Monday, June 27, 2005

Florence, Switzerland

¡¡¡Hola from Barcelona!!!!!

Florence was honestly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. We were meant to go to Venice, but unfortunately the night train was full, so we decided on Florence, which through quite a bit of a spanner in the works.

We got onto our night train in the afternoon, to find that a) The lighting and airconditioning appeared to be broken, and b) there was already a polish family of four in our six-person compartment (interestingly seemingly living out of one suitcase, i kid you not). The former was obviously a problem given the EXTREMELY hot temperature´s we´re heaving lately (particularly in comparison to London), but the latter was not an issue until a gentleman turned up who also had a ticket for our compartment. So, stuck with 7 people in an already cramped 6 person compartment (with a 1' by 6' space not taken up by couchettes), no airconditioning, no lighting, and some of the filthiest toilets that I have EVER seen (anyone who has been on an Italian train will know what i mean - the long drop seems almost like a blessing!), we could tell that we were in for a fun trip. Fortunately, we worked out how to get the airconditioning and lighting going before long (turns out the family must have enjoyed sitting in a dark oven, the switch was above the father´s head). The evening didn't go too badly, but i'm reluctant to hop on an italian train again!

Any doubts about the italians, though, dissapated when we arrived in florence. It was one of the most beautiful cities i've ever seen, and the sunrise over the river as we came in was amazing. We had a bit of an issue trying to find accommodation, but it sorted itself out in the end, and we got a few of the last beds available in a hostel.

I'll write more abotu the different destinations when i eventually get back to england and get set up with my computer and everyting like that - which will probably not be until september. Florence was beautiful, we then headed up to Interlaaken in Switzerland, via milan. wHEN We were in Interlaaken, we caught the train up one of hte highest mountains in the area, the Jungfrau, all the way to the summit, where we were really fortunate to have a crystal clear day and so brilliant views over the swiss alps.

We then caught a train to Geneva and on to Barcelona overnight. Geneva was fairly uneventful, we just went down to the shores of the lake and read books while we were waiting for our train. You can get an idea of how action packed our time was there when i say that there were 2 significant events - one was when 2 guys in front of me in the street tried to blame me for them farting, and the other was when we were basically out of money and trying to sweettalk the mcdonalds manager into giving us as much food as possible. But the city itself was really pretty - if incredibly expensive (14 francs for a pack of cards).

After leaving Geneva, we got a fairly nice Spanish/French train to Barcelona, arriving in the morning.

But that's the subject for the next post.

Now in Lisbon, Portugal, having a fantastic time (and having been offered hash 16 times in 24 hours).

Russ

Friday, June 17, 2005

Munich (I think) & Vienna

München was absolutely amazing. During the day i went to Dachau, the first Concentration camp, again a very moving experience, and during the evening\afternoon, we went on a city tour. Mum....you should probably stop reading this right about now.

The basic thing with the tour was that it was €10 for a 3 hour walking tour of the buildings. The catch was that they took 2 kegs of the local beer along and it was all you can drink. So we set off, and the beer had an absolute kick like a mule. 3 hours of heavy, thirsty walking later (including seeing the hillarious version of Surfing that Munich has to offer), the entire tour group was the worse for wear. We had seen some great sights, like the glockenspeil (which is apparently INCREDIBLY overrated when it goes off), the old town hall, the new town hall, the old palaces, and Hitler#s local, where he planned teh Beer Hall Putsch, as well as the usual churches and stuff like that. My last solid memory is of watching the surfers on the river, but i#m assured that after teh tour, we went to the Hofbrauhaus, where we were apprently kicked out very quickly. I think that being kicked out of Hitler´s old local is a completely new low for me.

This morning, VERY hungover, we got a train to Vienna, where we have been pretty much all afternoon.

MUM - you can start reading again. Vienna is an absolutely beautiful city! unfortunately we´re leaving in about an hour, but i´ve decided that this is a place that I really want to come back to. The buildings and the parks are just amazing.

Anyway - i´m out of credit again, so i´lö´ll write more later, probably in Spain!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thank you Princess Mary..........

Firstly, I would like to thank Princess Mary for having one too many at the Slip Inn all those years ago and meeting some random guy. If she hadn#t done that, we wouldnä#t have been able to get LOADS OF free beer at the Carlsberg brewery.

At the moment i#m attempting to learn how to use a German Keyboard, where a few of the letters are messed around and ones like this are added in öäüß, so forgive me µ if i make some tzpos.

Denmark was absolutelz amazing. Dave´s relatives own a pig farm, so we went for lunch and ate some of the best ham that I have tasted (home smoked, with home made sausages and everzthing like that). It was absolutely fantastic and we followed it with a tour of the farm, seeing how everything worked and stuff- there were 500 acres of wheat and barley needed to feed 5000 pigs, about 200 go to market every week, and a new litter or two is born almost every day - certainlz a streamlined process! We also saw the two luckiest pigs on the farm, one of whom was completely exhausted from a full days work!
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After that, we took a look around Cöpenhäagen for a while, and we saw princess Mary#s car (she was in it but we didn#t get to see her), as well as the changing of the guard, the little mermaid, and several other really interesting sites. Unfortunatelz the little mermaid developed a bit of a crush on Patric, our travelling companion, so he was missing as we left her (unfortunatelz only discovered about 5km down the road madly riding to catch a train which we made by 2 minutes). Copenhagen also has those city bike things like Aarhus, so it was reallz easy to get around.

We spent 2 nights in copenhagen, and then caught a train to berlin, getting in about 10pm. the area where the hostel was, despite being the heard of west berlin during the cold war, was completely dead. The next day we went about aour sightseeing. First, we went out to one of the old concentration camps, which was really moving. reading some of the stories and visiting the rooms made zou feel almost sick to your stomach about what had happened in there. Interestingly, i got a similar feeling of bewilderment walking around the streets of berlin, where thez had put up the wall. How can human beings do this to each other? We walked around berlin (no citybikes) seeing all the sites.

Must go - my credit is out at the internet cafe...more to come!!!!!

Russ

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Denmark

Well. We've arrived safely in Denmark and are enjoying hte company with some of Daveøs relatives! The last night in the dorm was amazingly fire alarm free, but it was realy sad to say my final goodbyes to everyone who was left and stuff like that. I already miss all you guys heaps!!!!

Unfortunately last night, the third member of our travelling party, 'Sherlock' went missing. Luckily at about 2am, we found that he had a twin brother, so 'Patric' will now be appearing in the photos, keep an eye out for him when they go up (a little irish man (1.5 inches high) playing a flute), thanks for donating him Patri!

At the moment i'm writing this from an AMAZING little country house in Denmark, complete with Thatched roof and Barley fields across the road. I'll put some photos up on the website when I get a chance + but i've got no idea when that will be, because my computer is living at some family friends' until the summer, so I doubt i'll be able to post photos for a long time, but then i'll post a whole heap at once when I again have some stable internet on my own computer.

It's now 11.40pm, and i'm writing this having got up at 4 and on 2 hours sleep (as las chicas can confirm), so I'm going to be brief in the rundown of what we did today. I accidentally left my waterproof jacket in my room and realised when we were already on the tube platform in a MÅSSIVE rush to try and get the Stansted express. Long story short, I managed to race back and get it - i think the fastest that I have ever moved, and the man at the tube station even let me out and back in for free which was good of him.

We ended up making the train with about 15 minutes to spare which was good, and meant that we made the flight with plenty of time to spare as well. THe flight was fairly uneventful except us planning a bit of the trip (we're basically going train-city for a few hours-night train-city for a day-hostel-city for half a day-train etc), but it's nice to have at least a slight idea of whatøs going to happen come tuesday (we're going to Norway). Thus far, the only real confirmed plans are to be in Alicante, Spain for their festival on 23-25 July, and to climb Mt Stromboli, an active volcano in Italy, and go on the train up the Jungfrau in Switzerland.

We arrived in Aarhus (unfortunately pronounced Orhus, not Arse as i had hoped), and were met at the airport by Davø's cousin (I love this keyboærd!!), who took us into town and showed us aroudn for a few minutes before setting us free to hit the town ourselves. Theyøve got a great system where you can hire bikes for free (everything is nearly flat), you pay a 20 Kroner about$AU5 deposit into a machine attached to the bike,a nd you get it back when you chain the bike up again, which was really good for getting around town, as Gretha had given us a map as well. So we rode around for a while making some general mischief (photos to come) before heading to a supermarket to see what they sold over here. Dave nearly wet himself when he saw a massive section of pickled herring....as yet I canøt understand the appeal, but i'm trying it tomorrow i'm told, so I'll let you know.

After we got back, we had a fantastic dinner and Dave's other cousin Elna drove us to her house, about 45 mintues outside of town. Thatøs the amazing thatch cottage where i am at the moment. Earlier we took a walk down to a fjord, where the water was only abotu 6 inches deep, so you could see piles of rocks stretching all the way across to an island about 500m away (apparently they only have rocks naturally occuring in one place in Denmark -not there). Tomorrow night we're staying at Dave's Aunt and UNcle's place, which is apparently a pig farm with the best bacon I will ever taste - again I'll let you know.

Anyway, it's almost midnight here, so iøm going to sign off.

Keep smiling everyone - again apologies to those waiting for reply emails!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Farewell to the 'Bone

Taking my computer down to Cecily and Ferg's tonight to store it with them over the summer, so this is going to be the last post until I can get to an internet cafe in Europe. As some sort of twisted farewell to the dorms, i suppose it was only fitting that we had no fewer than SIX fire alarms in 12 hours.

I said my goodbyes to almost all of my friends here last night, so that was quite sad. Eric came and banged on my door at 7.30 this morning to say goodbye, Elea left yesterday afternoon, and the dorm is basically emptying out tonight, which will be weird when there's almost no one around to play with!

Anyway, I should get going now, I still have to finish packing everything (read start packing everything except my clothes) as well as tying up all my loose ends around London.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

THE END

Well, that's it. It's over. Everything's being packed, it's time to move on, move out, and leave Westminster behind. Eurail beckons in a few days, Davo arrives this afternoon.

This is my blog, this is where I'm going to relay accounts of all my shenanigans over the summer because chances are I won't have access to my group email lists. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to the adventures that will come and your comments about them.


THE BEGINNING