Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back home!

Arriving back to reality has been a bit surreal. Perth welcomed us back with amazingly cool weather, which made up for the pile of bills waiting for us at home. After sleeping for 16 hours we're feeling less than refreshed, but we both still have one day left to recover until we go back to work. Well, I'm back to Pole Fever tomorrow night but that's a welcome remedy to the 2kg of cheese and chocolate I gained on the trip.

Also, we're still alive despite the final destination-ish set of train crashes that seems to have followed us through Europe. We just found out today that there was a train crash yesterday in Switzerland on the way to Lausanne, where we were staying and catching lots of trains to/from, a day after we left. This follows a train crash in Paris on the 12th of July (the day we left), and a train crash in Madrid on the 24th of July (a week after we left). I knew wearing a strapless dress in a Russian Orthodox church was a bad idea!

I love travelling, but it makes you appreciate what you have at home. Missed you Perth!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Now also in the eyes of Godinski

It was a beautiful, somber, and incinerator hot service yesterday at Yvonne and Stefan's religious ceremony at a Russian Orthodox church in Vevey.

Yvonne looked stunning, Stefan looked very handsome, and all the guests looked hot in both senses in their formal wear. I got emotional seeing Yvonne walk in looking perfect in her wedding dress - my eyes cried tears and every single other part of my body cried sweat. The boys were so well behaved, we were really proud!


The reception was so much fun! The Swiss and the Aussies had who-can-be-the-loudest competitions, and I think the aussie aussie aussie, oi oi oi definitely held it's own. We ate and danced until 3am and have been recovering all day today.

First Dance


After a big sleep in today and a much needed berocca we went and had a goodbye ice cream with Simona, Chad and the boys and then headed into Geneva for a quick visit of the Jet.

Muca Icecream


We're about to head out to dinner with the newly weds and then we're off home tomorrow!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yvonne and Stefan are Married!

Congratulations Yvonne and Stefan! Today was the civil ceremony in Neuchatel and tomorrow is the church do with the big wedding dress and hopefully less pig heads than today.


Yvonne and Stefan are Married!

Pig Head

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Barcelona to Switzerland - Lausanne, Gruyere/Broc and Bern

Gaudi is amazing! Sagrada Familia was such an incredible building. I wouldn't say it was beautiful (with the construction work it kind of looked like a cooked chicken with those paper frill things on it's drumsticks), but it was incredibly impressive. Inside it looked like an alien spaceship, with the colours from the stained glass windows making awesome light shows on the walls and ground. My favourite part was reading about how Gaudi was obsessed with patterns and shapes in nature, you can really see it in his designs around Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia

Paper Frills

Square Head Thinker

We're now in Switzerland, Lausanne, staying with Yvonne and Stefan having a great time. We spent our first day looking around Lausanne's old town and going to the "beach" at Lake Geneva where we were so obviously tourists because we could not for the live of us stand on the pebbles in the water.

Lausanne Old City

Green Rabbit Restaurant

Yesterday we took a really fun day trip to Gruyere and Broc to see the Cailler chocolate factory. Gruyere is one of my favourite places I've ever been. It's incredibly beautiful both naturally and the town itself, and even though there are tourists everywhere it seems unspoiled by tourism like some of the other places we've been.

After taking a look at the cheese banks of Maison Gruyere, we hiked up the mountain to the Gruyere medieval town and spent some time looking around the pebbled streets and taking in the views. We stopped for a moitie moitie fondu lunch with a double cream and framboise dessert at one of the many restaurants with panoramic views. I love the idea of fondu (and raclette for the same reason) - I know it's a traditional part Swiss cuisine but it really seems like a kid came up with it! It's like what I would ask for dinner when I was 7, it's so cool to have an excuse to eat it as an adult!

Fondue Moitie Moitie

Double Cream

Next we visited the ridiculously out of place HR Giger museum (the guy who did the art for the Alien movies) and I think we're still recovering from the experience. I'm a massive fan of the Alien movies (I used to watch them with my dad when I was little when other little girls were watching the little mermaid) so I was really looking forward to it, but I wasn't prepared for the... theme of most of his work. He was an extremely talented psychopath who was obsessed with aliens and penises. I've never seen so many penis/vagina pictures in my life! It's like he had the brain of a teenage boy, but because he was talented all his pictures of weird alien sex was extremely graphic and detailed. There were no pictures allowed but I just had to take one of this piece; honestly... penises and vaginas everywhere! There was even a bunch of paintings of women with boobs with vaginas for nipples, what the fuck HR.

Geiger was fucking wierd

We took a much needed sit down at the Alien Cafe to recover.

Alien Cafe

Yesterday afternoon we visited the Cailler chocolate factory where we ate our years allowance of chocolate. The whole town of Broc smelt like chocolate!

Flag at Cailler

Today we visited Bern to see the bears which I now know are NOT a lie, and also to drink beer and eat pretzels and sausages and apfel strudel. The bears were so cool! They were really active, swimming around and having play fights. I was so excited when they were actually there, all this time I've thought it was a massive conspiracy. Lunch and beer at the Altes Tramdepot brewery was awesome, the sausage was the best sausage ever!

Clock Tower

Beer and Pretzel

Yvonne and Stefan get married tomorrow!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Valencia - Port Aventura - Barcelona

It's been a couple of days! Currently in Barcelona, we just got back from a very touristy walk down La Ramblas. After sitting down at a tourist trap that had patatas bravas described as french fries we escaped and managed to find a cute place to have a delicious tapas dinner and sangria off the main track. But my god it's been a stinking hot day, we barely made it off the metro in solid state. Literally stinking by the way, walking down La Ramblas was like a tapas of smells, eww! 

La Ramblas

Tapas Dinner

After returning the car today we went to the beach, again very touristy. Although it was a bit crowded and noisy to relax, we were amused by the constant calls of "MOJIITOOOO, mojito, CERVESA, COLD DRINK CERVESSSAAA" from the many purveyors of drinks. At one point we were wondering why one of the mojito men dropped his stash, ripped his shirt off and bolted in a random direction, and then we noticed that there was a police man patrolling the area. It was amazing how quickly the mojito men dispersed and blended into the beach goers! Their shoes were a dead give away though. In 5mins they were back but with a much more discrete "mojitoooo" call. In conclusion, our beaches are better. And maybe I'm a spoiled Australian but I strongly believe that the beach should be relaxing, and the water should be condom free. 

Looking back a couple of days, dinner on the beach in Valencia at La Pepica was delicious! The beach was beautiful and on the walk down we managed to see some of the F1 track.


On the F1 Track

After Valencia we headed off to the amazing Port Aventura theme park. It was an incredible couple of days, I can't talk it up enough. We spent the first day at the Costa Caribe aquatic park which had a heap of water slides similar to Adventure World in Perth, with the exception of two massive slides, one of which is the tallest free fall water slide in Europe. You can just see it in the background of the picture below (which was taken the second day after a few roller coaster rides, thus the hair). It was incredibly high, and very fun! We did it twice, definitely worth the wait in line. Just a tip if you're going, you need to wear clothes to be allowed into the water park. We actually got turned away at the gates by an attendant with a disgusted look on her face when we first tried to get in with just our bathers on! 

Roller Coastered

That first night we went into the Port Aventura main park to watch a bizarre fire themed show and also go on the massive drop ride. I consider myself to be pretty brave on rides; I never get motion sick and I never get scared... in Perth, at the Royal Show. This was something else, and it took a bit of convincing to get me to go on it. Definitely worth it though, it was the most intense ride in my opinion! The acceleration was a massive shock.

Hurakan Condor (Mexico)

We spent the whole second day at the park doing the many crazy rides and watching the sometimes bizarre / sometimes awesome shows. It was my first time on a proper roller coaster, and Port Aventura definitely has a great selection of them. The first one we went on (the Furious Baco) was a launch roller coaster, which started off by accelerating forward faster than I've ever felt anything accelerate. The Shambalha is the tallest roller coaster in Europe, another ride that I needed a lot of time to prepare for. The climb to the top was terrifying, and the fall over the edge was so steep that you couldn't see the track below you. The climb was the scariest part but after that it was really fun, not scary at all!

Roller Coaster Skyline

We saw a few shows, but my favourite by far was the Bubble show. This guy is a hero! This was a whole new take on bubbles. He was making bubbles with different gasses, one which was flammable (he would set the bubble on fire), and he had this whole big pond that he was making gigantic bubbles in with what looked like a stiff skipping rope. Amazing!

If you're every planning to go to Port Aventura (and I think you should), the one thing you must must do is get the express pass, which lets you go to the front of the line (or wait in a much much shorter line with other express pass holders) of all the main rides, once for each ride. You can then pay a little bit extra to have front-row access to the three biggest roller coasters. Both of these options seriously made our time there awesome, and possible. Otherwise it would have been an exercise of waiting in lines, and it would have taken away the fun of the ride itself.
Tomorrow we're off to do some site seeing in Barcelona, we're counting on you Sagrada Familiar!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Madrid to Valencia

Last night we went out for a tapas dinner in Madrid starting at the Mercado de San Miguel; an amazing market where we quickly realised we needed to pace ourselves, both food and drink wise. The highlight was pimientos de padron - salted, oiled and fried green peppers, with beer, yum! After some iberico jam on, aranchini, more beer and sangria we wandered off and stopped in at a couple more places for a tortilla de patata, and some more iberico jamon and queso manchego (cheese) at a lovely place that had an awesome dog out the front. We finished the night with some churros with spanish hot chocolate. I think this was my favourite night out - the spanish definitely have the right idea about food and drinks!

Mercado de San Miguel

Pimientos de Padrón

Cheese and Sausage

Also... we're still alive, yay! This morning we hired a car and after a great amount of swearing and going around in circles managed to escape the crazy streets of Madrid.

On the way to Valencia we stopped at a town on the way called Cuenca, famous for it's overhanging houses built on cliff tops. We managed to find this beautiful view by accident, and stayed to enjoy it over a packed picnic lunch of iberico jamon and queso manchego.

Cuenca Overhanging Houses

Driving through the countryside was really relaxing, and driving in Valencia was a lot easier than Madrid. We're just about to head out for a paella dinner at the beach!

On the way to Valencia

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lisbon, Lisbon to Madrid and Madrid

It's been a while since I've had any time off!

Lisbon was beautiful. The morning of the first day we visited the Marques de Pombal, an old street market where people sold amazing old relics and antiques. We also took the advice of the waiter from Laurentina and visited Belem for a traditional custard tart that is meant to be the best in town... it definitely was!

Custard Tart

Marques de Pombal

That night was Yvonne's hens day/night which we spent eating, street drinking, and partying at the crowded but stylish bars and clubs. Yvonne had a great time, probably because we didn't force her to wear the Australia hat after we left the hotel. We managed to end up at a 3 story club that had a pole room where I managed to get my fix for the trip!

Cork Hat


The second day of the hens night was the Optimus Alive! festival where we saw James Bug, Tame Impala (go Freo!), Phoenix, Band of Horses, Kings of Leon, and Django Django. The whole festival was so well organised, and the Portuguese people are so polite! There was even a Heineken guy walking around with a portable beer dispenser - if that was Australia he'd have had it stolen and skulled in a minute!

Fran and I

It was awesome to see Tame Impala outside of Perth, Django Django played a really fun set and got the  crowd involved, but my highlight was definitely Phoenix. Thomas Mars did his come-in-to-the-crowd thing directly above us, and despite thinking I might actually die, it was amazing having him sing 1901 directly in front of us.

The day after the festival (after 3 hours of sleep) we got up to do a walking tour of the old city, Alfama, which was definitely worth it despite the millions of stairs. We caught the very steep 28 tram down which saved us the walk back but also bruised us a bit with it's rattlyness.

Walking tour of Alfama

28 Tram

After a late lunch/dinner in the slanty streets of Bairro Alto, we headed to the Trainhotel to catch the overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid. It was a really fun trip! The cabins were small, but clean and comfortable, and the rocking of the train definitely made for a great sleep. Breakfast in the restaurant cabin while watching the sunrise was worth the short sleep and early start.

Dinner in Lisbon

He said I couldn't fit


This morning in Madrid we've had a quick look around at Plaza Mayor, Plaza del Sol, and had a great fast-food lunch at Museo de Jambon. I just woke up from an afternoon siesta, and we're just about to get ready to head out for some tapas!

Plaza Mayor

Plaza del Sol

Museo del Jamon

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Paris to Lisbon

We started off our last day in Paris with a run through the nearby national park amongst the bunnies. It makes me very happy to know that there is a park full of bunnies! They were super cute, I miss George.

Bunny on our Run

Before we left Sim and Chad's place, we got a bunch of pastries from the bakery across the road to keep us going till dinner in Lisbon.

The flight to Lisbon was so quick and convenient, what a contrast to travelling anywhere from Perth! After checking in we had an amazing dinner at Restaurante Laurentina - O Rei do Bacalhau, which served authentic cod dishes and deserts. We had an amazing night, the staff were very friendly and shouted us some Port and even gave us a must-do when in Lisbon - trying an original custard tart from Belem. We tried a non-orignal custard tart there, and it was incredible. Our waiter assured us that the real thing is much better, I can't wait!

Dinner in Lisbon

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paris - Musee Rodin, Jardins du Luxembourg

A sunny but cool day in Paris was perfect for a visit to the beautiful gardens of Musee Rodin and the familiar gates of Jardins du Luxembourg.
Jardins du Luxembourg

Rodin really knew what people looked like from every angle, down to every tendon. I really liked how he sculpted hands and feet, and I especially liked the romantic sculptures of couples embracing.

Today Chad came with us and after the sight seeing took us to Dalloyau for a tasting plate of macrons.

PicnicWe're taking it really easy today and are planning to have a nice dinner out tonight. Last night we took a picnic to the 7th and braved the Champ de Mars wind tunnel to watch the Eiffel tower sparkle at 11pm. It is extremely pretty. I really love how the Paris hawkers adapt to the needs of the people at various points of the day; they swapped their bottles of water and Eiffel tower keyrings for bottles of wine and packets of cigarettes. We probably would have taken them up on their offer if we didn't think ahead!