Travel Update #6

Update 1//update 2//update 3//poem//update 4//update 5

I loved Bruges! The bus ride there was short and uneventful and we were staying at the drop off point so that was fun!! 

Bruges canals

The first day, we just walked around the town, going into all the cutesy shops. There were lots of fun junk shops – I bought a Tinkerbell pin in one and a badge in the other. 

Of course when you’re in Bruges, Belgium, you have to eat like the Belgium’s, so I had a waffle (essential eating). 

Went into a bunch of chocolate shops (when in Belgium right??), had some tastings and even came across an ‘Australian waffle and ice-cream store’, which we were confused about because there is no such thing as an Australian waffle?

Chocolate in one of the many stores!

For dinner, I had (double fried) Belgian chips (apparently that’s how they make them) – with mayo!! I eat my chips at home with mayo, so it’s always exciting when they offer sauces other than tomato sauce.

Bruges main square

Spent that evening chatting to new friends: Ollie and Amy. 

The next day, the four of us hung out in the morning, and after Ollie left, the three of us explored Bruges more.

Chocolate bags and shoes!!

Truer words have never been spoken

I couldn’t resist the allure of pretty chocolates so I ended up buying one (and then a few more afterwards).

Our single speculoos chiocolates (like ginger bread)

A and I got a bag together, and unfortunately, it was underweight so we had to keep adding until it reached the minimum weight.

All made of chocolate!!!

I, of course, had chips with mayo for dinner, and then the three of us did a nighttime Bruges tour.

Chips with mayo!!!

After the tour, Amy and I did beer tasting and we even tried the best beer in the world (Westvletern) (which, for me, wasn’t the best of the ones we tried).

‘The best beer in the world’

I spent the next morning packing, refreshing all my social medias too many times, talking to the fam, and buying much needed Belgium chocolate from the supermarket. 

Next stop: AMSTERDAM (the city of weed and bikes).

Took us a lil bit of time to find our hostel and after being moved from bed to bed (which was followed by justified ranting after no apology), we were ready to start our time in Amsterdam(n).

First job: do as the locals and ride a bike! We went on a tour, so we’d a) get some information along the way, and b) not die in the process because riding in Amsterdam is bloody scary!

Elton John (the bike) and I

(After multiple wobbly starts, I finally gained some sort of confidence to ride among the professionals of Amsterdam). 

A and I hung out with Amy (who we’d done the tour with), sitting by the canals and chatting for a few hours.

By then, night had fallen, and we took a wander around the Red Light District. We also went into the Red Light Secrets museum – and learnt about a day in the life of these girls – and the set out of their rooms etc. It was very well presented and quite interesting.

Day 2 was a visit to the Anne Frank house. I’d read the book and learnt about Anne and her family, but it was a bit of a surreal experience walking up those extremely narrow stairs and going through the secret door (with the original bookcase still there!) 

The varying presentations and information presented in the museum – plus pages of the original diary and the film at the end – was incredibly humbling and sad and encouraging and also serves as a warning.

Post Anne Frank, we went to a cheese shop – where we tasted so many cheeses!!! We also went out for lunch and I tried some typical Dutch kroketten (croquettes), which were super deep fried (as they are), but also nicer than expected!

Croquettes with beef inside

Day 3 we stayed local, and did some shopping. We stayed in an area with ‘bits and bobs’ shops – selling things you want, ie a dog shaped tea infused, or overpriced homewares, but don’t need; and some clothes shops. I bought myself some pretty sticky notes (as you can tell, I really splashed out a lot).

We also went out for cake and shared two: cheesecake and one with cream filling (this is why you travel with someone obviously).

Great cake!

Day 4 was art n culture day! 

Bubbles in Museum Plein

We went to a Banksy/Warhol exhibition and watched a very interesting doco called Exit through the gift shop which is about Banksy and this crazy French filmmaker called Thierry Guetta. There’s a bunch of conspiracy theories surrounding identities of certain people in the film (google it when you’re done watching), which I don’t believe because it all seems too neat, but you never know.

Irony (Banksy)

By Warhol

We wanted to sit in Vongel Park and eat lunch, but the weather was cold and windy, so we ate in Museum Plein.

The drop-off point hostel was close to the I AMSTERDAM sign, so we dropped our bags and ran/fast walked to the letters (where there were no people!)

Attempting to match the ‘t’ shape

Destination numero 3 (in this blog post): BERLIN. 
I was quite excited for Berlin as I’d heard great things about it. For once in our travelling lives, it was quite easy and relatively quick to get to our (awesome) hostel.

Day 1, we did a walking tour that took us to: Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Hitler’s Bunker, a preserved section of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin concert hall (square).

Brandenburg Gate

The memorial (which I think has an excellent/very clever design)

Preserved part of the Berlin wall

Day 2, we went to the East Side Gallery, which was awesome!! It’s preserved parts of the wall with murals and designs and patterns on them.

Famous mural (it was a real thing that happened!!)

Clashing with the wall in my pineapple dress

We ate lunch sitting in the river/canal bank and walked along the less pretty side of the wall on the way back.

We retraced our steps of the walking tour, so we could do Typographies of Terror, which was by the preserved section of the wall. The exhbition involves information panels that details Germanic history from before WWI. 

On the wall

Day 3, we hung out in a suburb I can never remember the name of; a suburb with those dog-infuser shops and also op shops. I bought myself a pair of thong/slip-slop earrings. We went out for dinner – to a (sorta famous) place called Burgermeister, where I had cheese fries for the first time! They were quite good and so was the burger.

Dinner :)) (it also reminded me of home which was nice)

Day 4, on recommendation from my aunt, we went to a boiled sweet factory. It was a very small building (which I definitely wouldn’t have known about if she hadn’t told me). There were so many: sarsaparilla, pineapple, raspberry, ginger, herbal, blueberry, apple, lemon, lime (extra sour); peppermint, toffee, and mocha. I love boiled sweets so this was super fun for me (and of course I bought some). 

Walking down the street, we stumbled on a synagogue, so we went in and walked up to see the view from the dome and downstairs we saw the exhibition on the history of the building: from it’s early destruction to it’s rebuilding and the creation of the dome. 

We had packed lunch, but of course, when we passed Hummus and Friends, we had to go in. We shared a bowl of hummus/eggs/fava beans/oil/chickpeas with Pita bread and reminisced about birthright. 

RAD lunch

Pretty building and river on our walk back to the train

We u-bahned back, and I read two books (Guyaholic and The Originals), wrote a postcard and packed for an early departure tomorrow. 

Until Cesky Krumlov or Vienna! 

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Travel Update #5

Hello from Paris!!

Update 1//update 2//update 3//poem//update 4

Last I posted, we had just arrived in Munich for the end of the South Loop/beginning of the North Loop. 

On the day we were dropped off, we were a bit excited because we knew how to to get to our hostel (having gone there before). Wrong! They were doing works on the tram we would’ve taken, so we spent far too long finding out how to get there. 

German milk/milch

We just spent that day chilling out and going to the shops (spending far too much on Haribo lollies). 

On day #2 we went on a tour of Dachau, the first ever concentration camp. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and the whole experience was humbling and very interesting.

The third day consisted of constant rain, foiling our plans for the English garden. Imstead, we hung out at the hostel, and went shopping for dinner food. I made sweet potato and chicken with ginger and lemon. It was really nice to cook properly after bits and bobs there and lots of processed foods and snacks. Unfortunately, someone stole A’s beef, frozen veggies and six bars of his Swiss chocolate (which were for people as presents!)

Next stop, STUTTGART, Germany! 

The first day, we arrived in the day, found our hostel (without too much trouble), and went out into the city. 

We went to the Stuttgart public library, which was well designed and quite pretty, but there wasn’t much on the English side of things. 

Stuttgart public library

Walked along the main street and lay down on the grass in front of the lake/opera house. Went back to hostel, and had pretzels with cream cheese for dinner. 

Day two, we went to the main square and Nürremberg Castle and a modern/contemporary art gallery. Some weird things inside (including the video about the chicken who comes out of the bin and sews himself back together). 

Posing with the sculptures

One of my favourite pieces at the gallery

Went to St. John’s Castle which was beautiful!!! 

St. John’s Castle

Next day, we went to the botanical garden/zoo. There was a cactus garden, a chili garden, so many beautiful flowers; and in the centre of the park, a man made lake/pond with water lillies and lily pads.

Pond with lillies/lily pads

We saw so many animals – from vultures to owls and a pygmy hippo; to flamingoes, many fish, birds (saw a toucan!!), cows, camels, jellyfish, a polar bear, a brown bear, normal hippos, wild dogs, meerkats, tortoises, bats, butterflies, more insects, spiders and of course more I can’t remember.

Dreadlocked donkeys!!!

Had a salad (lettuce, salmon, cucumber and aioli) for dinner. 

Day 4, we made pasta salad for our bus ride to Paris (10 hours), and it made so much  more than we were expecting! We had to squish it into two large containers and a third small one. 

We then went to mineral baths, which were awesome! There were two 36C pools – one a round one, and one a spa. Two big 30C pools, one inside and one outside – and you could swim from the one to the other via a ‘passage’. The outside one had a man-made whirlpool, which would carry you in circles. The last pool was 18C and bloody freezing. It may not sound cold, but to immerse your entire body in 18C water was not a fun time! I saw people drinking the water (from a tap) and I decided to try it because it’s rich in minerals and it was absolutely feral!! Went out for dinner in the town – had really good chicken burgers with coleslaw on the side. 

Rad chicken burger

Stuttgart main square at night

Next stop, PARIS!!!

We spent 10 hours on a bus and because we were lazy/it was super close, we took a taxi to our Air Bnb.

Day one started off slowly, but it ended up being a 14.5 hour day! We went out for breakfast (scones w/jam and butter ad a cup of fruit and a chocolate pastry). 

Scone with fruit cup

Chocolate pastry breakfast and me

We metro-ed to Sacre Coeur in Montemarte – the highest point in Paris. Took photos of the pretty church and spent the afternoon walking around Montemarte, going into art, craft and design shops. We didn’t see people drawing on the side of the road (as I’d imagined), but I’m not sure if I was completely wrong or if it’s because it was a Sunday. 

Sacre Coeur

It had started raining by then, so we decided to go to the Georges Pompidou Museum, which is in an epic building – covered in industrial sized pipes of all different shapes and sizes.

On the way, we had macarons! Very French and very nice. We also went past the Moulin Rouge, which was pretty.

Mine was passionfruit and tarragon (the orange one, left)

Moulin Rouge

The Georges Pompidou museum was amazing!! It was free (which is always fun), but the expansive range and beautiful artworks in there were stunning. 

After the gallery, we went to the Champes de Lysee and walked down to the Arc De Triomphe. As a treat to ourselves, we took ourselves out for a three course meal!!! I’ve never done it before – but why thought ‘why not, we’re in Paris!’

Entree: tomato salad with parmesan, olives and basil

Main: beef bourgaise with (so many) chips, a cooked tomato and Clement sauce

Salted caramel crepe

After dinner/after it had gotten dark, we hauled ourselves up the (infinite) spiral staircase of the Arc de Triomphe to look at Paris city all lit up, and the Eiffel tower sparkling in the distance. It was quite beautiful (although my phone struggled to get great photos because it was so dark and the tower so far).

Sparkly Eiffel Tower!!

Next morning (after a late night and early wake-up), we were (not so) bright and early for the Lourve! Only stood in the line for 15 minutes!! 

So many marble statues (including (armless) Venus di Milo. Of course we saw dear old Mona, who, as everyone says, in quite small. Still cool to have seen her in real life (although would’ve been nice to see her up close). 

Venus!

Contemplative Mona

Left after three hours (and a not too expensive blueberry muffin), and walked (in the rain), to the Notre Dame. Very incredibly detailed on the outside and of course beautiful on the inside.

Notre Dame

Spent way too long in a doctors clinic (3 hours) because I needed something for my knee.
Day 4 was my half-a-versary: 63 days down and 63 to go (our two months away also happened to fall on this day). We went to the Catacombes in the morning (which had a longer line than the Lourve). Was pretty cool (both temp and how they were) to see the millions of bones (mostly skills and femurs). 

So many bones

Climbed the Eiffel Tower to the second floor (all 669 steps!!) Was quite epic at the top : could see out into the whole city of Paris. Are lunch up there (baguette with avo and cheese). Took a million photos, and then down to the bottom and took more photos there. 

Paris view from the Eiffel Tower

Half-a-versary on top of the Eiffel Tower

Had a banana and nutella crepe to celebrate my half-a-versary. It was very good!!

The crepe and I

Day 5 was Disneyland!!! It was extremely fun, quite exhausting but bloody amazing!

Mickey out of flowers and the front of the park

Arrived there via metro at 9.45, and as soon as the rides opened at 10, we were off! First we did Discoveryland and these rides: Space Mountain: Mission 2 (rollercoaster); ‘drove’ 1950s cars; went through the Nautilis (a boat set, not overly exciting) and the Buzz Lighting Blast (wherein I sucked). 

Dragon next to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Land two was Fantasyland – the biggest in Disneyland. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the main attraction and we took so many photos of it! Took photos with Excaliber. Rides: INCREDIBLE Peter Pan ride where we were in ‘ships’ that ‘flew’ across sets of the film: rooftops of London, Wendy’s bedroom, Neverland. So very very detailed and one of my favourites! My favourite was called It’s a Small World and it was a cruise through all different dolls from different nations of the world singing It’s a small world – and then at the end, all the dolls/nations were dressed in white and were singing together. It was such a happy ride!! Also did: a Snow White haunted house, an Alice in Wonderland maze, a cruise through fairytale miniatures and Dumbo’s circus train.

Inside Sleeping Beauty’s castle

Guards in the Alice maze

Part of the end of It’s a Small World

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Land three: Adventureland. Many of the rides were closed, but we saw miniatures of the Aladdin film and I did this crazy rollercoaster called ‘Indiana Jones and the Tower of Terror’. Lots of loop de loops and high speeds. 

Next was Frontierland. We only did the one ride: Phantom Manor (a great haunted house) – because everything else was closed/didn’t appeal.

Next, we walked to the Walt Disney Studios (of course after doing allll the shops on the main street). 

In front of the studios

We were a lil shorter on time (closed earlier than we thought), so we didn’t get everything done. First we did a Ratatouille simulation: sit in a rat, wear 3D glasses and go through parts of the movie as Remy – seeing and hearing as he does. When the ‘champagne popped’ we even got wet! It was a good ride. 

Did two ToyStory rides: Slinky Dog Zigzag (which was a children’s rollercoaster) and the toy soldier’s parachute drop (which was fun!)

Next I went on this insane drop ride: The Tower of Terror (from the Twilight Zone). Pretty fun, a lil scary. 

Tower of Terror

We did Armageddon: special effects, where we were essentially cast members and we were acting in this new movie. Sights and sounds and real fire! Last ride: a rollercoaster starring Aerosmith. This was the fastest, most loopy ride (lotsa barrel rolls) (and a lil scary when my bag shifted too much). Took some photos with the Singin’ in the Rain umbrella and left the (now closed) studios.

Signin’ in the rain!!

Walked back to the Disneyland Park (which closed later than the studios). Redid ‘It’s a small world’ and the Peter Pan ride (our two favourites), and decided we wanted a photo of the castle. Half the park was gathered there and I just thought, ‘woah a lot of people want a photo with the castle’.

Main street lit up

As we were about to attempt to leave, a show started! Quite incredible: lights and Disney characters singing, and a water display and real fire and and projections shone onto the side of the castle. There were Frozen, Lion King, Peter Pan and Tangled songs. 

During the show

The final display!!!

I loved Disneyland! So much happiness and joy and being a kid again. So many photos and too much video footage (which I will think about at a later stage). 

Love you Disneyland!!

Day 6 was slower because we were exhausted! Lounged around most of the day – went out for breakfast: croissant and an apple pastry (v. good). Watched Man on a  Ledge and ate lunch (leftover fried rice) at the park. 

Went out for dinner – I had snails!! They weren’t actually bad – tasted of garlic and herb and had the texture of an overcooked mushroom. Shared a creme brulee for dessert. 

Snails!!!

Went to see the lit up Lourve – very beautiful – and blasted Pyramids (Charice and Iyaz), whilst looking at the Lourve.

The tiny silhouette is me!

Walked to the Eiffel tower. Ended up being about a 45 minute walk, but it all felt very Parisian. The lit up tower was stunning and of course many photos were taken. Got back at about 1am. 

Lit up Eiffel

On our last Paris day, we went to the Musee d’Orsay: a converted train station turned art museum. Saw many incredible Van Gogh’s – including his self portrait – and there were also Monet’s water lillies (among others). 

Vincent Van Gogh self portrait

View of Paris from the Hugo/Musee d’Orsay clock

Ate a honey and walnut crepe and walked to the metro. The stupid metro station didn’t have a ticket machine and we couldn’t fare evade because we couldn’t club the barriers. Had to walk to the next station. Metro-d back, went via the shops (had a Madeline cake), went back to the Air BnB. 

Chilled, packed, cooked rice for tomorrow and had eggs and nutella baguette for dinner. 

Next is Bruges, Amsterdam(n) and then Berlin. Till then!

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Travel Update #4

Hello! If you haven’t been following my journey, here are the links to the other posts (#1#2#3 and I wrote a poem about all the places I stayed in Itay). 

When I left you last I was one day/night into my Nice stay. 

NICE

Nice has an awesome and very lively nightlife! I think I walked around every night, just taking photos, eating food and watching the people go by. 

In Messena Sqaure (main square in Nice), they have ‘The Light Men’: 7 lit up sculptures on tall poles, each facing a way of a continent. They constantly change colours and are quite hard to get a photo of as a whole because my phone does not react to light very well. 

They weren’t labelled for each continent, but we figured Australia was the one facing away from all the others.

Light Man

To the left of Lessens Sqaure, there is a ‘mirror lake’ – large concrete area, where different coloured (in the colours of the French flag), shoots of water spray in different patterns and at different rates. 

Me at the Light Mirror

The day next day was ‘art n culture’ day and I took myself to two art galleries: Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse. 

I loved LOVED Chagall’s gallery – it was very well presented, and the paintings were quite incredible: so colourful and detailed, yet simple in some parts. It was also so nice to see some Jewish paintings and artworks instead of the constant viewing of renaissance artworks. I also got to see two of the famous stained glass windows.

I even bought myself a miniature version of one of Chagall’s paintings!

Two of the stained glass windows

Adam and Eve being chased out of the Garden of Eden

King David and Bathsheba (this is a big version of my mini one)

The Henri Matisse gallery was quite good, although his style of artwork isn’t one of my favourites. There were ‘no photos allowed’ but of course I managed to get some sneaky phone photos (of course, no flash). 

Matisse painting #1

I like his simple like drawings

That night marked one month (and one day) since the terrible Bastille Day shootings in Nice. I went down to the beachfront to look at the memorial. 

Although I couldn’t read most of the notes, I found the display quite beautiful and very sad. The thing that struck me the most was the sheer number of soft toys – a tribute to the sheer number of children who lost their lives. 

May they all rest in peace. 

The next morning, my friend and I went rollerblading along the promenade!! It’s been a while and I was going pretty well until right at the very end when I was crossing the road and went over those collection of circles and stacked it on the raid in a very embarrassing, slow motion fall. I was fine (my dignity dented), and my drink bottle rolled across the road. 

That day we took ourselves to Monaco/Monte Carlo. We went inside the Monte Carlo, took photos of the pretty inside and then went to Cafe Paris to gamble because I was not paying £10 just to move from the foyer to the next room. 

Outside of the Monte Carlo

We (cluelessly) gambled for the first time in Cafe Paris and it was quite fun, pretending to know what we were doing (but basically just pressing buttons). 

‘No photos allowed’ but we are becoming quite skilled at the sneaky photos

Monaco

The next morning, we went to a fruit, veg and flower market – where I bought a container of pineapple pieces. 

On the way to the bus stop, we found another memorial (this one much bigger) for the 88 people who died in the July 14 Bastille Day attack. Once it again, the sheer number of notes, posters, soft toys and size of it was quite incredible.

We hopped on a bus to Cannes, which we thought would take 40 minutes )but we’re informed by a Belge friend we made on the bus that it’s a 2 hour ride). 

Two hours later, we found out I am hand twins with Julie Andrews!

Twins!

I also posed on the red carpet (for a film nomination) and went to an exhibition that had lots of films sets, a room of artworks and lots of behind the scenes photos of the Cannes film festival. 

Girls on film

We saw an incredible Gollum cake at a very expensive bakery we did not purchase anything at. 

We missed the bus to our next stop because A thought it was later than it actually was. We got the train where we met a slightly insane (very talkative) American woman. She told us all about her life plans, thrift shopping and the fact that she sews pockets in all her clothes.

Tripo chocolate mousse/cake as a pre-Nice departure gift to ourselves

From Nice, the bus would’ve taken us to Lake Como, but we got a train to Milan (which worked out better for me in the end). 

Saw a(nother) Duomo (Milan), a beautiful old library and walked around the streets of Milan. 

On the way to Como, I accidentally got off at the wrong station and cried and then tried to communicate with the one shop owner there who didn’t speak English. I eventually got a train – 20 minutes later and arrived in Como. 

A and I bought food from the deli and cable car-ed up the mountain overlooking the lake to eat our food. 

We had homemade MaxiBons as dessert. 

Saw the Como Duomo and took a train back to Milan (smoothly this time). 

Not so smoothly was the next morning when I had to go back to Como to get the bus. Instead of a 36 direct trip, it took me 2.5 hours in the rain because they don’t run direct trains in the morning. I also had a panic attack (which was v scary), and the lovely bus driver helped me calm down and breathe again. 

Next stop: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland!

On the first night, I went to ‘the bombshelter’, an actual bombshelter turned ‘club/bar’.

Me at the Bombshelter

Lauterbrunnen is beautiful! On the first day, I went behind a waterfall (15 minute walk) and then went up to Trummelbach Falls which were incredible! 

If you look closely you can see the waterdroplets (me behind the waterfall)

Part of Trummelbach Falls

The Trummelbach Falls were very hard to photograph and do justice and the falls were so very loud!! The cascades if water were so amazing and I couldn’t help but be happy walking around in there (and also singing Sweet  Caroline out loud because no-one could hear me). 

From Murren

The next day, A and I went up to Murren via cable car and across by train. The views were so beautiful and I saw snow!!

Me n Murren

We also had taco shaped (but not flavoured) ice-creams. They were really good! 

Taco ice cream and I

On the last day I did a hike to Schelberg (that’s not the name but it’s something like that and I cannot remember). I ate lunch and drew when I sat down at a collection of tables and chairs. 

On my walk :))

I was quite sad to leave Lauterbrunnen because it was so beautiful! The next place we went to was Lucerne, also in Switzerland. 

We went via Lichtenstein where I (paid to get) my passport stamped!!

We did some things in (Lucerne) on the first day – Chapel Bridge, the Lion Monument and bought too much food (Lindt balls, dates).

Me in front of the Chapel Bridge

The Lion Monument

We also had a really good cheese pie! 

On the second day, we mostly just hung out in the hostel (we went out for lunch – cheese pie and a nut pastry); but I’d developed a cold and cough so it was a good day for me to relax. 

We are now back in Munich! This means our first loop (south) is finished and we will soon begin our second (north) one! At the time it didn’t feel it was going quickly, but now I can’t believe we’re up to the second loop!! 

Until next time!

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Travel Update: an ode to Italy

If you’ve been keeping up with my travels (laurentheberger with the hash tag #lozgeuro on Twitter and Insta//our new joint account: lozashtravels) and I’ve been posting updates on here too (#1#2 and #3), you may’ve noticed that most of the South Loop (the loop we’re doing), is in Italy. 

Cities so far (Italy in bold): Munich, Venice, Rome, Siena, Florence, Cinque Terre, Nice, Lake Como (Milan).

Now that we’ve left Italy (not forever but for this trip at least), I wrote a silly little poem reminding me of the things I did in Italy. 

So many duomos, so much pasta,
So many people – a lot of cluster. 
Italy, my dear, you’ve been a hoot,
I’ve made some memories in your boot.

Venice was first, my, what a sight – 
Of bridges, canals and dreams come true;
Of glass and lace and incredible views. 

Rome, then Siena, next on our trip;
The Pantheon and Trevi (and spa for a dip).
Last Sunday of the month was free,
Time was spent, no fee.
Peter’s Basilica was a beautiful scene,
Taspestries and statues and the Sistene. 
The Colosseum was insane – oh how we posed, 
We explored Spagna as the steps were closed.

We finally arrived at our hostel two hours (and no WiFi) later;
Next, we walked to the town for one of our best meals to date:
Bruschetta, fresh veggies, quail eggs, cheese and wine – 
The real country Italian way to dine. 

We did David (after a three hour queue),
Very incredible, well worth the view.
Saw Pisa for our last Florence hours,
So many photos of us ‘holding’ the tower.

Dropped at La Spezia for our ‘five town’ stop:
Cinque Terre of stunning views, ‘beaches’ and touristy shops. 
Walked from Monterosso to Vernazza – town number four,
And went via number three, Corniglia, to explore. 

For our last stop in Italy, we missed the bus and went by train – 
Meeting an American woman who was a bit insane. 
To Milan (where I stayed) was another Duomo,
But I also visited (and ate in) the pretty Lake Como.
There were mishaps and tears due to train mistakes,
But I eventually made it to see the lake. 

Italy, it’s been a ride,
I’ve been happy, excited, joyous and I’ve cried. 
Thank you for your abundant carb-filled food,
May I be back soon, very ready for round two!

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Travel Update #3

Last post: Travel Update #2

Since last post: (rest of) Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre.

SIENA

Siena day #2 was our main day, and we spent the bulk of it walking around the ‘city’ (it’s very small), and we were lucky enough to score free Duomo tickets from a lovely man who just gave them to us. I loved the detail on the outside – because working with clay or paper is hard enough, but imagine something as unforgiving as marble!! The inside artworks and designs were quite spectacular as well.

Siena Duomo

Because Siena is so small, there’s a place you can go (and of course we did), where you can basically see the whole city!

Alllll of Siena

Other Siena highlights include: seeing the world’s oldest bank (which I can never remember the name of), eating pizza farcita (stuffed pizza), and having zucchini flowers for the first time! (They don’t actually taste like much).

Next stop: FLORENCE which I was bloody excited for!!

On the way, we went via Michaelangeo’s Square (I think it may be called something else, but I’m not sure), and saw fake David and a very nice view of Florence.

View from Michaelangleo Palazzo

Fake David

We’d booked a hostel quite far from a) the drop off point, and b) the city of Florence, so by the time we found out where we had to go (no thanks to Macca’s not free WiFi), we had to wait 2.5 hours for the next bus! We mostly just sat in the train station and I went to a supermarket and bought baby tomatoes and rolls. Our hostel (when we finally got there), was pretty good!!

Florence #1 (which was a Sunday I think), we walked to the medieval town (Barberini), and had the most incredible food there! It was mostly vegetables (frshsly grown), bruschetta (bread) and goats’s cheese with spices. (Plus rosé, which cemented my feelings on all wine). Plus quail eggs, which taste just like normal eggs!!

Incredible food/gross wine

That night I had a (gross) roll for dinner (in an effort to save money), but also had a very great/rich dark chocolate soufflé for dessert.

Rad dark choocolate souffle

The next day, we went into Florence (city) and were vaguely going to see the Duomo and the tower. But the line was nopeville #2 (and could’ve even been longer than the Sistene Chapel free day line), so we took many photos of the incredible outside and moved right along.

Florence Duomo

Walked around Florence; saw the Golden Turtle, Ponte Vecchio Bridge and ate a really good kiwi icy pole. We also went to a costume exhibition (wasn’t that impressed), a ceramics exhibition and the Biboli Gardens (which was quite cool and contained a fake Fountain of Neptune which I drew). We also went to a fruit orchard where we took some apples and a fruit which turned out to be a plum.

Golden Turtle

Kiwi icy pole and me!

Day #3 involved being real tourists and waiting in a (very) deceptively short line FOR THREE HOURS for Michaelangelo’s David, which was quite incredible and definitely worth the wait!!

Gotcha head David!!

The gallery around him wasn’t all that exciting for me – lots of baby Jesus’ and guild and gold and religious iconography.

We also made more Magnums because we’re a lil obsessed and also they’re really good!!!

Toppings – popcorn, popping candy and biscuits

We had previously booked a tour/dinner/karaoke, but the lady booking it got the dates mixed up, so we didn’t end up going, which was annoying and a bit sad, but we went out for ramen instead (which was quite good).

We trained to Pisa, where we had obligatory week #5/homesick-for-western-food burger and chips (and I also had a really good chocolate croissant pastry thing).

But the Leaning Tower of Pisa was awesome!! Took many obligatory tourist shots (did you even go if you don’t have a photo with you holding the tower??), and we even managed to get a photo of A doing a handstand and ‘holding it up’ with his feet (after many attempts).

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So strong!!!

CINQUE TERRE was quite beautiful and a nice break from the busy busy tourist lifestyle we’ve been running (although there were many tourists there!)

On the first night, (after finally figuring out how to get to my hostel, which was 20 minutes up from the first town), I came back down to Riomaggiore where I swam and had calamari for the first time!! The water was so nice (and also the calamari).

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A and I got a crepe with nutella, smarties and sprinkles (yes we’re 12), to share (which was really good, but had a thicker consistency to what I’d expect from a crepe).

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Great crepe

Day #2, I joined up with a Brit, and American and a Spaniard/Frenchman to do the walk from Monterosso to Vernazza. It was pretty hard, especially the billion and one stairs, but otherwise quite nice.

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View at top of walk

We swam at the ‘beach’ (more like rock city) in Vernazza (and I had a really good pizza slice with pesto and tomatoes and cheese for lunch) and then trained to Corniglia, where we climbed 376 stairs to go up and 376 stairs to come down.

Trained back to Riomaggiore, had a drink and then met A for dinner. Had 5€ tagletelle with Mediterranean sauce and then split another 5€ pasta (we chose gnocchi) with pesto.

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Riomaggiore

Had rad hostel breakfast the next morning, and then bussed down to La Spezia to await the Busabout bus. Took about 6 hours to NICE (FRANCE!!!), where we went via Fragonourd, a perfumiere (where we had a 25 minute tour and learnt that it takes 10 years to study to be a nose!!! 3 years study, 7 practice and you’re not allowed to drink, smoke or eat spicy food and they only work 3 days a week).

Found some girls where were staying at the same hostel as me, so we walked together and I hung out with them. Walked around, went to Fenocchio (which we thought was called Pinocchio, whoops) where I had very very GOOD ice cream (and they definitely have the best range of flavours I’ve seen).

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Flavours: mnm, salted caramel and pecan

We walked around the night markets and saw Suicide Squad (English with French subtitles), which I quite enjoyed!!

Saw a pretty church

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Church in the city of Nice

Until Switzerland or maybe even the end of the loop (back to Munich!)

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Travel Update #2

The last time I posted, I was partaway through my Venice leg. Since then, we have left Venice, done Rome and are now in Siena. 

Post Travel Update #1, my friend and I went to Murano and Burano, two islands close to the mainland of Venice. Murano is known for their glass and Burano is known for the colourful houses and Burano lace. 

(I have two pictures of the glass because you’re not actually allows to take any, and they both don’t seem to want to upload.)

Burano

We also went for breakfast at Patisserie Tonolo (on recommendation from my aunt and cousin), which has the best pastries in Venice! Also on their (great) rec, we went to Bigoi, which is this tiny place that sells €5 homemade takeaway pasta. So SO good (the duck is better than the pesto imo).

Some of the pastries we had for breakfast

More pastries at Patisserie Tonolo

I also went to St. Mark’s Basillica while I was there and this incredible/old/musty/the best kind of bookshop (also a rec) – Aqus Alta (which took us forever to find!)

Me at bookshop (all good pics of the bookshop are on my camera)

St Mark’s

We also made our own Magnums which were v v good!!

DIY (sorta) Magnum

Even did some drawing in Venice!!

Next stop: ROME aka the extremely long bus ride. 

Outside of Basillica

The day after we arrived was a Sunday – the last of the month – so the Vatican museum is free. Like gr8 and enthusiastic tourists, we rocked up early (about 9am), and the line was insane!!! At least 1km and nopeville for us. Instead we queued in another line (unsure of destination) and went into a beautiful Basillica (later found out it was Saint Peter’s). Post Basillica, we walked around the Vatican City and then decided to line up again. Only waited for half an hour and got into see the Sistene Chapel, some incredible tapestries and intricately detailed ceiling paintings.

Beautiful ceiling on the way to the chapel

Sneaky Sistene pic

Next day, we went to the Trevi Fountain which was way better than I thought it was gonna be; and the Pantheon which was not as good as I thought it was gonna be. 

Trevi!!!

Inside the Pantheon

Also had the best gelato to date at a place called Venchi. 

The v good gelato

Day 3, we did as all tourists do and visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (and Palatine Hill). These were incredible and so overwhelmingly massive (even in their destroyed state) and very magnificent. 

Inside of the Colosseum (and me!)

Almost looks Photoshopped (promise it’s not!!)

Roman Forum/ruins from Palatine Hill

Painting on the wall of Santa Maria Antiqua

Last day, we went out for breakfast for pastries (when in Rome right), and visited Circo Massimo (which was either the large patch of grass or closed for visiting, we couldn’t tell); and the Spanish Steps were being renovated. Instead we walked around Spagna and I had a granita (lemon and watermelon). 

Part of breakfast (I even had coffee – which I don’t drink) (but when in Rome amiright)

Grass/Circo Massimo

Granita and I

“Draw me like one of your French (Roman) girls”

Today, we missed the Busabout Bus (peak hour train we couldn’t fit on, and then we missed the public bus and then we were 20 minutes late and they’d left), so we made our way to Siena via public transport (bit stressful, highly annoying, easy enough and quite inconvenient).but we made it. 

Cute hostel (included breakfast, which is always rad); and Siena itself (or what we’ve seen of it), looks very lovely and quiet in the way we need after Rome.

Until Florence! (Or Cinque Terra!)

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TRAVEL UPDATE #1

At the point, I have been travelling for 20 days (3 weeks tomorrow!) It definitely feels much longer than that, especially as I am unused to being away from home for so long.

The rundown: 

I am travelling for 4 months with my friend, A. We had 2 weeks in Israel, and have just started our 3 month Europe leg. After Europe is the UK and then Abu Dhabi (and then home!!!)

So far: 

Israel was amazing and my first look into countries this side of the world. Granted, it’s not apart of Europe, so not a true representation of the bulk of my trip but a new experience all the same. 

I was on a program for most of my Israel trip which I think was the best way to do it. I saw almost everything – from the Dead Sea, to sunrise on Masada to Cesarea and staying in a Bedouin Tent and riding camels and staying in a kibbutz. Post program, I also stayed on a kibbutz – this one a dairy one, and I got to see baby cows (and be slobbered on by them!) 

Our group in front of the Western Wall

Camel riding at the Bedouin Tents (with a soldier)

When my friend and I went to the wrong station post tour on the way to the dairy kibbutz

BABY COW at kibbutz

I am currently in Venice and before this, I was in Munich (unfortunately during the shooting). 

Munich was  much greener than I thought it would be – and also very different from the very varied landscapes in Israel. We went to Neuschwanstein Castle which was quite stunning (on the way back, we were on the train when we heard about the shooting, and after about an hour and a half we were dropped off at another station and we waited for just over two hours – in the dark and rain – to find a taxi. Was very happy to be back at the hostel!!). 

Rolling hills around the castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Venice is beautiful! I have been onto the main island twice – and I also went to the beach. It’s hot here, but not too hot (like in Israel, I think it went above 40c at some stages. Sweatville 101). 

I have been wanting to go to Venice since I was very young so it was a very exciting moment for me. It’s just like the films and the books (although I got so damn lost). 

REPRESENT!

On my way to the beach via vaporetto

Lido Beach

If anyone would like to live vicariously through me (and get away from uni/work/life for a lil), whilst I navigate my first time overseas without parents, then on all social medias, ie instagram and twitter, I am using the hashtag #lozgeuro (edit: on both of these social medias, I am laurentheberger)

In theory, I will post more posts here, but it all depends on time, WiFi and my drive.

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Summer Skin – Kirsty Eagar

**THERE ARE SPOILERS BECAUSE I WAS TOO EXCITED TO NOT HAVE THEM**

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I have had a long time obsession with I’ll Give You The Sun as my favourite book and now I’ve read Summer Skin (and I was worried because of all the hype), but bUT it is now also my favourite book and I really have to get myself a copy to own and love.

Jess rocks!!! She is one of the best protagonists I’ve read because she is honest but also daring and not afraid to say and do what she thinks. She’s a feminist and proud, but isn’t perfect. She drinks and smokes and swears and is one of the most realistic and relatable characters I’ve read. She’s doing eco and knows about the stock market and keeps her bras in the fridge (which is actually clever??) and isn’t always the best friend.

Her friends and well-rounded and have their own personalities and quirks and I love Blondie/Mitch and his character development is RAD and by the end he’s a better person, but not perfect as well which is awesome because who is perfect anyway?? His family is included and I like that Aidan changes as well from the first and next time that Jess meets him.

Allie and her Instagram addiction are so real and Leanne could be someone I know and Farren – she is bloody awesome and she’s outspoken and proud and stubborn and on the edge of adulthood.

*

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I wanted to ‘post’ the picture on Instagram as a tribute to Allie/social media

I thought 3rd person would distance me and shut me out as the reader but I didn’t even notice it wasn’t 1st – which is what I associate with close author/character relate-ability.

The sex scenes were real and detailed (but not too detailed), and weren’t glossed over because they were a big part of Jess and Mitch’s relationship and Jess’ stage in her life and part of her character development. It’s apart of the uni world they’re in now so I am glad glad it was included. The romance and language used was appropriate for the context and beautifully fitted in and just bloody well done.

The gender square off was done in the best way possible. It was real and unflinchingly honest and almost uncomfortable but it had to be if it was going to show the real thing. It wasn’t (stereotypical) sneaky gestures by the girls – it was huge look at me and what I’m doing gestures because girls are powerful and it was shown like that.

Mitch’s guilt was confronting and made him vulnerable and Jess comforted but couldn’t fix him because that’s just not how it works. Their relationship wasn’t insta – there were fights and hair dye and no touching and unfair comments and regrettable actions, but they worked and worked and apologised and made more mistakes to get it comfortable again.

Summer Skin is raw and edgy and exciting and emotional and relatable and feminist and loud and brilliant and fast and zingy.

*My phone has very little pixels and I didn’t feel patient enough to find and artistically place things around the book for my #bookstagram photo so I just made it on Photoshop

 

 

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Kickass Queens

*There are spoilers in here for: CastleGrey’s Anatomy, Juno*

Kickass Queens: rad ladies (fictional or non-fictional) from literature, movies, tv shows, politics, media, education, sports or elsewhere that slay at their jobs and lives and basically inspire me. 

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(In no particular order) presenting my Kickass Queens of 2016:

1. Kate Beckett: friends and family, Katherine Beckett, (eventual) captain of the 12th precinct, is a very strong (physical and mental) lady. She worked through her mother’s death, loved Castle, shot at people, survived being shot at and runs in heels (no mean feat).

2. Liv Benson deals with rapists, murderers and pedophiles all day erry day and she manages to get through it all. She’s no afraid to express her opinions and strive for what she wants. #Ladiesinpower

3. Amelia Sheppard is my current grey’s love. She has dealt with drugs, addiction, death, her (shitty) brother, bad friends, her own self and has shown me that it’s okay to not to be okay all the time and that you will have terrible days but then there’s days with Owen and the puppies.

4. Bones is a hilarious, brilliant and whip-cracking lady. She knows all there is to know about forensic anthropology (she is the best on her field after all), and doesn’t let the small stuff let her down. She loves fiercely and is very certain of herself.

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5. Cristina Yang you hilarious, sarcastic, very good friend to Mer, you are missed.

6. Earlier season Meredith and Callie. You two were strong, strong ladies that could go through 27 emotions in one day and knew that life could be brutal. You were persistent in your lives (love and otherwise), and you jobs. #Bringthemback

7. Lexie Grey you queen. You were brilliant and kind and Slexie was 12/10. You were forgiving and clever and a bright light.

8. Rae Earl is the ultimate survivor – from herself, her family, her friends. She worked through her mental illness messily, but (eventually) allowed support and love into her life.

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9. Angela Montenegro is a rad person. She arts AND sciences and is Bones’ best friend. She is patient, but also knows when to stand up for herself. She always looks beautiful and kicks ass at her job.

10. Addison Montgomery has her flaws, but she is the very best experiencer of human emotion. She laughs and cries and dances in every episode and tries her very best in everything she does: friendships, relationships and her job.

10. Tavi Gevinson created Rookiemag.com, a versatile and resourceful website for teenagers. She is young, successful, (did a TED talk), journals extensively, has met Taylor Swift and is keen on working out who she is. P.s. she also spoke at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2013 (which I missed and was sad about).

11. Ellen Page. Her coming out speech was beautiful, and srsly, have you seen Juno?? That movie is film gold and it will basically never get old that she phoned her friend ON A BURGER PHONE to tell her that she was up the duff.

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12. Emma Watson portrayed HERMIONE so she is automatically in this list because Hermione is ace BUT her post hp work has been equally impressive. Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign speech when she was the  UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 was both incredibly well-written and a very persuasive call to action.

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Read//Watch//Listen (6)

read.watch.play

READ

I am currently reading Holier Than Thou (Laura Buzo). I think I’m enjoying it, but so far, there’s nothing that’s especially grabbed me or made me want to race to the end. I very rarely DNF books, so I will finish it, but s l o w l y. The other day I made a detour to the library (where I was gonna borrow 1 book), but came back with 8 and there’s some I’m very excited about, i.e. Summer Skin (Kristy Eager) and Clancy of the Undertow (Christopher Currie) because #Inkys2016 and also On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta) because I don’t think I’ve read a MM book before??

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Super appropriate because I watched Beauty and the Beast for the first time yesterday!!! (I had only read the book previously)

WATCH

I am very invested in Private Practice at the moment. I thought there were only 3 seasons BUT THERE ARE 6, which is very exciting because it means more Addison and Pete and Cooper and Charlotte and Oceanside Wellness. I just finished s3 (and THAT ending with THAT death was pure Shonda and I was not happy jan). All my US shows are finished – of course with the classic in between season cliffhanger – which will (or not) be resolved next season. I’m going away in July for a few months, so it means I miss everything when it comes back which is sad but overseas > tv shows (but I am determined not to see any spoilers). I still haven’t watched the end of House which is sad and I do want to, but I cannot motivate myself to do it.

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Addison is basically the best person

LISTEN

I am midly majorly obsessed with the song Wild Things (Alessia Cara), which I discovered on my iPod 2 days ago and it’s all I’ve been listening to. Favourite lines include: “rebel rousers” and “they’re pious here, but you and I we’re pioneers“. It’s got a rad beat and all I wanna do is dance when I hear it.

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