Slovenia & Budapest, Hungary

So it was another early start on the road and on the tour bus, for most of the morning we passed green fields and farmland, and we stopped at a ski resort in Slovenia for lunch, what we didnt expect were the number of tourists and tour buses that were also here.
Most of us spent the entire hour we had trying to find some where to eat, we spent most of the time in queues and waiting to be served, so in the end mum and I went to the little dairy around the corner and got a drink, packet of chips and a museli bar, beggars cant be choosers.

So after a minimal lunch we carried on to Budapest, we arrived in the afternoon and from what I could see so far the scenery and buildings were breathtaking.

I was due to go on a “Danube Cruise and Illuminations tour” so it was a quick change in the hotel room and then a included dinner in the hotels restaurant before jumping on the bus to the river.

At arriving at the river boat we were given a glass of champangne and seated amongst another cosmos group. The light sea breeze was welcoming in the current humidty and the sights were just breathtaking, (i seem to use that word alot to describe Budapest) the palace and the catherdral and bridges illuminated at night was a sight to see.

The next day we had a city tour and experienced the Hungarian markets and sights, we went up to the cathedral on the hill and looked back over to the palace, it was simply beautiful, we then went back to the hotel to change for our Hungarian night of local food and entertainment.

We arrived way out of town in the forest, literally next to the local zoo, and when we went into the restaurant you were greated by long tables and wheat and corn arrangements everywhere, on the tables and also tied to the rafters. We sat down to a Hungarian stew and fresh rolls for the entree and then a plater of meats, potatoes and vegies with a crepe filled with fruit and cream for dessert. The food was delish.

While we were eating we were entertained by a group of dancers, five men and five women, it was fabulous watching them dance and do their tradional kosak style dance. We also had to do a shot of the local Hungarian spirit “Palinka” which was presented to us in a little green and white ceramic man which we could keep as a souvenier, mum gave me her one as well so I have too.

It was a great night and I throughly enjoyed the experience and some of the others that went to all the local dinners said the Hungarian one was the best, which I would wholesomely agree with.

On the way back to the hotel after a great night of dinner, drinks and merryment Anna put on Karaoke in the bus and we had a great time singing to Beatles songs all the way back, a great great night

Shells.x

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Krakow – Wielickza Salt Mine

As we have been travelling around we have been comparing the included breakfasts that the hotels provide, we have come to conclude that up to today the best breakfasts we have had were from the hotel the “Golden Tulip” in Warsaw, and I must say, thank goodness for all the walking to walk off all the calories from the devine pastries!!

We didnt do the Krakov city tour today, so we had the morning to relax and take a shuttle to the city market centre where “being a Saturday” they have a huge market with all these amazing stalls, so were wandered around and I bought an amber ring and two hand painted christmas decorations. We had to eat on the run as we ordered pizza which was late and had to stuff it down while waiting to just make our buss to the salt mines.

The salt mines are very old and you have to go down 130 meters in this tiny lift which twice did a little drop, I tell you being cramped in this tiny lift with “9” others and having it drop twice on the way down was a feeling I never want to feel again, it was to be frank “bloody” scary!!!

The mines themselves are amazing, the caverns, carvings and what the miners did so long ago with just pick and hammer are truly impressive, how the Polish people have maintained them and made them such an amazing tourst attraction is impressive indeed.

So after walking around in the mines with our tour guide for more then two hours (the time goes so fast) we had to get back on those dam scary lifts to get out again, but going up wasnt as bad as going down.

So while some of our tour group have gone to do a Krakov dinner mum and I wandered across to Mac D’s and had a burger and are now relaxing in our room, hence the reason I am able to get my blog up to date.

So on to bigger and brighter things tomorrow, we are leaving Krakov and going on to Budapest after stopping for lunch in the mountains of Slovakia.

Shells.

Jasna Gora Monastery (The Black Maddona) & Auschwiz

We left Warsaw and got on our way to our first stop – Jasna Gora monestery.  Our tour guide said the temperature was going to reach a high of 32deg C, and we were going to walk around in this temp…. hmmmm

We arrived at the monastery around lunch time and the throngs of people and buses were a worry.  We were introduced to our guide, “Father Simon” and were quickly ushered into the monastery, the amount of detail was breath taking, the paintings, chandeliers, gold, silver, tiles and glass were too much to digest in one viewing.  Any photos would never do the beauty justice.

As we were walking around the monastery there were also other tourists wandering aimlessly around and also locals who had come to the monastery to take mass, so whilst trying to keep up with Father Simon we were also dodging and stepping the throngs of people and trying to keep cool in the soaring heat.

The inner sanctum was where they were taking mass and as we neared we could hear the singing, luckily for us they keep the outer walls clear so tourists can make a line and walk up and take photos of the black maddona and walk around the back and out the other side, it was an experience that I will ever hold dear, the atmosphere and the sights within the monastery are a sight to behold.

I also got a blessing from Father Simon and some amber rosary beads.  So we made it out through the masses of people and went to have lunch under a tree, mum, Greta, Mac, Jeremy and myself from our tour group.

So after lunch we were back on the bus to reach our second stop of the day, Auschwiz.

The atmosphere alone of this tragic place is eerie, you cannot grasp the enormity of the loss and what these people went through. It really hits home when you see the mere fraction of personal belongings that the Nazi’s took from the people.

I am glad i went so that I could learn about this tragic event and to understand better, but on the other hand i was very emotionally drained.

We all left in silence and had a quiet trip on to Krakow.

Shells.

Poznan & Warsaw

Today was the longest day we spent sitting on the bus, we had the earliest start today, up at 6.00 bags outside our rooms for the porter by 6.30, quick breakfast and on the bus by 7.30.

We stopped in Poznan for lunch and it was a truly beautiful town, all the buildings were different colours making it look like a rainbow square of amazing decorated dolls houses.  They had market stalls around the square and I bought a pin and a wooden goat, they have goats everywhere, im not sure what the significance is, maybe they are Poznans national animal???

After lunch we carried on to Warsaw, this was the longest leg of the day and we made it into Warsaw around 6pm, just in time for our provided dinner.  It was simple but tasty, a starter of minestrone soup, than fish and vegetables and ending with a caramel dessert.  By than we were all barely keeping our eyes open and dragged our tired butts up stairs to bed.

We had a full day in Warsaw site seeing, we went to the monument of Choppin, we stopped at a monument showing the Jews from the ghetto being deported and on the other side the Jew uprising and then we ended up at the town square, which has an amazing castle at the east side.  We took lots of photos and made a stop at the market centre for lunch and to do a bit of shopping for souveniers.  Poland is renowed for its “amber”.

We have a quiet night to ourselves and then its on the road again to make our way to Krakow.

Shells.

From Frankfurt to Berlin

We joined our tour group at the Leonardo Royal Hotel yesterday and jumped on our bus, there are  41 people on this tour and most are Aussies and Kiwis, so the sibling rivalry is entertaining.

Our first stop took us to Weimar, where we saw the remains of a concentration camp, which was  literally the chimney stack of the furnace.

Then after lunch we carried on to Berlin where the evening was ours to grab some dinner and get settled into our hotel rooms.

This morning we went on a tour of the city and saw the Berlin wall, the bunker (which is now a carpark) where Hitler committed suicide, Charlies Check point and the Brandenburg gate.  The buildings are a mix of old (what little survived the bombings) and new which are predominantly in East Berlin, its a beautiful city.

Tomorrow its an early start on the bus to Poznan for lunch and then Warsaw for the next tow days.

Keep cool till after school. Shells

Venice Beach, Tom Bradley Airport & Frankfurt

Muscle Beach

Muscle Beach

Our tour continued on to Venice beach, known as “muscle beach”.  The skies were blue and the sun hot, we wandered through the street stalls and along the beach.

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Our tour ended with our final tour destination – the biggest man made small boat harbor, Fishermans Village, where we had an ice cream and caught our breath.

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Before we knew it, it was once again time to haul butt to the airport.  I was stopped by security and had my hands swabbed for “explosives”, i mean really?? and after what didnt seem like very long, we were once again in the air and on our way to Frankfurt.

The flight was good, smooth in some places, rough in most, but we landed and caught a taxi to our hotel.  We have a gorgeous view from our hotel, it overlooks the trees and a gorgeous church.

Our View Hello Frankfurt! Frankfurt City

Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Dr, The Viper Room, Farmers Market & Santa Monica Pier

Our tour carried on through Beverly Hiils, Rodeo Dr with all the designer shops and where “Pretty Woman” was filmed and the Viper room….. the bar and celebrity hang out that Johnny Depp once owned and where River Phoenix tragically died.

We were all feeling a little hungry by now so our driver/tour guide stopped at the farmers market for lunch, we also wandered around the outdoor shopping mall called “The Grove” and then headed to Santa Monica Pier and the famous “Bay Watch” beach.  I was taken by the old merry go round that was inside and how old and well looked after it was, it was absolutely beautiful.

Viper Room Rodeo Drive Santa Monica Pier Merry Go Round Merry Go Round Carousel Horse Pacific Playground Pacific Fair Bay Watch Beach Beach

The Sites of LA, Downtown LA, – Friday 21st of August

We decided to do a Hollywood tour before catching our flight the same night.  So we jumped on a small tour bus and away we went.

Here are some interesting things I learnt from our driver, LA is in Orange County, its the 6th biggest county in the US, it has 6 million people.  The “Hollywood sign was made in 1923 and originally said – “Hollywood Land”

Our first stop was Hollywood Boulevard and the famous walk of fame, we wandered up and down the street taking photos of the celebrities “stars” we came across, photos of the many hand prints we saw and the famous “hollywood” sign itself.

Walt Disney Concert Hall Town Hall Hollywood Boulevard Ripleys Believe it or not Bugs Scarlett's Star

The Happiest Place in the World!!

The Happiest Place in the World!!

The Happiest Place in the World!!

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One cannot be in LA and not go to Disneyland, even if your only a big kid at heart and your on the other side of 30 something… who cares!

So Thursday 20th of August was spent fighting our way through crowds and groups around the “original” park, as they have added a second park for the “older” kids.  It’s a great experience and i felt like I was a kid again, the magic and vibe of the place certainly does capture ones heart.  We were even energetic enough to go back and watch the light parade and fireworks later that night.

Im not one for rides and my limit was the log flume ride of splash mountain, and even that i found scary!!

But all in all, i enjoyed the whole day and it truly is an experience of a life time, one of the must do’s on ones bucket list.

S.

We have had noooooo sleep!!!

We had little or no sleep on the plane, given the cramped, confined space we were in and the constant turbulence.

So i decided to go for a swim in the hotel pool to cool off and get rid of the travel “ickyness”, it was hilarious as there were many a fake tan, fake boobed barbie in her bikini around the pool with her fake Ken looking on, i must be getting old when im not bothered in the slightest and think “f$&k it” and strip down to my “one piece” and jump in.

Our first day in LA

Our first day in LA

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So we decided to go for a walk along the street and we found a new funky shopping area still being developed.  Hmmmm is the Darth giving the world the bird???