Yesterday we visited Tess’s cousin Mandy & Wouter & their baby Amber. We also went out to see Mandy’s horse Yari and give him some exercise in the yard.
We had a very nice dinner there and played with the baby. Pics are up in the “Holland’ section.
On Sunday night we flew into Amsterdam and were picked up by Cor, Marianne and Orrin along with their puppy dachshund Tek. Tek is only 5 weeks old or something so goes everywhere with them. It was a very warm welcome indeed. When we got to their house in Mookhoek we met the other three puppies, Barko, Moke and Ivan (the Russian dog!).. as well as 2 finches and a rabbit.
The next morning after sleeping in for a while (traveling sure takes it out of you) we headed off to Gouda (pronounced ‘Howda’) to visit Tess’s Oma (grandmother) and Opa (grandfather) and Uncle Ruud. This was the first time Tess had seen them for a very long time. Along the way to their house we passed by the house where Tess was born. I later learned that about 50% of births in Holland are home births.
It was later this night that I learned a little bit of dutch. “een pils alstublief ” means “a lager please”. I have a feeling I will be needing this at some point. Language isn’t so much of a barrier though as most people know pretty good English and we have a dutch phrasebook anyway.
As in every other country we have been in so far this trip, The Netherlands was no exception for the snow. There was snow when we landed and it has snowed last night as well The fields outside are almost completely white. It is funny to look back to before we left Australia (with its stiffling heat) and our hopes to see some snow. We have perhaps had a bit of an overdose.
On Wednesday we went into Rotterdam so that Tess could sign in for her press accreditation at the Film Festival Rotterdam, and see some of the city. It was largely too cold to do too much as most of the time when we ventured outside our faces started to freeze. We spent a lot of the time going from building to building. We did buy some olliebolle from a stall on the street. Olliebolle is a dutch desert that is sweet and doughy. It was very nice.
On Thursday we treked on up to Amsterdam via train. Our very first stop was to buy a hat for Tess, which she had been searching for since the very start of our trip. Hopefully it will keep her head a bit warmer now. Although it is not very dutch we had pizza and pasta for lunch. We fixed this later on by having a big cone of chips covered in mayonaise which is a tradition for Holland (and in particular for Amsterdam it seems). The cone was big enough to fill both of us up. After lunch we headed on over to the red light district to walk down all the alleyways and see the girls in the windows. If you have never seen this before it is a little bit out of the ordinary however both prostitution and marijuana use, has long been decriminalised in The Netherlands. To avoid confusion if you are in Amsterdam then a ‘coffee shop’ means an establishment where pot is obtained and a ‘cafe’ is generally where you need to go to get an alcoholic beverage. Be careful ordering drinks here though as a pint of beer and a Bacardi and coke in an Irish pub cost me 12.50 euros (approx $20 AUD).
That is about all for now. We are about to head into Gouda again to see the markets.
We have opened up the Holland section for photographs now as well.
We had a pretty quiet second day in Copenhagen. We found a cute little bakery for breakfast and had hot coffee and chocolate croissants In the afternoon Luke’s friend took us to a little hippy town about 3 minutes outside the centre of the city called Christiania. It was a very interesting place, a self contained town where everyone builds their own houses. Noone in the town owns any of the land, so when a family moves out a town meeting is called to decide the next occupants of the house. There were open bars and cafe’s dotted around and dogs were allowed inside the bar! It was quite an enchanting place despite being a bit ramshackle :p That night we went to a little Italian restaurant close to where we were staying and ate pizza and pasta and drank lots of wine
On Wednesday we packed up again and caught the train across the sea to Sweden. It was a very short trip, only about 40mins and we had crossed the border to Malmo. Ironically the first thing we saw when we crossed the border was Ikea! Luke’s friend Peter picked us up from the train and we are staying at his house in a little village just east of Lund. The snow here is past ankle deep and we woke up the next morning to see some kind of animal tracks past the kitchen door. Apparently there are lots of deer and foxes living in the area.
On Thursday Peter took us on a drive through the countryside to the see the Swedish coast. High up on the cliffs was a huge ring of large rocks – these date back to the time of the Vikings and are thought to be some sort of gravesite. It had a beautiful view but was the coldest place I have ever been in my life! Ankle deep snow, a howling sea wind and below zero temperatures. It seemed like a good idea at the time… But unsuprisingly we were the only people there :p On the way home we stopped to meet Peter’s Dad and his wife. They had a lovely warm house with lots of Ikea furniture
Well we are about to head into Malmo to have a look around and tonight we are going into Lund to meet some of Peter’s friends.
Will write again soon, Tess
Right now we are sitting in my friend’s unit in Copenhagen watching the snow fall outside. In fact the whole city has been covered in snow ever since we arrived. It actually feels a lot colder than Scotland as well. The cold seems to peirce right through you no matter how many layers you have on… this is in combination to being sweaty underneath as well. I am told this is because I am not doing my layers in the correct order. I guess that comes with years of experience with snow… something which Australians really lack
Anyway going back just a little to keep the blog in a somewhat chronological order…the day before yesterday we arrived in Edinburgh and grabbed a taxi out to our guest house. After waiting outside for someone to actually come to the door for about 15 minutes we booked in and then grabbed a taxi back into the centre to check out the castle. The castle, which dominates most of the skyline of the centre of the city, was pretty good, however if asked to compare I would say I enjoyed Stirling castle a lot more, as it was less touristy and felt much more like a castle would have centuries ago. That being said Edinburgh castle was quite fascinating with its multitude of cannons and miscellaneous weapons and history. We got a look at the Honours of Scotland which were the royal crown, scepter and sword of Scotland.
After having a nice lunch at a little pub, we headed over the castle hill which was opposite the Castle of Edinburgh with about half a dozen monuments( including a very greek looking one) and statues on it and fantastic views of the city. We had no idea what each one was since there wasnt really much explaining them but they were cool all the same. The views of the city as the sun was setting was spectacular.
The next day (yesterday morning) we headed straight to the airport via a taxi. As the taxi meter was increasing so was our worries as it fast approached the amount of physical cash we had and we thought we might need to walk the rest of the way… luckily we got there and after paying our driver had about 62 pence left in our combined pockets. That was either good estimations or just good luck
The plane trip wasnt that interesting however as we came into land the whole of Denmark seemed to be snowed under. My friend met us at the airport and after a train trip and a briefish walk we ended up at his place. I’ve just been told that it was -5 degrees C last night but we headed out anyway. We walked through the local park which was quite beautiful with snow everywhere. After walking around a little bit we came to the centre section with 2 large lakes…. which were completely frozen over. Our friend told us it was 100% safe as you could drive a car across it so off we set across it. Luckily it had snowed just recently so there was also a layer of snow which made it easier to walk on. We could still run and then slide across it though. It was certainly great fun. After walking around for another hour or so we had a few beers and eventually got served our curries which warmed us up nicely. We did stop off at a micro brewery on the way home which was also a pub and had a taste test of a 10.5% beer which was I must admit too bitter for even me, and a 7.5% beer which was called ‘hoppier something’ which was also nice but quite bitter as well.
That is about all for now. We just spent the morning having a relatively relaxing walk around central Copenhagen seeing checking out the buildings and a canal section that was also frozen over. The plans tonight are to head out and have another dinner with my friend and his girlfriend and then to head off tomorrow around midday.
There is now more pictures in the Scotland album (the last ones) and I have also opened up the Denmark album.
I’m writing from a train heading from Glasgow to Edinburgh for our last day in the UK! Yesterday was a highlight of the trip so far as we did a tour north of Glasgow with Rabbies Tours.
First stop (about 35 minutes drive north(ish) of Glasgow) was Stirling Castle, most famous for Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (the real one, not Mel Gibson!). Interestingly though the castle was demolished during King Robert the Bruce’s time (so that the English couldnt use it) and reconstruction only commenced after he had died. Being almost 1000 years old it has plenty of history.
The views from the castle were fantastic and you can see why it was built where it was from a tactical point of view. The castle was built straight into the rocks so that it was almost impenetrable from 3 sides. The battle of Stirling Bridge was where Mel… I mean Williace Wallace defeated the English in the famous battle.
After leaving Stirling castle we got back on the bus and another 15 minutes drive or so came across a bonus of the trip in the small town of Doune. A wee little courtyard castle, that isn’t really famous for anything except that it was one of the castles used in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We only had about 5 minutes here but it was good to see the outside and we both recognised it straight away.
Leaving the Monty Python Castle we again headed north a little and listened into stories and history from our Scottish guide. We stopped quickly to take some snaps of Hamish the Highland Cow. They are just a little bit bigger… and hairier… and have slightly bigger horns than the ones back in Australia… but given the temperature you can see why they are that way.
We stopped and had a lunch in another little town. I ordered a pie which are completely different to the pies we have. They are essentially have no sides or bottom and a great big bit of puff pastry on top. They are absoluely delicious though and definately warm you up. Leaving that though we went to Loch Lammond which is the largest Loch in Scotland and indeed all of the UK. The was still plenty of ice around though so we refrained from going for a dip in it
Last but definately not least was a stop at the Glengoyne Distillery. The produce 1 million litres of whiskey each year here and our tour included several drams of Whiskey. I had the benefit of having twice as much as everyone else due to Tess not liking it
There is new photos up in the Scotland section of castles, scenery and Whiskey! Be sure to check them out.
The train is almost there now so I’ll be signing off. We will be hitting Edinburgh castle as soon as we check into our hotel.
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day in Glasgow so this wont be a big post. We got up about 6ish and had our included breakfast which I must say, was about 1 trillion times better than the ones at the English hotel. The toast wasn’t cold and eggs consisted of more than just hard boiled eggs.
We walked into the centre of Glasgow, which seemed a heck of a lot quicker now that we wern’t carrying our packs. First stop, shoes that wont leak when I am trudging through snow. My old thin shoes just wern’t cutting it when it comes to snow and my feet kept getting drenched and cold despite double socking. I upgraded to some mountain boots now so all is well
But anyway enough about shoes! We stopped at a pub at 10, just as they were opening and had another ale to warm the cockles and work out our plan. Tess keeps worrying about drinking so early and I have to keep explaining that its just the way things are over here We headed to the Glasgow information shop and booked in a trip for today to see Stirling Castle, Loch Lammond and a whiskey distillery. We cant wait! Next stop… the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) of Glasgow…. personally it was not my cup of tea at all, and Tess agreed. Every peice was abstract which I just dont get. I wanted to take back to donation of about 20 pence I made at the start but couldnt see how. Ah well, you win some… The building itself however was quite impressive as it must have been several hundred years old.
We went back to the hotel and then onto ‘The Goat’ for lunch, then subsequently onto the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery which actually blew us away with the amount of exhibits they had. Things ranged from animals to knights to dinosaurs to mummies to planes and the holocaust. The whole thing was fantastic so it is well worth a visit. I was quite happy to throw all my spare coins into the donation box this time (I had learned to wait untill the end :p) .
The final stop of the day was a little cafe just across the road from the museum where I ordered a large hot chocolate… what came was more like a bowl with a handle on it full of hot chocolate with about 50 marshmallows on top. I could not even finish it!
Thats all for now.
We have made it to Scotland! After 4 tube trips, a train, and plane and another train, we arrived in Glasgow After studying the map it seemed like a good idea to stretch our legs and get some excercise, so we decided to walk from the station to the hotel. Very bad idea. After walking about 2km with our 15kgs of luggage each, we admitted defeat and staggered into a taxi for the rest of the trip. In our defence it was raining and then snowing as well
The hotel we are staying in is very cute! It has tartan everywhere, which was why we picked it We were walking up the hall trying to find our room, counting down the numbers, 200, 201, 203? Tucked under a staircase, with a door that would fit a broom closet, was our room, 202. Not exactly what we expected, but it is very cute and cosy still and I feel like we are living like Harry Potter hehe!
We then had our first Scottish Pub Meal, which was awesome! Steak and Ale Pie with vegies and chips :p The first pub we stopped at, conveniently located right next door, was not serving food but the man behind the bar pointed us to the next pub, 100m away, which served ‘authentic Scottish pub grub’ (in a thick Scottish accent). That’s all for today, tomorrow we explore Glasgow! But for now we are warding off any homesickness with an episode of the Simpsons!
This morning we woke up and it was snowing! It was the first time we had both seen falling snow, so we thought it would be a good idea to go and see Hyde Park. Despite the cold there were heaps of people out in the park, heading to work and walking dogs. The dogs seemed to love the snow! Once we were thoroughly soaked through, we went and found some internet, which just happened to be at a waffle house… So of course we had to order Belgium chocolate waffles It’s a hard life travelling hehe.
In the afternoon we went and explored the Tower of London which was very cool. The upside of the snow was that there were no queues, so we got straight in. We saw the beheading block, the white tower which was full of armour and weaponry, and a really old church that was actually a graveyard for 1500 headless bodies and a couple of adulterous Queens :p We also saw the Crown Jewels, which were suitably shiny and sparkly. The Queen Mother’s crown contained the largest diamond in the world, it was really quite impressive. Luke promised to buy me a crown, but funnily enough I am still waiting :p We got back to the hotel at 6ish and I am sad to say we fell asleep at 6:30 and woke up this morning… Still we were pretty lucky during our short stay in London, we had one day of freezing cold, one day of snow and one day of rain. A true London experience
We arrived in London on Monday night after another long haul flight from Seoul, and after a nice pub meal and a lukewarm English Ale we promptly hit the sack. Our room is far from the luxury of the Korean hotel but its warm and has beds, so we are happy.
Yesterday morning we hit Oxford street shops to buy some gloves and to find some extra jumpers for Tess, as even with thermals, multiple layers of clothing and big jackets the cold still goes straight through you. From Oxford street we jumped back onto the Tube (it was by this time, all coming back to me and I was starting to understand how to read a tube map again) and headed to Green Park station. Green Park was quite nice with its leafless trees although it was a bit icey and sludgey in some places. At the southern end of the park is Buckingham Palace and the Queen invited us in for some tea after seeing how cold we looked. She was quite nice and I let her know she could come stay with us at Scarborough anytime she wants, although she will have to use the couch.She seemed quite keen I reackon.
Waving goodbye to Queeny we walked through the ajoining St James’s Park where the lake was frozen over. All sorts of birdlife still skated around the ice though, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it was in minus temperatures. Squirrels were everywhere and would run right up to people seeking food, of which a number of people had bags of peanuts which the squirrels loved! The coffees and hot chocolate we were drinking was warming us up a little by now. At the end of St James’s park is the Horse Guards Parade where we watched as they stood around and then marched and stomped quite ceremoniously.
Taking a right from the Horse Guards Square we walked down Parliament Street and passed by Downing Street. The coppers with their mp5’s and barricades didn’t look like they wanted to let me in unfortunately. A little further down is Parliament square which is surounded by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We stopped here and found the Westminster pub and had a break to warm up. I had another British Ale while Tess stuck to her Bacardi, both of which helped warm us up a little. This extra warmth quickly disipated as soon as we stepped outside of the door again.
We proceeded across Westminster Brige to check out the London Eye which unfortunately didn’t appear to be running however we stumbled upon the Movieum (British Movie Museum) so decided to check it out. For 10 pound this was a pretty good deal as they had all sorts of props from various film. Included inside was props from James Bond, Harry Pothead, Predator, a full size Alien Queen (from Aliens), an animated TRex from ‘Night at the Museum’, Excalibur armour, Star Wars and many others. I would definately recommend this to anyone visiting London.
We were absolutely buggered by this point so went back to the Hotel for a brief kip and to prepare for the theatre at night. We met with Kylie at about 6ish outside Covent Garden and went to a nice little restaurant just around the corner. Covent Garden is where you want to head of a weekend in London as they have lots of markets and street performers but unfortunately we wont be able to see this.
From there we went to see ‘The Lion King’ which I must say was bloody fantastic. This musical is based around the movie and the performance was really well done. They all had such powerful voices and costumes. Unfortunately for us, we were also so tired from Jetlag that we both nodded off at several times in the show, but only for a few seconds as the next spurt of song and music was never far away. I would definately recommend anyone to go and see this musical if they are in London, you wont be disappointed.
That capped off our first full day in London. We were so knackered we were asleep almost as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
Thats all for now.
We have arrived in Seoul in Korea after a … rather ordinary flight. The 2 hours of orchestra as the in flight entertainment at the end of the flight (the sort that is on the ABC at 4am…) and the screeching child wern’t really the highlights but our excitement grew as we started to descend and could see Korea out the windows. We got closer to the ground and soon realised that it was covered in snow… real snow and my first ever glimpse of it!
We are staying overnight at a hotel near the airport, across the road from which is Seouls version of Central Park! So after dinner we ventured out and went exploring! This was the first time I had touched snow! It sparkles!!! Most of the photo’s in the gallery so far were taken in the park – we even found a frozen river (which Luke proceeded to test by throwing rocks at it hehe). Anywho we are now preparing for another 12 hours of flying tomorrow by watching hilarious Korean talks shows and infomercials
Check out our photos so far in the Korea gallery. Shall post again when we get to London! Tess