Standing still is boring. Get outside!

Archive for March, 2013

The Campervan That Could

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Day 50 and significant milestone #5132. Sitting in our campervan in a random vacant block between a few oldish houses in the north western country region (Picardy) we are just hoping the locals are ok with us making a short visit. If they ask us to leave we will have to head back into Le Crotoy and pay 5 euro for a patch of gravel alongside literally 50 massive winnebago’s, where there is no toilet and one tap, so fingers crossed.

(About 30 minutes after writing this in my notebook, as we were going to sleep, a torch beamed into our window. Sticking my head out, a bloke with two pretty big dogs said something loudly to me in French, surprisingly enough, which I assumed meant “buddy time to go”. When I asked if he spoke English he said something else in French that I didn’t understand. So I went with; “Pouvon nous rester ici” (can we stay here), to which he replied “Oui, bon soir”. He then turned his torch off, called his dogs to follow and walked back to his house. Crisis averted, heart resumed normal beating pattern a short 30 minutes later.)

The city itself is crazy popular for ‘camping-cars’, as the signs say in all the streets with a big red cross through it. Especially considering its not even warm yet. We are 5km out of town to avoid the signs, gravel parks and 15 euro a night caravan parks. The sun is setting a golden orange, which is pretty, but the coast itself has nothing on Oz! Its also a lovely 1’C outside. Still, the fresh prawns, crusty bread and Belgium beer aren’t bad. Bout to fry some salmon and potato slices on the camp stove with a side of coucous for dinner. Bit of camping luxury.

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Lyons and Tigers

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Getting out of the ol Chamonix was a MISSION!!!! The website said the trains weren’t running, so we thought we could catch a bus, but as we were riding the Mullet Bus (best name for a mini bus ever!) around town trying to find our bus, we saw the train pass by? Whaaat? So it was back to the train station for us and onto the train, two hours later than we were hoping to leave and not before Hiedi told the train ticket lady her name was Lyon, gold. On the way Clare, Heidi and Carmen made their way to the old town in Annecy, which Clare was pretty stoked about.

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Chamonix aka Chamon-naynay

photo-121We left Lausanne in the morning and headed for Chamonix, a French Alps ski town. It should have been about a 4 hour trip however when we got to a place called Vallorcine we were herded out of the train and told to wait for a bus. The bus never came and our poor French combined with the train lady’s non existent English meant we didn’t really know why. When the bus did arrive 1.5hours later the driver explained that there had been an avalanche over the road and they could only let 5 cars through a one time….there goes the afternoon.

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Lausanne, Nothing to do and Nothing to see

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It was so nice to arrive in Lausanne because we had absolutely nothing planned. Catch-up time.

Side bar – We had a very funny trip on one of the trains in Zermatt. Sitting on quiet train (as is etiquette on Swiss public transport, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g188045-s606/Switzerland:Tipping.And.Etiquette.html) with the girls having a great time laughing and joking, completely oblivious to the discomfort of the passengers immediately adjacent. Little did I realise the train shame was about to head my direction as the ticket lady couldn’t process eurail discounts so the whole train waited at the next station while I got out and bought our tickets. The 100 or so passengers were surprisingly well tempered to wait quite a few minutes for me. Pretty funny!! The ticket lady didn’t speak great English, but she was able to say “everyone is looking at us”. It was also great watching Heidi ‘enjoy’ two very dry peanut butter sandwiches in order for us to drop the Boris nickname. I was sad to see it go.

The Lausanne unit was really nice and it was sweet to have it to ourselves. Carmen stumbled across a bit of light reading on the book case though. A massive comic book entitled Happy Sex. Some very strange stories inside. We couldn’t read any of it, but we didn’t need too to understand what was going on. Very graphic, but very funny! We were so excited to have our own oven we celebrated with a lovely family dinner. Roast veg and salmon steaks. Yum.

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Zermatt and the Matterhorn

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Zermatt is an amazingly beautiful ski town. We got in around lunchtime and checked into our hotel. It was a great hotel room, much nicer than we have been staying in lately and the Girls got accidentally upgraded to a bigger room. Awesome. We sun baked on the balcony in the brilliant sunshine with the below amazing view!

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Top of the Jungfrau to ya!

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There is an endless list of adjectives we could use to describe the view from the top of the Jungfraujoch (the worlds highest train ride), the photos don’t do it justice, but here they are regardless.

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Fussen and the Fairytale Castle

photo-97We caught an afternoon train from Munich to a little town on the Germany/Austria border called Fussen.

Getting in after the only supermarket in town shut to find out that there was no kitchen available at our hostel anyway meant off we went out to dinner. To satisfy a craving of Thai we went to an Asian (they specialized in Thai, Chinese and Japanese?) restaurant. I was so hungry by this stage I ate every last piece of stirfry and every last grain of rice. We asked for table water and didn’t tip, which we googled when we got home and realized it was really rude – oops!

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Munich, King of Bavaria

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Initially Munich seemed a bit of a dirty big city. It’s smaller than Berlin, but walking the two minutes from the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to our hostel was so similar to any big city you may happen to find yourself. It also has the lovely occasional sewer stench we’ve enjoyed everywhere in Europe. Grated sewer pit lids are not that cool of an idea.

Unfortunately we were filled with genuine fear and in trepidation when we reached our hostel, as something very disturbing awaited us. It was time to catch up with HEIDI BOGARN and SAILOR MOON!!! It was awesome to see the units and share stories of the crazy month that had been since we departed in London. Happy hour at the Hostel went very quickly indeed so we decided to head out for what one can only assume must be the most expensive coffee shop in all of Munich. Learn As You Travel Lesson #234: Order from a menu, don’t just randomly ask for things in a window and always get a bill. Unless of course you enjoy paying almost 30 euro for coffee and cake for four people, then you may just ignore this lesson.

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Czech it out – Cesky Krumlov

On Tuesday morning we caught a bus that took us the 3hours to Cesky Krumlov. Cesky Krumlov is a little UNESCO protected historical town south of Prague.

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We wandered around the town, walked for ages, found a cool park to sit in, on such a beautiful sunny day and ate a (many) trdelnik. We love Cesky Krumov and, as I’m sure everyone who’s been before me would say, it’s very beautiful and picturesque. During the week in winter though it is a tiny ghost town at night.

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I went to the supermarket in the afternoon to buy some stuff for dinner. It was a tiny supermarket with 2 chocolate aisles and hardly any real food. I spent a long time looking at everything trying to decipher what things were and eventually bought everything I needed and, as I later discovered, a few things I didn’t. Unfortunately, so far during this trip I’ve experienced a few of what we’re calling ‘Clare’s food fails’.

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Czech Mate

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Czech’s love their beer, but they also love beer as well. That could just be what our American airbnb host tells everyone to justify his alcoholism, but he did seem to be right. The beer halls are full from 6pm to mid-night every day. And why wouldn’t they be I guess, when you can get a half litre of delicious Czech beer for AUD$1.50. Ridiculous.  Coke, coffee and even water were all more expensive in every pub, bar, café and restaurant we went to.

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