Milan to ROME. We spent 3 days in Rome and I would say it is definately one of my favourite citites... Bursting with history and incredible architecture. The people are incredibly friendly and willing to help. Jono and I had real trouble finding our hotel and, after lugging our suitcases around and around in circles (in very hot weather), stopped in at a cafe to ask if they might have any idea. One waiter asked another..or turned to another.. and before I knew it a group of 5 staff were standing around a computer 'googling' our hotel to find an address; then giving us detialed instructions on how to get there from where we were!
Highlights of Rome:
* The view over the city; of the Vatican and the Basilica from the castle tower
* Wandering through the sreets trying to find a nice bar, and instead coming across crowds of people gathered in public squares or by Trevi fountain; drinking, socialising, playing guitar...
* Exploring the Colleseum (by day and by night)
* By night, watch the seagulls that would flock to the lights of this huge beautiful monument
Hi everybody! I'm still here... and about to embark on a catch up of the month of June and July for you all.
Near the end of May, Nic and I went seperate ways and I joined Jono for 5 weeks on a journey through europe using our eurail passes. Nicola spent time with various friends in England, Belgium and Holland before heading to Egypt for a 9 day tour.
Jono and I had a week together in London before taking the channel tunnel to Paris - 4 days in Paris was wonderful; seeing some of the sights for a 2nd time, and others for the first. My Parisian highlight: picnic in the park by the Eiffel tower. Baguettes, camembert, grapes and wine. We then went up the Eiffel: good timing so that we got the by day, sunset and then by night view over Paris.
From Paris we made our way to Arles, a gorgeous village in Souther France, now famous as Van Gogh's hometown... lovely people and charming gypsy streets to wander around.
Leaving Arles early in the morning, and a long, challenging train journey later... we arrived in Nice.
Nice reminded me of the Gold Coast: high rises, shopping malls and restaurants right on the waterfront. From Nice we ventured out on a one day tour to Monaco and Monte Carlo. I could hardly believe my eyes looking out over the harbour full of expensive yachts and the huge mansions on the hillside. A place for only the very rich and famous of this world!!
After Nice came Milan.. with a gorgeous cathedral where I lit a candle for Dad. There are candles burning all over Europe for him. Really special to have him feel so close by as I make this big adventure.
HELLO!! I'm still here. Sorry that I disappeared for some time. Here is the catch up (FINALLY) on the rest of our time in Holland:
Week 4: Zwolle/Noordoostpolder
Bevrijdingsfestival; liberation festival a huge celebration to commemorate the day Holland was freed from War. We went to Zwolle to this huge festival in the park; again a lot of stages with different music and A LOT of people cramped together.
Stayed a couple of days with Mums brother and family in Zwolle. Saw a really nice rest home with an olden day kitchen; purposefully designed and built to help people with Dementia...as a room they can come to that brings them back to their younger days and helps to calm and relax them. We were very lucky to be able to see this, and to have a tour through the whole building. Especially great for Nic to see!! I think she would LOVE to take some of these ideas back home with her.
THEN, on Friday night the main reason we were in Holland this month an Aunty and Uncles 25th wedding anniversary. They converted their onion shed in to one huge party scene... a coat check, a bar, flower arrangements on the walls and tables, delicious snacks and ham buns and an AWESOME 2-man band. They played a mixture of old and new songs; all great dancing music... so I was on the dance floor nearly all night!
Saturday night was another fun night out with cousins. Met at my cousin Marks flat for some drinks and games and then jumped (with 8 of us!!) into one small car and headed to Chez Marknesse. Chez is the massive club that we had a tour of. Lots more dancing...and we somehow managed to get them to play English music in the dutch room for us.
Sunday got to catch up with my cousin Ferrie and met his gorgeous son Thom! Really nice to see Ferrie as a Dad.
What a big week that was!! Or maybe Im just not being as succinct with my highlights...
Week 5: Noordoostpolder / Volendam / Drenthe
Babysat the twins for the day. Gave them a bath in a too-little tub...water splashing everywhere.
Went on a day road trip with cousin Inge, across the long dyke to Volendam; a cute town on the seaside. Carried on to Marken which used to be an island. Very narrow streets and tiny houses... it reminded me of the fishermans village of Urk.
Spent 4 days in an area of Holland called Drenthe, at Bert and Alys holiday home in the middle of the forest. * First day we did 24km of biking through national park land (all flat remember!!) and played a round of mini golf. * 2nd day we went to one of 7 the islands dotted along above Holland. This island, Schiermonikoog, took an hour to reach by ferry and was BEAUTIFUL to bike around. Nic and I got to experience the team work of tandem biking. After a wobbly start we really got the hang of it and it was heaps of fun... especially when sitting on the back; draping my legs over the handle bars and letting Nic do all the work!
And that was my 5 weeks in Holland summed up (well, I did my best)... a very busy time with relatives everywhere to visit. But also a very special 5 weeks to be able to do all of what we did, to catch up with everyone that we did. I have wonderful memories and photos to look back on!
Hi everyone. Im so sorry that I have not updated you all for SO long! This blog has been in the wings for about a month now, and every time I sit down to write it... I wonder where to start??
So much has happened in the 5 weeks that we spent in Holland, and since that time already too!! I will try to give an overview of the highlights! Nic and I were actually very lucky to have booked our flight for when we did, just before the Iceland volcanic eruption!
Week 1: Soest
Walking through the Soesterduinen (huge area of sand and dunes in the middle of town...no water).
A day out with Marten on his boat; lots of laughing and going fishing with SWEET CORN
Hiring bicycles in Amsterdam for a tour of the inner city with Stefan
Keukenhof with Mia and Bert... beautiful displays of not only tulips, but a range of flowers and lots of cool garden ideas. Saw the weirdest looking turkey (or maybe thats what all turkeys look like?!?)
We were also very fortunate with some gorgeous weather, especially in the first 3 weeks! I found myself wishing Id packed SOME summery clothes, rather than leave them all for Jono to bring over with him.
Week 2: Noordoostpolder
Tulpenproms; a big concert held every 2 years in the polder. My aunty Marian was part of the choir... What a great night with a huge range of singers, songs and an awesome dance group performing throughout the evening!
Met my cousin Joliens boys for the first time!!! We got to babysit the gorgeous 7 month old twins for a day together with Oma Marian.
Spent half the week with Oma, which was a wonderful time of catching up. Also went to the Emmeloord markt and to the old fishermans island of Urk with Oma.
Weekend spent on the farm with my Aunty and Uncle Joke and Kees....included silage bail jumping (thought of you Leon), biking to the lively small village of Bloksijl, a day on the water with cousins - kayaking through the weer-ribben, BBQ dinner, DRIVING on the wrong side of the road, sailing through Giethoorn on a fluister bootje; AND a royal tour of Chez a super big disco/club with a dancing platform that can be raised!
Week 3: Noordoostpolder/Amsterdam
Both Nic and I had a wisdom tooth pulled out!!! Wed been having trouble with them for about a year back home, and, long story short, we decided it would be a good idea to have them taken out... much cheaper in Holland. The next couple of days were spent sipping drinks, yoghurt and painkillers through a straw; heads tilted to the side and laughing a lot at the sight of each other.
Experienced one of the biggest celebrations of the year Konninginedag (Queens Day) - in Amsterdam, with my cousin Leon. The Dutch really know how to celebrate and May seemed to be quite a month of festivals and parties! Amsterdam on Konninginedag was crazy busy; everywhere you looked people were dressed up in orange (the national colour); there were different stages with different music; party boats cruising down the canals. Just one huge party on the streets.
Alrighty... Weeks 4 and 5 are going to be in the next blog... to make it easier for you to read, and also easier for myself to write  Hope everything is well in NZ. Enjoy. Tot zo.
Wow, 4 months into the trip where does time go? And yet when I think of all that we have done; it feels as though it could have been a years worth of new experiences!!
Since Sweden (my last blog), Nic and I had another 3 weeks of work as teacher assistances in London schools and nurseries. Alongside working, we managed to squeeze in some more sightseeing weekends despite the rainy, cold weather.
A markets weekend; Portobello, Camden and Spittlefields; 3 of the more popular markets of London. Had a lot of fun trying on all kinds of hats at one scarf and hat stall.
Buckingham Palace with the changing of the guard; Trafalgar Square and Westminster from afar... have yet to go inside
One of the main highlights for me in London was the musicals and theatre performances we went to. Londoners are spoilt for choice! After seeing the Mamma Mia musical for Nics birthday, we found out that Stomp was in London. Stomp is a VERY talented group of performers who use all sorts of everyday items (brooms, lighters, plastic bags and much more) to make music. If you get a chance, look them up on you tube!
Easter weekend we said a sad goodbye to our flatmates of 2 months, packed our things, threw out some extra luggage we no longer needed and headed to the Lake District (north England). Here we spent Easter and a lovely, relaxed few days with Ian, Jane and Paul; family friends of ours. They have a beautiful, big, country home, with many cosy fireplaces and gorgeous surroundings.
From the Lake District we hopped on a train and headed further north to Edinburgh, city of bagpipers. Really enjoyed Edinburgh; especially the old town with its many gorgeous buildings. We saw many things in Edinburgh considering we only had 3 days there!
The Edinburgh castle; within view from our backpackers, standing atop a hill between the old and new towns.
Mary Kings Close beneath the main street in the old town is a hidden village; what used to be the main street of Edinburgh many years ago... we had a tour...with a guide dressed as though she had stepped back in time, and who really acted her part well.
Bobby monument and graveyard (Bobby is the dog who stayed by his masters grave for many years)
Tried Haggis as part of a meal in a pub (surprisingly not as bad as we had expected it to be!!)
On the 10th of April - just before the first volcanic eruption- we flew to Holland! Good timing! Holland will be my next catch up blog... to come soon I hope!