

We Cooneys saw the Passion Play in 2010 – a remarkable, unforgettable experience – and we hope to return in 2020, when this dramatic production (involving a cast of 2400 locals) will be performed again to packed houses and more than half-a-million visitors-plus-pilgrims from all around the world.

(If you’d like to join us in 2020, register your interest now with Roger Glynan: phone 0800 277 477 or email [email protected].)

On Wednesday afternoon, we drove north through Germany’s Black Forest region to Heidelberg – the famous university city (with its baroque Old Town and evocative half-ruined castle, built in 1214 out of red sandstone) which we first visited just two weeks ago. The main attractions this time? A welcoming bed in the Crowne Plaza City Centre Hotel … our final Midlife Madness Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant … and the chance, this morning, to return to a small bakery we found a fortnight ago that makes the best iced-chocolate and apple-strudel in the universe!

Yesterday, we motored back onto the autobahn for one last drive – to Frankfurt and the airport and our homebound flight. And, come 9:15-ish last night, we filed aboard a Singapore Airlines 777 and readied ourselves for take-off.



To cap-off a tour that saw (i) our much-looked-forward-to river cruise flooded out, plus (ii) a heat-wave raise temperatures on the streets where we’ve been sightseeing to a sweltering 37-40 degrees … (iii) our aircraft was still sitting PARKED-UP AT THE TERMINAL four hours after we’d buckled ourselves in!!!

Turns out a storm over crazy-busy Frankfurt Airport had delayed landings and take-offs to such an extent that we lost our place in the ‘queue’. The entire planeload of us were eventually offloaded and taken by coach to a hotel in Darmstadt (somewhere in the dark countryside out from Frankfurt – the coach driver getting lost on the way) where we finally crawled into bed around 3:30am. Yawn!

We’ve been told we’re heading back to the airport around midday, and our flight to Singapore has been rescheduled for 3pm. But we’ve got so used to things going wrong, we wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised if, once we finally got airborne, we ended up in Vladivostok instead of Auckland.

So we MAY be home soon … or, on the other hand, we MAY NOT. (I wouldn’t wait up, if I was you …)

In the meantime, let me just say what a truly Mad Midlife crisis adventure we’ve had! Our Kiwi fellow-travellers have been marvellous! And what stories we’ve all got to tell!

Auf wiedersehen!

Goodbye Europe, hello Godzone …”


Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If following this travel diary has whet YOUR appetite and got you thinking, “Hey, I’D like to go on one of these Mad Midlife adventures!” … click on the TOURS list/logos on the right of this page, and read all about our upcoming schemes and dreams. Or go to our website: www.johncooney.co.nz. Or phone our travel colleague and booking agent, Roger Glynan (Lion World Travel) – toll-free 0800 277 477 – or email [email protected].