Kraków & Auschwitz

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Our memories are growing increasing fuzzy as we cast our minds back upon our past sojourns. This instalment is from February 2012 when we visited the unique Polish city of Krakow (pronounced Kra-koff as we soon found out!). We were not alone on these ventures – at the time Tim & Shelley had just moved to London and were living with us so they jumped on board. We introduced them to the beauties (and terrors) of Ryanair, armed ourselves with Polish Zloty’s and took flight!

It still never ceases to amaze me how I can be working one day, and that evening be pulling my suitcase over the bumpy cobblestones down the back alley of some european city. That was our story again as we navigated our way from the bus station in the freezing cold to yet another airbnb win. God Bless google maps. Our apartment was in some old communist block with high ceilings and creaky doors. In what was my favourite local greeting (to date), a man who must have been about 70 ushered us inside, complete in a long coat and top hat. Of course he didn’t speak a word of english so he proceeded to show us the ‘features’ of the flat grunting and pointing with much enthusiasm. The next morning he brought us fresh pastries (in his top hat again)… what a legend! Continue reading “Kraków & Auschwitz”

Barcelona

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I am ashamed and horrified to admit that it has been almost one entire year since our last blog post! So much so, that it has taken me the better part of an hour to work out the new settings on WordPress so that I could actually start typing this! London life is pleasantly busy, but I think the reason our blog is lagging is because of the sheer volume of photos to sort through. This is a first-world problem that I avoid a) because it’s time consuming b) it drives home the reality that the trip, is in fact, over! The beauty of photos is that vivid memories come racing back to you, and for this I am incredibly grateful, but also terrified of the longing that creeps back in my heart to head straight to Heathrow for the next adventure. Despite the absence of travel blogging, I hope that you have been enjoying our more current photos on Instagram/Facebook which is a quick and easy way of sharing snapshots of our travels.

People often email me to ask how we afford to travel so much. The answer to that is because we prioritise it. We make sacrifices in our day-to-day lives to ensure that money is available for travel, and we have become experts on traveling cheap and booking in advance! Joel has a crazy amount of school holidays, and with my overtime, we have so far managed to squeeze a trip in each break. This is an art (and a discipline that I have become very good at), much to Joel’s bemusement. We have not even started one trip before I am booking the next, and poor Joel has spent many exhausted nights on the Easyjet, Ryanair and Airbnb websites trying to find the best flights and accommodation!

We actually visited the vibrant city of Barcelona in October 2011 so I am stretching the elasticity of my brain a little with this one….here goes! Continue reading “Barcelona”

Nice & Monaco

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Up until I moved to Europe I literally thought this vibrant seaside city was called ‘Nice’ (as in ‘that’s a nice blouse’). For anybody still in that camp, be warned, do not say that out loud, at least not when you are in France! You can use it to describe the capital of the Cote d’Azur i.e. Nice was nice – but stop there 🙂

I had low expectations of Nice, in fact it featured in the itinerary mainly as a base to fly back to London. I didn’t even bother myself trying to find accommodation and delegated that to Joel (who aced it by the way). I anticipated the beach to be rammed, the water to be murky and the city to be gritty. I need to apologise to Nice – you are none of those things. In fact, you are distinctly cosmopolitan, yet retain that beachside charm. You are full of sights which delight the senses and smells which thrill the appetite. The only thing I did not like about you was trying to navigate the maze of streets in order to drop off the rental car, something even a local might struggle with! Continue reading “Nice & Monaco”

Paris, le deuxième tour

It has to be done!As the title suggests, this was our second time travelling to the magnificence that is Paris. This time, we were doubly filled with anticipation, as we were due to meet Joel’s parents Geoff and Marjorie in the city of dreams. It had been a year and a half since Joel had been in their company, and what better place to catch up on all that had transpired since the move to Europe that in one of the gems of her crown!

So thus we found ourselves ringing the oh-so-french doorbell of a second floor Parisian apartment in our favourite area of Paris – Saint Germain des Pres. We were greeted by a weary but joyful “Bonjour!” from Geoff & Marjorie. Tight hugs lasted but a minute before I was dragging the cohort down by the Siene to Pont Neuf along with the locals to watch the sun set over the Pont des Arts, with picnic in hand. I have to admit I felt slightly hypocritical given that our picnic was purchased over the channel, but time was of the essence and as everyone who knows me well will tell you – I cannot miss a good sunset. This one did not disappoint, we watched the pink and red hues light up the sky, silhouetting the clusters of likeminded young people along Pont Neuf, clinking wine glasses and whiling the balmy night away to the tune of their guitars. Continue reading “Paris, le deuxième tour”

London Olympics

London 2012 OlympicsI still remember the headline of the Metro the morning of Friday 27th July. My eyes filled with the first round of sentimental tears as a red bus rumbled by in the background (just to make the experience a little more authentic). It proclaimed, “Good Morning World, Welcome to Our City, and Your Olympics”. Maybe it was the first time I considered London “my” city. By the end of the Games it certainly was.

I think it is safe to say that every single Londoner, was, for a brief two weeks, caught up in the olympic spirit (before a swift return to the staple moaning and groaning). The papers were scathing about the Olympic Games, the Transport For London posters were menacing with their warnings, and it was safe to say that at least every second person considered vacating the city for the Games. Those who stayed (most people: empty threats), were given a treat. Weeks full of summer street parties, miles of bunting, hundreds of thousands of British flags, and a unified pride for Team GB characterised the city, and there were smiles on the face of every otherwise-miserable-sod! Continue reading “London Olympics”

Paris

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We figured that we’d better make the trip across the canal to the ‘City of Love’ at some point. After all, it is only two hours on the Eurostar and we didn’t want to be called ‘lackadaisical’… So after work one friday we found ourselves on the platform, being whisked away for the weekend to another of Europe’s treasures.

I had not taken the chance to brush up on the key french phrases, so I felt unarmed and vulnerable in a city which I had heard did not take kindly to ignorant tourists. My fall back plan was to just start sprouting ‘g’day’ if all else failed so the citizens of France would take pity on this poor flailing Aussie who was clearly out of her depth! However, I needn’t have worried as we had planned to meet the delightful Emma Froggatt the next day who was studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. She acted as tour guide and interpreter extraordinaire – move over Frommers, make way for Froggatts!

Night one in Paris was characterised by crepes, berets, a lovely Brasserie called ‘La Bullion Chartier’, a thousand and one cafes spilling on to the sidewalk, and grand sweeping boulevards. I enjoyed the sophistication of the French language and commiserated that I was such a bogan with no class or style. Paris is broken up in to 20 arrondissements (areas), of which I could find no rhyme or reason, and was later informed by Miss Froggatt that they spiral outwards like an escargot (see what I did there?!). Anyway, I had little idea where I was at any given time so this knowledge unfortunately went to waste.

Continue reading “Paris”

Copenhagen

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Joel likes to say that every time he thinks about Copenhagen, money slips out his back pocket. This is a good summary of our time in Denmark and perhaps our most lasting memory…however pulling out the photos I was reminded that this charming old town had more to offer than a credit card crisis!

We spent some time in the Danish capital in August 2011 (yes we are behind in the blog). It was a city that had always intrigued me, and with the rest of Europe headed for some sun, we thought it would be a good opportunity to check it out before Joel started his full time job in September. We stayed in a very cute little Danish cottage with an apple tree about a 15minute ride from the centre of town. Danish design is definitely unique and it was lovely to stay in a house that illustrated this so nicely, and really added to the experience. Sadly we were not able to purchase any Danish design for ourselves which was a little heartbreaking having wandered through many design stores coveting every second item! The Danes live by the rule of simplicity and I believe it is a good lesson for so much of our consumer culture.

Our first port of call was to ‘do what the Danish do’ and secure ourselves some bicycles. Joel and I were big fans of the custom made bike lanes on every road. When we got back to London we were disgusted to have to ride alongside the traffic once again! There are bikes everywhere in Copenhagen. Nobody is exempt. We saw business men in suits riding to work, as well as girls dressed up to the nines in high heels riding in the rain to the city for a night on the town. They sure do embrace the bike with everything! This was our transport and we only caught the metro once or twice. Continue reading “Copenhagen”

Prague

Evening sunsets waiting for the lamposts to take over

The infamous Prague! I am now casting my mind back several months with blog delay becoming a bit of a disease in the hurried environment of London life. However, I will persist because each place is worth documenting, and indeed sharing with others! So I apologise for the time-lag…

Nevertheless! So we departed the much loved Cesky Krumlov with mum proclaiming that “The Cesk” would never be beaten, so in some ways we had low expectations arriving in Prague as we dragged our suitcases through a maze of cobblestone. At this point I have to add: cobblestones are my enemy and I was looking forward to brushing my hands of them at the conclusion of our trip. Whilst they may be pretty, they do not cooperate with suitcases that must be wheeled! We arrived at our accommodation and gave ourselves high fives as it was spacious, close to the centre, and cheap for a major city. It was then a 180 and back out the door for some Prague lovin’!

This is where it gets good: my fave memory of Prague…mum’s entrance to the city square. Her eager trot became a bit of a gallop as she raced around the square in ecstasy going wild with her camera, to the point where I thought it might be wise to confiscate it. When Joel and I managed to pin her down, the eruption came – “This is the BEST city in all of Europe!”… Followed by a frantic “Forget Paris. Forget Rome. Forget London. Prague is the most beautiful of them all!”. Amidst the laughter and the admission of this moment to my memory bank, I had to admit mum had a point. The square was stunning – vibrant colours, regal statues, sparkling cobblestones, horse-drawn carriages, cathedrals and a mill of people amidst the dying light of the sun which was bathing the square in a warm hue. Continue reading “Prague”

Salzburg & Berchtesgaden

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Salzburg…. a changing of the guards! Salzburg marked the place where Joel was due to take off for London overnight for a job interview (which he was successful at obtaining against all odds – go Joel!). It was also the marked meeting point of my mum joining us on our onward travels. So it was for me, both sad and happy…and I was left to my own devices for two days to explore this Austrian city in full!

Blessed as we were with the weather during our Austrian National Park adventures, I was not so lucky in Salzburg! I soon discovered that my canvas shoes were a sponge, and my accommodation wanted to charge me to borrow a falling apart umbrella! Despite this, I took on the challenge of solo-explorer with gusto! It was certainly a different experience travelling by myself as I had two full days to do as I pleased.

So after dropping Joel off at the airport in Salzburg, I had to find our accommodation ‘solo’. I think my hands were shaking at the wheel as I drove the highway and navigated the exit by myself. When I arrived I said an audible “thank God!” and checked in, wondering how to travel alone. When I accepted Joel was actually gone I hired a bike and berated the receptionist for information (who didn’t seem to know much about her city at all!). Inspired by Maria & the Von Trap family singers, I thought I would follow in their footsteps! Continue reading “Salzburg & Berchtesgaden”

Innsbruck

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So inspired by the mountains and in pursuit of more we set out for a town called Innsbruck. We knew that this place was surrounded from every corner with mountains however once we arrived we were quite in awe with the size and magnitude of these colossal towers that held guard over the city. They certainly cast an early shadow over the town and its people as we found out later that day.

The car ride there was quite magical as we both couldn’t stop imagining all the mountains at winter time strewn with snow. We imagined the locals skiing down through the trees and at one point even becoming locals here. So beautiful you would want to stay. It was with these sights and our imagination full that we vowed to return to Austria during the winter. However it was summer this time.

Upon arriving at Innsbruck the first thing we noticed was that down each alley way you could always catch a glimpse of the mountains that surrounded the city. It gave you both a feeling of security and feeling lost in some recluse town. Our first port of call was ‘the golden roof’ which is quite famous and equally impressive. It is a roof that is made entirely of gold. It had some massive historical story behind it but um, can’t remember. Something about a family fighting against another and then a victory to someone.. Continue reading “Innsbruck”