Monday, April 13, 2009

Turkey anyone?

OK so this may be a little dull for some people, so what we have done is highlight all the good bits in red, not to say that the other bits are rubbish, just that we are aware of that some people have short attention spans. Also a usual there are pictures to spice it up and keep people interested.

Turkey for seven days with Sarah's mum and her partner Mark. Stay in a house with a pool in a tourist town called Feythie on the Mediteranian Coast. The general plan was to read a book or two and relax with lots of sunshine and maybe eat a few kebabs on the way.

What happened
So it turns out that the Friday we left was the beginning of the school holidays in Blighty. This made for an interesting red-eye flight. There may have been just a few too many kids under nine for a four hour flight that leaves at ten at night. Well maybe a few too many for us.

Day one:
Arrived at the house at 5am local time, had a cup of tea and slept till early in the afternoon. We then went for a trip to town on a dalmish - a local bus or as we saw it a mini van with a sign at the front saying it went to town.

We mucked about a bit and then went to the local fish market where you pick the fish you like and the the local restaurant cooks it for you!

All the rest of the time...
So I got bored writing this!

In a nut shell we:

Went on a crazy four wheel drive trip

where we patted trout that swam around a bar - yes they were in the bar... weird...

Then went for a "mud bath" or swimming in the muddy part of the river...

Went on a seven islands boat cruise - which was lovely and sunny.

Jumped off the boat and swam in the med for the first time.

Made friends with the local dog called Bruce - he was lovely

Ate and drank lots and generally relaxed to Turkish time

Went to some really neat markets and practiced haggling - we are both not very good at it though...

We also saw some other funny things like this...

And this

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Before we start with Turkey...

Before we start with Turkey there are a few things about Ol' London that we should note:

1. Croydon is really a below average day out, followed by Crystal Palace - well Crystal Palace does have a big park but it's a bit grim. The National War Museum and the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat race were much more fun. It is deceptively hard to actually see the boats racing however as you can see...

2. English people are surprizingly funny and polite at work, and maybe a little useless on occasion.

3. And despite having short ad breaks and some top shows, English TV is decidedly average. But the ads in between the English international football games are great.

4. You can buy beer at the petrol station, not that the English encourage drink driving - also bike helmets are optional.

5. Double-decker bus rides are like tour buses except there is no guide to point out what is important and interesing. The tube however is not like an underground roller coaster.

6. Surprizingly there are no canarys in or around Canary Wharf, there are also no Elephants or Castles at Elelphant and Castle. London Bridge does have a very pretty bridge though.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The snow, Spain, and jobs

Well hello again everybody in the inter-google. We have some important breaking news... Steve has finally convinced some English suckers to employ him! Whoop whoop! It probably has a lot to do with his dapper dress sense and that snappy tie. He is working at Tower Hamlets Homes (part of the Tower Hamlets Council) as a communications officer, starting last Friday. Steve probably smells, cos his boss did not have her contract renewed on Friday afternoon and promptly left... oh what fun!

So it has been a while since you were bored by our travels, so this one might be a little long - but we'll make sure there are heaps of pictures or pix as they are known on the hyperweb.

Snow Day(s)

As you may already have heard it snowed in London last month. It was quite a bit of snow as you can see. This is our street with snow.

The white stuff seemed to bring out the best in people - even the grimy Londoners. It also meant that we had to have a snowball fight with the local kids - they won apparently...

According to the papers here after the snow came the terrible crack foxes and hoards of rodents and the black super squirrels. The snow also caused the roads to explode and cost the country all of its money for ever. Luckily for us we were able to hole up in our room watching movies, and missed most of it :)

Here are some pictures of the neighborhood and the Brixton markets (just down the hill).

Its all really Afro-Carribean and has some interesting sights - dried fish heads anyone?

Now for Espanyola!

We went to Mallorca (or Majorca in English...) in the search of sun and beaches. We definitely got the beaches, but the sun only showed its pretty face for one of the four days so we are still pasty white. We did lots of the typical holiday in Spain things, like:

Stayed in a dodgy Miami style hotel with the Spanish chapter of Grey Power - we were on the first floor directly above the "night club" and were kept up most of the night by the over 60's reliving their youth - which was obviously quite frisky!

Ate paella and tapas, and drank sangria in the sun (well, on one day at least).

Got lost down little back streets.

Hung out in amazing churches and galleries.

Among the less typical things we did were:

Arriving, by chance, on the weekend when Mallorca and the surrounding Baleric islands celebrate becoming semi-autonomious from Spain.
Not that exciting - but they had amazing markets and free wine and sausage tasting as well as "the human tower competition" (pretty sure its not called this but it describes what they got up to).

They also had toffee apples... yum!

We also caught this really cute old train to Port Sollier.

The journey was super, and like it said in the guide book, you could pick oranges and lemons from the train as it travelled across the country side.

It was quite nice...

Really quite nice

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas and New Years with the Germs

Now for the festive season, where the weather matched all the songs - for once!
So we decided before we left that we would try as hard as we could for a white Christmas. As Timo (our old German flatmate from Wellington - featured on the left over there) owed Steve a German Christmas for the Kiwi one he attended in 2005, we thought Germany would be a good place to try. As we found out later Germans celebrate Christmas for three days, so it was quite a good choice in the end. We were pretty nervous about "making" Timo's family have us for Christmas, and as we found out later - they were a little too.

So we went to Peine to celebrate Christmas with the Rubienzik family. We had the BEST TIME EVER!

Despite the language barrier, Timo's parents (Klaus and Karin) were wonderful hosts, and Julia (Timo's sisiter) was such great company - her being able to speak English better than both of us really helped here! Both her and Timo did lots of translating as Karin (Timo's mum) spoke about as much English as we speak German. There were a few things over dinner that did not need translating though, like "Timo, you need a haircut" and "no mum, I like it the way it is". Pretty sure mum's around the world are all the same...

So we ate and drank for three days solid. Some of the delights served were, salmon trout (I really cannot explain it better - looks like trout and tastes like salmon), raw pork mince, liverworst (like pate, but more chunky), cheese soup - Sarah's favorite, and Steve's favourite blood soup - which he and Timo at at midnight. Blood soup for the curious is cooked ducks blood, with bits of heart and kidney thrown in for texture.

Three things we did not know about German Christmas:
They open their gifts on Christmas Eve after dinner
They ring a tiny bell before you can get your gifts - not too sure what this is for
You must have tea or coffee with your cake.

We saw snow on boxing day in Goslar, the home of witches and the Harz mountains.

We also went to the Goslar Christmas market, which was neat!

Then we zipped back to Hamburg on the train and stayed for a few nights before we went to stay with Timo's cousin Kulle in Berlin for new years. And what fun we had in Berlin!

A friend of Timo's - Thomas and his partner Antje (both of whom we knew from New Zealand) had us round for dinner with a few of their friends on new years eve. We then went to this crazy party in a huge villa somewhere in Berlin. The music was not great but the atmosphere was amazing.

Just before midnight we went outside to light our fireworks. Germans have fireworks for new years like most places, except its more like Guy Fawkes, the 1980s version, with sky rockets and fire crackers as well as the big public displays! The German fire crackers were a little bigger than the Double Happies and Tom Thumbs we used to get back home when we were kids. To be accurate, the bigger ones were more like small sticks of dynamite than "crackers" - and we got the legal ones from the supermarket! It turns out that like most of Berlin, Timo and Kullah enjoy fireworks like we do. So we bought a few. Our few combined with everyone elses few meant that for most of new years eve and the following night it sounded like world war two - with running street battles, occasional artillery fire and exploding flares. This all culminated at midnight when it really did seem like the sky was on fire. And to top it all off it began to snow at around 2 in the morning. All really quite exciting and a very dramatic start to the year!

We also did a quick tour of Berlin with our fantastic tour guide Kullah.
The highlight being the holocaust memorial. It is a very subtle monument from the outside, but once you get to the heart of it it is breathtaking, not only for its significance and sheer size, but for the way the intent of the architects message creeps up on you.

We then went back to Hamburg and Timo showed us the shadier side of town, the other tourist attraction in Hamburg, the Reeperbahn. That was really interesting with all the peep shows, erotic toy stores and working girls.

Look at that happy Germ!

OK enough of the boring bits, here are some photos...

Sarah at the Christmas market in Hamburg, where we had yummy mulled wine.

Timo also took us to the beach - so it felt like a proper January, except a little colder.

We got there on this boat...

Steve really like all the space needles. There was one in Hamburg

...and another in Berlin.

Mmmm more mulled wine in Hamburg

Steve and Timo with a drink, maybe it was mulled wine??

The three musketeers in the snow.

The Berlin wall - some of what is left of it anyway...

More from Berlin

Timo and Sarah - rock and roll stars in Hamburg, wishing you all a kick ass new year! - Steve hopes that it goes well too :)