Europe, North America ·
100 Days ·
81 Moments ·
9 September 2018
Well, today is technically the last useable day of our trip as we’re starting our journey home quite early tomorrow. We got a bit organised with washing etc. in the morning and then met Maggie and Tommy for lunch. It was great to spend time with her again after so many years! We then went around to Shea and Renee’s for some drinks and out for a nice meal to thank them for being such incredible hosts. To my great delight they chose an Asian Fusion place in Chinatown. They dropped us off home afterward and it was quite sad to say goodbye because we’ve had such a nice time together - but we’ll see them again in NZ around Christmas!
8 September 2018
Canada is quickly becoming all about food. We met Shea, Renee and Becky for brunch and I was ordered to order fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup... it was heart stopping but secretly quite delicious. We also tried a Caesar which is the most disgusting cocktail I’ve ever tasted involving tomato juice chilli and lime. We met Maggie and Tommy for a coffee and checked into our last accommodation for the trip which is an actual BnB like where old people stay on the movies! The host is a very talkative, but lovely Polish woman and after dropping us off, Shea is convinced we’re living in a Hansel and Gretel type situation! We went out for pizza together with S&R and went to sleep with glow stars on the ceiling!
7 September 2018
Another really weird accommodation situation last night (good story though). When we arrived, the manager offered for us to pay less in cash rather than through the booking website, I guess to avoid tax or the site’s booking fee. We were already paying with our card online so we obviously left it, but then the manager was banging on our door at midnight asking for payment! Blair told him what was what!!! So this morning we moved onto new accommodation AGAIN. Good thing is the new place is really near what we were planning to do today which was check out Stanley Park. We went out for a drink (which unexpectedly came with free gelato tasting) but Blair’s pretty sore and we’re quite tired after a big few days so we just had a quiet night in.
6 September 2018
This morning Blair and I decided to get our lives / hair in order and head out to the barber / hairdresser. In the afternoon Blair went to the doctor to get his hernia checked out and then we hit up some breweries with Maggie, her cousin Tommy, S&R and their friend Becky for a good night out.
5 September 2018
This morning we had to vacate our AinBnB due to the soiled undies we found under the bed and general disgustingness. Blair’s potential groin strain / hernia was also playing up quite a lot so we had quite a quiet day. We had a look around Granville Island which hosts local artists and markets, and then met up with Renee for a drink and poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) at Olympic Village and went to a great Lebanese place for dinner. We couldn’t find new accommodation for the night so we crashed on Shea and Renee’s floor again and will sort tomorrow!
4 September 2018
This morning I woke up and could barely move my arms following yesterday’s wakeboarding attempts, but I managed to peel myself out of bed when Shea knocked on the door. It was worth it because I actually managed to get out of the water this time and it was a GLORIOUS feeling! Following my wakeboarding success Frank drove us all in the boat to a lakeside restaurant; Hotel Eldorado which was straight out of my dream life. In the evening we made a delish meal together before heading back to Vancouver via Tim Horton’s for donuts. Calorie intake? At least 10,000,000.
3 September 2018
Today I woke up early and went out wake boarding with Shea and Frank - I couldn’t quite get Blair out of bed! They were very good teachers but after 7 goes I was knackered and still not out of the water! It was nice to be out on the lake with my hair whipping around regardless! In the afternoon we did tasting at a couple of wineries; Mission Hill which was super fancy and The Hatch which was more relaxed. Both were great! In the evening we made dinner all together and had another good night out on the deck!
2 September 2018
Yesterday we had quite a big travel day; driving 6 hours from San Fran to LA and then flying to Vancouver. We arrived after midnight and crashed with Shea and Renee, then head off to stay with Shea’s parents; Frank and Maureen in the morning. They live in Kelowna which is a lakeside town about 3.5 hours from Vancouver. I had no idea what was in store for us and we just had the most wicked day! Soon after we arrived we went sailing on Frank and Maureen’s friend’s catamaran which was incredible, and then had ribs and drinks taking in the beautiful view in the evening.
31 August 2018
Today we explored the Haight-Ashbury district which is sort of the hippie centre of San Fran, where the Summer of Love happened in 1968. We also went for a walk through Golden Gate Park which is a massive reserve with botanical gardens, tennis courts etc.
29 August 2018
Today we explored Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 which is an area set up with lots of stalls and restaurants. There were dozens of sea lions loitering on the jetty. I don’t know what it is that brings them here but they’re super cute. We finished off the day with Asian fusion for dinner at ‘Chubby Noodle’ a restaurant which Reagan had suggested. It was the best meal we’ve had in America!
28 August 2018
Today we went spent some time in the Mission District which is really arty and has the highest concentration of murals in the city. We had lunch at a really yum Jewish Deli called Wise Brothers.
27 August 2018
Golden Gate Bridge today. Classic.
26 August 2018
Today is our first day in San Francisco! Yesterday we drove 8 hours from Vegas and got in quite late so we had a super long sleep in today and just caught up on laundry (exciting) and checked out our area; Bernal Heights. It’s a pretty cool neighbourhood, reminds me a lot of Wellington with lots of hills, a great coffee shop at the bottom of our street and plenty of little shops to explore.
25 August 2018
We spent the last four days in Vegas following a veeeerrrrry simple pattern involving time beside / in the pool, eating, drinking and hitting the casino. We stayed at Excalibur which was a cool experience, I’ve never stayed anywhere with everything available in the one hotel; pool, spa, gym, food court, restaurants, casino. So that was quite novel! Aside from that we checked out the Fremont Street experience which is a giant light show in Vegas Old Town, as well as the strip and Bellagio Fountain. It was just a super relaxing time - so relaxing that on the last night I realised we forgot to take a day trip to see the Grand Canyon... whoops! Will have to catch it on TV!
20 August 2018
We spent the last couple of days staying just out of Palm Springs on the ‘Crazy Horse Ranch’. There was literally a cattle skull hanging on our wall. It’s been a chilled couple of days, relaxing on the ranch and in local pools because it’s literally been 44 degrees and impossible to be outside for more than five minutes unless you’re underwater!!!
The lady who runs the ranch seems like a little bit of a psychopath and Blair cruelly told me he thought she was going to murder us on our last night, use our thumb prints to open our phones and leave good feedback on AirBnB!!! This is what I live with.
18 August 2018
Oh my god today was really fun! We went on a tour around Paramount Pictures Studios! We rode around in a little golf cart with just two other couples and because it was Saturday and they weren’t filming - we were able to go inside the Dr Phil set and the house from Grace and Frankie (which I love)! This was cool because apparently the tours are different every day so it happened at random! We also looked around the outdoor set where they shot; the Forest Gump scene when he’s running through town, the ‘Baby in a Bus’ episode from Friends, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and heaps of others. The set includes Phoebes apartment and the Cake Baby bakery from Bridesmaids. The tour finished with a trip to one of the prop rooms where Blair was beamed up and there was the tiny set from Team America and lots of other things. It was just really fun, I’d recommend to anyone heading to LA!
17 August 2018
Today we hung out at Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier. Blair was kind and joined me on the Ferris wheel despite his fear of heights! We played some games in the old arcade, watched people surf etc. It was a cool area and I’d probably recommend staying here if someone was visiting LA and could afford it!
16 August 2018
Yesterday we flew 4 hours from Nashville to LA and today we took a little drive (via 6 lane highway) to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The walk was way longer than I had thought! Aretha Franklin’s star was decorated by fans following her death last night. Trumps star is still boarded up after someone took to it with a hammer. It was a cool experience to see where lots of our faves have been honoured for their work!
14 August 2018
This actually happened yesterday but I took so many pictures I’ve had to move it to the next day!
On the way home from Franklin we stopped in at McGavock High School - home of the McGavock Raiders. This concluded our McGavock tour and Blair was treated to a supermarket trip which I think is still his favourite activity in any new town!
13 August 2018
Today we took a drive out to Franklin for a tour of the Carnton Plantation where Carrie and Randal McGavock turned their home into a makeshift hospital during the Battle of Franklin in the American Civil War. We obviously went there because of the McGavock connection but it turned out to be really interesting! We were taken on a guided tour around the house and learnt all sorts of interesting (sometimes very awkward facts) because neither of us really knew anything about the war.
1. The civil war was basically about those fighting for or against slavery.
2. The McGavock’s were major Confederate supporters (FOR slavery) the hospital was for Confederate soldiers.
3. The McGavock’s ‘owned’ 11 slaves but sent them away during the war to protect their asset. (Spew) That little shack is one of the slaves houses.
4. More Americans were killed in the civil war than WW1,2 Korea and Vietnam combined!
Weird but really fun day. It was good to learn more about this time in their history.
12 August 2018
Myyyyyyyyy goodness! We’re in Nashville and it is such an extreme contrast to Iceland it’s given me whiplash!!! Blair is literally in his element, I think he’s going to have a fit. On our first day we went Downtown for some southern food and we thought we might get to see some live country music (just for the fun of it) and it was everywhere - so we had lunch to ‘Country Roads’ and other such classics. It was a good day but jet lag hit me in a big way so we were home and chilling at 6pm. A good first day!
10 August 2018
Today is our last day in Iceland so we decided to try out actually PAYING for a hot pool to see what that style of Iceland was like. We head to Laugarvatn Fontana spa which is right on Lake Laugarvatn - you could walk into the lake and then back into the pools but I only did this once as it was the coldest water I’d ever been in! It was a super relaxing time, fun to do once on our trip but in my opinion not as great as finding natural pools in the wild!
9 August 2018
Today we went for a road trip up the West Coast of Iceland. We drove through a 6k tunnel and then realised we’d travelled under the ocean! Yuck!!! It cost about $10 to go through and we held everyone up getting confused by the toll booth - Blair had to park up and walk back! We visited the lighthouse at Akranes, pottered around and had a coffee then stopped again at the Deildartunguvegur (Europe’s largest hot spring) and Hraunfossar and Barnafossvegur waterfalls. Blair has been a tyrant and cut me off from hot swims today so we can fit in the drive but he promises we can find one tomorrow!
7 August 2018
Today we drove the famed Golden Circle, which is about 4 hours drive circling some of the main sites like the Gulfoss waterfall and Strokkur geyser!
6 August 2018
Today was a dream come true actually. We took a drive along the south of Iceland and took in some sights like the Skógafoss Waterfall, but the real highlight was visiting Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool. I used to have a picture of this pool and the surrounding beside my bed!!! We took the little Skoda over a quick gravel road and then trekked about a half hour through the hills. The cool thing was that Blair (clever cookie that he is) thought there might be some secret pools around because of the geothermal leading there. Five minutes around the corner and whadaya know? We had a gorgeous piping hot pool in a valley to ourselves for a couple of hours! It was one of those days that felt difficult to top.
5 August 2018
Today we took a trip into Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital. We had a good look around the town which is a lot like Queenstown or a ski type town but very bright! I read somewhere that they paint the houses such bright colours here because they’re made of corrugated iron so would look like garages without it! We tried delicious lamb hotdogs which are a staple Icelandic food. I need to repeat at home! The key is fried onions, ketchup, mustard mayo and brown sauce!
4 August 2018
Today we took a trip to Reykjadalur Hot River Valley which was accessed via 1.5 hour drive and a one hour hike. It’s quite a popular place but a long patch of the river is hot so we were able to get a good position with some well placed rocks to lie against until our hands were quite wrinkly.
3 August 2018
Yesterday we flew from Rome to Reykjavík, Iceland. We arrived in the middle of the night and got to bed at what our bodies thought was 4.30am! So today we had a bit of a sleep in and then went out to for a ($9NZD) coffee. We’ve heard that Iceland was very pricey due to its remoteness so we went to the supermarket for some cheap(er) supplies. Then we went for a drive to Thingvellir National Park where you can see tectonic plates splitting the country in two. Blair is doing super well driving our little manual Skoda on the right side of the road! It is extremely beautiful here and I can’t wait to explore more!
31 July 2018
Today we decided to skip the outdoor exploring in 37 degree heat and head to MAXXI, The National Art and Architecture Museum instead - designed by Zaha Hadid. It had some great exhibitions and air con! Win win.
29 July 2018
Today we went to check out the Roman Forum and Palatian Hill where Julius Caesar and friends used to hang out and make decisions to reign down on their minions. We ‘Rome-d’ around and took in other sites like Trevi fountain.
28 July 2018
Today we arrived in Rome and we stumbled upon this great, old, round building so we decided to have a look inside. It was pretty incredible which explains why a few other people knew about it! Another highlight is I had my first puttanesca in all of Italy! It was pretty delish but not as delish as Dad’s.
27 July 2018
Travel tip if you’re thinking of heading to Napoli? Maybe make it a day trip. Get in, try the pizza, get out. I know there are definitely far worse places to travel in the world but the second we got off the train here it just felt super seedy. We came because we’d heard the food was great and we thought the travel blogs might be wrong about how dangerous it feels. We were wrong about the latter! There’s no decent public transport so there’s an overcrowding of cars, they park on the footpaths so you have to walk on the busy street. The city is covered in rubbish. I told Blair I bet the rubbish collection is run by the mafia and whadaya know? They’ve filled up all of the landfills around the city with illegal waste like asbestos and chemical waste (giving people in the surrounding areas cancer, birth defects etc.) and no where for the city’s waste to go! I’m glad I was with Blair to feel a wee bit more safe, but overall Napoli gets a 2/10 from me. The two is for the two great pizzas.
26 July 2018
Today we took a day trip out to Sorrento, a beautiful beach about 40 minutes from Napoli. We had lunch and a good look around. It was quite quiet and we think it’d be a great location for a holiday - we would’ve stayed here if we’d known about it!
24 July 2018
Today was a pretty awesome day. We went to Pompeii to check out the ruins that had been covered by the Mount Vesuvius eruption and preserved since 79AD! It was amazing, like the Buried Village from the Tarawera eruption but on steroids. It’s a whole town! You can walk around the streets and go into houses and baths. It was incredible. We trained back to the city and went to one of the recommendations our AirBnB had left for us. We got inside and realised it was the pizza place that Julia Roberts goes to on Eat Pray Love! We were sitting one table over from the scene. And the reason THEY’D chosen to shoot there was it’s one of the most famous and oldest pizza places in Napoli, operating since 1870. The pizza was delicious and it was crazy cheap like $5 euro. A big win! We scurried home about 8pm before the sun went down because the travel blogs don’t lie about how dangerous this place feels!
23 July 2018
So the last couple of days weren’t very photo worthy as we 1. Had a rest day and 2. Took a train to what we thought was a nice little town which turned out to be 30 minutes drive to the town we’d been Googling and it was slum dog...
BUT today we travel from Florence to Napoli. I gotta tell ya, on first inspection Napoli does appear to be the armpit of Italy - but we’re excited to be here to get the full picture of the country and not just the pretty stuff. We couldn’t navigate the public transport system and didn’t want to be robbed or murdered by a taxi driver so we walked 30 mins uphill to our AirBnB, luggage and all. It’s the best house yet!
20 July 2018
Blair and I have realised that we’re a bit, how do I put it politely?... F$&*ed. Major first world problem I know being ‘tired from travelling’ but there you go - you’ve got to be honest with yourself! We’ve decided to take it down a notch and get out of the city. We looked up ‘nice, small villages in Tuscany’ and went to the one with the shortest train ride! We ended up in Certaldo which was just what we were after, a conserved medieval town on top of a hill with very beautiful views and very few tourists. We celebrated by eating far too much and arrived home about 11pm - so much for the rest but it was worth it!
19 July 2018
Today is our first day in Florence! The photos show the view from our AirBnB - such a classic! We’re staying very centrally so today we just went for a map-less wander to see the Duomo and all of the piazzas around the city. Blair got a beard trim and a hair cut which should help with the 33 degree heat! Most importantly, we had the BEST meal of our trip so far tonight. If I’m honest, up to this point we hadn’t been particularly taken with Italian food, partly because we probably built it up and partly because we’ve been sticking to our budget! They say the food gets better the farther south you get and it must be the truth! The place was called Che ti Garbi and I need to remember to recommend it to anyone heading here! 16/10.
18 July 2018
Today we left Corniglia and head to Florence! I am quite sad to be leaving our little village but it feels like we’ve spent the right amount of time here. Time to get under that Tuscan sun!
17 July 2018
Today we went to the final village we had left to explore; Monterosso al Mare. It is definitely the village with the most beautiful beach but my God! It’s like one of those beaches you see pictures of in Brazil! I can’t imagine seeing this many umbrellas in Ohope! Highs and lows today; we saw a cafe host fully rage at a family for leaving their table when they were unhappy with how long they had to wait to be served. The kids were really frightened and Blair and I were in shock and didn’t really know what to do. High was the lemon sorbet I had in a frozen lemon skin. Gonna do that at home.
16 July 2018
Today we explored the two villages to our east; Riomaggiore and Manarola. Both are very picturesque! We stopped at Riomaggiore first and it was overcast and quiet. We stopped at Manarola second. It’s said to be the most photographed of the five villages - we can see why (because it is stunning) but we wouldn’t have wanted to stay here as it was too busy in the height of summer and was difficult to dodge the selfies! I can’t believe I’m here after spending so long drooling over pictures like these!
15 July 2018
Yesterday we were very fortunate to stumble across someone who told us about sunset boat tours, so we had a chill day in our village and then did this in the evening. The tours take up to seven people but it was only us and one Russian couple on board who were really nice. We took off from Vernazza and visited each of the villages to see the view from the ocean’s point of view. We shared Proseco and nibbles and it was extremely relaxing. I’m feeling very grateful.
14 July 2018
Today we did the hike from Corniglia to Vernazza which is one village over. It was very beautiful but we are feeling very chuffed we are staying in our own village which is a lot quieter with less tourists! The difference in Vernazza is the village is right on the water whereas we’re up on the cliff and have to walk down to the water. The hike was quite full on, only 1.5 hours but in 28 degree heat. When we got to Vernazza I went for a dip to cool off. We decided to train home as Blair thinks he’s strained his groin and it hurts quite a bit when we walk too much. Might need to take it easy for a few days!
13 July 2018
As we were leaving Venice this morning, Blair noticed an elderly lady in her wheelchair looked distressed. I had seen her dog run off and thought it might be that. She was asking people all around her to help her in Italian and people just walked by. Blair asked if he could go and collect the dog for her, she gave him the lead and he found him and walked him back. I’m so glad I’m with the person who takes the time to find dogs for wheelchair-bound old ladies, rather than rush past them.
We travelled by train and arrived in Corniglia in Cinque Terre in the evening. The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 (Cinque) terraces (terre) which are connected by a world heritage hiking trail. This is the part of the trip I’ve been most looking forward to. I’m very happy to discover that the village we’re staying in is indeed a quiet little village! We enjoyed dinner with live music by the ‘Slidin Hobos’ at a table the restaurant put out especially because they were full!
12 July 2018
Today we took a day trip out to the islands of Murano and Burano which are part of the Venetian Lagoon. Murano was basically an extension of Venice but with a lot more blown glass shops, whereas Burano - well - the photos say it all, it was beautiful. A couple of highlights; I got a photo of Blair that I think could be used on an Italian cookbook cover. Also we talked to a shopkeeper who told us how much he loved Venice. (I’d started to worry that the tourists were ruining their way of life). He sort of got stars in his eyes and said it’s the best place to live, and the tourists only get to see 50% of it because they don’t have their own boat! I was glad to hear they had something that was just theirs.
10 July 2018
More lane exploration today! Eat walk drink walk eat walk drink walk! It’s relaxing to get lost in the lanes. There’s no way of knowing if you’re going to come to a canal dead end (unless you’re following a map I guess!) We accidentally made our way to the main part of the island which was swarming with tourists so we got out of there ASAP. It’s amazing the difference five minutes walking can make to get some peace, quiet and better food!
9 July 2018
Today we made it to Venice!!! Can you believe it! As we were arriving on the train I explained that we had to get to the AirBnB by vaporetto (which is the water bus) and Blair literally thought I was making it up! Somehow we got the wrong boat and ended up on an island and had to get another boat back. We were an hour late meeting the person who was showing us the way to our house but she was very serene and didn’t seem to mind (or hid it well!) We checked in and went out for dinner and a night walk through the alleys. It’s incredible. Blair thinks it’s his favourite place so far!
8 July 2018
We took a day trip out to Lake Como for a well earned dip! It was 33 degrees and I was all too eager to join the kids for some bombs off the jetty. George Clooney has a house there but he wasn’t answering my txts so Blair and I just hung out in the shade. We took a ride on the fenicular to the top of the mountain and took in the sights!
7 July 2018
This afternoon we explored Navigli, which is the canal district of Milan. It is just ten minutes walk from our place! We strolled the streets and had a beer with a Canadian and a Pom who are studying design here. Blair hadn’t had a burger in months which is unnatural so we had that for dinner.
6 July 2018
Today we set out to find Cafe Luce which is designed by film director Wes Anderson. We discovered it was part of a facility called Federazione Prada - where Prada display their modern art collection. We didn’t go and see any of the art but we wandered around all of the beautiful restored industrial buildings that make up the foundation. For dinner we went to one of our AirBnBs recommendations but we both had absolute dud meals. Blair misheard ‘mint’ thinking it was ‘mince’ and ended up with very minty tortellini which was pretty crack up. I ordered seafood spaghetti but it was so salty I couldn’t eat it. I’ve never not been able to finish pasta before! Can’t win em all!!!
5 July 2018
Blair turned 30 today!!! We caught the train from Zürich to Milan through the alps. The views were exceptional. It feels really worth it that we planned for our first day in Italy to be on Blair’s birthday. I’d booked dinner at a restaurant that our AirBnB host had recommended and it didn’t disappoint. They gave us a welcome drink and random pieces of finger food to taste during our courses. Essentially we had meatballs for primi, Risotto alla Milanese for secondi and chocolate desserts. Someone at another table ordered this dish which was basically risotto cooked in a giant cheese wheel. The staff were so attentive that our waiter brought us a small portion ‘just because we were so interested in it’. At one point the head chef came out and did the rounds of the restaurant. He noticed my handbag was on the ground and he hung it up on a bag hook with the restaurant logo on it. He said it was ‘his gift to me’ and I’ll cherish it forever as a momento of Blair’s special day!
4 July 2018
We decided we wanted to do a hike today to take in the scenery and Blair suggested we take on Üetliberg, a mountain overlooking Zürich. It was one of the greatest days of our trip so far but my god, we think we did it in hard mode. There were different options and we chose ‘steep with some stairs’. There was also ‘very steep’ so we thought it was the medium option. It was an extreme incline for about an hour with very little flat points. Luckily there were some beautiful fresh water fountains along the way! The view from the top was out of this world. We had a well earned ice block and treated ourselves to a train down. At the end of the day we’d done the equivalent of 111 floors and maybe 5 hours walking!
3 July 2018
This morning we woke up to a full on thunder and lightning storm which had been forecast for the next three days! In a bit of a clearing we went out for a gorgeous walk and breakfast. Upon Googling we discovered that Zürich is the third most expensive city and the world and we weren’t surprised! We had a great time exploring the alleys of the old town and had pasta, again, but also salad to fight off scurvy! I cried of happiness for the second day in a row so I might need to get my act together!
2 July 2018
Today we travelled by train from Berlin to Zurich. This was an eight hour trip so we were grateful for the restaurant on board! Our AirBnB is beautiful and we are thrilled - we were prepared for a shitter but it’s much better than the pictures online.
We went out for a massive Italian meal just down the hill from our place. I had black squid ink for pasta and Blair had his fifth margarita pizza of our trip.
30 June 2018
Madeline took us on a biking tour today. We started the day at a local market then went out for brunch. We biked along a section of the Wall which had information and stories from the 60s - 90s. What a bizarre thing to have happened to a city of people!!! My handle bars came loose and I fell off my bike just in front of the parliament buildings. I screamed on the way down and the German Police came running and found tools to fix it for me! Pretty unexpected! Turns out I just grazed my knee but I was so nervous to break my ankle or something and ruin the rest of our trip! All is well though! We finished the day with Vietnamese and I was stoked for some Asian goodness!
29 June 2018
While Madeline was at work today we wanted to take in some of the Berlin history so after a morning bagel we biked to the East Side Gallery which is a remaining section of the Berlin Wall which has been painted by dozens of street artists. Most of the art is about breaking through the wall or politics. After that we biked to the Jewish Museum. I knew about the building from architecture school but it was far more impressive than I could have imagined. It’s set up to make you feel very disoriented and strange and alone. There’s this area in particular where there are 10,000 metal discs on the ground cut in the shape of faces, meant to represent a group of Jewish people who were murdered. It’s set up that you have to walk over them to get to another area. But Blair and I found it too weird and tapu so we just left that out. We both felt quite weird leaving the museum so we went to a beer garden and then met Madeline after work for Italian!
28 June 2018
We said farewell to Leonie’s lovely family today and travelled by train from Duisburg to Berlin. It took about 5 hours. We met Madeline in the evening and made our way to her beautiful apartment in East Germany. Madeline’s fiancé is German and the place is his aunts and has been for decades. It’s sickly to know that so many people lived here and were cut off from West Germany and left to severe poverty or ripped from their homes and eventually murdered. A grim undertone.
27 June 2018
We were super tired today so we had a relaxing long brunch in the garden and took the dog for a walk in the park. In the afternoon we head to Anika’s house to watch the football, sadly Germany lost to South Korea and it was the earliest Germany have been out of the World Cup since it started in 1930. We had a great BBQ and a late night in the garden.
26 June 2018
We spent today with Leonie’s Mum Almut, her sister Anika and her two little kids Matty and Tom. We went to a beautiful old farm called Heimendahl for a coffee and a walk, then had a look around a little village called Kampen. We went to a beer garden which is voted the best in Germany which is set in a little forest and then had dinner at a restaurant called Nordbanhof, in a former railway station.
25 June 2018
Today we took a trip to Cologne, we went to a Schokoladenmuseum (chocolate museum) which seemed like our natural habitat. We looked around the city and then caught the train to Krefeld where we will stay with Leonie’s parents for a couple of nights. Leonie’s Mum Almut is so welcoming! Her did is in rehab for a knee replacement but we’ll see him on our last day. They live in a beautiful home with a big garden and a pool!
24 June 2018
Ok I’m not gonna lie, today was a really slow start. We were out in the world around 2pm, had pizza from for breakfast and then walked around the historic area of Düsseldorf including a castle from the 1100’s - so we were mildly cultural! We went to a Polish restaurant for dinner which I’ve never had before and ate perogies which are sort of like dumplings. Leonie can eat so much and she pushed us into eating dessert which was delicious but too much seeing as we’d only been awake for a few hours!
23 June 2018
Today we had a walk around the lovely shops in the suburbs where Leonie and Christian live. Then we went out to a beer garden to watch the Germany vs. Sweden World Cup game. It was an awesome game to watch because it was tied for about 90 minutes and Germany made a last minute goal meaning they were able to stay in the World Cup. Blair and I were glad because we would have had to cope with a bunch of angry Germans! Instead the whole place exploded and we had such a fun night! I haven’t been home at 3am in AGES!
22 June 2018
Today we travelled from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf, Germany! Our train journey was about 5 hours so it took quite a lot of the day! We’re staying with Leonie and Christian. Leonie was a home stay student with the Delaney’s at high school. Christian picked us up from the train station, we met Leonie at work and went for a walk along the river, out for some drinks and had a full on German dinner of pork knuckle, mashed potato with mustard and sauerkraut.
21 June 2018
Today we did the Heineken experience which included visiting the brewery, a canal tour and a trip to the top of the A’Dam lookout. The brewery was pretty full on with oonst oonst music and lights. Quite a change from the quaint whiskey distillery’s of Scotland! We went to the most glorious Thai restaurant for dinner. I didn’t take any photos but Blair said he never wanted to forget the moment because he was so happy. I cried, obviously!
20 June 2018
Today we went for a bike ride to the local cafe Restaurant het Schoolhuis or lunch, then road to Javastraat, a nearby area that our Airbnb host recommended. We had a nice relaxed day and made pasta in the Tiny Inn for dinner!
19 June 2018
Today we woke up to see our home for the week in the daylight. The Tiny Inn is possibly the cutest house I’ve ever stayed in. We have two sheep who I am yet to name. The bed is super comfy and we made the most with a big sleep in. Our place comes with two bikes so today we biked to the tram and caught it into the city. We walked around the canals, stopping at a coffee shop and looking in shops. It was such a fun day, Amsterdam is my new favourite!
18 June 2018
Today we’re leaving the UK and heading into Europe! When I travelled the UK with Kristen and Shane years ago I started doing ‘Tid Bit’ summaries of a country once we left and I thought I’d carry on the tradition!
Tid Bits of Scotland:
1. Iron Bru is the national soft drink. Blair loves it but I can’t drink it because it reminds me of the bubblegum Gastrolyte Mum bought when I was sick at intermediate.
2. Two Together train passes save you 30% off fares. Take loose passport photos with you to get a pass!
3. Single malt whiskey is the way to go, particularly from a port or sherry cask.
4. Edinburgh Castle is well worth a visit.
5. People who run public transport are top notch.
6. The Scottish are massive on family, telling stories and are impeccable hosts.
7. It’s weird how much Scotland feels like it lives up to the term ‘Great Britain’ - there’s a lot of reference to the Queen, red phone boxes etc.
8. Scottish people think my accent impression is better than Blair’s!
17 June 2018
Today we waved out spotted hankies to the Kerr’s in Troon and made our way to Edinburgh. I can see why everyone raves about them in NZ they are LOVELY. Edinburgh Castle was amazing. The oldest building there is from the 1100s and the doorways are just my height! The busy time visiting people in Scotland caught up with us so we spent our night Edinburgh eating takeaways watching a dance movie. It was heaven.
15 June 2018
Today we took a road trip with Jamie, Rebecca and Louis. The intention was to head to Loch Lomond for lunch, but then we saw a road sign to Oban and decided to head there so we weren’t home till about 8pm! It was a glorious day; lots of stops for coffee and beer, and quality time with little Prince Louis!
14 June 2018
Today we did a wee tour of Glengoyne Distillery. We got to see the whole process, which is apparently the slowest and most manual process in all of Scotland. We tried a 12 and 18 year, both were great! We went to lunch at Irene’s sister and brother in laws. Like everyone else we’ve met they were glorious hosts; they had a full Nana Dot spread out!
13 June 2018
Today we caught the train to Stirling to meet Irene, Marg’s cousin. She’s hilarious! We went to see some fecking horse statue that Blair heard about from some old biddies on the bus. Fecking horses! Anyway - then we saw the outside of Stirling Castle and William Wallace monument but the photos are shite as they were taken in the rain. We had a great night at Irene’s, a really nice home cooked meal. She’s a laugh.
12 June 2018
Today we woke up to breakfast all set out on the table. Bill and Carol are so sweet. We looked around Aberdeen all day, my favourite place was a wee fishing village at the beach. It was beautiful. We also saw a statue of William Wallace. I was freezing cold in a jacket and scarf and considered crazy. It was about 8 degrees!
11 June 2018
Today we took the train from Troon through Glasgow to Aberdeen, it took a lot of the day to travel through the Scottish countryside and along the coast. We met Blair’s family friends Bill and Carol. They took us to a local chippy for dinner and Blair tried deep fried pizza or ‘pizza crusty’ as they call it. It’s sort of a joking delicacy along with deep fried Mars bars. As you can imagine, it was horrendous. Blair’s digestive system-sans-gallbladder had a bit of a hard task! There was some more impressive street art on the walk home from dinner - I’m a bit addicted to photographing it all!
10 June 2018
Today we trained into Glasgow again for the day. We took the subway and went for a walk to see the place where Marg and Richard lived in Scotland before moving to NZ. We went to the Modern Art Gallery and made up our own fake stories behind each piece. We found there was a lot of street art and looked up a map online to seek them out. We went to Jamie’s Italian for lunch and guess what?? It was 5/10. The flavour was pretty ok but the pasta was undercooked. Better get Dad on the phone to him!
9 June 2018
We had a great day in the sun today with all of the Kerr family and NZ Karen, Mike and Toby called in for a visit. They’re definitely the two loveliest Karen and Mikes I’ve ever met!
8 June 2018
Today was a wicked day. We had brunch with Mike, Karen and their son Jamie, his partner Rebecca and their son Louis at a great place called Scott’s right by the water in Troon. Then we hopped on the train to Glasgow and looked around for the afternoon. We caught up with Nigel and looked around the students exhibition at the Glasgow School of Art. We met up with Sunni and Caravan Shelly for a pint in the sun once they’d finished work before training back to Troon. We met Mike at the station and went to whiskey tasting with the master blender from the Tobermory Distillery company. It was an awesome night, very unpretentious and what I took away is; good whiskey is about the quality of the spirit used and the wood of the barrel it sits in. Time stamps don’t necessarily matter. Single malt means the whole process happens in one distillery, blended is a whiskey made from grain rather than barley. You learn something new every day!
7 June 2018
Today we flew from London to Glasgow early in the morning. The flight was only 55 minutes! Like flying from Auckland to Wellington. Mike picked us up from the airport and we went out for lunch with the whole family: Mike and Karen, their daughter Ailey, her three week old girl Grace and Karen’s parents Alec and Ruby. We ate haggis and black pudding for the first time and it was delicious! We checked out Dundonald Castle which is the third most significant cattle in Scotland, and visited Karen’s sister and niece who live nearby. By the end of the day I’d nearly met the whole family and they are beyond lovely! We finished off the night with an impromptu tasting of all the different whiskeys in Mike’s cupboard which was good fun!
6 June 2018
Today we explored Oxford before travelling back to London. We visited Kensington Palace and had coffee at Princess Diana Cafe which was super cute. In the afternoon we looked around the bright streets of Notting Hill, then had dinner with Mon and prepared to leave for Scotland!
5 June 2018
Blair had a terrible sleep due to jet lag so we relaxed in the morning and then met Nigel for lunch in Daisy Cafe near Marble Arch. After lunch we caught the bus to Oxford, and hung out with Lisa and Morgan.
4 June 2018
It was no surprise we walked 14.7k by the end of the day! We hit the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace followed by lunch at Borough Market. We roamed South Bank and took in Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral before retiring for happy hour at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant. We met James and Mon for drinks at Sky Garden which was incredible and had Spanish tapas to top off a massive day!
3 June 2018
Today we caught up with Erica, Celia and David. We biked around East London taking in the sites and making some great stop offs! The Columbia Road Flower Market, Violet cafe (where Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake was made) and a roof top bar. The day was topped off with a charcoal BBQ in the park. So great to see these guys for first time in three years!
2 June 2018
We made it! Today was our first day in London staying with Mon and James in Wimbledon. We went to a Summer Social event where Mon was competing in CrossFit. We had lots of drinks in the sun, but were home by 8pm as Blair had only slept 1 in 40 hours!