Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


End of our boating season - stopover in Singapore

Tuesday 26 September 2023 3:59 AM

Sadly it has come to the end of our boating season this year! As much as we are looking forward to seeing our family and friends in Australia again, it is always hard to leave our home of 6 months a year behind and say goodbye to our family and friends in Europe.

But despite all, we count ourselves very lucky to be able to live our "double life".  

This year’s route was all about travelling the German rivers and canals, and I have to say, they didn’t disappoint! From the Mosel and Rhein to the Mittelland Kanal, from the Havel to the Mecklenburger Lakes, the Weser and Ems, we experienced beautiful nature and interesting cities. In total, this years trip covered 2,181 kms.

We enjoyed revisiting the wine villages of the Mosel and the towns of Cologne and Düsseldorf, places of my early adult revelries. The Mittelland Kanal was as long and straight as we were told, but had lots of points of interest on the way!

The Havel is one of Germany’s most picturesque rivers and Potsdam and Berlin are just amazing places of culture and history.

On the way to the Mecklenburger Lake district, we learned a lot about East Germany and the people of our generation who were born in the former DDR and who experienced the Fall of the Wall not only as a liberation but also as a traumatic event.

The lakes and there are many of them, are surrounded by unspoilt beauty and rich wildlife. The water is so clean and clear with various water depths and a joy to swim in. 

And lastly, we loved Bremen, Papenburg and Hamburg with its big harbour as well as the small towns and villages of the German and the Dutch North. 

During our trip, we encountered nothing but very friendly and helpful people, from the boaties we met to lock keepers, harbour masters, yacht club members and commercial bargees.

While we missed our Aussie, Kiwi and UK friends who are doing a great job keeping the canals, restaurants and bars going in various parts of France, we made some new friends: Roselinde & Olaf, Gaby & Jörg, Marion & Lutz, Abo & Helga, Meryle & Helmut and Ellen & Hendrik. Meeting like-minded people is always our favourite part of boating.

Currently, we are for a few days in Singapore to help us get over the jetlag. It’s 32 degrees during the day with extremely high humidity and doesn’t drop below 26 degrees at night. 

The last time we stayed here was in 1981 and we remembered that Singapore has quite strict regulations. This time, we had to fill in our entry form online with a mass of detailed questions. Then we got photographed and fingerprinted. I tried to explain to the officials that I haven’t got a proper fingerprint, after I’ve already frustrated the German embassy in Sydney with it when renewing my passport. So, after several tries, I was eventually marched off to another border control officer who checked me out on his computer. Well, apparently he found no criminal record and I was allowed entry, phew!

Today, trying to get a neck massage, I was a little taken aback by being asked for my passport. Regulations here in Singapore say that before receiving any treatment at a licenced place, it is required to leave your passport number! Maybe I should have checked out their licence as I came out quite bruised!?

A lot has changed in Singapore since our last visit! So many more high-rises have shot up and more are still being added. The only building which is still recognisable is the newly restored Raffles Hotel, the place where the Singapore Sling was created. The Long Bar of the hotel is still a major attraction and people cue up for hours to imbibe the famous drink at a price of $ 44.-. I enjoyed mine just as much at our hotel for half the price!

The architecture of the modern highrises is as fascinating as in Dubai, although not quite as Babylonian! We also loved the extensive network of the SMRT, a driverless subway, which gets you quickly all around town! The diverse train lines are very well sign-posted and colour-coded, so easy to follow! There is security staff at every station, especially at night time and of course - no graffiti anywhere! Cute signs encourage young people to give up their seats for older or disabled citizens - which doesn’t always happen - or maybe, Austin and I are just looking too young?

One of the most impressive highrises is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel which overlooks the bay on one side and the Garden By The Bay on the other.My new yoga position, just have to get Austin as support below

Nothing was spared in landscaping the wonderful Gardens by The Bay! Two huge glass domes, one containing the so-called “Cloud Forest”, the other being the “Flower Dome”. Together with the "Super Tree Grove” they are the outstanding, ticketed features. The flower dome contains a great variety of plants from all around the world: from cacti to roses, from boab trees to African violets and orchids to Chrysanthemums, all beautifully displayed. A lift took us 50m up to the top of the tallest Super Tree for one of the best views ever!

The glass highrises and luxury shopping Malls of the Raffle City and Orchard Road stand in stark contrast to Chinatown and Little India with its more authentic buildings and Singaporean life of the past. The shopkeepers and food stall staff told us how happy they are to have tourists back after the long dry spell due to COVID-19.

Chinatown's Sri Mariamman Temple with a total of 10,000 Buddha figures is remarkable. It also contains a great museum. Buddha relics in the form of coloured crystals are on display. Apparently, after Buddha was cremated 10 000 crystals were extracted from the ashes and widely distributed. On the rooftop garden of the temple, we observed women, one holding onto a disabled teenage boy, walking round after round holding onto the prayer wheel.

Tonight, after 5 months of the most amazing, contrasting experiences, we are flying back to Sydney. Austin has already started to make plans for our boating season in 2024. I am still revelling in our trip of this year, thinking how lucky we have been and how much we have seen!

For now, we are saying: Tschüss, Tot Ziens and Farewell! 

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