Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Oh the Swedes and the end of the tour

Onto the land of the Svens and Bjorns.

We had a really great time in Sweden. The drive to Stockholm from Oslo was similar to the approach to Halifax through the lake region. We also got our fair share of ABBA music on the way, so I felt right at home. When we arrived on Thursday we got dropped off for a wander about downtown. We spent the evening people watching (even better than Oslo) and wandering around checking out clubs. We also had some amazing Swedish Thai food - who would have thunk it.

Next morning we went to a really cool museum, Frau I think, which houses the ship that was the pride of Stockholm but sunk in the harbour on its maiden voyage. Too many cannons. It was a pretty cool museum though and even had the skeletons of the people who sunk with it in the 17th century. Definitely worth checking out! Friday was another wandering about day where we checked out a really cute heritage park in the older part of town, and wandered the narrow streets of old town. The park was very quaint with people walking around dressed in "authentic" clothes. There was even real "wildlife" so we got to see some wolverines pups wrestling about. The two highlights of the park were the amazing Swedish meatballs, and Toto was playing a concert that night so we got to hear their sound check. Unfortunately, they did not play Africa - sad day. The best part of the old town was the hilarious tourist stores, it would have been a crazy cat-lady heaven (Errol take note). The beer was also nice. I forgot to mention that Friday was Canada day so we had a rousing rendition of Oh Canada on the coach and later subjected the rest of the tour to the musical genius of B4-4. Apparently no one outside of Canada knows "get down", weird, I know. We capped off the night at a fantastic Swedish club where we were all underdressed and not blonde enough to fit in. Regardless, we shuffled. We had an incredibly exciting cab ride home full of unregistered cabs, highways, running out of gas, flagging more cabs and finally paying a killer rate to get back to the hotel. It was definitely a night to remember.

Saturday morning was not a happy one. We all made the mistake of signing up for the Stockholm City Hall Tour adventure and all almost puked in the lovely Blue hall where they receive the Nobel laureates each year. The Blue hall isn't blue. That fact, and the shiny room made of gold and glass are the only things I remember from the entire tour - money well spent. We killed the rest of the morning walking, moping and napping. Mid afternoon we caught the coach and boarded the ferry that would take us to Finland. This ship was absolutely hilarious. They treated it like a 12 hour cruise ship complete with hired photographers, mascots, theme music, shops, a fancy buffet, a casino and a couple of night clubs. It was a hilarious and very fun experience. We also really enjoyed it's nickname "the love boat" as it apparently used to get pretty wild in the 60's. The crew leaving in Helsinki treated this as our last night so we went all out. Needless to say, another highlight night.

Sunday morning we took a driving tour of Helsinki so saw most of the big sights. We then wandered about for the rest of the day, did a bit of shopping, and relaxed down by the harbour. I spent the day with my California Girls friends so had a riot people watching. Unlike gorgeous Stockholm, Helsinki was divided between sickly skinny sad looking people who gaulked at our bright clothes, or Ed Hardy clad meatheads. So as I said, great people watching. That night was kind of depressing knowing that half the group would be continuing on to Russia and the rest of us dispersing. But, alas all good Contiki tours must come to an end.

It was a fantastic trip and I would recommend the company to anyone who enjoys fun. I saw some amazing sights and made some great friends.

And so with the end of Contiki comes the end of the post.

Until next time.

Picture: the model of the ship in the Frau. The museum was extra cold and dark to preserve the 400 year old ship so the picture of the real thing didn't turn out that well.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Norway- the land of Vikings, rivers and reindeer

So where did I leave off... Just got into Norway and had some serious whiplash from bobsledding.

The next day (we're now looking at  Thursday) was one of the most beautiful drives. We stopped in a quaint little town called Lom, where stands the oldest stave church in Europe. It was a wicked old wooden building shaped like an overturned Viking ship. The town was situated in picturesque rolling hills and had a beautiful waterfall right "downtown". After Lom we drove on through the centre of Norway (similar to the drive up to Banff) and then the fjords were upon us! Picture the canoe scene from lord of the rings but instead of one Orlando Bloom, the whole population was beautiful blonde Vikings. So anyways, I have seen some beautiful lakes in my life, but never anything like this. Green water with hundreds of meters of straight up and down cliffs and waterfalls. The fjord we sailed down was Geiranger, the longest in Norway. In Aussie speak rang-er means ginger and this was pronounced gay-rang-er so you can only imagine the immaturity and hilarity that resulted from the day. After our sail we settled in the town of Hellsynt for our first experience of the nearly 24 daylight. The picture of the fjord below was taken at 11pm without a flash.

The next morning was another gorgeous drive through to the town of Voss - one of the extreme sport capitals of the world. Voss was amazing - one of my highlights for sure! When we arrived we participated in the Scandinavian tradition of a polar dip. This means sauna first then 7 degree water then sauna again. If that doesn't get your heart going, I don't know what does! Our first night out in Voss was hilarious. In case anyone was thinking about it, do not try to get drunk on a German apéritif. There was a lot of mingling with the locals many of whom looked a bit like drunken trolls and acted like them too (like Simon in the plaid pants). Our group was pretty much the entire bar. Needless to say, the early morning wake up for extreme sports the next day came a little early and painfully.

Despite being ridiculously hungover, the Saturday was probably my favorite day on the tour. This was the white water rafting day, a sport that is extreme enough without the glacial waters. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun!  Everything from the freezing swim test to the free float "local" style to the wetsuit shuffle (see party rock anthem for reference, except mum and dad, please don't), it was an amazing time! The rest of the night was spent relaxing, chatting and napping. 

Sunday was the long haul back to Oslo. The highlight of the trip was a stop in the troll graveyard. This is what the Norse call a beach full of inukshuks as told by their folklore. In Oslo we hiked up a ski jump and got to spend some time down by the harbour people watching. In case you didn't know, Oslo has been voted the most beautiful city (people wise) in the world. We were also there during the gay pride parade so the quality of style and good looking people was even better than usual. 

The next morning was an early start as we had to catch our flight up north to Alta. This airport was actually smaller than the Saskatoon airport. After the flight we caught another coach up to the town of Honingsvarg and on the way, stopped at a diner that served Rudolph pizza. I'll let you take a wild guess what kind of meat that was. The town of Honninsvarg is definitely in the boons. It also smells like fish - dried fish being a local specialty, they leave it outside for a year to dry, and even the birds don't want it. The first day in Honingsvarg we wandered around, had amazing reindeer stew, went to the local ice bar, then headed up to Nordkapp, the most northern point in Europe. Nordkapp consists of a cliff, two statues and an information centre with a huge gift shop. Unfortunately it was a cloudy evening (and freezing) so when midnight rolled around, even though it was super bright out, we didn't get to see the sun bounce off the horizon. My favourite part of the evening was the drive back to the hostel because the clouds broke and we got a full-on sunrise at 12:15am, it was unreal. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was just as bright as high noon. 

Tuesday was another favourite day. This was Nordic adventure day. We started with the usual (huge) Scandinavian breakfast consisting of breads, cheeses, eggs, pastes, fish, cereal, yogurt and so much more. After breakfast we rolled ourselves down into town where we donned really good looking orange parka onezees and jumped onto a pontoon boat into the Arctic ocean. This wasn't just a rinky-dink raft, it could haul! So we sped off out through the bay into the ocean and had a forty minute speed-tour about. The thing about pontoon boats is that the sides are bouncy, which makes holding on quite difficult. I ended up holding a deep-lunge for a solid three quarters of an hour, ie could not walk for 3 days. Another fun thing about the boat was the fact that during the holding-on for dear life, the driver had failed to mention that our wonderful orange parka-suits were not just stylish, but floatation devises. Good to know once you're safe on land. Anyways, the whole point of the boat tour was to fish for King Crab. We got some, and by some I mean enough to feed 50 people breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never seen crabs this huge (hardy har). The feast was amazing and we all came out sufficiently stuffed that we had to waddle in our parka-suits. To get back to base, we drove ATVs. This was rather exciting as we were going 60km/hr on the highway and through a 4km long tunnel. On the way out of the tunnel we all got pulled over by the police, which was an ordeal, but smart little Gen had brought her license with her. The guy had more fun just looking at it and admiring the pretty pictures of a bc license, that he forgot to ask what class 5 meant. After the cop incident and some bad registration delays, we went up to a lookout point where the cheeky Norwegians used to spy on the Russians. The guides got a kick out of me as I was being extra intense and using my whole body to turn the quad. Truth is my arms were to short to use them alone. That night was a chill out and grumble about the aches and pains type, followed by another 4am wakeup to catch one of the three flights that leaves from Alta per week. 

After another 4hour coach ride, we caught the flight down and had a free day in Oslo. We wandered about (staring) and had a really nice dinner. On the way back to the hostel, we stopped in Frogner park which is known for it's unusual statues. They were hilarious and naked - giggle. So again, only very mature pictures were taken. I would highly recommend google-ing the park then use your imagination for potential pictures. 

And with those images, so concludes my tour of Norway. Onto Sweden in the morning and onto writing another day.

Tak (this means thanks but is the only Norwegian word I know)

Picture: me looking particularly classy at the top of the world according to Europe

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The start of the Scandinavian Adventure

A long overdue hello.

Currently on a coach to Stockholm from Oslo. Since I last posted, I have left Sarah at Mannheim and met a Contiki tour in Copenhagen.

Mannheim was a nice relaxing stay where we caught up on sleep, laundry and German beer. There isn't a lot to do in Mannheim, but they have a gorgeous university which was once a castle, and a really cool water tower protected by all sorts of strange mystical creatures - half naked men wrestling eels, weird topless sphinxes, etc.

After sending Sarah off on her own to Berlin, I spent the day in the Frankfurt airport, which was less than fun. One perk - Lufthansa offers free coffee and cappuccinos in their wing, so it was an incredibly wired wait. I arrived in Copenhagen well after 11 (original flight was meant to land at 4:30) and proceeded to wander aimlessly around town for 40 minutes looking for my hostel. The night in the hostel was a little hairy as I was stuck in a room with 4 old guys who proceeded to play dueling banjos with their snoring. Needless to say, not a lot of sleep.

The next morning I stumbled around Copenhagen and saw most of the sights! It's a gorgeous city with a really nice harbour. This was also the home of Hans Christian Andersen so everything is very fairy tale-esque. I saw the very little little mermaid, wandered the really cool fortress park, and walked down a street covered In roses. That night, I met up with my Contiki group and did another walking tour. One of the people from the group dragged me to a museum that rivaled the British museum for raw ability to steal other countries' stuff. My favourite was a cabinet full of all the broken off noses and ears from the marble statues. The next day in Copenhagen I adventured out with a couple new people and explored the spiral tower and the hippy village of Christiana. The tower had an incredible view but due to building regulations (requiring that no building be in another's shadow, therefore disallowing skyscrapers) the scenery was pretty flat. Christiana was a whole different kettle of fish with a lot of graffiti, reggae and people selling drugs openly on the streets. Crazy gipsies! After the day out I went boutique shopping with Hayley from Aus/New York my favorite line of this excursion was "it's nice, but I want something I can't find in New York", - must be rough! We finished off the night at Trivoli, the amusement park right in the middle of town. let's just say that schooners of beer and roller coasters make going to the Carlsberg brewery tour at 9:00 the next morning a bit challenging.

The next day was a driving day to Gothenburg, Sweden. Yes there is a bridge, it's actually the longest connection in the world - 17km long. The minute we crossed into Sweden the guide blared ABBA, Ace of Base, and Swedish House Mafia for the remainder of the drive, my kind of trip! We had a fun night in Gothenburg getting to know everyone then had a early morning for the leg to Lillehammer. We spanned two counties that day, and finished up with a bobsled ride down the Olympic track. This was hell. I was in the back with a safety belt to keep my spine intact, so just got trashed the whole way down. The bruises took a solid 10 days to go away. I slept well that night though! The next day was really the start of our Norwegian adventures so those will all be discussed in the next post.
To be continued...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Far less phlegmish in Flemish

For the first time, blogging from a stationary position!

I am currently in Mannheim, Germany accompanied by my lovely ginger friend Sarah! "Mannheim?" you might say, "why the heck are you in Mannheim?" well, to be honest, we chose this city for the most noble of reasons. 1. I looked up prize winning German Rieslings (sweet white wine for those of you less cultured like myself). 2. There were two from the town of Diedlehorf (or something to that affect). 3. The name Diedlehorf made me giggle. 4. Mannheim was the closest major city with cheap accommodation. So, we chose Mannheim, but I will not write about our German adventures until later.

Where I last left off was on the train to Bruges. Now the Belgians are a slightly more Androgynous looking people than the gorgeous Dutch, but are incredibly friendly and have a superb taste in food and drink - mussels, chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer! The first night in Bruges we endeavored into 3 of the 5, none of them being the more substantive mussels. This pretty much set the tone for the remainder of our visit. Sunday morning we toured the medieval city and rented bikes for the day. We had an absolutely beautiful ride along the canal to an adorable town called Sluis. We later found out that this 40km bike ride had actually taken us back into Holland. I was quite surprised about the lack of federalis on the border or guards interrogating me about my purchases in Seattle, and the fact that we rode rickety old bikes into a new country without our passports. Either way, it was an amazing day despite the severely bruised sit bones, and we all decided Bruges topped our lists for favourite cities.

Monday we travelled to Brussels where, unfortunately, we sent Kristin packing back to Paris to finally fly home to Canada. Brussels wasn't nearly as pretty as Bruges as we figured out quite quickly after becoming incredibly lost on the transit system. Once we finally found the place we had google mapped (about an hour of lugging around our backpacks in 25 degree weather and 80% humidity) we realized that we had in fact googled the wrong hotel. Just as a side note, always ensure to type the s into hostel otherwise you will be thoroughly disappointed when you show up at the really nice hotel that is not only way nicer than the place you are staying, but also NOT the place you are staying.

Anyways, after finally conceding to call a cab we ended up at the complete dive that was our hostel, but could only laugh into the smoke-smelling pillows in the room at our luck. After a quite night because everything was closed due to yet another national holiday, we started out early the next morning. We took in the sites - more like site - of Brussels and hopped a train to Luxembourg. This site that I speak of is a statue of a  little boy peeing with a fountain coming out of you-know-where. The Brussel-ite, -ians, - sprouts whatever you want to call them, are incredibly proud of this defiant little boy and have someone hired to go and put cute outfits on him a few times a month - very weird. Taking pictures felt almost pedophiliac, but I've attached one for everyone to enjoy.

So, off we went to Luxembourg feeling kind of wrong about the statue and Brussels in general. Luxembourg is very... Quaint. Not a whole lot to see or do, mind you we did end up stumbling through the red light district which was scenic to say the least. The city (Luxembourg city) has a giant valley surrounding it, filled with a gorgeous park. We went for a brisk early morning walk there and climbed the flights of stairs back up into the downtown. Highlights of Luxembourg: easy to walk places, cute, nice church, and good Chinese food. All in all, a nice country to spend a day in.

So now I've reached Mannheim, of which I have promised not to reveal the secrets of until a later date. So far, the trip has been amazing, the people friendly, the company energetic and the languages hilarious. On a simple giggle level, German takes the cake, but Dutch wins the prize for being the language that although impossible to speak, is a charming mixture of things close enough to English that I can get by, and Flemish was just impossible noises that make up a language and has by far the most descriptive name!

As the Von Trapps say... Auf Wiedersehen and Goodnight!

The pretty church in Luxembourg

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ze French continued and da Dutch

Once more, on the train.
This time to Bruges. Just finished up a great visit with a very close family friend, Mandy, in Brittany. We shopped and toured and gossiped and ate and drank, it was tres fun! The area we were in was vey rural and so cute. The people were quite friendly but did the usual switch to english the moment I ask a question in french. Like the other Gaelic provinces in Europe they spoke their own language (similar to Welsh or Cornish) which made my comprehension skills even worse than usual.

We had some amazing food (this is where crepes came from) and some very good wine. Also had a lot of fun entertaining Mandy's old English sheepdog Belle. She is nearly the size of a Shetland pony and still has all her puppy energy, which can be a little intimidating while playing fetch and she comes barreling back straight at you.
I had a fantastic time with Mand, but like most our visits, they end way too quickly. I think I've convinced them of a Vancouver visit soon though. If not, I guess I'll just have to go back and do more shoe shopping - it's a tough life, but someone's got to live it.

Next stop Amsterdam, and as I didn't post this in Amsterdam, I can also discuss that stop.
I took the train from Auray in France to Amsterdam (a lot of travel) but met up with Kristin and Sarah (watermelon) who I work with at Deloitte. Now, Amsterdam is a pretty unique city. The main train station spits you out into the red light district about 3 blocks from the working ladies. Decided not to take the scenic route to the hostel and hopped a tram. The first night we caught up over some ice cold Amstel as there was a lot to catch up on - Sarah just graduated from Dal and Kristin just finished up her final semester exchange in Paris.
The hostel we were staying in was pretty big 16 girls to a room which got a little obnoxious.
The next morning, after a very eclectic breakfast of mini Dutch pancakes and tomato soup, we headed out to explore the pride of Amsterdam; the Heineken brewery. It was a pretty great tour that spat you back into daylight around 2:00 feeling a little pickled and trying to figure out what to do with your life for the rest of the day. We opted for a nap and a pub crawl - solid choices I know! Friday was a bit of a late start followed by a huge pancake brunch, like pizza sized pancakes. We spent the rest of the day toodling around the city, visiting the red light district (pretty depressing) and finally finding the long sought after IAMsterdam sign.

Somehow my map skills deteriorated and my Dutch reading was not very good, which resulted in a long walk back to the hostel. At night we sampled a few more Dutch beers, and finished off with a riveting cribbage match.

So that sums up the past week, onto Bruges, Brussels, Luxembourg and Germany. So far I have tripped an unimaginable amounts of times on the cobble stones, not fallen into any canals, and prevented Sarah from being hit by numerous modes of transportation (scooters, bikes, bicycles, cars and trucks).

Having lots of fun but still a little homesick.
For now - Proost!

Ze French

The ever-poised Belle

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

On the road again

On the train again.
This time one of France's TGV trains - the high speed line they sold their entire gold reserve for. I am sitting in the lap of luxury (1st class cost only $4 more) and speeding down the line at nearly 200kms/hr!
On my way to Brittany or Bretagne en francais to visit very good family friends, the Bales. Mandy has promised lots of shoe shopping so I am very excited!

Switzerland was a great stop. Lausanne is absolutely gorgeous, and Lake Geneva is impossibly blue. I had a really relaxing visit and practiced my pathetic French skills. Luckily, the Suisse took pity on me and used heir very good English skills or great hand gestures to help me out. Capped off the visit by visiting a highly recommended bar called the Whitehorse, where, during happy hour, you order one beer and they go e you two. Great system!
Next stop was Strasbourg, France; an eclectic German/French town with a cute river encircling downtown. Strasbourg was one of those cities that flip flopped between warring countries constantly throughout history (switched from German to French 6 times). I did a cute little river boat trip and saw the city as well as the very modern buildings that house the european parliament. I got to travel through the river locks which was also very neat.
The second day I spent indulging in French and German delights aka. French onion soup, German lager, and chocolate mousse! And lounged about in the sun reading my book with my feet in the river. My tan is back almost as good as after Cuba!

A couple observations: everyone smokes in Europe - tres gross. French people have an aversion to picking up dog poo -makes for interesting side walks. I don't look European whatsoever. No matter how much I try, my scarves do not fool anyone and they usually just ignore me. Having a French name does not help people understand you don't speak French. I yet again enjoy reading as enough time has past since he dreaded thesis. And maybe the most significant, I am physically capable of relaxing - who would have thunk it?
Next stop as I said, is Brittany for some French country side relaxing. After that, the very relaxing city of Amsterdam with a couple great friends from Vancouver, then Bruges (hopefully will get to see Colin Farrell or Jean Renou), Brussels, Luxembourg, and the enchanting city of Mannheim (has to be pronounced in a very deep German accent), and Diedlehorf - teehee.
If this too long to read the whole thing:
A. Still alive
B. Having fun
C. In France

Xo for now or as the French say Sante

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The water jet of Geneva

Edinburgh through a cannon

Scotland and the land of chocolate and watches

Ello Ello

I am writing on a rainy day in Lausaane Switzerland.

Since my last check in, I have explored Edinburgh with my little travel buddy, and then took off to Switzerland on my own.
Edinburgh was fantastic, we even had a cute Scottish couple offer to give us directions the moment we arrived, but directions meant a personal tour of the city, telling us all the highlights and walking us right to the door of our hotel! That night we had a wonderful birthday dinner at a Scottish restaurant called Wild Fire which was superb, and across the street from a bar that had over 200 single malt scotches. Needless to say, it was a fantastic birthday. The city was great for toodling around in, and also for relaxing.
The castle as always was beautiful, and the beer was cold. We decided to go out with a bang on our final night and joined an organized pub crawl. We went to 5 pubs and 1 club - very fun! The crowd was a bit interesting in that is was a fine collection of eurotrash. One guy who was already dresssed to such an unbelievably pretentious level topped it off by wearing a plaid cashmere scarf out. Ridiculous.

Getting from Edinburgh back to London was a bit of a schmauze, but in the end we ended up with a place to stay, which is all that really mattered. Sunday morning was kind of sad leaving the boy, and as per usual, the travel gods laughed at us and ensured our flights were going out of two separate terminals of the airport.
When I arrived in Geneva, everything was closed. Walked down to the Lake (beautiful) and got an overpriced sandwich (11CHF = 12CAD) and a sunburn. I wandered around old town and also went to see the headquarters of the UN. There were some great fountatins outside the HQ and all sorts of cute kids running through them. Had an early night after the events of the day, and headed to Lausanne in the morning.

Now, Lausanne is spectacular! It is also on Lake Geneva, and has a beautiful waterfront. My french isn´t great, but I haven´t been drinking. I met a nice girl from Shediac NB who´s name was also Geneviéve, and we went for crepes and a beer.
Today was rainy, thus, a museum day. I visited the grand cathedral downtown, and the went to the Collection de l´Art Brut. This is a collection of art that was produced by pychiatric patients, prisoners, convicts, and hermits. The purpose of the collection was to express art that had no cultural influence as the artists were quite removed from society. I don´t think I have ever enjoyed an art exhibition so much! I´ll admit that some of it you would say "what a lunatic" but it was so unique.
Tonight I hope to check out a bar a friend suggested to me called the White Horse, which might actually be the only bar in town with a happy hour - should be fun! Tomorrow will hopefully be a lake cruise or else it will be a shopping day in the rain. Thursday brings Strasbourg and I get to see Mandy and Tim (hopefully) in Brittany on Saturday!
Until next time!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Northern travels

On the train again. An important note, if traveling between major British cities, book a reservation! Almost ended up standing all the way to Edinburgh as a nice birthday gift.

Since I last checked in, we have seen the cheerful city of Chester, the Williams clan in Prestatyn, and explored Manchester.

Chester was buzzing as it was a race day. There lots of proper British folk wearing their hats and heels or 3-piece suits. There were also lots of proper drunks making fun of those wearing the hats and 3-piece suits. That night was also the Heineken cup, so we watched that in a very lively bar.
Sunday was spent with he family in Prestatyn. We took a great tour through the Welsh county side, where everyone of my houses was pointed out (apparently we lived in a number of them). We also Walked about in Batisyy-swana (that being the phonetic way to pronounce the impossibly Welsh name. We also drove through Conway Castle (it's large enough to drive through) which was quite lovely.

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent in Manchester. We walked about the city, had a great night out with my distant Welsh cousin Scott, had the best Donair of life, and watched a ManU friendly vs Juventus. Old Trafford was pretty amazing and because captain Gary Neville was retiring, he invited back some old ManU players. This included David Beckham, who is just as dreamy on the pitch As off! Jamie thought so too! We really liked Manchester but felt that two days was enough to exhaust the tour.

We are into Edinburgh this afternoon, going out for a nice dinner tonight (thanks Mum and Dad)! Saturday concludes the Uk part of the journey and poor Jamie has to go home to work. So far the ash clouds over Edinburgh have been ruining travel plans, by they'll hopefully be all sorted by the weekend.

Cheerio for now

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Further travels

Hello again
Currently on route to Northern Wales. We had a nice visit in the South and Cardiff.
Wednesday was spent in sleepy old Bath. We managed to walk the city about four times in the span of a couple hours, found a great little pub for the remainder of the night, and no, no baths were taken.
Thursday was a beautiful day in Cardiff (I even got a small sunburn). Not a whole lot to do in Cardiff except see the castle (which was very nice and castely), walk about, shop, drink, and play rugby. Unfortunately the city was all booked up for the Heineken cup rugby final, so we weren't able to stay an additional few nights to see the game in the new stadium. Met some very nice people in the hostel, however, so had a great night.
Friday was Bristol, which had a fair bit of character. We stayed in a rowdy hostel called the full moon which was right off the area where the tesco riots had been the previous weeks. The highlight of the night was my visit with Tim and James (now Jim) Bale (very good family friends from when we lived in North Devon in the early 90's), and James' fiancé Sonya (who was quite lovely). Got to catch up on all the news and enjoyed a few more british beer. Everyone was in quite good shape, which is good because the men are attempting to follow a leg of the Tour de France in July.
Today we are off to Chester to visit a different part of beautiful Wales. We are hoping to go to Conwy Castle which is the only thing to do in Northern Wales according to Rick Steeves and Lonely Planet - should be a relaxing stay :)
Get to see he Williams side of the family tomorrow (my maternal Grandpa's cousins kids) who took care of us when we lived in Wales. Should be a lovely visit provided Jamie doesn't mention anything about manchester united (they are all diehard Liverpool fans).
Toodles for now

Ps the pictures are outside Bath Abby depicting the angels decent and accent into heaven (Jacobs ladder), and Jamie being locked up for silliness outside Cardiff Castle (over 2000 years old, the castle not Jamie ;-) ).

Thursday, 19 May 2011


What an amazing city! You could live here for your whole life and still find new things to do every day.
Shortly after we landed, we checked into the little flat that we were sharing in west kensington. The location was great - just two minutes from the tube station. Saturday we conquered the Borough market ( way better than Covent garden), had amazing chorizo sandwiches, toured LSE, were ready for a beer by noon, and went and saw Mamma Mia! in the westend. It was even better than the movie, and even though he was no Pierce Brosnan, I still had a crush on the actor that played Sam.
Sunday was shopping day! Oxford street puts robson to shame. Found a new love named topshop but managed to restrain myself, weird I know! Finished off the day with some piping hot Indian food.
Monday we visited the Imperial War Museum, which was spectacular, and went to the Phantom of the Opera, Jamie was singing the theme song for days.
Tuesday was our final day in London consisting of seeing all the touristy sites (buckingham, no royal spottings though, parliament buildings, Hyde parK and some more shopping) then capped off the visit with a lovely visit with Mr Fudge (now Mervyn considering I am no longer ten). Had a great dinner and got to hear all sorts of fun stories about my father, the type you don't get to hear until you are An adult.
All in all, a fantastic time in London. I am slowly improving my cobblestone walking skills, and have almost learned which way to look before jumping out into traffic. Yes, somehow I am still alive!
Next leg of the journey is Bath, Cardiff, Bristol (for the Bale men), and North Wales. Should be a time!
Xo for now