With a great climate, nice beach, bustling pedestrian streets, some of the worlds best architecture to go with some of the worlds greatest artists, a world class football team and lovely central parks, there are truly not many cities in the world that can match Barcelona. To be honest youve heard of all its attractions and they all live up to the hype. Mel and I spent four days, under sunshine, checking out all the sights and would recommend it to anyone. Check out our photos!
Oh before I go though
if you do go to Barcelona eat at Cal Pep! We had the best tapas Ive ever had in my life! Packed full of locals wining and dining, indulge yourself with fresh seafood (you pick yourself) cooked right in front of you!
Norway, western Scandinavia. Home of the Vikings and what many describe as the most stunning scenery in the world
well we had to find out first hand.
First stop was Bergen, Norways Western Capital. Set on the shore of the Norwegian Sea and spreading into the surrounding hills, Bergen was a great introduction into the beauty that was to follow. Highlights were definitely the seafood rolls (fresh as!) from the famous fishmarket by the marina and the colourful, wonky, old houses by the shore (check out the photos). I also had my birthday here and enjoyed a home cooked (thanks Pete!) mixed fresh seafood (bought from the market) linguini. I should mention that we travelled to Norway with Mark and Shell and met Anja and Pete (who had been travelling Norway for the 3 weeks before we arrived) on our first night in Bergen.
After 3 lovely days exploring Bergen it was time to depart. Day 3 of our trip saw us going from Bergen to Flåm via Sognefjord, almost the best day of the trip (unbelievably it did get better!). First we took the train to Voss (apart from the lush country side nothing too noteworthy), then the bus to Gudvangen (check out the photo of Mel and I at the start of Sognefjord) and then the boat cruise to Flåm. The boat cruise along Sognefjord, Norways longest and deepest fjord, and Aurlandsfjord was as beautiful as expected (this was Mels highlight). In fact, its truly too hard to describe in words and the photos dont do it justice
so youll just have to go there and see it yourself! :)
We spent 2 nights in Flåm (at the head of the Aurlandsfjord) and had one very adventurous day! Who would think riding up a 1200m high mountain is a good idea? Well, the mighty six did
well at least some of us did and the others tagged along. The morning was spent walking our bikes from sea level to a fjord viewing platform 1200m above sea level only to find the clouds had beat us there. Yep our view of the fjord was partially blocked by thick clouds
at least it was windy so every now and then we got a descent view below. Now youd think going down would be the best part and for some it was, but for Pete and I it was a little over adventurous. We were told from the weirdo in the Tourist Information office, who we hired the bikes from, there was a downhill cross country mountain bike trail we could take down so we thought wed have a go. Turns out it was an overgrown, hardcore, hikers trail with only spray paint on trees and rocks every couple of hundred meters to guide the way. Not so great when your on a mountain bike! Check the photos out to see some of the places we ended up. It took us just as long to get down as it did to get up. Mel and Anja also struggled to get down the hill, having to stop on the side of the road numerous times due to dizzy spells and nausea (must have been altitude sickness?)!
From Flåm we went to Oslo via the Myrdal. The train from Flåm to Myrdal rises 1m in height for every 18m travelled for 80% of the track, making it one of the steepest railway lines in the world. Along the way we saw rivers cutting their way through steep gorges, snow capped mountains and some giant waterfalls. This was my highlight and it was truly breathtaking!
We then spent 3 nights in Oslo exploring the city. Oslo was a vibrant little city, and like the rest of Norway, surrounded by coastal beauty. Highlights included; the Viking Museum (Vikingskipshuset), the Nobel Peace Prize Museum, Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Munch-museet (original The Scream paintings) and a night out with the locals (Anjas cousins).
Location: Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
This was the only true summers weekend we had in 2007
thank the lord we chose to go to Wales for it! Hmmm, we werent the only ones though but the less said about the congested roads and the angry man (me) driving us around, the better.
2 kiwis and 2 aussies spent 2 nights in a truly British caravan park. Whitewell Caravan Park, what an experience! With a pub onsite, which every man and angry dog attended from mid afternoon on, a trip to the showers in the afternoon (adjacent the pub) was quite an eye opener. Nonetheless, we had a pint or two there one evening and amused ourselves watching the holiday goers quiz night.
During the days we spent time exploring Pembrokeshire, from Tenby to St Davids. Check the photos out to see some of the gems we found. Also, check out the fog in the St Govans head photos
now imagine walking onto a packed beach, towels, beach balls, sandcastles, men in dts, women in bikinis, the usual scene at the beach however, with fog that thick you could not see the ocean from the back of the beach. I have never seen nor heard of anything like it. If I didnt see it with my own eyes I wouldnt have believed it! Oh the Welsh, they crack me up!
The highlight was a day spent playing cards on the beach at Tenby. The temperature was in the mid twenties all day, pure sunshine and no wind - what else can you ask for? I even had a swim at 6pm and stayed in for longer than 5 minutes.
All in all a quality weekend in Wales!
Location: Naples and Amalfi Coast, Italy
Its Mel here. As Trent has been writing ALL of the entries, I thought I was definately due to write up our last trip to Italy. We went to Naples and the stunning Amalfi Coast. Just gorgeous. We spent one day in Naples, which strangely had some strong parallels with the chaotic Cairo. Everywhere we looked there were locals driving erratically, including kids (eg 10 years old) on scooters! It was a challenge crossing the streets, but well worth it. Naples isnt the prettiest city i've been to in Europe, but it is one of the most 'real'... you get a real sense of local life there, with minimal tourists mulling around.
Second day we visiting Pompeii.... simply amazing. Easily the best Roman ruins i've seen, and thats saying something cause we've seen a few of them by now! A highlight was Villa dei Misteri - one of Pompei's finest villas. They reckon it was built in the 2nd century BC, and was covered (and hence preserved) in ash and rock thanks to the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The colour preserved on the beatiful frescoes was incredible... you could really get a sense of just how wealthy some of the residents were back then. Another fascinating part of Pompeii was the whorehouse - you could still see the little cubicles with stone beds and graphic paintings of different 'positions'....
We then arrived in Sant D'Angello just outside of Sorrento where we stayed for 3 nights at Mami Camilla. It is actually a very famous traditional italian cooking school with heaps of B&B rooms (see a photo of the view from our room!). It was a great place to stay - we felt like one of the family there, and for a couple of nights we ate all of the food cooked throughout the day - 4 courses of superb italian food for 15 euros. Bargain.
The next day we explored the Amalfi Coast by bus. It is hard to describe just how spectacular the coast line actually is. Rugged mountains covered with plains of citrus groves dropping straight off in the crystal clear oceans. The narrow road wound its way about half way up cliff around the many peninsula's, with spectacular views across the bay. Just gorgeous. A major highlight of mine was the tiny village of Positano with dazzling white houses perched on the cliff down to a gorgeous little beach surrounding by cute little cafe's and restaurants. We had a great time just soaking up the sun eating gelato and drinking freshly squeezed lemon juices.
The next day we visited the Island of Capri - including a famous square, and a chairlift up to the top of the mountainous island affording spectacular views. The island is home to many famous celebs and wealthy people, which envoked a strong sense of pretentiousness! Nonetheless, the island was well worth a visit as the scenery is nothing short of beautiful.
The last day we chilled out shopping and eating in Sorrento which is a lovely town in itself, although these days more used as a base to explore Capri, Pompei and the coastline. And then unfortunately we found ourselves on the plane home!
Aye, a wee dram of scotch would tickle the belly nicely... ahhh, Scotland, what a place!
Scotland was such a refreshing change to our holidays on the continent or in England in the fact that the people were friendly everywhere (even the shop assistants), the food was awesome (especially haggis), the whisky not only tasty (the true amber nectar) but also locally diverse and the scenery was truly sublime.
Unbelievable for Mel and I, we spent 9 days on holiday, with a hire car, and nothing went wrong. In fact, we even managed to extend our car hire for a day an extra day free of charge.
We clocked up the miles, driving from Edinburgh to Oban via Stirling and then along the Western Highlands up to Ullapool in the north then back down the east coast to Edinburgh via Aberdeen and St Andrews. About 1600miles in all. It certainly wasn't all about the driving though, we also managed to walk about 30 miles (including a 12mile hike around Loch Affric) through various picturesque locations through the western highlands.
From castle and fort ruins to munros (mountains over 3000ft) through to lakes, I don't believe I've scene a natural environment so affected by humankind yet still so beautiful! There is so much water in the highlands, driving through it is like driving onto and through a series of small islands. It goes mountain, loch, mountain, loch, mountain, loch all through the western Highlands and each is unique and honestly more grand than the last.
The saying a picture says a thousand words is so true for Scotland (words just don't do it justice) so check out the photo's.