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Europe 2009

a travel blog by Chris and Emily

Working Holiday to Europe
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Bristol Docks

Bristol, United Kingdom

It was lovely to have a nice sleep in and wake to a beautiful blue skied day! A relaxing, get up and slowly get ready morning followed by a trip down to the Bristol docks and our tour guide for the day was the beautiful Jenny. We had a chance to stick our head into Jenny’s apartment and then took a stroll down to the dock where we took a little steam train ride which was rather sweet.

We went up the dock and then back along another track to the start, where by now, we were a tad hungry. We kept walking until we hit a little ferry that has been converted into a restaurant. Very yummy and rather cheap (no Styrofoam cup and cardboard banner required today) We all had a lovely meal, but I really enjoyed watching the new extreme sport “free running” that was happening beside us. I remember watching James Bond (the first Daniel Craig one.. you know the one where he comes up from the ocean in his undies) anyhow, that first scene where he’s chasing the baddie and he’s doing all that crazy stuff that I originally thought was C.Ged (or the guy was possessed and was really a crazy demon) I now know that it’s real and that there are some mad men out there who quite enjoy throwing themselves off a 10 story building onto a small ledge, swinging onto a washing line and then running up a wall and flipping themselves over (which could only obtain a perfect score of 10 in the gymnastic world) It was entertaining to say the least. After lunch we took a stroll to see a local cathedral, which was huge and lovely (as it seems all the buildings in England are) but we weren’t allowed to take photos as it was prayer time. We’ll go back another time for a pic or two and maybe when the neurotic usher isn’t there…. It worked out well though that we only had a chance to stick our head in and out as we then caught a boat around the harbour and learnt some of the history of the Bristol water front. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, nice and leisurely, and it was nice to be off our feet for once! We later strolled back to Jen’s place where we ate fish and chips for dinner and watched “Dr Who” (for the record and at the risk of sounding like a true “Who nerd”, David Tennant makes the best Dr ever)

It was at Jens that I discovered the amazing red glow illuminating from my neck area.. who ever told me that the sun was less fierce in the UK was a big fat liar! Bloody hell, Rudolph has nothing on me I tell you! But the pain of the burn wasn’t that bad.. not in comparison to the rash I’d picked up somehow all over my legs and upper thighs. No, that took the cake and made the sunburn feel like a little pinch. Hmph. Chris always jokes that he can’t take me anywhere and that if anything was to happen or slightly go wrong it will happen to me, and he’s not wrong and most certainly not lying. Looks like another 6 months of religiously applying 30+ sunscreen is in order. Oh well, it beats the alternative right? It was home for a refreshing shower, reading and an early night for us, we’ve had such big days and taken so much in over the past week or so that it’s just so lovely to be able to relax and be at ‘home’. We’ll always be appreciative to all the help and assistance our UK family have given us with this trip, a huge help to the both of us!

permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 11, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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Bristol, United Kingdom

Ahh, a day of rest finally! What bliss! We had a nice lie in before doing quite a bit of catch up blogging and then went down stairs for a chocolate breakfast; after all, it is Easter! We had a lovely quiet day of resting and just watching telly, it wasn’t much but it was nice to just chill out. Chris took the dog for a walk while I stayed in with the girls and relaxed with a cuppa and chat and eventually, at the end of the day we head out for a walk which took us to a dodgy pub… we didn’t like the look of it too much but didn’t want to appear snobby and walk out, so we had a quick beer before bidding all our new dodgy friends goodbye. To be honest, as dodgy and yucky as the pub looked, and as dodgy and bogan like the people appeared, they were nice enough, they all kept saying “alrigh luv?” to me, so then I really knew I was in England. A non eventful day, but a great day for a relax and chill out.

permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 12, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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Bristol Beer Gardens

Bristol, United Kingdom

Today was a day of pints in the various beer gardens of Bristol. We had a lovely day relaxing in the sun, drinking pints of cider (me) and various beer (Chris) We met our cousins friends who I have to say are all very lovely and friendly. I shared my little travel 30+ sun cream around the group, who were all a little surprised to see that an Aussie was carrying one around, but I think in the end they were happy to know that I was as it held off some serious burn.
A long explanation ensued as to why I, as an Aussie was not tall, tanned and blonde, obviously I was letting down the Australian reputation. We also gave a lengthy description of what exactly a Tasmanian Devil is and no, it really doesn’t spin in crazy circles and yell incoherently, and no, it doesn’t have horns or a pitch fork… it’s actually quite amazing how many Brits have asked us about the Tassie Devil now, I wish I’d brought a photo or two. We moved pubs quite a few times, each one had a lovely atmosphere, the only prerequisite the group had was “does it have a garden?” If the answer was yes then it was a go-er. I had to laugh though, there beer gardens here are all cement, no grass or trees to be seen really.

They were all lovely little pubs though and it was nice to see them with a group of bubbly, inviting locals. We only had one hiccup for the day and that was when I ordered lunch, consisting of Nachos and some sour cream and guacamole. Now, what do you imagine when I say Nachos? Are you thinking corn chips, salsa, cheese with an option of meat? Yep, me too. This one particular pub didn’t though. We were the first to order and that last to be served and when my ‘nachos’ came out it was a side of corn chips, a dollop of sour cream and a dollop of guacamole. That was it. I looked at it, I ate a chip or two and then I realized “hang on, I’ve just paid $11 for a handful of chips and dip…” so, with group consensus that we’d been ripped off, we asked to see the manager who was a very rude man to say the least. We were firm in telling him these were “NOT nachos, that they can’t call them Nachos and that I’m not happy with this meal, I’d like my money back please” He was a very rude young man, very annoyed that someone would dare question the nacho option, and curtly refunded my money. I did not wish to try my luck there again, so I took my money and in place of food, had another cider elsewhere. We had a lovely day out in the sun, with Jen and with some of the locals, had a great laugh and a great relax.
  • for the record, we made it home sober and coherent. This is not because British beer is less potent, rather because we can’t afford to ‘throw them back’ here as we do in Australia, we have to sip them in Britain, thus making it a warm beer. Shouting a round is a very expensive offer almost rendering you to tears…*

  • permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 13, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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    Caldicot, United Kingdom

    Wow, what a sleep in today. Ann and Brian must think we’re so lazy! We keep telling them that we normally don’t sleep this much, but I’m not sure they believe us. We don’t have breakfast until 10/11.30. I use the excuse that I’m still jet lagged. I’m not exactly sure how long I can use this one, but it works for now.

    After our lazy lie in today, our leisurely breakfast and packing a bit of a picnic, we head to Coldicote Castle, which unbeknownst to me, was actually in Wales. I had no idea that we were so close to Wales, shows how ignorant I am, and also how geographically challenged I am, I’d best not loose Chris or the GPS during these next few months.

    The castle was nice, not as big as it was perceived to be in the brochure, but nice all the same. They lost a little of the historic atmosphere though, as all around the gardens and in the castle ruin rooms they’d placed stuffed folk art rabbits for Easter, they also had some school holiday activity happening where children had to find all the clues etc, which is all well and good, but it appeared every mother in Wales that brought there snotty kid to the grounds to complete these activities and receive their free mini egg gift.

    The towers though were quite nice and had beautiful views. I could happily be a princess if it meant waking up to that view every day, the Welsh country side is gorgeous! We had a lovely few hours wandering about the gardens, sitting and watching the swans and ducks (we sound like such an old couple, but in our defence, it was really nice and relaxing!) before settling down to eat our picnic lunch full of yummy and healthy treats. It was cold today and god I craved a good hot Milo, but I soldiered on and had my liter of water with lunch.

    Just as we were thinking of leaving Jen remembered that there was an old Abbey close by and did we want to see that? We agreed on the proviso that we all got a hot drink when we arrived there. Having negotiated this skillfully and successfully we found ourselves in this amazingly, gorgeous, take your breath away want to live there forever, valley called Tintern, and the Abbey was mind-blowing, jaw dropping, lost for words beautiful. It was just ruins, but oh my gosh, just gorgeous.

    The abbey was built around 1123 AD and housed monks who had chosen to adopt the ‘poverty’ lifestyle (just as Mother Teresa did many many years later) and who wanted to house themselves away from the ‘world’, and I have to say, what a place to do it! Back in its day Tintern would have been a difficult place to access being in a little Welsh Valley. These monks would get up at 2am to meditate and do this up to 8 times a day (that is the definition of dedication if you ask me) they would go to church and listen to lessons and would sing in choirs. The sense of peace and stillness you get from this place is indescribable. You could spend days there and not get sick of it, despite the fact that from the outside (and admittedly the inside) it is all just ruins. The old structure that remains is breath taking though, such high walls with amazing windows and door frames, amazing peaceful views from each window, and the thought that went into the foundations and architecture is beautiful. Thus far, I have to say that this has been one of my most favourite places to visit! Wales is truly beautiful with its green pastures and laid back, content lifestyle. I would love to see more of it before we go, and with 5 or so months left up our sleeves, I would hope we can make this possible.

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 14, 2009 from Caldicot, United Kingdom
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    Day in Bristol

    Bristol, United Kingdom

    Another quiet day here in Bristol today, which was lovely. The weather wasn’t so fantastic today, infact if we’re being honest, it was bloody cold and wet.

    Chris and I spent the morning up loading what felt like a million blog entries in a local internet store before catching a double decker into the city centre. We strolled around the farmers market that we found was on and resisted the urge to buy any of the yummy looking cheese, breads and olives, they all looked really good! Instead to warm ourselves and put some food in our tummy, we had a pieminster pie and mash for lunch. Pieminster pies are a bit of a rage over here, everyone seems to love them and while I admit they’re not bad, I think I do prefer a good ol’ Australian meat pie and sauce. On our way out of the market square we came across a little gallery and popped our heads in, which ended up a costly little excursion. There were many wonderful works of art in this gallery, oil paintings, water colours, pencil sketches, all colourful and bright and I could have spent a lot of time, and money, in this gallery. We did purchase 3 little original sketches that we plan to frame when we get home. We found our way to a ‘Walkabout’ pub, which is a chain of Australian themed pubs. Here they stock Australian beer and I’m afraid to say that Fosters and VB are the main representative of this… sad I know. We have suggested they import Cascade or Boags if they want something really nice. We’ve received a discount card for this pub which makes this an extremely affordable place to both eat and drink which is a bonus for those ‘less off days’ we experience from time to time. After a quick and cheap pint we head home on the bus had a quick tea and an early night.

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 15, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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    Longleat House and Safari Park

    Bristol, United Kingdom

    The weather today looked a hell of a lot better than it did yesterday thankfully, and for this reason we decided to head to Longleat. Longleat is a stately home on thousands of acres which also, thanks to a flamboyant and eccentric new ‘lord’ boasts a small theme park and a safari tour, complete with lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, silver back gorillas and more! It was amazing! The area of Longleat is gorgeous and green, rolling hills, country lanes etc, just like you imagine England country side to look like, oh and they have the sweetest little cottages that remind you of something straight out of a Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton book. Anyhow, the state home is also breath taking. You drive up this long driveway and this huge mansion of a house, like something you’d see in a Jane Austin film is sitting before you. It has been in the family for the past 400 years, passed on to lord to lord and lived in. We did a tour of the house and it’s, and I’m sorry to keep using books and films as references, but it really does look like something from a Jane Austin film! Portraits of all the lords and family members of the past hung in the corridors, huge dining tables, reading rooms, old guns hung above fire places etc, there was so much to take in and as it seems with most places that contain so much history, we were unable to take photos.

    We then visited the grounds where we went to the ‘pet corner’ and I was able to hold a 17 year old python, we were able to watch extremely intelligent parrots count with a cow bell, see some general animals (rabbits etc) then head to the more exciting animals like otters, tortoise and, see our first ever porcupine! Oh my gosh! I NEVER knew that a porcupine was so bloody big!! I thought it was a little bigger than our echidna, but they’re actually the size of a middle to large sized dog. Surprised the hell out of me!

    We then head off on a boat where we were greeted by Californian Sea lions, hippos, pelicans, and on a little island, sat a silverback gorilla. I asked why they left him out here on a little island on his lonesome and apparently if he was to be on the ‘land’ like other animals he’d have to be behind bars and have a very large enclosure, so, by putting him on an island where he can’t swim, he’s left to have a more ‘natural’ environment with no bars etc. Seems to be fair. This gorilla did have a partner but she died a few years back, they haven’t brought him a new mate as he’s too old for one now and would put them in danger with his moods, so he sits alone on his little island where he watches telly in the mornings, this is his one request and true loves apparently, especially cartoons.

    We then head to the African safari, which I was very excited about! Here you were able to take yourself, in your car, on a tour around the African landscape. We saw giraffe, zebra, camels, flamingos, vultures, antelope, deer’s (not so African we know, but there was a real life Bambi with its mum so it made up for this fact) rhinos and then we head to the tiger enclosure, lion enclosure and then wolf enclosure. It was very cool, and we were the last car going through for the day so we were able to get space to see the animals with out being ‘nudged’ along by other cars. Seeing the lions was really wonderful as while we were there they began to growl and roar, this felt like a real treat at the end of the day.

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 16, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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    Hot Fuzz Tour (Wells)

    Wells, United Kingdom

    Those of you who have seen the film ‘Hot Fuzz’ may recognize some of the photos below as being the landscape for the shoot out scene at the end of this film.

    Wells is a lovely little village full of cobbled streets, green rolling hills and sweet little cottages. It also boasts an awesome, massive cathedral which is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

    As the weather was truly shite today (bloody bloody cold and constant, light but drenching rain) we spent the majority of our day on a tour of the cathedral. It was lovely! We had this sweet old guide, who you just knew loved her little job and could talk the leg off a wooden chair given half the chance. She took us all around the Cathedral telling us stories, showing us ‘hidden’ statues and filling us in on all the history, it truly is an amazing place! She was saying that back in the day when the steeple was being raised it caused the Cathedral to begin to sink. To save the cathedral (and their heads I imagine) they brought in a ‘top’ architect who designed scissor arches, this would support and even out the weight of the cathedral and save it from disrepair, but these scissor arches are the only ones that can be found in all of Europe. There is also an 800 year old clock. To first look at it appears very confusing, but once it is explained to you its very simple. It has 24 dots in a circle representing the 24 hours of the day, the month of the year and then, the lunar calendar. It also has a little figurine that clicks its heels on a bell X amount of times to signal the time of the day and as this happens four little jousting men on horses ride about in circles and two are knocked backwards off their horses as they go around. Far more entertaining than Hobart’s ‘Diddle diddle’ clock I have to say (as much as I do love the Hobart clock believe me) We then had a quick look around the Bishops Castle which has a real moat around it and trained swans who ring a bell for their meals.

    It was cold, it was wet and to warm ourselves we stopped for a quick hot drink before a quick stop at a typical English sweet shop and then onto “Thatcher Cider Brewery” I have to say, cider is my new drink and to arrive at the brewery was a little exciting for me. I’ve found that to order cider like a local you have to pronounce it as Zi-der, but then they’ll bombard you with questions like “Well, do you want a cloudy one or a clear one? Would you like a dry one, a medium one, a heritage one or a sweet one?” and then I panic and just pick any random one and my cover of a ‘zi-der’ local is blown. Oh well. As it is, any of the ciders are nice (including the pear zi-der) so it doesn’t really matter which one you get in the end. Anyhow, it was then back to Martins for a lovely warm, home cooked risotto, a few glasses of cider and some relaxing TV viewing.

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 17, 2009 from Wells, United Kingdom
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    The mall (rhymes with Pal)

    Bristol, United Kingdom

    A quiet, relaxing day today which was lovely! Slight sleep in followed by a trip to the local “Mall” (not pronounced mall like we’d say, rather rhyme it with pal, mal...) and it was a huge shopping complex! We think the shopping centers in Melbourne or Sydney are big but we’re sadly mistaken! The shopping complex’s here are huge!! We spent 2.5 hours there and only saw a very small corner of the complex. In this time we hunted for a new pair of pants for myself, which I have to say, was hell! Trying to convert the sizes, trying everything on, converting the currency so I knew how much I was spending… argh! In the end I grabbed an ok pair off a sale rack just so I could get the hell out! It was so nice to get home so that we could just relax, have a nice lunch, work on CVs, nap, work out a rough itinerary, watch the rugby (Wales won for the record) and read. Ahh, lovely!

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 18, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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    Sunday roast

    Bristol, United Kingdom

    Today is Sunday, and we know now what that means… yummy Sunday Roast! A typical English tradition and such a delicious one! A quiet day consisting of good company, a good laugh and a great roast. Lovely. Not much else to report!

    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 19, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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    Bristol, United Kingdom

    Just a quick note to say we have 109 photos uploaded to this site so far, and most of them are not linked in the blog. Hit the photos link above to browse through them :)

    Cheers n Beers


    permalink written by  Chris and Emily on April 20, 2009 from Bristol, United Kingdom
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