Friday, 29 June 2012


We arrived in Barcelona just before dinner, walking to the hotel we passed a lot of badly dressed middle aged women leaning against walls and sitting on the curb.. I didn't realise that they were prostitutes until one of them grabbed the crutch of an elderly man walking past.. Welcome to Barcelona!

The view from our hotel
After navigating our way through the maze of whores (I never thought I'd have reason to write that sentence) we dropped off our suitcases and went exploring in the backstreets. We had been told do not eat in the main drag. The tourist menus are no good.

So we went to a tiny little wine bar where only a few locals were hanging out and had the best tapas of my life. The food was so fresh, after all those days of pizza and cheese I was in heaven.
We spent the rest of the night people watching in Las Ramblas drinking sangria.

There were so many sights to see in Barcelona, all the Gaudi. But after two days in a row on a bus we wanted to stop learning and relax we walked the streets of Barcelona shopping and taking photos of alley ways.

After doing the same pose in every photo I've decided to mix it up by randomly waving my arms around. Holwell isn't thrilled with the concept..

We listened to Spanish street band Microquaqua who were that good we decided to buy their cd.

Desperate for amazing food like the night before we had our eye out for more tapas. And then we saw the tourist menu (knowing full well that tourist menus are no good) we sat down and ordered the (very cheap) paella special.

It was bad, really bad.
The calamari in mine was green, Sam's had prawns so small we were convinced that they were actually bait.

The moral of the story - THE TOURIST MENUS ARE NO GOOD!

We headed to the beach to recover from what was close to a near death experience.

The beach was beautiful, a nice relief from the heat of the day. Sam even managed to find something that was sort of a wave to body surf.

They were selling all sorts of stuff along the beach, "mojitos mojitos, saaaangrrriaaa sangria" was the background noise, until the police rocked up and all of a sudden the beverage sellers disappeared and became beach goers.

We were going to take photos of the beach but the topless ladies around us meant that we decided against it. Probably for the best.

After the beach we really couldn't be assed walking all the way back to our hotel so we got on a sort of bike powered tuk tuk. Our driver/rider's name was Cheese Bar.. "like cheese and like bar - Cheese Bar"

It was only fair that Sam introduced himself "G'day mate, I'm Wicked, Wicked Dude"

Cheese Bar and Wicked Dude really hit it off.

Cheese Bar and Wicked Dude - Photo: Embarrassed Girlfriend
When we got back to the hotel and I started to think about what I'd write in the blog.. That nothing terribly funny or ironic had happened. And then I checked the flight confirmation for the next day.
When I read the boarding pass I felt sick, I'd booked the plane for the wrong day. We'd already missed the flight - the lesson here is that a. Planning is better than winging it and b. Don't book flights in the middle of the night when you are tired and a little bit pissed.

I rebooked the flights for the morning and pretended I hadn't thrown all that money away with the help of some Spanish beer.

Dinner was at a Spanish/Mexican fusion restaurant that didn't look like much from the street but the food was sensational.

After dinner we joined he table next to us. The table was very multicultural, French, Spanish, Italian, Swiss and us..
I dazzled the group with my ability to locate the toilet in many a language.

We would have stayed longer with the group to chat more but we had an early flight to catch now so we headed back to the hotel to pack for Portugal.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A brief encounter with Florence and Nice

Bus-ing about
After the bus picked us up in Rome we headed to our first stop Aviano.
Aviano is a cute little town on the top of a very large hill. So large in fact, that you can only get up by Funicular. It's a cable car thing that goes up the side of a hill.

A cable car full of hot hungover types is probably the last thing I needed.

No, I don't know why Sam isn't wearing shoes.. stop looking at his feet, look at that view!
The town itself was beautiful, it was the Italy I had always imagined. Windy cobbled streets, old buildings and beautiful Italian food.

I had the best coffee I have ever had on that (very large) hill, followed by the tastiest gelato imaginable. Hangover cured.

We headed on to Florence and made friends with a chap named Alex. We all decided that we should have wine and cheese when we got to our accomodation.
When we arrived at reception, they mentioned it was 38 degrees, and the rooms were tents so therefore had no air conditioning.
There was only one thing that could lift the mood.
Wine and Cheese.


Alex had a theory that we should only drink bottles of wine that cost 1 - 2 €.
So that's what we did. We drank a few bottles of Italy's finest (cheapest)  - and ate about four blocks of cheese.

I've never met a man more excited about cheese
Throughout the evening our table became longer.
Alex, Sam and I met an Irish couple Gavin and Avril who were at the bar to watch Ireland play in the Euro Cup.

Then met another couple Chloe and Beau who jumped on to our table.
Then another Aussie couple Cassie and Rob from Queensland who also had a cute black dog they were missing terribly.
Then a group of about six English girls joined the end of the table. It was clear to us then that we had to play a drinking game. And that we did. With red wine..

At the end of the night I got lost trying to find our tent and lost Sam in the process. This is what skulling red wine will do to you.

The morning after cheese and wine night was as you would expect.

But we had to put that behind us because we were on the bus to Nice with a whole different group of people.

The journey took a detour at the leaning tower of Pisa so we could take ridiculous touristy photos.

I'm trying to flick it so it's straight again.. get it?
We drove on through Monaco and discovered its pretty bloody hard to move there. Just a lazy million euros to apply and even then you might not get in. Might just stay in Barwon Heads for the moment.

We saw Grace Kelly rock, where princess Grace's car went over the cliff.

And then we arrived in Nice, a picturesque beachside French town.
We didn't see a lot of Nice, but I promise we were there!

We went to a tiny restaurant La Mamas, where the owner only spoke French. It made me excited to head back to Paris again!

The next day we were on the bus to Barthelona..

Monday, 25 June 2012


I really wish I knew more Italian, I know bits and pieces but no where near as much as I'd like to.

It's meant that all conversations in Rome resulted in us speaking broken English with an Italian accent in the hope that they understand us better than regular English, when really the end result is sounding like the count from sesame street and know one knows what you are on about.

After we got to Rome from the airport we were chatting to figure out which direction to head in to get the hotel, when a guy (who we thought was American) shouted "you guys are Aussie right? Can I buy you guys a drink?"
Turns out he was from Adelaide and he had that weird accent that all South Australians have.. And he was smashed.
After we finished our first drink we went to leave he begged us to stay, He was waiting for his train and didn't want to drink alone. We stayed for one more drink but that was about it, his South Australian accent was getting thicker and thicker with every sip and we could hardly understand him.

Our hotel had a rooftop area overlooking the city. We were that excited to be in Rome, so after dinner we bought a bottle of red and headed to the roof to plan our next day.

I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel so we headed to the Vatican to get a look, and then we saw the line.

Technically we had seen the Vatican so we decided to skip waiting in line for hours and go to the colosseum.

There was another line at the colosseum but it was no where near as long, which was good news given it had cracked 35 degrees.

We were fortunate enough to be standing next to a group of Americans who were loudly being loud and we spent almost an hour listening to their waffle.

The colosseum was, well colossal. It was huge and all the stories about what went on we're fairly intense.. Russell Crowe will give you the gist.

But my god was it hot! All the stone and loud American banter meant that we quickly saw everything and went to get some shade and some lunch.

Grandma told me I had to get some leather boots in Italy. Challenge accepted.
We wandered around the main shopping strips near the Spanish Steps and I didn't find anything I liked.

Disappointed And bootless, we had dinner near the Trevi Fountain. Well what we thought was the Trevi Fountain until we realised that it's a bit bigger and more popular.

That's not a fountain..

THIS is a fountain

After finding the right fountain (these people have fountains everywhere!) I did the typical tourist thing and threw a coin in so I return to Rome, I'm hoping when I come back it's not so hot. Hopefully the fountain will hook me up.

The next day we headed to Trastevere to hunt boots because it's meant to be THE happening place, and well let's face it.. We're happening kind of people.

We took the train and then started walking, in the wrong direction. For an hour.
We were no longer on the map we had and google couldn't even save us.
I won't lie, walking in the heat with no idea where we were and taxis not pulling over wasn't the best time.

We finally got a taxi to pull over and got dropped off in the right spot.

Trastevere was magical, after a tense journey there it was clear that wine, pizza and pasta were the key to happiness.

And then we explored the back streets, it was the cutest place.

I found a shop called Carlo Cecchini, I knew I was I the right place to find my boots, it smelt of leather. Not in a weird way, in a exciting boot challenge kind of way.

I picked out a pair and declared the challenge a success.

They wrapped the boots and gave me a ridiculously large bag to carry. I loved it!

We then had to head out to a new hotel just outside of Rome where the bus was picking us up the next day.

Getting public transport with a suitcase and the massive bag o boots was not fun. Repacking was happening, as a matter of priority.

The place we stayed was a camping ground that had a lot of youthful types drinking cocktails from buckets.. When in Rome..

Let's just say that getting up the next day and the bus ride to follow wasn't a great experience.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Our ferry left at 7am from Piraeus, the port of Athens. Which meant we had to be up nice and early.

We caught the train to the port and this time decided to keep our bags with us just in case we had any trouble like we did last time. Turns out undesirable types sleep in, everyone on the train was perfectly normal and not interested in stealing any of our things..

The ferry to Santorini wasn't super fun. You weren't allowed to go outside, which was a shame. We dropped people off at four islands before we got to Santorini. It was so good to finally get there.

We hadn't booked any accommodation because we'd heard that they offer it to you at the port.

We started talking to a guy named Bill - I just really don't think that is his name. After much negotiation he gave us a cheap price on a hotel on the beach side of the island and drove us there. He asked me if I had come to Santorini to get some colour, because I had none - ease up Bill.

He seemed like a nice guy and when we got to the hotel a grumpy looking middle aged woman met us with the key and escorted us, along with Bill to our room. He turned to us and whispered "She is the boss' Mumma"

We got the feeling that Mumma didn't like us.

No one was at the pool so we thought we would have it to ourselves for the afternoon. Turns out no one else was at the hotel. It was just us.. And Mumma.

We decided that instead of getting some lunch we should drink by the pool all afternoon - I believe that this is where we started to go wrong.

When it was time for dinner (there is no clock on this holiday, time is judged by how many meals we have had - which is why we are getting fat)

We headed to a place on the beach called - Charlie's (I think) we continued to drink and ordered an amazing seafood platter. Then they gave us a free shot of Ouzo - this is where I know we went wrong..

I had four shots of Ouzo and Sam had more. This is not advised.
By this point of the night Sam was behind the bar and I was drinking home made wine with the chef. And I think someone brought their dog in?

One of the waiters drove us back to our hotel which was perfect because I'm not sure we could remember where it was.

It was after midnight when we got back and as we walked to our room we both looked at each other and said "Mumma would not be pleased"

The next day was awful.
I thought if I went for a swim in the pool it would make me feel better - it didn't.
It took us a few hours but we eventually got to the beach. And fell asleep.

We've both decided to stop drinking Ouzo - its probably for the best.

The morning after the worst day of my life I met another employee (read relation), she never mentioned her name (we decided to call her Mumma's daughter) who offered to make us breakfast, it was clear the hotel was not open and we were there by some weird coincidence so I politely declined, she then asked if I wanted a bike/quad bike/tour/car/coffee/tea/are you sure you don't want breakfast?

We decided we would rent a bike and negotiated a good price (we had done our research) well we thought we were doing well until she asked us for coins for the phone to arrange the bike and we saw her use her iPhone!!

We chatted with 'daughter of mumma' whilst waiting for the bike.

"You want me to take you to the airport tomorrow?"
'No, its ok. Bill is taking us'
"Ah Vassili? yes?" - I knew Bill waasn't his real name!
"you married?"
"you engaged?"
"oh, I thought maybe you somesing.. But you nusing yes?"
'um, I mean seven years..'
"where you from? Canada?"
'No, Australia..Melbourne'
"I have cousins in Clayton, it's vey beautiful yes??"
'uh.... Yea..'

The bike couldn't have come quick enough.

Sam wouldn't let me drive, can't imagine why...

The chap with the bike was insistent that he take Sam's passport for the day whilst we had the bike and that he would collect the key and return it at the end of the day.

We explained that he could forget that idea and ended up handing over Sam's license, quite sure that handing out your passport isn't a good idea.

We headed off around the island and did notice the bike was a bit shit.. And it got progressively worse but we chose to ignore it. Meanwhile I couldnt stop singing ABBA songs, exploring the island was so much fun.
We came back to the hotel for lunch and thought a rest would do the bike some good (machines shouldn't need to rest - because they are machines!)

We went to see the sunset at Oia where every single tourist ever was, we took some snaps but were nervous that the bike would fail on us in the dark on the way home.

There were a few hills involved on the drive back, which meant Sam had to push the bike up becaue it kept stopping.. At one point I got off to see if that would work and it still didn't (thank god! I would have got a complex)

Somehow we finally got home. And we did get to see the sunset, it was just from the back of our dodgy quad bike.

The bike man was meant to come and get the bike at ten, and return Sam's license. But he didn't show.

The next morning before our flight Sam (forcefully) suggested that mumma's daughter call her friend so he could get his license.. Very thankful that we hung on to our passports.

He got it back in the end, old mate rocked up with a plastic pocket full of passports (Seriously?)IDs and licenses..

Best we head to the airport..

"Bill" came to pick us up and we told him all about the bike and the time that we had. He seemed to think that we'd had a pretty normal experience since everyone from Santorini was strange.. he was from Athens.

After giving us his skype details (?) we set of to catch a plane to Rome.

Thursday, 14 June 2012



We didn't get off to a great start in Athens, our plane arrived safely and we got on the train (we learnt that lesson in Munich!)

Our bags were in the luggage storage area and we were sitting a few seats away, as we got closer to the center of Athens the train became really crowded and some undesirable types were loitering around our bags.

With only a few stops to go we decided to get our bags and get ready to get off. The undesirables didn't want to move, one off them grabbed my arm and tried to escort me off the train at the stop before ours. I explained to him that this was not my stop..

Whilst all this was going on there was a chap pressing himself against Sam's back. Not in the 'it's a busy train I can't move' way, more 'I'm pressing myself up against you so you don't notice I'm stealing items attached to your person' way.

Sam politely asked the gentleman to refrain from stealing his wallet and that was that.

No, actually Sam told him off in a way that is understandable in all languages, the chap didn't move and his mate was pushing against my suitcase so I couldn't move either.. The train doors opened at our stop and we both got away with all of our things. But we also felt a bit yucky.

We stepped out of the train station and were welcomed with a view of the acropolis, maybe this place isn't that bad after all.

The view of the Acropolis from our hotel

Our hotel was a short walk from the station and the receptionist was lovely she gave us a map and put a big cross the the area where the 'bad people live'

The forbidden zone..

I was desperate for the Greeks to be all My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so you can imagine my excitement when we were walking past a restaurant and the spruiker says "you come you eat Grik salad, you share, you drink.. No problem, where you from? Australia got alodda Griks, come sit no problem" all in the same sentence.

Grik salad, no problem..

You can imagine Sam's excitement when he saw they were showing the Euro Cup.

The food was amazing, (I feel like I need to start using another word to describe great things, I've used amazing a lot) and they put the bill on the table before we had even started eating, so we got another bill for the next round of drinks, and the next and well..

It's about 35 degrees everyday and the air conditioning in our room is on the fritz, so we have been leaving the window open at night. And man is it noisy! There are loud bangs like really loud bangs out on the street at about 2am.. I'm longing for Santorini where hopefully our air con works and they bang things in the street at a reasonable hour.

The thing about Athens is it's all about the acropolis, and it's fantastic, one of the best bits was when we saw a tortoise! I know, it was awesome! We did appreciate the statues and the old buildings but a tortoise! Who would have thought!

After we had climbed the hill - in thongs (if you do visit the acropolis wear sensible shoes, there is slippery marble everywhere - DO NOT wear thongs) and taken all the photos we weren't really sure what to do next.
Its not OK that I'm whiter than ancient ruins...

So we went for a wander and saw the changing of the guard at the grave of the unknown soldier, they do a procession with a lot of kicking and marching in their traditional uniforms. They must be so hot!

We went for a drink before dinner and I decided to have some local wine and this is how they served it, that's not a wine glass!

Our second day in Athens was spent shopping, it was very hot and we felt like we had run out of touristy things to do.

Sam got really good at sitting outside whilst I went shopping.

We went back to the restaurant we visited the first night, not that it matters I'm pretty sure they are all in it together. We asked if they had Baklva tonight and they said 'yes of course - no problem' and showed me the menu of the restaurant next to them and sent the waiter next door to get it.

'of course, no problem..'

After two stinking hot nights without aircon, on our final night in Athens it decided to work. God it was cold, we had to get the blankets out..

We waved good bye to the acropolis at 5.30 (am!!) on our way to catch the ferry to Santorini excited for a cool breeze and the beach!

Sunday, 10 June 2012


So, if you ever go to Munich don't get a taxi from the airport, unless you are loaded. We learnt that the hard way, their train system is very efficient (much like the Germans) and a quarter of the price.

The view from our hotel

To recover from the taxi fare we grabbed our first German meal. We learnt quickly that its not just the quality of the beer its also about the size..

Sam hasn't been surfing for two weeks, so when he found out about the standing wave we had to go there. There is a wave under a bridge called eisbach. I'm not sure how or why it just is. And people surf it. That's probably not a great explanation.. try this

Our friend from Germany told us we had to go to Hofbrauhaus for some of their famous beer.. And that we did.

Pretty sure I drank about 5 liters of beer, that's not ok.

Everyone else was just as drunk so it was amazing people watching.

At the beginning of the night we met a guy from Chicago who was with a very very very drunk girl from Sydney, when the girl wandered off he told us all about how he loved Australians and that he used to party with Wayne Carey (sorry was that meant to be impressive?)

In other news the Germans are all about the meat so I basically had Mac and cheese for dinner ( they call it spatzel)

We met a group of Austrian guys on a work trip who wanted to practice their English, they said they were carpenters. We all laughed over the fact that Austria and Australia are basically the same word (.. It was funny after all that beer)

It's almost the same word!

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, probably something to do with the amount of steins that we drank.. We walked back to the hotel in the rain (it made sense at the time).

So we woke up kind of fuzzy - some more than others. Sam left his phone in the communal bathroom at our hotel and when he realised and went back, it was gone!
We knocked on the doors of those in the rooms around.. I was talking to a Spanish girl who didn't know a word of English.. Lucky I know how to say toilet in Spanish (and vigorously mime phone) and we got the phone back.. She was on her way to hand it in to reception but I still maintain that knowing the word toilet in Spanish saved the day (and the phone)

After a quick breakfast and the worst coffee in the world (i thought europe was meant to be all over coffee?!) we went to the Dachau Concentration Camp.

We caught two trains and a bus there rather than going on a tour which would have cost three times as much - we ended up following behind some groups to get the info any way, for free. Man was it disappointing when the guide wasn't speaking English!

This piece includes all of the different badges the prisoners were made to wear. They all wore the circles on their backs, like targets for the SS soldiers if they were trying to escape  - Info courtesy of the guide who's group we tagged along in.
Walking into the camp was eerie, It's devastating to think that it all happened not so long ago. We hardly spoke as we wandered through the camp and museum Sam said 'Brutal hey?' a few times but other than that we were silent.

Me, standing in the "showers" where they would gas prisoners before cremating them
When we got back in to Munich it was raining again. (I swear it's meant to be summer here) So we found a beer hall and waited for it to stop raining.

Sam was working his way through the meat dishes of Germany (whilst I was working my way through the potatoes of Germany) and ordered a wiener schnitzel - they bought him two and then another one because according to the waiter "Ve vere sinking zat it vasn't enough"

Because two just wouldn't have been enough

How Germany isn't full of enormous people I don't know, all that beer and meat is intense..

I told Sam we had to see the glockenspiel before we left because its a thing that you have to do.
The glockenspiel is like a cuckoo clock and instead of the people in German dress/children/knights riding horses popping out of the clock they spin around.

The most exciting part was when one of the knights nearly fell off out of the clock into the full square of people below.

We didn't stay for the whole thing a few rotations was all we needed.
The square was packed with people gazing at the glockenspiel, maybe we just didn't get it?