Australia and Oceania, Europe · 27 Days · 58 Moments · June 2017

Frankie's Whirlwind Euro Trip

27 June 2017

Arrived at Prague airport nice and early so I could check in. Except I find out my flight was cancelled. At the start of May... 4 days after I booked it.... Of course there are literally no free seats on any other flights to London. Cue panicking. I'm looking at all my options, which includes a 20 hour journey across Europe by train, or flying via Barcelona with a 6 hour layover. Suddenly 2 seats become free on an easy jet flight! Hooray! I book it straight away, which costs me a lovely $341. Happy end to the holiday, hey? Set to depart at 9:50, I enjoy a much needed Maccas. I go to check in and recieve some more great news; your flight is delayed. Expected departure time? 11:15pm. So it's now 10pm, I've been here since 5pm. All the food places are closed, it's bloody freezing and I am still recovering from last night (woops). Thankfully there is free WiFi and places to charge your phone, so I'm taking the forced relaxation time to edit more pics.
I love Prague because people take their dogs everywhere! On the tram, the underground, to the shops, bars, even clubs! 😍😍😍

26 June 2017

Just a quick update while I'm out as I've just crossed the Charles Bridge and need to write this down. Like most cities around the world, Prague has beggars. But there's something unusual about them here. Instead of just sitting on the ground, the beggars are in an almost praying position, basically lying on the ground. They're holding their hat, cup, whatever, in their hands, and they are looking down at the ground. There are no signs. No words are spoken. They are completely silent and submissive. It's quite uncomfortable to see. It's like they're less of a human compared to us, we walk past with our selfie sticks and food. I don't know if they are truly homeless and beggars, but it's a pretty upsetting sight.
Oh my God it is a long bloody walk up to the Prague Castle! But what an amazing view from the top! The Prague Castle doesn't really look like a castle, made up of buildings from many different eras. I didn't have time to look at everything but I did go inside the St Vitus' Cathedral, which was beautiful!
First up in Prague was a free walking tour. These tours are such a great way to orientate yourself in the city, find out where landmarks are and learn a bit of history!

25 June 2017

Got to my hostel in Prague around 4pm and before I'd even put my bags down I had made friends! I wish I had longer in Prague, the hostel (Post Hostel) was amazing! Just from sitting down chatting to an Aussie girl in the corridor I ended up making a little group of friends. Instead of sightseeing I ended up coming along to drinks in a beer garden. It was so fun! This was the first hostel where there was actually a good vibe. People wanted to go out, they wanted to talk and explore and travel with people! It was awesome. Would definitely come back. Pictured is the view from a hill, just before we went to the beer garden and drank $1 beer!
If a train from Germany says "reservation possible on part of journey", make sure you bloody reserve a seat! I've had no issues with any other trains, if reservation wasn't compulsory it was always easy to get a seat. But this train to Prague is genuinely traumatic! Had to try and squeeze my way through the carriages (and people going the opposite direction) to find an unreserved seat. I'm not even sure if the seat I'm in now is unreserved. But I guess we'll find out! I am so glad I didn't have a huge night last night, otherwise this trip would be 100x worse.

24 June 2017

Wow, the East Side Gallery is incredible! Located in East Berlin along the wall, the gallery has over 100 murals. Some were thought provoking, others were funny, and many were absolutely beautiful. I just wish people looked at the gallery and wall and learnt from it. No more walls. No more wars. A united world. 👊
I don't have a photo of my delicious meal because I ate it in 30 seconds. Oops! I'll blame that on the fact I haven't eaten in nearly 24 hours. Double oops! Had an amazing pasta dish for linner (it's 4pm, I don't know if this is lunch or dinner so linner it is) and a banana colada. Yum yum yum 😍 The cocktai was more expensive than my meal! But still very cheap compared to Australian prices!
After seeing the queue for the Pergamon Museum I assumed it would be amazing! Boy was I wrong! The museum is currently being renovated so half the museum was closed. That's fine, but they still charged full price to get in! And there really wasn't much to look at. Sure, the Ishtar Gate was pretty impressive, and so was the Market Gate of Miletus, but other than that... I managed to get round the whole museum in an hour. And I'm the type of gal who likes to read everything. Definitely felt like a waste of time that could have been spent elsewhere!
Late start to the day (thanks to going to bed at 6am!) so I got to museum Island quite late. There was a 2 hour queue for the Pergamon Museum so I booked a ticket online and headed into the Neus Museum. The Neus Museum had a very extensive collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts. It was really cool to see all the sculptures, some dating back to 3000 BC! I was also totally mesmerised by the bust of Nefertiti. The attention to detail was incredible, the sculptor even put included her wrinkles! Really glad I got to see it, it truly is beautiful. Unfortunately I had to race around the rest of the museum as my ticket for the Pergamon was for 2pm and you're not allowed to re-enter the museum when you leave. Was a shame because there was a lot of really cool things I had to basically run past!
Clubbing in Berlin is weird. Friday night I caught the train to East Berlin, after receiving some recommendations from my hostel staff. Technically by now it was Saturday morning as by the time I got in to a club it was 1am! I got a little lost leaving the station (I always seem to take the wrong exit....) but eventually found this street with a bunch of bars and clubs. It was basically in an industrial area with clubs inside old and abandoned buildings. Pretty cool idea! By now I really had to pee so opted for a club with short queue and the promise of 80s music. And it was a bit daggy, kind of like Mint Nightclub in Perth, but it did play some cracking 80s tunes! They even played ABBA! By 4am I was getting tired and knew I had a 30 minute train trip home so I left. The sun was already up and shining, which made the walk to the hostel very safe and easy. Here's a pic of me at 5am taking a much needed rest on some giant concrete blob in a park. 🍻

23 June 2017

On Friday I dedicated my whole day to visiting Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp just outside of Berlin. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Standing where thousands of people were brutally murdered was hard to deal with. Sachsenhausen wasn't really where many Jews were sent. Instead it was primarily for prisoners of war, homosexuals, "anti-socials" and people from other religions. The conditions here were also "better" than other camps as it was used for publicity and propaganda. Visiting dignitaries would get a tour and think it wasn't that bad. Oh how they were wrong. Sachsenhausen was also the final destination for Joseph Stalin's oldest son. After the Nazis realised Stalin's son was worthless to them, he "committed suicide", but he was more than likely killed. Despite it being awfully depressing, visiting a concentration camp had to be done. I'm glad I went, and I hope we never forget what happened to so many innocent people.

22 June 2017

How cool is it that I got to see one of my favourite bands play in a little bar in Berlin?! 😍 It was pure luck that I got to see Baroness on Thursday night. They were supposed to play in Berlin earlier this month but had to reschedule. Bad for some, great for me! It was a 40 minute train trip to a very seedy part of Berlin. But holy crap, it was so worth it! The atmosphere was amazing, the crowd were so passionate and Baroness were perfect, like always. They even played my favourite song, Eula, which I've never heard live before! After the show I went and said hi to the singer, John Baizley, and told him I'm from Australia. He gave me a huge, sweaty hug, it was so awesome! This is the second time I've seen Baroness in 1 month (the other at download) and the third time I've seen them in less than a year!
The Berlin wall was not as scary as I thought it would be. But looking at it in 2017 is a completely different story, it's only a segment and is lacking the security. It really is hard to picture what it would have been like standing in this exact spot all those years ago. Imagine being separated from your friends and family, with double walls, barbed wire and men with guns preventing you from visiting them. I'd like to say society has come a long way from dividing and segregating people, but has anything really changed? This segment of the Berlin wall is located in the Topography of Terror complex. The museum has a bunch of info about the SS and Gestapo and is located where their headquarters once were.
Just as I was making my way back down to the Topography of Terror, the heavens decided to open. I had made it to Checkpoint Charlie when the storm rolled in and at the same time a migraine hit me out of nowhere. I've been fairly lucky this holiday and haven't had any serious migraines, but this new was a doozy. Within 30 seconds of realising I had a migraine I was about to pass out. Needing to get out of the rain, sit down and have a coffee, I ended up in the most touristy McDonald's ever. This McDonald's is literally next door to Checkpoint Charlie. If you don't know what Checkpoint Charlie is, it was an American checkpoint on the Berlin wall. It's become this huge tourist trap, with fake American soldiers out the front charging an arm and a leg for a pic. It's not even the original building! What was worse was the McDonald's; "edgy" interior, paid toilets (😠) and a burger named after the checkpoint. Horrific.
The easiest way to orientate yourself in a city is to go on a walking tour! The tour kicked off at 11am and pretty much followed where the Berlin wall was. Our tour guide, Lewis, was very informative and shared some great stories. At one point we were standing above one of Hitler's bunkers, the one he supposedly died in! We crossed the wall several times during the tour. Hard to believe what life was like when the wall was up! Berlin sure does have a long, complicated and weird history.

21 June 2017

Made it to Berlin, checked into my hostel which is a fairly quick bus trip to the central train station. After unpacking a little (I have to move rooms tomorrow.... 😪) I decided to go have a quick walk around. Except I didn't get very far before I'd encountered a marathon of some description. There was a lot of people, in a lot of Lycra, running and drinking beer (this is a Germany, it makes sense). It was scary, and I didn't want to be a part of it at all! Feeling ridiculously overwhelmed by the size of Berlin, and feeling quite flat, I decided to retreat back to my hostel. By now I was desperate for a beer and thankfully my hostel has a nice little bar, and reasonable prices too! I will hit the tourist traps tomorrow!
Unfortunately it's time to carry on my adventure and leave the Netherlands 😭 I have grown very fond of Utrecht. It's a lot quieter than Amsterdam but still has everything you could want; bars, shops, tourist attractions and, of course, coffee shops. I will definitely be back to the Netherlands in the not so distant future! But now it's on to Berlin! Let the partying continue! 💃🍻

20 June 2017

While in the Netherlands I stayed with a friend of a friend in Utrecht, Jesper. I asked him if there was anywhere I could get a tattoo so I can always remember my trip. Not only is he friends with a tattoo artist, Milou, but she was also happy to come to his house and tattoo me! With zero idea what I wanted, she suggested a paper plane. Simple but cute, exactly what I wanted! She sketched the design right there and then, made the stencil and away we went! Was it a smart idea to get a tattoo on my ankle when I've still got 7 days of backpacking? Eh probably not, but who cares?! Now I've got an awesome, one of a kind tattoo from a Dutch illustrator that was done in a house! How many people can say that?!
Oh boy, the Dom Tower was one hell of a climb! 465 steps up, and then 465 steps back down. My legs were shaking when I was back on solid ground. The Dom tower is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, standing at 112.5 metres. Built between 1321 and 1382, the tower was once part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, also known as Dom Church. Despite the hefty climb, the view from the top was definitely worth it!
Talk about a cool cafe! Delicious food, groovy decorations (like the giant taxidermy giraffe!) and it's got a great view of the Dom Tower. I might never leave Utrecht.....

19 June 2017

If you want a quick but fascinating museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Prostitution is worth the 10 euros. Located in the heart of the Red Light District, the museum takes you inside an old brothel and shows you what life is like as a prostitute in Amsterdam. You even get the chance to stand in one of the infamous windows to see how it feels! Although I already respect sex workers, the museum definitely opened my eyes, mostly to the horrible abuse and violence these women (and men!) can face. The small memorial to the women who have died working in Amsterdam was heart breaking. Why are people so horrible??
Had a very very quick whip around the Rijksmuseum on Monday. I woke up quite late (possibly because of the late night!) and it was a 45 minute train trip into Amsterdam. Much like the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum was bloody huge and I only got to see about a fifth of it! I did get to see a one of Vincent Van Gogh's many selfies, despite already doing the Van Gogh museum. But this time I got to take a picture of it! Definitely a museum you could easily spend 2 whole days exploring.
Oh my God this is one of the best bagels I've ever had 😍 And this Matcha latte is to die for! Think I've just found my new favourite bagel place, sorry Quiet Life 😅
First museum for the day was the Van Gogh museum, home to the largest collection of his artwork. You're not allowed to take photos (😠) but it was quite nice being forced to examine the work with your eyes, not through a camera. And wow, what an amazing collection. Starry Night wasn't there (as it's in the museum of modern art) but I did get to see Sunflowers! It was fascinating seeing how his art style progressed, but Van Gogh's story is also heartbreaking. A man with obvious mental health issues that never really recieved help who, eventually, just couldn't take it anymore. Thank God our mental health services have improved, even if they're still not that great.
The Dutch sure know how to party! On a Sunday night as well! After arriving we went out for some drinks and met up with some of Jesper's friends. I was gonna try and have a semi early night, but once again I could not ignore the call of alcohol. We hopped around to a bunch of pubs, splashed out on a cocktail (which was super cheap compared to Australia!) and ended up at an industry night! It was a very, very late night, but super fun!

18 June 2017

After 5 hours of travelling I finally made it to The Netherlands! I'm staying with a friend's friend in Utrecht, which is about 45 minutes out of Amsterdam. It's actually really nice being a bit out of the tourist area. Plus it means everyone in the bars was Dutch, a nice change from the hundreds of Americans I keep running into.
Well I was supposed to be in Utrecht by 12 but I'm still in Belgium! As much as I loved Bruges, the public transport is a bit crap. Much like Perth buses don't really seem to run on a Sunday so I ended up missing the first train. I'm now on my third train, finally heading to the Netherlands! I did get to enjoy the beautiful Antwerp train station for 45 minutes which was a nice break.

17 June 2017

Spent the afternoon aimlessly walking around Bruges, taking photos and enjoying the relaxed vibe. I stumbled upon The Secret Garden, which is an old, derelict building that was converted into a little community garden! What a beautiful idea, it really breathes life back into the abandoned home.
Feeling a bit crummy after a night of Belgium beer it took me awhile to roll out of my hostel and into the centre. First stop was St John's Hospital. Built in the 11th century the hospital was a place for people to recieve medical care, as well as religious and spiritual care. The hospital was open until the 1970s! It is a beautiful building and boasts an amazing collection of artwork by Hans Memling. Right across the road is the Church of Our Lady, which is home to one of Michelangelo's sculptures, Madonna and Child. It's believed this is one of very few pieces from Michelangelo found outside of Italy, so it was quiet magical to see it! Last bit of museum hopping was to the old Pharmacy in the hospital complex. It was like stepping into a time machine, I kept thinking someone was going to pop up from behind the counter and start selling me leeches!

16 June 2017

When drinking in Bruges it's probably not a good idea to try and keep up with the locals. Or you'll end up like me, a twitching mess of a human. I was supposed to go on a pub crawl last night but it was cancelled, so I took myself off to The Crash; a heavy metal bar. It was this tiny room and blasted everything from Iron Maiden to Slayer to System of a Down. And the beer was reasonably cheap and strong! I was there until about 3am, chatting with the locals. It was great to get away from the tourist areas, although some American guys did rock up at one point. There was only one other girl in the bar, Julie, and she was wonderful! I love how no matter where you are and what language you speak, girls will always look out for each other in bars. She came and rescued me from some creepy old guy and helped keep them at bay. Girl power! I somehow managed to walk home to my hostel, a 2.3km walk. I forgot the code into the hostel but thankfully there was a man outside when I arrived!
366 steps is an awful lot of steps to climb after you've spent all day walking! But the view at the top of the Belfry was absolutely amazing and so worth it. The Belfry was originally built in 1240. After a series of fires (thanks to a wooden structure on the top!) the tower was finally finished in 1822. The tower also leans, quite noticeably!
Went on a free walking tour in the afternoon which was awesome! It was a bloody lot of walking but totally worth it, I found out so much stuff that I would never have known about. Like how the "city hall" in Markt is a completely empty building because it's not safe. Absolutely insane! Here I am at a bridge which apparently features in the movie In Bruges, but because I haven't seen it (yet!) I'm not 110% sure.
Started the day in the Salvador Dali museum! Was a bit expensive (10 euros) but it was awesome to see some of his original artwork. And they were all for sale too! Wonder how much they'd cost...
Currently flying across the French countryside, heading for Bruges. Accidentally slept in because I didn't want my alarm to keep going off and annoy my dorm mates. Woops! Thankfully I woke up with enough time to quickly pack and head to the station. And I made it on my train, eventually! There is a serious lack of signage in France. Had to ask 5 people for help!

15 June 2017

Did I spend 10 and a half hours at Disneyland? Yes. Yes I did. Can I feel my feet? Nope. 😅 Got to Euro Disney just after 10am. It was surprisingly empty! I didn't need to grab any fast passes and the longest I queued for was 45 minutes. Compared to how long I queued at Disney in Japan (in the middle of winter!) this was nothing at all. I managed to go on every ride I wanted to except for the Pirates of the Caribbean and It's a Small World rides as they were closed. Favourite ride had go be Hyperspace Mountain which is just Space Mountain with a Star Wars theme. I even managed to fit in some shopping but as I'm backpacking I am very limited on what I can buy!

14 June 2017

Well it was a bloody long day and it started on very wobbly legs. But ending it on top of a building, overlooking Paris, was absolutely magical. The people may be grouchy and unhelpful, but the city is beautiful. I'm currently on my last train home. Well, the first leg of my trip home. My hostel is lovely but is very far from the tourist attractions. I've probably caught 20 different trains today, all on my own with no one's help! 💪
Spent a good few hours this evening at The Louvre. I would absolutely recommend going to it at night, there was no queue and you could easily look at the artwork. I even got a selfie with the Mona Lisa! The only real downside was the fact all the plaques about the artwork were only in French. Considering it's got to be one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world I was a little surprised. But there were audio guides available, I just didn't get one because I knew I'd end up staying there for the rest of my holiday!
Enjoying a chocolate and strawberry crepe in Jardin des Tuileries 😍 Not pictured is me realising I have spilt chocolate all over my phone, leg and overalls 😳 Glad I brought wet ones with me!
Travelling to Paris this morning on the Eurostar! Because I am terribly unorganised and can't plan more than one day in advance, I didn't reserve a seat on the train and had to pay an extra $400. Oops! I also still don't have any accommodation booked, and no mobile coverage! Looks like EE will cover Europe from tomorrow, so I'll have to find a Maccas as soon as possible to book a hostel (and have a cheeky bit o' brekky!)

13 June 2017

We headed to Camden Town yesterday for a not so quick squizz around the markets. I love Camden so much. I love how there are so many different people, from different ethnicities, backgrounds, subcultures and so on, all in the one place. I also bought myself a new pair of very pretty doc martens. Because I feel like it's a must!

11 June 2017

Day 5, the last day of Download. Feeling quite sad, I've really loved my time here. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, it's like 1 big happy family. We've got a full day of rocking and drinking ahead of us. Thank God beer is an excellent hangover cure! 🤘

9 June 2017

Yesterday was incredible. The rain stopped, the sun came out, the beers were reasonably priced! And I got to see some of my favourite bands. Mastodon were first up and it was absolutely amazing to finally see them live. The only problem was the sun was beating down on us and I got incredibly sunburnt! Classic me 😂 Nipped on over to see Baroness and, of course, they did not disappoint. What an incredible band they are, I feel truly blessed each and every time I get to see them. Next up was Good Charlotte who thankfully played all their old stuff. There is nothing I love more than seeing big, burly, bearded blokes passionately singing along to pop punk. And the GC crowd did not disappoint! Last on was my favourite band, System of a Down. Oh my God, I have never felt so euphoric. I can't believe I got to see SOAD, a band I've loved since I was 6, live in England! Absolutely amazing. I was speechless!
🤘🤘🤘 Day 3 and it's finally time for the music! It's absolutely overwhelming being at Download. I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one place! So excited to see Baroness, Mastodon and System of a Down today. It's going to be a veeerryyy emotional day!

8 June 2017

Spoke too soon! The floodgates opened and we got soaked. We ended up all chipping in to buy a gazebo and managed to put it up in the wind and rain. Not sure how long it'll last but hey, for now we're warm(ish)!
Day 2 at download and it is FREEZING. But thankfully the rain has stayed away, for now. We had a ridiculously late night dancing away in this giant tent that was playing everything from System of a Down to Darude's Sandstorm. Despite the fact it is very cold (I've resorted to tights, socks and fluffy socks to stay warm!) and the mud is already getting out of control, I'm having an awesome time!

7 June 2017

Made it to Download festival! Tent is up, sun is shining, beer is flowing! Made some friends on the bus which is awesome. Looking forward to the next 4 days 🤘🤘🤘

5 June 2017

After all this time? Always. It's been 6 years since the last Harry Potter movie came out and 10 years since the last book was released. And yet the franchise still holds a special place in my heart. I grew up with Harry Potter, my entire childhood revolved around it. Getting to see the props, costumes and sets from the movies is just unreal! The Making of Harry Potter tour is such a wonderful look behind the scenes and a chance to see some of the magic that brought the books to life. I have my issues with the films, but it's still a wonderful series. And the tour doesn't take any of the magic away, if anything it makes the films more spectacular! Also, the butterbeer was incredible! 10/10, would recommend. Will be finding a recipe to make butterbeer at home!
English breakfast in an English supermarket, can you get get any more British?

4 June 2017

Not many people can say their hometown has its own castle! Okay, there's not much left of it except some rubble, but it's still awesome. The castle was built in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror's half-brother, Robert of Mortain. It was once home to Edward III. By the mid-16th century the castle was in ruins and stones were taken to build houses. Now all that's left is a few walls so you've really got to use your imagination!
So surreal walking around my hometown on Sunday afternoon! Berkhamsted hasn't changed all that much, a lot of the shops I used to go to as a child are still there! There is a lot of new trendy places that have popped up, but it's still got that beautiful, quaint British charm about it. And there are SO MANY pubs. SO MANY. For a population of around 16,000, over 10 pubs maaaay be a little extreme. 😂 The rainbow sculpture is in Hemel Hempstead, the next closest town to Berko. I used to climb the sculpture as a kid, doesn't look like you're able to do that anymore. Hemel hasn't changed too much either. It's a little drab around the edges but I still love it!

3 June 2017

Had the chance to catch up with two of my oldest friends on Saturday night! Leanne and Becky lived in the street I grew up in and we would spend hours playing together! Their house hasn't changed one bit, and they haven't changed at all. It was great reminiscing about our childhood, and all the funny little games we'd play out on the road. It was so wonderful seeing them both, honestly felt like I never left! It was awesome checking out The Gatsby as well! No idea when that opened, it has been 5 years since I was last in England so it could have been open for awhile. My hometown, Berkhamsted, has really come along way and is quite a trendy little town now.
Did we spend 6 hours shopping at Lakeside? Maybe. I forget how busy England is. I don't think I've never seen such long queues for changing rooms! Primark was absolutely ridiculous, but God damn I miss that shop!

2 June 2017

Spent the afternoon at Grandad's house. Never thought I'd have to explain what a meme is to my grandad, or discuss roller derby with him!
What else do mum and I do on our first day in England? We hit the shops. Still a little bleary eyed and jet lagged we didn't spend a whole lot of money. We did however go a little crazy in Yankee Candles, because candles are a totally normal thing to purchase while half way across the world!

1 June 2017

Finally landed! No idea what day it is, what the time is or where the bloody hell I am but I can stretch my legs and breathe fresh air so I'm happy! After a 2 hour drive along the M25 we finally made it to my Nanna's house. I can't believe the sun doesn't set until nearly 10pm! How wonderful to have beautiful, long summer days; and for once the weather in England is decent. After being awake since Wednesday morning and travelling back in time, it was an early night for both of us!
2am is not a nice time for a flight! Especially when you had to drive 4 hours from Geraldton to Perth just to get to the airport! First leg of the flight was 5 hours to Kuala Lumpur on a plane that felt like a sardine can. Turns out if you sit in front of the emergency exits you're unable to recline. Attempting to sleep upright with your knees under your chin is definitely a lot of fun! Our flight from KL to London was much more comfy, thankfully! We were on one of those fancy two storey planes, and were seated upstairs. 13 hours is still an insane amount of time to spend on a plane but hey, it gave me a lot of time to play the new Pokemon game!