Location: London, UK
I havent updated this in SOOOO long. Facebook is great for pictures, but not so great at telling people what we have done.
I have just come back from Sweden and Denmark. There was a large Papillomavirus conference on in Malmo, Sweden, and GSK agreed to pay and let me go along. It was a huge learning experience for me, being my first conference, but I did learn alot! I left last Saturday, the 9th of May, and had a good look around Malmo that night and dinner with a work colleague, Zhonglin. Sunday up bright and early to attend the first day of talks. That night was a lovely welcoming ceremony, where I somehow mistakenly got a VIP seat.... Not sure how, I think it was a mistake, but I had the best view of the stage!
Monday until Thursday was conference all day long. Shane arrived on Tuesday but had to look after himself during the day. I helped him out by getting him free lunches from the conference, as Sweden was so very expensive. I did not buy myself nor anyone else anything in Sweden or Denmark, other than the patches for my pack.
So after Thursday, Shane and I headed back to Copenhagen to stay there a few days and make the most of work paying my fares. It was a lovely city, but the cost of things really does make it difficult. We were on a very strict budget. And we stuck to it (helps having Croatia to look forward to this weekend!)
So we had a hostel in Copenhagen, very expensive but couldnt find anything cheaper, and it was right in the red light district. but the prostitutes didnt bother us and we didnt bother them, so all was fine. We saw all the main sites by foot on Friday, it was a long day. We ended it with a mexican meal. Saturday it was raining, so we just looked in shops etc and had a final meal it a beautiful thai restaurant. We decided if we had any money left we would treat ourselves with a nice dinner, and when I converted the cost back to £££ when we got home, it cost us £72!!! Ouch, glad I didnt convert there. And that was reasonable too!
Sunday we flew home, and now just have this week at work before going to Croatia!
Location: London, UK
The rest of our trip was just as good as the start. We went to the club I was talking about, but it was a very young crowd and we were home by midnight. We walked round lots more,and went to see John Lennon's wall. I am sure we saw everything we needed to. Our last night was spent on a boat cruise, Shane's shout for my birthday present. It was lovely, a nice way to spend our last evening in Prague.
back to work now, saving for the next lot of holidays -
Brighton - March 20th-22nd
Brussels and Bruges - April 10th-13th
Portugal - May 1st-4th
Sweden - May 9th-17th (including Copenhagen)
Croatia - May 23rd- 30th
Scotland - June 27th - July 11th
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Where to start! We got here on Wednesday about 4.30pm. Somehow managed to get to our hotel, after getting a bus, then a metro train, and then walking ten minutes or so to our hotel. Very happy with our hotel. We deifnitely paid off-peak prices of 150 euro. Prices are now 450...... nice place, full breakfast. Great sleep! But not before we headed out on the advice of our hotel guy to alocal brewery Czech pub for dinner. Only 5 minutes walk away. BEAUTIFUL meal, dont think I will be getting sick of Czech food any time soon.... Need to be a meat lover though. I had a pork knuckle with saukrat and dumplings, Shane had beef something or other. Both fanatastic and fed us both for about 17 GBP. Yummy.
Thursday we did our own walking tour. We have enough time here to not worry about paying anyone to guide us. We walked allllll over and I was so tired by the end of the day. Went up the Main centre clock tower, great views, walked all over the place. Phew. It was raining a bit but didnt dampen our moods. We got ´back to the hotel about 5pm and yes we had a nap..... Woke up about 7pm and we wanted to go out but it was very hard to motivate me. Finally we got on a tram and headed to a recommended brewery. I do not recommend it at all!!! Wont be going back, our dinner last night was FAR better and cheaper. we were back at the hotel before 9pm. I fell asleep straight away, while Shane stayed awake planning our next day....
Friday we were up and headed straight for the Prague Castle after the best nights sleep I have had in ages. We there before major crowds, saw all that we were meant to see, then headed down the hill to have a lovely lunch at a local bar. Was lovely! We had sausages and cabbage soup. Was delicious. Then we walked around all the streets and stoped at a bar for some local Czech beer, which we seem to be partaking in every single day..... Then back here where we are now and having some Bohemian Champagne. It isnt too bad for 3GBP! We are off tonight to the apprently best club in Prague, at http://www.karlovylazne.cz. Hope I can stay awake for it... Doesnt open til 9.30pm. Going to do our best. Might not get up tomuch tomorrow but we will see !
Location: London, UK
Travel plans are stacking up!!!
We go to Prague on Feb 25th for 6 days, then in April, for Easter we are booked in for Brussels and Brugge. First weekend in May is Faro, in Portugal, then Sweden from May 9th-14th for a work conference. THEN we will stay a few days more in Copenhagen until May 17th (let's not think too much about how VERY expensive Copenhagen is, accomodation for three nights in a hostel is £220 for just me and Shane!!). I may be going to Belgium again for work sometime in June, and we are planning on doing a Highlands tour and spending an extra week or so in Scotland. Phew, and still a good few more weeks of annual leave to plan!
London has been hit by snow lately. Monday I was unable to get to work, but had a blast at the local park with snowboards. Managed to get to work on Tuesday, and as for today, I got in OK, not so sure about getting home though.... Snow falling steadily here in Mill Hill. Fingers crossed!!
I am turning the big 30 this weekend, and will be attending the Waitangi Pubcrawl like last year. Hope the weather clears up a little.....
Location: London, UK
Off to Prague on February 25th for a few days, to celebrate my birthday. We wanted to go earlier and be there for my birthday, but the flights didnt suit us, so Feb 25th it is! Also planning a trip away with a large group of people for the first weekend in May, if we can find a cheap whole house to rent somewhere like Portugal or south of France. Going to Matt and Helen's this weekend to try to find somewhere, with cheap flights too....
AND, might head to Brussels and Bruge for Easter! That is all the plans so far...
Location: London, UK
Egypt pictures are up on facebook!
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Friday 24th October
Full day exploring Cairo today. We went to the Citadel of Saladin, the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, the Hanging Church and the world famous Kahn El Khalili bazaar. Was sad to be our last day, but we had to live with it. Helen and I got another henna tattoo since our first ones had faded. But after the shopping in Dahab, we didnt need to do much at the bazaar which was great!
We had rain in Cairo today too, apparently the first since January this year! Was still warm though. Final dinner with the tour at the hotel tonight. then early to bed for me as we had to be up at 3am to get a bus to the airport.
Homeward bound now! Pity it is all over as it was so much fun an done of my best holidays yet. Highly recommend Travel talk again, for their tours. They are really great.
Location: Dahan, Egypt
Monday 20th October
last night i began to get a few stomach cramps. I had so far avoided the nasty bellies some people had had from day one. I got up and ate a little breakfast but a couple of hours later I was vomiting.... I think it was a mixture of tiredness and dehydration. so i didnt do much at all on Monday. I stayed at the hotel all day, read my book, slept and sat in the sun. i didnt vomit anymore, but got diarrhea after that, for a couple of days. Pretty mild really compared to some! We were meant to go to a Beduim dinner that night, but Shane and I stayed home since I was not well and not eating. Was sorry to miss it, but had to be done.
tuesday 21st October
I had wanted to go shopping yesterday, but wasnt up for it so Shane and Matt and Helen went without me. But today was my shopping day! Still not 100% but didnt want to stay at the hotel again. I got most of my holiday shopping done in one go! Great!
Wednesday 22nd October
Today we went snorkeling again. We got on camels for about 45 minutes to get to the place we were going to, and we had most of the day there, with lunch provided. Lovely day, and into town for dinner and drinks that night. I piked early, still just wasnt completely better. Shane had gone to go watch the sunrise at the top of Mt Sinai, but again I had to pass due to not feeling 100%. It would have been 2-3 hour hiking in the cold, and couple of hours rest on the mountain in the cold, and then another trek down again, with no sleep, so just didnt think I had it in me to do it when I was barely eating.
Thursday 23rd October
Our last day in Dahab! We spent it relaxing by the pool and reading. was bliss! the we h ad to get on that horrid bus for yet another overnight drive, to Cairo
Location: Dahab, Egypt
Today we went snorkeling at the Blue Hole! It was lovely, and so many fish to see! I decided then and there that I didnt really need to go diving, what you can see snorkeling is exactly what I would see diving as the water is so clear. Shane got a heap of jelly fish stings but I didnt get any. I mustn't have gone near where they were. Nice day if sunshine and relaxing. Then back into town for dinner.
Location: Dahab, Egypt
After a very painful night and journey we made it to Dahab. We were supposed to arrive in Dahab last night and sleep before getting on a ferry. However the ferry was cancelled. So instead we got to our Hurghada hotel for two hours rest before getting back on the bus and arriving in Dahab at about 2 or 3 pm. Very sick of trying to sleep on buses! And the hotel in Hurghada was terrible - my only complaint about the tour so far. Some people got covered in bites, there were no towels, the toilets didnt flush and some rooms just hadnt been cleaned! Not pleasant!
but finally in Dahab! We ordered some lunch and relaxed a little as this was to be our home for the next 5 or so days. the rooms are nice, and clean and we have a pool! We went into the town centre for dinner but it was an early night as we were all tired. The taxis in Dahab consist of utes and jeeps. No seat belts. but the journey only takes ten minutes, and costs a grand total of 15 EGP - about £1.5 british, and between 6-8 people..... Really not anything to worry about.
Location: Luxor, Egypt
4am start today so we could get to our hot air balloons before the sun rose! We had to catch a boat and then get in a van before finally making it to the place where out balloon was. It was very warm in the balloon, all that hot air made to make the balloon rise meant we didnt get too cold, as it wasnt so warm at that time of the morning. Up we went and it was incredible! And once the sun started rising we were all in awe. Had a beautiful and stunning view of over Luxor.
Our one hour in the air went fast, and it took us several attempts to land the balloon. you cant land just anywhere! Normally they tend to land in a farmers field, which then entails the balloon people to pay a nice tip... It is funny as they have a van full of people following the balloons to they know where to pick you up from, and our balloon also had a group of people waiting to get on it. Finally we landed in a muddy field. I was wearing jandals - you can imagine what happened. My feet sank and i ended up wearing huge pieces for mud for shoes. It was quite funny, and luckily io managed to keep my jandals. But i then had to go into the farmers yard and wash my feet a little (no where near clean, but got the hunks of mud off). Then of course I was expected to tip! I opened my bag and a little brat of a kid tried to get his little paws in there! I paid the one guy that helped a little, then he dragged over his friend who had done nothing and expected me to tip him too! I declined! luckily the air balloon guy stayed with me and Shane was nearby too, I didnt want to be there alone! So after the adventure it was off to join our tour again and meet our donkeys for a donkey ride!
The donkeys carried us to the Valley of the Kings. Or the "city of the dead" as it is also known. Tombs are carved into the desert rocks here and decorated richly. They were once filled with treasures for the afterlife of the Pharaohs. Tutankhamen's tomb is here but we didnt go in, some people did but all that is left in there is his mummy and you had to pay more so we didnt bother.
After this we went to see the Temple of Hatshepsut. It is built on the desert plain in a series of terraces.
then it was time to depart for Hurghada.....
Location: Luxor, Egypt
After an early breakfast we made out way to Kom Ombo Temple. It was built during the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods and is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and god Horus. After that we went to Edfu and visited the largest and best preserved temple in Egypt. It was dedicated to the falcon god Horus and was built over a 180 year period from 237 BC to 57 BC. Then it was on to Luxor! We checked into our hotel and then went to see the temple of Luxor on the East Bank of the Nile which was dedicated to the great god Amun, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu (the mood god) - together representing the Theban triad. The temple was built on the site of a probable smaller structure for the god Amun, while the earliest parts of the temple seen today date from the 14th century BC and the time of Amenhotep III.
Yet another early night after this - hot air ballooning early tomorrow morning to see the sunrise over Luxor!
Location: The Nile, Egypt
Yesterday we were up VERY early! 3.30am!! We had to catch a convoy out to see the Abu Simbel Temple. It is a temple that was originally built into rocks but was then moved (in pieces) further up the bank to protect it. It was a magnificent place, so much artwork around and the scarey part is though that there really is nothing stopping tourists touching everything. Makes you wonder how long it will last in modern times.... But it has been there a long time now so I guess it might withstand human interference!
After this we went to our Felucca for lunch. We were supposed to stay on it and start sailing, but instead we had to do the sightseeing we missed out the day before, so our Felucca sailors started the trip without us and would meet us later on.
We then did the tour we were meant to do on Monday. We went to the High Dam and Philae Temple (we bipassed the Unfinished Obeslisk - Do you really want to pay to see something unfinished and not so spectacular?) The Dam was a little boring for me, but I can see it was a big project! There are now no crocodiles in the Nile either, they are on the other side of the dam, so that rested a few minds right before we get on our Felucca! The Philae Temple was on another Island and was dedicated to the Goddess Isis.
Then we went to a Papyrus factory! I was looking forward to this, and I bought a painting or two for presents.
After that, about 6pm or so, we went to where our Felucca's were anchored for the night for some simple dinner! That first nights sleep was great, we were all so tired, we needed to rest up a few days just sailing the Nile.
Today was an all day sail. Felucca's are very simple boats, all we had was cushions! It was brilliant. No toilets or anything, you just went whenever we stopped somewhere on land, behind or bush or something. We lay around and dozed, had a couple of drinks, chilled out! As tonight was our last night on the Felucca, we had some games to do and a bonfire was lit. Lots of fun! But I was in bed early, the trip really took its toll on me and we had to be up at about 6am tomorrow.
Location: Aswan, Egypt
Ok the over night train was an ugly experience to say the least.... We attempted to upgrade to a sleeper train, but too many people wanted to and we couldnt all fit, so we got the upright seats all night long!! We boarded the train quite late so I immediately started trying to sleep. We had 6 people to a cabin. I think I dozed easy enough, but no real sleep was had. There were cockroaches crawling out of the walls, the toilets were disgusting, and basically it was torture. To make matters worse, there was some fire in the middle of the night and the train stayed put for 4 or so hours, so our journey turned into a long one. We were meant to arrive in Aswan in the morning, but no, we arrived at about 3.30pm.... So we missed the sightseeing we had planned for that afternoon, but we will do it tomorrow instead of having some free time. Instead we had well deserved showers and some rest time before heading out for a Nubian dinner! We caught a boat out to an Island and had Nubian food and even held a crocodile (a baby one)! And Helen and I got our first henna tatoos, very cool! We had a great perfomance put on for us too! Nubians are more African that Egyptian, it was a great night, better that the cruise the first night! Then it was off to bed... Exhausted!!