A Travellerspoint blog

dubrovnik

sleepy town in croatia

Yeekei, Frieska, Lim, and I caught a flight to the coastal Croatian town of Dubrovnik.

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Within a few hours, we had determined that it was a friendly little town. Extremely pretty, and extremly boring - just plenty of tourists, a bakery, a bar, a million tourists and nasty overpriced restaurants to service them.

The town is architecturally amazing, although it was badly bombed during the 90's (Croatia war of independance) and much of what meets the eye is new old building.

On our first night we took plenty of snaps, and then had a quick drink.
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The following day we figured out all there was to do in this town was practice our photography - so enjoy! (this is only a handful of many, many, painstakingly* gathered photos)

  • painstaking for me standing and watching the photo war

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four of us
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even the (terrible) food was a good photo opportunity...
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The only suprising thing about this town was the ghetto tags by some bored youth - [s]he obviously just couldn't stand another pretty, quaint, perfectly painted building.. (these tags found in many places over the town)
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Finally, Sunday afternoon came along and we happily shot back to busy London. Dubvronik.. well.. maybe in another 40 years it'll be just fine..

Thats it for now, pie man out for now.
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Posted by hughmadden 11:01 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

paris

city of strikes, romance, and of course, napoleon's showcase

We took a high speed train from London to Paris. Its called the Eurostar and gets you from central London to central Paris in around 2.5 hours.

The French are famous for their strong unions and frequent strikes, however during our visit apparently no worker had been asked to work more then 7 hours a day, as we didn't notice one.

(The revolution is apparently still fresh in the minds of the french).

We took a walking tour of the city, which was awesome as the guide pointed out interesting stuff such as these rings along the sienne, which have been around since the vikings. They were used to stretch chains across the river to the vikings, although the apparently the vikings simply ducked - and not having any sails, were able to row straight under them.

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Paris experimented with subsidised share-bikes that offer convenient and cheap transport around the city.
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The program is still going, but Paris's troubled (or bored?) youth are doing a good job failing the experiment, with massive levels of vandalism and theft of the bikes.

Paris in spring is beautiful - the Parisian's were out in force everywhere, enjoying the blossoms.
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The Concorde (on the end of the Champs Elysees) is an incredibly popular spot for lucheons.

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We armed ourselves with the necessary camoflouge (a baguette each), and spent a few happy hours in the sun.
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We relaxed only a hundred metres from the Obelisk stolen (or gifted?!?) by/ to Napolean from Egypt's Luxor temple. (in our Egypt blog you'll see it's remaining twin standing alone in from Luxor temple - the empty space and pedestal make it seem a very unlikely gift)

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After lunch, we spent the obligatory <large number of> hours wandering awestruck through the Louvre.
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Finally, on our last evening, we had an awesome french meal, checked out the view, and called Paris done.. but only for now.

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Posted by hughmadden 10:56 Archived in France Comments (0)

vienna

for schnitzel and standing opera

I had a pretty relaxing visit of Austria and the girls did most of the work if getting the city all figured out.
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Lim and Frieska studying up

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Lim, Zimming, and Jillian

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This Austrian waiter had Tina blushing in no time - the girls were convinced he must be gay - simply too good to be true otherwise!

We used the tram and our feet to get around Vienna. For a long time it was one of Europes most powerful and wealthy cities.

This is illustrated by a bewildering array of palaces, museums and churches.

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Halfway through the day, some of the busy parts of the city ground to a halt whilst this demonstration (women only) came through the city, chanting loudly and throwing eggs at every male statue that dared stand within throwing distance.
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By mid afternoon, Lim and I put aside the serious business of sight-seeing for the even more serious business of sleeping. This green park seemed a busy orchestra of snores, and we added our sleepy whistles to the chorus.

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After dinner we joined the massive queue of people waiting for standing tickets to the opera. This meant Lim and Friends to had wait for their dinner.. with predictable impacts on their moods..
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Opera by night.

The standing opera was a viscious crowd of old ladys with share glares and even sharper elbows. As interesting as the Opera was, we soon had to escape before we were shoved to death by boney oldies.

After a pretty ordinary dinner, we went looking for something more enjoyable. We found it in the form of this pizza and kebap (note the spelling?). Yum.
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Done with our whirlwind visit to Vienna, we flew back to London to get ready for our next target - Paris.

Posted by hughmadden 10:51 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

prague

a very quick tour

Having plenty of friends around London keeping us busy definately slows down the travel blogging!

Anyway, here is a much overdue update.

After a week of keeping busy in London, we took an early morning flight to prague.. Or at least we intended to.

Actually we turned up late having understimated the problems of early morning travel in London.

Having missed our flight, we spent a couple of days hanging around the airport like third-world touts, except we were looking for a flight instead of a wealthy tourist.

After an unplanned overnight in London, we finally got a fight and got our trip back on the rails.
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Relaxing in the lounge after finally getting a flight.

Now we had only a morning in prague. We had a rapid driving and walking tour of the well preserved old city, and met up with friends.

Prague is incredibly well preserved because:
a) hitler kept it intact during WWII as he wanted it to be a kind of museum and
b) austria took it over and taxed them so heavily they couldn't afford to build anything new

The result is a small, walkable city with barely a modern building to be seen.
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We were visiting during the easter weekend, and so the square had a jovial beer filled market setup providing plenty of happy drunken czechs, and the food and drink that was making them so.

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tina lim and frieska

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With full bellies we jumped on the train to vienna.

Posted by hughmadden 10:48 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

germany

culture[d hops], modern history, and driving with no speed limits

We caught a budget flight from London to Munich, in Bavaria, Germany.

On arrival they handed out germany gingerbread celebrating a first flight (route) for the carrier.
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Within about 30 seconds Lim caught me doing this :)
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We checked in to our hotel and headed straight for Munich's most famous beer hall, the hofbrau haus.

Bavarian beer is amongst the finest in the world, and drank from 1Lt (Stein) glasses. Hundreds of years ago, the Bavarians used the 1Lt vessels for drinking local wines, however climate change brought about the introduction of beer.

By law, German beer cannot be sold if it uses too many preservatives or does not meet stringent quality requirements. This shows - or rather tastes.
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topped off with some stodgy German food... watch out waist line!
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The hofbrau house was where Hitler doubled the enrolled members of the German Nationalist party (nazis) in one night by offering free beer to attendees. Last time I was here the place sent chills down the spine - if you looked up you could make out swastikas showing through the paint on the ceiling. Nowadays this has been hidden with some additional paint.

Unlike many things associated with Hitler, the Hofbrau house hasn't been dropped from German culture - it is still packed with happy, drunken families enjoying Bavarian food and drink.

We were suprised at how small and hard to find the WC was in this beer hall. It appeared as though it had been added as an afterthought.

The next day were learnt that it originally had no toilets. The men drinking there wouldn't leave there seat because they would lose it (actually by decree of the king at the time). Instead, they just went on the floor, where they sat, resulting in various problems with splashback and smell. Fortunately this is no longer the case! (and girls are allowed in as well)

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Munich new town hall

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The town square (Marienplatz).

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Happily I discovered that the coffee in German is taken very seriously, and is absolutely superb :)

Surprisingly for a green country, it is far cheaper to get around by rental car then by rail - although Germany has a well developed rail network with some of the fastest trains in the world. We hired a car hire for the next few legs, Berlin, then Hanover (an industrial town to visit friends), and then on to Frankfurt to fly out.

On picking up the hire car, we had some trouble figuring out the gears.. oops!
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(10 points for noticing anything strange about this picture)

Driving on the massive autobahns of Germany is an interesting and sometimes scary experience.

Generally there is three lanes. All of the slow vehicles sit in the far right hand lane, doing around 130kph. Normal cars are in the middle lane, doing 140 -> 160 kph.

In the far left lane (the fast lane), you have mercs, audis, and Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) cars doing 160 -> 200 kph.

Every now and then a super car (ferrari etc) appears in the rear vision mirror, and within seconds, is dissappearing in the horizon in front of you, rocking the car with the turbulence of a passing freight train. (i estimated around 220 kph in same cases)

Many sections of the road were chocked full of transport trucks, lined up from one city to the next.
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Before leaving the district, we made the obligatory stop at Dachau, the preserved concentration camp which serves as a shrine and museum to the victims of the holocaust. Germans society is remarkable in that it looks its dirty laundry full in the face and attempts to educate its youth without omission. Many other countries have and do commit attrocities of a similar nature and learn nothing because of denial and omission, leave new generations uneducated and vulnerable.
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Shrine to the holocaust victims at Dacau.

We took a 3 hour diversion on the way to Berlin. This was a drive along the 'romantic drive', starting with staggering views of the German alps rearing over idyllic villages and stereotypical rolling meadows.
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Mad king ludwid nocked over an historic (authentic) medieval castle and built this 'proper' medieval castle instead.
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Finally, after driving through the night, we took a tour of Berlin.
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Original section of wall.

The Berlin wall was erected by the soviet regime in East Berlin was built to be too high for a single person to jump and climb. It also had curved tubing on the top to prevent a second person getting a foot-up and grasping a hand hold.

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Innocuous shot of turf and shoes? Underneath is the bombed ruins of Hitlers' bunkers, where he dwelled and eventually shot himself. It was decided not to erect any museum here as it was thought it will attract the wrong sort of tourist.

It is quite popular amongst local's to come here to vomit and urinate after a big night out on the town. A guide told us if we felt unwell, this was the spot to empty our stomaches, no-body would mind.

After a pretty grim dose of modern history, (and positive experiences with locals in Berlin), we drove to the town of hanover, stopping on the way at Wolfburg, the home of the peoples wagon; VW. Hitler built the autobahns, and given a world class road system, wanted Germans to have vehicles to drive on the then empty super highways. Apparently the original VW was some small box-like car, and not its classic shape.

When england occupied it's quarter of Germany after WWII, it helped ramp up research and production in Wolfsburg, resulting in the classic VW which was amongst the stimuli helping Germany rebuild after it's destruction.

... OK enough probably inaccurate history! :)

Described as a modern, un-impressive city in the guide, we instead found hanover to be a town with some interesting artwork or sculpture on every corner, and an incredibly beautiful lake and gardens. (unfortunately the lake is artificial, and again, a hittler legacy).
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We were going purely to visit Crighton and Katy before heading back to London. Cright is Sydney based, and Katy is moving there shortly.
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When Katy went to work, us kids went out to play, having a day of crawling German pubs whilst indulging in increasingly deep and meaningful coversations.
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One of the few unhappy occasions on an otherwise enjoyable afternoon.

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Hugh and Crighton, as every immensely interested in sculptured fountains.

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After watching Cright and Lim demonstrating their bovine acrobatics, I was determined to prove I too, could master the beast.
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Thats it for now. Next stop the Czech Republic and Austria.

Posted by hughmadden 08:40 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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