Location: Blackburn South, Australia
Just for the sake of closing this off, we should mention that we all arrived safely home, and after a week of not only jetlag, but "season-shock" and daylight deprivation, we are back in the swing of our normal lives... Hmmmm, wouldn't mind being on a hammock in Umbria though...
Location: Hucknall, England
Hello from sunny England. We have had several hot days here and yes the British do actually wear shorts sometimes!
We went to stay with friends Rebcecca and Rob and their family on Sunday. They live in the Greater London area.
They took us to Windsor Castle on Sunday. The Queen's Standard was flying from the tower which means she was at home and although we toured some of the royal apartments she wasn't mingling.
We did see the guards changing over there though. We also enjoyed the brass band that was playing in the bandstand on the lawn. We saw Queen Mary's Dolls House, very impressive - artists of the time donated miniatures of their works for the dollshouse, and it was filled with scale models of rugs, tapestries, beds, baths, tables, vacuum cleaners, cars etc. - no photos allowed though INSIDE the castle. The photos on our page therefore are obviously from the grounds. One of the most impressive parts within the castle was the shield room - this is also were banquets with the Queen are held - 160 people can be seated at one table in here. This room was damaged by the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 but has been restored.
After our tour of Windsor we went and sat in the shade in Windsor Park and the children (Sarah, Tom, Georgia, Amy and Jack) had lots of fun running about.
Monday we caught a train on the Metropolitian Line into King's Cross before changing to the Northern Line- we got off at Kentish Town and walked to our niece, Lizzie's, place. She lives in halls (of residence) with 6 other girls actually sharing her apartment.
With Lizzie we got onto the Underground again going to Waterloo - from there it is a short walk to the London Eye. It travels around very slowly and you get very good views over London. It actually sits over the Thames River.
We heard Big Ben (the bell above the clockface) several times as we walked in the area. We went to Covent Garden and had lunch under the covered market before heading our seperate ways - Lizzie back onto the Northern Line and the Wiles family onto the Picadilly Line. On both of our train journeys to and from Ickenham we had different views of Wembley Stadium.
Back at Rebecca's the children all had fun baking a chocolate cake for dessert.
Tuesday morning Sarah went to school with Rebecca and the children. She helped out in the 6 year old classroom and with yard duty. Georgia could have gone to school and spent the morning with Amy in her classroom but chose to stay home.
Now we are back in Hucknall with Anne, John and Max (the dog). We intend to relax, walk Max and repack for the last time.
See you soon.
Location: Nottingham, England
Well, we've been to York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Halifax, Southport and Chester in the last week.
We enjoyed the Ghost Trail tour in the evening in York, the guide was entertaining. We also visited the Shambles, Yorkminister, and the Castle Museum plus we watched fudge being made.
The Shambles is an old "meat market" in York but now is mainly shops geared to tourism. The buildings get wider as they get taller and look like they are about to fall into one another.
In York Minister you can climb 275 stairs (very narrow and quite steep) up the tower for views over York. You can also descend into the Crypt for a history tour of the site (audio tour). The Minister itself has beautiful stained glass windows and wooden panels, mosaics etc.
I found Castle Museum really fascinating. The displays were really well set up and then you reach the "living displays" where you have shops you can walk into and shopkeepers in period costume you can talk to.
In Newcastle, Halifax and Southport we visited relatives who put us up and served us delicious food. The girls also got to play with some family pets (two cats in one instance and two dogs in another). We also went for walks and admired their beautiful (green and lush) gardens.
In Edinburgh we visited the Royal Yacht Britannia (RYB) and the Castle. The RYB was the highlight of the day. The audio tour took you all over the yacht from the bridge to the engine rooms with both the crew accomodation and the royal apartments in between. Wonderful.
In Chester we walked around the city walls, examined a series of locks on the canal, found the ancestral cake shop and enjoyed cake and coffee.
We're off to London on Sunday and next week we'll be homeward bound - hard to believe but true.
Location: Hucknall, England
Hello, we have arrived in England and are staying with family which is really great. We are taking it a bit slower now.
On Sunday we had the traditional Pub Lunch, and we also visited Nottingham Castle and the caves (yes more caves) beneath it. The guide was really entertaining and really seemed to know her English history, making it come alive for all of us.
Georgia had a riding lesson on Monday at nearby stables, so she wants to stay here for the remainder of our holiday and go riding.
Yesterday, Tuesday, we went to the Cadburys factory at Bourneville. We really really enjoyed this- you get chocolate samples - yum! The self paced tour had lots of fun interactive activities too.
Anne has lent us her car, it has SAT NAV which means I can read books instead of maps as we travel between places.
Tomorrow we are going to York then heading up via Newcastle to Edinburgh in Scotland.
See you soon.
P.S. We are still talking to one another
Location: Paris, France
Well tomorrow we'll be in England. What did we do our last two days in Paris?
Thursday - was a bit miserable, weather wise so we stayed in the apartment - reading, playing cards, watching TV and beginning to pack. Oh yeah we did a quick walk to the patisserie for some cake and tarts. Mike went for a longer walk around Montmartre.
Friday - Paris turned on the sunshine so we went back to Notre Dame and queued to climb the towers for a closer look at the gargoyles. We also did quite a bit of window shopping and we finally got a lit-up shot of the Eiffel Tower.
That's it for now, early start in the morning.
Location: Paris, France
Wednesday - We spent most of the day in the apartment. Well Mike went to the supermarket (I'm sure he could construct a whole diary entry - Europe by supermarket, the features), he's a bit obsessed. Georgia and Mike also went to the park opposite the apartment.
Then at 5pm we set out for the Metro. First stop was Place Igor Stravinsky next to the Pompidou Centre. There are some interesting fountains here and we enjoyed looking at the building with it's structural guts on the outside!
Next we walked along Rue de Rivoli to the Louvre Museum. It is open late on Wednesday and Friday nights and admission is cheaper after 6pm, one of the reasons we went later. We also hoped that went we came out that the Eiffel Tower would be lit up for the evening - but more about that later.
Inside the Louvre we saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo statues as well as a couple by Michaelangelo, and of course we saw the famous Mona Lisa - Georgia thinks she could do a better picture! We also looked at some glass objects as well as other paintings and of course the Pyramids from inside and out.
After leaving the Louvre we window shopped a bit, walked in and through the Tuilerie Gardens to the Obelisque on Place de la Concorde. Then up Champs Elysees to the Grand Palace before heading back across to the river for our night-time view of the Eiffel Tower.
We knew that on the hour the Tower put on a show. It was 9pm but still reasonably light so we didn't see much. However it was pretty seeing the barges going along the river with their lights on.
Then we caught the metro home.
By the time we leave Paris we should be able to put up a whole photo page of Eiffel Tower shots with different foregrounds, although the monument may look pretty insignificant in some.
Location: Paris, France
Well, what have we been up to in Paris?
Sunday - We walked around the neighbourhood and shopped liked Parisians, buying a chicken and veggies which we roasted for dinner. We also walked to Sacre Coeur for great views over Paris and great mosaics inside the church.
Monday - We caught the Metro to Trocadero, stopping to take photos of the Eiffel Tower before walking across the Seine River and actually climbing the monument. The third level was closed but we walked up the 683 steps to the second level for alternative views over Paris and lots of information about the Eiffel Tower itself.
We could see the front end of a TGV train sitting on a barge on the Seine quite nearby, so when we descended we went to investigate. After queuing for a good hour including being so close to actually getting onto the train, that we endured a sudden downpour, getting soaked, we got to actually walk through the drivers cabin of this record breaking TGV. If you spoke French I think you got a commentary from the driver on the way through.
As we gradually dried out and warmed up again, we set off for the Arc de Triomphe. When we were here 18 years ago you had to brave the traffic to get out to the middle, today there is a subway (23 steps). We looked around then ascended another 284 steps to the top for yet another perspective of Paris. Looking towards the Eiffel Tower is really interesting as you can't see the river at all.
Tuesday - Caught the Metro to Varenne and walked to the Rodin Museum. Toured the house and gardens looking at his sculptures, with audioguide. There was a display here telling you how the bronzes are cast very interesting.
From here we walked to the Musee d'Orsay. The building itself (an old railway station) is impressive. We enjoyed looking at the work of the Impressionist painters, walking all over Paris and losing one another. Really to appreciate the collection here you'd have to return several times and focus on a handful of rooms at a time.
Despite an overcast sky and one slightly grumpy child decided we could perhaps tackle one more monument and walked to the Notre Dame however the rain set in just as we got there. What we really wanted to do was climb one of the towers and see the gargoyles close up, but we weren't prepared to get soaked again (Yes, we were wearing raincoats) so after a look inside we caught the Metro home.
Location: Paris, France
What else did we get up to in Austria? Well we went to Hellbrun Castle which has some amazing waterworks. There are lots of trick fountains in the garden and lots of people in our tour group got wet (but not soaked). There is also a wooden puppet theatre totally powered by water too. The castle was interesting too, especially looking out the window and seeing a school trip in the garden getting much wetter then anyone in our group, walking around with wet pants can't have been fun, teachers revenge perhaps? We liked the T-shirts and magnets that said "No Kangaroos in Austria".
We also went down a long tobaggan run at Bad Durnnberg. We were very lucky it only ended up been open for about half an hour, long enough to catch the chairlift to the top and come down. Then the showers started. They can't operate until the track is dry, so they can't operate in the rain. They remove the track for the ski season and this is normally a ski run.
Then we drove to Hopfgarten for cake - the cake shop Mike and I have such fond memories of is closed, and the cake we ended up having didn't come close to our memories. We zigzagged in and out of Germany to get there.
We spent the next couple of nights in a lovely apartment within an apple orchard in Wasserburg, Germany. Wasserburg is on the shores of Lake Constance which forms a border with three countries, so from our accomodation we could see Austria and Switzerland.
We visited the Zeppelin Museum at Friedrichshafen and had very yummy Apple Strudel and Black Forest Cake at a cafe here.
We spent a night in Dijon on our way towards Paris, some of the footpaths here have owl makers embedded into them - Shaun we took a photo for you.
Then we spent a night at Fountainbleu and visited the gardens around the castle, by the time we'd done that we were too late for the inside tours, but never mind. We took lots of photos but even airial photos on postcards can't capture the whole palace, it's very impressive!!!
So onto Paris, our apartment is gorgeous, you can see photos on the www.feelslikehomeinparis.com website, then select Merveille de Montmartre. We arrived yesterday unloaded the car and then Mike took it back to Peugeot at CDG airport. We are about to set off to explore our surrounds. Au revoir.
Location: Paris, France
Thought we should tell you a bit more about our cave/mine experiences. The train ride into Postojna Cave would have our friends Paul or Mark permanently hunched over as Mike and I were ducking quite a bit to avoid hitting our heads; even Georgia (although she wasn't in danger) felt she had to duck; and the train driver? He was OK as he sat lower than us and he had a roof. When we got off the train we were split into language groups, English was the smallest group by along way. The other languages were Slovenian, German, Italian.
At Skocjan Caves they also split the group into languages but the two guides took two languages each so our guide spoke first in Slovevian and then again in English. The groups here seemed more even in size. You had to walk a lot here and some of the groups had come off tourist coaches. It was quite slippery in parts in this cave because of the river, so we walked very slowly. We caught a cable car for a short distance at the very end.
In the Salt Mine at Hallein, in Austria, we had to put on protective pants and jacket over our clothes. We also caught a train here, this one you sat astride; however as it is a man made tunnel you don't need to worry about losing your head! When you get off the train you walk through a very narrow tapering tunnel, you wouldn't want to be much broader than Mike. This tunnel has got narrower over time apparently due to compression of the earth, that's a bit freaky! However when it's absolutely bucketing down outside with rain being underground is quite sensible. We also caught a barge across an underground salt lake, but the really fun part was sliding down the wooden slides. The first one about 25m long and we were clocked doing more than 15km/hr literally by the seat of our pants! The second slide was 42m long but there was no radar on this one, we definitely felt we were going faster. While we were underground here we also walked from Austria in Germany and back again, cool eh?
Guten Tag. It has been a while since we have found an Internet Cafe and they are getting more expensive as we go along. I think we left you in Borgo Santa Maria, from there we went to Cavillino just a short ferry ride from Venice.
We stayed in a camping ground (in a bungalow), which had three swimming pools, direct beach access to the Adriatic, playgrounds, supermarket, restaurant etc. So we did a lot of swimming and we also managed to catch the ferry and spend a day in Venice. Unfortunately there are no photos from Venice, we only took one camera and it´s batteries ran out as we went to take the first photos.
We visited the islands of Burano (world famous for lace) and Murano (world famous for glass) as well. We really liked the colourful houses on Burano. Venice itself near any tourist sites was wall-to-wall people, not very enjoyable - however we did manage to catch several water taxis and a traghetto (gondola type boat) plus we saw fire engine boats (sirens ablaze - pun intentional) and ambulance boats.
From Cavillino we drove to Lipica in Slovenia and visited the famous horse stud-farm there. This was really interesting and we also went to the show displaying classical riding. We have some great photos! We also visited Predjama Castle, part of this castle is built into a cave halfway up a cliff-face.
The next day we went to Postojna Cave which has interesting drip stones (stalagmites/stalagtites), then onto some Unesco World Hertiage listed caves which have a river racing through them. Sorry can´t remember the name and haven´t got diary in front of me.
The next few days we spent around Bled famous for it´s lake. We had quite a bit of rain here but still managed some walks. I had lots of fun bottling wine at Bled Castle. We also watched quite a bit of snooker on the television and are thinking about visiting the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield when we get to the UK.
Today we have visited the salt mines at Hallein in Austria and crossed the border into Germany for dinner. Caves and mines seem to have become a bit of a theme recently. There are ice caves near here too but we may give them a miss.
What we hope to do tomorrow is visit Hopfgarten to see if the fabulous cake shop is still there and operating and visit the pretty church opposite.
At this stage we probably won´t load any photos onto this site until we get to Paris (we´ll be there Saturday).
Return to main menu without saving