A Travellerspoint blog

Day 29 - Brugge

overcast 0 °C

There is still a lot of snow hanging around today. Our plan was to sample some chocolates from some of the many chocolate shops in order to find the best one to buy gifts from.

We had a slow start after breakfast and headed out at about 10:30 to begin our mission. We started with the store that is closest to our hotel and it was fantastic!!! Yum!!! After walking around a little (and not actually trying any more chocolates) we found a bar called Cambrinus that Ed wanted to try.

This bar advertises itself as having 400 beers. Ed was once again in is element. He started with a tasting board and then had two more beers after that. Lunch was fantastic as well and we have said that we will return again tomorrow for lunch.

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After spending a few hours at Cambrinus we headed out again on our search for chocolate. Went into a chocolate store that we said we would not buy from because they had big chocolate boobs and penis' in the window, however they also had chocolate puppies that my English cousin will love. Once inside the man behind the counter was lovely and very helpful. He wrapped my puppy purchase beatifully and the two smaller chocolates that we sampled were also very good.

We decided to go back to the chocolate shop near our hotel and stocked up with lots of chocolates for gifts before heading back to our hotel for a lazy afternoon. Ed had quite a few beers that he bought at the 'beer wall' the other day sitting on the ledge outside our window getting cold so he needs to get drinking before we leave tomorrow.

LATER THAT DAY:
We have just gotten back from dinner at a little restaurant around the corner (cheap quick food) and it is snowing!! Like, really snowing! In about an hour there is quite a thick layer on everything! We walked to the Markt after eating so that we could have a little play and take some photographs. We made a mini snowman! I love snow! I can imagine that it wouldn't be quite so amazing having to go about your everyday life in snow but for me it is awesome!

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We are however starting to worry about our travel plans for the next couple of days. If this snow keeps up overnight it could make it difficult to walk to the train station with all of our gear tomorrow. We are also concerned about travelling around the UK if they are also getting snow. I'm sure it will be ok though because life goes on when it snows in these parts of the world!

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:51 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 28 - Brugge

sunny -1 °C

It snowed last night!! We headed out for an early morning walk to check it out. There was not too much that had stuck to the ground but we manged to find little patches to play in. We were both amazed at how soft it is!

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After breakfast we walked around a few bike hire places trying to find one that is open. We finally found one and got ourselves a bike each. We were given a map with bike paths one it and headed directly to the path that runs alng the canal that surrounds the town. I was a little nervous getting there as you are riding on cobble-stone streets with cars who technically have to give way to cyclists but it was a little touch and go for me as I am not very confident on the bike.

We decided to head along the 5km bike path to the next town called Damme. It was a nice ride with me only falling off 1 time! We headed into town to rest our legs and had some crepes for lunch at a little cafe. Everyone around here are so friendly!

After fueling up we kept heading along the bike path until we reached an information sign. Our plan had been to ride to Holland, however once we were 8.3km from Brugge we were only halfway there. I decided that I would probably not make it back if I kept going so we split up. Ed did the ride and crossed the boarder so that he could say that he rode a bike to Holland while I slowly made my way back to Brugge.

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Once Ed had caught up with me we decided that our bums and legs had had enough and returned the bikes before heading back to the hotel for some rest time.

We are both too tired to go out for dinner so take away it is and a quiet night in the hotel room.

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:46 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 27 - Brugge

overcast 1 °C

This morning is Saturday and we had been told that there was a market on in one of the squares in town so after a sleep in we walked to the market. To begin with it looked like it was just going to be a clothing market with the majority of the stores selling generic clothing. When we reached the second half of the market we came across the food section. It was fantastic. It looked like everyone in town had come in to buy their meat, bread and sweets for the week from the many vendors. We had some hot chocolate and wondered around for a while before heading into the nearby tourist information to find out about a Laundromat (our hotel host wouldn't tell us where one was, offering instead to put our washing in her machine - not something that I was willing to do).

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While we were in the information center we discovered that the chocolate and chip museum, both of which we wanted to vist, were closed for a few weeks at this time of year and we would miss out :( We were both very disappointed. Anyway, after we found out about where we could do some laundry we headed to the only brewery in town. Once again we opted to do the tour, however this one was a little disappointing. They don't take you through any of the working parts of the brewery and while they have the rest of the areas set up really well with lots to look at, they don't give you time to stop and take it all in.

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At the end of the tour we decided to eat lunch in the restaurant attached to the brewery so that Ed could try some of the beers. He was not fussed on the 'blond' beer that was included in the tour price (so much so that he didn't drink the second free one that we had) but fell in love with their 'quadruple' beer. We have bought some to bring home but I'm not so sure how we will go about this. I don't think they will let us take it on as hand luggage but I don't know that the pressurisation in the checked luggage will do it any good.....we'll wait and see.
After lunch we set about the mundane task of washing and then had some lazy time in the hotel.

We headed out for dinner opting for some 'frites' before having waffles. As we both had had a large lunch we were not very hungry. We went to the same waffle place as yesterday called 'caramel'. If you are in Brugge you must check it out...awesome waffles at really good prices!

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:37 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 26 - Paris to Brugge via Brussels

snow -1 °C

Up early this morning for our early train to Brussels. Luckily we looked at the tickets last night and realised that we were leaving from a different train station to the one we arrived at. This was good because it was a direct trip on the Metro. We arrived at the station with time to spare and found the section of the station that we needed to be at before setting off to find some breakfast to eat on the train. Pastries secured for breakfast and we set up shop in front of the information board to find out what platform we would be leaving from. The board was really cool to watch as it was one of the old school ones where all of the characters flip around when it changes. We enjoyed watching it until our train got to the top of the board without a platform number and then disappeared without telling us where we needed to be. There were lots of very concerned looking faces around and we overhead someone asking the ticket booth nearby about it. Luckily they worked their magic and our train re-appeared with a platform number. We found it quickly and climbed aboard to stash our gear and settle in for the 1.5hour trip.

The trip passed by quickly and we arrived in Brussels, grabbed our gear and left the train to discover it was snowing!!!! We quickly headed into the station and found some lockers to stash our gear in before going out to play in the snow. It was only very light snow but we still stood around outside the station for about 10 minutes taking it all in.

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We headed from the station to the brewery that Ed had heard about called Cantillon. We went in and paid our 6 Euro's each for the tour. The tour consisted on a little introduction from the lady who works there and then they give you a little guide book and leave you to it. The cool part about it is that it is a working brewery and you just walk around all of the areas among the people who are working there. They keep going on with what they need to do and you just read the guide book and go at your own speed. Ed was in his element. This is truly a one-of-a-kind brewery. They make a non-fizzy beer that Ed got to try at the end of the tour. T-shirt purchased we headed back out into the snow to walk into the center of Brussels.

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When we arrived at the main square the snow started to come down harder. There were beautiful big snowflakes so we stopped and took some photos and enjoyed for a while before deciding we were too cold. We walked past the main statue in town which is of a little boy peeing (I can't remember its name and it apparently has some kind of story behind it which I also cannot remember). We found a little bar that had been recommended to us and headed inside for a beer. Ed enjoyed his first beer in Belgium but the bar didn't serve food so we had to take our leave and find some lunch. A little crepes bar was found and filled up we started heading back towards the Metro to go back to the main train station. One the way we picked up some yummy macaroons for later.

The train trip to Brugge was about an hour long and was once again quite uneventful. Our first impressions of Brugge are fantastic. It is a beautiful little town that looks like it will be fun to explore over the next few days.

We found our hotel (Hotel Van Eyck) which is just a tiny little 8 room hotel (not the best but it was cheap!) and settled in before heading out to find some dinner. The lady at our hotel was right when she said there are a million chocolate shops in this town!

We picked a restaurant that we wouldn't have normally gone into for dinner. I don't know why we did but we will know better next time. We had a horrible dinner experience there. My meal was wrong, Ed asked for no garlic and got garlic, when my meal was replaced it was horrible and the waiter was very rude. Not a great start! We decided to make up for it by heading to a little cafe for waffles and a milkshake before headed back to the hotel and calling it a night.

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:29 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 25 - Paris

rain 2 °C

This morning we headed out to La Fayette which we thought was going to be a shopping center with a lot of different shops. We were very disappointed when we arrived to find out that it was just one big department store. We quickly took our leave and started the walk back towards the hotel. On our way we found an awesome little bagel store and had some lunch.

We are both struggling a little today. It think we are both exhausted and feeling a little out of sorts. We have decided to spend the afternoon in the hotel and have a relax. I know it sounds crazy while we are in Paris but we can both hardly keep our eyes open!

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:28 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 24 - Paris

overcast 4 °C

We have had a huge day today! We have covered most of the main sights in Paris all in one day! We started after having a sleep in (10:30am...oops!) by heading to the Arch De Triomphe which is right near our hotel. To get to the Arch you have to go down under the road that goes around it. It is like a huge round about that is about 10 lanes but there are not lanes! The cars all just go where they want. So we headed down into the metro tunnel thinking that this is the way to get to it. We walked around the tunnel for about 20 minutes trying to find the correct exit but got very lost! In the end Ed just went back up to street level and happened to choose the correct exit. Turns out that the tunnel to the Arch has a different entry and we had not noticed it last night because the sign for it is totally covered with stickers and we could not read it!

We decided to climb the Arch so paid our 9.50 Euro each and headed back up to street level, this time directly under the Arch. It is quite an amazing structure with such detail carved into the stone. After checking it out, taking some pictures and looking at the tomb of the unknown soldier we made our way up the 300-odd stairs to the top. The majority of this is a metal spiral staircase. It is pretty tight and quite a climb. It is over fairly quickly though which is good. At the top you enter two floors of a mini-museum before you head right to the top where the viewing platform is. It was a really spectacular view from the top. We could see down to La Defense on one side and then down the Champs Elysee to the Louvre on the other. We could also had a great view of the Eiffel tower. The top of the tower was in the clouds so we had to re-asses our plans for the rest of the day as we had planned to climb the tower as well.

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We finished up at the Arch and decided to walk towards the Eiffel tower and check it out from ground level. On the way we found an awesome patisserie and had some yummy eclairs for morning tea. As we got closer to the tower I expected to be hounded by hawkers but there really wasn't much around. One guy called out to us saying 'You are from Australia....'. Not sure how he knew but we just kept walking and waved him off. We got some nice pictures under the tower (including spending quite a lot of time trying to get a good 'selfie' of the two of us with the whole tower in the background) and then headed in search of somewhere warm for lunch.

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We found another awesome little french cafe that was packed with people. They sure know how to jam you into these places! It was nice to sit and soak up the warmth for a a little while and do some people watching.

From here we decided to head towards the Louvre. Neither of us was overly interested in going inside the Louvre but we wanted to go and see the famous glass entrance. After risking our lives crossing many roads on the way we found the large park area leading to the Louvre and it started raining a little. We decided to keep on braving it and kept walking.

When you arrive at the entrance of the Louvre it is quite funny to watch people around taking pictures. Many of them are doing the pictures that look like they are touching the top or touching the side etc but they look so funny when you don't see it from the correct angle!!
After taking photos we headed away from the main tourist part and managed to stumble across the bridge that is covered with padlocks. I think it has something do with love but I don't really know much about it. Tyson and Alisa (friends of ours) visited Paris earlier in the year and had told us that they had put a lock near the end of the bridge. We found it! YAY!

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From here we headed to Notre Dame. Once again we were not really interested but we went inside to check it out anyway. It is a beautiful church with such amazing detail. We were both really annoyed with how rude people are in these places. There were a million signs saying 'Silence Please' but there were so many people walking around chatting at the top of their lungs. Very rude.

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We were both exhausted by now so caught the Metro back to out hotel to chill out for a while.

For dinner we decided to walk the streets near our hotel rather than head to the 'tourist strip'. I know this sounds crazy but we found a nice little Italian restaurant for dinner. We decided to stay away from French food as such because it is usually full of garlic so we went the safe card and Ed had pizza and I had pasta before heading home and calling it a night.

Posted by AndreaSchache 01:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 23 - Munich to Paris via Stuggart

overcast 6 °C

Up and down to check out and breakfast by 6:30 this morning before heading for the train station. We arrived with plenty of time before our train departure time so found our platform number and decided to walk along it (the platform was VERY long!). As we were walking I head an announcement with the work 'Stuttgart' in it. I got concerned and began to listen more carefully. Turns out they had changed the platform that our train was leaving from and we were no longer in the right spot! After high-tailing it to the correct station we climbed on board and found our seats.

The train took us without any major events to Stuggart. We had 3 hours here before our next train so found the lockers and stashed our bags before heading out to explore. We didn't do anything major. We just walked around, found a few little markets to check out and wondered through the shops. After a massive piece of yummy pizza for lunch we headed back to the train station to wait for our next train. As we had first class tickets for our next leg we were able to use the 'DB lounge' which is kind of like the Qantas lounge at the airport.

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When it was close to our departure time we retrieved our bags and found our train. It was huge! A double story train that was very, very long. Our seats were upstairs but were facing the wrong way, so we traveled backwards to Paris for 3.5 hours! Our tickets included a little meal and drinks which was nice. Ed slept for most of the journey while I read and kept my eye on the little screen that told you how fast the train was going. 318km/h was the fastest speed that I saw.

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Another great thing about this train was that you could buy Metro tickets for local travel in Paris on board. Tickets secured we arrived in Paris on time. The Metro system took a little bit of work to understand but we were soon whisked away to the station closet to our hotel.

We are staying at Hotel Balmoral (!) which is right near the Arc de Triomph. It is a lovely little hotel and very comfortable rooms. The lift is tiny! We had to leave our bags downstairs for the hotel staff to bring up as we would not have fit in the lift with them! It was an effort to fit 3 people in!

After settling in we headed out to explore. We watched the crazy traffic around the Arc (a massive round about that doesn't seem to have any rules) before heading down the Champs- Elysees. This city looks amazing! We enjoyed just wondering long and people watching for a while.

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For dinner we headed off the main street and into a little bar/cafe where were had a yummy meal (burger for me and chicken and rice for Ed). When we left the hotel we had planned on walking to the Eiffel Tower but we decided it was too cold so we headed back to our warm hotel room instead!

Posted by AndreaSchache 09:16 Archived in France Comments (1)

Day 22 - Munich

overcast 5 °C

This morning we got up early with the plan of an early breakfast and heading out to check out the Dachau Concentration Camp site. After a few problems (Ed took a chunk out of his face shaving and it too ages to stop bleeding, the train ticket machine didn't give us the tickets that we needed for tomorrow so we had to go to the main train station to try and sort it out) we finally made it onto the correct train and were quickly taken out to the town/suburb of Dachau. The train ride was quite interesting in that we were surrounded by English conversations. It was nice to have some English around rather than being surrounded by people talking in a language that I can't understand.

When we arrived at the train station we easily found the bus that would take us to the site. We jumped on board and then had to wait for the bus drivers to finish their cigarettes before we made the 10 minute drive. There is apparently a walk from the train station to the site that has information boards that you can do as an alternative to the bus ride but seeing the distance we covered on the bus I'm glad we took this option.

We arranged to have an audio guide when we arrived and headed straight into the site. We both really 'enjoyed' looking around and reading all of the information. I use the word 'enjoyed' rather lightly as it is a very confronting and somber place to be. We both found it very interesting and it sure made us grateful for the way we live today. It is amazing to think that people were treated so poorly less than 100 years ago. I could go into a lot of detail of what I learned while walking around but if you want to know more you can google it!

Cold and tired we decided to head back to the city to find someone warm and a feed. Our plan was to find a beer hall and have a beer and some snacks, then head out to do some shopping before having dinner. We headed into a random beer hall and sat down for a drink. Our waitress was not overly friendly but we ordered a drink and started looking through the menu. We decided we would just have some fries for now. When we tried to order she refused saying that you could not just have fries (even though it was listed as a side dish). We thought it was a bit rude as the English menu that she had given us did not have any snack sort of foods listed like the German menu did. It seems that these places have one menu for German speaking people and a totally different menu for tourists. As we were both starving we took our leave and headed across the road to the Hard Rock Cafe instead.

We decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, even though it is not the kind of place that we would usually go to because we were both hanging for a meal where we didn't have to battle with the menu or the language difference with our waiter/waitress. Success! We shared a massive entree platter with a 1L beer for Ed and a Pickled Tink cocktail for me. We followed this with some awesome desserts as well. Our waiter spoke to us with an American accent but we could not work out if he was German and had just learnt to speak English with an American accent or if he was American and could speak fluent German. Either way he was very helpful and made sure we were looked after.

After our feed we headed to the shops for some window shopping before heading back to the hotel. Another exhausting day!

Posted by AndreaSchache 08:58 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 21 - Munich

rain 6 °C

As today is Sunday our hotel serves breakfast until 1pm so we decided to head out for a walk first this morning and then have a later breakfast. We walked along the river to 'Englischer Garten'. We had heard that there is a man-made surfing section of the river so we went in search of it. Sure enough, we found an area where about 10 guys were suited up in what looked to be very think wet suits surfing a wave that stretches across the 6 meter wide river on surf boards that looked to be about half size. They must have been freezing!

After watching for a while and walking around the southern end of the park we decided breakfast was calling. Breakfast at the Novotel is a bit of an event. There are so many choices!!! We both filled up again with the idea of not eating again until an early dinner.

As the weather wasn't great again we too the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn to one of the sister museum's of the Deutsches Museum. As we had free tickets it was a bonus! This branch was made up of lots of land transport vehicles. Ed was once again in his element and I found the information about how transport is being adapted to be better for the environment quite interesting. We killed another 3 or so hours here while it rained away outside.

When we were finished we decided that we had to go to the Hofbrauhaus. Neither of us were really keen on eating a big meal there but we wanted to check it out. We headed in and had a few beers with some massive pretzels and a cheese plate. We sat right near the kitchen and found it amazing to watch the amount of food coming out and how much of it is meat! It was also great to watch the way the waiters handle massive trays of food. It seems in these places that each waiter or waitress has their section of tables and they only do things for their own tables. You cannot get another waiter to do something for you if yours is busy. Quite an interesting system.

Back to the room now so that I can catch up on this blog and we've decided to skip out on dinner after eating too much bread and cheese!

Posted by AndreaSchache 09:01 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Day 20 - Munich

rain 7 °C

We woke today to a rainy day that looked like it wouldn't let up. After eating our fill at the hotel breakfast that is included in our room price we made the decision to head to to the Deutsches Museum. Wow......the German's really know how to do museums! This place was HUGE!!!! There are 50 exhibits covering 51,000 square meters. Crazy! In researching this place we had read that even the 8 hours that it is open is not really enough time to see everything well. They sure were right!

We walked around the museum for 7 hours and only saw about 2/3's of it and we were not even really stopping to read the information. Ed loved every minute of it. This museum had everything! I was a bit over it by the end and Ed was exhausted as well. The museum is definitely worth a visit if you come to Munich. Just make sure you put aside a whole day to do it properly. Our tickets only cost 8.50 Euro each and this includes a free ticket to one of the sister museums on another day.

From here we caught the S-Bahn into the center of town. We found ourselves in a pedestrian mall lined with shops and restaurants. We decided to try out the Augustiner Brauhaus for dinner. Another awesome German beer hall except here we found the staff to be a little rude. It certainly seems that in in beer halls the waiter really is the king!

Ed ordered the duck and I had the Pork Escalope. They were both HUGE meals with Ed's being half a duck! Both were yummy but too much to eat! It seems that German's eat a lot of meat. I have only had 2 meals here and I am a little over eating meat! We have decided tomorrow night we might not have a 'German' meal and instead go for something that might include some vegetables or something a little lighter.

We are both exhausted so we have headed back to our room for a quiet evening.

Posted by AndreaSchache 08:59 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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