A Travellerspoint blog

London Calling

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I'd better start with an apology to my growing fan base for neglecting you all for so long. ;-) It's been a very busy week or so, meeting new family every other day and getting up way earlier than I would like. Since I last wrote to you from Amsterdam, we have travelled further in Holland to Deventer, Hardenberg and Rotterdam.

I have made a promise, at this juncture, not to say anything cheeky about the president of Hardenberg (hello Oom Hans Kant!) However, since I can't think of anything to say that isn't cheeky, I'm afraid I'll have to say nothing further. ;-)

Seriously, though, we have met dozens of people who have been so kind and hospitable, and whom we were sad to leave. Thankyou so much, family in Holland! We are in London now, and I'm full of everything that I've seen here (that's the trouble with leaving it so long between blogs!) so I'm going to run quickly through the rest of Holland. Most of my pics have comments, so if you want any more info about them then just click on the thumbnail.

The first few are from 'Queens Day' (April 30), which we spent with Anita in Den Haag. At Scheveningen beach we saw these collossal sandcastles (below). We also went to Madurodam - a miniature village with replicas of major landmarks across the country.

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We also went to Kinderdijk to see the windmills. They are much more complex than I thought, and it was very interesting to enter one of them and watch it running. We were most entertained by comments made by other tourists - 'Where is the windmill's diesel engine?' and 'What did they use the mill for before electricity was invented?' Um... Debatable whether it would be worth it to try and explain, or whether it would be better to just give it up as a hopeless case? Here's Robyn with a mill.

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After Kinderdijk we spent a few days with Anita in Rotterdam. Our experiences there included a much-needed 'girls night in', complete with movies and junk food, and (of course) the Euromast. Check out what I found a the top of it - a little piece of home. Yay for good old NZ!

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We also went to Efteling amusement park with Anita and Ron. The whole park is based on fairy tales, and there were some really clever displays in the 'fairytale forest' with mechanical models re-enacting the old classics. We had a great day - not fantastic weather, but not totally hopeless either. I have a few pics - they're mostly 'blurries' though... The best things that I saw were semi-dark and the pictures don't look half as good as the originals. Never mind - if I find that I can't remember it in a few years time, I can always go back there again. ;-) Kidding... I'll be so broke by the time I get back that I'm sure it will take me years to recover!

Yesterday we arrived in London. Our hostel is fantastic - the best yet! It's well thought out, fairly new and (most importantly) everything seems to work... Lights/locks/powerpoints etc. Last night a couple of girls in our room had to make an early flight, and they left very noisily at 3am. Grrr - they almost woke the beast then! (Ask Jono... He'll tell you never to wake the beast!) ;-)

Today we went to Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I loved Westminster Abbey - so much rich history in one place! Unfortunately photography was prohibited, so I had to be content with buying a few postcards. But I thought of my high-school history teacher all the time (hi Lynne!) and remembered a fair bit. Hopefully it's all in the memory banks somewhere...

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I'd better go - I've been on the internet for hours (literally) and Robyn's gone off to make us dinner. Please don't stop writing to me - I get such a kick out of anything that reminds me of home. (Even coming to the UK has helped - light-switches that flick down and traffic that moves in the expected direction!)

Love to all,

Rach

Posted by RachMulder 10:24 Archived in England Comments (0)

Clogs, Canals and Coffee shops!

all seasons in one day
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Well, it's been a busy week.

Our last day in Paris was spent trying to cram in everything we hadn't yet seen, including the Notre Dame and the Moulin Rouge. The Notre Dame is an incredible building - not like the other churches that we have seen so far. The gothic design is really very intricate and not something that you can do justice to with one photo, but here's my best attempt:

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I was disappointed in the Moulin Rouge... I've watched the movie so many times that I was expecting something quite amazing, but it really is just another nightclub. The front of it was very small, and I think that it's comparative age is the only thing that distinguishes it from the dozens of other clubs along that street (the Paris equivalent of K Road). Still, it was worth a photo (just to say we'd been there!)

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The next day we travelled to Dordrecht, in the Netherlands, where we were warmly received by family (my Dad's side). These are some pics that I took in 'Old Dordrecht' - posted here so Oma can see. :-)

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After two days we left Dordrecht for Amsterdam, where we are still staying with family (again on my Dad's side). We have spent the last two days exploring the city and spending way too much money at the markets.

It's funny - I've noticed that you can tell a lot about a city by what they sell in their tourist shops. In Amsterdam, about half of the souvenirs for sale are 'Red Light District' or Cannabis themed - I have never been in a city that is so blatantly immoral. The streets are lined with sex shops and what they call 'Coffee Shops' (cafe's that are licensed to sell soft drugs). Here's a pic of one - they're almost all Rasta-themed:

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We have enjoyed Amsterdam, though. The family have been very kind and welcoming, and it has been nice to be looked after instead of having to fend for ourselves all the time. The family that we are staying with have an adorable little two-year-old who will persist in talking to us, even though we can't understand him. He gives his Mum trouble when she talks to us, too - he tells her to stop talking 'silly talk'. ;-)

Yesterday we went to Madam Tussaud's wax museum. I hadn't been to one before, and I was really impressed with the resemblance of these figures to their real-life equivalents. I have included a few pics, but the lighting in the museum made them look much more real than they appear in the photos. The flash made them all shiny...

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Tomorrow we move on again to visit more family in Deventer. I have been communicating with them using a Google translation tool, so it should be an interesting experience! But I have my trusty Lonely Planet phrasebook in hand, and there's enough goodwill on both sides that I'm sure that, if we cannot communicate, a few hours of wild gesticulating will suffice.

Doei!

Posted by RachMulder 11:17 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

More of Paris and Versailles

Parc Asterix, Chateau de Versailles and the Eiffel Tower

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At last, some sunny days! Yesterday and today the skies have been clear, allowing us to get out and explore some of France's highly cultured heritage sites. Such as... Parc Asterix!

This was so much fun! My only regret was that Jessy wasn't there, because she would have completely loved it. I have never seen people go so completely to town over a theme...

Check these out:

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There are a few more pics in my gallery if you're interested. Robyn had to restrain me from buying things - the souvenirs were all so dinky but not many of you have confessed to being Asterix fans, so I was sadly at a loss for people to buy presents for. (I was forced to buy presents for myself instead... how unfortunate!)

Today we went to Versailles, the historic Palace of Louis XIV and residence of the infamous Marie Antoinette. The palace was lavishly decorated, and many of the rooms have been recently restored to their former grandeur. Unfortunately the queues to see the place were incredibly long, and once inside, the rooms were very crowded. We also spent some time in the extensive gardens, taking pictures etc. Here are a few top pics:

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On the way home we stopped at the must-see Eiffel Tower, and took the obligatory tourist pics standing in front of it - here's one that worked:

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Tomorrow is (incredibly) our last day in Paris, and then we are off to Holland to see all the rellies. I'll write again when we get there. Until then...

Au revoir!

Posted by RachMulder 10:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

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Brr! Two nights ago we travelled North for about 15 hours by train, and boy can we feel it! All day long dark angry clouds have been threatening us with rain, but the weather still holds.

Our new hostel is much better than our hostel in Rome - this one has kitchen facilities (we cooked our own dinner tonight!) and a loungey-type area for hanging out. We are also booked into a twin-share room this time, so the comings and goings of our fellow travellers do not bother us as much (the sound is diluted by cardboard-thin walls!)

Paris is a beautiful place - much bigger than Rome, but it has a very good Metro system that we are quickly getting the hang of. Today we spent about 5 hours at the Musée du Louvre - taking in sculptures, paintings, and other historical works of art. Check these out:

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The Louvre is completely colossal - every new turn produced something vaguely familiar or downright famous. The Mona Lisa, I confess, did not interest me much. I got a photo, but it was barely worth muscling my way through the thick crowds to get even that. And the wandering eye? Well, it was so full in there that I really couldn't move far enough to see whether it followed me.

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All in all, a good day and a good start to our time in Paris. Thanks so much for your comments and emails - I love hearing from you!

Please check out my gallery for a few more Rome pics that I haven't included below (some pics of Robyn, Helen!)

Bye for now!

Posted by RachMulder 08:55 Archived in France Comments (0)

A Series Of Unfortunate Events...

The Sad Chronicle of Saturday the 11'th of April

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1 - The long walk to nowhere
In which we walked 2 hours to a supposed flea market, and found nothing but fleas

2 - The photos that were
In which I (in a moment of abstraction for which I can never forgive myself) pressed 'OK' instead of 'Cancel' and deleted the contents of an entire memory card. (Any chance of getting these back, lil' bro? I hit 'Format', so I'm thinking not, but I have kept the memory card aside - just in case you can work some magic on it!)

3 - All of Rome conspires against a good night's sleep
In which half of India stormed our hostel room at 11:30pm (and actually woke us up to ask where the light switch was), and then proceeded to snore (loud enough to wake the dead) for the rest of the night.

So not a great day. :-( Woe to me.

Today we went to an art museum. We've also been exploring, trying to re-cover some ground and replace some of the pictures that were lost. Fortunately Robyn took pictures in a lot of the places that I did, so I can use some of those. I'm pretty gutted, though.

We're winding up our stay in Rome, now. Will go to see the Colosseum tomorrow, and will leave on an overnight train on Wednesday night.

Bye for now,

Rach

Posted by RachMulder 06:49 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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