The blog is evolving!

Stay tuned for new features including journey maps, some missing posts, linked photo albums, minor tweaks and ultimately... the earlier trips...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The big questions...

So... how was it?

Commentary to come...

Where'd you get to?

View 2005 - Europe Trip in a larger map

Any good pics?

England - 2005
Scotland - 2005
Italy - 2005

And some time-lapse?

Nah, I wish I had but I don't think the girls would have appreciated it. But, I have found some nice places to do it so maybe in the future?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Day 39 - IT

The flight left on time from Rome and was heading to Dubai. I had an eight hour stop over there which was dead boring. I walked the full length of the airport (30 mins in one direction) and even resorted to slowly walking forwards on the travelators that were moving in the opposite direction. I'm sure I would have had a few passengers and security guards wondering what I was doing. I managed to get a few hours sleep in one of the 'quite' lounges.

Next stop was Singapore again where we had a two hour stopover. I took this as an opportunity to ring mum for her birthday, the same day as my housemate, Kelly. I jumped online for a while and then boarded for home.

I arrived and tried out our Airtrain for the first time. It worked out okay and before long, I was back home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Day 38 - IT

It was an early rise today as we were heading out to check out some catacombs which were outside the city. Figuring out the right bus was a bit of a challenge but we made it. It was a pretty impressive effort to dig a network of chambers and passages underground like this and the history behind them.

Fi had been saying that there was a place to check out where preserved monks were on display as part of the walls and furniture however when we arrived, it was closed on Tuesdays.

I was leaving today so had to return to pick up my gear and head to the airport. I said my goodbye's at the station and while the girls were continuing their adventure, I was heading home.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Day 37 - IT

Off to Vatican City today and managed to score a tour somehow. Felt odd as they were asking randoms in the crowd who were queuing up. We paid and were ushered through past one of the biggest queue's I have ever seen and up there with queue's like what Bon Jovi get at their concerts, a queue that the Poms would be proud of. It was a guided tour and was pretty good.

Fi walked up the stairs in one of the big domes and Mim walked around the Vatican. We met for lunch and then checked out the Sistine Chapel. Pretty funny listening to the monks going SHHHH!!! at the tops of their voices. Pretty poor form that plenty of people were taking photos and with a flash.

We finished with the Vatican City and left. Later in the evening Mim and I went for a bit of a walk and checked out the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Day 36 - IT

Rome. Apparently all roads lead to it so I wasn't too concerned about finding it. We just headed north and we found it. What was of concern was handing the car over. This was part two of my car story. I had failed to read in the leasing agreement that we had to notify the mob two days in advance that we were returning the car as someone had to meet us in Rome to pick it up. We only realised this the Saturday night and rang the number to find we could only leave a message. Fi and Sarah were rightly fired up whereas Mim was quite blasé (this is what Mim is like about a great many things!).

Fortunately (for me), when we arrived at the airport, someone was there to meet us. I was really impressed at being able to return the car without a ding or scratch because looking around at every other car in Europe, you had to assume that dings and accidents were either a national past time or were optional when buying a car new. The only broken thing was the dial on the radio which was a regular fault.

The train took us to the termini and we managed to secure a place to stay. I had to hang out with our bags to keep an eye on them and several people came up offering places to stay. We ended up near Bologne station which wasn't too many stops from the Coliseum which we walked around after checking in. Didn't do the actual tour and kept on walking past a large forum and a palace to the Pantheon. Took some snaps around the place that turned out quite well and had Macca's for dinner. Regardless of where you go in the world, Macca's is Macca's... crap.

Headed home for some deserved rest.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Day 35 - IT

Big day today. Did a little washing and then caught a late train to Pompeii where we walked around for hours.

The old town of Pompeii is a pretty impressive town to walk though. We grabbed the ever present walking tour devices and made our way around it. It is remarkable how much exists and the condition it's in considering what it experienced. There's several moulds of bodies around the place that capture people in their final agonising moments. It's also great to get a good look at what a Roman town was like etc.

We almost missed the train when we were leaving but made it back in good time.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Day 34 - IT

Yesterday we made it to Amalfi and Positano via bus but today we did it on the ferry and there was a new destination at the end: the Isle of Capri. On the ferry we met some Brits and some Yanks. Sadly enough, their conversations always seemed to turn to politics. Guess that's what happens when you have a prawn running the US of A.

Capri is a pretty place. Quite popular with the tourists and there was a cruise ship in dock. After exiting the ferry we shot up the hill to one of the main centres. We had a bit of a look around and I had the best gnocchi ever and the waiter (Bruno) told Fi a lemoncello recipe.

After we all bought lemoncello stuff and hopped on the chair lift to the top to find an amazing view. You couldn't look anywhere and not be taken in by what you could see. Also consumed more gelato as part of my quest.

Nothing out of the ordinary with the ferry ride back apart from finding the Brits and Yanks again.

Back to what became our local for dinner and I love their bruschette.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Day 33 - IT

At the hostel there was a group that Fi and Min were going to going to go kayaking but it was too rough so instead we bussed it to Amalfi. We had a look around and then headed onto Positano. We had plans to go onto Sorrento but the bus was too full and it was getting on for time so it was back to Salerno for us.

Once again we were able to watch the awesome character of the roads and traffic over here. Seems that buses have right of way on blind corners where they honk before turning into the corner on the opposite side of the road. These roads mind you are probably 6m wide. The shoulder is either a vertical face on one side and some poxy barrier and a steep fall on the other. At one point our bus came head to head with another but fortunately it was on a straight stretch. They squared up, folded the mirrors in and tilted the buses over and squeezed through.

For dinner we went back to where we went last night. I tried a different pasta. It was a bit of a challenge because there were no English menu's so we could only part guess what we were ordering. Bit light Russian Roulette.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day 32 - IT

It turned out that as we were travelling in what was essentially the shoulder season, we were the only ones staying at the hostel. To make things more interesting, it was actually a converted prison and we had slept in cells. It was nice and tidy and great to not be surrounded by noisy kids etc.

We left and jumped back onto the autostrada and headed for Salerno which is just south of Naples. This was one of the longer drives and the autostrada passes around Rome and the traffic reflected this.

When we first entered Salerno we weren't too sure where our hostel was. The girls were after a pitstop and so was I. The girls went first and then I went. They didn't have any problems locating a toilet but I did. I ended up trying to ask some dude who worked in the petol station where the toilet was. In my worst Italian I worked out he couldn't speak english so I had to mime using a urinal (which I don't think I saw in Italy at all) and he worked out what I was after.

It turned out that we were at the wrong end of Salerno so we headed the other direction. Like in Amelia, we decided that getting out on foot was the way to go so I parked behind some parked cars and Fi and Mim headed off in search of the hostel. Here I learnt two things, the Italians park anywhere and using your hazards means you can pop into a café for a half our lunch all the while double parking someone. I also realised that as the parked cars in front of me slowly vanished, I had actually parked in a running lane.

The girls returned and we parked at the hostel. After checking in and jumping on the net, we went for a walk along the shoreline. Later on we tried to head out for dinner but seemed that we were too early. Most of the places didn't seem to open until after 9. We found a place to eat and then called it a night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day 31 - IT

Breaky was alright here but we packed the car and left. The plan was to walk around Assisi and then head for Amelia after lunch. Parking wasn't too hard and we then walked up to Old Assisi. The place is full of old city charm and gelato so I was loving it. The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi can be found here and is an awesome example of basilica, architecture and art.

After lunch and some more gelato (I had decided that my challenge was to have gelato everyday), we made for the car and headed off. Long drive and we drove through Perugia which looked like a nice city to check out but we weren't far from Amelia so we kept on.

Amelia is a walled city and the place we were staying in was in the middle of it. Before leaving I felt that selecting a Citroen C5 Wagon was a smart car for four people plus backpacks. When we entered the city, our cruiser on the autostrada suddenly became a tanker in the tight streets which were one way. Where we had to drive was soo tight we had to slowly work our way around while looking for where we were staying. At some point I even had to make a three point turn to get around a corner. We ended up parking and getting out on foot. Once we'd located it, we moved the car and checked in.

For dinner we went out to have a look around and finally found a place where we ate. Sarah pointed out that some guy kept checking me out which was funny (unless it was the same guys from Luzern!) but I'm starting to develop a bit of a complex!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 30 - IT

We woke, and were happy to leave the hostel and made our way back to Francesco's place where we met his family.

Today we were back on the road and were heading for Assisi which was a town that Sarah wanted to check out. We wrrived and found where the hostel was. It was small but adequete. There was a Swiss religious class trip staying there but they weren't as noisy as the last school group we saw.

Before sleeping we sat up chatting about various things. Sarah and I reckon that Mim should try hooking up with Mikey if and when she returned.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Day 29 - IT

Seeing as though we were over the crap breaky here, we ate out instead. Once Gwennie met up with us, we roamed across Venice, chatted to Francesco about religion, politics and how stuff worked (or didn't) work here and danced the chicken dance in the Piazza San Marco. We ate out for lunch and dinner and Gwennie headed home.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Day 28 - IT

Another crap breaky today. Guys and girls are split in this hostel but turns out it didn't stop one couple who kept Sarah up till all hours. Doing drugs too so she didn't get much sleep. There's a school group here so the place is pretty noisy in general so it was good to leave.

Francesco met up with us as he has offered to guide us around while we're here. He decided we could head to the island of Murano where we checked out some glass blowing and the shops. Heard from Gwennie that she was here so we went to meet here. We managed to find her which was lucky because her phone ran out of juice.

While Gwennie went and sorted out accommodation, we decided to get off the tourist trail so had a look around Burano. A few hours later we met with Gwennie for dinner on Torcello and she shouted dessert.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Day 27 - IT

A whole lot of leaving today... hmm... that could be a song title I reckon*. Vicky was leaving us and the rest of us were leaving for Venice. We parted company and made a B line for our destination and managed to arrive earlier than we thought. Francesco met us and we followed him to his family's house where we parked the car outside.

To get to Venice you travel over a bridge via car, train or in our case, by bus. To get to our hostel we jumped on a bus boat. Once checked in, even though it was raining, we walked around Venice.

Nothing special for dinner, take away pizza.

* useless trivia from the future: a song released by Bon Jovi in 2007

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Day 26 - IT

Pretty crap breaky today at the hostel. Oddly run place too, felt like a school camp.

We exited and made our way for the bus to get into the city centre. Vicky and I managed to miss the stop but we found the others and then headed to a church monument where Mim and Vick decided to check it out so Sarah, Fi and I headed to the markets. I managed to buy a belt, some wallets and a bag. We also managed to convince Mim to buy some new shoes as her old ones had left their last legs behind months ago and smelled to high heaven!

After lunch we walked a tour around the place and went up to a plaza looking over Florence for sunset. Our stomachs were complaining so we had dinner up there. Instead of walking back to the hostel we tried a cab. The ride was a bit rough and we squeezed in ut we made it in one piece. We walked a little more, found some more gelato and played some 500 before hitting the hay.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Day 25 - IT

Sadly we left the Cinque Terre today but we were moving onto Florence. It was another longish trip and took a little bit to get to the highway but once we did, we made good time.

We stopped along the way to visit Pisa which turned into quite a long stop. We had heard that it was a bit of a tourist trap and were concerned about thieves so we visited it in two shifts.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Florence so we were confronted with crazy peak hour traffic and crazy Italian driving. It was an experience. I even entered a roundabout that I think was three lanes and as I missed the exit we wanted, I just looped again to find the point of departure. The standout moment was coming to a one way stretch of road that went under a railway which I think was painted as six lanes, I'm sure I counted more than seven cars across and at one point, I found a pair of headlights pointing at me!

The hostel wasn't too hard to locate and we checked in and saw some dodgy concert. Vickey managed to bump into someone she knew and we played cards that night.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Day 24 - IT

We woke to rain today but instead of sitting around, Mim, Vicky and I walked to Corneglia. It was another good walk that we enjoyed and when we arrived, Fi and Sarah had trained it there so we met them and found some lunch.

The track to Monerollo was closed due to a landslip so we boarded the train to get there instead. Another nice town which we then walked to Riomagiore from. Once we'd nosed around it and grabbed a few pics, we trained it back to Vernazza to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Ocean.

I headed up along the track to Monterosso al Mare to get a good vantage point of Vernazza to try get a few photos. I chatted to a photographers cousin as he was taking some pics too.

We had some pre-dinner drinks and then dinner which was three courses of anti-pasto, spaghetti and octopus. Once dinner was finished, we headed back to our bar for the evening. It was a lot of fun where Mim is always a lady regardless what she's doing and the bar staff thought I was gay!

Monday, October 3, 2005

Day 23 - IT

We woke to find that the village we were in was was a charming fishing village full of vibrant colours and even had their own fortifications. We had breakfast where we had dinner last night and the girls decided that it has became our local.

It was raining a bit so we did some washing and later on a freak storm blew though with a lot of water and wind. It cleared out pretty quick though so we took our chances with the weather and headed for Monterosso al Mare.

One of the charms of this region is that the five villages are linked by a walking trail so our aim was to walk between all of them. The trail varies in difficulty. This leg was probably the most demanding as it wound it's way around the land and through olive orchids and vineyards.

After returning from Monterosso we made our own antipasto (with pasta haha) for dinner and later we went in search of gelati. I ducked away for some photography and got talking to a coupla yanks. When I returned to the room that we were staying in for the next two nights, we were heading out for a drink. It was a fun night.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Day 22 - IT

Today was our last day in Switzerland as we left for Italy but there was something big seperating the two countries: The Alps. At first we tried driving over them but as we drove higher and higher, it had started snowing and the road was getting whiter and whiter. The mountain roads had short bits of tunnel and it was nice emerging from these holes into a light snowfall was amazing (wish I had a photo). But we got to a point where we figured it would be smart to turn around so we did.

The signage in this areas wasn't the greatest so we ended up finding some tourist place somewhere and headed for a tunnel. I think we went through the Gotthard Tunnel which is one of the longest tunnels in the world. At the other end was Italy where we had lunch and then found ourselves on the Autostrade to get to the Cinque Terre near La Spezia. The road leading into the Cinque Terre was quite windy and the girls were looking a little green around the gills.

It was evening by the time we made it to Vernazza (one of the five main towns). You have to park outside the town and walk down. It wasn't too long a walk so we soon found out next challenge: to find a room. There was a couple of hotels but many locals rent out camarra's (rooms) so we door knocked a little and found two places for one night and we'd worry about the next two nights tomorrow.

For dinner we had pizza at a place called, The Blue Marlin, where the girls were quite taken by the two guys that worked there. One's appearance was quite elvish and wouldn't look out of place in Lord of the Rings.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Day 21 - CH

Mim tried her hand at driving today. Bit of a bumpy start but she got the hang of it (sounds weird talking about driving because we have been doing it for years but you have to remember we're on the wrong side of the road now). It was a short trip from Luzern to Interlarken so we continued to the Lauterbrunnen where we headed up to the Jungfrau*. It turned out to be the most expensive thing I think I have ever done. It was pretty, pretty cloudy, pretty high and pretty cold. Worth it though.

Dead set, you could drop your camera
and still get a good photo in this country

Yup, we made it to the top and ended up on their webcam

Sarah and Fi were shivering from the cold and the height

Once we arrived in Interlarken we checked in where we discovered Mim had left her passport behind where we had lunch. The passport was still there (typical of the neutral do-gooder moto that all Swiss seem to uphold) and when we returned and picked up Vickey from the train station. We went out for dinner where I had a deer steak and we shared a chocolate fondue for dessert. Even if my wallet couldn't get used to the place, my tastebuds could!

* useless trivia from the future: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue contains a track called Eiger Norwand. It is set on the north face and is visually a carbon copy. Ironically, motor racing is illegal in Switzerland.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Day 20 - CH

Before we left Glasgow, I realised that I hadn't brought my thongs (for showering in) so we popped into a pound store where Sarah offered to select some for me. She didn't have much of a choice but picked some green ones complete with sequins. Why do I mention this now? We'd been sitting at breakfast and some guys noticed that I was sitting with three girls. They looked at me, looked at each other with puzzeled faces and then looked back at me. I stood up to get some toast and milk and they saw what I was wearing. At that point they looked at each other and started giggling. Sarah couldn't help but notice this and highlighted that they figured I was the gay guy in the group.

We walked around Luzern today and discovered two things; this place is beautiful and this place is expensive. Sarah wanted to see the the Lion Monument so we headed there. I bought a Swiss army knife (because that's what you do when in Switzerland).

Tourists? Nah...

So far we have used planes, trains and automobiles and today we added boats to the list. We jumped onto a paddle steamer over to Weggis and then jumped on the rail car up Mt Regis. After looking around we walked down a few stations and stopped part way down for lunch.

It's obviously not a Magna engine,
there's not a spec of oil anywhere!

God blessed this place with an amazing amount of beauty,
then cursed it with an expensive currency so no one could afford to come and look.
(Warren Miller filmed from the same spot I took this)

Fi and Sarah weren't sure how they'd go but we jumped in a gondola to get back to Weggis. Once back in Luzern we walked around the town more and followed the wall for a bit before having dinner.

I was loving the walls and towers.
You don't get this back in Australia!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Day 19 - CH

Back to the road trip today. We have leased a Citroen C5 through a neat program for tourists. It's a pretty easy thing to organise however I will suggest you organise it with plenty of time up your sleeve or your travel mates might not be impressed. I didn't and the documents only arrived the day before I left the country. But they did and we had a car so off we went.

Basically it was a day confined to the car fanging along the French autoroute and into Switzerland. We had a few dramas and we almost had a head-on but we survived and arrived in Luzern.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Day 18 - FR

As embarrassing as it was, I managed to walk around and get lost in Musée du Louvre and exit without seeing the Mona Lisa. Possibly the first tourist to ever do this. Didn't bother me though, by all reports it's the size of a postage stamp, surrounded by a crowed and can leave you underwhelmed after queuing up for it.

Fi was keen on checking out Monet's garden so she headed off on her own adventure. Mim did a Mim (was happy to keep herself entertained) and Sarah and I were off to the Eiffel Tower. We had a bit of a look around the general area although we didn't go up it.

No points for guessing what this is...
yup, a stinking pidgeon!

Ah... the things you do to 'get the shot'.
And yes, that's another stinking pidgeon in the forground

Mim found us and we checked out La Sainte-Chapelle which was pretty ordinary and then the Royal Palace. Fiona rejoined us and after dinner we headed back to the hostel.

Whilst it wasn't my taste in interiors, La Sainte-Chapelle
was one of the most ornate places around

If were naked, I wouldn't be smiling...
especially with a stinking pidgeon on my head!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Day 17 - FR

This morning we tried out the hostel breakfast today and fell in love with real French bread. It was great! After using the underground to get into the city, we had a look around the Musée d'Orsay. The queue wasn't too long and we we're soon inside.

Now I know how Caesar felt... like a piece of fish!
That's an Asterix in-joke for the unAsterixed readers

For lunch we picked up some food and ate in a park. Another experience today. I had heard of gypsies before and discovered that they are everywhere across Europe. Typically they go begging and at first it seems they are just homeless people (which they are) but turns out they are a bit more organised then what you think. One girl came up with a note in English after some money. I gave her some food instead. After not getting what she wanted, she gave me an odd look and walked off.

Australia is viewed by some as the land of the roundabouts. I tell you though, we have nothing compared to the roundabout at the base of the Arc de Triomphe. It's true that it's several lanes across and insurance companies don't extend their insurance to it. It's also entertaining to watch people navigate it. The best effort I saw was some dude in an old school mini hug the outside kerb at a good pace and had managed to travel from one side to the other in under 10 seconds leaving many others in his wake. There's a good display inside the structure about Napoleon and his exploits and the view from the top is great.

Here's five lanes of traffic with plenty of room for more

Afterwards we headed to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It's a pretty impressive church with an equally impressive view. Fiona and I walked up to the crypt (I thought crypts were in the ground!) where we were expecting to find dead people. Not quite. Probably a good thing.

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

For dinner we returned to the hostel and headed out to a net café afterwards.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Day 16 - FR

This trip was a world of new experiences, one being Ryanair. I had only ever flown to and from major airports to date and after we woke and jumped in the car, we discovered that Glasgow-Preswick was 60km away. Fortunately Jared had anticipated this the night before so we made it there in time.

Naturally, this was the same at the other end (Paris-Beauvais) but instead of a 45min car ride, it was a 90 minute bus ride. We arrived in Paris and then had the challenge of finding our hostel. Turned out that Parisians aren't as bad as we had heard and the few we spoke to, helped us out.

We made it to the hostel so checked in, dumped our stuff and Fiona arrived. Bumped into an Aussie there from Sydney and couldn't believe how 'typical' his accent was. Not sure if it was because we hadn't been around Aussies for a while or if he was putting it on!

I call this 'Bogan à Paris'

Anyway, we headed out and saw Notre Dame de Paris, Musée du Louvre and other bits and pieces. For dinner we propped ourselves up at a typical French café where I had a nice but small panini, some port for an apéritif and a crepé. Sarah had a €7 Pepsi! One of the cool things about travel is experiencing the different cultures. In this instance, it was that outdoor seeting at café's have the seats facing the street so you can people watch! Took this as an opportunity to have a giggle at the number of scooters that stopped at the lights.

The girls resting at Musée du Louvre

We did some more walking and looking then headed home for a shower and a rest.

The Arc de Triomphe from Jardin des Tuileries looking up Avenue des Champs-Élysées with Place de la Concorde in the foreground

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Day 15 - SCO

We headed for Glasgow today where we were to stay with Meg and Jared who Mim knew... I think... she has a list of contacts longer than a roll of toilet paper but fortunately, most are willing to help out travellers.

I found British drivers to be great however
these sheep were as annoying as Australian drivers

On the way we saw Glen Nevis and Loch Lamand and I grabbed a panorama around Glen Coe which I think could be a personal favourite. I would love to capture this three more times representing the other four seasons. Oh well, I can dream.

Glen Coe in all its glory

After arriving in Glasgow and finding where we were staying, we met Meg and Jared and headed out for dinner.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Day 14 - SCO

After leaving the hostel, seeing as though we were to drive around the Isle of Skye, we picked up a girl who was heading to Portree. When we arriced we had breakfast and finally tried some black pudding. Sarah wasn't a fan as it seems that she didn't find it very appealing as it is something that is essentially congealed blood. Whilst I wouldn't want to have it as part of my regular diet, I didn't mind it.

Around the northern tip of the isle we found a mock village of what it might be like to have lived there many centuries ago. It was a cold, wet and windy region, fires provided light and warmth, simple food and no wireless internet!

This is another part of Scotland with stunning
views filled with rich green grass

We also headed on another Mim detour in search of some ruins at the southern end of the isle. No surprises that we had no such luck however we still had a bit of a look around.

Even on the Isle of Skye there's a vandalism problem with the sheep

As we left, we visited Eilean Donan Castle and it was alright. Another castle in good condition.

Eilean Donan Castle

Sarah all excited when she thought
we were playing hide and seek

Our destination was Fort William where after a few stops to discover the hotels were full, we found a good B&B. For dinner we snuck back into Fort William and had some take away dinner. Gwennie also let us know that she won't be meeting us in Glasgow tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Day 13 - SCO

Back on the road today. The Isle of Skye was the target and we had a few castles on the way we wanted to check out.

First up was Stirling Castle. It's another impressive castle that's in great condition. We made our way around it and even sampled some locally distilled whiskey inside. After we left, we grabbed some food from a Griegs (a popular bakery found across Great Britain) and it was yummy.

Mim and Sarah on their way to assault the castle

Inside the great hall

The view from Stirling Castle towards the William Wallace monument

We made our way through Inverness and stopped at Loch Ness to see if we could spot the monster. The ruins of Urquardt Castle was next and we spent about an hour there. There was another castle we tried to look at but it was closed.

Mim looking for 'Nessy' and
Sarah looking silly...

Inside the ruins of Urqhardt Castle

Just before the Isle of Skye sits Eilean Donan Castle however we decided to have a look at it tomorrow on the way out. We found the hostel and Gwennie let us know that she might be joining us in Glasgow before we leave for Paris.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Day 12 - SCO

When Todd first arrived in Edinburgh, he did a guided walking tour so he thought he'd try his hand at doing the same for us. We went to Queens Palace, New Town, Old Town and had lunch at a pub where we sampled some haggis. For something that's basically offal, it wasn't aweful (excuse the pun). In fact, it was pretty good.

Walking up the Royal Mile

Sarah was loving the haggis

After lunch we headed back to Todd's and grabbed the car and headed up Arthurs Seat. It has a pretty good view up there but it was pretty windy. When we arrived at the top, we found some dude who was playing the bagpipes. Turned out it was a family tradition of theirs. Only in Scotland...

The last known photo of Mim before she was blown away by the wind

Fortunately the notes were also carried away with the wind

Kristen met up with us when we arrived back at the unit and we headed out for a curry for dinner at a nearby pub. Later on Sarah stayed in while Mim and I saw Pride and Predujice at the movies.

Todd was horrified when he found out I was going
to see Pride and Predujice at the movies

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Day 11 - SCO

Mim had a few things to do this morning so so Sarah and I made our way to chech out Edinburgh Castle. It's another impressive structure with a world of history.

Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

He doesn't really look like Mel Gibson

After hearing the One O'Clock Gun fire, we met up with Mim and had some lunch followed by taking Todd and Kristen to a wedding at and impressive castle / home.

Busking is a little different over here

We made our way to Rosslyn Chapel and had a look around. Part of it was off limits due to restoration and it was to be used for filming for 'The Da Vinci Code'.

Rosslyn Chapel is quite ornate

For dinner I volunteered to cook but produced some tasteless pasta. It usually tastes really yummy! We finished the night with walking around getting some random photos of the city.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day 10 - SCO

We did some serious driving today. After leaving Banbury we basically headed for Edinburgh. On the way we had two detours. Mim had been talking about some 'Angle of the North' that we have to see and Sarah had another aunt to see.

First up was Mim's detour. Let me give you some advice. If Mim says she has a small detour to make, be very careful about what you agree to. I had visions of some nice statue in a setting that was worth checking out. Instead we were greeted with an ugly steel structure that apart from being impressively big, sat out in the middle of the boondocks near Newcastle!

You have been warned.

It was impressive but not quite what we expected

The second stop was Aunt Angela who lives in Rothbury. We arrived and were treated to some afternoon tea and some RAF Tornado's on manouvers. Time was moving on so we had to do the same. There was quite a bit of nice scenery on the way north too.

Sarah and Mim taking in the scenery

Sarah with a foot in both camps

Next stop, Edinburgh. We had some fun doing so but we finally found Todd's place. Dinner was in order so headed out for a steak.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day 9 - ENG

Nat took the day off work and drove us to Warwick. I walked around Warwick castle while the girls went to Stratford. The castle is pretty good and is in great condition.

It's a bit bigger than my Lego castle

Madam Tussuad's own it so it's full of dressed up mannequins. I watched a trebuchet catapult some stones and an archery demonstration. Well worth the visit.

A trebuchet in action

He looked even less impressed after he discovered
that his trebuchet had hit his bosses car

The girls came back to pick me up for lunch so we headed to a pub. We then walked around Stratford including walking past the house where William Shakespeare was born, a church and some gardens.

Then back to Banbury for a nice dinner and some laughs.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Day 8 - ENG

Today was the start of the road trip. Except we didn't have a car so we headed to Luton Airport and rented a Ford KA. Wasn't much to look at, actually, they kinda look weird. But it fit the three of us and should do the job.

Our next port of call was Banbury where Sarah had some more family and after missing an exit and some wrong turns, we made it. We had dinner there and Uncle Alan broke out his alcohol collection (listed below). I think I sampled half of his stuff including some Irish Pottney which had to be kept in glass for fear of dissolving anything else!

Yup, I tried all of that stuff!

Afterwards we headed out with her cousins to a coupla pubs. I had another ale or two and then tried some cider - yuk, not a fan. We ended up at a club where I could strut my stuff, much to Sarah's embarrassment. That made it all the more enjoyable.

The girls loved my dancing

It was a good night but I was ready for some peaceful sleep.

Brasserie, Fosters, Irish Poiteen (Pottney?) (100% proof), Jack Daniels, Schnapps (homemade), Wolf Blass 2004 Cab Sav (with dinner), Kourtaki (sweet red wine), Aalborg Jubilaeums Akvavit, Wolf Blass Chardonnay, Southern Comfort and Napoleon Brandy

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Day 7 - ENG

Aunt Barbara spent the day showing us around St Albans. We looked around the cathedral which was quite impressive, mum you'd have loved it and the pipe organs.

St Albans is a small town surrounding a big church

Nearby there is a pub claimed to be the oldest pub in England called 'Ye Olde Fighting Cocks'. We had an ale there however I think I spent more time photographing it than drinking it. Sarah explained to Aunt Barbara his was normal if a little odd.

'Ye Olde Fighting Cocks' and 'Ye New Ugly Land Rover'

A beer in the oldest pub in England

We headed for High Street (each town generally has one named as such, in Australia we refer to it as the main drag) where we walked around the markets. Even though Aunt Barbara isn't too fleet, she managed to lose me in the crowd, much to Sarah's amusement.

Look mum, someone on the opposite side of the world
has the same crockery as us!

Mim joined us tonight ready for our next phase of the trip.