Trip Of A Lifetime

Thursday, October 19, 2006

So What'[s Been Happening Lately?

The short answer to that is... not all that much. Adie is working back at his old job. They asked him to apply for a full time position for the next twelve months and he was totally chuffed, but he decided that he already missed family and friends too much to be away for another whole year.

I've been a bit of a lady of leisure and I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about that. There's not much work for me so I often find myself at home doing things like reading, watching movies and the cooking channel or answering emails. I find it strange that now that I suddenly find that I have the time to do the simple things, I feel bad about it and like I'm wasting time. I would rather have this free time at home though where there are a million and one things to do!

Actually, I think it's also because we've been doing so much over the past ten months or so that I actually got quite used to getting out there and doing things instead of sitting around watching dvds and reading. That and everyone else in this house has things to do.

Tomorrow night we're going to see 'Wicked'. That should be quite good. I have to pick up our Chinese visas in the morning. After spending three hours in a queue to pick them up, I hope I don't have to relive that experience tomorrow! Then I'll have an afternoon in London. I might finally make it to the Tate Modern, a place I've been meaning to visit for about eight months!

On Monday I'm flying off to Germany for a couple of days, then flying back into Heathrow where I'll meet up with Adie and we'll both fly to Switzerland for the weekend to see a friend. Once we're back from that trip, we'll only have another five days in England before we leave for China. I really cannot get over how quickly times flies.

Well, I'd better be off. I recieved two letter today from fabulous friends back home and I must reply immediately... it's great to have a purpose!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

We Eat Ham And Jam And SPAMALOT!

Yesterday, after standing in a cue for three hours to apply for my Chinese visa, I went to see Monty Python's Spamalot. What a funny show!

Despite having crap seats (because I'm a tightarse who doesn't like to spend more than £20 on my theatre tickets) I thoroughly enjoyed this show and even found myself singing along to the encore.

If you like Monty Python and you get the chance to see this musical... go! I was doubly happy because the lead performer was Tim Curry. Man, was I excited when he walked onstage. I almost bounced out of my chair, over the balcony railing and four stories down into his lap.

This show had everything... singing, dancing, comedy, frenchmen, fish. It was better than I expected and I'm so glad I decided to go.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our Time In The Balkans

I suspect that there is either a picture that won't work or a photo of Adie chatting up a statue in one of our hotels at the beginning of this post but I can't be sure because it won't load properly so I'll leave it to chance.

We had a great time in the Balkans, especially in Croatia (but I suspect that was because we spent more time there than in the other two countries.) I'm so glad that we decided to book this trip. We started in Slovenia where we had one brief afternoon to ourselves before setting off on tour the next day. We decided to go for a wander and ended up in Park Tivoli, a huge a gorgeous park filled with statues, tree-lined promenades, grassy fields and so many people taking advantage of the good weather. The next two photos were taken in this park.

Our first day of touring took us into the Postojna Caves of Slovenia. These are naturally formed caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites all stuggling to join after years of inching towards each other. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos, and those that Adie took before we read the sign didn't work particularly well, because this place was stunning. You feel so overwhelmed as you walk through the different chambers. What nature can do is just amazing. Here's Adie standing waiting to go in... I'm sure there's some symbolism here, if only I could put my finger on it. From Slovenia we headed straight to the sunny coastlines of Croatia. Our first stop was Split, where we saw ancient Roman ruins. Man, those Romans knew how to get around! In this photo I'm standing in front of (and on top of) the Sea Organ, a manmade structure that uses the waves and wind to create music. It's incredible to hear... although apparently the locals aren't too thrilled, expecially when the weather turns stormy! Who can say 'howling banshee'? From Split we went to Dubrovnik, where we were shown around by a guide who frequently steered off the topic. It didn't bother Adie, he doesn't really listen anyway when there's a photo to be taken. Dubrovnik, like many places in this part of the world, shows signs of struggle. They have worked hard to piece everything back together again to get us tourists in and eagerly looking around. This photo is of me standing inside one of the old monasteries that contains a courtyard garden in the centre dedicated to St Francis. It's a beautiful and peaceful place.

And this is a shot of Adie at the top of the city wall looking out over the town and the water. There are thousands of little islands off the coast of Croatia, how brilliant would it be to sail around them!

After Dubrovnik we travelled into Bosnia where we stopped in two places, Mostar and Sarajevo. Both of us felt a real sense of loss for the people of this country. The land itself is so green and lush and just stunning, but everywhere we drove there were houses in ruin, houses with the scars of war all over them and signs telling us to keep out because the area had not yet been cleared of landmines. Can you believe that these people still have to contend with something like 24 000 landmines scattered around the countryside?

Mostar, with it's famous bridge, was a beautiful little town doing it's best to try and make money off tourism. There were even two young men standing on the bridge in their speedos collecting money, when they had enough moulah they jumped off the bridge and hopefully into the little patch of deeper water. I couldn't bring myself to stay and watch.
Then it was on to Sarajevo, where they are still trying to build everything back up again. This is Adie in the market square of the Old Town. It was great fun here and the people were incredibly helpful and friendly. Actually, you could really see the Turkish influence in the markets of Bosnia. The only thing missing was the pushy salemanship and apple tea. Once finished in Sarajevo, we went back into Croatia to go to the Plitvice National Park. Man this park is beautiful. It's set up around naturally formed waterfalls that cascade into lakes. It's some form of waterfall that grows a couple of centimetres each year. Adie was in heaven and then hell. Heaven because there was so much to photograph. Hell because he had a limited number of shots left. (This was my fault really becuase I was in charge of packing while Adie went to work and I forgot to pack the camera. This resulted in our buying the cheapest camera we could find duty free at the airport.It also meant that he only had one memory card and not three. Whoops! But at least now I get a camera!)

Our last two stops were Zagreb (Croatia's capital) and Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital). Below is a photo of me in Zagreb's old town. Both cities are the types of places you can just wander around for hours, getting lost and enjoying it. Of course we didn't have anywhere near enough time in either.

Finally Finished The French Photos... What Fantastic Alliteration!

Yay! I've finally cracked it and with a little patience and a lot of tlc, the computer and I came to the agreement that I could put more than one photo on at a time. Brilliant.

So here are Adie and I at Chambord, another of the chateaux that we saw on our day of chateaux sight-seeing. This place is huge, and again has pretty waterways but it's set on so many acres of land that you couldn't possibly walk in off the street deciding to have a quick sneaky peek. You'd have to drive in. It would've been nice if we'd had more time here, but we did get to see a little bat as we ate lunch so I was happy... even if the bat was not.Now, this is Mont Saint Michel. The day was a little gloomy but it didn't detract from this amazing place built seemingly in the middle of a lake. When we arrived, the tides were in and the coach carpark was under water. As we wandered around, we were able to watch as the tides rapidly went out and uncovered the carpark and quite a bit of land. You wouldn't want to be stranded when it decided to come in.The next morning the sun was shining for a quick stop in Honfleur, a gorgeous little fishing village where the ducks were bullies and I met a dog called Snoopy and her excitable owner.After a trip to Normandy we made it back to Paris. Adie fell in love with the Eiffel Tower and I think he took enough photos to show his obsession. It is pretty dramatic though I must say... as is the police/army presence around the structure, but I guess that's the world we live in these days.
We also made the obligatory trip to Versaille. Most of it was under reconstruction or being cleaned or something but it didn't take away from the enormity of this structure. No wonder they had a revolution with the money that must have gone in to creating this place while the greater population starved.
We spent 6 hours in the Louvre and saw maybe one quarter of it. It is just such a monster of a complex. You look at the map and you think no problem, I can get around this place, but after one or two rooms you soon realise that this is an impossible task. We started on the top level looking at the paintings and I'm really glad we did because it meant that I had the energy to look at the things that I really liked. It was also much less crowded up there. The 'Mona Lisa' level was busy! We spent much less time here because the crowds were a bit opressive and made it difficult to get close to the art. I'm glad we didn't go on a busy day... I shudder to think what it might be like. (I hate to admit it, but it was also pretty cool to see the pyramid and inverted pyramid that I'd heard about in a certain best selling novel.)
As interesting as the Louvre was, I prefered the works in the Musee D'Orsay. This is me in the main hall. There was just so much fantastic art here and almost all of it to my taste. They also have a fantastic section dedicated to Art Nouveau. Stunning!
Our last day in Paris was spent wandering along the Champs Elysee and just soaking up the atmosphere. Paris really does have a special feeling about it that's just so peaceful and yet exciting at the same time. Here I am at the banks of the Seine. I'm so glad we went.
So, my verdict on France is that everyone should experience it if given the opportunity. Should we ever get the chance to go back though, I'd like to hire a car and just drive around stopping wherever looked interesting. We had such a good introduction in the two weeks that I think this would definitely be a possibility.

More France... Frame By Frame

I'm not sure what's going on in the mechanical mind of this computer, but it's not letting me do what I want to do. I may need to post one photo at a time. Joy! (I hope you noted the sarcasm there.) I guess that's better than no photos at all hey.

So, this is moi in Chenonceau. Pretty. We spent a day in the chateau district and this was the first place we visitied. It's just lovely, with a river running under it and tapestries so old you fear to breathe on them in case they crumble to dust. Adie had a ball taking photos here... I lost him at one point for about half an hour as he went in search of the perfect shot.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello Out There And A Big Congratulations

Now, I don't normally talk about my friends on here, but I'm making two exceptions today.

Exception #1
CONGRATULATIONS!!! Two very dear friends of mine have just become parents and now have another little boy in the house. (The first being dad, in case you missed my subtlety, although I have to say that by "little boy" I of course mean youthful and young at heart.) I can't wait to meet the new member of this family!

Exception #2
There was a fantastic Canadian couple that Adie and I met on our travels in France. I would love for them to get in touch with me as I have packed their details in the bottom of a box that at best will meet up with me again just before Christmas and at worst will journey via South Africa to Australia and eventually make it home for Easter. So, if you read this, please send us an email or post a comment.

With excpetions done I shall now exit, stage left.


Firstly, to those of you who like it when I post weekly (or more frequently even), I'm sorry for the recent absence. I do have reasons though.

Reason #1
Adie and I spent a week wandering around Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and had some trouble finding and Internet cafe in our limited spare time.

Reason #2
In less than one month we leave the UK for a month in China before coming home and as a result we have boxes to pack and send, visas to apply for and last minute loose ends to tie up.

Reason #3
I suffered from what would have to be the worst case of gastro I have ever had. I was actually vomitting. Now, for most people this may seem reasonable, but I don't do vomit. The last time I did was 10 years ago... once. And before that I think I was 10. Any memories from when I was a baby have obviously been buried so deep I can no longer retrieve them without hypnosis. This all resulted in my not really wanting to do much more than sleep in the bathtub.

Now, I will post the photos we took on our most recent trip as soon as possible, but please understand that this takes far more time than typing (up to 10 minutes per photo) and I still have to check the boxes thoroughly so that Australian customes don't decide to delve in and serch for things to seize.

So, until then. Happy trails and don't do anything I wouldn't do.