Travel Update #10

​Of course our plane was delayed. We were meant to originally take off at 8.15, then 8.35 and then 8.45. We eventually got on the plane, with everyone seated around 8.50; taxied down the runway and sat there for about 15 minutes. So we ended up being an hour delayed. 

Sad to be leaving mainland Europe

The reason? On the plane flight prior to ours, a man had become so unwell that they had to turn the plane around, drop him off and come all the way back.

We arrived at the airport, where we had to take an15 minute bus ride to the terminal, where we found our bags easily (and very quickly). We took an underground (our first!!!) to Acton, where we changed to another Piccadilly branch and underground-ed to South Harrow.

The people we’re staying at – F&G – my mom’s friends, came to pick us up at South Harrow tube station – which was super nice of them, as it was quite late! 
We only got home around 12.10am (1.10am in our still-on-Europe-time brains), where we were given a quick run down and then threw ourselves into bed.

The next morning was slower: had Cheerios and banana for breakfast, chatted to my mom and only turn set out.

We loaded an (atrociously expensive) Oyster card, and took the tube to King’s Cross Station – where we stood in the line for Platform 9 3/4. 

They take professional photos of you (which you can then buy for all for savings); and A took photos of me too. His photos of me didn’t turn out very well (blur city) – so we’ll go back sometime to take some more.
We grabbed lunch – I had a very yummy chicken satay salad; and then we took a train to Buckingham Palace. It was cool to see Lizzie’s residence, but I was expecting something much grander (and have seen throughout Europe).

Lizzie B’s house aka Buckingham Palace

We walked to Big Ben (via Hyde Park where there were so many cute squirrels); and the clock tower was (surprisingly) excellent! 

Very beautiful design on the clock tower and the connected buildings. We also saw and walked past Westminster Abbey – we didn’t go in as the line was super long and I am a little sick of churches.

Big Ben!

We walked across the Thames for more photos of Big Ben, and then walked to Trafalgar Square, which sadly was undergoing preparation for the Olmypic Parade. I went into a Waterstones bookstore and Tesco Express (where I bought an egg and cress sandwich) instead. 

Big Ben across the Thames

We tubed to Piccadilly Circus and went on musical playing see-saws! Every time the bottom would hit the ground, it would make a ding sound. It was fun!
We went into the Nickelodeon store (bit childlike) and the MnM store which was epic!! So many (overpriced) MnM souvenirs – from cups to pajamas to packs of special MnMs. 

There’s a self serve section, where I poured some dark chocolate peanut MnMs into my bag (too much of course, because those things come out bloody fast!). I was able to dispose of the ones I didn’t one in a bag held by a staff member. I also got 2 white coloured (with milk chocolate) peanut MnMs. 

Along Piccadilly Circus, we went into too many souvenir stores and bought nothing. 

We tubed and walked back home, where we relaxed for a little bit and then had supper. F had cooked really good flat noodles with beef strips and stirfried vegetables. For dessert we had a fruit salad. A and I also met her kids – E and J, who I hadn’t seen in about 12 years!
We chatted to F after dinner, and had an early night (like the grandmothers we are).
Day #2, we woke up super early (7am) to get ready for our trip to the Tower of London (which had kept coming up as the recommended thing to do in London). 
We arrived at about 9.20 (opened at 9); where We bought tickets and promptly rushed to the Crown Jewels. There was no line! 
The Crown Jewels were quite incredible (no photos of course); and we did the travellator twice so we could view them in their beauty again.

We explored the rest of the castle: from medieval torture devices, to prisoners’ writing on the walls; to the royal mint, animals that were once kept inside the castle and various loving quarters of various royals.

Incredible wire sculptures that tied in with the animals that used to be kept on sight.

Writing on the wall

We also watched a changing of the guards, saw an exhibit on royal medals, and walked through the tower’s grounds.

Up close to a fluffy hatted guard!

Tower grounds

Post the tower tour, we walked along the river, and found a good view of the London Tower bridge.

The Tower of London Bridge

We walked along the bridge (which took us a while to figure out how to do as a lot of the entrances were blocked due to construction). On our way to figuring it out, we accidentally walked into a construction site and bought snacks from Tesco.

We ate lunch sitting on the banks in the wind/overcase sky that looked like it was going to saturate us in seconds. When we finished lunch (sandwiches we’d made), I relaxed while Asher explored further down.

When he came back, we decided that a) it was too late to go back to F&G’s and then come back for West End, and b) we needed somewhere to shelter.

We also wanted somewhere with shops (for potential present shopping), and a nice cafe. So we chose the obvious choice: a shopping centre. We used maps.me to find the closest one (30 minute walk), and off we went.

Had an impromptu tourist photo shoot on the way.

Posing inside like the tourist I am.

It was the dodgiest and worst ‘shopping centre’ I have ever been to. Cracked windows, and two ‘shops’ that both sold waist trainers and underwear with fake butts in them. We got out of there asap and took the tube to Victoria station.

We accidentally took a round trip and ended up back at dodgecity, but we hauled ass and moved as fast as we could to the right place.

We plopped into the first cafe, where A napped and I twiddled with my phone, pretending to think about ordering. I was clearly doing a terrible job, but I think the lady thought something was wrong with A (I mean he was sleeping in a cafe), because she left us alone.

He did have a coffee (where she asked if he was okay when he ordered); and then we walked around the streets to kill more time.

For dinner, we had gourmet chicken burgers from Burger King (which is way better than Hungry Jacks), and shared Nando’s Peri Peri chips (which was a lil exciting because they don’t have Nando’s in Europe).

W I C K E D !

A bought another espresso (he was sick and tired) to shot just before the show. We waited in the foyer of the Apollo Theatre for 10-15 minutes and went in at 7. The show started just after 7.30 and it was incredible !!

The actress who plays Elphaba had the most insane singing voice and when she sang Defying Gravity it was bloody insane!! 

The whole plot line of Wicked was super cool and it’s definitely made me see the Wizard of Oz in a completely different light. The rest of the cast were incredibly brilliant as well.

I was so captivated, I barely ate any of my Malteasers!

It was a bit of a struggle to get back as we were so tired. But, we made it, and slept very well that night!

Day #3 was an early, but not super early morning. I had Marmite (!) on my toast for breakfast and attempted to move the photos off my phone onto a USB via laptop but it wasn’t working, so I sent them via Facebook message to my sister who saved them for me.

We fast walked to the bus stop where we had to scrape together cash because it didn’t take Oyster or card. We changed buses about 35 minutes in.

Over the hump: HARRY POTTER WORLD !!!

We ran from the bus stop to the ticket office to pick up our tickets because we thought we were late, but it was a session starting between 10.30 and 11, not at 10.30. All that running for nothing!

But it was absolutely incredible and so very surreal. I have watched and read all the Harry Potters multiple times; I remember so clearly the countdown for the sale of the final book and when I went dressed as Hermione for the viewing of the final film. 

The tour was insane and brilliant and incredibly creative and clever and so damn detailed and here are so many photos from the day (in order of viewing):

Dursley family photos

The cupboard under the stairs

Part of the great feast (in filming there was some real food, but it started going yucky, so they made a lot of it out of resin).

The sorting hat!!!

L-R: Mcgonagall, Dumbledore #1, Snape

Evanna Lynch handmade the radish earrings and the bracelet with the rabbit charm (front, middle)

Costumes!!

Gryffindor boys dorm

Potions classroom (which was incredible!!)

Mirror of Erised!

Dumbledore’s office

Fun fact: they made two of the gargoyles that guard Dumbledore’s office (and they are massive) – a stationary one, and one that actually moved in a spiral!

This mechanically moved and worked and wasn’t CGI!!

The Weasley Burrow! Complete with the self-knitting knitting needles!!

The Black Family tapestry with burnt Sirius 😦

Excellent EXCELLENT characterisation in her ooffie

“Might is magic”: the statue from the ministry (real sized!)

The last costumes

GENIUS designers and incredible attention to detail!!

A and I have tried so many times to make butterbeer, and here was the ‘real’ thing. We had to try it! It tasted like creaming soda and marshmallow fluff – pretty good!

Number 4 Privet Drive: where it all began

Going on the Knight Bus!

Dudley true to form

Diagon Alley!!

Fun fact: there’s a guy working here that was a death eater in the film. He told us that a) lots of the wands were made of resin, and b), they had LEDs on the end so when they were having epic wand battles, it could be seen who was casting what spell etc, and they would just match the LED colour to the spell/wizard casting it in editing.

They made to scale cardboard models of everything. They were beautifully crafted and so detailed!

A to scale Hogwarts they used for filming some parts

I can’t explain how big the Hogwarts was, but it was surprisingly large (I mean they did have to get cameras through there); and a perfect replica of actual Hogwarts. They filmed at both locations’ and overlapped footage, and well as using them individually.

The shop had every sort of merch you could imagine plus Fantastic Beasts stuff (which isn’t even out yet). I bought an Undesirable #1 postcard.

We got back, packed, had chilli con carne and rice for dinner and were ready for bed.

Day #5, we left nice and early (kindly dropped at the station by G). Waited 10 minutes, got on the train, went four stops and then our train was terminated. Moved to another train, which was terminated after one stop! Finally got on the tube which took us (with no more interruptions), to where we needed to be.

We got on our bus. Our first stop was about 2 hours 45 minutes in. We had a stretch and used the bathroom. After that, we got so very stuck. There had been an accident on the M6 (a major motorway), so everything was being diverted to the M56. I think we spent over an hour barely moving. 

On the bus, I mostly listened to music, did some writing and cringed at two extremely drunk/gross girls behind us who would not shut up.

We finally turned around, stopping to let people off, but we didn’t get a break. At Lancaster, we split into two buses and we went straight to Kendal. 
We finally got there (over an hour late), and used Subway’s free WiFi and the helpful worker there to find our hostel.

Turns out A had booked for November instead of October, but the lady was lovely and said she had room for us tonight, and we’d work out tomorrow tomorrow. He’d booked the wrong month for all our subsequent hostels, so we cancelled and then rebooked Edinburgh and he looked at Chester accommodation.

We walked to Tesco for food – I bought eggs for breakfast and a packaged lamb rogan josh. Warmed it up in the microwave – it was actually quite good!!

Day #6, I made myself a perfect omletter for breakfast (of course worthy of a photo).

Omlette!!

We walked around Kendal, visiting the markets that were on. We went past and stroked some owls, and bought 2 mintcakes (Kendal is famous for them, and they taste like pure mint with the consistency of hard fudge).

Pretty owls!

I also bought a Mowgli and elephant poster from an op shop, a card (also from an op shop), and a Rolo milkshake.

Rolo milkshake

We took a bus to Windermere (the next town), and walked up to the Offest lookout. When we got up there my camera wouldn’t work, so I was a little sad about that.

View from the top of the Offest lookout

We walked down, and then towards the promenade, stopping and shopping at stores along the way. I bought a Daim (which we had been looking for everywhere and finally found in the Lake District of all places) – and it was really good; and two rings! I had been looking for rings throughout the whole trip, and of course I found them at a Windermere tourist info.

We went out for lunch (after looking at all the stores because I wanted a pie but we didn’t see any). 

Lunch: toasted chicken sandwich with salad and chips (with mayo and vinegar!!)

We bussed back, collected our bags and my eggs from our hostel and walked to our inn ‘bnb’.

We had Subway for dinner (I had chipotle chicken). 

When we were booking, we had been warned that there would be a disco, but not to worry we wouldn’t be able to hear anything. 

Everything was as clear as day, and the entire floor vibrated with the music and karaoke. 

We drew the banana that I bought and I started a face (there was no internet).

Day #7, we showered and had breakfast (banana with passionfruit yoghurt), and walked to the Kendal Castle (ruins). 

The ruins were quite pretty AND my camera worked so that was good!

Kendal Castle ruins

Kendal Castle and surrounding view

We walked back down, went back to the inn, finished packing, checked out, paid, and walked to the train station.

We trained to Oxenholme (6 minutes away); changed trains and sat for 2 hours. I listened to music, napped and ate food.

Our hostel was easy to find and we were staying in the Hogwarts dorm – I was in the Snape bed!

We internetted a bit, and then went for late lunch: I had a steak shoulder pie and an apple custard lattice for dessert.

Steak shoulder pie

We walked back via the touristy shops – lots of fudge, whisky, kilts and scotties.

Back at the hostel, I drank (free) hot chocolate and browsed the internet for dinner recipes. I decided on nothing, but went to the shops anyway.

I walked to the further but larger Tesco (via an op shop where I bought 99p photo stickers).

I bought dinner ingredients and snacks, walked back to the hostel (in the rain and dark), watched some Narcos and made dinner.

I fried potato, sweet potato and mushroom rings in paprika, oil and salt; stacked them up in small stacks and put cheese slices between them. They were still hot so the cheese melted and they were actually quite good! 

Chatted to a Welshman and some Americans, had 2 more hot chocolates (free powder is dangerous), messed around on the internet and went to bed.

Day #8, I had an omlette with basil and cheese for breakfast with baby tomatoes on the side (and a hot chocolate of course!)

Walked to Pandora to (finally) get a present for A’s cousin (we’ve been looking for about three months) and then walked to the Holyrood Palace to see the Abbey.

Turns out you can’t just see the abbey, and I wasn’t that interested so I waited outside whilst A went in.

Took a bus from there to Mound Street, and on the bus we chatted to a very friendly Scottish lady. Walked 5 minutes from the stop and took photos of the castle. Pretty, but not incredible.

We walked back to the hostel, where I had my 5 leftover stacks for lunch (and used the internet).

We set off for Tiger (shop with little bits and bobs), so ready to complete our present buying and they had nothing! We walked out a bit sad and I remedied this with getting a chicken pie from Gregg’s for lunch.

We went to the Museum of Childhood Toys, which was cute; and to a mini market with jewellery and souvenirs. We also went to Blackwell’s, a huge and great bookstore.

Walked back to the hostel, and lay in front of the fire, drying my socks and listening to podcasts.

We went out for dinner at an Irish pub and I had friend haddock and chips, which was really tasty!

Fried haddock and chips with coleslaw and tartare sauce

For dessert, we shared a fried mars bar, which was as great and as over the top as you can imagine.

Fried Mars Bar and ice cream with sauce

Day #9, we had a slower morning. I made a scrambled egg for breakfast and the hostel made free pancakes so I had 2 of those.

Walked to Princes Street and to the very pretty gothic monument there.

We walked along the street, going into various clothes stores and trying things on. I bought 2 pairs of fingerless gloves.

For lunch, we bought pastries from Marks and Spencer: a cheese twist and a Belgian chocolate twist. We had bought a ton of shortbread so we had a piece each.

We continued along the street and went into Sainbury’s – where we bought chocolate for F&G and I tried a Lion chocolate bar. 

Walked back to the hostel, checked cinema times, walked to the cinema and saw Doctor Strange. It was quite excellent!

Walked back via Sainsbury’s and bought snacks and lunch and dinner for my long bus ride. 

Boiled eggs back at the hostel and saw that my baby tomatoes had been eaten! Some of my cheese had also been eaten (but I saved the rest and write my name all over the packaging). I definitely won’t miss hostel fridges!

Went to an Asian restuatant for dinner and had satay chicken with noodles, green capsicum and bean sprouts. Was yum! On the way back I bought a Subway cookie.

Walked back to the hostel, packed and had hot chocolate with shortbread. Last night in a hostel! 

A left early the next morning and I took my time: had eggs for brwkafast and packed my bag. Checked out and even waited a bit before leaving (because why not wait with the internet instead of at a bus station).

In a classic Lauren move, with both verbal and mapped instructions, I got lost. I had offline Google Maps but it doesn’t seem to give me walking instructions and when I’m walking through Scottish alleyways, driving instructions don’t suffice.

It was super stressful but I got there 5 minutes later than I was meant to (only 10 minutes before the bus arrived, instead of 15), BUT the bus wasn’t even there yet.

Finally got on, settled in etc.

It was one of the longest and worst bus rides ever. There was nothing specifically wrong, it was just never-ending and when we arrived, we were an hour and a half late. I got to walk back in the dark. Not yay!

Day #11 was arts n culture and I took myself to the Tate Modern, via the Sainsbury’s to buy a panini, a tiny packet of peanut butter and a peanut and chocolate bar. I made up and ate the sandwich on the train platform.

On the way to the Tate, I went into a watercolour gallery.

Watercolour #1

Watercolour #2

The Tate was incredible and so many free exhibits! Melbourne, get on spreading your art and culture freely throughout society!

Monet’s waterlillies!!!

Selfie in front of Gerhard Richter

Halfway through I ate some overpriced English mustard and black pudding crisps from the cafe.

Andy Warhol

Guerilla Girls (they were AWESOME!)

Media and consumption

A woman’s schedule

After the Tate, I walked across the Blackfriars Bridge, bought some caramelised nuts and took photos of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Caramelised nuts

Shakespeare’s Globe and Blackfriars Bridge

I walked back across, to another tube station and tubed across to Charing Cross. 

I went to the National Portrait Gallery, where I accidentally escalated into the floor with the tudors portraits (cool but I wanted modern); and moved down to the modern floor (some of which was closed for a private event).

I walked to the Milk Train Cafe, where I actually lined up for the ice-cream/fairy floss combo! 

Happy me and Milk Train!!


I tuned home, got stuck between two stations for about 15 minutes and had leftovers (chicken curry and ravioli) for dinner.

Day #12, I had vague notions of going to more galleries, but F offered for me to come with her to Tesco and it was more appealing. The gallery I wanted to go to sounded awesome, but I was tired and needed a break from the go go go.

I walked around Tesco while she did the shopping – it had clothes, books, electronics and of course, food.

After we were done, she took me on a driving tour of the neighbouring suburbs (Radlett and Shenley). We stopped in Radlett and went to a bookshop that we browsed. It smelt nice.

F took me out for lunch to a restaurant attached to a theatre, and whilst our food was taking forever to come, she got a phone call: the mechanic – where was she? 

F had an appointment she’d forgotten about, so she dashed off to take the car home, drop it off and take the other one.

I ate my very delicious haloumi salad whilst she was gone.

My haloumi salad

She came back with J, her son, and a crisis: she couldn’t find her phone, even though she’d used it to call me on the way.

They finished lunch and I used my phone to call hers – eventually we found it underneath the car, on the concrete! If she’d reversed, she would’ve crushed it.

F dropped J at home, and took herself and me to the local shopping strip. She did her own shopping and so did I.

I mostly went into op shops (and some real shops) and bought: a FRIENDS ps2 game, a romper, a donut (strawberry) and glue dots from Hobby Craft (which is like Spotlight and dangerous to my wallet).

I walked back, and for dinner we had chicken curry and rice with fruit salad for dessert.

A came back that night.

Day #13, A, E (the daughter), and I went to Camden Market!

Iconic!

We shopped around for four hours, and mostly just bought food. For snack, I had a toffee covered and filled cronut. 

Crazy cronut!!

For lunch I had a ruben bagel, with salted brisket, cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It was quite good!

The v good ruben!

For dessert, after I’d digested a little, I had an ice cream sandwich: red velvet biscuits with raspberry shortcake ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

Ice cream sandwich!

We separated from Emma at the tube station and A and I tubed to King’s Cross Station, where we redid my (previously blurry) photos at Platform 9 3/4.

We then tubed to Harrods which was bloody crazy!!

HARRODS

It has everything you could ever imagine: pastries, jewellery (about 7 different sections), groceries, poultry, fish, clothes, bed and bathroom accessories, books, toys, cafes and more! We did most of the floors before we took our exhausted selves back to the tube.

Colourful cauliflower and cool broccoli!!

A left me in Leicester Square because he went to see Aladdin. I tuned and walked back to the house.

For dinner, we had challah (!! haven’t had it in ages); salmon, baby carrots, beans, leftover zucchini and broccoli and broccoli and cauliflower cheese bake.

Last full day! Woke up early, but clocks had changed overnight, so I slept for a little while longer.

Tubed to Kentish town, where we got the Northern Line to Leicester Square, and walked to Covent Gardens (via buying a hot chocolate).

I was expecting some sort of greenery (and the classic cobblestones), but there was nothing park like about it!

We walked around the markets and shops, listening to the street performers as we we passed (and trying 12/10 hot chocolate at Whittard).

Camden Market markets

We walked to Hamleys, which was insane! Toy wonderland, including a Harry Potter and lolly section!!

Royal Lego

We walked back towards Covent Gardens, via lunch: We shared bangers and mash – ‘chard’ mash (cheese, chives and milk), and 3 mint sausages.

I had been saying just before I felt like a sausage (and the likelihood of finding any, or a non pork one was so low, and then we stumbled upon this place!

We had to keep room for our favourite ice-cream: Venchi!! We’d had it a few times in Italy, (and hadn’t seen it since); and it was the perfect way to end the Europe leg.

White chocolate with salted huts and creamy hazelnut

We bought flowers for F & G and tubed back and packed (easier than I thought it would be, but still a pain). 

We forgot to draw money for a taxi, so G drove us to an ATM to get some (we were dressed in mostly pajamas with coats on top because everything else was packed).

I’m honour of us leaving, F & G made roast beef, sweet potatoes, normal baby potatoes, parsnip and gravy. We had fruit salad for dessert. Everything was super good!!

We chatted a bit and said our goodbyes.

A and I had a relatively early night and woke up at 3.30am. We finalised packing, got our taxi and got to the airport way quicker than expected (we were almost 4 hours early).

We accidentally stood in the wrong queue for a bit, but then moved across and everything went smoothly.

We are now waiting to board a flight which will symbolise the end of our Europe (mainland or otherwise), leg!

The last post will be me summarising Abu Dhabi and heading home. Until then!

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Travel Update #9

I’d heard about GRÃœNAU’s beauty and Gerhard’s caring manner (and excellent cooking) skills from a few people, so I had high expectations!

The bus ride there was easy, and we were welcomed by a delicious smelling lasagna (which I had not ordered because I had finally finished the Nutella on two rolls I packed). I was lucky enough that our guide was too full to finish it and gave the rest to me. Legend!

After those who weren’t staying left, Gerhard went through everyone’s dietary needs so he could make sure we could eat what was cooked; and we got our rooms (and showed how to dodgy door worked, by Sebastian, Gerhard’s son).

A and I went for a walk (in the constant rain) to the fairytale forest. Someone had built houses and fairytale characters in the real forest. Everyone who went said it was creepy but I thought it was pretty cool!

Snow White

That night, we had our first taste of Gerhard’s rad cooking: chicken with a creamy sauce, a rice cup and carrots, peas and corn. It was so nice to have a homely meal cooked for me!

Dessert was a sour cherry cake.

A and I spent the evening/night playing cards and chatting with a couple from the bus – Ally and Sam. I learnt two new card games: presidents and assholes and a variation on that.

Day #2, we all ate (included) breakfast together. There was Marmite, which was super exciting for me!

With a group of 5 other people – A, Hannah, Alex, Jaime and Adele, we cycled the 21km to Almsee Lake. Most of it was flat, but there were a few bad hills!

Me in front of mountains (at lake)

We ate lunch at the restaurant by the lake – I had beef soup with chopped up bits of crepe in it; and A and I shared a cream cheese strudel.

Cream cheese strudel

We then walked to an area of the lake we could put our feet into (we were potentially going to swim but the air was cold and the water was bloody freezing!)

Lake and swans

Almost panorama!

We cycled the 21km back and it was a major struggle!

A, Hannah and I got separated from the other three; and then A and I got separated from Hannah, as we took forever getting back. After way too many stops, we eventually made it!

Dinner that night was beef and gravy with pasta and herbs. Dessert was a chcolate cream sponge with a solid chocolate layer on top and cherries inside.

Played Trivial Pursuit (but it was going for forever so we gave up an hour and a half in). Hung out with Zyna and Hannah and A at one stage and then Hannah and Kell later on; and one of the girls went skinny dipping because she lost odds.

Day #3, I read My Sister Rosa and had the lasagna lunch with the new Busabouts.

Such a good lasagna!!

The new Busabouts (Libby, Amy, Jason and Molly) and us walked to a waterfall. It was mostly easy, except for the last couple of minutes where there were slippery logs and rocks.

The waterfall

On the way there, I had taken off my shoes and waded across, but on the way back I was too lazy, so I clambered across the slippery rocks like the others. I don’t have great balance and ended up soaking my right shoe and sock (the left one only got a lil wet).

The slippery rocks

Listened and jammed to HSM tunes on the way back from Molly’s phone.

Shared chips with Asher, finished My Sister Rosa (excellent read) and had the vegetarian option for dinner (they were serving pork which I don’t eat). It was pumpkin ravioli with potatoes, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Dessert was a custard and blackcurrent jam strudel – so good!

The v good hot chips!!

We played some more card games – Drunk Driver and ***** The Bus. I also tried Sturm for the first time: Austrian ‘wine’ (it’s 2%), that tastes like Ribena/grape juice (red) and Apple juice (white). Hung out with Libby and Z and Molly and Brittani and Jason, downstairs in the pool room.

Day #4, I ate lots of breakfast (preparing for Yom Kippur), used the internet, chatted with people and said goodbye to Jaime and Adele who left on the train.

I watched the Amanda Knox doco on Netflix – very interesting!

Hot chips with mayo for lunch, and Asher and I played Uno (with points) for a little (he crushed me).

By then, the others had returned from the lake, so we played standard Uno with them (no points); and Presidents and Assholes and then we showed them the variation we had learnt.

A and I had our last supper (for 25 hours): chicken pizza (I wanted veggie but there was none left). I ate dessert 5 minutes late (because I didn’t realise I had to get it – usually he brings it after diner but we ate early) – so I decided I wanted and I’d just finish 5 minutes later. Dessert was vanilla and chocolate sponge with cherries.

After everyone had finished their dinner, we played cheat; and then pool (my second time ever). I sunk one ball (definitely a fluke, because I 100% suck).

Chatted and hung out with Libby and Kell and Asher.

Day #5, we woke up to it snowing!!! This was very exciting, as I’d seen snow before, but I’d never seen it snowing. Everyone, including myself, rushed outside in their pajaymas (I shoved trackies and a jacket on top) to frolick and dance and take so many photos of the snow(ing).

Snowing/snow!!

Happiness is!

Packed etc., played more card games and looked at the yummy lasagna when everyone ate lunch. 

Saying goodbye to Gerhard and Seb was a lil sad and no-one wanted to leave The Tree house because it had become a home away from home. 

I 100% recommend it to everyone, and I can’t wait to go back!

Bus ride was short, and once in SALZBURG, A and I just hung in the hostel (energyless from not eating and drinking). I started Narcos, and at around 4, we went to buy food for our breaking of the fast feast!

I watched more Narcos when we came back and then it was time to eat!!

I broke it (5 minutes past 7), on schnitzel. I also had Toffifee, dates and a strawberry Magnum which I bought at the corner store.

Our hostel plays Sound of Music every night at 8pm, so the four of us – A, Amy, Hannah and I, watched it.

On day #2, the three of them went to Eagle’s Nest and I went for an early morning run. I don’t actually run, but I was feeling gross and it was the most efficient excercise I could think of. It ended up being 25 minutes of (mostly) running – longer than I’d imagined because I got a little lost at the end.

Showered, breakfasted (waffles with honey and dates), dressed and walked to the farmer’s market around the corner. 

Lots of fruits and veg and meat and cheese, and I ended up buying 2 slices of cheese (2 different types) to put on my already buttered sandwich for lunch.

The night before Hannah had mentioned a fortress she went to but didn’t know the name so I just typed fortress into Google Maps and started walking. It was a very long walk (in Converse because I didn’t realise it would be so long) – 5km from where I was to the Hohensalzburg. It was a pretty walk – through leafy paths, but I was very exhausted by the time I got there.

On the way to the fortress

I hiked up the very steep hill and ate lunch (leftover Toffifees and the roll with the two cheeses) at the top. 

Decided not to go in because I wasn’t super interested (despite the long ass hike). Instead I limped/dragged my feet around the old town.

I went into the cemetery that had bend the inspiration for the cemetery/shooting scene in Sound of Music. I went into souvenir stores and bought a giant bread pretzel for lunch the next day.

Fortress from the old square

I walked to an information store to ask for a train station (because there was no way I was walking back) and she informed me there was none, but there were buses. Found the bus easily enough (across Mozart Bridge – where they sing Do Re Mi in the film) and took it to the main train station because that was near our hostel.

Apparently not though. I wandered around, lost for about 40 minutes – and after asking two people, I finally found the hostel. My phone was on 1% (so no GPS for me), and my theory was that I’d arrived at the main station on a completely different side to where our hostel was near.

Chilled the rest of the afternoon (watched Narcos) and then the four of us went out for dinner to an Italian restaurant (after veteoing a dodgy burger place and an expensive Korean restaurant). 

I had a MASSIVE pizza!! It was a four cheese pizza: mozzarella, cheddar and two others I didn’t know.

Being shocked @ pizza size!!

I had a cloudy apple spritzer which was basically fizzy apple juice. I didn’t finish the pizza and brought home leftovers.

Day #3, we said goodbye to Hannah (we’d planned dinner with Amy in Munich), and took a bus to the salt mines. 

We had to put on freaky looking, bell-bottomed overalls (not sure why), and straddle a train that would take us 650m into the mountain. 

Fashionable mine clothes!!

The tour lasted an hour and involved walking through the salt caves, learning how the salt was extracted, sliding down a wooden ‘slide’, taking a boat across a mirror lake and hopping in a funicular to go back up again. 

– salt in the mines

We learnt the information from an English audio guide because the tour was in German.

Mirror lake we boated across

After our tour, I bought a mini salt shaker at the shop, we ate lunch (I had my cheese and olive bread pretzel) and went for a walk, trying to get a good view of the mountains (to no avail). We walked back, took the bus and walked back to the hostel.

Had leftover pizza for dinner.

Day #4, I woke up early, got picked up from the hostel and driven to Mirabell Platz (via a hotel to pick up a couple), to get the bus: I had booked the Eagle’s Nest tour!!! After seeing the photos and with recommendations from A, Amy and Hannah I decided to go. 

We took the bus (with our tour guide giving information along the way), and once arriving at the base, changed to a narrow bus (for the skinny roads). Drove up, walked through a tunnel, went up Hitler’s Elevator, pass some windows and we were outside!

The view was incredible!! Some snow, but it was actually quite warm up there and super clear skies (I was lucky with the weather because it had been cancelled the day before).

Beautiful!!!

The non snow side

After an hour, we drove to Berschgaden for lunch. I had packed lunch: rice cakes with egg dip, but I bought myself a cake (I think it was Apple with chopped almonds on top). 

It was good cake

Bussed back to Salzburg, and I went for a quick visit to Mirabell Platz gardens (and finished my cake whilst walking around). Walked back to the hostel, chatted to Molly, did more of this blog and surfed the internet.

Mirabell Platz Gardens

For dinner, we ate at the hostel: I had chips with chicken wings (was good) and a blackberry cider (to celebrate/be sad about our second late mainland Europe night).
The three of us went for a walk to Mirabell Platz and had our second cider when we came back. Chatted for a bit.

Day #5 started with me stripping my bed because I couldn’t find my key. Looked everywhere, and eventually just asked for a new one. He didn’t blink an eyelid.

Had (Hannah’s) left(over) pizza for breakfast, packed and chilled out in the common room with Molly and Asher.

Went for a walk to Mirabell Platz and gardens and then back via a housewares store (that was sadly closed, but we started through the window).

I had lunch: rice cakes with butter I had bought but semi forgot about, my leftover slice of cheese and a little sachet of Nutella. I used the leftover Nutella for one more and buttered the rest and put them away for snacks.

The bus ride back to MUNICH was short, and our guide (Sarah), was pretty good! Informative and bubbly and interesting. 

Goodbye Busabout! For now, but definitely not forever.

Checked in, sorted through bag 1 (my attached bag); did a wash and put our clothes in the drier before we gathered downstairs for a lil tour by Sarah and Megan (another guide – we had her going into Grunau!)

We walked to Haubrauhaus (oldest beer house in Germany), via Marienplatz, the Victoria market stalls, the old and new square buildings and a statue of Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet) with one golden boob because apparently rubbing it means good luck for the rest of your life.

We were going to have kebabs for Dinner, but on the way back from getting cash we went past a Mexican place and chose there instead. We shared two dishes:

Dish 1: chicken burritos with wedges, sour cream, salsa and salad

Dish 2: pulled beef enchiladas with potato rostis and salad

Came back, sorted/stressed about our flight info (we had conflicting information); but I think it’s sorted now. We will confirm in the morning. 
I can’t believe this is basically the end of our mainland Europe trip!! Over three months down, and less than one to go!!! 

WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE??

Today, we packed, ate the breakfast buffet (I had a toasted roll with pb+j, a v mini bowl of cereal and yoghurt and 2 hot chocolates!), and checked out.

We walked along the main street for a bit, and then back to the hostel. 

Bought sushi (!!!) for later, and had my packet of Uncle Ben’s rice for lunch.

We will be leaving for the airport later (via public transport); where we will wait for way too long and then catch a (short) flight to London. 

Until the end of our UK leg!!

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Travel Update #8

VIENNA

Vienna’s public transport system isn’t on Google maps (which we didn’t know – we just assumed there was no public transport from the drop off point to our hostel), so we were planning on taxi-ing.

Turns out there was, and it was very easy to use and to get to our hostel! 

We didn’t do much that first afternoon. We went shopping because the next day was Sunday and all the supermarkets are closed on a Sunday. We also went out for dinner: I had noodles with teriyaki chicken.

Teriyaki chicken and noodles

Day #2/our only full day involved rubbish weather and us traipsing around in it.

First we trammed to Schönnbrunn Palace (which I’ve been writing everywhere else as Schlossbrunn, whoops). We waited in line for about half an hour (at least we were undercover) – trying to decide on which tickets to buy.

We ended up getting just the Imperial Palace tour (22 rooms) tickets and were planning on getting the Privy Gardens one at the garden, but we were told there were free gardens for our viewing pleasure.

They give you a time for your castle ‘tour’* so we wandered the gardens for just under an hour. 

During our impromptu autumn photoshoot

They were quite beautiful and whilst it was cold, it had mostly stopped raining.

Green corridor

The garden

Our *tour involved an audio guide that told you about each room as you went into them. There were no photos allowed, and there were guards around, but I managed to sneak a few rubbish ones.

Rubbish photo #1

It took us about half an hour to go through the rooms, and post castle visit, we went back to the gardens to go up on the balcony.

Balcony view

By that time it had started raining again/the weather was just miserable, so we were strongly debating whether we wanted to go to the Gustav Klimt exhibition then or leave it for when we came back to Vienna. 

We eventually decided to just do it (and in true Lauren and A style, we got a lil lost on the way and walked quite far). But we got there and being the student I am, asked for a student price. I showed my INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CARD and the lady says no ‘I want your student card’, and because I haven’t started at uni yet I have no uni/student card (my license was not useable either apparently); so I had to pay full price. 

We only paid for the section of the Belvedere where Gustav Klimt’s pairnings were. We also saw other artwork (once again, no pics, but we’ve had practice). 

Tiger and Vultures, 2015 (isn’t it incredible!!!)

Twins!!!

Klimt’s paintings were amazing!!! Especially The Kiss!!! But the way he uses gold and makes it work so bloody well is quite astounding and incredibly clever. I was the distracter and A took photos because his phone is better. 

The Kiss!!!

Unfinished

I sped through the next section of the galley – Renaissance art and realism – because I am so sick of Renaissance art, but I paid for the ticket so I thought I’d pretend to get my money’s worth. 
We trammed home, had a small break and then started cooking our feast! 

It was Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanna – that night so we’d bought ingredients to make a big meal for us. 

Entree: Apple dipped in honey (to represent a sweet, round new year), round ‘challahs’, pomegranate and gooseberries (for our new fruits).

Entree

Main: chicken with sweet and sour sauce and rice

Main

Dessert: pastry with cheese (quark) and a kinder surprise ‘ice-cream’. 

Kinder Surprise ‘ice-creams’

During dinner, we hung out with a girl I’d met at the hostel (Prue), and with 2 others: a girl (Christina) we kept bumping into (this was he third place), and a guy (Devin) she’d met. I also had a Bahamas Punch – coconut and pineapple juice with rum, which was quite yum.

It was all so good, and I was so full afterwards.

Day #2, we finished our cereal (which was a lil gross after that much – but we didn’t feel like carrying it), packed up our bags and walked to the tram stop. We trammed to the main train station, where we took a bit of time to find our platform (C1), but we found it eventually.

I had a mini panic when I thought I’d left my lanyard with all my keys for all the locks of my bags at the hostel (but they were indeed in my bag, hidden very well).

The bus ride was cramped and uneventful. We got there in an hour and a half, and then had to take 2 buses and walk to our hostel. As we were struggling to find our hostel, an Australian guy asked us where we were going and we told him the hostel name and turns out he was staying there too so we just followed him! We definitely would’ve gotten lost, so that was nice of him.

The first day, we just walked around the town (I had a really good tuna bagel for lunch), visiting all the souvenir shops and of course we saw the famous statue!

Cumil

Walked back to the hostel, did some washing, internetted and got ready for shule (as it was 2nd night Rosh Hashanna and we were only 7 minutes walk away from one).

On advice from A’s parents, we rocked up at 5, ready for some shofar blowing. It was completely closed and we were completely confused so we decided to make some Tesco purchases and then come back.

Bought a banana and milk. Walked back around 5.30 – there were people there! I hid the banana in my coat pocket, and we left/hid the milk on the street (because we weren’t sure what else to do with it). 

Quick service – about 45 minutes (and we heard the shofar!) Understood bacially nothing – the service was in Hebrew and the sermons (and anything else usually in English), was a in all Slovak! We were invited (again) – this time by the rabbi – to come for dinner to his house (and we still didn’t know how to say no). 

So much food – all very delicious! 

Course 1: salads (great lettuce one with avo and this weird thing with fruit that tasted like off grapes) and apples and honey and rad fish loaf.

Course 2: chicken soup and kneidel

Course 3: meat, small boreks/pastries, roast poatoes and Apple cinnamon cake (which was weird for a main course).

Course 4: 2x chocolate biscuit things with icing and cherries on top.

We sat next to each other and fielded questions for the rabbi’s eldest daughter about Australia. 

After an unexpectedly good night, we left at around 10-10.15pm. 

Day #2 had a slower start. We went shopping for lunch (3x pastries) and I bought ingredients for baking (no-one was sure if the flour I bought was normal or self-raising).

Came back, made the Nutella** brownies (after realising the oven hadn’t actually been on for 20 minutes I fiddled around a bit). Let them cool, cut them up, put them into a container and got ready for the walking tour.

Hans Christian Anderson

It went for about three hours, and it was bloody freezing.

Our tour guide explained the history of Bratislava, showed us what was left of the old Jewish Quarter (not much) and took us up to the castle.

View from the castle

We also went into a cat cafe (!!), and got all our guide’s recommendations to eat and drink.

Day #3, A and I went up St. Michael’s tower and got a panoramic view of Bratislava’s rooftops.

(Almost) 360 view of Bratislava

We walked along the streets – taking our usual approach: going into all the souvenir stores and buying nothing.

We went to a burger place for lunch and I had the best burger I’ve had since I’ve been away! It also came with chips and coleslaw and I was so full by the time I finished.

Lamb burger with rocket, avo, mozzarella and mayo

We walked around a bit more (getting caught in a hail storm); went back to the hostel for a bit and then out again.

We went out for ice-cream to a place recommend by our tour guide and it was so good!!!

Flavours: (vegan) fairy floss and lemon cake

Day #4, we went out for breakfast at another one of our guides recommendations (PANCAKES) – and it turns out they were more like crepes (but very excellent nonetheless).

I had a strawberry milkshake (which should’ve been called a strawberry smoothie).

Strawberry ‘milkshake’

For breakfast I had two crepes/pancakes- 1) snickers: chocolate, walnuts and caramel;

Snickers crepe

and 2), mozzarella, pesto and tomato pieces.

Mozzarella crepe

A and I took a bus to Devin Castle after breakfast (where, at the bus shelter, we met two American couples). 

Devin Castle is a ruins castle and whilst it was freezing cold and raining the entire time, it was pretty incredible and it had some ace views!

In front of a part of the Devin Castle ruins

The Danube from a part of the castle

A section of Devin Castle

A and I went out for a traditional Slovak lunch at a restaurant at the bottom of the castle. We ordered two dishes and shared.

Potato dumplings with sesame seeds, icing sugar and something I can’t remember

Bryndza halusky: potato dumplings with sheep’s cheese

We took the bus back to Bratislava and walked to the cat cafe for some much needed warming up!

I had some litchi and cucumber lemonade and took photos with the only cat that wasn’t sleeping (he was a lil grumpy).

Back at the hostel, we packed and ate a ‘spaghetti explosion’ for dinner (cooked by the hostel and very good).

The hostel has a signing wall, and they encourage you to write something on there before you leave.

Inspo words from me (quote credit: Amy E)

I love this!

I’d had the same plastic drink bottle since Israel and it was leaking/dying so unfortunately I had to get rid of it. 

  1. Rip drink bottle

In true Lauren and A style, we left very early to walk to the bus stop. Also in true Lauren and Asher style, we went the wrong way for about 20 minutes; once we realised/asked we got off, crossed the road and waited for the next bus.

Since this journey was only meant to take us about 10 minutes, we bought a 15 minute ticket. When we got into the next bus (which came soon after), we didn’t even think about new tickets. Just as we were arriving at the station, ticket inspectors came on and as soon as I saw one behind A, I realised that we didn’t have valid tickets. 

Of course, we got fined an obscene amount of money (I thought he said 5 euros and handed over a 10 – I thought this seemed too little, but we’d been fined 5 before for forgetting to validate. I was wrong and he laughed).

I was grumpy about the fine (although technically it was my own fault); but what made me feel a lil better was that there were a group of girls that got fined on the next bus we went on.

Our bus ride (and subsequent train ride to the hostel) – was easy.

We dropped our bags off, chilled our and went for a walk along the Nachmarket (where I bought a baklava and a spinach and cheese borek for dinner). 

We went for a walk around the area, and then spent a good few/too many hours planning our UK trip: transport and accommodation etc. 

Hung out at the bar for a little (had my free orange juice), chilled on the couches for a bit and then went to bed, ready for an early wake up.

(I was going to do one blog post for my trip until we left for the UK but I can’t post more photos, so it looks like I’m going to be splitting it up).

**I bought 750g Nutella in Switzerland and was struggling to finish it, so I decided to throw most of it into a batch of brownies!

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Travel Update #7

Next stop: DRESDEN

Dresden definitely surpassed my expectations! 

On the first day, we arrived pretty early, dropped our bags off (at our kangaroo themed hostel) and walked to the old town. 

We went to a beautiful castle.

It even had a moat!!

We were pretty exhausted from the early morning, so we went back to our hostel. We’d been told about a free walking tour that started at another hostel, so at around 6.30pm, we walked down.
Turned out it only started at 9, so we went for dinner. We shared Indian aloo potatoes (entree) and chicken with mint and vegetables (and rice and naan). It was really good and super filling!

Potato aloo

Main course

As we sat there eating dinner in our shorts and t-shirts, we realised we had not dressed for the weather because we were freezing our asses off!!

We fast walked back to our hostel, put some long pants and a jumper on and fast walked back. 

The tour was interesting, but there were times I got a little bit lost as the conversation (too) often veered into politics as a certain member of the tour kept asking questions. 

At the first bar, we had a shot of something amaretto-esque (sickly sweet and a bit sickly), the second alcohol was this disgusting shot of something that was apparently ‘Jagermeister’s cousin’ and the third was vodka (I think). 

We saw quite a bit of street art and learnt about the micro region of Neustadt.

Art

At about 12pm, in the last bar/basically the end, A and I excused ourselves as the alcohol and polticis had finally gotten to us.

Day 2, we took a tram to the terribly named Hygiene Museum. 

Just in front of the museum were market stalls: mostly fruit, but we found these delicious things called langos – deep fried dough of some kind, served hot – and I had melted cheese on mine. SO GOOD! 

Langos!!

Useful things at the market!

The hygiene museum should’ve been named ‘the human museum’ or something not so stupid. There were seven rooms, and everything related to humans in some way: disease, pregnancy, sexuality, family, how we move, food and nutrition etc. For the Melbournians, it was a more information heavy adult version of Science Works. Unfortunately, a lot of the information was in German, but we still read what we could and did all the interactive stuff.

Seeing how a fly does

Not sure what this was actually testing??

Went to the supermarket on the way back from the hostel – and after being annoyingly indecisive for too long, I finally (with the help of A), chose dinner ingredients.

I ended up making crumbed (with paprika chips and an egg) chicken and zucchini with garlic and butter. Had a new Sommersby flavour (blackberry), which was quite nice (as ciders go).

Next morning, we bought more Sommersby for a later stage, packed our bags and walked to the pickup point for our drive to PRAGUE.

The drive was quicker than expected, so we got to our hostel earlier than we thought. Walked around a bit, and introduced ourselves to traditional Czech food: donut cones. We both had one with nutella in them – very good, but very rich.

Cooking the tradelnik donuts

Had dinner – pasta with a packet spinach and cream sauce (better than expected AND leftovers. Bonus!) Got ready for the pub crawl: black jumpsuit, hoop earrings, black $4 Kmart shoes, hair up and I was ready for the night.

Walked to the meeting point, where there were 100+ other eager pub crawlers. We got our wristbands, got told the rules (1/have fun and, 2/get f***ed up), and we were off!

The first bar had an hour of power: free shots of absinthe and cranberry/vodka and cups of beer for an hour. Little bit dangerous.

At the first bar

We drank and danced and then it was time for bar/club #2. We each got a free shot as we walked in the door (I asked what it was and the guy replied with ‘alcohol’. You don’t say???). Felt a bit sick (and they don’t have tap water), so we took a glass and filled it with water from the bathroom. Sat outside for a bit.

Club/bar #3, I just went inside to buy water (which I wasn’t even allowed to bring into the next place) – and sat outside the whole time. I definitely wasn’t feeling my best. 

The best place was club #4: a 5 storey club with different kinda of music on each level: radio hits, golden oldies (which I’m pretty sure which actually 90s, but okay), EDM etc. We went to all the floors (90s was definitely my favourite).

Us at Karlovy Lazne (5 storey club)

We left at around 2am and walked back to our hostel. It was a good night.

Day #2, we wanted to go our for breakfast, but there weren’t many actual breakfast places (definitely miss Melbourne’s great array of cafes), so we had Burger King (they have rad crispy chicken burgers).

Had leftover pasta and a pastry for lunch. Planned to go on the 3pm free walking tour, but 5 minutes after we got there we were told it was cancelled. We just toured ourselves! 

We went to: a chocolate shop (no free tastings) and the astronomical clock in the old square.

Astronomical Clock

We went to the Jewish quarter (reminded me of Tzfat a bit), where we walked around the stalls a bit and then went into the shule Jewish cemetery (that had a tombstones from 1493!)

Pinkas Synagouge

Jewish cemetery tombstones

We also saw artwork from kids that were in Terezin. 

Walked to Charles Bridge – and found a lookout by some swans to take some well angled photos.

Swans and Charles Bridge

Started Making a Murderer and made dinner: salmon with garlic and soya sauce and mashed sweet potato.

Day 3 began with me being grumpy because of lack of sleep because of the abundance of snorers/old people in the room. 

Had provided breakfast, and walked to the Prague Castle (up many (many) stairs). Lots of lookouts onto the red rooves of Prague.

Panoramic shot of Prague’s red rooves

We continued walked up to the stunning castle! It was medieval design – something, in our viewing of what feels like 100 churches, we haven’t come across to often, so that was nice.

Prague Castle

Now that a ‘sufficient’ number of days had passed, we could feel less guilty about buying another tradelnik donut: this time with ice cream instead of nutella. It was good (but I did prefer the nutella one).

Tradelnik donut and I

Read book at hostel (Lies we tell ourselves), and went out for dinner. I had beef goulash with horseradish, red onion, a pepper (which I thought was a tomato) and bread dumplings (which are not the Asian style dumplings we know). It was very filling (struggled with the last mouthfuls), but also very good.

Dinner! (Those bread looking things are the dumplings)

I had a better sleep on day 4 because of the ear plugs A gave to me.

In the day, we went on a tour of Kutna Hora and the bone chapel. 

Story time: some guy (can’t remember who exactly), went to Jerusalem and got wind of this cemetery, where, because of the soil, people go to heaven faster. He took some soil (guess there wasn’t much bolder protection in those days) back to Kutna Hora, and sprinkled it in a cemetery. Everyone wanted to be buried there! This was also the time of the plague, and I think there were some battles, so the cemetery kept getting bigger. Someone decided that they should build a chapel, being Christian and all. They dug up many of the mass graves and started storing the bones in the crypt. Finally, the head monk told the other monks to ‘organise them’, and so the bone chapel was born. 

Fact: it has 40,000+ human bones.

Welcome to the bone chapel

(Chandelier-less) and the main chapel room

Unfortunately, they were restoring the chandelier when we went.

Shield in the bone chapel (reminds me of Survivor’s immunity idol)

We got mini-bussed to the Czech restaurant, where A and I shared a starter (we had actually brought lunch with but couldn’t resist). It was fried cheese (my new favourite thing), tartar sauce and fries (like the tourists we are).

Fried cheese and tartar!

Lastly, on the tour, we went to St. Barbara’s Cathedral, (yet) another church. It was pretty (also medieval), but the Prague Castle was better. We walked around it, went to the lookout, bought a fake coin and sat on the grass waiting for those who were interested in the church to finish looking. 

St. Barbara’s Cathedral

We trained back to Prague and went back to our hostel.

Said HI to this guy on the way back

For dinner, I had chicken with soya sauce and garlic with lettuce leaves, roasted seeds (with chili salt), and oil.

On our last day in Prague, we trammed to the Vsyehrad Castle, via the Fred and Ginger Dancing House.

The Dancing House

The castle/church was pretty but nothing spectacular. There were a few good lookouts with some pretty stunning views (and there were cute dogs too).

Panoramic view of Prague from the Vysehrad lookout

We went out for lunch to a Czech restaurant where we shared a watermelon lemonade and I had duck confit with coleslaw and a variety of dumplings (bread, potato and something else I’m not sure of).

Duck confit, coleslaw and the dumplings – I was so full afterwards!

We trammed back to Wencelas Square (where we were staying), and decided to tram to the John Lennon wall. We took the wrong tram, and then took it back, and then just decided to walk – it wasn’t far, we were just feeling lazy.

Me in front of a section of the wall

Section of the wall

I’m not sure why it’s called the John Lennon wall: maybe it started out as a JL wall and now it’s just somewhere for all types of graffitti; or maybe it was ‘his wall’ because of his hippie/peace/love vibe. 

Bought an ice cream which was quite good. 

Cookies (top) and coconut (bottom)

Walked to the supermarket and bought dinner ingredients. Went back to hostel, internetted a bit and then made dinner: vermicelli noodles with soya sauce beef, cucumber and spring onion. I added lettuce leaves and the roasted chili seeds to mine. It was good and we had leftovers. 

At 12.30am, sercuity was called into our room, because some guy (who was staying at the hostel) – high on drugs – had jumped into someone else’s bed. Security kicked him out.

Early wakeup the next morning, and we trammed/walked to the pick up point. Had an insane donut for breakfast – tasted like a koeksister and had white chocolate on it!

Crazy Czech donut!

Bus ride was short – and we went via a Tesco! First time in a Tesco – and I don’t know if they’re all like like that, but it was pretty great: clothes, toys, food, fruit, bakery section and miscellaneous. 

We dropped our bags off at our hostel, and walked around the entire town in about an hour. Very cute, lotsa touristy shops (definitely more than I thought) – where we went into all of them of course.

We checked into our hostel, used their internet and went our for dinner. We found a place that only accepted cash – we walked around for somewhere with card, rejected everywhere else, drew money and went back to the first place. 

I had onion soup because I was a bit sick of all the super heavy food! I was still hungry afterwards, and the kitchen had closed so we trawled the main square for an open kitchen. Found a place (with a super unfriendly waiter), and ordered poato pancakes (which tasted like hot chips). 

Day #2 in Cesky Krumlov, I had really good apple cinnamon yoghurt for breakfast. 

We walked up and around the castle – and of course saw more red rooves.

Castle view

We walked around the castle grounds and the beautiful gardens.

Slightly dilapidated house we saw on our walk

Part of the gardens we walked through

At the bottom of the castle/when we reached the town again, we both bought another tradelnik donut with nutella in then. These were better than the ones we had in Prague – they were softer and tasted more homemade.

The best tradelnik we had!!!

That was ‘first lunch’ so at about 2pm, we went out for ‘second lunch’: I had fried cheese (and it comes with tartar sauce and chips). It was a bigger portion than I thought it would be so I was pretty full afterwards.

After lunch, we put our bathers on, ready for a swim in the moat (apparently it’s not a river or a lake but a real moat!)

It was absolutely freezing, so we walked in up to our ankles and that was enough. 

Ankle deep was enough!!

It was beautiful weather, so I lay on the bank for a bit enjoying the sunshine and breeze.

Moat and castle wall

We went past the shops on the way back – we bought dinner ingredients and I bought a banana and more of that Apple cinnemon yoghurt.

For dinner, we cooked pasta with tomato/basil sauce and had grated Edam on top. It was yum.

We went for a walk after dinner to see Cesky all lit up (and to check out the berry/ice cream shop which was closed).

Morning #3, we breakfasted and packed and I went to go see if the berry/ice cream shop was open – they were! It’s a scoop of ice cream mixed with berries and another of pure pulverized berry. So good!!

Berry ice cream and I

I have just arrived in Vienna – next is Bratislava, Grünau, Salzburg and then back to Munich! The end of the loop is just around the corner. 

Till then.

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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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