Sunday, May 25, 2014

Selfies and Scaffolding. Part 2

Part 2; Salzburg, the Sound of Music, and Vienna
This the part where I get sick.
Token sore throat and head cold kind of sick.
Which sucked. 
But I wasn't gna let it ruin my fun.
For I was in Salzburg, and this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

I can admit that on the bus to Salzburg I probably wasn't everyone's favourite person... Claire and I forced our tour to listen to The Sound Of Music playlist, which aparently no one likes.
Seriously, more than half the Aussies hadn't even EVER watched the movie.
Anyway, there were 6 of us who went on the Sound of Music tour the next day.
Probably one of the best tours I have ever been on!!!!
We saw SO much of the the beautiful country that is Austria, had the cutest tour guide who sang with enthusiasm the whole trip, and had the most amazing weather. 
Luck was definitely on our side for this one.
We saw all the highlights of the movie; the abbey, the house, the lake, the gazebo, the fountain, the church, the graveyard, including a whole lot of the countryside, while hearing all about the war history of this stunning little place.
A top 5 favourite. 
The best tour!!

A little over 4 hours later we made it back into the main town for some of our own sightseeing. We took the cable car up to the top of the fortress and hung out there for the afternoon.
The views were incredible. The fortress is incredible. The fortress museum was incredibly interesting. The whole town is just absolutely incredible.
Come here and see it all for yourself 

It will not disappoint. 

We ended our stay with a token viewing of The Sound Of Music movie, fondly reminiscing on the places we had seen and been during the morning! 

And then we made our way to Vienna, and my cold/flu/feeling-like-shit thing got to the point where it really wouldn't let me ignore it, which made travelling absolutely horrible.
We only had one night here in Vienna and really only half a day to explore, so after a mini bus tour of the main highlights,  a few of the girls and rugged-up-annoyingly-sick me went picnicking at the Museum Quarter, on the grass in the sun between the beautiful historical museums ♥
A few hot totties and a bit of sleep sounded like the perfect evening remedy before another travel day.
I don't think I ever truly got used to the travel day thing...

On the road again
Part 3; Bratislava, Budapest, and Krakow
*watch this space*

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Selfies and Scaffolding. Part 1.

Writers block.
I completely understand it now.
It's not always when you have nothing to say, but like now, when you have TOO MUCH to say and have no idea where to start.
My 24 day topdeck tour has been officially finished for about a month and it feels like a part of me is missing.
It was the time of my life.
I never knew just how much I would love every single place. Too much to put into words. 
But here is me attempting to do so.

Part 1; France, Switzerland, and Italy

We parted with London early morning, on a bus with a bunch of strangers who would soon become our best friends, and made our way to Paris on the Dover ferry.
This first drive day was MASSIVE, but arriving in Paris made it obvious that it was so worth it.
We started our visit to 'the city of love' with an incredible 'city of lights tour' and it didn't take long before I received a reputation for my group selfie obsession.
I'm not embarrased.

We spent the day next day walking around the city and the MANY monuments it has to offer! Visiting, of course, The Arch de Triomphe and the Eifle Tower, just to name a couple of obvious ones.
I'll have to come back to this crazy busy city.
I didn't even climb the freaking Eifle Tower.
There just never seems to be enough time for everything, anywhere.

The 10 hour trip to Switzerland the next day was not so pleasant after a night of french wine and cabaret shows. My weak stomach struggled through the snow-capped mountains of Swiss Alps, but I miraculously made it through, unscathed!
We spent 2 wonderful, freezing nights in the beautiful, tiny town of Lauterbrunnen, and I had the time of my life. This has to be one of my top 5 favourite places!
(But I'm sure you'll hear me say that about everywhere. Don't ask me to name all 5, I can't, I've tried)

After a few beers, quality bonding time, a few "cheesy" jokes, and a much needed sleep in a cute wee cabin room, we ventured outside to find the ground ABSOLUTELY COVERED in snow!! Those mountains were no longer snow-capped, they were blanketed in the stuff.
And it was AMAZING.

We made a journey up the Jangfrau rail line to "The Top of Europe", or as we liked to call it, THE TOP OF THE WORLD!!!! Which is supposed to be beautiful with the most stunning views of the Swiss Alps!
We were incredibly lucky with our experience where we couldn't see a freaking thing, but pretty much experienced a BLIZZARD in -18°C temperatures, at the freaking TOP OF EUROPE!!!! Probably my FAVOURITE experience of the whole trip and possibly OF MY LIFE!!!!
If the capitals aren't enough to explain my excitement I'm sure these photos will do the trick.

This is another place where, if I can afford it, I'm definitely coming back. Even though I just adored the snowey experience we had (and I wouldn't trade it for the world), I am just itching to see what all the fuss is about on a clear day.
Come with me?!

We made our way out of the snow on another LONG bus trip through the stunning Switzerland landscape through to Italy, stopping for a short visit to the famous leaning tower of Pisa.
This was a token touristy, tick-off-the-busket-list adventure and photo opportunity,
and yea,
I held up the leaning tower,
no big deal.
(It's actually a huge deal and I was far too excited about it)

Florence was our first stay in Italy.
This has got to be in my top 2 favourite places. It might even be number 1. I had such a perfect day here. Climbed the 400 something stairs to the top of the Dome, walked along the river to the Michaelangelo Park and absolutely fell in love with the place. There is nothing quite like seeing a city from above, and this one took my breath away!!
We finished the day with a hilarious group dinner and karaoke night where I drank far too many cocktails and sang only a couple too many songs!
Yea, only a couple.
(I refuse to admit that there are photos from this night)

And as to be expected, the bus ride the next day was filled with attempts to cure the hangover. Meaning plenty of junkfood and a good dosage of sleep, while making our way to the city of ruins.
We had a mini stop over at the beautiful wee town of Orvieto. Absolutely stunning place full of Italian boutique stores and beautiful Italian street facades.
What hangover?!

And then we arrived in Rome.
 We started our visit off with a walking tour around the main sights.
There is soooo much to see and it is all just incredible.
It was so much more than I could have imagined.
If you know me at all then I'm sure you'll know how much I become easily obsessed with architectural history and ruins and I'm sure you can imagine my excitement here.

We spent the morning of the following day wandering through the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and visited the Vatican City in the afternoon.
Words can't describe these places. The history here is so immense it just takes over. You can just imagine the events taking place in the massive areana, the fighting, the crowds, the emperor enjoying the 'show'. As you walk from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum the place presents itself as a true ancient city, where people lived and worked and socalised and fought. The buildings come together before your eyes and the history unravels itself, telling the stories of ancient generations who lived within the ruins that are presented before you.
I could spend hours here.
Days even.
And don't even get me started on the Vatican City and all it's magnificent artwork.
There is too much to see here for one day.
I'll be back.
(I even threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make sure of it)

And before we know it we are off on the road again, leaving the beautiful city of Rome to begin our Venetian adventure.
Ah Venice.
You took all my money.
I guess thats what love does.
I can't even find the words to describe this place.
It's just a feeling you get.
Go there!!
After a stunning lace demonstration, an entertaining glass and crystal demonstration, and an hour or so of buying pretty things, we found ourselves floating down the canals of Venice.
Sun shining, so relaxed, not a care in the world.
This is what true holiday's are made of!!
Another favourite, chuck it up into the top 5 there somewhere!

And then we are on the road again.
Part 2; Salzburg, the Sound of Music, and Vienna

But that stories for another post. Theres no way I can subject you to that much excitement in one sitting.

I look back at these first 10 or so days and I have absolutely no idea how we managed to fit it all in. It was so jam packed there was no time for rest,
and it was just perfect.
What I failed to mention is how every city has had some form of scaffolding on the main monuments and buildings. I guess thats what happens when you travel off peak.
I'm not going to complain!!
Looking back, I look straight past the scaffolding, I'm almost disappointed if there wasn't any. It's just become another thing to love in my travels.

Also, just thought I'd add that I have found a job AND a flat!
Settled in London.
Things are looking positive for some more travel in the not too distant future.

I'll keep ya posted!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Skye High: Scotland Adventures

I spent roughly a week in Scotland and loved every minute of it.
Here goes:
I had a decent 3 days here in Aberdeen to visit Amber, see the city, and relax before my Haggis Adventure Tour!
I had the best luck with my flight from Luton! I was sitting next to 2 super friendly kiwis who had just spent the last 6 months travelling around both America and Europe. They had the most fantastic stories, we literally spent the WHOLE flight in conversation and they made me even more excited for my travels. 
Who knew that would be possible.
Their friend offered to drive me into the city so I wouldn't have to deal with public transport which absolutely made my day!!
After just 10 mins of driving in from the airport I could definitely understand why they call this gem 'The Granite City'!
The streets are lined with stunning grey granite buildings which have such intricate detailing and beautiful facades. I was completely blown away by the intensity of these buildings.
However, as beautiful as they are, they contribute a little bit of a dull atmosphere to the city. 
I still loved it though.
I spent the days relaxing and wandering these wonderful streets, spending my first day just walking up and down Union Street (the cities main street) getting my bearings and soaking up some sunshine (I couldn't be too sure how long this would hang around).
During my stay I managed to visit the Marischal College (now used as council buildings), the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Union Terrace Gardens, the Train Station, Union Square, the Maritime Musuem, and St Nicks Kirk, as well as spend some quality catch up time with Ambo!!
I regrettingly missed out on the Tolbooth Museum out of pure forgetfulness and the Provost Skene House because of demolition in the area :( so incredibly gutted (google it, it sounds amazing).
I won't bore you with my experiences of each of these places, all I'll say is that I enjoyed each and every one and I'll leave you with some photos;
Marischal College
Art Gallery Interior
His Magesty's Theater
Union Terrace Gardens
Inside the Maritime Museum
St Nicks Kirk

I want to live here.
There is something incredibly jaw dropping and mind blowing about Edinburgh. The beauty of the Architecture and city scape really speaks for the city's character and history! It is absolutely stunning.
I didn't spend much time here at all so I didn't do any of the touristy visits or tours, I just wandered around both Old and New Edinburgh for a few hours.
I fell in love.
I am definitely coming back here. 

The rest of my week in Scotland was absolutely jam packed with travel and sightseeing, all thanks to Haggis Adventures.
I fully recommend doing one of these tours, there is no way I could have seen what we did, heard what we did, and got to do what we did without the aid of the tour guide! 
Trip of a lifetime!!!
And I met some incredible people; 
people I hope to be friends with for a long long time and possibly even visit them later on in their home countries...
(Hint hint)
Bright and early on the friday morning we met and started awkwardly introducing ourselves to the strangers who were to become our friends, then jumped on the bus and set off down the Royal Mile!!
The guide was fantastic at telling us the Scottish myths, legends, and history throughout the tour, stories told with such enthusiasm and excitement.
She enticed us with challanges at each stop and entertained us with some Scottish tunes while giving us a truckload of information to digest and understand.
Following are just a few of my definite highlights and most memorable moments of the trip:

Whiskey Distillery
This was a definite must do while in scotland.
We did a wee tour, was taught the process of making whiskey, learnt about how to properly drink it, and then finished off the tour with a wee taster!
I can't say I was the biggest fan. I thought I did like the odd whiskey, buuuut this was so strong in flavor I can't see myself drinking a lot of it in the future!
A very interesting tour!

Fairy Waterfall
Hearing about the fairies was very entertaining.
These myths were my favourite ones.
It's a nice idea, believing that these creatures are looking after the landscape for you.
Here at the waterfall we were challanged to make our way up to the top, grab a mouthful of water, run back down and spit the water on to the fairy rock. It is said that in doing so the fairies will grant you a wish (you make the wish while spitting).
This was a lot of fun.
It sounds easy enough, but this was terribly muddy and slippery and rather difficult, running back down with a mouthful of water deemed itself to be quite the challenge.
After a couple of slips, mud splashes on my jeans, and extremely muddy shoes, I approached the rock and made my wish.
Challenge completed.
Now just to wait for the wish to come true.
Fingers crossed.

River of Eternal Youth
Before reaching the river we were told a story of a lady who, on her way to her marriage to a member of an rival clan, tried to cross this river, fell off her donkey, hit her face on a rock, lost an eye, munted her face, basically came out looking the like the ugliest woman alive. Her father sent her to marry anyway, covering her face and tricking her husband to be. After their 'I Do's' the veil was lifted and the husband was so disgusted he cut out the donkey's eye and banished them.
So the lady and her donkey, on their way home, came across a fairy and asked it for help. This fairy worked its magic, told them to dip in the river where the accident happened and they came out looking more beautiful than ever before, with eternal youth and beauty. And the donkey turned into a black stallion.
So the story goes, if you dip your face in the water, you too will receive eternal youth and beauty.
So, of course, thats what we did.
It was cold. But so fresh.
And quite a lot of fun!

Eliean Donan Castle
I absolutely loved this place.
There was a battle here long ago and the castle was blown up from the inside, turned completely to ruins.
Many years later the owners found the plans hidden away at Edinburgh castle and set to rebuilding it exactly as it was designed.
It is a beautiful place.
I actually think I preferred the ruins of castles that we saw throughout the trip because of the state that they are left in, leaving more for the imagination to create, but it was pretty incredible seeing one in working order, still occupied by people, in its full architectural glory!!!

Culloden Battlefield
This is a pretty sombre space.
Incredible crazy story of battle and death.
I thought the information center building was very tasteful and effective, and the wall of the dead was striking.
It definitely grabbed my attention and seriously made me stop and think.
Each stone sticking out represents 10 people who died in this battle
Incredible place.
Can't even describe.

The Hermitage
This walkway is home to some of the tallest trees in Britain.
A very cool place and an amazing waterfall.
This was one of our last stops before we arrived back in Edinburgh, and we spent a lot of time here taking photos and just soaking up the stunning scenery!

Winnie the Pooh
He was our tour mascot.
We had a bit of fun with him.

All in all this was a fantastic trip to Scotland and a great way to break into the touring life.
I'll definitely be coming back!
Next stop,
Europe on Topdeck.