Location: Monastir, Tunisia
So our final day in Tunisia. I must say I was glad to be going home. Although it was nice to get away it's always great to get home. Back to chilly London and my own bed. Although it will be quite some time before I return to Tunisia if ever, I think next time I'll come in summer.
Location: Destination Unknown, Tunisia
Merry Christmas!! Happy days. I got two Fossil watches and a guitar, spoilt hey and I gave Pieter an IPod dock, a shirt and some cologne. We did the present thing at home because there was no space to pack the gifts.
Well Tunisia being a Muslim country, there was not much of a Christmas feeling around, but never mind, we had a good day.
Off for round two of quad-biking on the mean machines, 375cc bikes. This time we had a guide and just the two of us. No group to slow us down. Pieter was in his element, me a bit scared but I got used to it soon enough. We got on our way and had to push the guide to go a bit faster. He eventually complied. It was great fun. I managed to crash once, now that was fun. For some reason I missed a turn and ended up in the bushes. I thought it was so funny that i didn't even hit the brakes, I just kept going. Shame the poor guide nearly had a heart attack. I survived so that's all that matters.
Another fun day spent. Once again covered in dust we returned to the hotel. They didn't even make a special Christmas dinner.
Location: Destination Unknown, Tunisia
Day three and we really needed something to do. It's all well and good sitting back and relaxing but it does get a bit old quickly. So far we haven't managed to find any tours and all the info is in Finish, German and French. The lady at the Tourist Info place wasn't very helpful at all. We had a word with reception at our hotel and woo hoo he could help us. He has a friend (they all do) that does quad-biking trips. Yay we're definitley up for that.
Here we go on our little adventure, something fun and exciting. Now I've done this once before and Pieter has owned bikes since he was 15 so we couldn't wait. There was a safety talk beforehand which went like this, the dude pointed and said "Gas, brakes." Blink and you missed it, ha ha. We were on 125cc bikes and 5, 4, 3 , 2, 1 we're off... at 10km an hour, I mean please. So Pieter and I hatched a little plan. We hang back and then we can go all out. That's when the fun began. We went so mad that even the guide told us we were crazy. Half way through the course there was a break at a little shack that sells drinks and has camels and ostrichs tied up. The camels do a trick where you put a small bottle of coke on the ground in front of them and they grab it with their lips, swing it up and down it in one gulp. It's entertaining but I don't think it's good for them. Our group alone gave the one six cokes to drink. Alas all good things come to an end and after about two hours we were done, covered in dust but thrilled none the less. Of course Pieter had to ask them if they have any bigger bikes, which of course they did. So there we had it, the big bikes booked for the next day.
We made our way back to the hotel filled with excitement for the next day. Well me more with trepidation but it's the same thrill.
Location: Monastir & Sousse, Tunisia
Day two in Tunisia. We've seen pretty much all there is to see in Monastir so we decide to head to the next town, Sousse, for the day which is supposed to be bigger and a bit vibier.
So we brave the public transport and with some hand gestures and attempts to explain we managed to get two return train tickets to Sousse. You know when you talk slowly and louder and expect them to understand you, "TRAIN MONASTIR to SOUSSE and back SOUSSE to MONASTIR TODAY". It's fun when you're a tourist. I would never risk catching a public train in South Africa.
Well we were a bit disappointed. It was pretty much the same as Monastir. Loads of shops selling curios and the harassing owners in your face along the way. There was a funny moment though. A local came up to us and said "Don't you remember me from the hotel" and we basically cracked up. Now we got it. It's how they get you to go with them to their friends shops. Ha ha hilarious!!!
Anyway fed up we headed back to Monastir and to our hotel. Another day gone and not much to show for it.
Okay I don't want this to be about complaining but I do have to say I am not impressed with the hotel. The room is clean but in a shoddy state. There are door knobs missing, there's no bottled water in the room (what must we do you can't drink the tap water) and basically it looks like the room has had no improvements since it was built. I was expecting more as it is classed as a 4 star hotel. I'm a tough cookie though, I can survive. We found a little shop down the road so we bought a supply of snacks, cold drinks and water to keep in the room. Problem solved.
So it's our first whole day here and we decided to go exploring a bit. We go for a walk into the town. It's very quite but I suppose it's winter so it's not exactly peek tourist season. The one thing I don't enjoy about these third world countries is the constant harassing by the shop owners. I'll learn to deal with it one day.
Eventually we get sick of walking around and a bit bored with it all so we start to head back. On our way we bump into a local and he says "Don't you remember me, I work in the hotel." So we get chatting and he tells us of a place where we can ride a camel and see the Berber women weaving carpets. So off we go. Pieter and I both got to ride a dromedarus, a one humped camel. That done, we go into a little hut where there is a lady weaving a carpet. Very interesting. But here comes the catch, the guy leads us into another room and here they want to sell us carpets. They were beautiful so we did end up bargaining and buying two. Then we get lead to another shop that sells leather goods, silver jewellery and other souvenirs. We managed to get away with just getting a silver bangle thank goodness. After all of this we say buy the our "guide" and head back to the hotel.
Location: Monastir, Tunisia
We've decided to have a break over the Christmas period and the place of interest this time is Tunisia.
Flying out from Gatwick Airport and I'm expecting the worst. Waiting for the airport drama to begin... but surprise, surprise, nothing happens. I almost can't contain my excitement. There's even time for a few ciggies before we need to go through security. Woo hoo!
After a pleasant enough flight we land in Monastir. And just when I think I've avoided all the drama I usually have to endure here it comes, yeah I thought it was gonna be easy, ha ha.
Now we being South African, need a visa to visit almost every country in the world. The Tunisian Consulate said we can get a visa on arrival, so I was expecting some sort of stamp, but noooo. We get told to wait in a corner and then some dude disappears with our passports. So me thinks to myself, okay he just needs to get the stamp and check our papers. And I wait and I wait and I start to worry. This is Africa you know. But thankfully after about two hours he returns with our passports and paper visa's inserted in our passports. Another clean page offered up to a visa. These pages are sacred to me as when they run out I have to go through the awful process of applying for a new passport and getting my UK visa sorted out all over again. Anyway the horribleness is all over so we can go through and get our transfer to the hotel. The drama continues. Our transfer is not there, bleep, bleep, bleep. Okay have a smoke cause I need it to calm down. Finally we manage to get hold of the company and they tell us they thought we never made it because we took so long. So eventually we get to the hotel. Boring stuff check in, boring stuff take bags up to the room. Now the holiday can begin.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
And so ends our long weekend in Switzerland. A great time was had by all and now it's time to get back to reality. I will definitely be making a return trip to Switzerland. I had a fantastic time there.
Location: Lucerne, Switzerland
Day 3. Up bright and early to be on time for our trip to Lucerne.
The bus trip to Lucerne was about an hour. In the meantime we got to admire the beautiful countryside. Just like in Heidi! All green hills, mountains, rivers and lakes. So pretty
When we arrived in Lucerne it was only Pieter and I getting off the bus. The rest of the group was going up to the mountains. If only we had known we would have gone too. Never mind, next time. With our maps in hand we set off. A little more prepared for what lay ahead, we started on our way.
We started off with a visit to The Lion Monument of Lucerne:
"This monument, built to honor the Swiss Guards, was dedicated in 1821. It was sculpted by Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen. The Swiss have a long standing tradition of lending mercenaries to other countries. The Swiss are known for trustworthiness and holing to their agreements. This has helped them remain politically neutral. The sad lion is shown dieing, resting on his shield with a broken spear in him."
So beautiful and magnificent, really worth a look.
After that we headed to the Rosengart Museum where most of Pablo Picasso's work is on display. It was very interesting, all I have to say about him is that he has an unhealthy obsession with female anatomy.
Then we headed off to see what goods we could buy. Naturally we ended up with a lot of chocolate and some yodelling toys :-)
We finished off by going to Chapel Bridge and basically spent the rest of the day sat in a little restaurant next to the river just relaxing and enjoying.
Then it was time to head back to Zurich. I think everyone on the bus nodded off and had a snooze on the trip home.
Another long day behind us, we were happy to head back to the hotel and call it a day.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Day 2. We woke up at about 9 am and went down for breakfast. I tell you this was the best buffet breakfast I've ever had. Such variety and everything was so fresh. Eggs, bacon, tomato etc. Fresh fruits, yogurt, cheese, ham, breads and rolls, croissants, mmm. The honey impressed me the most as it was in these tiny little jars. I'm a simple minded person so I thought this was so cute.
Now we were ready to hit the town. Getting around couldn't have been easier. The hotel reception sold us a one day tram pass, told us which stop to get off at and directed us to the nearest stop, Glattpark, just down the road. Easy peasy.
The two of us are the most unprepared lot to ever go travelling. We got into the city without a clue as to what there was to see or do. We spent the first two hours just walking around. This was a great experience in its self. I love the little streets. I haven't travelled around Europe so this was a first for me. Eventually we decided to find Tourist Information. It was located in the main train station just off Bahnhoffstrasse. Here we managed to find maps with all the key tourist sites marked off and some different tours. We booked a Zurich city tour and a tour to Lucerne the next day.
The city tour was great. I think this is always the best way to see a place. You are given earphones and options to select your language. This gave us a way to experience Zurich from a comfy seat on a bus with some stops for pics. This also included a train ticket and information on how to get to Uetliberg which is the highest point in Zurich. Unfortunately when we got up there it was misty and raining so we couldn't see anything. When the tour was finished we went for a walk up Bahnhoffstrasse which is the elite shopping street. Well that was that for the day. We were both knackered so we headed back to the hotel.
After long day out and about we had some dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants, then a few more bevies at the bar. After that off to bed again for a well deserved nights rest.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Pieter and I decided to spend the Bank Holiday weekend in Switzerland. Destination Zurich. I managed to get a great deal on Lastminute.com so we booked a flight and four nights at a great 4 star Renaissance Hotel, not far out of the centre of town.
Day 1. Ok so I'm packed, I've finished work early and I'm ready to go. Now for those of you that don't know about me, I have a lot of bad luck and for some reason I'm still surprised when it happens. This mostly centres around airports and checking in. This particular time it's the surname that's too long for the British Airways booking system. Can you believe it.
( My surname is Van Rheede Van Oudtshoorn but I still expect them to be able to handle it.)
Anyway so they give us a special security escort to take us through customs. Now one would think, great that speeds things up, but you have to take into account that I smoke, it's three hours before the flight leaves, I was expecting to check in, go out and have a fag and now I can't smoke anywhere because we've gone through the check point. Major bummer I tell you. Anyway I got over it eventually. What can you do?
We landed in Zurich at about 10 pm and thankfully there was a shuttle that ran to and from the hotel that we could catch. So we finished off the boring bits of checking in and getting the bags to the room, and finally we could chill out a bit. The room was great, with our very own bar fridge and the bed so comfy. We popped down to the bar for a snack and some bevies and then hit the sack.