A Travellerspoint blog

No kangaroos in Austria

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"No kangaroos in Austria"
The number of times I've seen this sign in the last week has been ridiculous. And I love it! I can just imagine the devastated look on an unsuspecting tourists face when they've travelled far and wide in search of the exotic kangaroo, only to discover that kangaroos live in AUSTRALIA, not Austria. Fortunately Maddie and I have seen enough kangaroos in our lives that this wasn't an issue for us during the past week.

We crossed into Austria a week ago and were instantly struck by the incredible natural beauty of the landscape. After a brief stay in Linz we aimed for Salzburg, but took the long way around through the lake district. The glassy lakes and crystal clear water, surrounded by sheer cliffs and pine forests realy so make a spectacular image. So far Austria has presented some of the most amazing scenery we've ever seen. So after a casual ride along the lake at Ebensee, we continued on our way.
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Now Salzburg had a particular hype attached to it for me. Before we left Australia, particular Aunty of mine wasted no time telling us how amazing and incredible The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg is. And for anyone who knows her there's no doubt she was belting out every song at the top of her lungs the entire bus ride! But in all seriousness, I'm glad she did. It was so much fun! Getting heaped onto a bus with around 40 other tourists, singing the songs and visiting the sites of The Sound of Music. And all the while listening to the hilarious commentary of the flamboyantly gay tour guide (although we think he might have be putting on the voice).
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We had 2 days in Salzburg so we did manage to see some other attractions as well. The Hohensalzburg Castle was really cool, sitting up on top of the hill in the middle of Salzburg. It's not hard to see why in its 1000 year history it was never captured by force. We checked out the Mirabell Palace, the Augustiner Brau Haus (oldest beer house in Salzburg run by Monks), and ate our first Austrian Schnitzel (which was of course, delicious!).

Next up on our Austrian tour was Eisriesenwelt. This massive ice cave was absolutely amazing and just so happens to be the largest ice cave in the world. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos in the cave so I'll just give you a photo of the view from the top. But, if you do a quick google search you'll get a glimpse of just how amazing it is.
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We also went and checked out Liechtensteinklamm, which is an awesome gorge near Salzburg. Then the gondola ride to the top of Dachstein Mountain. Now we won't linger here because it's still a bit of a sore spot. After attempting to drive Frankie up to mountain (with limited success), then deciding to take the bus (which we had to wait 2 hrs for and pay 30euro), and finally arriving at the gondola, we had to pay 62euro to ride to the top. Now of course we're finally in the glass box heading for the top, and what would happen, of course it starts raining. So there we are, with what was by all rights an amazing view, having paid an arm and a leg, getting soaked and starting to freeze. Needless to say, we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves. Nevertheless, we rallied and got on with our travels.

Next stop was Vienna, and here's where Frankie decided she wanted an attitude change. Stuck in peak hour traffic, moving 1km every 20mins, on boiling hot day, we started to think "why does it sound like we're driving a V8?". We knew of course from the start that Frankie had her problems, but think was a bit much. So when we were finally out of the traffic we took a quick peek, and surely enough, our exhaust has just broken in half. Luckily both pieces were well attached underneath and there's no really damage that'll keep us from moving on. It does, however, mean that every time we take on the slightest hill it's sounds like we're driving Dad's old Bedford truck up Dorrigo mountain. Issues aside, frankie just keeps on going, for now.
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Now, back to more important things, Vienna. After getting some inside information about the city from our German and Dutch campervan neighbours, we headed into the city in the morning for another free walking tour. Vienna is an incredible city with so much history and so many amazing buildings. I would have to say my high would definitely have been Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Austrian Imperial family. Absolutely amazing building and grounds and well worth a visit if you're in the area.
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Unfortunately we only had time to spend 1 full day in Vienna, because it was time for us to Czech out of Austria (credit to Maddie for that little pun). So we'll see you next in Czech!

Posted by ScottGosling 07:15 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Week 3

Time is flying!!!

So Maddie and I have now been travelling for 3 and a half weeks!!! Crazy... It feels like we've only been here for a few days. But in reality I've already ticked 3 countries off my list. So last i left you we'd moved on from the Netherlands and had just started in Germany. Which means I've got a week's worth of German galavanting to update you on.

As i was always taught in school, every good essay should be structured according to the format Introduction, Body, Conclusion. So to appease every teacher that ever tried (and failed) to teach me how to write, I'll give you a quick run down before we get into the meat of it. From the Netherlands we crossed the border into Germany and did a little bit of city hopping. Our basic route went Dusseldorf, Cologne, Koblenz, Frankfurt, and finally Munich.

My teachers always insisted that every paragraph start by introducing the subject of conversation; so... first up, Dusseldorf (I'm not sure they'd pass me on that one). We didn't actually stay in Dusseldorf; or see very much of it for that matter. Unfortunately, because Frankie is a little bit old, she's not allowed to drive in the European "Environmental zones". Which meant we had a little trouble getting very close to Dusseldorf. Nevertheless, we parked in the country, caught a ferry, then rode our bicycles for around an hour we ended up in Dusseldorf, which seemed lovely, but because of the time spent finding somewhere to park and the ride in, it was time for us to leave as soon as we arrived. Great start to Germany hey!

After our fleeting visit to Dusseldorf we headed toward Cologne ad here we stayed in our first proper camp site. What a luxury! We were able to do washing and have a shower and plug Frankie into power, all the while enjoying the midnight radio the middle aged Germans next to us were blasting (they had surprisingly good taste in music). The next day we headed into the centre of Cologne for a free walking tour. Now these have pretty much become our favourite way to see a city. You get all the history, see all the sights, and sometimes meet some cool people, and then at the end, you only pay what you think it was worth. So good for us budget travellers! We had a great time walking around seeing the beautiful city of Cologne, and ended up having a great chat with a solo traveller, Margie (fellow Aussie).
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Now here comes the most exciting bit (for me anyway). At the end of our tour we went for a walk with Margie and who would we run into but one of the 2 German people I know (and the only one living in Germany). We met Andreas when he came to Australia travelling because he knew one of our friends from College. We had been chatting to him before we arrived in Cologne but what are the chances of running into him on the street??? So we agreed to meet up an hour later as Andreas was in the middle of taking a group of tourist on a Segway tour. Now for the excitement; when we met Andreas he pulled out a couple of Segways, taught us how to ride them, and then took us on a free Segway tour of the city. Now I don't know if anyone else finds that exciting but I loved it! We hung out with Andreas for the rest of the evening and he cooked us some traditional German Sausages for dinner, YUM, before it was time to hit the road again.
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After getting caught in a freak storm while riding our bikes (we looked like drowned rats) we returned to Frankie and set out toward Frankfurt. We had a couple of stop overs on the way, our favourite one being Koblenz. We just went for a ride around on our bikes. Ate some pastry. And some ice-cream. And then got back on the road again.
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And here's where Serena (our GPS) started to fail us. We'd found a town in the Rhine valley that we wanted to stay at on the water's edge. so along the river's edge we headed and started to notice that most of the towns and campervans were on the other side of the river, without any bridges in the foreseeable future. So once we arrived at the spot we were meant to be staying we were forced to simply stare at the campsite from the wrong side of the river. Needless to say, we were mildly put out. But, being the intrepid travelers we are, we took it in our stride, altered our plans, and found a free campsite for the night.
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So, once that little adventure was out of the way, we arrived in Frankfurt. Never before have I felt like I was going to die while doing a tour. But Frankfurt definitely delivered that experience. We again did a free walking tour, and our guide insisted that Frankfurt was an amazing city, despite the fact that the 30 or so tourists doing the tour were huddled together preparing for the end of their lives. as the tour went on to major aspects of the city that we discovered were brothels, drugs addicts, drug injection sites, more brothels, more drug addicts, and that's about it. We honestly could not get out of there fast enough.
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Putting that little adventure behind us we moved on toward Munich as fast as possible. We had a little stop over in Rothenburg, which was an awesome little town which still has it's ancient wall that you can climb. And, after another little adventure with Serena taking us driving into a community garden in the middle of the night, we arrived at the Allianz Stadium in Munich where we were staying the night. Now I won't ramble on too much here, but just give you some highlights. Firstly, we loved Munich. And again, another free walking tour, with by far the best tour guide we've had so far. It really is an awesome city with heaps of history and culture, and lots of things to do. We went for a ride through the English Gardens, ate more German Sausages, and went to the famous HofBrauHaus (which is Bavaria's original bier Haus). All in all, such an awesome city.
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Now I realise that during the course of my ramblings I may have deviated from the original plan of a well structured essay. But here's where I pull it back together with a well rounded conclusion. All in all we've had a brilliant time in Germany and, despite the fact the we originally weren't extremely excited about Germany, would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to go to Europe (just skipping Frankfurt perhaps).

Next stop, Austria!

Posted by ScottGosling 11:26 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

HollEND!

This week saw an end to our time in the Netherlands. It was however a very exciting week! As many of you know, Maddie and I were planning on buying a camper van to drive around Europe for our 6 months. Well that time has finally arrived. Leaving Amsterdam we caught the train to Utrecht where we picked up “Frankie”. Our little beast is a 1991 Fiat Frankia. Now in case you haven’t been lucky enough to see my little virtual tour on Facebook I’ll give you a bit of a rundown on some of her more exciting features:
- fully equipped kitchen with fridge, 2 burner gas stove, and sink
- spacious living/dining room
- bathroom featuring toilet and detachable shower
- 2 captain swivel chairs
- pull down bed
- engine (my father would be ashamed at my lack of knowledge about it)(if you’re reading dad, I checked the oil ;)
- tyres
- 2 doors
- and a TV
And we love her!
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So after a quick stop into Ikea we were on the road, ready for the next stage of our adventure! From Utrecht we drove south to the little town of Leerdam to commence our attempt at free camping. We spent 2 nights there in a little motorhome parking spot next to the marina. It was a nice quiet spot in a quaint little town. But most importantly, we found free Wifi where we were parked. As we’re trying to do things as cheap as we can we’re pretty much living off free Wifi to look at maps and plan our travel, so this was a real bonus. We also spent these days getting ourselves sorted in Frankie, including doing a little bit of renovation work of the roof above the bed.

From there we took a day trip to De Hoge Veluwe, which is basically a giant forest with bicycle paths everywhere. Definitely worth the visit. We then spent the night in the carpark of a soccer field in Westervoot. Again, it was free! But unfortunately no Wifi at this one.
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Before leaving Holland we did have a couple more important jobs to do. Firstly we picked up Serena; she may have been the cheapest GPS we could find, but she’s been brilliant. And then we picked up Captain and Sporty Spice our bicycles, which have become invaluable.
So with out s*** sorted it was time for us to move on to new scenery, and thus we entered Germany!

Posted by ScottGosling 07:36 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

I AMsterdam!

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So it would appear that I'm very quickly falling behind on my updates here. We've only been away 16 days and I'm already 8 days behind 😰
So I think it's about time we caught up on what you've missed, and I'll be honest, you've missed a lot. Maddie and I have spent the last week in the incredibly beautiful, wildly fun, and "mildly" liberal city of Amsterdam. We arrived after a lengthy and arduous 40minute flight from London. Seriously I don't think we even have flights that short in Australia, and that's all it took for us to fly to another country. Travel here is just way too easy. Anyway, so after landing we took a stroll around the airport before meeting up with one of Maddies friends from High School. Lauren had the pleasure of hanging out with us for dinner before heading off to the USA for a cycling race (but seriously the pleasure was all ours, thanks Lauren!).

The next day we made our way into Amsterdam with the help of our friendly neighbourhood Uber driver to our foster home for what was meant to be 2 days. Danika and Jeroen (potentially the best hosts ever) put us up for the WEEK and gave us free reign of their apartment so we could enjoy a few creature comforts before we set off in a Campervan. Not only did they give us a room but they also have us the grand tour of their amazing city... Did I say "grand tour"??? I meant FOOD tour! So, as you can imagine, it was right up our alley!

First stop, cheese tasting, followed by the famed pickled herring. Now, from the moment we met these 2 (which was only 3 weeks ago mind you) Jeroen has been raving about the herring he was going to make us try in Amsterdam. Of course I had to release my inner tourist and go for the traditional full fish on a plate. Was it the best thing ever? Well, I could probably live without it, but definitely not bad and worth the experience.
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Next the fries! A bit fat cone of what Maddie described as her "perfect chip", covered in Zaanse Mayonaise... And we could quickly feel ourselves gaining pounds.🐷. A quick stroll through the streets of Amsterdam, a peek around Dam Square, and it was time for Ice Cream, the second item on Jeroens "must eat" list. Now this is not your normal streets or peters icecream; it's not even your conoseur or magnum varieties; this is like thick and creamy vanilla, that's as soft as a marshmallow, combined with pure whipped cream. If you've had one of these, you'd always go back. I've kindly added here a picture of the store task that anyone going to Amsterdam can get themselves right there!
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Now although you may be thinking we've now eaten enough to satisfy a small army, the tour didn't end there. After a brief siesta at a corner pub, with a view over the canals, we were off to the food trucks! Being a street food festival we obviously had to try a range of products. From burgers and cheese fondant, to ribs and crispy crispy chicken. We are it all! What a way to start our time in the Netherlands!

Now I'll be honest, much of our week continued in a similar fashion. Eating lots, strolling around the city. But here a a few highlights:
Anne Frank house. Pretty incredible to see how they lived and hid for a couple of years!
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Westerkerk tower. Awesome view over pretty much all of Amsterdam.
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Zaanse Schans. Quaint little town not far from Amsterdam where they've keep a lot of the traditional building and styling. (Also, the whole place smells like fudgy chocolate brownies on account of the cocoa factories 😆)
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Canal cruise. Great way to see the city.

Red light district. I wouldn't say this is a "highlight" but if you're there you've gotta walk through it at least once.

Amsterdamse bos (Amsterdam forest). Great big park/forest which is awesome just to walk/ride through.

And last but not least, the Appletaart!!!! This scrumptious piece of heaven is rumoured to to be best at a cafe called Winkel and is somewhere between a moist cake and an apple pie... Soooo good with whipped cream!
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At the end of the day I believe that this sign pretty much sums up our experience of Amsterdam...
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Posted by ScottGosling 15:26 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

London... Done and Dusted!

"Not all those who wander are lost" - J. R. R. Tolkien

And with the end of a week brings the end of our time in London town. I'm writing this a bit late I know. But you can't blame me; I've been a little busy. I'd love to say we slowed down the pace a little in the second half of our week in London, but, alas! There is just too much to see in that incredible city. So, onward we forged.

It's amazing how true that old saying is. Time flies when you're having fun. The past week has gone so quickly that it feels like forever since we were leaving Australia. But here's a quick run down of the things we've been up to:

We made our way to Buckingham Palace to visit the Queen. Unfortunately, she wasn't home. And, I'm sure she's devastated that she missed us. Although we did get to see a pretty impressive changing of the guard. Now, if anyone is planning on doing this I'd definitely recommend that you take one of the walking tours. Those guides know all the back roads the guards take and barracks that they stay in to ensure that you get to see the whole show, rather than watching the 30min staring contest that actually happens out the front of the palace.
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That night it was off to the theatre for us, and we were joined by a friend for the night! Thanks for coming and hanging out with us Caitlin. And since we were going to the theatre, what better show to see than The Phantom of the Opera! I really don't know how those performers get up there day after day and put in so much effort for the show, but boy did they do a good job. It really was an incredible show, the highlight being the Phantom himself. Bravo!

We did manage to have one nice relaxing day in the park. Regents park that is. As London finally decided to show us an attempt at sunshine we made our way up Primrose Hill and sat reading while enjoying a great view over the city toward the Thames river and the London Eye. Then we were off for another Aussie catch up, this time with Maddie's work friend Steph.
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Now it's time for some more travel advice with Scott. This little gem is as follows; if you're going out for the night in London, take a jacket! Some incredibly handsome and intelligent man (who shall remain nameless) decided it was a good idea to go out to a pub for a catch up, followed by a night time Jack the Ripper tour, wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans. Bad move! I'm gunna be honest, said man was not a cold as some may have thought he was, but it was far from a sunny beach in Jamaica. The tour itself was excellent and we both really enjoyed it. Another bonus is that it was a free walking tour. It's a really nice way to see things and the tour guides work on a honestly system whereby tourists pay what they think it's worth at the end of the tour. Needless to say, we did give a donation.
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The next day was another whirlwind of activity with another Aussie connection and the return of Caitlin. This time Cass (my friend from Uni days) put on her tour guide hat to show us a few things she loves about London. That day we powered through Sherlock Holmes house, Camden markets (naturally I loved the grungy feel of these markets), Platform 9 & 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, Paddington Bear at Paddington, Portobello road Markets in Notting Hill, and the London Science Museum. Needless to say, we were all exhausted! Thanks to Cass for taking the time out to show us around. :)
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Although we would have loved to stay in that night and relax, we didn't. We been recommended that doing one of the organised pub crawls was a great way to see a bit more of London and to meet heaps of other travellers. It was! We met so many people from England, Canada, Chile, Australia, and Spain just to name a few. Needless to say, we had a great night.

And with all that under our belt, a 90 min train ride put London behind us as we boarded the plane to Amsterdam and mainland Europe!

Posted by ScottGosling 02:18 Archived in England Comments (0)

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