Location: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Hi all out there following our travels. The bad news is we are home but it's not as cold as we thought it would be. The good news is we have to update on the last few days of our travel and that we got home safe and well although there were some moments when we felt that might not be the case.
Our return trip started with an obscenely early 4am start to catch our 7am flight from Vienna to Frankfurt. Our flight to Ho Chi Minh didn't board until about 2pm so we braved a new public transport system and headed into Frankfurt for a few hours. apart from digging up the city centre in front of the train station another pleasant German city. One thing I will say is the coffee cart down the main road outside the train station had the best coffee we had on the whole trip and we think it may have been the cheapest. Talking coffee we have taken a vow to never try Starbucks coffee again. It was so weak we had to ask for an extra espresso shot to be added to it and that only helped marginally (and they charged us for it). I digress! We returned to the rather large (huuuuuuge) Frankfurt airport to head off for Vietnam. Being our second trip to Vietnam (yes the last was brief but I'm counting it) we felt much more comfortable and after securing accommodation using Wotif before we left Vienna we left immigration to see a sign being held up for us for our airport pick up. We arrived at our hotel at around 8 in the morning hoping we could get an early check in or at least they might let us use the pool. After some discussion we decided to upgrade our room to a big suite which came with the added bonus of 10am check in, 4pm check out and breakfast and everything included - sort of. The staff were fantastic, the pool beautiful and the happy hour (2 hours) included all drinks and food. This was exactly what we needed to get over the jet lag before returning to Australia. We even managed to fit in a couple of trips into the city for some shopping and a Cyclo (not sure how to spell this) ride. Not sure how unsafe this activity is but heading out into traffic on the front of a tricycle was a little nervy. Our flight back to Oz was another overnighter arriving in Sydney around 9am. For some reason I had thought it would be a good idea to be able to spend the day in Sydney when we booked our tickets but with 12 bags and four tired travelers it seemed a bit ambitious until we had a chat to a mini van driver who normally did hotel drop off work who said he would take us to Circular Quay for an hour, wait for us with our bags while we checked out the Opera house and Bridge etc, for less money than it was going to cost to store our bags. We had a lovely time for Edward and Victoria's first trip to Sydney and returned to check in and raid the Qantas club. Josie's dear friend Angela picked us up from the airport at around 6.30 pm Sunday night and our trip was over. Monday morning and it was going to be the cold hard reality of going back to work and school.
In short we loved the trip and would be back in a flash if we could.
Well this is my last chance to update our travel page and I left you after we entered Italy. As we had a long way to go we stuck to the Autostrada until we reached the Italian Rivierra where we headed for the beach. Sort of like the opposite to a Tassie beach. Crowded stony and warm. Great fun so much so that after having a swim it was time to find some accommodation and get something to eat. Next day off to Rome. All the way there we watched the temperature climb from 30 degrees up to 38.5 coming into Rome. The place we hoped to stay at was booked out so we stayed next door. A little more than we planned to spend but we were reluctant to drive around town finding something cheaper and it had a swimming pool! Rome was always going to be hard to fit into our trip so we had a very short time for what must be one of the most wonderful cities in the world. Anyway Vatican City, Trevi Fountain the Colosseum (where we watched Billy Joel and Bryan Adams at a free concert) and the Roman Forums were top of the list and we walked between them which is a delight even in blistering temperatures. After 2 days 2 nights and 2 short a trip to Rome we headed off to Venice, this is truly a great place to get lost. Even if you come back to where you started from it's just fantastic. Next morning we headed off back to Vienna for a 5 hour trip. Anyone remember Gilligans Island? Then the weather got rough and the five hour tour turned into 8. We finally arrived back at Terry's place about 8.30pm after 4 traffic jams and the worst road conditions I have seen. It poured. After getting back to Vienna we have enjoyed the fantastic public transport and all that Vienna has to offer. As a base for our trip you couldn't ask for more. We head off tomorrow morning for Ho Chi Minh city for a 2 day stopover. A bit more heat and swimming before the harsh reality of a Tassie winter.
See you all soon
Location: Vienna, Austria
Hi there. I've added some video for you to check out. It's just under the photo section. We'll add an update to the site as soon as we can.
Well we are back where we can update our travel log. The last time I made a note we were in Paris. It was very difficult to leave Paris as there is so much to do and having such central accommodation to do it from made things oh so easy. We even had parking for our car under the Embassy and if anyone has taken a car into Paris or Vienna or Rome you will appreciate how difficult it is to get parking especially safe parking in these large cities. We left Paris on Friday with the general idea of going south through the Alps and on to Rome with a dip in the Italian Riviera on the way. As all really vague plans go it went a treat. We travelled down the A6 for an hour or so and then left the Auto Route and enjoyed travelling through the French country side and villages past Dijon and Chalon-S-Saone to an area of Bresse famous for its chooks. We are not sure if these famous chooks are for eating or showing but we did find some roasting outside a shop the next morning. We stayed overnight at a camping ground in a bungalow, very comfy and cheap and a bonus lake out front for an early morning swim. We then continued south east toward Geneve to a lake called Annecy which we had been told was beautiful. We agree - in fact Josie says it was the nicest swim she has had anywhere. We hoped to get to Mont Blanc and on to Italy that day but the kids had a play in a park where we meet an English family staying in the area. By the time we set off we had been convinced to take the lift up Aiguilie Du Midi the next morning. We travelled a little farther up the valley to Mont Blanc and stayed at Chamonix the night. We woke to our alarm the next morning to the most spectacular view out our window of a glacier coming down the side of the mountain. We headed off to the lift for our first surprise for the day (the cost) Then off to the first lift. This heads halfway up the mountain and is used for skiing as well in the winter. The second lift heads straight up to a metal spire on the top of Aiguilie Du Midi the peak next to Mont Blancs highest peak. It had been 2 degrees on the summit that morning and we only had shorts and sandals and light spray jackets. We neednt have worried about the temperature as it was a balmy 10 or so it was the altitude that knocked all of us around. The lift finishes at 3842 meters a bit over 3 mount Wellingtons. Just walking up a flight of stairs made you sit down for a rest and we all lost our sun tan. Talk about pale. After taking a few photos and admiring the nutters camped a few hundred meters below the summit on the ice field we headed back down to the halfway point to breathe again. The experience Im told is a bit like being really drunk about to pass out but as soon as you get a bit lower the recovery is quick and no hangover. After our return we had a quick swim in the pool and took the tunnel under Mont Blanc ($60 for 23 km ) and arrived in Italy.
Ciao for now
Location: Paris, France
It has been a while since we have had a chance to update the travel page. We had a fab time in Germany with heaps of things to do but we had to leave sometime. Much like Paris really. There is so much to do here but we need to start heading south. Our accommodation in Paris has to be seen to be believed. OK I'll post some photos. Hopefully no technical problems this time. I'll also update Fletcher's photo page but he seems to have become all Parisian on us as he refused to go to Disneyland Paris with us. Something about a cultural Chernobyl. I think they used to think the same about the Eiffel tower . Anyway cultural vacuum or not we had a ball and stayed to the end, 11pm that is. Just in time to be greeted by a huge electrical storm. Very impressive but it didn't make the drive back into Paris to easy. Got home about 12.45. Caught up with some people we meet at the Eiffel tower today on the bus (it's such a small city it must happen all the time) and they had been at Disneyland on the same day and decided to take the train home. They got back at 2am. Today involved a bit of a stroll through the Latin Quarter and a visit to Notre Dame. The feet were pretty sore but I think they will recover
Sorry no photos at the moment USB connection is not quite as universal as it should be.
Location: Zeutern, Germany
Well we've been in sunny and very warm country Germany for 2 days now so it's time to update our travel page. We see lots of people have been visiting our site.We left Vienna around lunch time on Wednesday guided by "Bruce" Terry's navigator (GPS) to Libby's door. Libby is Josie's friend from when she was growing up in Glenorchy in Tasmania and they haven't seen each other for 9 years. Edward and Victoria have enjoyed playing with the kids. swimming at the See (lake) and pool. I went to the Museum Technica at Sinsheim which for anyone interested in planes cars or motor bikes is a must visit in Europe. Thez have everzthing from a concord, the Topalov 144 thats the USSR equivalent, a great collection of american mussel cars, a fantastic bike collection even a Maclaren Mercedes and a Cord. I will post some photos. I took about 300.
Bze for now. Sorrz about the german kezboard it wont let me use a z anzmore.
OFF TO PARIS Monday Morning
Location: Vienna, Austria
We're off to Germany today - have our hire car and we'll be glad to be in the air-conditioning today - 34 degrees forecast!! Sorry for all of you who are freezing!!!
May not get to make an entry or reply to messages for a little while but will do so ASAP. We'll be at my friend Libby's (she's Tasmanian with German parents and now married to Siegfried with 5 children and a new little grandson). They live in a little village called Zeutern not too far from Heidelberg. Auf Wiedersehen.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Yesterday we had a great day at the Tiergarten (Zoo) - the koala house was under repair so closed which did not matter for us of course! As the saying goes here "There are no kangaroos in Austria"! - not even in the Zoo. But there are giant pandas, polar bears, elephants, giraffes etc in a beautiful setting at Schonbrun. It's the oldest Zoo in the world apparently.
Today we went to the Alte Danau - Danube River (Diversion) - a glorious day and we hired an electric boat first then a paddle boat with slide - check out the photos. Europe with kids is great fun!!
Love to all
After a lazy Sunday morning of getting up late and then Pancakes for breakfast we packed some lunch and headed off for Slovakia. On the way we stopped off at the Roman ruins where Marcus Aralius made his camp for about 10 years. He was the dude in power about 79 AD (the time when the Gladiator movie was set). Some camp is all I can say. Check out what's left of the Arch in the photos. "Bruce", Terry's in car navigation system (he's called Bruce because he speaks with an Australian accent) gives up when you travel into Eastern Europe so we were reduced to travelling via the old method (maps and guesswork). After passing through the border the first thing you see is the blocks of public housing built during the communist era in Bratislava. You can see them on the photo page in the distance behind the bridge. Apparently Slovakia is becoming popular with the British for holidays. It is cheap. After a walk in the down town area (which looks very much like Vienna in architecture (just not as well maintained) we took the scenic route to the castle (we got lost) over looking the city. We then headed off to Hegyeshalom in Hungary on the way to Neusiedler See (a very big lake back in Austria). Josie and Victoria made us all laugh when they insisted on getting out of the car before the border crossing so they could say they stood on Hungarian soil (ash felt anyway). Neusiedler See is a popular summer holiday spot for the Viennese. Victoria and Edward spotted some water slides coming out of a large building called the Hallenbad. We had a great time sliding and swimming for the next 2 hours before returning to Vienna.
Catch up soon
Location: Vienna, Austria
Well it's been a couple of action packed days for us! Friday started with a trip to the dentist for Josie for an ongoing tooth problem. Strangely it was a very positive experience! a wonderful Austrian dentist who started a root canal treatment and i watched the whole thing on computer through special glasses! He was very expert plus caring - also good-looking and expensive! Great to be without pain/painkillers.
Later that day we went to a function at the Australian Embassy (at the Billabong Bar) and met some of Terry's work colleagues and had a tour of the Embassy. then onto some friends' of Terry & Kim's for a wonderful dinner. Michelle is a colleague (Australia), her husband Wolfgang is Austrian and their 8 year old son Nick with whom Victoria & Edward had a lot of fun especially with a water fight! Home late that night by U-Bahn.
The next day Jon, I and kids went with Terry to Cesky Krumlov via Melk Abbey and Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Melk Abbey was magnificent - lots to see and do even kids' fun activities. Mauthausen was sombre and thought-provoking - we were glad to have gone and should never forget these atrocities nor the people who endured them.
Then onto the Czech Republic - as soon as you cross the border you can see the difference already - Austria seems so perfect and everything well-maintained then you see a country which is not so wealthy but still very beautiful. Once across the border quite a few "ladies" on the side of the road trying to drum up "business"!
Cesky Krumlov was stunning - like a village out of a fairy tale. We strolled around the whole town trying to find a place to hire a raft to go paddling on the river only to find the hire place was right next to our car! We had great fun in our raft including going down 2 "waterfalls" and hoping we didn't fall out. (we didn't but did get wet so were glad we had worn our togs). Then climbed up the castle to see the stunning views. Got home late - tired but a wonderful day. Jon will put some photos on - I'm sure you'll enjoy them.
Today we are going to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. another day, another country.
Love to all
Location: Vienna, Austria
On Wednesday we had a wonderful day swimming at Krappenwald swimming complex - 4 beautiful pools with the most wonderful views over Vienna. Also a childrens' play area (see photos) and lovely grounds to relax in. Very welcome in the heat. Thursday we went with Kim and did a bit of shopping and looking about, had lunch out and organized our hire car for next week. We are getting good at catching trams and the occasional bus and at finding our way about.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Had a great day out at the Prater. A huge amusement park with lots of very different rides and VERY scary-looking ones. Thank heavens the kids were too small for the really hairy ones, otherwise i know they would have been on them!
We're enjoying Vienna so much - it's a beautiful city and we're so lucky to have Terry & Kim here to give us information on what to do, how to get around, etc. And to come home at the end of a hot day to a lovely apartment and a gin & tonic or two!
The trams and U-Bahn are fun too.
We've been to a few children's parks by now as you've seen - we're thinking of writing a book entitled "Childrens Playgrounds of Europe"!!
Love to all - we've heard about the snow and must say we're enjoying the heat.
J & J