Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Contiki Tour - Lucerne to Amsterdam


That's right I’m in Amsterdam at the moment But before I go into my experiences there let me talk about Switzerland.

Switzerland is the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen - everywhere there are views of mountains or waterfalls or snow. It is also the most well protected country in the world, where being surrounded by mountains enables them to plant anti-aircraft weapons in the mountains, have devices designed to blow up every entry point into the country, and have a 400000 strong army able to be mobilised in less than 72 hours!

Anything I said about Austria, multiply it by 10 because that’s how clean, beautiful and friendly Switzerland is! Hows the Serenity!

In fact one favourite moment was sitting with friends outside a cafe drinking hot chocolate and talking, with a glorious view of the mountains in perfect weather right behind us. How cool is that!?

Anyway, went to the Jungfrau Mountains (11000ft) to see spectacular views of the mountains and enjoy the snow (but didn't go skiing). Unfortunately I’m sick (I've been sick 5 times on this trip because we all live in the bus and everyone is sick) so the thin cold air did not help me feel better, so I had to go back down earlier than I wanted to. Oh well.

Anyways, got myself a Swiss Army knife so I’m happy, it's even engraved with my name on it.

Then we went to St Goar in Germany where I bought myself a beer stein, the ones with the metal lid on ceramic mug and all
Also went to a wine tasting which was more of a wine sculling because we had to finish the glass of wine we had before starting on the next one to test. It was a good night

And then we went to Amsterdam....

I could go into detail of what exactly has been going on in Amsterdam but that would mean lots of email filters bouncing back my emails, and people may be offended by what I write. Let’s just say that I was someone eating a banana out of something on stage in a particular stage show....hmmm.... Also coffee shops don’t just serve coffee......And space cakes aren't things you buy for your grandparents.....

We did do normal clean things such as go to a cheese and clog making demonstration though.....And I went to Anne Franks house which was cool, also the torture museum, Amsterdam is nice with it's many canals, not as colourful or beautiful as Venice but peaceful and friendly enough.

Whew, not far to go, tonight is the last night before heading back to London where I have to find a job and accommodation, where the holiday ends and hard work begins. D'oh!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Contiki Tour – Vienna to Hopgarten

Hi All,

Vienna is Just like Melbourne, it even has trams! Beautiful place. Went to the Vienna Funfair in Prater and saw the famous big wheel and did the rides etc. Then went to the Schnapps museum! YUM! Bought some Absinthe, used by artists etc in the early century for it's creative hallucinogenic properties (remember the green fairy in Moulin Rouge?) Anyway it's illegal to bring to oz because it contains wormwood extract but I’m told to just remove the back label where it's mentioned and it should be good to bring home. So guess
what we're having for my return home party ?

Anyway, afterwards we proceeded into the Vienna Forest and had a nice dinner there with the best schnitzel I’ve ever had. If I had more time I’d go more into the food - I could do a food tour alone of Europe its so yum!
We all found out later the bald fat jolly harpsichord player in the restaurant was an ex porno star! Oh dear!

Anyways, after a heavy night of drinking (as per usual) I then went to Munich for the Oktoberfest! Woo Hoo!
Went on this massive roller coaster ride before the beer (logically), the best I’ve been on, then preceded to the beer halls and had 3 1/2 steins (1 stein = 1 litre). Also pretended to be someone’s husband because this drunk German guy kept hitting on her, which was funny Spent the night dancing on the seats and singing German songs (or trying to). Meet some interesting German people too!

Depressing part of the trip was going to see a concentration camp, which was horrific to see what people are capable of doing, the dark side of human nature....

Anyways, arrived in Hopgarten, Austria - Austria is so beautiful with 75% of it being very big mountains. Went on a mountain bike ride through the mountains followed by a BBQ - barely made it I’m so unfit... but it was a hell of a lot of fun!

Anyway must go, yes I’m looking after myself, I’m more fit than before I left and been eating well.. ok mum?

Next stop is Switzerland, then Germany, then Amsterdam and then London. Whew I’m exhausted!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Contiki Tour – Rome to Vienna


I'm in Vienna at the moment, it's beautiful up here, people are friendly, and it’s so clean and peaceful after going to Rome and Venice...

Rome was as beautiful and full of things to see as Paris, except a little dirtier with a bit more character... saw the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountains, Spanish Steps and all that sort of thing. Also had a tour of the Roman ancient ruins that is cool except it was so hot that it was hard to pay attention to the tour guide but oh well.

Got to see the Pope deliver his blessing and sermon at St Peters Square - now that was cool.

St Peters square was amazing! It's huge maate! I finally got to complete one of the things I’ve always wanted to do which was to see the Sistine Chapel! Woo Hoo! It was quite overwhelming to see but it’s effect on me was toned down by having seen beforehand all the frescos and beautiful art by Raphael and others on the walls and corridors on the way to the Chapel, which was equally as impressive.

Favourite place in Rome was St Paul’s Cathedral! The biggest church in the world, also the most impressive and basically has ruined any other church or monument I will ever see afterwards! That's how awe inspiring and amazingly beautiful it was, with the frescos and gold gildings and windows etc...

Thing about Rome - Drivers do not stop for anyone. The only way to cross the road is to administer what we call a "Death Stare", which involves staring down the drivers as you're crossing the road till they stop. Failure to do so can be disastrous (as I’ve witnessed).

Also went to the Ferrari Museum (that's right Lisa! ) and bought a Ferrari hat, and took photos of all the cars they had on show. It was awesome but was pretty small museum they had....

Venice was beautiful, to think it's sinking and the Italian govt are doing a bad job trying to fix it but that is apparently the fault of the Italian Mafia but oh well....
Went on the Gondola ride, it was so relaxing but overrated, saw the bridge of sighs and sighed there
Went to the Guggenheim museum, it wasn't that good.

Now I am in Vienna, which I shall describe in more detail once I go through it (just got here).

Went to the Mozart Concert in the beautiful concert hall, it was cool, the musicians were dressed in period costume and wigs with vibrant colours etc, the hall was laced with gold gildings and marble and huge chandeliers etc.....wow. Music did get me sleepy after 45 mins of it (it went for 2 hrs)

Anyway, Munich and the Oktoberfest is next, as is Switzerland and Germany.....

BTW did find my bottle of French wine - I was actually sleeping on it, lol....

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Contiki Tour – French Riviera to Florence

I'm in Florence at the moment. YAY!

French Riviera was beautiful - went to Nice and the pebble beaches, nice blue ocean and topless women Beaches are no where near as good as Lorne though

Also went to Monaco and Monte Carlo to see the Palace, Casino and Grand Prix track at night – Driving to the country from the south French coast was breathtakingly beautiful... The tour manager played a trick on us, telling us to hold our passports against the window when driving through the tunnel to Monaco as a high tech passport checker would scan our passports and our faces as we entered - we sure were suckers - some people who left their passports at the camp site went to hide in the toilet on the bus to avoid detection lol.....

Saw a really nice Ferrari and am quite annoyed I did not take a photo of it with me in front of it with the palace in the background.

Anyways, now I’m in Florence, it is very beautiful and peaceful up here, with the amazing cathedral and bell tower made of different coloured marble - climbed up the 400 steps belltower to see the amazing views. My legs are very tired!

Went to Pisa too (before Florence), was quite impressive, lots of gypsies and pickpockets around though, had to be really careful... Anyway, I can now say I’ve seen one of the seven manmade wonders of the world! YAY!

Oh yeah, did win a French bottle of wine for getting a question right on the bus but someone stole it last night - eh you win some you lose some...

Also went to a Florence bar, but was a little disappointed as it was very Aussie/American - and I wanted to see the Florentine style bars... Lots of fun though was had and lots to drink too

In fact everywhere we go (restaurants, bars, cafes) there is the sound of Aussie music, Aussie influences etc which kinda sucks and you’re surrounded by Aussies too so the cultural experience is kinda lost, but that’s what happens when you visit the touristy areas on a tour I guess...

Next stop is Rome, Venice and Vienna, so will keep you all posted.


Sunday, September 14, 2003

Contiki Tour - Barcelona


Howdy people from Barcelona Spain - got some free internet time from a friend of mine at Contiki here so thought I’d send my thoughts on Barcelona!

Firstly it smells as if the whole city is a urinal. However there were two things that made up for that which is:

· This huge Cathedral built by some gothic artist named Gaudi. It’s huge, it’s gothic, it’s designed by a mad man who created art out of dead bodies and animals, and it’s awesome!

· These huge fountains by this castle (yes I don’t know the names because they’re in Spanish). They’re known to be the best fountains in the world and I heartily agree as they’re huge and change colours and move about and do all sorts of cool formations etc.

Before I reached Spain however I got to see the huge aqueduct (Pont de Gard) in southern France.

You know words really can’t describe what I’m seeing and experiencing here hence the continuous use of the word “awesome”. It’s amazing how today’s buildings cannot match the sheer majesty and beauty of the monuments and buildings I am seeing here. The fact that most of these buildings took years - if not centuries - to build is hard to imagine.

Anyway, Barcelona on the whole wasn’t as exciting as I thought but I think I was spoiled by Paris. However, I did enjoy a night sitting on the Barcelona beach at night with friends drinking (of course) and watching the usual antics that occur in such situations (nudie runs, people being dunked - we even dunked our tour manager, who was slightly annoyed by that because he lost his beer)

Also enjoyed a dinner out in Barcelona, eating traditional paella (yum), and sangria (double yum - Jenny you are right it’s great stuff)

For those curious it’s made from red wine, fruit and the secret Spanish ingredient is Fanta Mix well and leave it overnight. Have it with ice, and unless you want to get absolutely sloshed do not eat the toxicated fruit

Oh yeah, also enjoyed a traditional French meal in Paris, with a French lady with a harpsichord playing French songs, lots of wine being drunk and yummy food.

Yes I did eat snails (escargots) they taste like beef to me. I also had real champagne, (not sparkling wine, which we are led to believe is Champagne). Thought it was too sweet but still nice.

Yes this email is all over the place and has no structure of flow but so many things are happening up here (like being bothered by Spanish kids running around the computer room at the campsite I’m staying at) it’s hard to sound coherent at all.

Anyway tomorrow it’s the French Riviera and Monaco, so I will keep you all informed soon of my progress.

Till then, Adios!

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Contiki Tour – London to a French Chateau

Hi all :)

Can’t write much or have good grammar etc cause of different keyboard where the buttons are all misplaced.

Short summary: Paris is BEAUTIFUL! Everywhere you look there are so many huge sculptures and buildings, the buildings are aligned with each other around the city, Notre dame was amazing especially when this woman started singing in the cathedral - such pure notes reverberating around sounded awesome and really makes you feel meek. It is also clean; people are nice and Paris at night - I tell you I definitely am going to Paris again! It is indeed the city of love!

The French chateau I’m staying at is pretty cool, huge overlooking these views but after Paris it’s pretty ordinary, but not complaining!

Wine is good, cheese is good, people here are great, had a party last night in the "cave" under the chateau till wee hours of the morning

Tomorrow we go to Barcelona in Spain!

Saturday, September 6, 2003


Hello peoples,

OK, let’s start from the beginning;

The flight over wasn't every enjoyable. I did get to see Ayers rock from above but couldn't take a photo cause my camera was in my bag which was lodged under my feet and my dinner that was being served. Add to that 22 hours of air time and not getting much sleep and playing footsies with a complete stranger in the battle for the middle seat as a footrest when sleeping (because it's near impossible to stretch ones legs or sleep in comfy position without having at least two seats), and jet lag, and ones first overseas flight did not go as smoothly as desired.

But all is well now, having landed in Heathrow Airport and after getting lost, eventually making my way to Emily’s (a good friend living in London) house to stay the night. She's been very helpful, even cooking me lamb roast for dinner and showing me the local area and etc. Her studio flat is pretty cool, it's underground but with a big skylight that is the only window in the place that lets light in the whole place.

Anyway, some observations of UK:

· Their “@” symbol is where the " mark is on the keyboard and vice versa. Weird.

· On escalators, you stand in the right and overtake in the left, but with driving it's the other way around! Go figure.

· Londoners do not know how to get anywhere nearby. They even don’t know where they are at the moment.

· London is like Sydney but less pretentious, the roads are shocking but the people are nice.

· Streets are rarely signposted.

I’m about to embark on a 25-day tour of Western Europe since I’ve had no experience in travelling or any idea what Europe has to offer. I’m hoping I’ll learn a lot of things I need in order to travel successfully on my own.

Wish me luck! J