Europe

Wales and York and their funny accents

We were staying in a REALLY posh place in Ludlow where we were living far above our rank (to quote my Dad). We thought we had better get out after 2 nights because it took too much energy to keep up the good behaviour. From there we drove over the Welsh border and rode over a huge aqueduct in a canal boat and enjoyed visiting a couple of unpronounceable Welsh towns. We love listening to the locals speak and often get the giggles. They are probably doing the same when they hear the MOTH say ‘owyagowin?’. I often have to interpret both ways. People look blankly at Colin with his Aussie speak and then to me for help. I’m going to start charging interpreter fees.

We are currently staying near Filey in a POSH caravan, or what we would call a ‘mobile home’ in Australia. Really you would have to see it to believe it although we can’t seem to get hot water without turning on the heating as well. Since we are pretty cold thats ok at night. The locals think they are having a heat wave because its 21 degrees. You should hear them. ‘Its just too hot. I hope it doesn’t get any hotter than this!’

We’ve loved the usual spread of castles and ruins and eaten plenty of carbs and carbs and carbs. Tonight I am eating fruit to balance them all out. The MOTH is eating more carbs, but then he won’t put on the pud so it doesn’t matter.

Yesterday we spent the day in Whitby and Scarborough. Whitby in particular is amazing and has a lot to see without being too big or overrun with tourists. The two photos below are from Whitby…

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We are currently an hours drive from York but we spent the day there today and loved it. We went to the Railway museum for about 2 hours (or more) and thought of Dad heaps. He would be so excited to see it he would leap out of his boots! It’s the biggest in the world and very nicely displayed in an old train station. I took plenty of snaps for him but I’ve got no eye for trains so I probably photographed the wrong things… like the pretty interiors if carriages😀

My highlight today was getting to hold a massive European owl. I had a thick glove on but it was very heavy and at one point it saw a pigeon and wanted to go after it so it was flapping its wings almost knocking me over. Still, I got the mandatory photo and that’s what matters!

One more day here and then we are off to Windermere in the Lakes district.

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2013 Trip to the UK

Leaving on June the 11th 2013, we plan to explore the UK by car in a leisurely 8 week stroll, typical of us Australians who spend so much time and money getting over there we want to make the most of it.

24+ hours in a plane? ‘Aint nobody got time for dat!’

We are excited to catch up with a friend in London and my cousin in Ireland as well as lot’s of time on our own exploring the castles and remote areas including the islands off Scotland. We’ve booked a thatched roof cottage in ‘Sneem‘ in the Cork country of Ireland on the coast out in the middle of nowhere so that should be interesting!

Here’s the itinerary for anyone following us on our travels:

  • 11th June: Leave for London- Arrive 12th
  • 15th June: Ludlow- England
  • 17th June: Filey- England
  • 21st June: Windermere- England
  • 25th June: Edinburgh- Scotland
  • 28th June: Nairn- Scotland
  • 5th July: Isle of Skye- -Scotland
  • 7th July: Oban -Scotland
  • 9th July: -Glasgow Scotland
  • 10th July: Fly to Dublin
  • 11th July:Waterford- Ireland
  • 13th July: Drimnamore (1.5 k from Sneem) – Ireland (no internet for a week… or shops… are there people there even?)
  • 20th July: Galway- Ireland
  • 21st of July: Drumshanbo- Ireland with my cousin Marisa!
  • 22nd of July: Skerries- Ireland (Dublin)
  • 25th July: Fly to Canary Islands- Spain
  • 1st of August: Fly back to London
  • 3rd of August fly home to Melbourne (arrive home at 5am on the 5th of August)

Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre

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>;;Oops I’ve neglected my blog for a bit!
After Rome, we travelled to Siena and Florence, where I’ve been before but was just as enchanted the 2nd time. As a last minute decision we changed our accommodation and decided to stay at the Busabout drop off point, which was a camping park about 3 km out of Siena. This turned out to be a good decision as we had our own little cabin with a fridge and a wonderful pool to wallow in. A bus trip to Siena saw us exploring the town and ( of course) lots of hills and steps to climb, plus the mandatory gelato!
Florence seemed more beautiful than last time I saw it but much hotter. We haven’t s a cloud or a day much less than 35 degrees for weeks now. With the heat in mind, we a more gelato and climbed up the Biblio gardens and walked around the town, with one day spent in Ufizzi gallery looking at art work by the masters.
Our trip from Florence to Cinque Terre (where we stay for a week) included a photo stop at Pisa and a competition to see who could take the most clever photo. The handstand won but ours got an honourable mention:)
Our accommodation in Cinque Terre, where we stay for 6 nights, is at Riomaggiore, the first of the 5 cliff hanger Italian villages on the coast. I can’t even begin to describe the trip to our accommodation. Our backpacks are now HEAVY, and there so many steps and ridiculous narrow dangerous paths which have to be seen to be believed. When we found our accommodation ( in a narrow back alley) there is a door, 2 flights of stairs and the key is in a little basket ( which the owner called a jar) . The light kept going off and plunging us into darkness but we managed to get our bags up, the door unlocked and into the building. The accommodation is gorgeous with a kitchen on the bottom floor, a spiral staircase which is about 50cm wide takes us to the next floor to Sophie’s room and the bath room, and up another spiral staircase to my room at the top (5th floor in total). I have a window and a double door which opens out to the sea and a view of the village. It’s spectacular!!!! I haven’t closed the door once so far and go to sleep to the sound of the sea and with the breeze drifting in, mind you, it’s still very very hot all night.
Sophie, on the other hand, has a window which opens onto a neighbours balcony where an Italian family frolic noisily. Complete with Mama, Papa, Nona, a singing Grandfather and a toddler with a very high squeal who party on the balcony til all hours. There are no fans or air con so the decision is always is to be hot or to have the noise. This is often the case when travelling Europe. . I did offer to swap rooms but don’t think I sounded very convincing.
All that aside, the villages are gorgeous and the views are breathtaking. Last night we walked along Via del Amore, which is the coastal path of ‘love’ across the top of the cliffs to Manarola and saw the sun set and many tourists drunk with love during our walk, ending it with a gelato. Today we are going to hike across a couple of other very steep trails in the peak of heat and catch a train back I’m sure it will be worth it as it is a wold famous walking path and apparently spectacular.
Wifi is like hens teeth here so Barcelona will probably be the next posting. After 7 weeks of travelling and one left, I will return home to Melbournes winter and Sophie will go to the USA. *sigh*,
If you use Instagram, my photos are mostly there… User name jennywood
The train photos are for my Dad:)

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Running with pizza

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What is the definition of an optimist? The 5000th Roman hat seller for the day asking if I want to buy a hat when I have one on my head!
Our day in Pompeii and Naples began by a 6.45 pick up from our hotel in Rome. In true Italian style, we were shunted around from bus to bus and to several hosts and ended up in Naples with a small Italian man who barely spoke English and addressed his commentary quietly to one person in the group while the rest of us strained to hear and the children became restless. Apart from getting the giggles and nodding and smiling at what we hoped was the right places we discovered that nobody else could understand him either. Even so, we were whisked around Naples in 45 minutes and I have no idea what anything was apart from the ‘ mermaids’ he promised to show us on the beach…. The mermaids turned out to be a pile of enormous rocks with Italian men perched on them in their speedos sunbathing! At least he had a sense of humour. Naples seemed to have a few lovely historic buildings, scattered amongst the squalor and rubbish which spread for many kilometres towards Pompeii. It was a little reminiscent of Cairo, with it’s high density housing with washing hanging out the windows.
After a visit to the cameo making factory and lunch, we arrived at Pompeii in time for the the peak of afternoon heat and explored the wonderful city and all of the amazing relics. It was incredible to be scrambling over a 2000 year old city and see the condition to which it has been preserved in.
We arrived back at Rome at 9.30 pm, very tired but with the knowledge that we had to move camp to Siena early the next morning. Our bus stop at Orvieto was eventful as we all caught the fernicula up the mountain to the village and ordered a late breakfast. Sophie and I got a very slow chef and we ended up having to run back to the meeting point as we were late, with a pizza folded in half in a paper bag! Running across cobblestones with pizza in hand for 15 minutes in the heat was not a pretty sight I’m sure but I’m not sure how we would have got to Siena had we been left behind.
On arrival at Siena we made a snap decision to stay at the Busabout drop off joint and cancel our hotel. Ahhh! A swimming pool, refrigerator in our cabin and peace and quiet. We didn’t go into Siena on our first day but sat around the pool and outside our cabin reading in the cool (ish) air. Tomorrow we will go explore… or ‘re explore’ in my case!
2 weeks to go but lots of adventures to be had. We are looking forward to a rest in Cinque Terre providing the “key in the little jar by the door” can be found, as described by the Italian woman who owns the flat, but doesn’t live there. Hmmm. That could be interesting.

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Venice to Rome

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Our time in Venice was enhanced by staying with my Twitter friend @monicacassaro who owns a B&B there. Monica and Chris made us very welcome and gave us the ‘home away from home’ treatment which was really appreciated. The B &B is not on the island part so we had to walk and catch a bus each morning which gave us the opportunity to experience real Italy, including a kind man who was pruning a plum tree and threw some to us. Or perhaps he was throwing them at us?
We spent our two days walking the islands and hopping on and off the water buses from island to island, choosing not to have a gondola ride and save ourselves the $$. The weather was HOT and in the 30s so the days were long and tiring.
Our trip to Rome was on a 40 degree day and a. 10.5 hour journey which felt more like a rest for us weary travellers. We arrived at our ‘ hotel’ to find varying degrees of European hotel discomfort. The rooms are less than 3 meters long not as wide and HOT so we chose to pay the extra for air con except that my air con doesnt work and Sophie’s does. The rooms are also extremely noisy but earplugs muffle it nicely. Trip advisor will have a nice long spiel for this one. Not that we are princesses at all but this one is beyond a joke and we are here for 5 days. It’s the first ‘ separate rooms’ we have had for weeks so it feels quite odd. Nobody from Melbourne cares about our hot rooms of course, since they are all suffering in the cold at home, but I’m playing my own violin here!
The next 2 days were 38+C and we had ‘ hip on hop off bus’ tickets for 2 days so there we were on the top of the open buses in the direct sun and heat getting sizzled. This morning Sophie had a tumble down the stairs and bruised herself badly and we are both sunburnt but all the same we are having an AWESOME time and really loving Rome. When I was in Rome in 2009 I had jetlag and I think I didn’t appreciate it very well.
We are eating so much gelato its become the new vegetable replacement. Who needs veges?
Tomorrow we are off to Pompeii and Naples for a day trip so it’s an early night for us!

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Fail whale castle

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The trip to Neuschwanstein castle from Munich took 2 hours one way on in the train, and the whole day to negotiate the travel and explorations. Being the inspiration for the Disneyland castle, it’s something I’ve always wanted to see. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it was covered in scaffolding and wrapped in plastic! Ive attached a photo of what it should look like and what it DID look like. Only the front of the caste was unwrapped for inspection. It was a little disappointing from a photographic perspective but the tour through it and the walk down into the waterfalls and rainforest type gardens below was beautiful. The tour guide was concerned about the climb up to the castle but our hostel in Munich had a broken elevator and we were on the 5th floor (102 stairs) so the climb was no problem to us billy goats.

After Munich we arrived back to Austria to Innsbruck, which is a mall village surrounded by enormous snow capped mountains. Sophie had found a special deal on the Hilton hotel so it was pretty exciting and a nice break to stay there and eat a REAL breakfast. We even had TV WITH English speaking channels and movies woohoo! We ate so much breakfast that we didn’t need lunch and had an early tea at 4 pm instead.

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It rained for the whole day we were at Innsbruck but we walked up the mountain to the Alpine zoo regardless. Being a weekday and raining meant we pretty much had the zoo to ourselves and the boundaries between the people and the animals were almost non-existent compared the the Melbourne Zoo so we got some terrific photos.

Goodbye to Germany and Austria. We have conquered 7 countries now in 4 weeks and are about to explore our 8th, starting with Venice in Italy where the temperatures are soaring higher up the 30s and we will stay with my Twitter friend in her B&B.

I'm writing this in the bus on the way to Venice. Already the contrast from Austria is huge. Apart from the magnificent scenery across the mountains, the roadstop along the motorway was very different to the 'orderly' German and Austrian ones. It was hot, messy, loud and confusing. Bring on the new culture I say:)

High on the hills is a soaking goat herd

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Salzburg has raindrops on roses tonight as the run of weather over 32 degrees ended in a huge storm. Unfortunately Sophie and I got absolutely drenched in it but it cooled us down nicely if there is positive side.
We started the day with The ‘Sound of music’ tour, which was full of cheesy jokes and a well worn dialogue but we really enjoyed the scenery and the thought of the movie being filmed here. Our dreams were shattered when the home truths of the movie were revealed with the apparent help of Hollywood and its tendency to fabricate and glorify the truth. Who would have thought that Rolf the Nazi postman never really existed? We saw the gazebo, the lake, the home, inside the church they married in and the gardens where do-re-me was filmed.
After our ‘Sound of Music’ tour we ventured up to the fortress high up on the hill.. The clouds looked rather worrying but we ignored them as it was 32 degrees and the fort was terrific. Of course we got absolutely drowned once the storm hit and had to walk back to the hotel. I was the laughing stock when I arrived in the foyer looking like a drowned rat. We then watched the circus out our window where the flooded roads were causing chaos. Cars were driving through water up to their headlights and one had to be pushed out. An Ambulance almost floated away and eventually they closed the road.
Off to Munich tomorrow for more adventures!

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