Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Haggis Experience...

I know it's been a while since i last blogged, but Internet in the UK has been scars and ridiculously overpriced... So, we arrived in London just over a week ago now. The Hostel was good, if we just skate over the little detail of the bed anyway... and was in a very very sheik little location, which was a much needed change from the slums we had to endure in Ireland. On our last evening in Cork, we had resided to the fact that it was probable we would not make it through the night. Alas, we did and now we laugh about it, but at the time, well, I wanted to curl up into a little ball and cry. Very scary place...
We joined our tour after two days of SHOPPING in London. It was a good idea at the time however our food budget has suffered severely since. The folk on our tour are for the most part, lovely. You're always going to get a few odd balls in a group in excess of forty people, but as a general rule, just lovely! We miss our French tour companions Ariel and Roberto though... sigh...
Scotland. Oh my darling Scotland. It was DEVINE! After Paris I would rate Edinburgh as being the most striking place visited. It was grand (which I love) and cultured, (which I also love) with a flair of that wonderful Scottish culture. On our second night in the Highlands, we were treated to a traditional Scottish feast. Let me set the scene for you;
We are all seated and had just eaten our entre. No one is expecting anything out of the ordinary to occur. Then, we hear the distant wail of a bagpipe. In comes a kilt cladden man, bagpipes and all, followed by a waiter, with a plate of Haggis. They make there was to the front of the room, the Scottish man recites a Haggis related poem that I could barely distinguish through his Scottish drawl, then plows his knife through the meat, and exits the room, playing the bagpipes once more. Taken aback by the entrance of epic proportions given to the Haggis, we all raise a glass of scotch to the Haggis, before tasting a little. It was rather nice, but nothing special, I must say.
I am afraid I am running out of time so I'll leave it at that for now.
Love M.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dublin and Co.

So we've been in Ireland for the last four days now. It's hard to really describe how Ireland has been for both Tori and I... I guess you could say we were ridiculously, and irrevocably UN impressed. We blame it on an array of reasons... Firstly, we've come from France, FRANCE, the most aesthetically beautiful and proud country in the world. In France, our jaws were dropping at every sight, the people were passionate and spoke of their city and it's history with pride. Here, in Ireland, you are predominately surrounded by farmland. Our experience of Ireland is as follows; Paddock, cottage, rock, repeat. The locals were lovely, I'll stress that point, but all there really is to do here is go to the pub. It's all we've been asked really, "have you had the Guinness?" In France, we were being told stories about revolution, of Napoleon and of centuries of stories. Here we are told of potatoes and little stone walls.
Here is the problem, as far as I can work it out; the magnificence of France has kind of plunged every thing else in to mediocrity for us.
To make matters worse, we have had a tearfully poor experience with our Paddy Wagon Tour. The hostels they had us in were ones of mixed dorm rooms so they were stinky and crowded and noisy and just yucky. Then to the tour itself! We probably spent a collective of four hours outside of the bus in the three days of touring. We drove, drove, drove, and stopped for twenty minutes at the sights, then forty for lunch. Then off to another dingy little hostel.
Oh yes! the showers! You don't get to choose a temperature. Just take what they give you.
On the plus we managed to see a few of the desirable sights, the Blarney castle, the cliffs of Moher.
So, in closing, Ireland, not up to par with France. We can not wait to move on to the UK, where we'll have our own rooms and decent showers and everywhere wont smell like cows. Love you all. M.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodbye France, Hello Ireland.

Leaving France today was a tearful occasion. We have met some of the most beautiful people imaginable on our tour; the cosmos group could not have been better. Looking back on the first day of the tour, I can't help but laugh! Tori and I were mortified and there were no others our age in the group of forty something travellers, but seven days later we were tearing up as we hugged everyone goodbye.
I always knew that France was going to be beautiful, everyone tells you so, but what I hadn't anticipated was to cross paths with people who have managed to eclipse the chateaux, the statues and the cathedrals.
Leaving was hard.
Well, let us just hope that the remainder of our tour is going to be just as successful.
I'll quickly try and recap on the last few days touring as the Internet here is FREE, a luxury we've not come across till now. I'll lap it up whilst I can... Anyway, Our favourites;
Honfleur was a beautiful little harbour town where we lunched and shopped. I took a whole roll of film there so one day, if I ever find a Kodak store, you may see it. Then there was the Chateau De Chenonceau... On the top floor was the bedroom of Louise of Lorraine, (the White Queen) which she had redecorated in a pious manner after the death of her husband to mourn. It was painfully devine. Mont St Michel was beyond words.
I'm sad the French tour is over... We had a great tour guide and driver who didn't hesitate socializing with the group after hours. It was all wonderful, down to the last detail.
We start our three day tour down to the South of Ireland tomorrow, so, off to bed we go. On the one part it is a relief to be in an English speaking country again, but on the other, I'll miss hearing the French language. Actually, I've had to stop myself from greeting people in French since arriving here... I accidentally said "merci" to an irish woman. She looked at me like I was a freak.
Missing and loving you all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Loire Valley

Our French trip is coming to an end, which is bittersweet to say the least. We have met some beautiful people on tour, and have bonded more that anticipated. Tomorrow we leave the Loire and make our way back down to Paris, where we'll be spending our final night before flying off to IRELAND, of which we've assumed to be the epitome of our trip. It's going to be hard to top the cosmos tour though...
I realise that the blog entries are getting shorter and shorter... Merely, I'm being lazy. Sufficed to say, we are having a great time. I've begun to really miss home comforts, however, with that said those feelings become superfluous when you're walking through a chateaux or just eavesdropping on some strangers purely to hear a little French.
Love and miss you all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Sun Palace

So today we met our tour group which war rather hilarious... we're the youngest by a few decades... with that said Tori and I find that preferable. The tour is at a relaxing pace and most of the older folk are very sweet! We spent today visiting the palace of Versailles. Wow. It was the most breathtaking experience yet. I can't describe it in a way that will do it justice, you'll just have to wait for the photos. My favorite room was that of Queen Marie Antoinette. As well as beautiful, it was fascinating. One of the most bizarre things we were told by out guide was that the reason that the King and Queen slept in separate chambers was so that the public could keep tabs on when they were sleeping together, so as to be sure that all babies belonged to the King. We were told that there was a man who worked in the palace whose job it was to take this particular special cushion to the queen when the king wanted to visit her. The cushion would be left out side the room to indicate that the king and queen were sharing a bed that night.
I would say more but this French keyboard is frustrating me to no end.
Having a ball. Missing everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hop on hop off, the Glory of Napoleon and the Louvre

Today we were tourists through and through...

Our day began with a ride atop a large, red, roof-less bus which took us in a circuit around Paris. The weather was skys and the sun was shining. We both felt perfectly content as we gaped at the beauty and splendor around us, the cities monuments seem to pay a constant homage to their beloved Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, however we were not complaining as each one was more resplendent and breathtaking than the last.

Next stop was the Louvre where we walked among the works of Monet, Rembrandt, Botticelli and most famously Da Vinci. We saw the Mona Lisa of course, but only from afar as she was heavily guarded...bullet proof glass and not one but three barriers...however it was worth the search it took to find her in the great expanse that is the Louvre, she is indeed a beauty.

I think that the feeling is unanimous between both Melissa and I that yesterday was our best day yet, we were in awe the entire time...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I still haven't come across anywhere that develops film over here so we may have to wait till London to get some images up here.


Today was amazing. The best had so far. No creeps, just boutiques, Amelie's cafe and a great Frenchy tatouages. This wonderful long-haired Frenchman and I drew up a birdcage design that was better than I could have imagined. I'm really happy with it. Yes, it hurt, but I was surprised at how bearable it was. sore, but not that bad.
Good, good day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Comings and goings in France

Somehow I thought that Paris would be more... Liberating... or something. I am definitely enjoying myself, don't get me wrong, but there have been no epiphanies, no breath of fresh air as such. I guess I had expected this city to have a kind of soul. Alas, it is just a place, as any other place. A very pretty place, historic place, famous place, but just a place all the same. and I am still me, very in love with Melbourne. Weirdly enough I think actually being here has killed the love affair between myself and France.
It is glorious to just look at, but I feel as if its beauty has been eclipsed by the poor quality of many of the people who live in the city.
Yesterday as we were waiting at a pedestrian crossing we were approached by a young man on a bicycle, who began asking us for directions. We told him that we didn't speak French after which he switched to English and began telling me to leave Tori and to go with him to a cafe. After fervently declining he lent over his bike, kissed my cheek, groped my chest and sped away before I had the time to comprehend what the hell was going on.
I suppose in hindsight it is kind of humerus but at the time it was utterly mortifying... Fittingly it occurred out front of the Moulin Rouge.
In addition to him , so many of the men here stare, relentlessly, and without any shame. Then there are the hecklers, although I had expected them.
We also had a very obscure encounter with two seemingly deaf dumb people who were trying for donations. We just apologised over and over as we pushed our way past, feeling rather awful about our not being able to help out, until after twenty meters from them we turned to see and hear them talking to one another.
So, Tori and I are finding it hard to tell the good folk from the dodgy, as ostensibly they all seem rather normal.
Bad encounters aside we were assisted by this beautifully awkward young man at the supermarket. The cashier would not serve us as we had not weighed our grapes, however our lack of French left us with no clue as to why he would not serve us. Back home, they weigh fruit for you! Anyway, then the beautifully awkward chap trekked him was though the store and weighed them for us. It made my day.
The Eiffel tower wasn't too busy which was a plus, and we managed to attach ourselves to a rather sizable group of German tourists which effectively made us less auspicious to the hecklers. I'll keep reiterating this as I feel it is necessary, Paris is beautiful. When you're up high looking down on it and no one is grabbing you or trying to sell you something you can really appreciate it.
We absolutely adore our hostel! Out in the streets of Paris I never feel quite comfortable, so to have a little "home" is very refreshing.
To add to it's wonder, at the end of our street is the park with the carousel and the viewfinders from Amelie. Very happy about this.
In fact, we love Montmarte so much that we're not even venturing into Paris today.
Unfortunately everything is very expensive over here, apart from croissants which are 80c. It's a shame as I had planned on buying you all something beautiful, but I am afraid key chains will have to do. I need to eat.
Ps. Trent, there was no Royal with Cheese. There was a Royal with Bacon, but we opted for Le Big Mac and Le Big Tasty. Australia should get on to this Big Tasty. It really was big and tasty.

Pps. We both can't wait to begin touring. I don't think we're cut out to be solo travellers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In the beginning...

Hmm... Let me begin by advising anyone who may be considering flying international economy with Etihad to RUN! Run in the opposite direction! The seats were not only the worst plane seats I've ever had the misfortune to sit in, but the worst seat seats period. I will quote Tori's description, "Medieval Torture Seats." To add to our suffrage, our end of the plane was absolutely freezing, as they only had heaters up the front. When we then asked a flight attendant for some form of blanket we were told, "sorry, they are reserved for first class passengers. Sufficed to say we got little to know sleep. We did however manage to counter this with seventeen straight hours sleep once we had made it to the hostel, but more on that later.

Abu Dhabi was interesting to say the least. The men push in and bump you and do not apologise... it was like we weren't visible to them. Very odd...

As Zombies we finally made it off and into the French airport where either we were so sleep deprived and pissed off at the world that we missed our transfer, or it never came.

I will parenthetically interject here, to put rest to a commonly circulated theory that the French are not a helpful people. In our case, this could not have been more incorrect. We met some absolutely lovely French people in our frantic airport escapades.

So, moving right along, we hopped a cab, and the roads!! Mum, you'd have cried. There were lanes, however they were completely disregarded, as were speed limitations and pedestrians. Picture this;

Large taxi driver, no knowledge what so ever of English, phone in one hand, dripping corn cob in the other, beeping at pedestrians (not slowing for them) and swirving around from lane to lane as if blinkers and other cars were not of existence.

As we did not die however, I can now say that it was very very fun, so no harm done.

Our hostel is in Mortmartre and so for the rest of our day we will be exploring the bohemian centre of Paris. I also plan to get my tattoo today but that all depends on whether we can find an artist who speaks English.

Our street, the Rue D'Orsel is, as most streets in Paris are, cobble stoned, with exquisite buildings and haberdasheries as far as the eye can see. I wish I weer a quilt maker in this moment. I'd be on cloud nine.

It truly is beautiful. They all say this, but really, it is. As I stand looking out my window I am already planning my return, so Trent, start saving my love.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goodbye Drinks

Bar None.

Thanks to everyone who came out.

See you in a month. x