Monday, 15 September 2008

Now We Are Home

it doesn't seem right to carry on blogging here since this blog was about our travels. And so, due to requests by hubby, I have decided to start a new blog which isn't about travelling, but just about stuff in general. You will find me wittering on over at - good of me to stick with another short blog name!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Home on the Range

We're home! Ah, life is good when you can sit on a comfy sofa and eat toast whenever you like. All the time we were away hubby said he missed the sofa most of all, and I missed the joy that is Sky+. And now we're back, the sofa has pride of place in the living room and Sky+ is being connected tomorrow, then life will be complete.

We have moved in to a new place in the countryside and have taken to the lifestyle like ducks to water. Yesterday we even went out on a 'ramble' with our trusty Ordnance Survey map of the area; everything started well as hubby showed me where we planned to walk -along here, down there, across there, up there, across there and back home. 'Fine by me', I said, 'I'll just follow you' having no great clue where he was pointing on the map. Although we walked for about an hour we didn't actually get anywhere as we apparently missed a turning somewhere and simply ended up walking all the way round the outside of a very large field. Still, there were three plus points to this - a feeling of smug wellbeing (apart from the bits where I puffed and panted my way uphill), a tub full of blackberries and the knowledge of future great blackberrying spots just a stone's throw from our front door. Excellent.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Flashpackers Do France

After our somewhat disappointing visit to Switzerland, hubby & I motored over to France where we spent the next few days staying in fancy country houses and chateaux.

We were able to gorge on fabulous croissants and marvellous goats cheese, all washed down with delicious Orangina! French cuisine, eh?!

And then, on Friday it was time for us to head to the Chunnel and take the train back to Blighty.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Knit One, Purl One

As hubby & I wound our weary way through the Swiss mountains we came upon an awesome sight. Not the largest cuckoo clock in the world; not an entire Alp made from Toberlone chocolate (I would still be there if we'd found something like that, doing my bit to help create a tunnel through the bottom of the mountain using nothing but my teeth), but something much, much better. Let me set the scene for you - this is the view that we were admiring at the time:

Quite something, I'm sure you'll agree.
Then hubby walked a little way round the corner and came scurrying back with a delighted grin on his face. 'Walk round there and see if something makes you smile' he said. 'Chocolate' was my initial thought, but this is what he had come upon:

Isn't that just wonderful?! Perhaps these ladies were of the same mindset as me that day - once you've seen one Swiss mountain, you've seen them all.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Switzerland - It's Very Swiss

After a thrilling Saturday night in the Ibis above the McDonalds in Chur, we set off on Sunday morning for Interlaken. The road took us through a couple of very high mountain passes, past Alpine meadows full of sedate Swiss cows, snow capped peaks and round literally hundreds of hair pin bends. After my experience at Mt Washington I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the drive and after a while, quite frankly, I was rather fed up. In fact, at the time my feeling was thus - once you’ve seen one Alpine meadow, one snow capped peak, one mountain pass and one sedate Swiss cow with obligatory bell round neck, you’ve seen them all. And, due to the wiggliness of the roads it took what felt like forever (about 5 hours) to get to Interlaken which as the crow flies was only about 2 inches away on the map. Poor hubby wasn’t exactly impressed by my attitude of fed up-ness.

Still, we finally made it to Interlaken which has the most beautiful setting between (as the name suggests) two lakes, both of which look like the Swiss Tourist Board has been out touching them up for the postcards and tourist photos - the bluey-green colour is quite stunning. The town is at the foot of the three huge mountains - the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch - which certainly make for a pretty picture. This is the view of said mountains from our hotel balcony.

The town itself isn’t too bad – it’s quite touristy with lots of shops selling Swiss products (Toberlerones, penknives, expensive watches and cow bells) and there are also lots of restaurants and bars. But one really good thing about it being so touristy is the fact that, despite the fact it was Sunday, the shops were actually open! I had become somewhat disillusioned with Switzerland on our drive to Interlaken since all along the route none of the shops were open; it wasn’t that I wanted to buy anything, but I find it a little disconcerting when entire towns are closed. It can be a bit like that in the rest of Europe on Saturday afternoons or during the inordinately long lunch hours that shop keepers seem to take – the entire town/village is like something from Day of the Living Dead, there’s not a soul to be seen. Most odd and very disconcerting to those of us from countries where shopping is seen as a past time, and is most definitely something which is to be undertaken on a Sunday.

So, I told hubby in no uncertain terms that Switzerland was not going to be a future holiday destination and we decided to spend just one night in Interlaken before setting off the next morning for the joys of France.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Three Countries in One Day

On Thursday hubby drove us from the embarassingly multi-lingual Luxembourg and in to the Black Forest region of Germany. We spent two nights at a very lovely, but very 70s hotel overlooking the city of Freiburg. We were very excited about this hotel as it had lots of terraces upon which we could lounge and catch some rays as well as a swimming pool. The weather so far on our trip has been very hot (apart from the day when it started a little overcast but then ended up roasting as soon as we got to Amsterdam) so we planned to spend most of Friday making use of the pool and sun loungers. And guess what? It rained.

So instead we made the short drive to Titisee (great name) to admire the lake and profusion of tat shops offering all manner of cuckoo clocks, stuffed toys and other souvenirs you really don’t need. We bought a Christmas tree decoration in the shape of a cuckoo clock – how could we resist?!

This morning dawned bright and sunny, of course, as we set out to drive to Liechtenstein (tick!) Took a few hours to get there due to my map reading which detoured us through the centre of Zurich and along the side of the lake when we should have been on the motorway, but at least it was scenic. We found ourselves in Vaduz, the tiny capital of tiny Liechtenstein just in time for lunch which was very fortuitous. After lunch we enjoyed a 10 minute stroll around the ‘city’ and by then we’d seen just about everything Vaduz had to offer.
It is in a very pretty setting, overlooked by a craggy mountain on top of which sits the royal castle – all very fairytale – but not much to detain us especially when we enquired about hotel rooms and were somewhat stunned by the prices . And so we drove on to our third country of the day – Switzerland. And now we are spending an exciting Saturday night in an Ibis hotel situated above a McDonalds (handy for dinner…) in the town of Chur. Tomorrow we plan to head to Interlaken where hubby once went on a school trip and which he remembers as being very nice. Let’s hope his memory serves him correctly or there could be trouble ahead.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Je Suis Inadequate

This morning I took our dirty washing along to a local launderette having decided that the indignity of washing clothes in a shower cap in the sink was getting too much. Now, after a month in New York I am more than au fait with the workings of a laundromat - change machine, washing powder machine, put coins in slot and away you go. Unfortunately here in Luxembourg I managed to pick a 'service wash' type of launderette, along the lines of the one Pauline & Dot ran in EastEnders. So, there I was looking around in a vague fashion for the change machine and desparately trying to work out what to do when a young boy of about 14 approached me and started talking. Clearly my blank expression led him to the conclusion that I didn't have the foggiest what he was saying. So he tried 'Francais?", to which I mumbled in response "Un petit" while holding my thumb and index finger a millimeter apart to help demonstrate exactly how 'petit' this was. And then he said 'English?', to which I gratefully answered 'Yes!' and he proceeded to explain exactly what I needed to do and how the process worked in perfect English. I don't doubt that if I had shaken my head to 'English', he would have been able to speak to me fluently in German or Italian, such is the level of multi-lingualism (is that a word?) over here on the Continent which constantly puts us to shame. I studied French for 5 years at school and even managed to get an A in my GCSE (don't know how, must have been a lenient marker who looked at my paper and listened to my oral exam cassette) and yet put me in any situation where I'm expected to say anything more advanced than 'Je voudrais un baguette' and it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong. Hubby announced that we should take French classes but I'm sure that anything we learn will go in one brain cell and out the other. Is there any hope for us?