Madrid, Istanbul and New Zealand – Farewell Trip!

January 14, 2011
December 2010 and January 2011

The flight to Madrid went without event and thankfully it was our last Ryan Air flight. The queuing, the seat hopping, the luggage restrictions……… We were 200 gms over in one suitcase so we had to unpack and rearrange it – I travelled to Madrid with my bathing suit and underwear in my handbag! We really enjoyed Madrid and wished we had three weeks to explore it and not just three days. “A taster” as Peter calls it.

One of the very beautiful buildings in Madrid

At Madrid airport we couldn’t see the signs for taxis, but we found a booth that arranged shared transport, for less cost than a regular taxi. We shared with two people from Mexico, Ana and Tomas. The driver was full of local knowledge so it was very informative. By the time we got to the hotel it was too late to do a “hop on hop off” bus tour (now affectionately known by us as “hoppy” buses) so we took a walk. The hotel was so central it was wonderful.

Our hotel

We found the Palace and a beautiful church.

Palace Square

Jo and Church


We then took a walk a different way and stumbled across the food market that Cherie and Kate said is a must do. Wow! Amazing food stalls selling both raw food to take home and also cooked foods / tapas to eat there. Also wine stalls. The process is you gather up the food and drink you want and then sit at shared tables.

UGLY fish at market

View inside the market

Chocolate Reindeer - the only type I like to eat!


What an afternoon / evening we had! First two Americans in their 80’s who were on a bus tour. We shared a glass of wine with them and enjoyed their company. Then as they left, woosh – another American couple filled their seats. They had just got off a cruise so we had a lovely chat with them and shared dinner tapas and some more wine. Then as we were eating a third American couple and their son arrived to join in. They were travelling similar to us and were 6 months in to a year long trip. They will be in NZ this year too! So all in all we had a fab four hours meeting lots of new people and eating wonderful tapas.

When we were walking back to our hotel, we amazingly bumped in to Ana and Tomas (from the taxi). How amazing – with so many people in Madrid and there we saw them again. And we couldn’t believe it when we bumped in to them AGAIN the following day on our way to find somewhere for lunch. We weren’t even in our own district. So at this point the four of us decided it must be meant to be that we shared a meal together so they took us to a local place – where they ordered in Spanish for us. What a great afternoon we had with them – learning about Mexico and getting to know them a little.

The Mexicans and Kiwis at lunch

The “hoppy” bus was good and we loved the beautiful wide tree lined streets and lovely architecture of the city. It is very beautiful. I also had my hair cut (an interesting experience with the language barrier but I LOVED those massage chairs!), did some market shopping and got some bacon to take to Cherie! I was quite excited to read there was an evening Christmas Market in the month of December, where local people buy their decorations, trees etc. So that was definitely on my list of “must do”. But imagine my disappointment when we finally found it to see it was only cheap trinkets and live trees. But we did get to see a bit of Madrid walking to find it, including some of the lovely Christmas lights in the streets. 

Christmas street lights, Madrid

Christmas lights at end of our street

 The last night we had booked in to a Flamenco Dinner and Show at restaurant recommended by our hotel. It was a wonderful experience. The food was fantastic (which is not usually my experience of dinner and show meals!!!) and the show itself was awesome. The dancing, the music, the costumes, the energy ……. And all on a tiny stage.

Flamenco dancer

 Our dinner neighbours were an Egyptian couple who were on their way back from Canada to live in Egypt. They were strict Muslims, being very careful to explain to the waiters they could eat no pork or ham at all. Imagine our mirth, knowing that in my handbag I had a kilogram of bacon to take to Cherie in Istanbul the following day!

So it was time to leave the European Union for the last time on this trip. We were really looking forward to seeing Cherie and visiting Istanbul again, so off we went. A bit sad to be saying goodbye to the EU though…..

Istanbul was like home again – and we were able to catch the local bus to Taksim Square, where Cherie met us. Taksim is very near Cherie’s house so off we went with our bags. We had a great time in Istanbul and met some people we had met last time so that was really nice. Cherie had put up a Christmas tree and it was excellent to catch up again.

Christmas tree in Taksim Square

This time we spent more time looking at the shops and bazaars, as I could BUY things this time, as we were coming back to NZ. We did buy some traditional Turkish ceramics and some hand woven linen, which is quite exciting. We had a couple of nights in, and a couple of nights out – one at a fabulous restaurant in the high rise hotel we had been to last time. Beautiful views and great food.

Last Supper - Istanbul

View from restaurant over part of Istanbul


On the Sunday we went to an excellent Turkish restaurant and met some friends of Cherie’s there. The food was amazing – albeit we had ordered too much. The best humus, fresh pomegranate juice (my favourite!), spicy breads, meats, kebabs……….. mmmmmmm. And I tried candied eggplant for dessert. An acquired taste I feel!


Here is a photo at a local café where they were making me a fresh pomegranate juice.

Juice being made in roadside stall

We enjoyed Istanbul just as much this time as last, but did notice the increased Police presence around Taksim, as there had been a suicide bomber run in to the Police line, just a few weeks earlier.

BUT! It was time to celebrate Cherie’s birthday.  We had a great night out and met a lot of her local friends.  Very nice!

Cherie and birthday cake

Blue Mosque - the girls!!

And so it was time to leave and end this wonderful journey of a lifetime. What amazing experiences we have had and so many lovely people we have met. Many ask us what is our highlight, or what 5 things we liked most. But it is impossible to say, as different countries, different cities etc were all so different so not really comparable. We loved them each in different ways. Peter does say the Baltic Sea cruise was one of his favourites, as was following the All Blacks for the Grand Slam. Me, well I liked everything! There have been so many people who have helped make this trip even more special……………

– Cherie, or “Cherry’s Tours” for showing us Istanbul and arranging Gallipoli

– Wayne and Liz for their company, fun and laughter on the Cruise

– Ajay for his friendship and all the treats he arranged for us, including getting to attend an Arsenal game (hope to see you in NZ soon……..)

– Benedict for coming to our rescue with accommodation, and enjoying his company so much

– Sean and Michele for their “Driscol” tours, a bed in Rome and especially, for their support and help when Peter was in ospedale, in Siena. Not to mention the lemoncello!

– Maurio for his friendship and English language skills when in ospedale

– To all the staff at Siena ospedale – phew!

– Robyn and Grant for putting us up, your fun and sharing some lovely meals

– Sylvia and Bo, it was so great to see you again and thanks for the accommodation and for “Sylvia Tours”

– Dieter and Inga for a lovely day, good food and for showing us around, and for hooking us up with that lovely hotel in the Canary Islands

– Dieter for cooking fabulous food for us and for the fun and laughter and the bed – Kate for all sorts – putting us up, arranging the P!nk concert, meals, the Sketch experience, meeting your friends…

– Sean for meeting us and showing us around, as well as letting us use his bed!

– Cameron and Anna for showing us the foodie side of Barcelona – Carol and John for coming to stay in Saissac with us and all the fun times on the deck

– Catherine of Saissac for all her help, local knowledge and fun company

– Billy and Margaret and Ina and Patsy, for so willingly taking us in and showing us a great time, and all the other family in the village!

– Annie Diamond for the biggest morning tea we have ever seen!

– Phil and Wayne – for a graet nigth out on Dublin – hope to see you soon in NZ!

– Jean Paul and Philip for the most entertaining fishing trip ever

– To friends and family who kept in touch and jollied us with listening to our tales, not to mention those of you who actually read the blog ………… hee hee

 – To many, many others who shared their stories and company with us – thank you.

We are now firmly back in NZ after a long 30 hour trip from Istanbul. In the three weeks we have been home we have had Christmas, a four day break with Peter’s family at the beach at Whangamata, a night at Lake Taupo, a wedding in Wellington and have crossed over to the South Island. Here are some photos of our trip over, coming in to the Marlbourgh Sounds and a couple from down in the South Island. So for those of you who haven’t been to NZ, this is what awaits you

Entering the Sounds on ferry from North to South Island

View from ferry on way to South Island

Peter and Andrew at Waikawa wharf

Curio Bay, Southland NZ

Tautuko Bay, Southland

 Love to you all Jo and Peter

Tweet, Tweet – Canary Islands

December 11, 2010

Canary Islands, December 2010

Hello from the warm (mid 20’s) Fuerteventura Island in the Canary Islands. Fuerteventura translates to Windy Island – and that is so true! We were just a day late leaving snowy England as we awoke the day of our departure and saw on the news that Gatwick airport was closed due to snow and that travelers should not go there.  So we didn’t.  We finally managed to get through to our travel operator only to be told that they were still checking in at Gatwick – i.e. the airport is closed but the terminals open.  And that for our flight they hoped to fly out of Stanstead later that day.  So off we rushed to Gatwick, on trains that were running late and slow, due to the snow, to find what they actually had meant was that we were to have checked in at the original time. We only found this out HOURS after trying to find someone to help us.  We were not pleased. We were then told that they didn’t have any more flights to Fuerteventura for 7 days!  More Grrrrrrrrr. And we had lost our money.  So we shopped around and got a flight two days later with Ryan Air flying from another London airport, called Luton. 

But before that, a we interlude from our last visit to Brighton,.  Christmas was starting to sprout up over teh town and we had a little Christmas cheer with Kate too!

Christmas hats!

Snow from the train at Brighton

Brighton at night

It was so lovely to be able to see Kate again.  Also in Brighton Peter got his “fit to fly” letter from a GP – so we are definitly coming home!

Lucky Benedict – we arrived back on his doorstep for a third time! Thanks Bene! Of course the up side being that we got to see him again. The next day we managed to get out to Luton, as it is 40 miles away and it was still snowing.  So off we trudge with our bags through the snow to catch the tube, to transfer to an overland train and then to a bus. It was a bit of a mission but we were glad to be there.   We stayed in an IBIS hotel at the airport and it all worked out very well.

Wheeling my case in the snow in London

It was quite exciting to be starting another chapter, and off to somewhere new again. We had chosen the Canary Islands as they are warm and we wanted a relaxing by the pool type option.  Heike’s parents had recommended a hotel / spa there and we are now there, and it is wonderful! It is in the town of Corralejo. 

Looking back from Windy point to our hotel

Our room is right on the beach and I spend a lot of time sitting on our deck watching the sea, boats, people, surfers etc.

View from our room

Sunrise from our hotel room deck

 The hotel also has two outdoor pools and one huge indoor one, with water spouts to help massage your head, neck etc.  Very nice! Also saunas, spas, sensory showers etc.

Looking across the pools to our room

And, it has become like Christmas since we have been here – trees, decorations etc grow by the day.  By the way lucky we came the day we did as the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers went on strike the following day! Phew.

Christmas trees in hotel foyer

Poinsetta Christmas tree at Hotel


There are also 5 restaurants at the hotel, and as it is off season we get breakfast and dinner included in our price. We eat mostly at the buffet restaurant – I usually don’t like buffet food but they have 4 “live stations” where they cook your food to order! Nice. Each night has a theme (e.g. tonight is Italian) so we are enjoying trying new things.

Fruit platter

Yesterday we went over to another Island, called Lanzarote. We booked what we thought was the ferry and it turned out we had actually booked an excursion on a glass bottom boat too! Good one.

Lanzarote is a smaller island and is good for beaches and shopping.  It was beautiful. 

Lanzarote Port

We only had three hours there so we walked around a bit and then had lunch overlooking the sea. Peter had a whole fish made into two huge fillets, which he really enjoyed. 

Lanzarote beach and umbrellas

View from lunch restaurant

The trip back on the boat was ROUGH.  The boat was crashing in to waves and swaying from side to side. Luckily we didn’t feel sick and we got back safely.  And we saw our first ever flying fish – it was amazing! It did really fly and looked like it had wings.

Today we rented a car and went to the middle of the island to have a look.  The landscape is amazing – so sparse due to previous volcanic activity.

Sand dunes at Corralejo


We had lunch in a town called Betancuria, and it was so wonderful.  It was a traditional Spanish restaurant and of very good quality. 

Iberian Hams in Bar at Restaurant

Peter with large statues

We have seen some amazing sand sculptures – note the second one is “active”…….

Sand sculpture underway.........

Sand sculpture with man peeing.........

The island is covered in cacti – of course – and these round ones are very common.

Cactus in hotel garden

Peter outside hotel

Peter and I hve discovered teh delights of a cockatail called Mojito.  We have a lovely bar tender who made us one “on teh house” to try and we have had “several” since then.

A mojito in the making by Julia

So, two more days and we are off to Madrid for three days, then to Istanbul for five days, then home.  We land in Auckland on 23rd December. I guess this will be my second last blog! Yikes!

We hope all your Christmas plans are going well and wish you a wonderful festive season.

Love Jo and Peter

Ireland and Wales, Farewell to England too! November 2010

December 4, 2010

Back to Dublin for the game.  Landed on Thursday and the game was Saturday.  Friday we spent looking around the town and went to see the Kilmainham prison, where many of the leaders of the uprising were held. Quite a sobering experience and very educational about the politics and history of Ireland.  The prison has been in many major films so we actually recognised it.

Kilmainham Prison New Wing

Saturday we looked at some shops and found the “Woolshed” bar – that of the Aussies and Kiwis.  It had an amazing amount of TV screens and played soccer and rugby all day and night long. Peter was pleased as the y were playing a replay of the All Black Australia game from Hong Kong.  I was more interested in the menu, where they had “Vegemite on Toast” for 3.50 euros!!

From there we made our way to the stadium – we walked and “tiki toured” on the way.  The new Aviva Stadium is quite something – very space age looking. We had a good view although we were quite high up. 

Haka at Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium curved roof line


Afterwards we managed to catch the train back in to town.  All very simple really.  We had arranged to meet a couple who live in Dublin, who we met in Edinburgh, after the game.  Phil is Irish and her husband Wayne is a kiwi.  They had not gone to the game in protest at the price of the tickets.  Many Irish were doing the same.

We met them, and their daughter Christine, at the Woolshed where they had watched the game, and then we all went to a local Chinese restaurant for a meal. It was a great night and we loved getting to know them all.

Sunday we met up with Catherine for a drink, the Irish woman who lives in Saissac, in France.  As it happens Catherine and some French girlfriends were in Dublin the same weekend as us. It was great to see her and have a few laughs together. One of her friends is in love with Dan Carter, so we were able to give her the programme from the game, with his photo in it. Much hilarity.

Jo with some statue friends in Dublin

We then wandered in to an amazing place for lunch, called the Bank.  It was the original Belfast Bank, and is now a protected building. It was so beautiful and the food was great too.  They had large posters everywhere saying “Banned.  Tana Umanga” with a photo of him on it.  Apparently years ago he beat someone up there………….

Bank rerstaurant ceiling

On the Monday we picked up a rental car and drove to Northern Ireland to stay with relatives of Peter’s. We hadn’t met them before, not to mention we didn’t know where they lived.  But the trusty GPS, Susie, got us there………….. well, nearly! Margaret had to come and get us from about 4 kms away. Not too bad we thought.

It was wonderful to meet all the relatives – lots of them.  Margaret and Billy were the most amazing hosts and very, very generous. They had arranged for some of the other relatives to call in for drinks the night we arrived. By the end of the night we were not quite sure who was a direct descendant of who in the family tree, but it was a grand night indeed – lots of good craic!

Billy, Peter and Paxal - rellies!

Jo with a few of the female rellies.............

Then the following day, after a local drive around up to the loch, we went off to see the Giant’s Causeway.

Us at the local Loch

It was a great drive and we saw some lovely Ireland.  Cute little seaside towns especially.  The weather was pretty wet but it did mean we got to see some amazing rainbows.  Even double ones.  


Bay in Northern Ireland


We had also hoped to tour the Bushmill’s Whiskey Distillery, but we got there at 4.15 to find it closed at 4.30.  Never mind – we saw it from the outside…………. 🙂

That night Patsy and Ina, other relatives, picked the four of us up and off we went to dinner at a nearby village restaurant. It was starting to get very icy by then. We then went back to Patsty and Ina’s for a drink and met more of their family.  It was so nice.

Billy, Ina, Patsy, Margaret and Peter

The next day dawned icy, icy, icy.  It was so think I wondered if it was snow! So beautiful indeed.

Frost at 10am

We went for a drive this day to Donegal, back in the Republic of Oreland.  It was such an amazing place – raw, rugged coastline……… once again not flash weather, but it made the extreme coast look even more amazing.

County Donegal

Last night with the relatives, and we went to visit Billy’s sister.  Her daughter was getting married that week so the house was full of people and we met some more family. They generously invited us to the wedding, but we couldn’t stay as we had flights booked to get to Cardiff to see the last game of the All Blacks.

The last day in Ireland dawned EXTREMELY frosty and icy.  So we drove very tentatively on the local rural roads, on our way to visit Annie Diamond, on our way to Belfast airport.  Once again amazing Irish hospitality and many members of her family called in to meet us.

Then to Belfast. We had planned to do a “black cab” tour to see Falls Road and parts of Belfat apparently the typical tour operators don’t show you.  But we had stayed at Annie’s too long and didn’t have time.  So we got the GPS to take us to Falls Road, so at least we could say we had been there and seen the murals.  It was quite something to think of all the pain and fighting that had happened there, and still so recent.

Bobby Sands Mural

Peter wanted to pop in to a local for a drink.  Well, that was an experience!!!!!!!!! We met some locals…….. one of whom told us “Me wife thinks I am out walking the f….n dog, but I hid the f….n dog in the back yard and told it not to f….n bark”.  They were all very interested in us, not being local ourselves!

Belfast airport had just had a bomb scare a few days before we were there, so we were pleased to experience the high level of security scrutiny in place! But what a palaver – you have to literally get half undressed to get through. Shoes, belts, coats, jerseys, etc all off.

The flight to Cardiff was only 50 minutes – we are still being surprised by the closeness of everything here (maybe we are just slow learners hee hee). The following morning Shaun and Michele from Rome joined us and off we went to explore Cardiff.  Heck it was cold though – so we mainly ended up trying a few pubs! And when we came out from a late pub lunch – voila – snow!!!! It was snowing and nearly dark being 4pm, and with the Christmas lights on it was all very pretty!

Peter and Michele outside cafe with snow

Cardiff snow and Christmas lights

By the way, that photo is at 3.45pm…………..

It continued snowing overnight and the day of the rugby dawned VERY cold and icy!

Snowy view from apartment room

We all got ourselves decked out for the game and off we slid in to town. 

Ready for the rugby........

We only got to the bus stop when we decided waiting for the bus might be safer than walking. As we went to get on the bus 9it was empty except for us) the driver is saying “No all black supporters on MY bus – off off” and laughing,.  He had a great sense of humor and we enjoyed our warm ride in to town.

We had good seats at the stadium again and it was extremely moving when there was a minute’s silence held for the NZ West Coast miners. Just imagine 70,000 people in one stadium, all silent. The atmosphere was quite something.

Haka at the Millenium Stadium

The Welsh supporters all around us were extremely fun and we had a right old jovial time.

Afterwards we slid around to find some dinner and had a lovely night catching up with Michele and Shaun. Sunday we caught a lift with them to Gatwick, where they flew out to Rome and we trained in to Brighton to see Kate.

Snow in Brighton too! Even on the beach. It was really great to see Kate, and some of her friends, again and also start to experience some Christmas fun!

Kate and Jo Christmas antlers

Peter and Darina at Kates - couch dancing????


But then………… snow and more snow……. We got up at 4am on the day of departure, to find Gatwick was closed!  Long story cut short but it ended up we missed our flight to the Canary Islands in Spain, and landed on Benedict’s doorstep in London again. Thanks Benedict! We had (with Kate’s help) managed to book a flight to the Canary Islands from London’s Luton airport for the Friday. But the ice and snow was such we decided to make our way out there on the Thursday and stay at an airport hotel, so we were close.  Good move!

On our way to the tube station from Benedict's

So snow, ice and all we left Luton only one hour late to fly out of the UK. It felt both sad and happy to be leaving, especially as we were saying goodbye for awhile to so many good friends. But happy as we were moving from such cold weather (a high of minus 4 predicted for the day we left) to this……………. (the view from our new hotel room!)

Canary Islands - view from our deck

We have 11 nights here and already are relaxing in to it, on day one! It is an amazing landscape – we liken it to being on the moon. They get very little rain here and so there is no vegetation or trees. Very interesting and quite stunning.

Hello to you all and we hope your Christmas planning is all going well.

Love Jo and Peter.


November 19, 2010

Blog, Scotland, November 2020

So off on the FASSSSSSSST train from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Scotland.  Wow! Does that train go fast!! Of course, that is when I did the last blog so you already know about that.  We saw a huge nucleaer plant – still seems so odd!

Nuclear plant, from train window

We zoomed past cute little seaside villages…………

Seaside town, Scotland


Edinburgh was so like “home” for me.  Dunedin really is the “Edinburgh of the South”.  Street names, the harbor, people…….. all the same.  It was lovely. 

Princess Street, Edinburgh


Castle Hill

We went wandering on the first night – cold as it was – and found little cobbled streets, some amazing Christmas decorated buildings, and then a great Indian Restaurant.  After London, the best Indian food we’ve had anywhere! Also I bought some woolen socks – about time!!

Christmas decorated building

Christmas tree outside restaurant

The day for the rugby dawned fine even though there was a forecast for rain.  Swam in the hotel pool, had a late breakfast then over the afternoon meandered our way to the game.  Actually it was quite a long way to Murrayfield – people had said 20 minutes or so – more like 60 from where we were staying, and that was after the meander through town!

Murrayfield was a good venue – easy to navigate etc.  We had good seats and see the great photo of the haka.  At least there was no booing of the team coming on or the haka, unlike London! It was Remembrance Day here for Armistice Day and it was a very moving experience when the Lone Piper played for the remembered soldiers. The game was literally a walk over for the AB’s.  We had good neighbours and enjoyed the whole experience.

All Black haka at Murrayfield

After the game we stopped off at a pub on the way back.  An interesting experience as it was a “boutique hotel” as well, and I don’t think the hotel patrons appreciated the throngs of Kiwis celebrating ……… a lot of fun though. 

Sunday we did a bit of R&R and a tad of shop looking, although no purchases. It was very wet! Peter found a pub showing the Formula 1 race. When I got there he was in conversation with a couple living in Dublin, but of both Irish and NZ backgrounds.  She is in the field of health and safety, which is partly the field I work in too, so very interesting and we will see them in Dublin as well.  They had been to the game the night before also and their daughter is to study medicine in Dunedin from Feb next year.  Funny who you bump in to.

So a good night in the pub and then Peter and I off to the Indian restaurant again – oh dear, we thought it was really really late but it was only 5pm! It is dark here so early, like 4pm – we are not used to it.  

We were to leave Edinburgh on the Monday, for Glasgow.  It was a lovely day and we walked to see John Knox House, and a few sights including Greyfriers Bobby! The little dog that spent 14 years sleeping at night on his master’s grave.

Jo in Edinburgh - cold!

Peter in old cemetary with Edinburgh castle in the background

Jo and Greyfrier's Bobby

Royal Mile building

The train to Glasgow was only 1 hour.  Glasgow is the biggest city of Scotland at 600,000 population.    Glasgow is also a lovely city.  Very cold and grey and I am so disappointed that the amazing looking Christmas lights around the capital square are not yet turned on till after we leave. Sigh!

Peter in Glasgow town square

We spent most of the day on the “hop on hop off” bus, keeping dry – and went back to a gallery the director says was amazing.  Yawn for us – stuffed sheep, giraffes, etc! We were ready to leave within 30 minutes.  However there was a pipe organ recital we heard which was amazing.

Gallery in Glasgow

Largest terricotta fountain in UK

Squiffy Bridge

On the next day we caught the train to Loch Loman.  A very quiet train, only four of us in the information center at the other end and basically only us silly ones walking in the freezing cold wind to see the loch.  Brrrrrrrrr.  But it was very pretty.

Loch Lomond

Had lunch in the pub at the train station and then back to Glasgow – once again dark by the time we got there at 3.45. 

Oh dear - sauce line up with pub lunch!!

Peter tried “three ponies” – three types of local beer.

Peter's three ponies....

Back to our hotel and then out to try and find a pub playing the England vs French soccer game on Sky.  Sky is so expensive here not everyone has it – including hotels. Someone told us $1000 a month per Sky TV!   Oh dear – several pubs we found were playing another match.  Finally we found one –  a VERY local pub experience. We had just got ourselves a drink……… I am reading the newspaper, Peter started watching the game and we were interrupted by the barmaid to say she needed a photo of Peter and I for her wall.  So we sidled together, smiled, and voila! Got sprayed with water from the spray camera she had!  Ha ha ha.  Nothing compared to the fake jar of nuts she had for the man for the USA, which really was a jack in the box!!! Peter takes me to all the nice places…………. He thinks it is the div-iest place he has taken me………………..  The ladies’ toilet had the best examples of mould and slime dripping walls I have ever seen.

Today we sorted out stuff to send home, did a wee walking tour of the city and then went to the Art House for lunch.  Wow – amazing food. The best food I have had in ages!! The mushroom and red wine risotto had so many different varieties of mushrooms in it. Delicious! Not to mention the chocolate and orange pot served with bitter chocolate gratin. Mmmmm.

House for Art Lovers, where we had lunch

Glasgow typical city street, city centre

So now we are at the Prestwick airport ready to fly to Dublin.  Ready for another chapter, albeit a closing one, in our trip. 

Love to you all

Jo and Peter

Three Countries, Two weeks……..

November 12, 2010

Three Countries – Cologne, Brussels, England (Brighton and London)

Certainly the closeness of European countries makes for easy travelling. A 3.5 hour drive from Cobourg to Cologne, or Koln as it is spelt in German. Peter tells me that whilst driving he has two speeds on the German autobahns – a “Jo awake” speed and a “Jo asleep” speed.  Luckily I didn’t do too much sleeping at all – I mean, he was driving at 140 to 150kms/hr when I was awake!!  There is no upper speed limit and the recommended limit is 130km.  The cars that zoomed past at goodness knows what speed are mostly Audi.   Zoooooooooooooom

Cologne was mostly completely bombed in the war and has been rebuilt, with the exception of the cathedral which remained standing.  It is spectacular! We had a nice time walking the streets and finding yummy places to eat – a real international feel with us eating over the few days, German, Thai and Italian food.  All scrummy!

Peter in front of Cathedral

One chapel inside the Cathedral


One restaurant already had its Christmas menu up – have a look.  A bit different than a NZ Christmas menu. 

Koln Christmas menu

After Cologne a few hours and voila! We arrived in Brussels.

Road sign and autumn trees on way to Brussels

We were surprised to find there are 3 languages here – Flemish, French and English. Made for easy communicating for us! We stayed in a very flash hotel that we got for ¼ of the rack rate, by booking late.  We really enjoyed the little luxuries of the pool with a swim jet so you can swim and swim against the jet and you go nowhere, scrumptious linen and wonderful staff.

Brussels was beautiful in the old town.  The rest of Brussels is very commercial and also has the EU Commission there. Spectacular building I must say. 

Part of the EU Commission building

I think the square / plaza in Brussels is the most beautiful I have seen on our travels.  And that is saying something.  I stood for ages just drinking in the beauty of the buildings.

Square in Brussels

Peter in Brussels square

And of course, there is the chocolate!!!!!!!!! Wow – shop after shop full of designer chocolates. And wonderful window displays.  It was Halloween (which surprisingly to us is very BIG over here) so lots of windows had the Halloween theme.

Chocolate shop Halloween window display

And lots of shops had these chocolate waterfalls………….

Chocolate waterfall!

Then there was the tiny cobbled streets that had spectacular seafood displays outside the restaurants……

Seafood display

We did the Hop on Hop Off bus and got to see the amazing Atomium – 102 meters tall and built in 1958 to celebrate Peter’s birth.  Well actually it was built to celebrate the 1958 Trade Fair in Brussels. Each sphere has either a museum or restaurant in it and a lift goes up the central core.  Amazing!

Atomium, 1958

Fountain and trees Brussels

We dropped the car off in Brussels – we had had it since we picked t up in Toulouse in mid August.  So was a bit sad to say farewell………… but we got over it! Caught the Eurostar train from Brussels to London – only about three hours and under the English Chanel too!

We then had three days in Brighton and it was lovely to spend time with Kate again.  And I got to COOK again.  Magic!! I have really missed cooking – even whilst enjoying all the fruits of others’ labour.

Saturday morning we left Brighton heading to London for the first of the four All Black games in the Grand Slam. Got ourselves to Benedict’s house to drop our bags off and then left heading to Twickenham for the game. Phew! Were those trains PACKED!! I have never aspired to be a sardine but it was good practice in case I change my mind in the future! I have to say there were not many female sardines on board.

Twickenham was amazing – 80,300 people in the stadium.  Just being there was a real experience.  We didn’t like the way the English booed when the All Blacks ran on to the field, nor when they sang at the top of their voices during the haka. But then again, we still won the game!!! And on Peter’s birthday too!

All Black haka at Twickenham - 80,000 people!

Buses taking people away after teh match

Saturday night our friend Ajay arranged for Benedict and us to go to a private night club near where Benedict lived.  Unfortunately there was a bit of tiredness that night so we didn’t go.  But the offer was so kind.

Sunday dawned and thank goodness it was fine weather. We left home at 9am to catch trains etc to get to Ajay’s part of town to pick up tickets he had, once again, kindly arranged for us to attend a Premier League Football game – Arsenal vs Newcastle. After a coffee and a catch up with Ajay back on the train to Arsenal.  Now, the football versus the rugby is a different kettle of fish altogether!!!!!

So we got off the train and had a walk of only say, 8 blocks to the Arsenal Emirates stadium.  We had planned to stop off for a bight of lunch on the way.  The pubs and restaurants all had signs out saying “Arsenal Supporters Only”.    So we went to go in to one and got stopped by a VERY LARGE bouncer and asked to prove we were Arsenal supporters.  “How do we do that?” we naively asked.  He suggested showing our seasons tickets or something similar – which luckily we had some! So we got in and lunch we had!

Jo at lunch before Arsenal Newcastle game

The stadium held 60,000 – phew! And, a few more things for us to learn re the difference between football and rugby.  First, no alcohol allowed in the stand. Even though we had bought a beer and a wine, served in plastic cups about 10 minutes before kick off no one had told us. 

And then in the stadium – off the 60,000 people only a tiny section is allocated to the away supporters and they were surrounded by security guards. And what emotion from the home supporters. We thought some were going to cry and some were going to leave to kick something.  Arsenal lost. From my point of view not a nice “sporting” environment at all.

Arsenal Newcastle game

Monday night we had dinner with Ajay at a lovely Thai restaurant. Nice to be able to get all this good fresh food. 

Tuesday we packed up and left Benedicts to go and stay with Robyn and Grant in Camden Town. When they arrived adfter work we all went to a wonderful local Indian restaurant – probably the best Indian I have ever had.

Wednesday we went to have a look at Camden Market and then in to town to Harrods, Oxford Street etc. So busy! And not even Christmas season yet.  Unfortunately just when you don’t want the sun to shine so you can see the Christmas lights up Oxford Street, it was a stunningly beautiful day!

That night we met up near Robyn and Grant’s with Peter’s niece and cousin and Robyn and Grant for another wonderful meal. A good night catching up with everyone as it turns out Robyn and Sarah had met as kids years ago!

Thursday was WET, WET, Wet and that’s the weather not the band. We went off to Covent Garden and West End to see the show War Horse. It was amazing.  Life size horses made from puppets, three people to work them.  Other actors riding them.  Such a sad and happy story.

That night once again, we met up for a dinner with friends from NZ who are living in London.  As it turns out the restaurant they had chosen, Robyn’s brother had helped set up so we had a great night with great food, excellent staff, plus the bonus of NZ wine!

As I write we are on a train to Edinburgh, for the second o f the All Black games.  The trains are so fast and provide food, drink etc. Very civilized.  Not to mention this internet access too!

Hope all is well in NZ and that spring has really kicked in.

Love Jo and Peter

Frankfurt, Heidelburg, Ladenburg and Strasburg……

October 30, 2010

Blog Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Ladenburg, October 2010

Also Strasburg, Alsace, France  

Off to Heidelberg to stay with Sylvia and Bo at their place, on the border of the forest, on the outskirts of Heidelberg.  It was a very pretty drive to get there and it was great to see Sylvia and Bo again after 10 years! 

Road Cam photo from in car on way

And such a lovely house in the forest.  All the autumn colours are still dominating.  Sylvia took us in to Heidelberg for a “reccie” for the late afternoon.  Wow – It is such a beautiful city and has a nice feel about it.  We saw the old bridge which has the towers that are well known in Heidelberg.  The river Neckar flowing through the city; the castle dominating over the city from on high.

Heidelberg Castle above the town

old Bridge towers, Heidelberg

Peter and Jo on Old Bridge

Sylvia and Jo on Old Bridge


After a look around and a glass of wine in a local pub, Bo picked us up and we went back to their place.  Sylvia had made a NZ lamb ragout for dinner – yum! We drank some wine and had a good catch up.

The next day we went to explore in more depth the city. Well, that is, the retail part of the city that is.  Hee hee.  Sylvia had computers to sort and such so we took the car in, instead of the bus (only a 7 minute drive).  Later, once we had got home and had a bit of a feet up, we caught the bus back in to town to a wonderful local restaurant.  The ambiance, food and company were so good.   It was a great night.

After a morning’s good catch up with Sylvia we went again in to Heidelberg.  This time to go to the local Saturday morning markets, to see the castle and to catch the vernacular cable car up to the top of the hill for superb views over the city and river.  Also you could see in to Mannheim.  Apparently you can usually also see the French Alps, but it was too hazy this day.   It was also VERY cold!

Sylvia and Jo up at castle - Heidelberg in background

Peter and Sylvia at castle gate way

Vernicular rail line down from up high!


On Sunday it was a bit wet and cold, but after a few admin chores we went to visit the towns of Ladenburg and then Weinheim. Ladenburg is a very well preserved historic town dating back to just after BC, the Romans etc.    The houses are so well preserved and have the dates they were built on them.  Blew us away and they were so pretty! We had lunch at a local café and ate a traditional autumn dish of onion flan, washed down with a drink called neur (new) wine. That is, the top layer of fermenting wine before it is filtered and bottled.  Tasted like juice – oh – that could go down too quick! We both enjoyed the pie and the wine.

House 1600 built

Original Bishops house in Ladenburg

Ladenburg original church 600 AD

Weinheim is also a pretty town.  It was very quiet being a Sunday.

Weinheim houses and trees

In the evening we were treated to Bo and Sylvia’s amazing Indian cooking and their daughter called in for dinner also! Mmmmmmmmm – such good food and friends – a true feast!!

Monday we left for two days and a night down in Alsace, France. We did a little of the wine road – it has over 70 vineyards on it! We managed three! On the way we went to look at the underground station of the Maginot Line from WWII. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn’t go inside but it was quite amazing to actually be there and to be able to touch it!

Maginot Line entrance at one bunker

Maginot Line German tank

Then in to the town of Strasbourg. Oh – it is so beautiful!! We only had a night here but we think we could easily spend 2 or 3 weeks in the Alsace region in the future. It was stunning.

The cathedral in Strasbourg was amazing! And the day wad warm so we enjoyed lunch in the sun!

Strasbourg buildings Old Town

Strasbourg River

Strasbourg houses

Peter eating pork knuckle! Again!


That afternoon we went back to Heidelberg area to meet up with Heike’s parents.  Unfortunately due to the road works we were late, but what a spread awaited us – cakes galore, including a home made plum tart which was very delicious! It was wonderful to catch up with Inga and Dieter – and to see their lovely home and garden and their new conservatory. They took us over the river to see Ladenburg – and although we had been with Sylvia when it was a bit raining, it was so good to go again and see it in the fine weather and to learn more.  Very nice indeed.    And the history…………

Ladenburg with Heike's parents

Ladenburg - all the original shops had their trade detailed in signs - see the dates!

Ladenburg Restaurant

We had a lovely local dinner back at their place before we drove the 20 minutes back to Sylvia and Bo’s. 

Wednesday we packed up and left for Bad Steffilstein.  A small village near Cobourg with a spa resort and excellent swimming pool! We had three nights there and spent a day with Heike’s Uncle Dieter – what a lovely day.  We had met Dieter once already in NZ.  He treated us to his Chicken Tikka for lunch and then local white sausages and other meats for dinner. In the afternoon we took a walk through the town and up to the local castle on the hill. 

Peter and Dieter at Coburg Castle

Castle through the Trees

Dieter and Jo Coburg town market place

"Cheers" Dinner at Dieter's

It was so lovely to see him and to spend time getting to know his town.

Today we left and have arrived at Koln – also known as Cologne. Next we will go to Brussels where we drop our trusty lease car off and head in to England via train and the Chunnel.

Unfortunately during this period our good friend Bruce died, back in Chch NZ. We were so very sad not to be there to help out and support Jacquie and the family (hugs and kisses to you all xx).  I met Bruce and Jacqui when I first graduated as a teacher (oh, a looooooooooong time ago) and went to teach with Jacqui down in Riverton (great times thanks Jacqui!!).  Bruce was such a strong, caring and wise man and he died too young from a nasty illness.

But, we hope this finds you all well.  We’ll be home for Christmas – landing in Auckland on the 23rd December. Then we will travel South after Christmas and a wedding in Wellington on the 31st December – so hope to see as many of you as we can.  

Before then we will be following the All Blacks over in UK on their Grand Slam! I shall send photos of cold and snow I am sure!!

Love Jo and Peter.

Luxembourg and Frankfurt

October 30, 2010

Greetings from a very cool Germany! Autumn has really and truly set in and the tree colours are stunning.

Luxembourg bridge and autumn trees

Luxembourg was smaller than we imagined but prettier. Sean took us on a great guided tour of the “must see” things. First the largest American military grave site outside of America. We were blown away by the serenity and immaculate keeping of the site. Not a blade of grass out of place.

American military grave site ndeaer Luxembourg

It also had some very good explanations of the war and how land occupation changed over time.

Jo and Sean in front of war map

General Paton is buried there. He actually died Germany but wanted to be buried with his men.

General Paton's grave

The town of Luxembourg was very pretty and lots of “chocolate box” scenes.

Luxembourg view over vin yard and church

Luxembourg view over river

We had to have a couple of pub stops to warm up as we meandered through the town on a cold Sunday. You see, Peter was very happy it was a Sunday as all the shops are shut, so we couldn’t “shelter” in the warm retail shops! We went to the casements and tunnels cut in the rock for fortress reasons. So many and such amazing work for being so old. Also, great views from there.

Peter and Sean in casements cave

Peter and Sean in casements with cannon

Castle above autumn trees

That night we went to the local pub in the village where Sean lives – and even I held my own in the pool games!!!!!!! They still smoke indoors in pubs and restaurants in Luxembourg and some of Germany – we are so not used to that now. We left Luxembourg for Frankfurt. It was great staying with Sean and catching up.  Thanks Sean!!!!!

We stayed for three nights in Frankfurt. It is much more modern than other places we have seen in Germany and has high rise glass buildings.  But these are set alongside old buildings too.  Msot of teh city was bombed during the war which explains the new buildings.

Building reaching up in to clouds

The Old and the New..........

The Old Opera house - rebuilt in the 1980's!!

We met our friend Heike’s brother and sister in law for dinner here and had a great night. We tried the local “green sauce” which I really liked. Made with a yogurt base and with garlic and 7 green herbs, e.g. parsley, chives, etc. Similar to the Italian Sauce Verde but with the yogurt base instead of just oil.

Night scene Frankfurt - a bit blurry sorry!!

Went to the local indoor market. It was wonderful and saw the wonderful mushrooms, the huge pumpkin and lots of other treats.

Mushrooms at market

The pumpkin was 42 euros to buy it was so large!

The large pumpkin....................

By now the weather is cold and it was also raining. But there was a heated pool at the hotel we were at and we enjoyed the warm exercising!

Euro sign in centre of town

Beautiful hotel building, Frankfurt

From Frankfurt we went to Heidelberg. We are still having a great time and loving Germany. I know I have mentioned the autumn colors before but they are truly stunning. Hopefully NZ is entering spring now. Tonight (30th October) we put our clocks back an hour here, as they enter formally in to winter! Brrrrrrrrrr

Love Jo and Peter

Rhine and Mosel Rivers, Germany

October 16, 2010

Hello again. This part of the world is so beautiful! We are having such a lovely time along the banks of the Rhine and Mosel rivers in Germany, with all the autumn splendor of the trees. As we left Tubingen we went back in to Stuttgart to visit the Mercedes-Benz museum. It was so cleverly done and amazing. We both loved it. Seven stories high and a lift takes you to the top then you wind your way down the corkscrew type building. They also had the world development timeline alongside – so you could learn about the relative motor engineering feats in line with the world politics and developments. Great! Here are some photos……

First ever car made - 1800's

First gull wing car - 1950's

Display of racing cars - old to new

Peter in Gull Wng car - cardboard cut out!


From there to Worms – what a name! We just had to stay here. And it was a lovely town – with the most amazing Cathedral. It was so tall (how did they build them so big back then!) and we were privileged to have the organ player playing while we were there. Brought goose bumps to the skin!

St Peter Cathedral, Worms

Beautiful house in Worms


St Peter Cathedral - look at that tree too!


Then up the Rhine and passing through a few villages and towns…………. An amazing amounts of vin yards…….. and so beautiful all zig zagged up the hill sides!!!!!!!!! We stopped at Rudesheim for lunch. Oh la la – a most amazing spot, perfect weather and at an amazing hotel built in the 1600’s……….. the food was great too.

Vinyards along banks of Rhine

Village view from Car along Rhine

Castle in teh Rhine - Originally for collecting taxes from boats

Lunch hotel at Rudenheim - lunch under the vines watching the river!

Then to a town called Boppard. Peter thinks he wants to go and live there. It was amazingly beautiful and very friendly people. We had to get a car ferry to cross over the Rhine to get there. A mere 4.50 euro it cost for us two and the car. It did only take about 5 minutes of course……..

Approaching Boppard on the Rhine Ferry

We stayed 6km out of town on a golf course (not that we played golf) but we swam in their indoor pool, enjoyed the green pastures and the hospitality of the staff.

Statue in courtyard of hotel

We were still so lucky with the weather at this point. Cool autumnal evenings and lovely 18 degree days. On the second day we went in to town and I struck my first “Christmas Shop” in Germany. Peter was overjoyed – not …….. hee hee hee. There were some lovely decorations, just a small number that I hadn’t seen at home, although most of it was the same, which was interesting to see. It turns out the couple who own the shop are thinking of taking a trip to NZ next year and that actual day there was a travel agent in town doing a presentation on NZ in the Boppard Town Hall. What a hoot!

Boppard town centre

After that Peter informed me there was a castle on the hill nearby and to get to it we had to go up on a chairlift. Gulp! Not too fond of heights, I am not. But I agreed to go as it didn’t look too far, not that I could see the castle from the ground. Uh oh – halfway up I realised I could only see ONE THIRD of the total chair lift wires from the ground – it was nearly 2 kms long.

The dreaded chairlift - over teh vines

A few deep breaths………. Then up at the top. Oh the views. Oh yes, and the fact that it turns out (a) no castle and (b) you can actually DRIVE up! But having chairlifted up, it was the chair lift down. The views were stunning but oh boy, was I thrilled to get my feet on that solid ground. Oh yes, and I have mentioned to Peter a few times about the option that we could have driven 

Boppard town and Rhine from top of chair lift

Boppard and Rhine

See how high the chairlift is above teh ground!!

Building in Boppard

We had a drink that evening in the club house at the gold course – “posh-ist” club house I have ever seen. The bar maid was Malay and we had a lovely time talking with her. The next day we took the ferry back over to the other side of the Rhine and off to Koblenz we went. Koblenz is the only town that is on the Rhine and the Mosel rivers. It is where the two rivers meet. A huge statue stands at that point, called the German Quarter.

The Rhine and Mosel meet at Koblenz

Peter, sunset and Mosel river in Koblenz

It was a short drive and still very pretty. After checking in at the hotel we went off to visit Marksburg – a castle from the 1600’s. We did a guided tour and it was most interesting. Seeing the way they lived, the armour, kitchen,. Cannons etc .

Turret at castle and view

Marksburg Castle

Marksburg - steps and door - note the steps are the actual cliff itself


And what about the toilet for the grand hall. It was a “long drop” hanging high over cliffs, that for the flush you had to wait for the next rain. Not to mention, it was literally right by the dining table!

Toilet behind the table!!

Suits of Armour

We really enjoyed our time there. That night we asked the hotel for a restaurant recommendation and went to a local pub. The waiter was great and suggested some local mushrooms that are a specialty and only grow for a few weeks in autumn. Ohhhhhhhhhhh they were so good. Over pork. We have been very surprised at the amount of pork on the menus here. And no wonder – at the super market today I see pork was 2.40 euro a kilo. So cheap! Anyway, back to the mushrooms – they were small long ceps and tasted like no other mushroom I have had.

The next day we had a bit of a catch up admin day and as I had developed a cold, it was good to have a quiet day. Later we walked in to the old town, which was lovely but a little more commercial than some of the others we have seen. And I found a second Christmas shop! Imagine – a combined Christmas and kitchenware shop – I was in heaven. Peter left me there and went sightseeing!

Jo where the Rhine and Mosel meet

The next day it was off to Cochem, via visiting a castle down a valley called Burg Eltz.

Burg Eltz from above

Peter in forest at Burg Eltz


Cochem is the highlight town of the river trip for us. I shall let the photos tell that story.

Castle and vinyards at Cochem

Cochem castle, river and fog

Mosel, looking back from Cochem in early morning fog

The hotel there was lovely and we had a view of the castle and some of the river. Also on our bedroom door when we arrived a heart plaque welcoming Family Esplin. I liked that of course.

Esplin Family Door Plaque!!

It was topped off by at the restaurant table a table plaque named “Esplin Family Zimmer (room) 30” and it was our exclusive table for dinners, breakfast etc for our time at the hotel. A nice touch.

Peter with Esplin Family Plaque at dinner!

Once again very friendly people here. Oh we are having such a lovely time. We spent the next day walking and enjoying the sun, looking at the shops and then enjoying a glass of wine in the sun watching the boats going up and down the Mosel River.

View from deck of wine bar at Cochem

Cochem town square


Later back at our restaurant bar I tried a local drink made of herbs – tasted suspiciously like cough medicine to me! We left Cocham to go to Wittlich to meet up with Peter’s cousin, Sean, who is living in Luxembourg. There was a beer festival on in Wittlich that the plan was to go to. Oh, it is getting quite cold now and we have not seen the sun for a couple of days. From Cocham, so very beautiful, to Wittlich – so NOT very beautiful at all!

View from hotel at Wittlich!!!!!

But we had a nice time exploring and then a good night at the beer fest.

Peter and cousin Sean at Wittlich beer fest

There was no safe in the room at the hotel, so I had cunningly left the passports zipped inside Peters coat in the wardrobe, so they didn’t come to the beer fest with us. Well, that was a good idea, except when we left we forgot to check and left the coat behind. Gulp! A few butterflies as we toured Trier with Sean and then drove back to get the coat. And the passports weren’t there!!!!!!!!! After a few butterflies turned bats, it transpired the boss had found the passports and put them in his safe, for safe keeping. But he hadn’t told the receptionist! Phew! I bet that is a once and only time we’ll do that!

Trier is also a very lovely town and we enjoyed wandering the squares and seeing the huge church. Once again we lucked on the organ player playing. Ahhhhhhhh.

Trier buildings and square

Sean and Peter outside Trier Church

So now we are in Luxembourg at Sean’s flat, for two nights.

For those who haven’t caught up with the homeward bound news, we will be back in NZ for Christmas. No date confirmed yet but around the week of Christmas sometime. We’ll go via Istanbul and see Cherie for a few nights on the way back too.

Hope all is well at your end. Lots of love, Jo and Peter

Munich, Dachau and Tubingen, Germany

October 7, 2010

Munich, Dachau and Tubingen, Germany

October 2010

With the Oktoberfest over, it was time to see more of Munich itself. It is a very pretty city with stunning buildings and wide streets.

Munich street and buildings


Nymphenburg Palace - part of it - it is too huge to be in one photo!


From Munich we drove the short distance to Dachau (about 30 minutes).  We were of course, off to see the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site.  Quite appropriately it was raining.  It is a very well done site with the museum full of actual photos, letters and drawings from some of the prisoners.  Also there was a lot of information about the political rising, facts and figures etc. We thought going from Oktoberfest to Dachau was very sobering indeed……. The sheer magnitude of what happened was very evident.

One Camp Barracks

The original “engineering” building, now the museuum

Memory Plaque


From Dachau we drove 3.5 hours to Tubingen, a town near Stuttgart. It is such a beautiful town – one of the most beautiful we have seen. We have been doing our hotel bookings as we go on, and in Tubingen we lucked on a gorgeous new hotel that also has excellent staff and food. AND for three nights it is only the cost of one night in Munich! We are happy!

We got here quite late and booked in for dinner at 8.30.  We ordered the meal of duck for two……….. oh dear! We were absolutely stonkered! Breads and herb spread, a plate of 3 amuse bouche, potato and herb soup (the best potato soup I have ever had!) and then………. A whole duck! And it was huge. 

The duck before carving.............

They sliced it at the table and it was presented so beautifully. 

The duck after carving!

What we didn’t know was that there was ANOTHER course of another duck leg each served on quinoa risotto.  We had to get that delivered to our room and we had it cold the following day. No room! Ditto with the cheese course! And it was also very reasonably priced.

The next day we spent exploring the town by foot. Oh it is so beautiful!

Tubingen building in market place, with flower boxes

Tubingen building with painting

Market place and buildings

River Nekar and buidlings in centre of town

Street flowers

View from the castle wall

By mid afternoon we were a bit tired so stopped off at a bier garten by the river and were entertained with passing punts, flocks of swans, people coming and going and then met a couple from America with their sister in law, who is local. That was fun.   

The bier garten we enjoyed

Today we arranged travel and then went to Rottenburg and had lunch there.  It also is a lovely town but not nearly as pretty as here.  Then we got really brave and went “tiki touring” and saw a few local sights in the country.  We ended up at a thermal spa area and saw this most genius fountain advertising the corner to turn at the spa.

Excellent fountain advertising thermal pools

Tomorrow we are off to the Mercedes Benz museum in Stuttgart, then to stay in a town called Worms!  That is the start of our Rhine and Mosel river week, which we are really looking forward to as well.   

We hope that spring has sprung in NZ for you all.

Love Jo and Peter

Oktoberfest 2010

October 6, 2010

Peter with beer stein and with jo's wine......... see how small mine is!

Blog – Oktoberfest 2010

Ohmm pah pah…… not at all.  But how do we describe the amazing experience of Oktoberfest 2010 in Munich.  It was the 200th anniversary of the beer fest………. Over a four day period we had three days there. We LOOOOOOVVVVVVED it. What a party! So much to see and so many people to meet. We were in heaven! We met so many lovely people we had such a good time.  And the “tents” – bigger than our largest event halls……… so much awe!

So, ten tents seating up to 100,000 people………  and then the outside – a carnival like NZ’ers have never seen. Oh my – we were open mouthed “kids”.  Another 100,000 people there apparently……. Lots of families and kids too.

So not sure what to tell you as really it was drinking beer and meeting people we did.  Hard to describe the amazing event. 

Maybe I can tell it by photos…………..

Jo at Hippodrom last day


Kafer tent - Peter and Petra


staff al "self employed" and only earn tips......... bear lady in action

Our new friends - Petra and Peter

more new friends - Hayley, Dave, Peter and Jo


oh my - we LOVED those pork knuckles


more new friends - from USA this time - Wine Tent

Uh oh - queue to toilet in wine tent! One hour!


Augustiner tent inside - so beautiful

they go through 10,000 chickens - here is a sample of some cooking on ONE tent only

Hafbrau tent

Armbrust Tent outside

Ridiculous! who rides these types of rides........ and after beers!