Europe Roadie Part 3 – The Big BOOT…..

Kia Ora guys and gals. Time for you to here a little bit about Italy 

So after Switzerland we drove south into unfamiliar territory. And wow what a change it was. All of a sudden the temperature jumped 10degrees, the roads became shambles, people became very loud, pizza and pasta was everywhere and drivers were…….. well lets just say it cant be very hard to get a licence in Italy.

Our first stop in Italy was a nice little spot on Lake Como. Apparently George Clooney has a house on the lake there somewhere, but who needed George while I was around. Spent our few days in Lake Como hanging on the lakes little beach and doing bombs and dives off the diving board into the lake.

From Como we headed to Venice via Verona. In Verona we experienced our first taste of ancient roman ruins and Italian food. We went inside an awesome amphitheatre which was still very much intact, visited Juliet’s house (Shakespheres, Romeo and Juliet), and had our first Italian pasta dish. Nat opted for the pasta pomodora while I went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli, which was just one huge ravioli stuffed with all that goodness. We kept on driving for Venice and ended up picking up two tired French hitch hikers who had been sitting at the services all day waiting for a ride to anywhere. We ended up taking them back to the campsite where they had left that morning in Fusina. From our campsite it was just a quick ferry trip into Venice. Venice itself is full of character, with narrow little alleys, cool old buildings right on the water and heaps of canals winding themselves through the city. While we were here we let ourselves get lost among the many hidden streets and canals, had our first real Italian gelato ice cream, visited the main squares and a few of the 120 churches. But best of all we spent a small fortune on a romantic Gondola ride through the canals. Our skipper was super cool and sung us a few notes and would then go onto yelling out something every time we approached a bend to make sure we weren’t going to have a collision. Our campsite in Fusina (Venice) was pretty cool. Cool bar, cool restaurant, met a cool Aussie couple also van touring, and had several buses of party going Kontiki goers to keep us entertained at nights.

 From Venice we did a quick stop into Bologna. We were never really planning on going there, but when we heard it was famous for its bolognaise it was a must. In Bologna we were learnt that you must have the exact change on a bus to buy a ticket from the little machine. We were very lucky to avoid a big fine from the ticket inspectors, who jump on random buses, as they were fining the women in front of us while we did a sneaky out the back door. We did eventually get to try the bolognaise and check out Bologna’s old style town and rustic buildings.

 Our next stop took us to back onto the coast and down to the coastal town of Marotta. On the way we stopped off at busy a beach called Riccone for lunch and a swim. Nat unfortunately managed to lose her glasses and shell ring to the ocean. I think she is on her third pair of glasses in Europe now (I shouldn’t have wrote that). Marotta wasn’t the prettiest of beaches, but was a typical umbrella/deck chair beach that we started to notice down most of the coast. There are a few small areas down the beach where you can lie on your towel for free, and everywhere else you have to pay to use the deck chairs and umbrella that have been set up in neat rows all over the place.

 After Marotta we decided to drive inland further to try and experience the real Italian countryside. The countryside was really beautiful with awesome little towns tucked away into valleys and on top of hills. We spent one night at a campsite in a tiny town called Preci, before deciding the heat was too much for us and the best place to be was the coast. So we headed south and back onto the coast and spent the next few days beach hopping down the coast. We eventually drove across country to another beach town called Eboli, to set ourselves up for the west coast.

 From Eboli we adventured our way along the Amalfi coast. For those who don’t know, the Amalfi coast is a picturesque stretch of coast surrounded by steep cliffs and small terraced towns nestled into the steep terrain. The road taking you along the coast is cut into the side of the mountain, winds continuously and is only as wide as a single car most of the way. It took us over 2hours to drive 50ks, which eventually saw us make it to Sorrento.

 We ended up establishing ourselves a nice little spot in Sorrento up on the hills overlooking a small fishing village. While we were here we spent one day visiting the island of Capri, which is supposedly a popular spot with the celebrities. We caught the ferry over and spent the day exploring the island. It was getting pretty hot down this part of Italy, so we spent most of the day trying to find cool swimming spots in the nice blue waters. While we were in Sorrento we also did a day trip into Naples on the train to discover where pizza really came from. Our trip was very short lived. First we were quite blown away at the poor state of the city. It was dirty and there was a lot of poverty and beggars and was just rough around the edges. Second we tried our luck at visiting a museum. We soon discovered a museum full of ancient, hardly recognisable artefacts wasn’t our cup of tea. Then finally we got a pizza and ran back to the comfort of our little van. It wasn’t really all that bad, I think we were just scared the mafia were going to come after us.

 Next stop saw us making our way up to Rome. On the way up we stopped off at Pompei to see the ruins of a Roman style town, which was once covered in volcanic ash and has now mostly been excavated. We got to see the old roman style houses, theatres, amphitheatres, bath houses and even a brothel. There were hard stone beds in there though so can’t imagine it was very comfortable. We eventually made it to Rome and checked into a cool campsite on the outskirts. Turns out it was another Kontiki stop over. Think they are following us around. On our first day in Rome we saw the famous Colloseum (awesome) and we visited the roman ruins/remains of what was left of houses and buildings belonging to emperors and a whole heap of important people. Second day in Rome saw us visiting the Vatican, which proved to be quite an experience. From the centre square, to the Basilica, to the Vatican museum and the all the architecture, everything was pretty amazing. The Basilica (Big massive huge famous church) itself was just so massive and built to impress. While we were in there we went 550 steps right up into the top of the cupola, which gave us an awesome view looking down into the church and out over the Vatican square and the rest of Rome. The Vatican museum was quite impressive also filled with famous paintings and housing the Sistine chapel. Even I recognised some of the art in there. Our third day in Rome saw us powering through all the remaining significant sites we hadn’t yet seen, including the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon and even rowing a boat on a lake filled with turtles. Thanks to the super cheap wine and the company of Charlie and Jess (cool English couple we cut some shapes with on the d-floor), we spent an extra day lying around the pool with sore heads. But after 5 nights in Rome we made tracks for Florence.

 Florence was a quick stop. We checked out the town, which had a cool cathedral all made of marble. Was actually someone standing at the top of it and people and a crowd of people and security were at the bottom pointing up at them. For a while we were starting to think they were a jumper. Turns out they took a wrong turn and ended up on a balcony they weren’t supposed to be on. Thanks to an awesome recommendation, the best thing we did in Florence was order a Florentine steak. Turns out you order it per 100grams and the minimum order is 1kg. 40 euro later we were pretty full and pretty happy.

 From Florence we briefly stopped at Pisa to do of course the leaning tower of Pisa photos that everyone does. Was a nice little town but just a quick stopover. After snapping away we headed to a small coastal town called Bogliasco to finish our last leg of Italy. From Bogliasco we took the train to Riomaggiore, which is the first town of the Cinque Terra. The Cinque Terra is 5 small villages dotted along the coast and only really accessible by train. We checked out the villages and made a point to have a swim at them all. I even managed to find a half decent jumping rock.

 Next stop, French Riviera.

 Ahhhhhh, sorry that was so long. If you made it to the end I’ll buy you a beer.

 

Dsc03946Dsc03978Dsc04013Dsc04041Dsc04117Dsc04185Dsc04266Dsc04326Dsc04398Dsc04453Dsc04467Dsc04491Dsc04496Dsc04562Dsc04620Dsc04648Dsc04733Dsc04747Dsc04845Dsc04940Dsc05015Dsc05083Dsc05125Dsc05176

 

 

Europe Roadie Part 3 – The Big BOOT…..

Kia Ora guys and gals. Time for you to here a little bit about Italy

 So after Switzerland we drove south into unfamiliar territory. And wow what a change it was. All of a sudden the temperature jumped 10degrees, the roads became shambles, people became very loud, pizza and pasta was everywhere and drivers were…….. well lets just say it cant be very hard to get a licence in Italy. 

Our first stop in Italy was a nice little spot on Lake Como. Apparently George Clooney has a house on the lake there somewhere, but who needed George while I was around. Spent our few days in Lake Como hanging on the lakes little beach and doing bombs and dives off the diving board into the lake.

 From Como we headed to Venice via Verona. In Verona we experienced our first taste of ancient roman ruins and Italian food. We went inside an awesome amphitheatre which was still very much intact, visited Juliet’s house (Shakespheres, Romeo and Juliet), and had our first Italian pasta dish. Nat opted for the pasta pomodora while I went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli, which was just one huge ravioli stuffed with all that goodness. We kept on driving for Venice and ended up picking up two tired French hitch hikers who had been sitting at the services all day waiting for a ride to anywhere. We ended up taking them back to the campsite where they had left that morning in Fusina. From our campsite it was just a quick ferry trip into Venice. Venice itself is full of character, with narrow little alleys, cool old buildings right on the water and heaps of canals winding themselves through the city. While we were here we let ourselves get lost among the many hidden streets and canals, had our first real Italian gelato ice cream, visited the main squares and a few of the 120 churches. But best of all we spent a small fortune on a romantic Gondola ride through the canals. Our skipper was super cool and sung us a few notes and would then go onto yelling out something every time we approached a bend to make sure we weren’t going to have a collision. Our campsite in Fusina (Venice) was pretty cool. Cool bar, cool restaurant, met a cool Aussie couple also van touring, and had several buses of party going Kontiki goers to keep us entertained at nights. 

From Venice we did a quick stop into Bologna. We were never really planning on going there, but when we heard it was famous for its bolognaise it was a must. In Bologna we were learnt that you must have the exact change on a bus to buy a ticket from the little machine. We were very lucky to avoid a big fine from the ticket inspectors, who jump on random buses, as they were fining the women in front of us while we did a sneaky out the back door. We did eventually get to try the bolognaise and check out Bologna’s old style town and rustic buildings.

 Our next stop took us to back onto the coast and down to the coastal town of Marotta. On the way we stopped off at busy a beach called Riccone for lunch and a swim. Nat unfortunately managed to lose her glasses and shell ring to the ocean. I think she is on her third pair of glasses in Europe now (I shouldn’t have wrote that). Marotta wasn’t the prettiest of beaches, but was a typical umbrella/deck chair beach that we started to notice down most of the coast. There are a few small areas down the beach where you can lie on your towel for free, and everywhere else you have to pay to use the deck chairs and umbrella that have been set up in neat rows all over the place. 

After Marotta we decided to drive inland further to try and experience the real Italian countryside. The countryside was really beautiful with awesome little towns tucked away into valleys and on top of hills. We spent one night at a campsite in a tiny town called Preci, before deciding the heat was too much for us and the best place to be was the coast. So we headed south and back onto the coast and spent the next few days beach hopping down the coast. We eventually drove across country to another beach town called Eboli, to set ourselves up for the west coast.

 From Eboli we adventured our way along the Amalfi coast. For those who don’t know, the Amalfi coast is a picturesque stretch of coast surrounded by steep cliffs and small terraced towns nestled into the steep terrain. The road taking you along the coast is cut into the side of the mountain, winds continuously and is only as wide as a single car most of the way. It took us over 2hours to drive 50ks, which eventually saw us make it to Sorrento.

 We ended up establishing ourselves a nice little spot in Sorrento up on the hills overlooking a small fishing village. While we were here we spent one day visiting the island of Capri, which is supposedly a popular spot with the celebrities. We caught the ferry over and spent the day exploring the island. It was getting pretty hot down this part of Italy, so we spent most of the day trying to find cool swimming spots in the nice blue waters. While we were in Sorrento we also did a day trip into Naples on the train to discover where pizza really came from. Our trip was very short lived. First we were quite blown away at the poor state of the city. It was dirty and there was a lot of poverty and beggars and was just rough around the edges. Second we tried our luck at visiting a museum. We soon discovered a museum full of ancient, hardly recognisable artefacts wasn’t our cup of tea. Then finally we got a pizza and ran back to the comfort of our little van. It wasn’t really all that bad, I think we were just scared the mafia were going to come after us.

 Next stop saw us making our way up to Rome. On the way up we stopped off at Pompei to see the ruins of a Roman style town, which was once covered in volcanic ash and has now mostly been excavated. We got to see the old roman style houses, theatres, amphitheatres, bath houses and even a brothel. There were hard stone beds in there though so can’t imagine it was very comfortable. We eventually made it to Rome and checked into a cool campsite on the outskirts. Turns out it was another Kontiki stop over. Think they are following us around. On our first day in Rome we saw the famous Colloseum (awesome) and we visited the roman ruins/remains of what was left of houses and buildings belonging to emperors and a whole heap of important people. Second day in Rome saw us visiting the Vatican, which proved to be quite an experience. From the centre square, to the Basilica, to the Vatican museum and the all the architecture, everything was pretty amazing. The Basilica (Big massive huge famous church) itself was just so massive and built to impress. While we were in there we went 550 steps right up into the top of the cupola, which gave us an awesome view looking down into the church and out over the Vatican square and the rest of Rome. The Vatican museum was quite impressive also filled with famous paintings and housing the Sistine chapel. Even I recognised some of the art in there. Our third day in Rome saw us powering through all the remaining significant sites we hadn’t yet seen, including the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, the Pantheon and even rowing a boat on a lake filled with turtles. Thanks to the super cheap wine and the company of Charlie and Jess (cool English couple we cut some shapes with on the d-floor), we spent an extra day lying around the pool with sore heads. But after 5 nights in Rome we made tracks for Florence.

 Florence was a quick stop. We checked out the town, which had a cool cathedral all made of marble. Was actually someone standing at the top of it and people and a crowd of people and security were at the bottom pointing up at them. For a while we were starting to think they were a jumper. Turns out they took a wrong turn and ended up on a balcony they weren’t supposed to be on. Thanks to an awesome recommendation, the best thing we did in Florence was order a Florentine steak. Turns out you order it per 100grams and the minimum order is 1kg. 40 euro later we were pretty full and pretty happy.

 From Florence we briefly stopped at Pisa to do of course the leaning tower of Pisa photos that everyone does. Was a nice little town but just a quick stopover. After snapping away we headed to a small coastal town called Bogliasco to finish our last leg of Italy. From Bogliasco we took the train to Riomaggiore, which is the first town of the Cinque Terra. The Cinque Terra is 5 small villages dotted along the coast and only really accessible by train. We checked out the villages and made a point to have a swim at them all. I even managed to find a half decent jumping rock.

 Next stop, French Riviera.

 Ahhhhhh, sorry that was so long. If you made it to the end I’ll buy you a beer.

 

 

 

 

Europe Roadie Part 1 – Belgium, Netherlands and Germany

Well hello anybody that is still half interested in our blog. So it has proven to be a big mistake not to take our laptop around europe. Internet cafes seem to be a thing of the past now…… So sorry it has been so long for an update, but here we go with a big one.

Belgium

The whole adventure started at about 3am on sunday the 1st of july. We were up and amping and before you know it heading down the highways making our way to Dover for the first ferry crossing the channel. We drove onto the ferry after driving on the left side of the road and drove off into france driving on the right hand side of the road. Had to learn quick but we managed well and havnt had any problems. So we soon hit the highway and were out of france and into belguim before we knew it. We arrived to our first destination Brugge at about midday. Was crazy to think we had been in 3 countries already and it was only lunchtime on day 1.

Brugge was a really beautiful place to stop first. City centre was surrounded by a lake, which felt more like a moat as it had big old wooded archways over the little bridges leading in. In Brugge we cycled around the old cobbled streets, went up the famous belfry (bell tower) overlooking the magnificant square, had our first portion of belgium frittes covered in mayo and bought our first ornament as a token of places we have been. We now have a van full of tacky ornaments, which i think are awesome and will look good on a mantle piece one day. Nat has different ideas though……

So from Brugge we headed to Brussels via Ghent. Quickly stopped at Ghent for a beer down by the canal. Seemed like the thing to do. Heaps of people just take their own beers down to the canal and sit on the waters edge socialising in their groups. Was quite a cool little hang out spot. Eventually made it into Brussels later that night. There are no campsites in Brussels, so we did our first park up on the side of the road. Parked up next to a big park, Seemed pretty good at the time, but when we woke up there was a man in army dress holding a rifle outside the building on the otherside of the road. Luckily it was just a consolate and he was a guard and not after us….. In Brussels we had our first belgium waffles with an epic white hot chocolate. Pretty much just melted chocolate mixed with milk. Also did a little explore of the city and stumbled across horse jousting in one of the squares which was part of a festival of some sorts. And then we brought our first box of chocolates. Belguim chocolates definately lived up to the reputation.

From Brussels we did a quick stop into Mechalen and Antwerp before driving up into the bottom of Netherlands. In Antwerp we both got a traditional belguim dish for lunch. Nat got traditional beef stew and i got meatballs with celery. Sounds weird but was actually really good. So was a fairly quick trip through Belguim, but we saw most of the good stuff and ate all of the good stuff.

Netherlands.

Started off at a really nice campsite in town called Hellevoelsluis. The town had a nice marina, funky coloured houses, a tiny car (just someones privately owned one, but was super funny), and a massive old school windmill (was the first of many).

So we hit the road and made our way to a beach town called Katwijk. On the way we stopped at a small town Kinderdijk, which is famous for its millions of windmills. We hired some bikes here and rode through the countryside and checked them out up close for ourselves. We also stopped at 2 other small towns called Delft and Leiden. Delft is famous for its pottery. Not my cup of tea, but there you go for all you pottery fans. We eventually arrived in Katwijk. We were hoping and expecting a nice little beach town with a cool little campsite. Turned out it was a massive holiday destination and was the busiest campsite out of all the ones we had stayed in so far. Stayed one night and got out of there quickly and headed for Amsterdam……….

We got ourselfs a nice little spot at a campsite just on outskirts of city centre, but just a quick train ride in. In Amsterdam we explored the city and the canals on bikes, went and did the heineken experience (think we broke even with the amount of free beers we had), saw all the coffee shops (didnt go in though……), and went and checked out the red light district. Also got to catch up with some friends Peggy and her man Kim. Was a very messy night but awesome to catch up. Stayed 3 nights in Amsterdam. Is a pretty cool city and well worth the visit. From here we headed into north of Germany…..

Germany.

Our first stop in Germany was small town called Hamelin, The town is famous for the pied piper story. We followed the rat trail through town and went and visited all the pied piper spots. The town prides itself on the pied piper, and not alot else. From here we drove onto a small town called Luneburg, which is known as the wobbly town. All the buildings are on the piss and bulging out at the bottom and look like the want to fall over. Apprently its like this because the town was once mined for salt and the ground is giving away. The steeple of the main church is over 2metres out of level. From here we stayed north of hamburg at a site in the middle of nowhere. Next day we visited small town called Lubeck, which is famous for its marzipan chocolate. We then drove into Hamburg. Did an explore of the city seeing some of the main sites. Saw the old docks, which were pretty cool and saw a random building called the chillihouse that was built to look like a massive ship. But the best thing we did here was have a beer on the terraces on the lake and then run off with the beer glass. So we now have an official Duckstein beer glass as a souvenir. Next stop Berlin.

Checked into campsite outside of berlin, but only a quick train and tram in.Think we spent a few nights here in the end as there is alot to see and do. While we were here we saw the Riechstag (masive building where Hitler held power), all the old buildings where nazi party leaders and top officials lived including Hitler, Brandenburg gate which is the main gate to the city, Checkpoint Charlie (checkpoint seperating east and west berlin while the wall was still up), and the east-side gallery which is the longest remaining stretch of wall and is full of meaningful graffiti bombings. Also tried my first currywurst which is just a sausage covered in curry sauce. Little weird but tasted good. And that was Germany….

Of course there was still the autobahn, where we only ever hit 101kph top speed. Will definately be heading back there one day in a way faster car.

More updates coming!!!

Nick and Nat

Dsc08367Dsc02237Dsc02299Dsc02307Dsc02318Dsc02392Dsc02341Dsc02368Dsc02371Dsc02410Dsc02468Dsc02491Dsc02518Dsc08398Dsc02583Dsc02555Dsc02640Dsc02709Dsc02749Dsc02761Dsc02777Dsc02818Dsc02826

Europe Roadie Part 2 – Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, More Germany and Switzerland

Sooo following on from where Nick left off, we are now on our way to the Czech Republic…our first time with NO Sat Nav to help us out!!  It was a long drive and we got lost a couple of times but somehow found our way to Prague, and accidently came across the campsite we wanted to go to out of sheer luck! Was a really nice little campsite, only 16euros a night and beer was only 1euro for 750ml bottle…A-mazing! Had a pitch next to a really nice elderly german couple who spoke no english and even though we couldnt verbally say a word to eachother we managed to communicate a bit! It was really easy into the city from there and after trying out the local beers we headed into the city and had dinner, tried the local cuisine and had yummy beef goulash and dumplings with a pint of beer in a glass that was so big and heavy i struggled to lift it! Interesting fact – the Czech Republic consumes the most beer per person in the world and we could see why!! Prague is an amazing city, the buildings were incredible and the views on the riverfront were so nice, its an awesome city to just wander around and get lost.

We spent a few days in Prague taking in all the sites, we went over the charles bridge and up to the castle (saw the changing of the guard which was pretty cool), went up a huge hill with views of Prague, walked round the old square and ate the most amazing smoked ham which you paid for by weight and you just get a big plate of meat with some bread! I had my birthday in Prague which was really cool, got some lovely cards, presents and messages (thanks again to everyone), Nick spoiled me with a nice breakfast, some treats and then a horse and carriage ride around the city which i have always wanted to do! We did our own mini bar crawl round town and sampled a lot of the beers and local spirits which tasted like paint stripper, had heaps of fun! When we left the campsite in the morning the lovely german couple next door stopped us and gave me a teddy as they realised it had been my birthday which we now have in the van! So sweet!

As we are only in Europe for 3months unfortunately Prague was our only stopover in Czech Republic, we got the chance to drive through a lot of small towns and through the countryside which was nice. Definitely would like to go back and see more!

But back on the road we were to Poland this time….

Poland

Had a long drive to Poland with no sat nav again! It ended up taking about 9hours so as you can imagine we were pretty exhausted when we finally made it to Krakow.  Found the campsite which would have been amazing 50years ago, it had a water park next door that was all overgrown, a barbwire fence around it and the toilets looked like abandoned buildings…very spooky place. BUT it was 15euro a night and close to the tram station, almost justified the fact i kept having nightmares while we were there and waking Nick up saying someone was trying to get in the van!

We went into Krakow the next day, unfortunately it was a bit rainy but that didn’t stop us! Walked around the city for the day seeing all the main sights.  We found Poland very different to the other places we had been to, it was a bit more rough around the edges and the people there spoke no english at all, and all seemed a bit unhappy really. Krakow has some really cool places to see though, we went round lots of nice churches, wawel castle, the cathedral, schindlers factory and a few other bits – so after spending a whole day doing so we were pretty exhausted and headed back to our campsite.  As we walked down the little pathway to get to our campsite we came across a drunk girl passed out on the floor…it was POURING with rain and she was soaked through, she stank of vodka and spoke no english.  No one else stopped to help and we couldnt leave her there so ended up having to find someone who spoke english and got them to call an ambulance and stayed till they got there…very surreal experience.  However i can see why when we went to the supermarket and vodka was dirt cheap as was beer….we stocked the van up before moving on.

Before we left Poland, we went to see Auschwitz and Birkenau…theres not too much to say apart from i would recommend everyone to go there, it was mind-blowing what went on there.  We did the tour that took around 4hours with a guide, and left feeling very sombre but was definitely worth it.

Onwards we went still to i think what has been both of our favourite place so far – Austria!!

Austria

 Firstly going to Austria meant that our Sat Nav worked again…woooop!! First stop was Vienna, we found a nice campsite near to transport to the city but very expensive compared to Czech Republic and Poland. By this point we were getting a bit citied out but Vienna was a lovely city, we did our own little walking tour of the main sights including cathedrals, museums, town hall, theatres, parliament to name a few! We walked along the river and found a nice bar that was set up like a beach with deck chairs so of course we stopped and had a beer…seems to be a common occurance with us!!

As i said we were a bit citied out so eager to get into the real Austrian countryside…and we were NOT disappointed! We drove from Vienna on the scenic road to a cute little town called Melk, walked around the huge Abbey they have there on the hill…had the yummiest hot choccie and cake before jumping back in the van and driving to Austria’s lake district which was SO beautiful.  We stopped in a few little towns along the way to take photos and have lunch and then headed to our campsite in Hallstatt.  I cannot recommend Hallstatt enough to everyone, it is the MOST beautiful place i have ever been to, between the snow capped mountain, crystal clear lake and typical Austrian style buildings it looks like a postcard.  We spent the night walking round and enjoying the scenery before it started pouring with rain, so of course we had to try an Austrian beer or two before getting soaked running back to the van!

From Hallstatt we drove to Salzburg via the scenic route and it delivered. Austria’s main road literally goes straight through a mountain range, and the views are incredible, i think its the first place we actually really enjoyed the drive! Found a nice little campsite, and headed into town.  Salzburg is a small city and has an amazing fortress on top of a hill that towers over the city, we walked all around and went up into the fortress which had really nice views all around. Went and saw the palace where the do-rei-mi scene from Sound of Music was filmed, and also went to see the nunnery where Julie Andrews lives at the start (more for my entertainment than Nicks).

Next stop in Austria was a place called Werfen, where we went to the worlds largest accessible ice cave called Eisriesenwelt…not really knowing what we were in for, we drove the van up to the car park – it turns out the road pretty much wound up a mountain and was stupidly steep, we were very proud of the van that it made it up there without too much trouble. I think it climbed to 1500metres above sea level in the space of 15mins!! Had to do a bit more trekking up the mountain on top of a gondola ride for some of it, and made it to 1700metres above sea level.  The views were incredible and the ice cave itself was pretty awesome.  There were no lights in the cave so we got given oil lamps to carry through, we walked 1km into the cave which was 700stairs in and 700stairs out…it was freeeeezing in the cave luckily we had put every single warm bit of clothes on we had but it was so worth it.  The guide would light up natural ice sculptures within the cave using a stick of magnesium which gave it an eery glow was pretty cool. We werent allowed to take photos inside, so i suggest googling it…was pretty cool! From here we continued on to Innsbruck, stopping at the Krimml falls and getting more amazing views.

Innsbruck was SO nice, the campsite we were at was surrounded by mountains, we loved it! Spent the day walking round the city and ended up at a really cool bar by the river that was done up like a beach, sand and all.  Sat on deckchairs with our feet in the sand and had a beer and a burger…pretty awesome.

SO that was Austria…literally one of the most beautiful places ever!

Back we went to see Southern Germany.

Germany

First stop was Fussen, where we went to see the castles but were disappointed to find that they were covered with construction works, so ended up not stopping and driving through.  Took the scenic route and drove through some really nice towns, Lindau, Friedrichshafen, Meersburg and ended up stopping at a lakeside holiday place in a town called Uberlingen where we had a sunbathe and a swim in Lake Constance – Nick was in his element finally getting to go for a swim!! Kept driving till we got to the black forest, where we stayed in a pretty little town called Schiltach in a campsite right on the river, where Nick went for another swim but it was FREEZING.

Next stop of this part of our trip was to Triburg, where we walked around ate black forest cake (in the black forest) went and saw the worlds biggest cuckoo clock, and waited to see the cuckoo pop out but of course i was too slow with the camera to get a photo. From here we went to Titisee where we spent the next couple of nights, it was super busy here as a holiday destination for lots of Germans.  Had a walk round town, got some amazing smoked ham that its apparently famous for. Went on the lake on a pedalo with a couple of beers and had a swim, pretty cool times.

Now where am i up to…..a quick stopover in Switzerland!!

Switzerland

So Switzerland, we were only there for one night really, we went to Zurich and did a little walking tour of the city which was really nice but SO expensive, it was more expensive to buy a doner kebab takeway in Switzerland than have a sit down dinner in Italy…crazy!! From Zurich we drove to a nice lakeside campsite in Sursee, where we went for a swim in the lake, chilled out and yes we had more beers!! Nicks collecting the labels of most of the beers we have drunk…its getting to be a good pile! The next day we did the drive to Italy, which was a nice drive as Switzerland is very pretty, drove through a 17km tunnel before getting stuck in another tunnel because of an accident. We were in the tunnel for about 2hours with no idea what was going on but i think only in Switzerland could no one be stressed out or aggro about this, instead someone got out a guitar and started a sing a long while other people were playing football…another surreal experience!!

We are now in Italy but i am afraid that is another blog update for another day as i am exhausted after doing that one. We are both doing well and so is the van.  Hope everyone is well and happy – we miss you all lots!

Halfway through the Europe Roadie now with just France, Spain and Portugal to go!!!

Nick and Nat.

Dsc02928Dsc02929Dsc02964Dsc02987Dsc02990Dsc08428Dsc08431Dsc03061Dsc03085Dsc03146Dsc03407Dsc03439Dsc03478Dsc03541Dsc03609Dsc03634Dsc03645Dsc03668Dsc03674Dsc03713Dsc03769Dsc03798Dsc08471Dsc03826Dsc03896Dsc08483

A Quick Hello to the UK

Hey everyone, hope you are all doing well! 

Sorry we have been pretty slack at updating, and also just replying to people’s messages in general we have had a very busy 2 weeks.  So as the title suggests we are currently in the UK just getting ready to head off in our van round Europe tomorrow…very excited 🙂

So we had a pretty easy journey from Bangkok to the UK, we did get delayed for 3 hours however this was bearable as Bangkok airport has lots of try me taster stands, we proceeded to spend the next 2hours going up one side and down the other and filled up on free food, then 1hour free internet – cant complain really!  We got awesome food on Sri Lankan Airlines flight, and then got put up in an awesome hotel as we had a 12hour stopover, unfortunately me and nick were both a bit tired when we went to bed and forgot the time difference…when we went to checkout in the morning the guy looked very surprised and said but you have 2hours till the bus picks you up! It wasnt too bad as they had an amazing buffet breakfast and we had more time to eat and even enough time to go for a walk on the beach which was right by the hotel. Somehow we got roped into pulling a boat up the beach (dont know why they asked me, maybe its because of my huge guns) but all in a days fun.

Nicks sister Gemma picked us up from the airport, they havent seen eachother for about 10years so that was pretty cool. We stayed with her for a night on the RAF base where

 she is based which Nick loved, i think Gemma and her fella Mark were very patient with Nicks 10million questions about the choppers and planes and the base etc. We got treated to our first bacon sarnie in aaggggesss and we were happy chappies when we left.

Then we hungout in Littlehampton for a few days trying to get organised and doing boring stuff, got to see my dads boat which is aaaaawesome cant wait to go sailing and started trying to sort out our van which we LOVE. 

The next 4nights were spent with Suzi (my sister) we spent one day walking round the WHOLE of London, i think we must have walked a marathon (maybe slight exagerration) but it was quite fun seeing all the sights and in true England style it rained most of the day.  Suzi spoilt us a lot while we were there and we got treated to milkshakes and dinner that night.  The next day we went to Royal Ascot races, me and Nick had already been to Primarni and got him some smart clothes (shirt, trousers, belt, tie, socks all for £20) so we were all ready. This was a really fun day, we didnt make any money but we didnt lose too much either, had an awesome picnic and lots of vino then went to meet my girls in a bar in London, first time i had seen them in 18months so there was lots of screaming and hugging.  When i first saw Jane outside the pub, of course i ran and then a nice lady promptly returned all the contents of my bag to me as i had left it open…whoops! Nick got the tick of approval from them so that was good :). The next day we had a chilled out one, watching the rugby and walking round clapham market, went for dinner and drinks with the girls, Nick was sober driver which was a bit of a bad idea when i got verrrrrry drunk and he had to put up with dancing drunk nat.  So good to see the girls though and listen to some old school garage music!

On Sunday Suzi had arranged a BBQ with lots of my family and friends which was amazing. I loved catching up with everyone, was so good to see them all again (although i do still need to see my parents!!). After the BBQ we went to the pub and watched England lose the footie, Nick was more into it than some of the other “proper” English blokes in there, shouting and chanting and drinking Guiness! Quick shout out to Suzi, Liz and Chloe – thanks SO much for having us we had lots of fun!

Back to Littlehampton we went to do more boring stuff for a couple of days and then onwards to Gemmas and the RAF base for a couple of nights!!

Gemma is another one who spoilt us lots while we were there! We had lots of fun on the first day seeing all of Nicks family from England, including his nana who was lovely and his aunt who cooked an amazing curry for us (and gave us beer) and then onto the farm where Nick grew up where i got to play with kittens, dogs and ponies and Nick got to do backflips on their trampoline. We also saw a bit of the Cotswolds where they live which is so beautiful. That night we ended up going to the pub on the base to watch the footie and me and Nick got a tad tipsy. The next day Gemma drove us to Oxford via reading and some other pretty places…i loved Oxford, cant believe i had never been there before! Had a nice time walking round, looking at shops and exploring in general!  Afterwards we went back to Gemmas, had dinner and ended up back at the pub for a quiet few.  Our last morning with Gemma we got a chance to look round the base and got to go on one of the choppers she works on which was pretty cool, we then went to a pick your own place and picked fresh strawberries! YUM!

So thats pretty much up to date now, we are back in Littlehampton, just organising stuff for our Europe road trip and packing the van up! We have to leave stupidly early tomorrow morning to get our 7am ferry! SO excited, so the next time we update we shall have Europe stories for you.

Hope everyone is doing well and is happy 🙂 Please update us on your lives as well as we do miss you all!

Nat and Nick

 

Dsc02072Dsc02081Dsc02084Dsc02088Dsc02093Dsc08323Dsc02096Dsc02105Dsc02110Dsc02114Dsc02117Dsc02123Dsc02127Dsc02134Dsc02141Dsc02144Dsc02154Dsc02156Dsc02159Dsc08325Dsc08335Dsc08336Dsc08337Dsc08338Dsc08342Dsc08346Dsc08348Dsc08351Dsc08352Dsc08353Dsc08354Dsc08358Dsc08360Dsc08362Dsc02165Dsc02167Dsc02168Dsc02172Dsc02173Dsc02175R9ph97i

Thailand and Cambodia – Travels Part 3

Hey Team, how are you all? Nick here. Its is now my turn to write to you all. I hope my writing skills are up to scratch. I dont think builders are meant to be good at this sort of stuff, but ill give it a good crack.

So it has been about 3 weeks since we last updated, and in that time we have flown to Bangkok, crossed the border into cambodia and have now seen a good chunk of the beautiful country.

BANGKOK.
So we arrived in the busy hustling and bustling bangkok to find it absolutely stinking hot. Bangkok was only a quick stop over before heading into Cambodia, but we were both super excited to hit the street and get stuck into some local food. Pretty sure the first thing we did was head down Koa San road for a $1.50 Pad Thai, and some meat on a stick. The heat got to us pretty quick though and we found ourselves chilling out at our hostel more than we should of watching movies and reading books. Ive actually read 4 books now while we have been away, which is more than ive read in the last year and and half. Pat on the back for Nick. So before we knew it, we were up early and on a bus heading for Cambodia………. We spent our last moment in thailand getting scammed at the border, spending way to much for our Cambodian visa. Gutted for us. We actually knew we were getting scammed, but they still got us. Dam you thailand.

SIEM REAP.
Our first stop in Cambodia was the beautiful city of Siem Reap. We were only intending on staying one quick night before heading to Phnom Phen, but we found ourselves a really nice room for super cheap and stayed an extra night. We hired out bikes here and did a small tiki tour around town and followed the river for a while. We also went and visited the old market and the night market. The night market is massive, but full of stalls selling all the same stuff. Finished our day drinking 50cent beers at the garden village roof top bar. Beer here is cheaper than water. AWESOME.

PHNOM PHEN.
Our next stop saw us catching another long bus down to Phnom Phen (capital city). We checked into a pretty nice backpackers called Velkommen. We treated ourselves to an air-con dorm. Actually cost more to stay in a dorm here than have our own room in Siem Reap. But you cant really argue with $6 each….. First day here we shared a tuk tuk with a canadian dude (Zach) we met on bus, and went to visit the killing fields used by the Pol Pot regime, and S21 prison also used by the Pol Pot regime. We took an audio tour through the killing fields, which explained all the history behind certain parts, graves, trees etc. and had storys from survivors from the regime. Seemed to be quite a depressing day, but we rounded it off with some good local food at the night market and $2 jugs of angkor back in Phnom Phen.

SIHANOUKVILLE.
Spent 2 nights in P.P before heading for the beach town on Sihanoukville. Checked in our first night at a cheap backpackers, looking to be party animals and meet some more people on our travels……. but i think we are turning into upper class travelers. Nat got bitten about 20 times in the night and the room was about 40degrees. So first thing next morning we had our own nice cool double room in the hotel across the road, plus it had a massive pool and was very well priced ($5 each). Sihanoukville is a pretty chilled out town, which is popular for its nice white sand beach, bbq’d seafood and cheap beers on the beach. So you can probably imagine this was quite a relaxing time for us. Spent most of our time either sunbathing and swimming on the beach, sitting in the big comfy satelite style chairs in front of one of the beach shacks drinking 50cent beers, or eating bbq’d fish, shrimps and calamari. “Tough life aye”. One hidden treasure we did find though was ‘Slumdog Curry’. Had the nicest and cheapest currys out, with fresh naan bread cooked for you on order. Umm we both miss that place.

BATTAMBANG.
Next stop was Battambang (2nd largest city in Cambodia so im told), via P.P for one quick stop over night to break up the bus trip. Our first impression of Battambang was it felt like a bit of a ghost town. Didnt seem to be many, if any, tourists there, everything closed up early, and there was not much of a night life. We did a day trip by tuk tuk with our driver Scorpio. He took us to a bamboo train, several temples and monuments and a killing cave used by the Pol Pot regime. Best thing by far was the bamboo train. The bamboo train runs down a small piece of unused railway used by the locals to transport goods to the small villages along it. We caught one and took it 7k’s down to a small village and back. The train consists of a bamboo platform, two axles with small railway type wheels and a small engine. The funniest part is when you come across another train heading in your direction. You have to stop, dismantle your train, let the other one pass, re-assemble your train, then keep on going. We had to do this 4 or 5 times. And that was our Battambang experience.

Back to SIEM REAP.

So back to Siem Reap we went. Have been here the last 5nights, and have seen alot. Spent the last 3 days visiting the temples of Angkor. Day 1 we visited 8 temples close to siem reap, finishing off with a nice sun set and a cold beer on top of Pre Rup temple. Day 2 we headed out of town and visited the oldest temples. Then yesterday, day 3, we did sunrise at Angkor Wat (the big one), and visited the temples of Angkor Thom. Obviously doesnt mean alot to you if you havnt been to them, but they are all pretty special and amazing in their own way. For instance Bayon is known as the temple of faces, for the many faces carved into its rock. Over 3 days we saw 14 temples and are now well and truely ‘templed out’. One nice thing we have done while in Siem Reap was meet up with a local guy Tola (friend of a friends), and Narin (hope i got his name right) who is sponsored by our friends family. We took them both out for dinner with the instructions to order and eat what ever you want and as much as you want. Our one mistake though was taking them out for Mexican. Poor Narin had probably never eaten mexican before and ended up ordering a large starter and a large main and probably only ate any of it to be polite. Luckily he had some good old chocolate icrecream for desert which didnt touch the sides. I must say thanks Jenny and Greg for putting us in touch with them and kindly giving us $ to take them out for dinner. It was quite a fun experinece.
In between all of this, we have met some very nice people, and drunken some very cold beer, but i cant write everything….
So here I am today (our last day in Siem Reap) looking forward to going for a swim (Nat left me ages ago for the pool as I type way too slow) and finishing typing. We are off to Bangkok tomorrow morning for one night before flying to U.K. We are both excited to get over there and see people we havnt seen for along time. So I guess our next update will be in a few weeks from England, or the start of Europe.

I hope everyone back home and in the U.K is well. Scott how are my trees looking????

Drop us a line or comment on our blog. Look foward to hearing from everyone, or just anyone…..

Peace out people.

Nick and Nat

 

Dsc01376Dsc01380Dsc01387Dsc01394Dsc01402Dsc01408Dsc01413Dsc01424Dsc01425Dsc01435Dsc08275Dsc08284Dsc08294Dsc08297Dsc01605Dsc01649Dsc01700Dsc01726Dsc01802Dsc01838Dsc01903Dsc01930Dsc02000

Bali Part 2 – Ubud, Lovina & around

Hi guys so here is the next installment, the last one we wrote sounded a bit weird and all over the shop so im writing this one and Nick can write the next one!

So when we last wrote we were in Kuta, we just spent a couple of days chilling out and organising the next part of our bali adventure…on the day we travelled to Ubud it was Nicks 26th birthday woooop! We went out the night before his birthday for a nice dinner at rumours restaurant which was awesome and treated ourself to a big feed! I still think it was my treat even though we have a joint account. On the morning of Nicks birthday he got to open his present (thank god it took up precious space in my backpack) he got 3 tshirts/vests which were to remind him of home, and to stop people thinking he was an Aussie, which i have come to realise he hates very much. Then off we went on our next mission….to Ubud!

Ubud

We got the Perama shuttle bus to Ubud which was pretty easy no dramas there apart from having to heave my big ass backpack around even minus nicks present – i swear i didnt even pack that much! We got to Ubud bang smack in the hottest part of the day and had to walk up the worlds biggest hill (only slightly exagerrated) Nick was quite patient with my constant moaning and somehow we made it to a place called Sania’s House which is an awesome home stay with amazing rooms (see picture) and a swimming pool which we promptly tested out.  My only issue was that there was a GINOURMOUS spider outside of our room but he kept himself to himself thank bejesus.

The first day we spent just doing the usual mooch about town, we booked ourselves a bike tour (it was called downhill bike tour which was the ONLY reason i agreed as people who know me know i am not very good at riding a bike). As it was Nicks birthday he got to choose dinner, and he chose to eat local food, nick had goat satay (i had chicken – boring english girl i am) and we ate it with our hands local styley. Nick had made me promise i wouldnt arrange anything special for his birthday or he said he would be angry with me, so thats why his birthday was a low key chilled out affair but he seemed happy. The next day started a bit wobbly as of course i woke up with Bali belly, lucky me…sorry if thats too much info but you can imagine my horror as i realised we were doing a bike tour that day! However we both went and it was an awesome day, got to go to see mount batur, a coffee plantation, rice paddies, a local school, a balinese compound house, see wood carvings and Nick even helped some of the ladies harvest the rice – see picture, i think they wanted him to stay as they werent having to do anything!  I thought i was doing pretty well, bali belly wasnt causing me too many issues but then….at the school infront of the kiddies i tried to go up a steep ramp in the wrong gear and despite what Nick says i didnt fall off but i did roll down backwards very ungracefully and got a HUGE bruise (pictures there for you mum) the kids of course found it hilarious as did Nick. 

Next thing we did in Ubud was a yoga class (yes nick did yoga) we were recommended by Nicks mate Tims missus who happened to be a yoga teacher.  Well it most certainly changed my views on yoga both of us were dripping with sweat and shaking constantly our instructor Daniel pushed us super hard and even had Nick trying to do a headstand (quite amusing to watch).  Anywhoo after that we had a lovely lunch at a place called Sari Organic and then hit the markets and got haggling. Then it was onwards and upwards to Lovina at the north…

Lovina

I am going to try and write slightly less now as Nick has told me im writing too much which sounds about right as i talk too much as well. So Lovina was so different to Ubud and Kuta, it was very quiet and not too many tourists around, we stayed in a placed called Nirwana Cottages and we had a hot shower and aircon for only $10/night each it was quite a treat!! Although the aircon came back and bit us on the ass when we both got colds after a couple of days…a cold in bali – really!? Anyhow where was i, we did an awesome dolphin watching trip had to get up at 5:30am and headed down to the beach with our guide to our boat 007 – which he promptly said “no we cannot go on this boat it is broken i will take my friends boat” then when his friend didnt reply to his texts you can imagine my horror as he said Ok we will have to go on my boat (the broken boat). Nick had to calm me down but he managed to talk me onto the broken boat and obviously it didnt sink as i am writing this! Dolphins were awesome, there were heaps of them right next to our boats LOVED it. Spent a lot of the time in Lovina chilling out by the pool and reading, we eventually rented a bike and went on our own tour which was pretty fun went to the hot springs for a swim, went up into the mountains and saw lots of pretty views of rice paddies, got a sore bum eventually and came back.  That was pretty much Lovina, the locals were really friendly however desperate for business as it was so quiet there but i would recommend it. 

Back to Kuta we went, we were going to stay in Medewi but the surf report was flat…

Kuta Revisited

So here we are at the end of our trip in Bali, back in Kuta – we hired a bike for the whole time we are here so Nick has been going hunting for surf, we went to Balangan a couple of times and Nick went to Canngu too early for me to accompany him…i am on holiday after all and very lazy. Did a crazy bike ride to Medewi 2.5hours there and 2.5hours back, stopped off at a couple of places on the way mainly due to sore bums, Nick got very good at driving around huge lorries. When we got to Medewi surf was flat so we just had lunch there and came back! Didnt realise until we stopped in a shop that both of our faces were black cos of the exhausts and fumes from the trucks – we werent a pretty picture.  We tried to be a bit crazy last night and went out to a see a reggae band play and got drunk, it was the bars birthday party so they were playing drinking games and somehow i got roped into downing a drink against a girl who could have eaten me, inevitably she won and i got very drunk. Me and Nick were on a roll and had 3 fishbowls and a shisha and then went for a night swim in the pool – stupid thing to do when you have a drunk nat with you as i forgot where i put the key and we were looking for it in the dark swimming pool, eventually nick found it on a ledge…woke up with a STINKING hangover and never ever drinking again.

Here we are at today, we head to Thailand and then onto Cambodia tomorrow – very exciting!! So will get Nick to update in a couple of weeks.  We miss you all but are still having lots of fun.

Nick and Nat

Dsc08132Dsc08131Dsc08143Dsc01095Dsc01094Dsc01144Dsc01151Dsc01165Dsc01177Dsc01180Dsc01189Dsc01216Dsc01236Dsc08219Dsc01263Dsc08156Dsc01278Dsc01292Dsc08192Dsc01330Dsc01337Dsc01348Dsc08232