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The Grand Tour 2010

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The Grand Tour 2010

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The End

London, United Kingdom

Pri: And so we have come to the end of our Grand European Tour 2010. Being home is great. We have our own beds, plenty of clean clothes and don't have to deal with lugging our bags around. Of course, being away is unbelievably good as well and I had the best time. This trip was everything that I imagined it would be, and each place we went to was special and unique. I loved the food in Italy, the beaches of Greece, the city of Stockholm, the natural beauty of Finland, the atmosphere of Copenhagen, the lifestyle and structure of Paris, the farms of Germany :), the culture of London and the people everywhere! I made new friends in every place we went to and was humbled by the hospitality of all our friends old and new. I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who made this trip possible, as you have each helped to make one of my biggest dreams come true! Europe, I will miss you, but I will return :).

Doll: This may be the end, but it's only the beginning of the end. :P No, it's just the end. We're home, and while it's nice to sleep in my own bed, and have hot showers, there is nothing like travelling. Thank you so much if you helped to make this summer possible, and thank you to all our faithful readers. Europe, I love you, you are amazing. :P I really can't decide which country is my favourite. I liked them all in different ways. I love the rain in London, the quiet in Finland, the fun in Sweden, the buildings of Copenhagen...and Germany, despite all of the Drama we suffered, I still loved it. GO EUROPE!

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on August 26, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
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London, United Kingdom

Pri: London was everything I hoped it would be and even what I hoped it would not be (rainy!!). Such a beautiful city a mix of old and new buildings and people. We went inside Buckingham Palace! It's absolutely gorgeous and full of such splendour. We had tea with fresh scones at the Tower of London, which was delicious, and of course plenty of chips and even a little fish for Doll. A few of my cousins took us out to see the sights and I love Trafalgar Square. They have these huge steps which everyone sits on and some lions which everyone tries to climb. It's a bustling place with loads of activity. On a rainy-ish day we paid a visit to that Master Detective - Mr. Sherlock Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes museum. It was like stepping into a book :). We even managed to make it to the West End and of course the National Gallery and British Museums. Just in case you were wondering, yes it is always raining in London :P. We did have a couple of sunny days in the two weeks we were there and that was simply lovely. We're experts at riding the tube now and were so happy that everything was in English for once :).

Doll: LONDON!!! I love it. Even though we didn't get to do to Ireland, which is my dream, we did get to spend an extra week in London. Priya's rellies are extremely nice for putting up with us for so long. Big Ben is actually quite small, at least I think so. I just imagined it quite a bit larger. The London Eye look FREAKY!!! I don't understand the joy of going in circle while floating in a giant bubble. With 20 strangers. Anyways, we went to the London Tower and got a tour with one of the Beef-eaters. He was so old and cute! The next day Priya wanted to go up the Bridge Tower, which is absolutely unnecessarily high. Gladly it was closed or too expensive so you couldn't venture up. :D I <3 rain. I <3 London.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on August 5, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged London, Tower and BuckinghamPalace

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Bonjour Paris

Paris, France

Pri: Having a birthday in Paris is the world's best! We had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower with massive amounts of good things to eat and drink. Paris itself is sooo good. I love the plan of the city and how everything is organised in straight roads, the town houses are sooo cute and everything looks like it stepped out of a history book. We saw the Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, and the gorgeous Notre Dame. We gave in and joined the massive line to get the chance to walk 400 steps up to the top of Notre Dame and to see the bell Tower even though it took us three and a half hours to get to the front. It was time well spent and well worth it for the view both in the cathedral and the view from the top. The family we stayed with are such lovely people, wonderful hosts and hostesses and made us feel right at home. We had such a great time and wished we could have stayed longer in beautiful Paris. Oh, by the way, everyone we met in Paris was nice to us, even though we spoke to them in English and didn't understand a word of French. We didn't run into any of the reputed French snobbery which we were pleasantly surprised about. :)

Doll: Paris is simply beautiful this time of year and the people aren't nearly as stuck up as people told us. We met so many nice people and heard this genius band from Australia called The Wishing Well. They have two violinists and a cellist. The lead violinist was simply genius. She was amazing.
We saw the Eiffel Tower, Nortre Dame, and the Lourve. It was so much fun, but Priya's already covered all that. Paris is awesome!!! I love you guys. xxx.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 30, 2010 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Paris, EiffelTower, NotreDame and Panthenon

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When in Rome

Rome, Italy

Doll: Rome. :) The Vatican was amazing, besides being freakishly claustrophobic it was beautiful. Michael-Angelo is genius. Imagine hanging upside down for four years painting something that would last thousands of years. Grrr...he's sooo good. It's good to be the Pope. St. Peter's was also beautiful. I don't know how they built things back then but it's mad. They have these solid marble pillars, three stories high. And they're not stacked, it's just a massive pillar of marble. Simply stunning. The alter over St. Peter's grave was apparently a throne of some sort. It's nearly as high as the roof. Either people were massively massive or they had large amounts of stairs and things of such sort. After we say those two magnificent places of God we went to the pagan Colosseum, where Nero savagely killed hundreds, possibly thousands of Christians. It was really sunny and there was construction so we couldn't go where the gladiators would fight. Anyways, it was amazing. I heart history. We're staying with Becca and her family. Chiarra is sooo cute. Tiny little redhead. xxx.

Pri: Ciao Everyone! :). I don't think I have to say that I LOVED Rome. I somehow forgot that the Sistine Chapel and La Pieta are in Rome, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them. The Sistine Chapel is gorgeous, as is St. Peter's. It's filled with gigantic statues and heaps of gold and engravings. It is beautiful, but also extravagant when you think how Jesus lived. The architects were definitely inspired, as it is a place that brings you close to God. If only the other people there were quiet! (as you are meant to be). The Colosseum by contrast is very run down and a raw sort of building. Still a wonder to see, it looks like they are constructing a way for people to view the highest level but it is still under construction. Oh, we had lunch at Becca's in-laws (a real Italian family) and had Pesto penne which Doll loves and Lasagne which I love! It was scrumptious. Becca and Giovanni took us for gelato which was soooo good! Yum. We also did the visit to Trevi fountain, to throw in our coins for love and a chance to come back to Rome. It was unbelievably crowded, but so beautiful. Apparently they receive 3000 euros a day through that fountain, which goes to support a cafeteria for homeless people or people in need. Hope you enjoy the pics. It was a lovely stay and we are sad to go :(...but happy to be going to Paris :).

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 24, 2010 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Rome, Vatican, TreviFountain and Colosseum

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I Heart Venezia

Venice, Italy

Doll: I LOVE VENICE!!! I want to go there for carnival. That'd be massive. We got masks and went in St. Marco's Cathedral, it's soo beautiful. Then these tourists were being massively loud and taking pictures, which is strictly forbidden. They even had holy water, I loved it. The architecture is lovely. I really wanted to get a plain mask and paint it myself, but unfortunately it wasn't possible. That would've been awesome though. Grrr...I heart Venice. yumms. :)

Pri: Venice is just how I imagined it would be. We arrived early in the morning and thus managed to have a particularly lovely stroll through the city before it filled up with tourists. We made the (right) decision to stand in line to go into St. Mark's Basilica which was so beautiful as Doll said. We also went up the Rialto Bridge which is awesome seeing as it's hundreds of years old! The city has loads of cute shops and what do you know it even has a McDonalds! Though we only had half a day here, it was perfect and we saw pretty much all that we wanted to which was brilliant.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 24, 2010 from Venice, Italy
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Venice and SanMarco

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Greece is the Word

Monastiraki, Greece

Doll: Greece is sooo pretty! We've been going to the beach, almost everyday. The days that we don't we go to the hotel pool. I'm looking very tanned. The beach is so nice. The fist one we went to is the main beach where everyone who's anyone hangs out at. The beaches in this area of Greece are rock beaches, and at the main beach the waves are huge! Okay, not huge, but largish. Like the waves in Taipei. Except there's large rocks to kill you when you fall. (Pri: the rocks aren't THAT large) So yeah, that would've been a whole lot funner if we had boards. The other beach we went to is right by the hotel. A two minute walk. :) The waves are tiny and the water is crystal clear. You can be way out and you can still see the rocks at the bottom. It's terribly relaxing the first couple of days, then you get slightly panicked with nothing to do. And cooking a meal isn't very fulfilling cause there's no real food to be cooked. I am a firm believer in NEVER using jarred pesto, sadly that's the only thing they have in the mini market. I'm going to miss the beach though. It's so pretty. I'd like to have it. But at the same time I really need something constructive to do...like cooking. Imma make a real meal in Rome. That should be funn. :D Anyways, I love you guys. xxx.

Pri: I feel the opposite, I could stay here for another week at least. It's perfect - small village, loads of sunshine, beautiful beaches with friendly locals, nothing too commercial, but with a great hotel where we can cook our own food and chill by the pool. It's just what I needed at this point of the trip, sort of the half-way point, where we are gearing up for the heavy sight-seeing stuff, which in summer means long amounts of time in the heat :). Not that I am complaining...after the last week I feel pretty much spoiled. We had a great view from our balcony and I got to swim every day, we had pasta and cheese and ham and all those things that I have been missing, and the beach was amazing. We haven't had any "real" Greek food yet, but we will get some on the ship, which we are boarding tomorrow evening. Goodbye Greece!

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 21, 2010 from Monastiraki, Greece
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Greece

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Doll: The Frankfurt is so cool. They used to crown kings there. Which is amazing. The city is lovely, and the airport that they call Frankfurt Hahn, isn't even in the Frankfurt, so tomorrow morning we have to wake up massively early and trek our way to the main station were they apparently have a bus that goes to Hahn. If we miss this flight I'm going to massively spazz. Anyways. I <3 the Germany. It's the best. I just wish I could speak the German.

Pri: Frankfurt is definitely better than Berlin, even though it doesn't have much to it. David, our wonderful host, took us on a tour today and we saw some cute old houses, statues and a great riverside parkway. Even though we only had a few days here, we seemed to have had the most packed schedule and definitely met the most people. I have to say Frankfurt is improving my impression of The Germany quite a lot.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 13, 2010 from Frankfurt am Main, Germany
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
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Greenery in Germany

Friedberg, Germany

Pri: Day 2 of our Germany stay, our host got the bright idea that we should go visit some friends of his in a small town near Friedberg. We were happy to go but we're only staying a day. The town is soooo cute! Just like a German town should be, everything that you imagine it would be. Jan and Paula graciously welcomed us into their home and we had a delicious barbecue with them. The next morning a plan emerged for us all to rent a van and go to see another family where a bunch of young people were staying as well. We went there, to an actual FARM!!! village (cows and everything) and had another great afternoon and evening. We played football and I scored two goals! We also took a midnight trek into the forest where we saw immeasurable amounts of stars! It was so beautiful. I haven't seen that many stars in years. It was a great night, meeting so many new people, and having fun in the middle of nowhere in Germany.

Doll: Uh huh, what Priya said. Except I was wearing a dress and none of the girls in that House had shorts. So I sat on th swings. I love swings. Then I met this lovely German girl named, Katrin. She was awesome. Sweetest thing ever. So we talked while everyone played football. Except I couldn't understand a word she said and she couldn't understand a word I said. It was fun. She's sooo nice. Anyways, we made plans she's going to teach me the German and I will teach her the Chinese. It's going to be mad!!! Anyways, I love the Germany, it's sooo pretty. It makes me happy.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 10, 2010 from Friedberg, Germany
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
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Berlin, Germany

Doll: So we get our happy little bus from Copenhagen and drive to Berlin. We get there and think three hours is plenty of time for us to run down to the wall, take a few pix and be on our way. Yes, silly girls, I know. Anyways, turns out it's not right next to the bus station as someone told us. SO we finally get to the airport and our plane's leaving. So we sit in a hotel lobby all night, then the "24 hour train service" isn't so 24 hours. So we missed the bus we planned on taking. but it turned out not to be so bad cause we got a ticket for 39 Euros. The both of us together. So we get to the train and our first stop was...Magdeburg!!! I'm soo happy. I love it. So I didn't leave the train station but i saw one street and it was adorable. Anyways, on our way to Kassel (the last stop before Frankfurt) in the middle of nowhere the train breaks down. For an hour, with no A/C. Long Story short we trekked ages to the House and found out the next day that the day we were on the train none of the A/Cs in the entire train system were working that day. It's like the one day we take the train they have to have problems. Anyhow, it was hectic, but I loved it.

Pri: Like Doll said, Berlin was hectic. It was one of those no sleep for 36 hours deal, and by the end of it I was ready to drop off at any second. Anytime we would stop and sit down, I'd fall asleep. :P Oh, one extra fun thing that happened was that the wheel on my (borrowed :S) suitcase broke as we got into Frankfurt. It was a heavy last kilometre carrying that thing. We did get to see the piece of the Berlin Wall that is still standing, and Checkpoint Charlie. Something great that we saw on the way was a beer bike, a little bar on wheels that everyone pedals as they drink. They were singing and having a grand old time.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on July 9, 2010 from Berlin, Germany
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Berlin, BerlinWall, CheckPointCharlie and BeerBiike

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Dolls: I lovee Copenhagen!!! It's beautiful. The buildings were all made a few hundred years ago, and people are generally very nice. I would love to live here...for the summer. Winter is freakishly cold and dark. The city centre is close by so we can walk there, there's all these lovely cafes and restaurants everywhere, and everyone rides bikes. It can be a tad annoying, especially while we are driving, but they are saving the environment, so I'm all for it. I'm pretty sure Pri hates it though. I'm just scared I might run into one and die, but this kind old lady assured me they're very good at swerving. Anyways, I love it plus Germany beat Argentina so I'm extra happy. Oh yes, and our gang is way better than the other one. I just thought you should know.

Pri: Copenhagen is the first of the Scandinavian cities that actually looks and feels like a city. The friend that we are staying with has an apartment very close to the city centre and right outside his place was a bunch of cute little cafes and a little park, it was so picturesque and I love it. We sang at a bunch of places, and most people were quite friendly. Doll was put to work cooking dinner, and impressed everyone quite a lot with her culinary skills. Most of what Copenhagen we saw as we were out fundraising, and it is a cute city. The two things I didn't like were the massive amounts of cyclists who think they own the road, and the graffiti that covers a lot of the city as well.

permalink written by  The Grand Tour 2010 on June 29, 2010 from Copenhagen, Denmark
from the travel blog: The Grand Tour 2010
tagged Copenhagen

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