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Round the world!!!

a travel blog by Pete+Rochelle

4 1/2 months with no work, no keys, no responsibilities- doesn't get better than this!!!
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Urangan, Australia

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on September 25, 2010 from Urangan, Australia
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Hong Kong Stop over

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Hong Kong 27 Sep-30 2010

Pete and I were staying in Kowloon which is the main city on the mainland. It was really muggy and hot and there are people everywhere!! The smells were amazing; your nose gets violated in many ways, always something strange. There were a lot of seafood smells (probably due to all the shops that sell all types of dried of seafood on the side of the road), meat aromas, and the smell of cooking coming from the thousand restaurants located in Kowloon. Oh yeah and nicotine clouds- I think most of the population of Hong Kong smoke cigarettes, which they smoke just about anywhere, all of the time-passive smoking at its best. There were people everywhere trying to sell us stuff. The locals were in our face every minute. They were either pushing us to just “take a look inside my tailor shop”, yelling at us from their little stalls on the side of the road, or blocking our path when little old people were pushing big trolleys with rubbish or squashed boxes.

There are approximately 7 million people that live in Hong Kong, 90% of which are Chinese and they’re re about 7000 of them to each sq cubic meter. The people here live on-top of each-other in little apartments, and everywhere you go you will see washing hanging out of windows on little bamboo pull lines. I thought this above all things was amazing. What if you drop your favorite dress! Wealth is measured by the size of your apartment (or house if your extremely rich!!) and 110% tax must be paid for each car on the road, which means there are not a lot of cars per head and all cars are new as it is cheaper to buy new ones then to keep paying taxes on old ones apparently!

Pete and I did a bus tour of Hong Kong Island and the tourist stops. The Man Mo temple where we had to leave because there was so much incense burning it made our eyes cry. Victoria Peak on HK Island which has views to Kowloon and the harbour and you go on a 45 degree angle pretty cool tram ride 373 meters to get up there.
We took a Sampan (little boat) around traditional Aberdeen fishing village which is on water (the fishermen and families live on the boats), had lunch at the Jumbo floating restaurant, which was a beautiful building in the middle of the water and had an even better dim sum lunch, and finished off with shopping at the Stanly street markets. We had a look around but I have to say that all the shopping starts to look the same there because there is so much of it. HK Island is huge, and when looking at it from the mainland at night with all the lights you do get a bit in awe of how big it is. Photos really do only give you a fraction of how ominous it is.

The next day we did a tour of the New Territories, which is the land between Kowloon and China. We started off with visiting the Yuen Yuen institute, with its beautiful temples, monasteries, gardens and ponds in honor of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist religions (if I remember right the difference between Taoist and Buddhist is that Taoist eat meat and are allowed to drink and smoke where Buddhist cannot. I know which one I like!) We then went up Tai Mo Shan, HK's highest mountain for photos but there wasn't much of a view. I did enjoy it for the greenery and the lack of people tho!
Next was the Fanling Walled Village, which was started by one family and has expanded. This place has the buildings so close together and you walk through these tiny gaps where there are doors to houses and it’s like a maze. The great and weird thing about this village is on one side of a small lake is this walled village where everyone lives in such close quarters, on the other side is a beautiful park with walks and trees and old men out walking their canaries.
A stop on the side of the road showed us the Chinese border, where a small village named Sha Tau Kokis located. The interesting thing about this town is it has the border line running straight through the middle of it, so half belongs to China and the other to HK.
My favorite stop was the one to Luk Keng, a tiny village of about 100 people where life is still lived in the old ways. Houses are very dirty on the outside. Religion and tradition imply that if their family home is cleaned or changed in appearance than their dead ancestors won't be able to find their way home, therefore they aim keep the home looking the same. Understandably the villagers are only keeping respect for their ancestors. It was such a small simple place, but everyone we saw was so lovely and happy for us to look through their community.

We were then whisked away to a tiny Sam Mun Tsai fish farm, not too different to Aberdeen but what they do here is all the fish they catch that are too small to consume they harvest in nets next to their house-boats and farm until big enough to sell. These people live on the water in very simple living conditions and, overlooking them on the land is a hill covered in houses/apartments called the 'Beverly Hills'; quite a contrast.

HK is quite a dirty place with rubbish all through the water, and when were leaving at 4am this morning to go to the airport, we saw empty streets with rubbish piled up on the sides (we also saw a lot of people still out and restaurants still open with people in them!!) Pete says he will know HK for three things: the random drops of water that hit you when you’re walking down the street when it’s not raining; these poor frogs we saw bagged up, still alive for buying and eating; and old men blatantly staring at my breasts (I missed this part, too busy NOT starting at the old men and their bare chests). I will fondly remember Hong Kong for all the washing hanging out of windows, stalls and markets everywhere- day and night, and the big signs that hang right over the streets. Oh, and the fact that when we were out at 10pm Monday night, shops, stores and restaurants were still open and buzzing with activity! Not in Hervey Bay anymore!!! HK really comes alive at night.

All- in-all it was definitely an interesting way to start our adventure. We couldn't have asked for more friendly people, and we had our own bed with a western toilet (thank God I only had to try the squat thing once!) and more than our share of rice and noodles. Maybe not a destination choice for the non-shopper, but a beautiful culture and landscape on the fringes awaits you if you have the time. We had a little look at the art gallery and space museum but to be honest come late afternoon all we wanted was to go have a little lie down in air conditioning and not walk anymore!! Boy are our feet going to get a workout over the next few months!!!! Thanks for checking in- Rochelle x x xx

Take care of yourselves, write soon

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 1, 2010 from Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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Pete's thoughts

London, United Kingdom

Captain's Blog: England is far a more inviting place than our previous destination. Although the Brits didn't give us Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or birdflu, they make their mark in providing Comfort food, rain, bars on every corner, pretty history monuments, and madcow disease. Bottom line: I like it here.

I like the high risk of getting lost making adventure literally at your doorstep. I like that where you're busting to piss you can't revert back to old cultural rituals by simply flopping it out on the street (God damn well lit streets), or nearest bush (everything is Fucking fenced off, parks are locked at night). That you must be more civilized. I like that I've eaten chips for dinner every night since I've been here and that the you don't see chickens feet sticking out of the local broth.

When you have only experienced London from afar, that is, seen it on tele, you automatically are confronted by how accurate the tele is. Everything looks the same as its shown you but bigger, dirtier, more imposing. I feels like I've been here before, walked the streets, talked to the crazies, the drunks selling the Big Issue, or am I thinking of the Gold Coast? And even though I'm yet to see the Antique Road Show banner parked outside of some Fulham townhall, the city is filled with antiquities so you don't feel cheated.

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 6, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
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London 30th Sep-7th Oct

London, United Kingdom

London has been a little different for both Pete and I. For Pete it’s been a new experience going through similar experiences I had first time I was here. For upon arrival London IS exactly as you expect it to look, all the houses are the same and the weather IS grey. For me it’s been a bit of a nostalgic trip, the smell on the tube took me back 7 years and running from tube to tube seemed natural. So far it has been great seeing old friends, and being the one who isn’t new to it all, I have been showing Pete interesting sights and offering up often useless bits of information.

We started off in London shattered. I slept none of the 13 hour flight to get there and so by the time we made it to Sheree’s place (my best mate from high school whom we haven’t seen for a couple of years) I was knackered. We had a real quiet Thursday night and Friday day, slept in and went for a walk which was lovely. Such a change from HK. No one around, cool, crispy, windy and drizzling, and we could get a real cup of tea!!! Friday night found us at Pete’s old friend Ricky’s for a home-made beef stew. Ricky lives in the smallest flat I have ever seen. It was just one room, no separate bedroom or anything, quite amazing!! Too much wine and too much great conversation made us stay up too late.

Saturday we went and saw a musician playing in a church. It was Union Chapel in Angel and Islington, Jo Mango was her name. She had such a beautiful voice, and her music gave me goosebumps all over. The sound from the church was simply amazing. Sat night was a catch up with old faces: Clare an old friend that I haven’t seen since I last lived here over 6 years ago, Bec who we hadn’t seen since almost a year ago in the Bay, Ricky and his girlfriend Anna from the night before, and Sheree who we’re staying with in London. We all met at the local pub had a great catch up. Getting buses home we experienced our first London brawl which is always pretty eventful, I got told off by Pete and Sheree for getting too close yelling at them for being dickheads. Personally I didn’t think I was too close, but I guess it’s a mater of opinion. Same wankers/different city.

On Sunday Pete and I separated for the first time in over a week. We have done pretty well I think, we hadn’t torn each others hair out….yet!! I went to a jumble sale with Sheree and her flatmate Beth, and considering what was on offer I did pretty well and only bought a little bit of jewellery. Beth bought the coolest little wooden chair which I was so jealous of!! This was followed by beer at a pub then dinner at home, a pretty quite night for me. Pete meet up with an old- old friend for a drink: Patricia Turk, which turned into a bit of sight seeing around London, pie and chips for dinner and a few drinks, a good catch up and some London city scenes to boot. He should’ve taken the camera, but isn’t hindsight great!!!

On Monday Sheree had organised the day off work so we went sightseeing. The sights we had decided to see ended up being the same ones Pete had seen the night before! So lucky for him he got to see them in day and night .We went for a walk along the Southbank, starting off where Big Ben and Westminster is, and along past the London eye (the really big wheel for really big views) where there was a lady doing an amazing painting of the eye and Big Ben. We took photos of a skate area under a bridge, where graffiti is all over the walls, everywhere, but the great part about it is that it is the only area that I saw that did have graffiti. The walls are really clean of it. We then stopped at the Tate Modern Museum. We had a look at the impressionist art, which Sheree and I didn’t quite get but Pete loves, so we opted to go to the bar in the top floor and have a glass of wine with some free nuts while we waited for him. We had the best view of St Pauls Cathedral from there too.
From there we kept walking along the river to the Globe Theatre and a little shopping village with heaps of wooden carved seats/animals/people and an old pub where we had to stop in for a drink (funnily enough, the same pub Pete had had a drink in the night before). Its too easy to drink in London. Or maybe it’s because we’re on holidays? The rest of the walk was filled with old churches and interesting brick buildings. The thing I love about London is that it doesn’t matter where you are you will always have some history tucked away in the middle of bars and shops and offices that everybody else just walks past on their way home from work. Just by reading a plaque you get the real story of an old building and it’s significants in history and that’s so cool.

So, back to the novel, Tuesday found us having another rest morning and heading out to see a band that evening. We stopped in to Kings Cross to have a drink at the O’Neils Irish pub there, a pub I worked at and lived in at least 8 years ago. It hasn’t changed at all and that was weird. From there we walked to Angel and Islington to go to Relentless Garage to see the Posies play. We stopped into the Famous Cock for one of the best burgers I have had in ages, before heading to the venue where I just about fell asleep as I was so full! We left after about an hour, half because I was almost asleep, and the other because they had only really played 2 decent songs (I figure if the songs where better they would’ve kept me awake yeah?!?!)

Wednesday morning we awoke to rain. We had another lazy morning (we’re on holidays-what can I say!) and by the time we decided to do something the sun was out!! This in itself is pretty rare. So we went on a cruise up the river Thames. It took us past the usual suspects, Big Ben (again), London bridge, the Tower of London, Tower bridge, but we also got to see Canary wharf, the business district, and some pretty impressive houses along the river.
We went past the Millennium Dome also, a big eye sore they made to hold huge events. It really is quite ugly. The boat trip ended with taking us past the big river flood gates, these things are high tec. When there is a threat of a flood, there are big hydraulic arms which move around half cylinder walls from resting on the bottom of the machine (which lies so low that boats can still cross over them), to acting like a wall across the water and stopping it all from coming in a flooding the Thames and all the people. My explaining sucks but it really is quite clever. Our day ended with a home made dinner at Bec’s in Elephant and Castle (the name of some of the places here!!) and of course, drinks.

So that’s been the journey so far. Next stop, Isle of Man and upwards through England!!

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 8, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
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Isle of Man 7th-11th Oct

Castletown, Isle of Man

We arrived on Thursday after a short hour and a bit flight. Couldn’t even attempt to do much because as soon as we took off we landed!! I like that. Our mate Boris picked us up from the airport and took us to get settled into his house with our own room and beds!! Bliss. After getting our bearings Pete and I went for a walk into the township of Castletown, where I lived for about 3-4 months of my stay here. It’s a small town, that has a castle, Castle Rushen right in the middle of town!! Its a sight that took Pete a while to get used to.

We had a pint at the Gluepot, a quant, traditional pub next to the castle then we went to the Viking, the pub I used to work at and live in. I had a chat with the owner and chef while I was there and took a little trip down memory lane, remembering how we used to make our own chips and pies from scratch- they still do. While we were having our pint the chef bought out a bowl of chips on the house for me to try! Very spoilt and they were as nice as I remembered.

On Friday we were given a car to go explore. Pete trying to start the car was an adventure in itself! The clutch was really stiff, so he would stall it trying to get it out of the driveway. It took 4 goes before we were off. The roads over here are really little also, so you might be going up a road with heaps of turns and another car comes the other way and you both have to give way to each other, driving almost off the road into little ditches. It was an experience and Pete did so well, I think he was happy when we got back to the house tho.

We drove to Peel, and went through the olds ruins of the castle there. It was such a clear day, so blue and sunny, but the wind was insane, really choppy and all directions and made our inner ear hurt. But it was a great look around the grounds and I got some great shots. We also went to the House of Manannan, Peel’s museum, which goes through the history of the Isle of Man since before the Vikings came and took over. It was a brilliant museum, really interactive and well built.
We had lunch at a cute little café on the promenade that had tea cups and saucers all over the walls. So I guess its no surprise that we had the BEST cup of tea there that we have had so far, with real sugar cubes!! I was in heaven. If my Nana was still with us I would be ringing her just to tell her bout it. I even had welsh rarebit for lunch, which is glorified melted cheese on toast, but it was great. That night we went out to dinner with our hosts Boris and Nicole to the Garrison for Tapas and wine, followed by drinks at a couple of bars before heading home. I saw some old faces out too which took me back, its been so long. Needless to say we stayed out a bit too long and even tho I wasn’t hung over on Saturday, I was extremely tired and very fuzzy.

Saturday saw us starting off very slowly. We got dropped off at Port Erin, a coastal town not for from Castletown so we could catch the steam train into Douglas. It was a pretty cool ride ( that I have to admit almost made me fall asleep from the lack of it from the night before) with nice scenery, smoke form the coal going past the window and the train horn going off at the crossings. Very cute. We had a walk around Douglas at the other end, the capital city on the Isle, and had lunch at Bar George, the other place I worked at when I lived here. It took us ages to find it cause I couldn’t remember where it was! We had some tapas and free wedges- not because of me this time but just cause the chef had made to many. Sweet! So we got the bus back to Boris and Nic’s and had a quiet, early nite.

Sunday Boris took us on a drive around the Island. We went to Tynwald Hill where they a day each year where proposals for news laws are made to parliament and proposals from the year before are either passed or rejected. We went to the top of the Isle to the Point of Ayre and its lighthouse and stopped in at the town of Ramsey for lunch.
We quickly stopped the great Laxey wheel, the largest working water wheel in the world (that’s pretty big!!!), walked through a graveyard up a hill (I can’t remember where Boris!!) that had old Celtic headstones and another lighthouse nearby and found a little street that the high tide was coming right up over and almost got us, where everybody but me saw a seal.
We also stopped into the Mann Cat Sanctuary, which is a bit of a safe haven for cats and some dogs, birds, donkeys, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, geese and chickens. By donating cat food you can walk through the grounds and the rooms and have as much cat love as you can handle, unless your Boris and you get swiped at! I love it there and I love what they do, they think that all the animals there have a right to life even if no-one else wants them, or they have been injured, or are getting old. A couple of rooms were a bit smelly tho-a good reminder that turning into a crazy cat lady will have its cons.

When we got back Pete and I went for a bike ride around. We went to Derby haven, a small village next to Castletown, and to an old church ruin. We then went into Castletown for the last time and had one more pint at the Viking. We had our last dinner at home with Boris and Nicole and another quiet night. Its been good, relaxing. Next stop the “Hard Days Night”( to be sung in John Lennon type tones) Hotel in Liverpool. So ‘bout time we get our scouse on then hey! Till next time, take care of each other. P&R

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 15, 2010 from Castletown, Isle of Man
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"Here comes the son"

Liverpool, United Kingdom

Dad if your reading this then your got my email with the details on how to catch up with us. I am writing this from the future...scary. I left my entry late as per usual to those that know me. I really shouldn´t have as I forget shit quickly. Whatever.
I can tell you that we had a really great time stayin' in the Hard Days Nite Hotel and goin' to the Cavern to listen to Beatles and Döörs covers- that hit the spot. Fun place to visit if anyone out there in blogland gets the chance, just don't drink too many 'Bloody Mary's' in the Fab Four Bar.

We met some fun and funny people that made the music and nite really special. Cheers to both the 'German' couple and the 'American' folks that were excellent company. Enjoy the photos family and friendy- fuckin German keyboard! Well were on our way out in Dusseldorf. My mate Alex is playing me Legend of Zelda tunes on his piano as I finish my blog entry. Now back to the future folks. Were off to see my great uncle Eric. Happy times. Love Peter and Rochelle.

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 16, 2010 from Liverpool, United Kingdom
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Uncle Eric 12th-15th Oct

Gateshead, United Kingdom

The adventure that was Newcastle.
We were (slightly) hung-over Tuesday after our hard nights night and had to take a 6 hour bus ride through lovely little towns and gorgeous green fields to get to Great Uncle Eric’s house in Gateshead, Newcastle. Eric is 90 years old, so I guess what were expecting was to show up, do the meet and greet, have some dinner and go to bed. When we got there we were greeted with a pot of tea and sandwiches, followed by meeting Leslie and Anthony, Eric’s neighbours and very close friends, and drinking whiskey and beer till midnight! And here I was expecting us to take a break off drink while we were up here! There were many stories to be told tho with heaps of laughter and lots of yelling- Eric’s quiet deaf so you have to be a few more decibels louder to be heard by him. We also had to talk slower cause I think he had a problem with our accents.

On Wednesday the 5 of us went into Newcastle to have a look around. We went to the old flour mill which has been converted into an art gallery, which had some weird bits of art on show but some brilliant views also of Newcastle, the River Thyne and the new millennium bridge. We went for a walk along the river and up to a pub for lunch, where we had a couple of pints, and Eric suggested going to their local pub for one drink on the way home, as Pete and I were planning on going back into Newcastle that evening to see hopefully see some music. Well. The one drink turned into an all nighter at the pub, so needless to say Pete and didn’t make it out! He’s a tough one that one.

Thursday found us hung over (again) and in desperate need of sleep. Not happening today tho, as Pete’s mums best friend, Pat, was picking us up and taking us to Fencehouses, just out of Durham and the area where Pete was born. On the way there we stopped at the Angel of the north, a huge sculpture made out of steel that stands on the side of the freeway near Newcastle. She was erected in honour of the miners and also to give people a bit of hope (he said, everyone speaks of Angels, but no-ones even seen one, so hopefully this will put hope and faith in people) and her wing span is nearly the length of a jumbo airplane. She was pretty big!
At Fencehouses we met his Grandads old next door neighbour, Joan, and had a cup of Tea and a gossip with her. We saw the house his Mum grew up in, his Grandads house to, and got a photo out the front of the house he spent his first 2 years in. Actually we were outside his mums old house and there was a guy there, and we asked him if we could take a photo of the house and explained why, and he gave us a funny look. Its pretty neat seeing the places where it all happened, and even tho Pete isn’t very nostalgic, I don’t think he could help feeling a bit of that on this day.

Pat then took us to Lumley Castle which is a beautifully restored Castle that you can stay in, and also has a restaurant which does a lot of weddings. We had the yummiest lunch there (with wine glasses full of water- no alcohol was passing our lips on this day!) of Pumpkin soup and traditional beef roast with the biggest Yorkshire puddings I have ever seen. Size didn’t equal taste tho and Pete was a bit disappointed that they were no where near as good as his Mums. Pat left us there for a couple of hours and we had a walk around the immaculate gardens with a hedge that was so well pruned it looked bouncy, and Pete saw his first squirrel. It was a bit camera shy tho. We also took a walk through the castle and got a little lost through all the little walkways, a couple of the staff saw us and were so nice, they heard our accents and said- “You are a bit lost aren’t you!” We stopped at a little area that had big chairs and an open fire and Pete sat down and proceeded to fall asleep.

I got a cup of tea and homemade petite fours and read an old book of short stories out of the old library that was covered with dust and all the ladies that came into the area where we were all looked down at Pete and gave a little giggle. It was a lovely day and all up and was good to do it with Pat as she has memories of the area and stories for Pete to hear. We finished the day off very quietly and ended up in bed early.

So Friday found us eating Eric’s yummy soft boiled eggs with soldiers for breakfast before packing and getting ready to go to the airport.. He has spoilt us completely and it doesn’t matter what you say, every morning when we got up he would get out of his seat, boil the water for our pot of tea (cups, saucers, milk and sugar all ready), put the pot on to boil our eggs (plates, knives, cloth napkins already laid out), toast our bread (butter and spreads on the table also) and spoil us with choice of juice, cereal and fruit.
It was such a pleasure to be around Eric, and Pete and I have had a blast. Its been good for Pete to meet more of his family as his is so small, and I know now that I’m in trouble if this kind of longevity and liveliness is in the family- Pete is going to drive me round the bend when he’s old!!

Next stop- Dusseldorf with Maggie and Alex!!!! Take care- P & R

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 17, 2010 from Gateshead, United Kingdom
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Did someone say bike? 16th Oct

Amsterdam, Netherlands

We arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Friday. It was raining. No complaints though as we have been really really lucky so far in terms of good weather. What we are struggling with is the cold!!!! We were told it would be about the same as Newcastle, but this is colder. The wind chill goes right through you.
Our friends Maggis and Alex are taking care of us while we are here. They thought they would take us to Amsterdam for the day, a 2 1/2 hour drive from Dosseldolf. We had an early one friday night and got up early(ish) for the big trip. We took our passports but there is no border control. Even though it's in the Neterlands, we don´t get a stamp! There wasn´t even a line to say where Germany finished and the Netherlands started! I was dissapointed.
What an adventure it was. Apart from the obvious, yeah, everyone smokes and goes to sex shows unless your us (Pete did try the smallest bit of hash cake and that was about as daring as we got), let me tell you what else I think makes up Amsterdam:

Buildings. Unlike other citys that we've visited, the buildings here are all different sizes, shapes and angles. They are so cute and I do wonder how some of them are standing up. They look like part of the foundation has given way and they are only being held up by the building next to it, its amazing! But they are everywhere too, not just one or two;

Bikes. I knew that bikes were a big part of Amsterdam, but I didn´t realise just how much really. They are chained to the bridges, railings, each other, or just to themselves. they were hanging over bridges, there was even what looked like a multi level car park that was full with only bikes! There are piles of them and stations of them. They even have bike lanes with there own lights. No one wears a helmet and I saw so many different types of bikes!

Open urinals. Maggie and I struggled to find a toliet, but everywhere there were these outside cubicles for guys. And did they smell. Not that Pete or Alex were game enough to use them, they waited for real loos as well.

Little streets and canals. Everywhere. The lanes just seemed to get smaller and smaller. And the canals were beautiful, some quite open, and some with house boats tied to their sides. All the little lanes were joined together with bridges and even some of the bridges were covered in bikes! It really was a maze going through the lanes and we had to try to get our bearings to get back to the car.

So of course we went to the sex musum, which looked at sex throughout the ages, at different types of fetishes and preferences, paintings, carvings, statues and had wax figures in comprimising positons that flashed their bits at you. At was interesting and had a bit to look at and when we got outside we realised there was 2 more levels we didn´t even look at!

There's a big square in the middle of Amsterdam where everyone hangs out which was pretty. We had sausage for lunch which is served in a cardboard dish not bread with sauce and onion and spent too long warming ourselves with tea and coffee and got a 50 euro parking ticket! An expensive cuppa.

It was a great day out followed by a late night out in Dusseldorf where its okay to drink in the street which I think is where we spent most of our time. Meet a man playing guitar and singing wearing nothing but a g-string and it was freezing out. We had a sambucca shot which was so strong (I really am getting old),tried beer with grapefruit in it, tried to drink a hot alcoholic beverage that they serve at christmas which tasted like hot red wine. It was supposed to warm you up.... tasted like shite, sorry Alex. We won´t be able to fit our pants soon.
It has been an adventure so far!! We are a little bit back- to- front with our entries at the moment, we´re missing the few days with Uncle Eric, which I have already done but is on my laptop which has run out of power and alas we have no adaptor!! Small oversight! So once its up and running it will be up! I´ll get this whole thing one day I´m sure. So until next time!!! Love P & R xxx

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 17, 2010 from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Can you speak english?

Dusseldorf, Germany

Sun17th & Mon 18th Oct. Dusseldorf, Germany.
Sunday found us having a huge sleep in due to the fact that we were up till about 3.30 in the morning from the night before. It called for a very quiet day of movies and me trying to buy food for Pete and I, by myself, from non-English and speaking, but very lovely German people. Sunday night we went out for dinner with Alex and Maggie to the restaurant Alex’s Dad is a chef at. The food was insanely good. Mushroom and potato soup with truffle oil, followed by herb and hazelnut crusted lamb that just melt in our mouths. We heard later that the table behind where Pete and I were sitting were laughing our attempts to try and speak German. I think we’ll leave that to the experts.

Monday we took the train into Koln, a nearby city to have a nosey and to look at the Dom, a huge gothic church that is way old. This thing is massive and reminded me so much of the Arc de triumph (excuse the spelling) in Spain with its tips touching the heavens. It had gorgeous stained glass and the most unique that I have seen so far too. It took over 2 years to build it and is well looked after.
After the Dom us girls and boys separated. Alex wanted to show Pete a really big music store so Maggie and I had a look around the area. It’s a big shopping village there so we had a window shop but I really can’t do it with no chance of being able to by anything. What if I find an amazingly good deal?! I have absolutely no where to put it!! But we found another pretty little church and a building with an ice cream cone sticking out of it. When we all met up again I think Pete had the same problem window shopping ashe wanted a few things fromn the music shop. He made up for it by buying a sausage!

That night we went to Alex’s parents home for dinner, where we met his Dad and Maggies Mum and sister. They practised their English on us and we made them laugh with our attempts at German. It was pretty neat, Alex’s Dad hadn’t spoken English for 30 years before we arrived and he could hold a conversation with us. Again the food was amazing and again I ate too much, but it was so nice to meet who our friends belong to and share an evening. It was a great ending to a brilliant few days and Germeny is great!! Pete tried 5 different types of sausage so you can't really complain about that!!! Thanks to Maggie and Alex for all your effort in making it a great few days (even if you did make me drink sambucca and forget stuff!) xxx

Next stop Paris, the city of romance, take care! Love Us xx

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 21, 2010 from Dusseldorf, Germany
from the travel blog: Round the world!!!
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The French Connection

Paris, France

Tuesday morning we had to wake really early to get the trains to get us to Paris. We slept a bit on the 3 hour ride, but as always a bit hard on public transport. Arrived in Paris with excitement and gusto and ready to hit the town running. What we ran into were strikes that affected a lot of the public transport workers. There was no information centres open to help us find where we needed to go. What we did find tho was an amazing lady who helped to point us in the right way and make sense of the directions we did have. We acquired a map from a newsagent and decided that we could walk, backpacks and all, to our hostel.

The first part of our walk we were following the workers on strike and their march, which, was a loud and smoky one. For the last part it stated to rain on us. First time though!!! We made it to the hostel, had some lunch, worked out where everything was and decided to walk to the river to catch a boat to the Eiffel tower. Easy in theory, unless you’re me and think you’re walking down a different street to what you actually are and end up going in a different direction. So with a bit more walking, we finally ended up at the River Siene and caught a boat to the tower. Its so pretty along the river and there is so much to see. I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I really love Autumn. Yes it’s a little colder, but if you have enough layers on you can forget about that (apart from your nose that’s always cold) and just admire how pretty the trees and their changing leaves are.

Anyway, I ordered Pete to walk up the Tower, we couldn’t get the lift because that would be cheating. We waited in a queue for a bit only to be told that it was the queue for the lift and the way to walk up it was on the other side- the one with absolutely no queue at all! We walked over to the other side to be greeted by some of the rudest people on our trip yet, they were the security guards who were checking the bags. Apparently they were too busy talking to each other to explain what we needed to do or go. With French ethic aside, we took our time to walk up the tower, I didn’t remember how big it was from my last trip there, but as soon as I hit the stairwell I remembered there being a whole lot of steps. Alas, we had eaten too many sausages in Germany. The views were great and the wind was cold and there is a queue for the toilets and we got hot chocolate, with mine having more cream then liquid. We tried to wait for the sun to set but got too cold. So we walked down, which is just as hard as walking up because your legs get the shakes massively. Overall, we had good timing as when we got to the bottom they lit the tower up and put on sparkly lights and it looked so pretty and romantic.

We found a metro station and went to buy tickets from the machine, but it only accepted card or coins. We only had notes and the lady and information couldn’t give us any coins and really couldn’t give a shit I think. So we had to walk to find a shop, then to another Metro station as we were too far from the last. As we walked we happened upon the Arc de Triomphe, the huge monument in the middle of the ridiculously big and busy roundabout. Just looking at driving around there is scary!! It was nice there tho and the lights were on and there was a metro!! Yay!!! So we finally got back to the hostel, cooked some diner and went to bed, a small room we share with 2 other females. Pete’s bed s squeaked every time he moved and he was on the top bunk!

Wednesday morning found us going to the Louvre. We had finally sussed out how the Metro worked and were feeling pretty confident getting around, as well as making sure we had change for tickets! We had a little walk around the grounds, and Pete bought the best croissant ever from a little caravan.
We waited in the line for the Louve, and went in with all the other hundreds of people. There are people everywhere and it is HUGE. We were there for about 4 hours and I reckon we didn’t even see half of it. Its like a maze of steps and floors and rooms and no sense to it all, well, there probably is but I didn’t get it.
Some of the paintings were really amazing and even the louvre itself was a masterpiece- magnificent paintings on the ceiling and details around door and window frames. And yes, we saw the Mona Lisa, which, I have to say, is a bit over rated. Its not even very big and it had it’s own wall, covered in thick glass and had a barrier so you can’t get to too close. There was a large amount of people that were all pushing round each other to see it, taking their photos with it, but the funniest thing was the fact that all the other walls were covered in amazing paintings, but most people were focused on Mona. I really think it's funny that because people tell you something is the most amazing thing, people tend to follow it. Pete loved this huge beautiful painting which was on the opposite wall to the Mona Lisa, and I a painting of a lady (really terrible I didn't get the artist's names, which I should've).
There were so many people around the Mona Lisa and the crowds were really getting to us so we decided that we had seen enough. We left there and made our way home. By this time we had had a big couple of days and I had started to be a bit grumpy (just a little) and needed to have a rest. So I went to the hostel and chilled out while Pete went for another walk and ended up in a pub, where he met a french backpacker and stayed out drinking half the night. On coming home he woke me distraught that he had lost his jacket and wallet. Turns out he had just put them in his bag trying to be safe earlier on and then forgot.

Thursday morning we were well rested and ready to go though Pete was a bit hungover and tired. We were going to the Basquiat exhibition, a abstract-expressionalist painter at the modern art gallery. On the way we stopped at a bakery to get some breakfast and the most amazing quiche type pastry which was rich and cheesy, followed by a little cake that had strawberries and cream and custard and sponge and was the most delectable thinkg we have ever eaten. No wonder we are putting on weight!!

Pete is a big fan of Basquiat and loved the exhibition. I didn't know too much about him, and although I enjoyed it, I'm not particularly sold on his art. A bit too expressionalist for me! But Pete did manage to get told off at in French by a lady who had funnily enough pushed in the line to buy tickets, and because of her pushing in Pete thought it would be appropiate to stand in her way as she was trying to get out, thus having the stern words that we couldn't understand.

From there we went to see Jim Morrisons grave. The graveyard was in the middle of a residential area in the city and went up a hill and with beautiful old headstones and monuments. I think that people get buried on top of each other as there is no room to expand, and we saw that there would bo ine grave space with 2 to 3 different names on it. We found Jim, a small grave that is fenced off and we got some photos and Pete had a beer in his honour. By doing this he managed to get told off by an older man, in french again, we assume because your not allowed to drink there. So he was on a roll!
While we were there we checked out Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde's graves also. Oscars was a great big one with kisses in lipstick all over it, really something else.

After getting back to the hostel Pete had a sleep (he was wrecked!). We had booked a champagne dinner cruise so made our way to the Eiffel tower and the boat. It was a bit fancy and our fanciest clothes aren't really. We got our seats, not even by a window, and ordered our champagne. I was pretty much drinking by myself, it was a bit tough going for Pete at the beginning. The food was also a bit fancy and not at all working for Pete too, I ate half his entree, he ate some of my main (the juiciest, tenderest steak I have had for ages) and I ate half his dessert. We had 2 hours on the boat, and didn't really see much apart from some lights, but were limited with the views. It was still a great night and we had champagne in Paris (as you should). After the cruise we went to a bar on the way home, ordered another bottle and had a great waiter who served us. We saw this huge cocktail go out to a table that had a firework coming out the top, and when we ordered our bottle the guy put one on top for us too! Pretty special.
So we after there, went to another bar, drank whisky and made our way back to the hostel after that, with me quiet plastered. It was a late night to bed, and the next morning we had to pack our bags and leave for the eurostar to get to London. It was terrible! I think hang overs are best served when you don't have to carry your life on your back. On the way to the train we did decide to get some more of the quiche-thing and cake, except this time we didn't share the cake. When we got to the station we were going up the escalator and Pete was taking up the whole step and a lady couldn't pass him. When he did move over she stomped past him and was telling him off- in french!!! Pete really knows how to push their buttons!
So apart from offeneding everybody Pete was a big fan of Paris, as it was I: it was easy to get around, there is so much to look at and explore and it is a clean city. Sure, we paid about 18 euro (about $23 aus) for 2 beers at one bar, but we also only paid .65cents ($0.95aus) for 1.5 litre of Evian water. We did so much walking but enjoyed our adventures. Oh, and one of the ladies in our room was from Belgium and she did shows and all about women's liberation and standing up for women's rights. She had a bag and a jacket that she had made herself, covered in clitoris'! It was funny, but pretty cool what she was doing, but still funny.
So now we have a week in London to see friends and explore a bit more.
We need a holiday from our holiday tho-this is hard work sometimes!!
Hope your all well and thanks for your little messages, we love to hear from you P&R xxx

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on October 25, 2010 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: Round the world!!!
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