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Steph & Matt's European Extravaganza

Well Steph and Matt have packed their bags and it's time for their European adventure. We'll be travelling around Germany, Italy and France before heading back to the U.K so check into our blog when you can to see what we're up to! Leave us a message too on our wall as we would love to hear from you!

Diary Entries

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Location: Paris, France

Well it has been a long time coming and we hope we didn't leave too many of you on the edge of your seats, wondering how our European Extravaganza ends in Paris. It's now approximately two and half months since we finished our tour and arrived in London. Unfortunately London life seems to have taken over and what with trying to find jobs, a place to live and dealing with all the bureacratic hum drum of settling in the UK, we forgot all about updating our blog.

So with all the excuses over, let's get on with Paris.... With five nights in Paris, we thought we had plenty of time to explore all the sights. We could easily have spent another five nights there and still not seen everything we wanted to.

Along with the thousands of other tourists in Paris we took in the usual suspects of sights including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, Notre Dam, Champe D'Elyse, Jardin Tuleries, and a very quick walk around Montmartre - the list goes on. The Eiffel Tower apparently tops the list of the most disappointing tourist attractions, but we actually thought it was pretty cool. The view is amazing even if you only glimpse it through the fencing.

We of course couldn't miss the Louvre and even though we spent half a day there, we only caught a glimpse of most works of art and towards the end it felt like we were running through the museum just to see everything. Mona Lisa - tick, Venus di Milo - tick, hundreds of other amazing paintings and artifacts - tick.

Perhaps the highlight of our Paris experience was the Chateau Versaille. By the time we arrived in Paris we had seen our fair share of chateaus and impressive castles and palaces, but Versaille is in a class of its own - other than the palace itself, which is all gold, mirrors, marble and paintings, the gardens are spectacular. We took a row in a boat on the man-made lake, with Matt doing most of the rowing, then walked to Marie Antoinette's hamlet.

While we were in Paris, we became regulars of a local bar in the Latin Quarter, where we drank Martini and watched the soccer almost every night. We were quite sad to leave as the bartender would always say hello to us. He was perhaps one of the very few friendly Parisiens we encountered though!

So that's it. Our tour of Europe had finished and we headed off to London on the Eurostar train. We had such a wonderful time travelling around but we both couldn't wait to settle down in one place and stop packing and unpacking our backpacks and lugging them around everywhere!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Location: Tours, France

Well from the blustery beaches of Saint Malo we arrived in Tours, in the picturesque Loire Valley. One of the main reasons for coming to Loire Valley was to visit some of the chateaux in the region, so yesterday we went on a great mini-bus tour, which took in four of the chateaux. Firstly, it was the regal Chenonceau, which is built over the Cher river. Then it was on to the town of Amboise and the château there, where Leonardo Da Vinci is buried. Matt was quite taken with the Tuscan style gardens of the chateau!

The huge château of Chambord is without a doubt the most impressive of the lot, due to the sheer size. Built by Francois I, it has a double helix staircase and so many rooms we would have to spend all day to see them all! We finished the day at Cherveny, which is probably the best preserved château because occupants lived there until quite recently. The château is famous for its hunting hounds and we were there for the 5pm feeding, which was an eye-opener.

The master of the dogs lined up all the meat in one enclosure and the dogs (100) were in another fenced off section. They were quietly sitting there when all of a sudden the bell for 5pm went and they started barking and going crazy. He let them into the meat enclosure and they raced up to the meat but stayed about a metre away from it, barking at the master. He kept them there for about 5mins and then when he gave them the signal they pounced on the meat, jumping over each other to get to it – all you could see was a sea of wagging tails!

Today we spent a leisurely day in Tours. It is right on the Loire river and we found an excellent cafe right down by the river, where we lounged under a big tree drinking sangria and reading for hours – all in all a great day!

Saturday, 07 June 2008

Location: Saint Malo, France

Wow that actually gets us up to date to where we are - finally - in Saint Malo! It is a walled seaside city in north west France and all who visit should be warned about the psycho seagulls! Now seagulls in Europe are not your little seagulls in Australia, they are much bigger and I dare say smarter! We were sitting in a park overlooking the ocean on our first morning in Saint Malo, enjoying a croissant, and a seagull flew up and stood in front of us eyeing our food. We ignored it and kept eating until it got closer and closer, then it made a swoop for my head, which I covered with my hands and croissant. It took half the croissant right out of my hand! A bit freaked out we made a hasty exit, only to be swooped on again byt the same seagull, who ahd a go at my head again!

Being a Hitchcock fan, it was a little too reminiscent of the film The Birds for my liking - it all started when a seagull swooped Tippi Hedren! Other than the seagulls, Saint Malo is a great town and we have discovered the wonderful cider and crepes and have been eating and drinking plenty! Yesterday we went to Mont St Michel - a fortified abbey located on a rocky island on the ocean. Even from ages away it stands out on the horizon like pointy triangular formation. As one of France's top tourist atttractions it was packed with tourists, but we had a great tour through the abbey on the pinacle on the island, with great views over the ocean and salt flats.

Today we took a walk along the Grand Plage - the big beach, which amazingly was quite similar to the beaches we know in Australia - real sand, not stones, and waves. It is a beautiful beach and a lovely sunny day, but nowhere near warm enough for a swim unfortunately - I am wearing a jumper and scarf!

The Euro 2008 soccer starts tonight, which is a big deal for every country in Europe, so we plan to watch the soccer in a pub drinking cider, but we may skip the crepes after three consecutive nights of crepes! Sorry that was a long entry!

Tuesday, 03 June 2008

Location: Bordeaux, France

Well we knew we were in for some intense wine appreciation in Bordeaux - and looking forward to it as well! The city lives and breathes wine, but it is also a very forward looking and happening place. We started off with a tour on another Petit Tourist Train, just to get a feel for the city, then had a walk along the River Garonne, where we couldn't resist a paddle - feet only - in the water mural.

The next day we had a bus tour of the Blaye and Bourg wine coutnry, including visits to two wineries. It was a great experience to walk through the vieyards and then see the huge concrete vats where they store the wine and let it settle, then the oak barrels where they mature the wine. Oak barrels cost about 600 Euros each and are only good for up to three years, after which all the positive properties they have for enhancing and maturing the wine are lost - the wineries then sell the barrels back to the cooper for just 20 Euros!

We also had a few tastings and bought a bottle of course! As part of the wider Bordeaux wine region there are some pretty strict regulations all wineries must follow - no irrigation of the vines, and no wine can be made from one type of grape - so no bottles are merlot or cab sav, they are always a mixture of grapes and are named for the chateaux, rather than the type of grape.

Back in Bordeaux we paid a visit to the Bar du Vin - the official house of wine for Bordeaux, where we enjoyed a glass of red accompanied with cheeses, meat and bread with sultanas and walnuts - what a feast!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Location: Carcassonne, France

I thought Carcassonne was going to be a small town and one of the quieter places on our trip - not so! Carcassonne is in the south west corner of France, near the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. It is famed for its old fortified medieval town, which sits on a hill above the "new" town.

Despite the hordes of tourists in the old city, the medieval toan of Carcassonne is amazing. As soon as we walked in I said to Matt, this kind of reminds me of scenes from Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie. Funnily enough, we went on an audio guide tour of the castle and found out that many films have been made in the old city, including Kevin Costner's Robin Hood. Clearly, Courtney and I watched it way too many times! Bryan Adam's Everything I Do, song just wouldn't get out of my head the whole time we were there!

Walking around the old city, you could imagine the knights running along the walls to fight the enemy outside the gates. Carcassonne is pretty unique because it has double fortified walls - an inner and outer wall with a grassy space between where knights practised fencing and so on. We walked all around the walls and also through the old village, with the half timbered and stone houses.

Carcassonne was actually attacked during the crusades against the Cathars, because the Viscount of the city was tolerant of the Cathars and let them have refuge there. In 1209 the city was attacked and many people died until the Viscount offered himself up in exchange for the freedom of his people. Anyway enough about the city - it is such an interesting place and the history of the area is too!

Other highlights of our trip of Carcassonne - eating cassoulet, Steph drinking a red beer (beer with red syrup) and our many picnics by the river Aude. We also took a punt up the man-made Canal du Midi, which is the 250km long canal from Toulouse to Sete. It was a 2 hour tour and we went through two locks, which are pretty amazing to see how they work! We were inspired to hire a boat and spend a week or two cruising the canal - one day!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Location: Montpellier, France

We had an interesting time in Montpellier - started off not so well but we ended up loving the city! We thought we had ourselves a bargain when we booked our hotel over the internet, but when we arrived we soon realised the bargain was probably a fair price for the hotel! We only ended up staying the one night instead of the three planned. Let's just say the seedy neighbourhood, grubby bathrooms with plumbing that didn't quite work, paper thin walls and bed bugs were a little too much for a three night stay.

Unfortunately we spent half of our first full day in Montpellier looking for another hotel to stay in and luck wasn't on our side. There was a huge convention in the city and all accommodation was booked up for the next few days. We were fortunate to find a room in a great hotel in the old quarter of the city for one night so we decided to go to Carcassonne - our next stop - one day early because it was too difficult to find anywhere else to stay in Montpellier.

After we switched hotels we could relax and discover the city and what better way than on the ultra-touristy Le Petit Train - a tourist train ride around the city. The old quarter of Montpellier is beautiful with lots of classical-style private mansions, quiet squares, and antique shops (Mum take note!). On our last morning we walked through the Arc de Triomphe - a small version of the one in Paris, then strolled through the Chateau Peyrou and the gardens there.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Location: Aix en Provence, France

Located in the heart of Provence, north of Marseille, Aix en Provence is a great little city. Unfortunately we didn't get to experience as much of it as we would have liked because we had to get our CVs finished and had to spend part of one day doing that. The other problem was we were there on a Sunday, which means in France that almost everything is closed. Not to worry though because we walked the main tree-lined street, had a beer and wine in one of the street cafes, then wound our way through the narrow lanes of the old quarter. You might have noticed that most cities we visit have an old quarter!

Aix en Provence is known as a city of fountains, as there is a fountain around every corner! Most are covered in moss which is interesting.

With a bit of bad weather we decided it was the ideal opportunity to head to the cinema and see Indiana Joes - I had been driving Matt crazy singing the theme song every time we saw an advertisement or poster for the movie, so we had to see it at some stage! Luckily for us they actually subtitled the movie instead of the usual European practice of dubbing, so we could understand every word! I must say though that Matt is getting pretty proficient in French - well he can order for us at cafes and restaurants and get train tickets!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Location: Marseille, Italy

Marseille is a town of many sights mostly involving water – beaches, the harbour and islands. We had a great time in Marseille, but had a small issue with our accommodation. We turned up to the hotel we booked and it turns out they had confused me with a Stephanie Tom who was booked in for exactly the same nights as us. As a consequence we had no room – luckily they could give us a triple room for one night but the other two they had nothing. So we headed to the tourist office to find ourselves somewhere to stay. The problem was Marseille was full – we tried everywhere. Finally the lady at the tourist office found us a room at the Ibis a bit out of the main harbour area but we had somewhere to stay at least!

After staying the night at the hotel we were originally booked for we packed up and headed to the Metro to catch a train to our new hotel as it was quite a way from the centre. We got to the Metro and wondered why all these people were chanting and marching and why the station was all locked up – yes it was our first French workers strike. Apparently it happens quite a lot. So with no other option, off we went with our mammoth packs to walk about an hour to our hotel – I don't think our shoulders recovered for days after!

Other than that Marseille was fantastic. We took a boat trip to the Château D'If of Count of Monte Cristo fame, where we walked through the cells and got up close and personal with the oversized seagulls on the island. We also walked along the coastline and lay on one of the beaches, which was nice. We also took a bus tour of the town during peak hour and got a first-hand experience of a French trafic jam – a lot of angry French people in small cars with loud horns driving like crazy people!

We enjoyed the old Le Panier quarter of Marseille, with it's old buildings and quaint soap shops – we discovered Marseille is famed for its soap.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Location: Nice, France

We left Italy behind and started our French sojourn in Nice. We absolutely loved Nice and originally were only booked to stay for two nights, but we did a little shuffling and managed to stay for three nights. Our manager at the hotel was extremely effeminate and hilarious – he kind of reminded me of a gay Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers! When we left he kissed us on both cheeks – Matt included!

We ticked most of the tourist check boxes in Nice – we walked along the Promenade de Anglais and lay on the pebbly beach and Matt was brave enough to have a swim in freezing water. A highlight of the Promenade would have to be the man we saw doing an interpretive style dance to heavy 80s dance music in a Tarzan-like get-up. We wonder if he woke up the next day and thought, what on earth was I thinking! We also went on a bus tour and drove by all the huge mansions and villas on the hill overlooking the ocean - they really know how to live in Nice!

Nice has an old quarter, with narrow, cobbled streets and quaint buildings and we virtually lived in there. There are so many great restaurants, cafes and bars, plus a gelati place with over 100 flavours including beer, lavender, avocado etc... We tried our fair share and usually ate it sitting on the Promenade looking at the ocean in the moonlight.

They also have this great food and flower market in Nice, where we epxerienced our first taste of the French markets - we haven't looked back. You can get such good quality fruit, cheese, olives and bread at the markets.

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Recent Messages

From Mandy
Hey sorry for the second message, but i just looked through some photos and realised you caught up with Nicola and went to Neuss. Wow the memories. Have you found any of those little bottles with the purple lids. They are like a shot but i can't remember what they are called! And strawberry vodka shots! Does it still have that industrial city smell? Did you get the horse-drawn carriage up the hill to newschwanstein like we did last time? It is a beautiful castle. And we saw plenty of them last time. Can you believe that was 10 years ago!!! Man i have to get back to Europe... seriously that was the last time i was there!! Hang on i just remembered they are called fieglings!! Anyway sorry again. Hope the trips keeps going well.
Response: Yep the good old Fieglings. I did see them and they brought back the memories. Neuss was a little different - especially because I was there in summer which made for a totally different experience!When are you thinking of coming to the UK? We're all settled in London now - jobs and a place to live which is a relief. Anyway
From Mandy
Hi guys,
wow what an epic journey you've been having. i think i have heaps of reading to do to catch up on the whole thing! looking forward to one of these days catching up for a pint in london. we'll be there soonish. otherwise all is well in sydney. living by the beach is not all it's cracked up to be in winter. bring on summer and not just mild weather, 30+ days as well! anyway, keep safe!
From Cousin Vicky
Hi Steph and Matt!

John had sent me the 'leaving home" photos, but then I had misplaced the blog address. Your Dad sent it to me yesterday.

It's going to take me some time to read through all of the posts ~ which I think is a brilliant way to go! And (so far) it sounds as though everything is going well. Too bad about the having to find jobs part...

I'll drop you another line when I catch up on what you've been up to.

Response: Hi Vicky. Great to hear from you! We have had a wonderful time travelling and you definitely don't have to read through all the posts - I have been telling people just to look at the photos as it's a lot quicker!
From Dad
Hi Steph and Matt.
I hope you have been having the compulsory latte & croissant for breakfast in paris.
I am sure that you have been updated on the 2nd state of origin result but I will just have to tell you again that it really was Qld 30 NSW 0.
Do you know what the difference between NSW and a toothpick is!
At least a toothpick has 2 points!!!
Enjoy Paris.
Response: Thanks Dad. I can't believe I missed that match!
From Bec
Hi Guys,
Your photos are great. Wonderful way to document your travels too. Am very envious! Keep the adventures rolling :)
From Court
A castle made out of cardboard boxes?! Why not, I say!!
Response: Only in France!
From Court
Mmm lavender beer. Maybe I would like that one?. I filled in for div 1 yesterday...that was interesting hahah. I hope you busted some 80s moves with jungle boy?!
Response: Lavender and beer were actually two separate flavours but maybe you're onto a new flavour there! I didn't like the jungle man's music enough to join in, plus i was having too much fun watching!
From Ma and ZieZie
Hi Matt & Steph,
Loved your photos, the latest of your time in Italy. Thank you and thanks for the Blog updates on 11th and 14th May. Hope your time in France has been enjoyable. No doubt by now you will be starting to look at heading back to the UK.
Coastal S.E Qld has been swamped with rain and high winds in some areas on the north coast. At least some water has made it to our dams filling capacity to 40%. A second low pressure system is still hanging there with more rain expected.
Your wonderful pictures and stories to match are food for travel thoughts so keep them coming when time and internet access are available.
Much love
Ma and Zie Zie

Response: We heard about the rain in a rare weather report about Australia! Hope everyone is OK. We are loving France, still a few weeks left before we have to get serious again..
From Bec
I just thought I'd say the nvy has spiralled, after spending a day washing nappies and dealing with 3 kids with conjunctivitis. Please come back and get me, I'm sure Rob can handle the kids, lol.
The photos are amazing and the posts and emails are wonderful, thanks for making the effort to share so much of the journey with us. I'm sure it is not always a priority. Miss you both, but delighted to see you are having such an excellent time.
Response: We miss all the Heffernans too! Hope the conjuctivitis heals up soon!
From Ma and ZieZie
Hi Matt and Steph,
Thanks a million for your phone call tonight Matt. It was so good to hear your voice and to catch up on your latest plans. As I write at 11.25 pm Sunday night 18/05/08 you are both sitting on the train to Nice and off on your adventures in France. Hope you enjoy a comfortable bed and good sleep after your 3 nights of camping.
Monday morning looms so had better head towards a pillow myself. Hope you find cheaper internet access in France so we can catch up more of your news.
Much love
Ma and Zie Zie
Response: Hi Ma, it was great to talk to you too, it was nice to catch up!
From Anna
Me Marb and Steph -
Man that sucks re your slippery Italian host. I hope you haven't had too many troubles since! I read in the paper today that there's been some strife in Naples with the Roma (I think they're like Romanian and Italian gypsies, a really marginalised group) - a Roma shanty town (yes, shanty town) got torched by the Naples mafia, and the people who lived in the surrounding suburbs had a bit of a riot and prevented the fire brigade from putting it out. So maybe you guys should be a bit wary in Campania/Naples. Go to Sorrento! Much nicer!

Just a quick update: I got 65 on gamsat, which is the same as last year. That means I scored equal to or higher than 90% of the people who sat the exam this year. Still no idea if that's enough to get me into UQ, so I'm just concentrating on having a good time...

Lots of love,
Response: Ah the old slippery Italian dude!! Good times. We avoided the rubbish and the Mafia in naples thankfully, sorrento was amazing! Obviously the 65 was meant to be, well done again!
From Barney
guys - exact same thing happened to jess and i in florence!! we were led round the corner to his "friend's" place!!
keep on enjoying the gelati! have a scoop of melon flavour for me!
Response: There must be an accommodation scam going on in Florence! Or perhaps it was the same guy!
From Gran B
Hello Steph & Matt- It's great following your journeys, I'm seeing the world through your eyes. Also received your post card, and was thrilled. Courtney's news was also thrilling, bet the midnight oil will be burning for a few weeks. All well here, old man winter is appearing at nights and early mornings, roll on spring, the old bones don't like the cold. May see Mum and Dad on the June long weekend, also Jenny and Peter. Looking forward to it. Keep sending your diaries, I do look forward to them. All my love. Gran.
Response: Hi Gran, great to hear from you! I'm glad you received the postcard too. I wondered if it would make it to you, because after I put the postcard in the mailbox I discovered it was actully for domestic mail!
From Anna
Hi Matt and Steph!
I've just done a big catch up on all your blogging efforts, and what efforts they are! Very interesting and amusing. I loved reading about the town where the Catholics sacked so they had no money and thus didn't do anything for...2 HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS! Keep up the great story telling!

Andy had his birthday party on saturday night - lots of beer (though not in a garden with flowers and steins...just in a big old bathtub in the back yard...), a jumping castle and Callum and Timo on the decks. Was a great night, plenty of looseness. If anyone had brought a passport i'm sure it would have been well and truly lost! Last weekend was the Caxton St Seafood Festival, or as it should be more accurately known as, the Caxton St Booze and Jocks Festival. We had a good view from my house, and enjoyed being able to escape the crowds through the secret brown door. So it has been a busy few weekends for me lately.

This week I'm waiting on GAMSAT scores to be released. Cross fingers! I'll keep you posted.

Lots of love to you two crazy travelling minstrels! Am looking forward to some tales from your Italian sojourn!
xoxoxoox Anna
Response: Hehe sounds like you are having enough fun as it is in Bris!!! Happy birthday to Andy, hope everyone had a good time! Good luck for the gamsat score, we are sure you will do really well! Just you wait for the dodgy Italian chapter to come!
From Ma and ZieZie
Hi Matt and Steph,
It's Friday night -yippee -- and the centenary Ausssie -Nz league match is in full swing. Zie Zei is watching it and I am 1/2 listening from the computer room!!! No doubt that yea its Friday feeling doesn't have much relevance for you both at the moment. Savour that experience!!
Thanks for your news packed postcard from Munich, it arrived today. Gran received hers this week and was very pleased to hear from you.
Loved the recent installments re your adventures and look forward to hearing more. Thanks a million for being such fine diary writers
Much love
Response: Oh I will have to look up how it went - actually I will need to catch up on quite a bit of sport!!! I keep losing track of the days and even the date, we are enjoying everything so much.
From Clare
Hi Guys
I see your both having a fabulous time (like you wouldn't be). Loving all of your pics and your stint on the news unfortunately hasn't made it to SBS but we'll see how it goes. I agree with you Courtney, Natalie B needs to get some talent. God that was painful watching her throughout that series.
Take care guys and we'll speak soon!
Response: Hey Clare. Great to hear from you! That is a shame we didnt make it on SBS news. Though we know some dodgey Italian B&B owners who would be great candidates for a Today Tonight expose! We didnt go to Salzburg so we will have to go with you when you come over!
From Richard Taylor
Hi Matt and Steph

It is very nice getting all your news and lovely photos. I know it is harf work keeping up such a routine but you can be assured we all enjoy it very much.

Else is in Coolum this week for a Directors' Confernce so as usual I can catch up with my neglected film attendance! I saw "Iron Man" last night which was great. Only designer/inventors can appreciated such nonesense!

Next week I am going to the Blue Mountains (NSW) for a silent retreat. It will be a combination of relief and a whole new experience. After that experience, it will only be two weeks before Else and I are in Europe.

Keep well you two. lots of love to you both.

Dad and Else
Response: Yeah we are trying to get to the internet cafes whenever we can, there seems to be a very large variance in the prices around the place though, and Italy so far has been much more expensive than Germany was! Ah the old Coolum trip eh, how is the weather? The Blue Mountains thing sounds good, I am sure you will enjoy it, and will be all the more ready for more travelling. I dont think we will be able to catch up this time, not even really sure where we will be, we havent planned much of France yet.
From UKnowHoo
Hey Matt
Marketing still wanted a photo of you working. I gave them the one with you in Berlin sculling the 500ml Becks - hope that's ok, I just told them it was like a medicine you take at work. You know what they r like!! The Gestapo uniform you were wearing was a big hit with Marketing.
Anyways bet you're glad u gave me the blog address!
Hi to Steph!
Response: Hey nice idea dude, soon you will be able to give them one of me with a 1L stein of Hofbrau in Munich!!!
From Jenny
Steph and Matt

Finally found your website address. Looks as though you are having a great time. Steph what's with the curries. Any food photo seems to be curry - liked the pineapple one. Just spoke with Court and she seems to in good form. Hope Venice is just as exciting as the the places you have been so far. Enjoy the gelati.

Response: Hi Jen. Great to hear you found our page. I must admit we do like the odd curry. But lately it has been all about pizza. I think I might actually be getting over pizza. Hard to believe but when you eat it every day it can be a bit much!
From Diane
Great to hear all your news. Why are all Matt's stories about beer??? Having great time in Tassie, but can't decide where to buy a holiday home yet. In the mountains or by the sea. Have fun in Venice and say heelo to Fredo. xx
Response: Had a great time in Venice, just walked around and ate lots of pizza and gelati! What can I say about Matt and beer - it is the highlight of his trip! I looked for a Fredo everywhere but I think he has disappeared from Venice! Disappointing.
From Court
It was between Jack and Rhys. Demi came 4th and Kate came 3rd. I think Natalie Bassingthwaite needs to learn how to talk, breathe and sing properly.
I drove lil hoe back from the airport the other day. I was excited. I only stalled once woo!
That vomit sink story is disturbing...
Response: Nice work on driving the car and only stalling once - youll be an expert soon!
From Lyn Taylor
Hi folks. Wonderful to read about all your travels and this will be a great resource for your memoirs when you write them! I've just started a new job (still in Comms but different Ministry) and won't be roving for a while so I'm very much enjoying reading about yours instead.
Winter hit Wellington with a vengeance yesterday, as did a rattler of an earthquake, in the wee small hours. I was too cold to do anything but pull blankets over my head, which is probably as good an emergency tactic as any!
Go safely, enjoy yourselves & keep up the story-telling. Love A/Lyn
Response: Hi Aunty Lyn - it is great to hear from you! That is no good about the earthquake, I hope everything is OK. Good to hear that you have a new job, something a bit different to keep you amused!! Nice to know you are enjoying the updates, we are certainly enjoying the adventures.
From Court
Sam won biggest loser. He beat Alison by approx. 1%. They all looked completely different. Alison and Kirsten are pure muscle.
Response: Yeah I checked out the website. Pretty amazing stuff. I also saw Jack won So You Think You Can Dance. Who else was in the final?
From Ma and ZieZie
Hi Matt & Steph,
Love your news and photos. Have down loaded them so I can take them to Toowoomba to show Gran and Cudge when we visit them next weekend. They both love catching up on your news.
I guess you have been cruising along the Rhine and will soon be heading off to Italy for more adventures and warmer weather.
Its more than 2 weeks since you left BNE - probably seems like 2 months!!! You have certainly seen and done heaps already.
Looking forward to your next installment
Much love
Ma and Zie Zie

Response: I hope Gran and Cudge liked the photos!
From Nicola
Hey you two!

It was great to have you here in Hamburg! The two days were just over too soon. I'll keep checking your blog and hope to see you again very soon! Have a great time in Italy and France!

Response: Thanks Nicola. We really enjoyed our time in Hamburg. Having you show us around was fantastic!