A Travellerspoint blog

Bali - Overall

so yeahhhhh.........

The flight to Bali was long, really long. We had our first flight of 12 hours to Kuala Lumpur, it wasn't actually too bad a flight. I slept for a bit, we had movies, did some sudoku and waited for it to be over. We got to KL groggy, hot and sleep deprived, it was our first hit of warm muggy weather in the whole trip.
We got some juice and coffee and had an hour or so to wait for our next flight. The three hour flight from KL to Bali was definitely worse for me, it just felt like it was taking forever. We watched some shows on the laptop though, this new show we've started watching called Breaking Bad. Good show.

We finally arrived at Bali around 12pm, and gee it was so hot. We weren't prepared for this kind of heat having been in freezing conditions for the last three months. We saw a queue that said 'visa on arrival' above it so lined up there. Got to the front of the line and the man tells us, individually as we had to go up one by one, that we need to buy a visa on the other side of the room first. We had thought this is where you bought it.. So we went and queued up at a different section to buy the visa. It was just unlucky we had missed the visa payment area as our flight exit meant we had come out past the area and too easily missed it. We paid 40 euros for both our visas as we still had euros we needed to get rid of. We then lined up again at the visa on arrival section, this time the line was much longer and we were much hotter. There was a family with a baby crying a few groups behind us, the man who was checking your passports and visas got up and came to the family and let the father and baby go straight to the front, which we thought was nice. I told Harry that he should start crying now so we can go through.

We got through with no problems and after collecting our bags we were met by a little Balinese man who had 'The Villas' on a sign for us. We walked in the heat for about ten minutes as our bodies were trying to deal with the abrupt heat. The Balinese man tried to carry our suitcase but as it is beyond broken he continually struggled. So we've told you how one wheel is clean off the bottom of the suitcase, well another wheel...instead of falling off the suitcase, it's actually cracked the bottom of the suitcase and been pushed up into bottom. So it has a little hole it just stays in, making it absolutely impossible to move around. After a lot of struggling harry took the suitcase from the man and let him carry just our day bag.

We got to the car and received an ice cold water which we gulped down. The ride to the hotel was nice, it was just interesting looking out the window and seeing such a different way of live, with families huddled around this small, old looking tv, and the stray dogs, the roads were just chaos, organized chaos.

We drove into the hotel, there was a car security check which we have found to be common in all resorts in Bali, and then checked in at reception. We had trouble connecting to the Internet as we needed to move funds into the right account so the hotel could reserve the accommodation cost plus an extra 15% for any damages etc. I even sat in the receptionist chair behind the desk whilst I tried on her computer to use the internet to move the funds. I felt like a fool when other guests walked into the reception and saw me there. After trying awhile it still wouldn't connect us to the Internet so we asked if we could go to our room and connect there and come back as soon as we had transferred the funds. She let us.

We got taken to our villa, number nine, and oh my god it was amazing!!!!! You walk in and there's this pool, not a small plunge pool, a normal sized pool just for us. There were chairs on the deck to relax by the pool as well. Then there was our kitchen and dining table, all outside but undercover. It was really cool. We had a sound system as well so you could plug in your iPod and the music would be through the kitchen and into the pool area. There was also an upstairs outside area above the kitchen, over looking the pool, which had a couch, table and tv set up. It was so nice. Downstairs past the kitchen we had glass doors leading to a bedroom, with a big four poster bed with that sheer material all around it and a tv as well. At the back of the bedroom there was a door leading to an outside but completely undercover bathroom. The shower was also a bath and you were basically showering or bathing in the outdoors. It was much more luxurious than it sounds!

The room was amazing. But first things first we quickly connected to the Internet, transferred the funds, then went back to reception and paid. From that moment onwards it was just relaxation time in Bali! There's no point in me going day by day for our time in Bali as we didn't do all that much, mostly relaxed by the pool.

We got a bunch of massages, almost one a day at our hotels spa Prana. It was a really professional fancy spa which we got a 50% discount for due to staying at The Villas hotel. The 50% discount made it very cheap and worthwhile. The day we arrived we both went to the spa and I got a deep tissue massage which hurt and h got the signature body massage which he still says was his favorite - no prodding or poking or hurting, just relaxing.

We booked another set of massages at another partner spa with our hotel called Chill. There was one that was good for migraines so I opted for that while Harry chose a less intense one. I must have been careless in reading the massage description, too easily accepting the words: acupressure, pressure point, and intense. We got to the spa, had the usual foot bath with exfoliation etc. then headed for our massage. It was in one huge room with about a dozen massage beds made up, you left all your clothes on which we thought was strange and they gave you an iPod to listen to soothing music - although Harry hated his music and pulled out the earphones. All I can say about that massage is that I will never get pressure point or acupressure massages again and i don't think Harry will either. I can't even begin to describe how much it hurt, there were moments I was just gonna tell him to stop! I've had a lot of deep tissue massages but this was just...intense. And yes yes yes we both felt better afterwards but never again i say.

Another massage we got was called 'slightly slimming' where were received a coffee body scrub, got washed off, then covered in seaweed gel and then our body was glad wrapped over the seaweed. We then got put into a steam room together for 20 minutes and that was no easy feat. Much more intense than as sauna, you feel your body sweat so much more from the hot steam. We were given cold drinks with ice when we got in so we ended up rubbing the ice on our faces and necks to cool down. We then were told to have a quick shower and then had an hour long massage. We both have the tendency to fall asleep in our massages only for a few minutes here and there. I fell asleep for this one, only waking up when my hand fell off the bed. They then give you this hot infused tea which doesn't taste nice and is the last thing you want in this weather. So that was an experience at the very least.

We got a hot and cold stone massage which we were both eager to try - i think Harry only wanted to try it because apparently Stephen Fry likes them :p it was actually a really great massage! The hot stones burnt a bit at the start but you get used to them very quickly. The cold stones were very infrequent and a little uncomfortable but knowing its good for your body, you just deal with it. We both really enjoyed it, even when they put little hot stones between your toes! My favorite massage overall.

On the last day of our time in Bali we had our last massage. Since Harry had raved about the signature massage I said lets do that one together. Something relaxing, no pain, just something peaceful. But hey. Just my luck. I got a newbie. This lady had no idea what she was doing most of the time, pausing the talk to Harry's masseuse every few minutes. I tried to enjoy most of it but found myself a little frustrated. So thats our massages covered!

Breakfast was included here even though we had our own kitchen so al,oat everyday we had the free option. I had frosties (cereal) one day cause I got sick of eggs. But breakfast was delicious, not buffet, you had a menu and could choose whatever. Was very good.

Most of our days were spent swimming in our private pool. It was so hot that you only had to stand in the outdoor kitchen for five minutes before wanting to jump back into the pool. Harry was a water baby, couldn't get him out of the pool if I tried! He got some nice color on him now, I don't think I tanned at all, just lucky that I didn't burn. We went for several walks down the street to the main road which had plenty of shops up and down there. Bought some singlets for h and but of course... A Ralph lauren tee... "only $20 amanda! Usually $40" and apparently it's genuine he says. Bought some other little things as well.

We had some nice meals here in Bali. We got a free breakfast cooked in our own villa by the staff here which was nice :) we also ate out down the street a few times, room service a few times.. We had a really nice BBQ for lunch where the staff came into our villa and cooked it and prepared it all for us...different meats, salad, prawn bisque and ice cream for dessert. It was really nice, they left candles around the pool which we later lit that night when we went for another swim.

My parents are coming to Bali in a month and also are staying in Seminyak at the W resort so one afternoon we went to check out where they were staying. It's easy getting a taxi in bali, you walk down the street and within five minutes you'll get beeped at half a dozen times as the taxis slow down to see if you want a ride. There seems to be a lot of security around guests leaving, and coming and going within villas and other hotels. Besides the car security checks, the security guard who stands at the front of the hotel and helps you cross the busy road if need be...he always makes a note what villa number you are and in the case of visiting the w resort...what taxi number it is and where we are going. The taxi ride took about 20 minutes with a lot of traffic on the roads.

The W resort was amazing. You drive down this super long entrance with just greenery around you and some fountains whilst on this cobblestone road. The entrance is huge and open with a bar and lounge area. We walked down to the pool area and wow! So modern, so huge, just really beautiful. It was also right on the beach with little private lounges on the sand. It looked incredible. My parents picked well. We walked around the resort, checking out the spa (which was so expensive compared to ours) and then relaxed near the bar. There was a chess/checkers board where we played checkers about five times, Harry come out on top...only just! Just before we set to leave, we saw my dads friend who my dad has told me was there With his family. It was a big coincidence we saw him as the place is huge. We spoke to him for a few minutes then caught a taxi back to the villas. Our taxi driver straight away told us it was a minimum of 25,000 rupiahs which is $2.50. He kept repeating it and we kept saying ok ok. We had paid 29 thousand or $2.90 on the way there - so cheap compared to Melbourne!! I just had a feeling about this guy being shifty so when we arrived at our hotel, Harry paid with a 50,000 note and the driver gave back a handful of 5,000's. Without even getting out of the car I told harry to count it. He'd given us short change. Realizing we had noticed, he reluctantly gave over the rest. We've found that you get short changed here a lot, even overseas overall a lot. The other day when we got sunscreen it was by 500 rupiah, sounds a lot but it was only fifty cents so you let those go.

We are leaving tonight for Melbourne, home sweet home, a 5 hour 30 minute flight. We are going to jimbaran bay to have a beautiful dinner on the beach to mark our very last dinner on the trip :) then we head to the airport for our last overnight flight!

The people in Bali are so friendly, almost too friendly, it's always "excuse me mister harry' 'excuse me miss amanda'. But Bali has been great. The perfect way to end an absolutely amazing, incredible holiday. We have loved every minute of our 81 day around the world holiday. From when our rickshaw broke down in prague in the middle of the main road, to the flight to new York when the lady in front of us changed her babies diaper right there for all to smell. Thanks for reading our blog, we know they must have been dull at least sometimes... Our new York blogs have hit over 1200 views which has surprised us a lot and our blog about Anne franks house 'Amsterdam to cologne' got featured on this blog website for everyone to see on the home page! Anyway, we will never forget this trip, it's been amazing, until next time.... :)

Amanda and Harry :)
Xxx

Photos

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Posted by Harryandamanda 23:23 Comments (1)

Goodbye Paris

Goodbye Europe

Another full day of sightseeing for us, today is our last day of using the Museum Pass until it expires, so big day of sights and plenty of museums to make the pass worthwhile. Paris is so big with so many things to see and do, it’s impossible to fit it all in, I suppose at the end of the day you can only see what you have time to see, no point rushing around and stressing about it all. We also have on the agenda today the football game and Amanda has a massage booked for around three.

We started our day early, leaving the hotel just before nine, we headed to the Notre Dame, our hotel is in walking distance to the cathedral, so no metro required. It was still dark when we left for the Notre Dame, the sun just coming up for the day, it was quite chilly out, hopefully it will warm up later on.

We arrived at the Notre Dame, it’s massive compared to the surrounding buildings, along the way we past some pedestrian bridges with love locks, where couples write/engrave there names onto the lock and lock it onto the bridge and throw the keys into the river, the whole bridge had thousands of locks locked onto it. With the morning sunrise, we entered the huge cathedral, having seen many cathedrals, it didn’t stand out as much, compared to the ones we had seen, but it was still beautiful. Really huge and beautiful.

From the Notre Dame we headed to another church, much smaller when compared to the Notre Dame, the church is called “Saint Chappelle” and it was tiny, two rooms and that’s it. It was such a beautiful church, one of the best we have visited, with detail everywhere, the massive stained glass windows covered the walls, with great detail and so much colour, the room was just littered with colour and light. It was such a stunning church, unfortunately one wall had current restorations on at the time, a must visit when visiting Paris.

With two churches out the way, it was time to get our art on. We made our way on foot to the Louvre, second time round, since failing to make it before it closed last night. We noticed when walking into the entrance of the Louvre that it was much prettier at night, in saying that though, it is beautiful both night and day. We dropped off our coats and bags at the cloakroom and made our way in. The Louvre is huge, just massive, both of us being not big art lovers, we just came to see the famous pieces, mind you while walking through the Louvre we probably missed famous art works heaps of times and not even known. We saw the major attractions: the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo, the museum is easy to get lost in, as we did once or twice.

With being on our feet all morning, Amanda was tired so we walked back to the hotel so she can rest and go to her massage which would be soon, while Amanda rested, I went out to see some other museums. Once Amanda was back at the hotel I headed back out to the Pantheon, which was close to us in the Latin Quarter of Paris. On my own, I was very cautious trying not to get lost, which was a failure, I got lost on the way, taking a long route to get there. Once I did get there, the building stuck out like a sore thumb, just looked as though it didn’t belong there. Going inside, it was huge and the dome on the roof was massive. There was a very cool crypt underneath, which everyone seemed to be missing; it was very well lit, making it almost eerie.

Leaving the pantheon I got very lost and took a massive detour through the Latin Quarter back to the Notre Dame. Once arriving at the cathedral, it was roped off with police tape, and no one was allowed in, as some ceremony was going on, luckily we went this morning was my thought. In front of the Notre Dame is a museum, the “Crypte archéologique “. You have to walk down steps, where the museum is located underground, containing old remains of Paris from the 18th century.

Back onto the streets of Paris, I followed the Seine, looking at the beautiful buildings along the way and the few vendors selling souvenirs such as paintings, books, mementos etc. Eventually it led me to the Musee D'orsay an amazing museum offering a massive collection of Vincent Van Gogh, paintings by him such as Starry Night, The siesta and his self portrait. Also on offer in the museum, is the painting Whistlers Mother, many might know from the Mr. Bean movie, I didn’t have to sneeze luckily when viewing the painting.

Getting close to the time I should head back, as Amanda will have completed her massage and we had the pool booked after it, I quickly made my way to the last museum for the day, Musée de l'Armée. The museum boasted a massive military exhibition, from major battles to both world wars, as well as Napoleon’s tomb. When arriving to the museum, there was a great view of the canons on display as well as the Eiffel tower in the background. Cutting it close until I had to get back I quickly had a look at the World War Two exhibition on display, and it was fantastic, the best one I have seen so far. With a great display of weapons, the attacks made, the uniforms, it was really well done. After making my way through the exhibition I quickly went and viewed napoleon’s tomb. The room it was located in was massive, with a great big drop in the middle in the shape of circle, and in it was this massive marble tomb.

Making my way back to the hotel, I was cutting it close, rushing back as fast as I could, I covered a fair bit of ground, and got there just in time, well fifteen minutes late but still. Amanda enjoyed her massage but wasn’t the best one she had so far. The spa area of the hotel is really quite nice, from the ground floor you have to walk down a long flight of stairs, then enter a room that’s dark, lit with mostly candles, it’s very tranquil, the pool is tiny though, so just good for a quick dip and that’s it really.

After having a bit of swim, we headed back up to the room and slowly showered and got ready, we had some dinner in and then made our way out again to catch the train to the football game. We had to catch two trains there, the first train wasn’t packed but the second was, luckily we only had to spend one or two stops on this carriage until we arrived. When arriving we followed the crowd from the station to the stadium. When entering the stadium we got the usual pat down and search through your bag, we had our metal Kathmandu drink bottle on us, they informed us we couldn’t take it in as we could throw it and hit someone. So we had to leave it at the counter where we could pick it up after the game.

It was PSG’s first game back from the winter break, versing Ajaccio it should have been an easy win for them, that’s what it seemed liked in the first half, with many frustrating misses by the side. As usual the key striker in the team Ibrahimovic did what he does best and played a lazy style of football, showing minimal effort (as you probably can tell I don’t rate him as a player that much, Amanda took one look at him and agreed). The stadium crowd reach 42,008 people, giving a hell of a lot of noise, but as the second half proceeded it failed to do so, as the home side started to play sloppy and unattractive football. With a red card handed to Thiago Motta the Parisian side now faced Ajaccio with ten men, allowing the game to open up, Ajaccio players had more of a chance for goals but didn’t capitalize. The game wound up in a disappointing performance by PSG, in a goal-less draw.

Heading home from the game proved to be not as much as a nightmare from what we experienced in Munich, we intended to get a taxi back, but this once again was a challenge. We could not find any taxi’s and headed to the metro thinking it would packed, but surprisingly it wasn’t, and was easier then we thought to get back to the hotel where we crashed for the night.

With a massive day down and out the way in Paris, as well as our Museum Passes having expired, we both woke up the next day so tired and lethargic, we planned to go out later, but decided we were too tired, so having a rest was in order. The rest of our time in Paris was spent not sightseeing but just relaxing, staying in the room, and going out every now and then, sometimes to the spa, looking at the little shops, along the way. Our time in Europe slowly came to a draw; it has been such a massive trip, it was sad to say good bye, but both now looking forward to relaxing and doing nothing at all for our time in Bali. We caught a flight on our last day at 12pm, meaning we had to be at the airport three hours before, it was going to be a long twelve hour flight to Kuala Lumpur then from there a smaller three hour flight to Bali. Good bye Europe.

Photos:

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Amanda planning on the map

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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St. Chapelle

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One of those love lock bridges

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The Louvre

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The Pantheon

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Secret photos of Van Goghs work

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Outside the army museum

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The world war 2 exhibition

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Napoleons Tomb

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The PSG Game

Posted by Harryandamanda 21:59 Archived in France Comments (0)

Big day in Paris

After a day of travelling, arriving into Paris and one day spent at Disneyland, we now have a full day of sightseeing, we have a list of what we can get done today, well what we aim for. First item for the day is the Eiffel Tower; we are catching the ever-so-reliable Paris metro system to get there, with two changes along the way. The weather is not fantastic today but we will make the most of it and do what we can.

Once we were ready to leave this morning, we caught the metro, changing to another line, and then arriving at our required stop. While walking from the metro station to the Eiffel tower, which is conveniently directed to you by the use of arrows from the station, we stumbled upon the Australian Embassy. Amanda was puzzled to why I would be taking more photos of the Australian flag and the sign instructing the embassy is in a particular direction, instead of the Eiffel tower, which had just some into view.

It was a very foggy day, the top of the tower was caught in the clouds and it was spitting occasionally. The line to purchase the tickets to make your way up was not long, which was a nice surprise, from what I have heard and read on the Internet, the lines at the tower can be notoriously long. After a short time in line, we eventually made it to the front and purchased our tickets. Two elevators take you to the top, the first stopping in the middle, the second taking you right to the very top.

When we reached the top there wasn’t much to see, not much to see at all, it was only when the clouds moved past when you got a glimpse of hectic Paris down below. With not much to see at the top, we did the walk around and headed down to the lower platform, which was below the clouds. From the lower platform there was a much better view on display. We watched the traffic of the streets for a while, while walking to the tower, we noticed a massive amount of taxis driving at a slow pace, escorted by the police. Now with the view from the tower we had a clear view of the taxis blocking the traffic on one of the bridges below, it was quite entertaining.

After our entertainment from the taxis and the view, we had some lunch at the top from their canteen area. Not a lot of options on offer and a bit of a wait, not because of the line but the massive order of the person in front of me. The view from the tower was really good, couldn’t imagine how much better it would be on a clear sunny day from the top. Once getting back down to the ground we ticked the Eiffel tower off the list and made our way to another Parisian must see: the Arc De Triomphe.

So back on the metro, towards our stop, our time spent in Paris… I don’t think we have had to wait longer than ten minutes for a train, now that I think about it I don’t think we have had to wait ten minutes either, our longest would have been probably around seven minutes, god why can’t we do that back in Melbourne. Once at our stop, we walk up out of the subway and onto the top of Champs Elysees, then down stairs again underground, under the busy traffic to the entry of the Arc.
Once at the window for ticket entry into the Arc, we notice that with a Museum Pass it was free entry to the monument, something we had originally planned on purchasing, we decided to buy it today. The pass offered free entry to many, many museums, different prices for the number of days you can make the pass valid for. We opted to have the pass valid for two days, as it suited our pockets better money wise, also we could get what we want to see within those two days and still make the pass a money saver.

With our pass purchased and our details filled onto the pass, we made our way to the top. Here is a free hint about the passes, you fill in the details, even the date from when you validate the pass, so I suggest if you are in Paris long enough, buy the Pass for two days, but use it on a day that ends in a one that way you can use it for the first of what month, then the second, have a rest and turn that first into a fourth and you have your extra two days for free. I thought of this too late, so not sure if we could have done that but would have been good if we did.

We made our way to the top of the arc, there are many steps to the top, once getting there we took a moment to sit and have some water from the little work out. The view from the top was very cool, with the bus streets below and all the roads connecting to the one roundabout, we took our time up there and made our way around taking photos. When walking down we both counted how many steps there were, once at the bottom without either of us revealing what we had once finishing counting, we asked a staff member how many steps there were. I cannot remember the official number, but we both were had the same number although we were off by ten, so that made us think that maybe the staff member we had asked was wrong.

Now for what they call in French the most beautiful avenue in the world, we started our massive walking adventure for the day, with walking down Champs Elysees. We stopped off early in the walk down the strip to sit down at one of the many cafes located on the street. As we walked down further we made our way into a Mercedes shop, having three vintage cars on display. Next shop was H’n’M which Amanda and I don’t agree on, I say we spent nearly an hour there, where she believes otherwise. Anyways after walking around the shop as a human hook to place the coat hangers on for clothes for Amanda to try on, we eventually got out of there with Amanda getting some nice new clothes.

Both tired from H’n’M as it was just so hectic and stuffy in there with a really big sale on, we walked our way down towards the end. We found the PSG (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.) boutique shop; we strolled through and found the ticket counter for tomorrow’s game against AC Ajaccio, both excited for the game now, which is tomorrow night. Kick off time is around nine and we have tickets for the second level. With the boutique located towards the end of the strip of shops, we kept walking down the streets, towards the Louvre. We had researched earlier that the Louvre closed late tonight. It was a really long walk, exhausting! We saw all the closed christmas markets which we would have loved to have been open. A delicious hot dog or crepe or chocolate covered anything would have hit the spot.

Paris gets even more beautiful at night, when reaching the Louvre it was beautifully lit up in the lights, such a beautiful amazing city. When getting to the Louvre, making our way through the sellers trying to sell you some french souviners df and taking some photos of me pretneding to be Robert Langdon from the Da Vinci Code.

When inside we were informed that the Louvre was actually closed, that we actully got the day mixed up and that it stays open later on a different day. With that news, most musuem closed and tired from our full day out, we made our way back to the hotel, continiuing our massive walk there. Our walk took ages together but we evetually made our way back, stopping at the supermarket to get some food for dinner, just some simple pasta with some stir through sauce. A big day of seeing things and some shopping in Paris, had such a good day, Paris is just wow, lives up to the expectations that is placed on to it. Another big day tomorrow, using the musuem pass purchased today to its full extent and getting out moneys worth out of it.

Photos:

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the metro station

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Eiffel Tower

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taxi strike

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Arc de triomphe

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harry going crazy...again

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Champs Elysees

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PSG Shop

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the louvre

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harry relaxing after a long day

Posted by Harryandamanda 06:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris - Disneyland

Today was our first full day in Paris and we were really excited to be here. We hadn’t exactly planned what we would do today but we were going to finalize it during breakfast. We headed downstairs to the breakfast room, which was basically in a massage room of the spa area. It was tiny. Probably the worst choice and variety we had seen on our entire 81-day journey so far. Harry had some pastries and such, and I was planning to go back to the room and just have cereal: Frosties, my new favourite cereal on the trip.

We started planning how many days we had in Paris and our options for what to do on which day. We had a few things locked in our schedule such as the PSG game (Paris-Saint-Germain soccer game) on the Friday night as well as a massage booked for Friday. We decided to use the 2 day Museum Pass on weekdays as we thought the weekend would be busier. So out of the blue, at the last minute, we came to the conclusion that we had to go to Disneyland today! The reason was, our museum pass had to be used in two consecutive days; it was Wednesday today meaning either Wednesday and Thursday OR Thursday and Friday. Friday we had the massage booked and the soccer game so we realized we had to go to Disneyland today to get the most out of the week.

So with Harry super excited to be going to another theme park we quickly packed a day bag, got our tickets and left for Disneyland. We found our nearest metro station, Odeon, went down the stairs to the station and tried to buy tickets. You’d think getting metro tickets would be easy, but no, there were so many different options such as 3-6 day passes. Even one of the metro staff came and helped us, advising us on a different option every few minutes. We ended up just buying a day pass, it wasn’t cheap though, 30 euros, only because we were going to the outermost zone.

The train ride wasn’t too bad, only 40 minutes, we arrived at the park around 11:30am but weren’t too concerned at how late we’d arrived as the park didn’t close until 7pm so we had plenty of time. We had tickets for both the Disneyland park and the one across from it. As we got out of the metro station it was absolutely freezing. One of the coldest days we’d ever experienced on our holiday. Harry wasn’t dressed very warmly, being only in a hoodie, and I had a jumper and my big jacket on and I was still incredibly cold.

We decided to go to the Walt Studio park across from Disneyland first as it was smaller and we thought we would get that out of the way. Harry started looking at souvenir shops to find an extra jacket or jumper to warm him up but as we expected, it ended up being expensive. We walked through the entrance to the Walt Studio park and it looked amazing. It was all-undercover at the start, like a hall, with food shops on either side as well as souvenir shops. The entrance looked a lot like a studio, as well as the inside.

We got some food as it was about lunchtime and then headed for the rides. The first ride we went to was an Aerosmith ride. You couldn’t see the actual ride so we read the description and it sounded like a rollercoaster type ride with loops. I decided not to go on it even after repetitive convincing from Harry. I waited outside for what seemed like ages as it was freezing, finally he came out and had loved it. Apparently it was really lucky I didn’t go on because it had flashing lights and loud music and just threw you around and was intense…something not so great for my migraine situation!

After walking around a bit more we found that most of the rides were closed, probably because it was winter and everything seems to always be closed or under construction at this time. The second ride we came to was the tower of terror, it was identical to the one in the California Adventure park in L.A. and Harry had loved it last time so he set off to go on again. As soon as we got to the ride there were two guys dressed in outfits as if they were hotel employees, like a porter or something. We hadn’t even gone near the line to the ride, we were about to sit on the chairs on the other side of the pathway, when all of a sudden one of the dressed up guys for the ride walks all the way over and stands less than a metre in front of harry. And he just stares. Stares and smiles. For about ten seconds he does this without talking or anything. Harry and I just look at each other with no idea what’s going on. Then the guy puts his hand out to shake Harry’s hand still smiling and staring into his eyes, he hasn’t even looked at me for a second. Harry shook his hand and then the guy, somewhat reluctantly looks at me and shakes my hand as well, then he turns to his friend on the other side of the pathway, smiles really broadly, raises his eyebrows, turns back to us, smiles and stares at harry some more, then walks back to his post at the entrance to the ride. It was the weirdest thing. The only possible explanation is that he obviously liked the look of Harry and wanted to get closer! I think I definitely have some competition… I tried to get a photo of him inconspicuously while Harry was on the ride, but just as I tried to he swapped shifts with another employee. It was pretty funny, I teased Harry for the rest of the day about it!

Despite his little boyfriend, Harry loved the tower of terror, he might not admit it but his fear of elevators definitely came into play as the ride is basically you sitting in an elevator and it just goes up really high and closes and drops. After that we went back to the entrance of the Walt Studio theme park and looked some more at the souvenir shops. I got a nice Disney breakfast type bowl and I think H got a mug.

So then we moved onto the Disneyland theme park, having only recently been to the Los Angeles Disneyland we knew what to expect and we had high expectations. We walked through the entrance and straightaway saw the big castle that is the entrance into one if it’s lands: Fantasyland. We both agreed that the castle was much better here in Paris Disneyland than L.A’s, it was more recently done by the looks of it and looked more authentic. We started walking down the famous main street USA whilst a parade was going on, we just walked behind it with others and got lots of looks!

We stopped at a bakery and got a tea and coffee as it was absolutely freezing outside. As we got our drinks the cashier asked if we were Australian and if we were on holidays back in Australia as she’d seen several other Australian families around today. The drinks warmed us up and we set off in search of our first ride. Honestly, we didn’t know where to start! We went to Frontierland first and saw the main Riverboat just about to leave, so with a super quick decision we thought lets just jump on that. Little did we know it was a 20 minute ride around the river… not the most entertaining thing in the world but it gave Harry the opportunity to get some good photos whilst I tried to warm up in the little room on the top deck. There was a ride called the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster, which, to our surprise, was actually in the center of the river therefore what we were effectively circling. We couldn’t see an entrance to it anywhere such as a bridge leading to the middle of the river so we were a bit puzzled how to get there but figured we would work it out later.

After the riverboat ride finished we rushed ahead of a large group to the Phantom Manor, which was similar to the haunted house in Los Angeles Disneyland. It was the same concept; a small little carriage type thing and you just spun around in your carriage and saw ghosts… not a very thrilling ride. So in need of some excitement we went in search of how to get to the Big Thunder Railroad rollercoaster in the centre of the river. I had a look on the map and saw the entrance wasn’t in the middle of the river where the ride was situated but on the same side as we were standing. So we found the entrance, lined up, as usual the line you don’t choose always goes quicker, so after a half hour of waiting we finally got on. It was a really good rollercoaster, same as the L.A one, but yeah really good. The ride actually went into a cave below the river and came up in the middle of the river, which solved our mystification.

We moved along to Adventure Land in search of the Indiana Jones ride. We got lost in some sort of caves and went through some character’s tree house and bridge still searching. Once we figured out where to go we quickly went toilet and when I came out I found Harry on the phone to my dad. So he passed the phone over and immediately I thought oh no what’s wrong! But apparently the hotel we are staying at called my mum’s mobile asking if we were still attending our 5pm Pool booking at the hotel!! What the! At our hotel, it’s absolutely ridiculous; you have to book to use the pool, this tiny pool that they call a spa. So we booked it yesterday, not realizing we would be at Disneyland and actually miss it. But for whatever reason, they called my mum, as I must have written down her number. My mum had no idea and just said that she would think we would still go so keep the reservation. So stupid!

So after that we found the Indiana Jones ride. There is an Indiana Jones ride in Los Angeles Disneyland and it’s a really good one, more of a family ride but some bumps and drops that are good. So that’s what I was expecting. That particular ride had been closed when we’d gone to L.A earlier in the holiday but I’d been previously with my parents and sister. However, this ride was completely hidden, you could see it was a rollercoaster but you couldn’t see what it did. I couldn’t see if it had any really high drops or loops or anything. I’ve always avoided 360 degree loops and never been on one… Anyway, with Harry convincing me and my dad having said to me just to go on the ride for him, I thought what the hell I’ll just do it. So we walked through and there was basically no line, we were on the next cart to go. Just before we got called up to go on the ride I saw this teenage girl who was about to go on, she backed away and said she didn’t want to do it and she did an action with her hand signaling a 360 degree loop. I thought oh crap. But I just kept telling myself she was wrong, there’s no way she could see it or know. As my luck would have it, we were in the first carriage of the ride…IN THE FRONT SEAT. I was petrified! Even today, I can’t believe I went on that ride. As soon as we started ascending Harry had looked to the right and had seen a huge 360-degree loop. He assumed I’d seen it and asked if I was scared. Luckily I hadn’t seen it, I hadn’t looked around at all, I was basically scared stiff and just staring ahead of what was about to come. The ride was awesome though, amazing. And the loop, I only realized there was a loop once we were in it! The ride really threw you around and it was a really awesome ride, probably the best at the park by far.

We headed through the castle entrance of Fantasyland to the ‘It’s a small world’ ride. The line was quick thankfully, and it was a family ride but still a nice one. You basically sit in a little boat and you go through rooms with different country after different country. The song definitely gets stuck in your head though. Afterwards we went on the ‘Snow White’ kids ride, which we felt like fools for going on but it was a nice little kids ride. We got some hot drinks again as it started pouring down with rain. We continued on though, heading for Discovery land. Harry went on the Star Tours ride, basically a Star Wars simulator; he said it was identical to the one in L.A, just as boring. I got some food and sat down whilst Harry got a fast pass for Space Mountain Mission 2 – a fast pass allows you to come back at a certain time of the day and skip all the lines and get straight on. So he went on that 4 times as it was raining and I think a lot of people had left.

We headed back to the Indiana Jones ride and Harry went on another 2 times, and as the rain got heavier we headed out of the park to Downtown Disney – a little section with restaurants and souvenir shops just outside of the parks. We ate at Planet Hollywood, had a look through a few Souvenir shops, caught the metro 40 minutes home and went back to the hotel and crashed for the night, ready for another huge day tomorrow!

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Posted by Harryandamanda 05:30 Archived in France Comments (0)

Strasbourg to Paris

Our last travel day by train today, finally we leave the trains behind us, no more stupid seat reservations, no more sorry but the train is full. However, in saying so, the train system in Europe is just amazing, it makes it so easy to get from place to place, with the one or two delays we have had along the way, most of the time they are on time, comfortable, and it’s a great way to see Europe, with some amazing views from some destinations. The views we have had when leaving Switzerland, Chamonix, Cologne… picturesque mountains covered in snow to small little German villages on the water. Another thing that would not be missed is getting on the train and searching for a spot to put that suitcase!!!! I will not miss that!!!!

Our last train trip wasn’t long, only being around two hours at most, it was a morning train departing at ten sixteen, arriving at one of Paris’ many train stations. We walked to the train station from our hotel, we already had reserved our tickets yesterday making it easy to just find the platform and jump on board. We arrived in Paris around twelve o’clock and caught a cab to our hotel. We had our first taste of the Parisian rudeness with our taxi driver, who in the end turned out to be friendly when he got his money.

He dropped us off on the street our hotel was on but in the wrong spot, we asked a hotel where it was and found it with no trouble. The hotel we stayed at was called the Prince Regent Spa & Hotel; it was near the Notre-Dame area, close to the metro station Odeon. The hotel offered apartment styled rooms, with a kitchenette, T.V and modern style. We had booked for the nicer room but for the first night had to sleep in a different room as the nicer room wasn’t unavailable but only for the first night. We got to our room and it was very nice, very modern, not huge but comfortable, it was only for one night anyways. They explained to us that if you would want to use the pool which they kept to referring to as a spa, don’t know why as it was just a small pool, you will need to book it in advance as it is a small area and they can’t have many people down there at once, this provided to be very annoying later on.

We got settled into our room, jumped on the Internet to organize our stay in Paris, the map for Paris compared to the places we visited was ridiculous, it is just such a massive place and so many things to see. We sorted out everything that we wanted to see, the usual sights, other things suggested on trip advisor, scanning through other websites and their suggestions and all the passes available. The Paris Pass, offering free entry into museums and sights as well as public transport, and a museum pass, offering free entry and discounted entry to museums in Paris were two passes we looked into. By the time you sort out if the pass saves you money and if you actually want to see the things that the pass gives you free entry to, it was around three in the afternoon. We decided the Paris pass wasn’t worth it and we’d lose out, whereas if we had two huge days of sightseeing…then the Museum pass would save us 30 euros or so.

With our sightseeing organized, we headed out to buy some groceries for the room. We also found advertised on the Disneyland brochure supplied by the hotel, that if you buy the Disneyland ticket through the hotel it is a cheaper rate. So we asked about it on our way out, and the receptionist suggested that we visit a store called ‘fnac’ on the main street as they sell Disneyland tickets at a better price. We got our directions and set out to get the tickets first and then get some food from the supermarket, we got so lost, we didn’t bring a map and thought we could just wing it, we went every way possible, and eventually found it by asking a random lady in a chocolate shop. We got our tickets from fnac which turned out to be a huge electronics store that also had a ticket stand for shows and events including Disneyland tickets. We then got groceries and headed back to the room to make some dinner, we bought some pasta and stir through sauce which was easy and cheap.

We have a big day tomorrow, seeing Paris, we are not one hundred percent sure on what we will be seeing or doing, but we have our days pretty much mapped out with what we should do on each day, we think we will go to the Eiffel tower tomorrow as well as doing other things around that area. Looking forward to seeing it all, as it is such a beautiful city, one of the cities that just lives up to its reputation. Planning to have an early night so we have lots of energy for tomorrow.

No photos for this day!

Posted by Harryandamanda 21:38 Archived in France Comments (0)

Strasbourg

Last night we made it into Strasbourg, our second last town in Europe, it’s so close to the end now, it has been a long trip, both of us are looking forward to Paris and Bali. Today we have a full day, with a couple of things on our list to go do; we started our day around nine thirty making our first stop at Petite-France, an area in Strasbourg that has these old buildings typical of an Alsacien (the region which Strasbourg is located within France) period.

We made our way on foot to Petite-France and once getting there it did not let it self down, it was such a picturesque place, the old housing, the cobble stone streets, the little bridges going over the water, a very pretty little area. Smaller towns like this seem to be quieter now, with Christmas and New Years truly out the way, more and more cafes and shops have closed up for the winter break. Shops closing up provide its positives and negatives: the towns are more quiet and a relaxed environment, whereas on the negative: it makes it harder to find places to eat, and if you do want to go into a store where you see something in the shop window, mostly likely it’s closed.

After having a stroll through Petite-France, we followed the water until arriving to the Musée Alsacien. The museum was not really meant to be a stop, as we had gone through on what to do and see in Luxembourg yesterday while eating lunch, I think this stop was bookmarked on the iPad as a joke. Seeing that we were there now, the entry was something like three euros each and hey, who doesn’t want to say that they have seen the Alsacien Museum in Strasbourg. We made our way inside through the museum that described the way the house was built, to the way they lived and dressed, it wasn’t that bad, was interesting to a certain extent. Amanda thought it was a bit of a waste of time…

Once our brain was full of knowledge on the Alsacien life, we found a little café, stopping for an espresso and tea, with our next place on the agenda being the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. The cathedral is located in the great big main square in the town, with the Palais Rohan being located in the square as well. The Notre-Dame was huge and over powered every building surrounding it in the city, the façade had great detail in sculpture. Contrary to the outside, the inside of the church had less detail, with giant pillars leading up to the very high ceiling, it was a very pretty church. The Palais Rohan contained three art exhibitions, but we decided not to go in as admission was expensive. The main square had two sections, the first smaller section was in the front entrance of the cathedral, it had souvenir shops surrounding it, the other section was on the side of the church and was the entrance to the Palais Rohan. The second section seemed as the better section of the square, but seeing most things we visit so far have been under construction, the whole section was blocked off and under construction.

We browsed through a couple of souvenir shops, buying a sticker, I tried on a couple of the hats on offer, I looked like a fool. We found a restaurant that was cheap and offered pretty much everything. It was right off the main square and was busier than the other restaurants. Amanda had the steak and chips while I had the chips and sausages; both were nice and filling for the rest of the day’s activities. After staying in the restaurant for a while and resting, we headed back out onto the streets to make our way to a little church we found on trip advisor that had great reviews.

Whilst walking there we got a bit lost, it wasn’t as close as the other things we had visited today, but we were heading that way for the other sights anyway. Whilst walking we came across some buildings, we weren’t sure what they were but thought they might be their courthouses. They were spectacular, across the river these buildings were huge with amazing architecture. So thanks to my misguiding directions we saw another beautiful area of Strasbourg, in saying that, once we did find the location of the church bookmarked on the map, it wasn’t a church at all, it was just some building, we both couldn’t stop laughing when finding out that it was just some random building.

Around the corner from the random building was Strasbourg’s opera theatre “Opéra National du Rhin”. There were trees that led to the building; it was a beautifully designed building with huge detailed sculptures all over the building. From here we walked to the Palais Rohan, I should explain, when looking up the location of Palais Rohan yesterday, it came up with two locations, the first was the one we have already visited and the second being here, so thought why not visit both seeing as both locations were near other sights. We walked to the so called Palais Rohan, as you did, you entered a small park area, which had a monument in the middle, with Palais Rohan on the left, which we found out was a university and the right had some other building but looked important. Both buildings were really huge and like all the older buildings in Strasbourg so far, were quite spectacular.

On the busy main road we caught a taxi to a main park called “ Park Orangerie”, it wasn’t too far, less than ten minutes and only cost something like five euros. The taxi driver dropped us off at the park entrance, there was a building with a restaurant there, so both of us needing to go toilet thought about getting something to drink so we can use the toilet. Peeping through the window though there seemed to be some sort of function on, also in the same building before the entrance to the restaurant was a bowling alley, tempted to go, but decided not to last minute. We walked into the park and were greeted by a great big beautiful lake, as well as a beautiful toilet sign, the toilets in Europe are amazingly clean, generally speaking.

The park was really beautiful, the lake was nice, we sat down and just people watched for a bit as well as dog watching. We went up to the lake and a dog came up to us, both of us taking the opportunity to pat it. We walked through the park, we found out later that the park offers a small free zoo but hadn’t seen it while walking around. As we strolled the course of the park we came to the end, where the European Parliament was, well it wasn’t the actual parliament, it was one of the EU’s building’s, can’t remember the name of it, the parliament was situated behind it across the water. By now Amanda was tired from all the walking, but I wanted to find it, we tried to walk behind the building and see it, but after walking in circles we couldn’t find it so called it quits and pretended that this EU building (that had all the EU nations flags in the front) was of importance and headed back to the hotel via taxi.

That was all the sightseeing for the day, it was now around four or so in the afternoon, when we got back we rested our legs for a bit, then checked the train times online, after picking what train time we wanted to catch for the next day, I headed to the station to set our seat reservations. I say if anyone decides to go to Europe and travel via Europe’s extensive train network, book the seat reservations first through your travel agent, it would make things so much easier. When I got to the train station there was a massive line, waiting in line for at least twenty minutes until getting served. The train we wanted was full and had no seats left for holders of the Eurail pass, so we had to go for the earlier train, which wasn’t that bad, only an hour earlier and luckily we got a train.

After getting our reservations, I got back to the room; Amanda had packed everything up into the suitcase for tomorrow’s departure, I took Amanda’s order for dinner, another cheap dinner of McDonalds. That’s another tip, when it comes to being cheap while travelling; the best meal you can get is mickey dees, usually a meal out in Europe can cost us twenty to twenty five euros each, while maccas can cost us ten euros and that’s with our usual order of fries, vanilla milkshake and plain Sundae for Amanda, Big Mac, a random burger that is unique to the particular country we are in, six or nine nuggets, fries and a drink for me, so unhealthy but so cheap.

Tomorrow we leave for Paris; it will be our last train trip in Europe, which we both are happy about, very happy about. We have a morning train of ten sixteen, and it only takes around two hours to get there. We both are excited to see Paris, but our time in Europe has nearly drawn to a close, sad to leave and excited to move on.

Photos:

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Petite-france

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the Alsacien museum

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harry going a bit crazy

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As usual, there's construction going on

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Notre-Dame cathedral

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where the so called church was supposed to be...
but clearly wasn't

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a little lost

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the university

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amanda gets excited when she sees a dog
that looks even a little like nala :p

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the lake

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Posted by Harryandamanda 21:24 Archived in France Comments (0)

Luxembourg to Strasbourg

We didn’t have a full day in Luxembourg, so we are leaving late so we can try to see everything possible before catching a late train to Strasbourg today. From what we have seen so far of Luxembourg it seems quite nice, but really all we have seen is the main street we’re on and that’s about it. So today is full of exploring, crossing the bridge over the valley into the main area of Luxembourg and exploring.

The hotel we are staying in is quite nice, it is very modern, nice room, comfy bed, friendly staff, so breakfast seems hopeful here. We did our research last night on what we want to do and see, not a lot to do but there are a handful of things: the cathedral, the main square, the royal palace, the underground and a view point of the town from a bridge. We woke up early headed down to breakfast which had fresh orange juice so Amanda was happy, fresh as it could be, it was one of these machines where you push the lever down to pour juice in the glass, oranges are crushed inside and the juice will flow right into your glass. Scrumptious.

Once ready for the day we had to check out and leave our bags in storage at the hotel reception and start the sightseeing. We left our hotel, walked down the main street and over the bridge like planned into town. While walking it was a ghost town, no one around, very quiet, it was a refreshing change from all the places we’ve visited. Crossing the bridge offered views of this great big valley with a beautiful park below, as well as the old town. The park looked really beautiful, it was quite a big drop down as well; so far Luxembourg has not disappointed us.

We walked to the monument of Remembrance which commemorated the thousands who volunteered for duty in world war one, at the monument there were also great views of the valley and park below, as well as the town on the other side. We found a little souvenir shop there, had a look around and found a sticker to buy for our time there. After a couple of snaps, we walked into the heart of town to try and see the main cathedral “Notre-Dame Cathedral”, this time Amanda was directing us through the confusing streets, but we still couldn’t find the entrance, it was only by pure coincidence that we walked past a church entrance.

The church was like all the other churches although still beautiful and amazing in its own right, but I have written about so many churches I think when you get up to the fifteen millionth one you see or write about it you just can’t think of what to say that you haven’t already said. After the visit to the cathedral we walked further into town making our way through the quiet little pedestrian streets of Luxembourg to the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace was a massive beautiful building in a little square, with a guard out the front, marching every five minutes or so, with a machine gun in his hand.

There was a little café out the front of the Palace; it had a really nice outside area, where we sat down for some coffee. While walking into the café we noticed that one table had a group of three people filming a girl sitting at a table talking to the camera, as we walked in I think we walked right into there shot, as well as opening the door… it just squeaked so loudly we would have had to ruin that shot. So we ordered our coffee and sat outside in the quiet square to look at the palace, be in the sun as it wasn’t that cold today at all and be in the quiet tiny square, it was really peaceful. The table we chose to sit in was, by accident, in the shot of the people filming, Amanda overheard them switching between German and English every now and then, saying that they have been preparing for this for three months, and we just came and sat in there shot.

After relaxing in the peaceful quiet we got up and strolled through the city some more, it was just a really nice sunny day, while walking around I came across a street vendor selling some bracelets, I bought two, Amanda was a little annoyed about it cause she reckons I paid too much for them, as I didn’t haggle as much. We walked through the main square in the town; it was massive with a big monument, and one or two beautiful buildings surrounding it.

We walked back towards the monument as the entrance to the underground city was there; we didn’t see the entrance last time so we looked around, but when we did find it, the sign on the black gate door stated it was closed. Not much else to do, we headed down the valley to the park to walk through it then make our way back up and back to the hotel for some lunch then to our train.

As I said before, the park is in the valley which is well below the city level, which did not make the entrance into the park all that easy to find, not easy at all. We had to walk a bit until we found some stairs that led us down. Once getting down there, it was a really beautiful park, was very clean, and a little stream of water running through it, the valley walls provided you shade from the sun, not that you needed it that much during the winter, but in summer I could imagine it would be very nice.

We just strolled through the park, talked about how it would be really nice to have our doggies here and let them run around. Towards the end of the park there was these little train tracks in a section of the park, and crossing the small train tracks was this little house carved into the rock face of the valleys wall. It was a very scary little house, you couldn’t go inside, but you could peep through the window. Peeping through the window revealed a scary… what seemed like cathedral, we named it the witches’ house, as it is a perfect scary setting for a witch’s house in a movie.

We tried to leave the park now; as we had walked the length of the park, from where we were standing there were two options to go out. The options were to walk up a steep road that we could see eventually lead us into town or we could walk up an extremely steep path that went left to right and so on. We couldn’t be sure of where the winding ramp would lead us but seeing as both options ran up the side of the valley walls and into the town, we were confident that the ramp would be a quicker way to get up to the town. It was a hard walk as it was so steep and once you rounded the corner it went on and on. Once getting to the top, the view it had to offer was just spectacular. After admiring the view our stomachs sunk as we turned around and saw that the exit into the town was blocked! Due to construction going on, a massive fence was put up and you couldn’t exit! I tried to see if you could slip past the fence and just walk through the construction back into town instead of walking down the valley again and back up, but if you do so, it seemed as though you had to cross train tracks, so that was not an option.

We regained our breath up there for a bit and stared at the view. After the park finishes, the valley almost bends and there is a little town down there, Amanda and I both were hungry for lunch and Amanda was desperate to use a toilet. We headed back down and walked through the little town in the valley, everything was closed, like most of Luxembourg no shops were open today. This made it hard to find somewhere to eat or even just use a toilet. We found a door that had café written on it, it didn’t seem great or anything but thought we might as well give it a go so Amanda can use the toilet. It didn’t look open either but I pushed the door and it opened, so we walked in. Much to our surprise there was a family, mother, father and a son watching Chuck Norris in French, while eating their lunch, we asked if Amanda could use their toilet and gave them fifty euro cents to do so. When Amanda went to the toilet I was stuck there while they ate their food which smelt and looked delicious by the way, I just stood there awkwardly while they watched and ate there lunch.

We couldn’t find anywhere for lunch in the little section in the valley so we made our way up, this time we found a lift that takes you right to the top, much more easier to get out of the valley with. We walked back to our hotel and grabbed some subway on the way and ate it at the hotel bar, while eating we surfed the web on the iPad looking at what there is to do in Strasbourg, our next destination. We had around an hour to spare after eating until we needed to get to the station and catch our train, there was a big electronics shop next to our hotel so we had a look around that for a while, playing on the equipment. When entering the shop, they had lockers where you could store your stuff, but you needed a euro coin as a deposit to use the locker, but I didn’t have one, so I asked the cashier if I could have a euro coin, but they didn’t understand me and pointed me to someone else, it was really frustrating, one of the towns where we felt the language barrier.

After looking around we headed back to our hotel, grabbed our bags and headed to the station to catch our train to Strasbourg. We still had a little while to wait, so once we found the platform we sat on one of the chairs and played on the iPad, I was really bored so I put music on and sang on the platform looking like a down right weirdo. Finally the train came, we caught the train, the train ride wasn’t too long, and went by quickly. We got into Strasbourg late at night; our hotel was near so we tried to walk to it. We both were happy that another train ride was over and that we don’t have to lug this broken suitcase around much longer. We eventually found the hotel, both tired from the long day, we had takeaway for dinner and just crashed for the night. We have a full day in Strasbourg tomorrow to see all the sights we booked marked on the iPad maps application and then the day after we will leave for Paris where we will be spending our last remaining days in Europe before moving onto Bali.

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Waiting at the train station

Posted by Harryandamanda 20:12 Archived in Luxembourg Comments (0)

Cologne to Luxembourg

Another bloody train, we’re getting close to the end now, close to no more catching trains, we both aren’t going to miss the trains when we are back home. Another travel day for us, leaving Cologne for Luxembourg, not a big day, our train journey takes around three to four hours, the only good time for the day to leave was at midday. We had breakfast downstairs, it was a really nice breakfast at this hotel really nice, yummy food. We had to be out of our rooms around ten o’clock, so after breakfast we packed up the luggage (the suitcase looks like it is ready to die).

We checked out a little later than ten o’clock and took our time, we chilled in the hotel bar for a bit until we had to leave, just surfing the web and writing a blog. This took us right up to the time we had to leave for the train station, we caught a cab to the station, getting there just a bit earlier for the train, better safe then sorry.

The train arrived, we found seats and got comfy for the journey ahead, it got delayed a bit while traveling making the journey even longer now. Not much else to report about the train journey just that it took longer than expected. By the time we arrived in Luxembourg it was late, our hotel was in walking distance. It was an easy entrance to miss; luckily with Amanda’s key observation skills we found the entrance to the hotel, which was a lift on a busy street that said Park Radisson Inn.

We got up into our room and it was a really nice modern room, it was late now to do anything, so we walked down the street to see if anything would be open for dinner, but nothing was. It looked like most shops were closed for the holidays as well. What must have been fate, conveniently a McDonald’s was located right outside our hotel, good for my belly as well as our money. We ate dinner in the room and researched all the things to do for tomorrow, there isn’t a lot to do but we are both looking forward to seeing the town tomorrow. After doing some research, we watched some shows on the laptop, there wasn’t a mini bar in the room, so I had to go downstairs to get a drink as we both got thirsty, while doing so I got some ice cream for us. I got Amanda some chocolate flavored ice cream, coming back to the room she tells me she didn’t really want chocolate ice cream. Sigh. We only have half a day tomorrow to see Luxembourg before catching a train straight on to Strasbourg, France!

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Posted by Harryandamanda 22:58 Archived in Luxembourg Comments (0)

Cologne

Breakfast was surprisingly good here in Cologne, we are staying at a Mercure and have been pleasantly surprised by the hotel, it's been quite nice so far. We had a good breakfast and then decided we would go to the zoo today! We have been thinking about going to a zoo for awhile but have never had the time, however there isn't too much to do in Cologne so we decided to use our full day to go. We caught a taxi, it was only a ten minute drive. Tickets were 10 euros each and the lady at the ticket office told us that she was very sorry but they had no kangaroos here - after finding out we were Australian. Every time someone asks where we are from, they are always surprised and shocked that we are Australian and always tell us how far away Australia is.

We enjoyed walking through the zoo, it was a nice change from cathedrals or buildings that start to look the same after the 20th city you go to. It was a huge zoo. We walked around for an hour or so before heading to the zoo restaurant for lunch. It was a great lunch, buffet style and cheap! We got salad, pasta, potatoes, veggies, sausages... We have missed German food. Probably one of the best foods we've tasted.

We continued wandering around the zoo for the rest of the afternoon. We got stuck at the baboon area, it was so entertaining, I think we were there for fifteen minutes or so just watching. We got a bit lost in the zoo but found the lions and tigers - my favorites. There was probably every animal you could think of...crocodiles, hippos, impalas, giraffes, zebras, it was massive. There was a huge enclosure for the elephants too which was really cool, and it was feeding time so we saw the zookeepers throwing apples and whatnot to them. It was a good day at the zoo. Something different.

We caught a taxi back to the hotel, where I fell asleep and Harry went for a walk around the town. We got some dinner, delicious goulash soup, steak, a bacon soup for Harry as well as a hamburger. We leave tomorrow so our visit to cologne was short and sweet. I'm dreading another 3 hour train ride tomorrow, so sick of train rides by now. But thankfully, and also sadly, we only have two more train rides after tomorrow's one. Then we have a twelve and a half hour flight from Paris to kuala lumpur to enjoy... Ah the joy of traveling.

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Lunch time.. very cheap

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Posted by Harryandamanda 22:56 Comments (0)

Amsterdam to Cologne

Today was probably the quickest and easiest I’ve gotten out of bed early in the entire trip. One reason really…we were going to see the Secret Annexe, which is where Anne Frank’s family hid among others in Amsterdam. We woke up around 8am and quickly packed up our luggage since we were leaving for Cologne at 12:30pm. We went down and enjoyed the lovely buffet breakfast, brought our luggage to the hotel’s storage facility and checked out. We caught the tram once more to Anne Frank’s house and I just prayed there wasn’t a long queue like yesterday. Sure enough, there was a line, but it was only half as long as the day before so that was okay. We stood in line for about 20 minutes maybe, it moved pretty fast, but if you ever think of going… definitely book online and well in advance!

We finally got inside and walked into warehouse area where we watched a short video on what Amsterdam was like back then and Anne’s family. Up the stairs we walked into the offices where people had worked everyday without any clue that two families were living only a level above them. There were more videos and heaps of excerpts from Anne’s diary, there was some cool house models of the two levels that the family hid in as well. After this point, a line formed and it was a slow process walking through the rest of the house, but I liked that because it meant you could really look at everything and appreciate where you were standing. As the line slowly moved, we turned a corner and there was the big bookcase that hid the door to their hideout. That was probably the most amazing part of the whole house, just seeing the bookcase, it was like woah! Sounds silly, but since reading the book and everything, to see it in person was just amazing. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the house so we don’t have any to show.

Once you were through the hidden doorway behind the bookcase we saw Otto, Edith and Margot Frank’s room, there was no furniture but the windows were forced shut and covered thoroughly so that no one could see that somebody was inside. The next room was Anne’s. There were newspaper and magazine clippings glued to the walls of princess’ of royal families, celebrities and other people I didn’t recognize. It was surreal thinking that this was the room where she wrote her diary and all the events she wrote about happened in. There was a bathroom next to her room and then a very steep staircase going up to a second level. The second level was where the second family lived, parents and son. Again, as I went room to room I kept remembering what I’d recently read and what had happened in each room. It was really amazing. We also saw the secret staircase which the families used to sneak downstairs at night or which the people who were helping them hide would sneak up to give them their food rations or tell them information.

So after seeing all the main rooms where they hid, we went through a very modern walkway to more little exhibition rooms that had pages and pages of Anne’s diary all around and excerpts, it was great seeing the actual pages of her diary. There were heaps of videos around too, some particularly interesting ones about Anne from the viewpoint of her school friends who are now pretty old as well as people who knew her at the concentration camp and survived. Most interestingly, was the short video of her father Otto Frank (the only survivor of the residents of the Annexe). He only spoke in it for two minutes, but he talked about how he was very close to Anne and it took him a long time to read her diary, and after reading it he was shocked because he knew nothing of her self-criticism or any of her feelings, as she was such a different person on the outside than what he read in the diary. He finished by concluding that parents don’t really know their children even if they think they do! It was just really interesting how he’d formed that viewpoint and the way he spoke about it.

Anyways, after the house we caught the tram back to the hotel. We had an hour to kill so we sat in the hotel’s bar and just got a coffee – vanilla latte ☺ Even though we had so much time to kill before our train, we still somehow managed to leave only 20 minutes before the train was due to leave, making it a mad rush. We got on all fine, found some seats and waited for the train to reach Cologne. It was meant to be a 2 hour 45 minute train, but with the usual delays it turned into three and a half hours, which might not seem like much longer but it makes such a huge difference, it’s such a drainer. I’m so sick of trains!!

We arrived at Cologne (Köln) at about 5pm, caught a taxi to the hotel as it was too far to walk and have just settled in. Harry’s already gone off to the gym and when he comes back we’ll get some dinner and just look into what we’re going to do tomorrow. We have a full day tomorrow here, Harry’s annoyed cause he thinks there’s nothing to do here but we’ll find something. I’m looking forward to goulash soup with dinner, yum yum, we’ve missed the soups from the eastern European countries, nice to be back in Germany for the third time!

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Despite arriving just after opening
the line was still fairly long

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trying to use up all our coins

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No photos were allowed inside :(

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Coffee time before leaving Amsterdam

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Rushing to the train station

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On the way to Cologne, Germany

Posted by Harryandamanda 21:06 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Amsterdam

Today we woke up around 9am ready for our full day in Amsterdam. We were both really excited to start the day. Usually Harry's more excited than I am but today, I guess it was the Anne frank house being on the agenda that I was really looking forward to. I read her diary when I was about 9 so it's just always interested me a lot. So we headed down to breakfast, buffet breakfast, we both had huge expectations for it as we've been having mostly cereal for a long time due to bad breakfast selections at other hotels but this is the Hilton.. It was a really good breakfast, really good, edible scrambled eggs and pastries and best of all fresh orange juice :)

after breakfast we headed out to our first destination: the red light district. It was a really nice day, the sun was out and everything. Walking along it was strange to see people smoking marijuana just casually on the street. On the way to the red light district we stopped in a big gift shop. Harry bought a green mug that has a little marijuana leaf that turns, which he says he's going to use at the car park for work - the council will love that. Harry bought me a tulip pen, the closest thing to a real one as I was going to get - Amsterdam being known for its tulips. We also bought a sticker as we do from every destination to put in our scrapbook after the holiday.

We continued walking, I am a much better map navigator harry says so I took the reins with direction. We ended up finding Dam square - one of the main squares in the city. It was fairly busy, hot dog stands set up all around much to Harry's delight, there was a big statue on one side and across the tram tracks was the royal palace. It was huge and looked amazing but we decided to continue to the red light district and come back to the square afterwards. We found the district and walked down it along the canal. It was around lunchtime so it didn't seem that dodgy but walking along you saw these stairs leading down into basements or cellars, dodgy looking stores as well as cafes, coffeehouses and restaurants. It didn't feel particularly unsafe but I guess with its reputation you just were on guard a little more. But again, being broad daylight there were heaps of tourists walking up and down and yeah, not as bad as it probably would be at night. We spent another ten or fifteen minutes walking around there before heading to a cafe near the main square to get a coffee and look at our map for what next. We got the iPad out and looked at all the prices for everything we wanted to do and figured out that all the sightseeing alone would cost us 180 euros, which is what.. Over $200 AUD easy. Then there was the problem that a lot of things closed at 4pm or 5pm. So we decided just to play it by ear, and rushed off to the royal palace.

The palace was beautiful, it was huge so we spent a good 45 minutes wandering around. It had these huge beautiful ceilings with paintings and sculptures and at least a dozen rooms with these amazing paintings, chandeliers and just furniture in general. We were surprised to see plasma tvs located in the bedrooms of the palace however :p must have been very technologically advanced for its time! We had little audio guides that were included in the tour, it's always the same though..you make the effort to listen to them for the first half of the palace and then just listen to bits and pieces later as they just go on and on. Harry had an interesting technique though, he wanted to take photos as well as listen to the audio guide, so he didn't simply alternative between the two tasks, no, the audio guide had an orange loop on it so you could hang it around your neck then hold it to your ear when you wanted to listen, so Harry loops the orange string around his head a few times so it's tight and the tape is fixed on his ear so he can use his hands to take photos. Ridiculous. There's a photo of it below so you can see what I mean. I even saw the security guards laughing and looking at him so it was obviously a first for them.

After the palace we walked to Anne Frank's house. I was so excited for this. There was a big church just around the corner from the house and as we came closer to the church we see this line of people just waiting in line standing around. Harry asked whether we should go inside the church and I told him if that was the line for it then no way. I then thought about it and realized there was no way that there would be this massive line for that church. Then it hit me. The Anne frank house was around the corner. This wasn't a line for the church. It was the line for the Anne Frank house! As we turned the corner my heart sank as I saw the line was longer and longer and longer. We only had this one full day in amsterdam, I didn't want to spend most of it standing in line for one place. So we went to the entrance of the house to look at opening hours etc. and I remembered you could buy tickets online, so went to the online ticket door and asked the lady if we bought some online now did we need to print the tickets or could we just show her on the iPad. She said we could show her on the iPad but that it was booked out for today. So we quickly headed to the cafe next door to the house, got a beer and tea and tried to order tickets for tomorrow - we could just go early in the morning before our train to Cologne. But no go. It was booked out for the next day too, our last day in Amsterdam. I was actually devastated, I'd wanted to see the house so bad. So eventually we decided to get up early tomorrow and be there when it opens and hopefully beat some of the queue and just wait as long as it took. If necessary we could always catch the later train at 4:30pm instead of 12:30pm. At least we could still go.

With the house on tomorrows schedule, we saw it was 1pm already and places were closing really soon. The next place on our list was the Van Gogh museum which I thought would be good, but a dilemma came up. With things closing soon we could only make it to one of the two: the van Gogh museum or this Heineken Experience exhibition. Harry really wanted to go to the Heineken exhibition so we gave the museum a miss - we may not have enjoyed it anyway. So we caught a tram straight to the Heineken Experience place. The public transport system is so good everywhere we have been on this holiday. You get to a tram stop and literally every single time the most you have to wait is 6 minutes. They also have a good ticket system, you buy tickets like normal but you touch on and off like a myki. It just makes you wonder how melbourne can get it so wrong.

We got to the Heineken Exhibition, waited in a long line, was fairly pricey -36 euros for both of us. They gave us wrist bands that entitled us to two free beers at the end as well as a bottle opener. Then we had another line to scan our tickets. It was so busy which ruined it a little. The exhibition was good, Harry really enjoyed it, wasn't completely my thing but it wasn't too bad. We went through the brewery rooms, even where they kept some horses! We then found ourselves in a big line for a4D ride in which you were the beer. We waited in line for one hour, it was so slow moving and everyone was just fed up. We finally got on. It was pretty cool, you got heated up by heat lamps and sprayed with water and rocked around as though you were the beer in the fermentation process.

After the ride the rest of the exhibition was much less packed which made it so much more enjoyable. There were little games and interactive things along the way such as putting your name on a beer bottle or being in a music video. Harry had a go at perfecting the right technique for pouring the perfect beer and then there was a bar at the end where you could claim your free beers which was packed and that was the end of the exhibition.

We were exhausted after the exhibition, we ended up spending about an hour and a half to two hours there. We decided to go the really cool cinema they have in Amsterdam and see if there was anything good on in the main cinema. We'd seen photos and it looked awesome. So we caught a tram to the cinema and saw that the only movie being played in the big nice cinema was the hobbit. I liked the lord of the rings movies so I didn't mind seeing it, Harry on the other hand hates them but he decided we should anyway because the cinema looked good. So we only had ten minutes until it started, so I lined up for tickets while Harry went to subway across the road since we were starving and hadn't eaten lunch ( it was 4:10pm at this point). Subway was directly opposite the movies so as we both stood waiting in our own lines, we kept turning around looking at where the other person was at, to see if we could actually make this movie in time. We did, but without lunch since subway ran out of bread. So we bought some popcorn and rushed into the cinema. The cinema was really nice. It was like an opera theatre with two levels of balcony above where we were sitting on the ground floor. The screen was huge with a stage in front of it, the roof and walls had heaps of detail and it was just really cool.

The movie was pretty long, 3 hours I think, Harry seemed to have felt it going slow as he loudly said "thank god!" at the end of the movie whereas it went by pretty quick for me. afterwards we caught a tram back to the room, exhausted. It was a really good day and I liked Amsterdam, Harry says he thinks it's okay, nothing special. Coming back would be good, go to some museums, go see a windmill as Harry's mum suggested :p go for a bike ride, go on a canal ride. So much more we could have done! Anyways, Anne Frank tomorrow, can't wait!! :)

Here are some photos for you:

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Around Amsterdam

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Coffee time, and planning where next

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Harry's lovely fashion accessory

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The palace

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A quick lunch

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The church we thought the long queue was for

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The queue for Anne Frank's House!!

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Trying free wifi to buy tickets online for Anne Frank

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At the Heineken Experience Exhibition

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Waiting in line for this ride took forever
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Harry trying his hand at pouring the perfect beer

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Models

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the sporty section

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Harry giving his after-game interview: see video when we get back for a laugh

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The amazing theatre

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The end of the Hobbit

Posted by Harryandamanda 20:22 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Brussels to Amsterdam

We woke up early, packed our bags and had the average buffet breakfast on offer. We checked out, happy to see there were no problems like when we arrived. It was sad to say goodbye to Brussels but I think we will probably go again one day. It was the day after new years eve celebrations so the streets were completely filled with rubbish: glass bottles, fireworks and presumably throw up. Harry wheeled the broken suitcase to the train station avoiding all the rubbish, we were early for once which was a nice change from all the usual rushing about. We had already previously purchased the reservation for the train ride so there was nothing to do but wait. We sat down, had a drink then got on the train.

The train ride was 2 hours or around that, it went fast as I fell asleep for half of it while Harry watched some shows on the laptop. We always have to be aware of what time we are meant to get to the station as we can't just get up and go last minute. We have to pack up all the things we have out, like my glasses, the laptop, book etc. then Harry goes and gets the big backpack and suitcase and waits near the door whilst I get the camera, daybag and map for our hotel and stand up at the last minute to get off. So it was the scheduled time that we would get to our station and Harry was at the other end of the carriage waiting at the door with a crowd of other people and I was in our seats. I stood up to put my jacket on as we slowed down to a stop. A guy sitting in front of me turned and asked me if this was Amsterdam central, I assumed it was so told him I think so, I then looked properly for a sign and realized it wasn't, it was actually the stop for the airport! I quickly told the random guy in front of me that it wasn't Amsterdam central and he thanked me and sat down. I relaxed, thankful that I didn't send a stranger to the wrong stop. A few seconds later I realized Harry was gonna be getting of here with the bags and he wouldn't know it's the wrong station. I jumped up, picked up all our belongings that were with me and rushed to the end of the carriage. I saw Harry get off from a distance despite yelling out his name a few times to have everyone stare at me. I saw him walking outside and quickly banged on the window telling him to get back on. He must have realized himself but saw me and nodded as he ran to get back on the train.

I didn't see him get on and I couldn't see him on the platform so I had no idea if he was on the train or not as it left the station. We had discussed what we would do if one of us got off and the other didn't but only vaguely, as it would be circumstantial. The conclusion was that the person with the money would go to the other person, however in this case, Harry had the money but I had his train ticket. I started thinking about just waiting at the train station for him but how it would be hard to find him etc etc. I kept turning around looking at the end of the carriage to see if he'd gotten on or not and sure enough I caught a glimpse of him standing with the bags at the back of the carriage so I was relieved and relaxed for the last ten minutes of the train ride.

We got off at Amsterdam central station and walked along the water at the back of the station towards our hotel. Being new years day, the streets here were also filled with rubbish, fireworks and disgusting liquids. It was only a short walk to our hotel, we were staying at Doubletree by the Hilton. Earlier in the day we had noticed for some strange reason we had booked a disabled access double room, but upon check out they asked if it was necessary and we said no, and were put on the eighth floor. It's also a signature thing of the hotels to give you warm chocolate chip cookies and boy were they yummy!

Our room was so nice and spacious, we had a full length window view...over the train tracks.. But it was still nice :p there was an IMac computer which doubled as a tv which was pretty cool. We settled in and unpacked and booked me a massage for my back - the massages release the tension in my muscles so that it stops me from getting migraines. The lady was really good, knew what she was doing and my god did it hurt!! But I've grown a pretty high threshold to that sort of deep tissue massage. She showed a lot of concern for my back problems and showed me a few stretches I can do to help.

Afterwards, we looked into what there was to do in Amsterdam and chilled a bit. We later got ready for a nice dinner, we were going to try catch a movie at the really nice fancy cinema they have here but we just ran out of time to make the movie. Instead we had a really nice dinner, the steak was so delicious, Harry had a really yummy burger. We facetimed Harry's family and then watched some tv before calling it a night! We have a huge huge day of seeing Amsterdam tomorrow, can't wait.

Photos:

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breakfast room

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waiting at the train station

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on the train

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our room at the hilton

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our lovely view

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our delicious dinner out :)

Posted by Harryandamanda 06:09 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Brugge

Happy New Year all!!!! What a year 2012 has been and we are still here, the end of the world didn’t happen, those silly Mayans. Well by the time I write this, it has been fourteen days since the New Year, so by the time this gets posted if it ever does (I am lazy) the New Year will truly have come and past, and we will have settled into 2013. So where are we up to on this trip, what needs to be documented…. Brussels, well really our day trip to Brugge.

So we have a full day in Brussels, we have heard good things about Brugge and with what we have seen on the Internet we both wanted to go for a day trip. We have a whole day planned, with research last night on the iPad, bookmarks are bookmarked on the map, train times researched and a time selected, we are set to see Brugge. The day started like all the other days on this trip, breakfast provided by the hotel; the breakfast room was on the top floor of the hotel. The location of the breakfast room on the top floor offered its pros and cons, pro being you will get great views of Brussels, con: our room is on the first floor, making the wait to catch the lift to the top a wait time of at least ten minutes as only one lift is working.

We caught the train to Brugge, just another train ride on our travels, only half an hour so a pleasingly short one. Once arriving into Brugge and stepping off the train, walking off the platform to the main hallway, there is always a choice of left or right. One way will lead you to the main hall of the train station, the other direction most of the time leads to another exit of the station with nothing around it. On more occasions then we would like, we usually (I say we but really I choose the direction when heading out of the station) end up going the wrong way missing the main hall of station. To avoid getting lost, this time we just followed the crowd out of the station and outside, following the crowd we found our way outside through the main hall, passing an ice carving exhibition outside.

Out came the iPad now, first stop was to the park right outside the station, which would lead us to our next destination. The park was beautiful, it has been given the title in Brugge as the romantic park; don’t ask me why, as I am quite the romantic boy, I took Amanda for a stroll through the Park. We followed the water; our romantic walk didn’t last too long, as I turned too early getting us lost for the first time of the day (trust me as the day went on we got lost a lot). After surrendering the iPad to Amanda, we were set in the right direction towards the medieval part of Brugge.

We found the medieval section, it was a really pretty place, with all these cute houses, one or two canals going through the small streets. While walking around the small area, there were silence posters all over the place, which was a bit strange; we came across an old church, we have seen so many churches on this trip, thought why not see another one, it was really tiny compared to what we have seen.

We walked everywhere today, after strolling through, our next destination for the day was St. Salvator’s cathedral, after that was the main square of Brugge. Just walking around to each place in our day trip, Brugge was such a picturesque place; The Christmas market in the main square on the other hand was one of the worst we saw in Europe, the market offered things such as stalls dedicated to selling socks, another selling sports wear of the local Brugge football team. It was a great square, but the markets could have been better.

The main square was huge, really beautiful; the buildings surrounding it were really beautiful, but compared to the Brussels main square it didn’t match up to that standard. We found a place for lunch in the square, but before heading into the restaurant we stopped for some subway cookies, we had a really nice lunch, Amanda had the lasagna it was really cheesy, she couldn’t eat all of it, so that went straight to my belly, I had a tuna sandwich with fries it was really delicious. While eating we stared out the window people watching and commenting on all the dogs that walked past, Amanda didn’t realize how much she would be missing Nala.

After lunch, we walked to the Belfort in the square; we intended to walk up the tower to see the views it had to offer, but the line was huge and the only tickets available to go up the tower weren’t until three hours or so, so we gave it a miss. When you enter the Belfort you walk into a little square, there was a door opening into some hall, while exiting I wanted to go inside to see what the hall looked like. My mistake though, as it was some local art exhibition, I pretended to enjoy looking at the art on offer as Amanda questioned me to why we went in here.

While doing my research last night on the iPad, some of the web pages visited suggested to visit the “The Beer Wall”. The web pages made it out to be a wall containing all these beer bottles ranging from vintage bottles to new ones, running the whole wall in the alley as it seemed to appear on the map. What we saw compared to what the web pages described was something very different, well first to see the beer wall you have to go through an archway into a short alleyway, the archway is just the entrance to bar there. It didn’t run the whole entrance of the wall, it was just beer bottles behind a glass cabinet, it was still cool and something interesting to see, just not what we had expected.

Next on the agenda was another church, this church is located in another square in the town, what sets this church out from the rest is it claims to contain a vial of the blood of Christ. Interesting me more then Amanda, we went and saw the church, it was a really small church, tiny, was basically a room, but the outside was really cool with its gothic façade, the inside matched the gothic style. The vial of the blood of Christ was in another section of the church that required an entrance fee, we didn’t go in as the entrance fee was something of a ridiculous price.

Within the square the church is located, is the palace, we went to go inside but unfortunately it was closed, so off to our next stop, we had two stops left for the day. The two stops would be two churches (Brugge is just filled with them) the first stop was a church recommended by trip advisor, the other also found on trip advisor but was given comments as one of the coolest gothic churches, another comment such as Tim Burton would love this place, made it something we wanted to see.

It has been a long day with lots of walking, both of us feeling tired, we got to the second last stop, but it was also closed like the palace. Amanda really had wanted to see the gothic Tim Burton church and thought this closed church was it. Being exhausted we called it quits for the day, leaving the last church (which was actually the Tim Burton one) unvisited. Later she found out that it wasn’t the one we tried to visit and that we could have gone to see the gothic church but obviously we had a miscommunication!

So that was our full day in Brugge, we caught a taxi back to the station and caught the train back to Brussels. We got back to our room and relaxed for a bit, got some takeaway and ate in the room, both tired. We relaxed until it got a bit later and went to the main square to see the fireworks for the new years celebrations. As we walked through the streets to the main square it was packed, I tried to take a photo on the camera and realized I left the battery on charge in the room! It was too late to go back and get it, but the fire works were really amazing, the square was so packed though!

Photos:

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Arriving in Brugge

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The romantic park

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The medieval section

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A church

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Around town

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Another church

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More around town

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The bell tower

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The main square and xmas markets

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Seeing the time...

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Working out it's past New Years in Melbourne!!

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Celebrating New Years in Melbourne :P

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the beer wall

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And another church...

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Letting Harry direct us with a map... not a good idea

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What Amanda thought was the closed gothic church

Posted by Harryandamanda 05:02 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Brussels

There is a lot to see in Brussels, on the iPad we have bookmarked several sites on the maps application, so we had a lot of ground to cover, with things to do and things to see, we started our day in great fashion…. Oversleeping. I take the blame for that, I kept on pressing the snooze button on the phone, we missed our breakfast included by the hotel, so now it being more lunchtime then morning time, we had food from the Christmas market to feed our stomach.

Before leaving the hotel to get some food, we made sure that our new room was ready to go, going from two single rooms to an executive suite, we both wanted to really make sure we were able to move, as the current rooms we have now are tiny. Luckily the room was ready, so off to the market to eat, one of the best things to do at a Christmas market, finding a place that does German sausages, had sausages for both of us, also sharing some sort of potato hash that came with apple sauce.

While walking back from eating, we found a café along the way called Opera Drug, it was a really cool looking building on the outside and the inside matched the outside, it looked like something that belongs at Disneyland. It was a really cool café, it was big, with three to four levels, and extremely busy inside, and we had to walk up the stairs to the top level to find a table. The place reminded you of a pancake parlor, the menu had really everything on it, but concentrated more on the dessert side, with all types of ice cream combinations possible, another similarity was everything was sticky!

We just wanted a coffee, I was also thirsty wanting a coca cola as well, so as the waiter came around I ordered my order of two drinks, also going to add the vanilla milkshake for Amanda, but once I finished what I wanted he was gone, and couldn’t be found again to make the addition to our order. It was only until he came back with the coffee and coke for me that we could order the vanilla milkshake. The menu on offer with all the desserts looked so nice, it was a place we just had to came back to and get something, we didn’t want anything now as we were just way to full.

Once back at the hotel we got our new set of keys, we started to move all of our stuff to our new room, the new room was on a lower level then our current rooms, also having taken stuff out of our bags yesterday, things were everywhere. We got to our new room and it was just so so so much bigger, I think our bathroom in the new room was the same size as our entire previous room. Was so much better, the hotel wasn’t anything flash, therefore the new room décor wasn’t anything amazing, but now our room had a kettle, mini bar, bath plus shower, couch, safe, things that should really be in every hotel room maybe minus the couch and bath, so it was just much bigger.

As we settled in our new room, I went down and dropped off the old set of keys to reception, went back to the room, went to use the iPad, couldn’t find it anywhere. Looked everywhere around the room but wasn’t anywhere. I ran back down to reception to get the keys for the old room, ran inside the room couldn’t see it anywhere, now I was panicking, really panicking, running through my head when I used it last, did we have it with us when we went out to get food. As I searched high and low in the two old rooms, I flipped over a hotel magazine; there underneath was the iPad, so happy to just find it.

We settled in the room for awhile, showered then got ready to go to mini Europe, a sort of theme park with no rides, that has the countries of the E.U and miniature models of famous/significant buildings or sights of that particular country, for example, Italy contained a model of Leaning tower of Pisa. The park was just outside of town, so we acquired a metro map and went to the nearest metro station to catch our train, we had to change at one station then get another train to the second last stop of the line.

We got to the park, bought our tickets and went through the entrance gate. Immediately as you walk through the gate, a photographer bombards you, with his accomplice: a person in costume of the park’s mascot. We tried to say no, but seeing the mascot grabbed Amanda’s arm and pulled her in for a photo how could you say no.

We walked around the park for a while, following the marked route to see all of the miniature models. They had cool models; the one stand-out was mount Vesuvius that erupts. They had so many different countries and models; We spent maybe an hour or so just following the marked route. Each country had a button that once pressed played the music of their national anthem, Amanda sung the Maltese anthem and I sung the Hungarian national anthem. There was also a mini lake that had model boats in it that could be controlled by steering wheels, costing a euro each. Amanda and I paid, Amanda got her boat going fine, moving it around the park; mine however got stuck in a corner and against a wall. I tried to reverse, go forward, all directions of the wheel, but couldn’t get it to budge; towards the last minute I got it working.

After seeing the whole park we walked back to the station, upon exiting the park, we walked past a stand, as we walked past, a lady shoved a photo of Amanda and I, as well as a smaller photo inside a key chain. We realized it was the photos they took when you first walked into the park. Both of the photos were really nice photos of us together, so we bought one large photo of us as well as two key rings with photos of us inside it. We caught the metro back into town, got back to our room and rested in the room, tired from walking around Europe all day, it’s tiring seeing Europe in a day.

We relaxed in the room for a bit, we both went to the gym for a bit, wasn’t a great gym. Anyone could see into the gym, which was small with only four different types of equipment. The windows looking into the gym was of a walkway that was outside, so as people walked by they’d just stare inside. Afterwards we went out to get some takeaway. While waiting for the food to be made at our usual kebab shop, we got tickets see the film Argo, at the cinema across the road from our hotel.

After eating dinner, we headed out to see the movie; we took some snacks with us that we had bought throughout the trip. It was just a bag really full of different chocolates, candy and random food we have bought as well as a can of coke we’d had stocked in our fridge. As we walked into the cinema, the man told us we couldn’t bring it in. Thinking it was a stupid rule of no outside drinks or food allowed, we headed back to the room quickly to drop some of our stuff off. We stuffed some candy inside our pockets. I was wearing my jeans, as my jeans sit low on me, I put my can of coke down my pants, but as we walked back into the cinema, walking down the stairs to the entrance, the can of coke fell down my pants further into my leg. He didn’t notice or if he did just didn’t want to bother asking why I had a can of coke down my pants.

By now the movie had just started, we missed probably around thirty-seconds of the start, sat down, got comfy in our seats and watched the movie. It seemed as though that no one was eating or drinking through the whole movie just us, so obviously the rule in the cinema was actually no food or drink at all allowed. It was a really great movie; Amanda and I really enjoyed it. It was funny at the end of the film as we had to dispose of the empty coke can, so Amanda tried to squish it, but it was too noisy. After the movie it was around eleven thirty, we headed back to the room to sleep, we have an early start tomorrow heading to Brugge for the day and back in Brussels for new years eve!

Photos:

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[center]Our new room

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such a good train system

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Mini-Europe

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Malta

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Hungary!

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cathedral

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Posted by Harryandamanda 05:08 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Orleans to Brussels

We woke up around 6am, it was still dark outside, a super early morning for us but we didn't care because at least we had gotten a train to Brussels and weren't stuck in Orleans! Our first train was at 7:30am so we quickly packed and cleaned up the room, putting away our drying laundry that was hung all over the room, and disposing of the rubbish and cleaning the dishes so we didn't get a cleaning fee. We checked out, paying the usual few euros of city tax, and headed for the tram which was literally a few steps away. We were running on time for once which was great. The tram arrived after two minutes and as we got on we saw two ticket inspectors. Just. Our. Luck.

We hadn't bought a ticket as we were in a rush and only going two stops to the station plus we wouldn't have known what ticket to get on the machine at the platform anyway, they're never in English and really confusing. Sure enough, the ticket inspectors came over. They hardly spoke English and wanted us to get off the tram at the next stop. This was a disaster because if we did we would one hundred percent miss our train as we'd have to wait for the next tram to come etc etc. We explained we would miss our train to the lady who spoke a bit more English than the man. She kept telling us to get off the tram to buy a ticket, Harry was getting frustrated with her because we were going to miss this train and be stuck in France, missing Belgium completely (As this was the only train for the day we managed to just get tickets on). But I told Harry we would just have to get off, there was nothing we could do. So we got off, and the man took us to the machine on the station’s platform - we were only one stop away from the station now - and he bought us the tickets and we paid. The lady inspector went to the tram driver and held the tram for us, so we bought the tickets and got back on. We were extremely lucky.

We got on the first train, boarded in time and everything, and just worked on our budget and enjoyed the one-hour train ride into Paris. Once at the station, we had to catch the metro to another Paris station. Found the ticket office, bought tickets, figured out which direction we needed to go and got on the train. As usual, the most you ever have to wait is 6 minutes, unlike Melbourne where it's 20 minutes at least, every time.

We got to the main train station in Paris with an hour or so to kill so we waited at a little café at the station until our platform was announced. We’ve been on so many trains by now that the train times and durations all sort of mesh into one, we both had the idea it was going to be about a 3 hour train ride upto Brussels, even though we really didn’t ask as we were just lucky to get on a train for the day. So as I’m looking at our train ticket it said the destination time of 10am and further along I saw a picture of a clock, and underneath it, it said: 11 hr 22m and my heart sank. I thought what the hell, there’s no way the duration is 11 hours and 22 minutes. I honestly started to panic, then I thought maybe we get there at 11:22am? But that would only be an hour trip, there’s no way Paris to Brussels is an hour… So Harry went to ask a SNCF person and they thankfully told it was the time we arrived. I was so relieved.

We both had noticed on the ticket at this stage that our reservation said First Class. Now we have a Eurail Global Pass, which gets us onto every train (Except a few companies, but all the major companies are on it) and then in some countries such as Italy especially, you need to purchase a seat reservation on top of the train ticket. The seat reservations can be priced from 3 euros each to 50 euros each so it can be pretty expensive depending on how far you are going. Our Eurail pass is a 2nd class ticket; however the people we got the seat reservation from yesterday gave us a 1st class seat reservation which you actually can’t do. This was the reason we had so much trouble at the train station, because we had to have a 2nd class reservation (to go with our 2nd class eurail pass) and there were none available. We were a little worried this was going to cause us trouble, because if a ticket inspector came around, which they do on every train pretty much, then we thought they may either charge us extra, make us move to I-don’t-know where or make us get off the train at another stop.

We walked over to board the train, found the first class carriage that we were assigned to and there was a ticket inspector checking the tickets before you got on this particular carriage. We showed her just the seat reservation and then she asked to see the Eurail Pass, so we showed it to her and funnily enough she nodded and let us on the train. We really got away with that one. Travelling first class was amazing! I can’t even explain how much better it was. The seats were more comfy, there was so much more space, there was a server who came around with tea and coffee, then half an hour later with pastries and croissants: all free of charge. Even the seats reclined back! All I can say is, thank-god we didn’t start the trip in first class or we would have hated 2nd class even more. There was even free wifi on the train! So the train ride was really quick, on a high-speed train, Harry watched some of his shows on the laptop and I slept.

We finally arrived at Brussels and the first thing we did was go into the ticket office to make seat reservations for our trip from Brussels to Amsterdam in 3 or 4 days. We didn’t want to get caught out again like we did the last few times. Being in Belgium now, it was a different train company and they were so much nicer than the French SNCF Train Company. The guy was friendly, talking to us about Australia and the bad weather in Brussels. We booked our tickets and headed out to find a taxi to our hotel. We saw a stand selling vanilla latte’s and fresh orange juice: I was in heaven.

The taxi dropped us off as far as he could go with a car, about a 5-minute walk from our hotel, as it was all pedestrian streets around. We got completely lost, asked a lady in a shoe shop where to go and then found our hotel. We were having a great day up till now… going perfectly… we were on time for all the trains, no rushing, we had an amazing train ride in 1st class…

We walked into the hotel, it was nice, we went to check in, gave him our name and he says to me: This is for one person correct? I thought oh no. We explained it was for two people, and he repeatedly told us the booking was for one person. At this point, he was quite rude. He even laughed, and at the time it just made us more frustrated that he found it amusing. We argued with him for awhile, and he told us that they had overbooked their double rooms so he couldn’t even change the booking for two people. The rate we paid covered two people so the cost wasn’t an issue but the fact we would have a single room was the problem. He told us we had two options: we could move to another hotel back near the station we had come from (no way we were going to do that), or we could have two single rooms for tonight and change to a double for the nights after that. We told him we would think about it, check our booking online and get back to him.

We checked on booking.com and for some reason we had mistakenly made the booking for one person. However, we had still booked a double room, which covered one to two people so we weren’t completely in the wrong here. Harry argued our point and asked the man what compensation we were going to get for their mistake. He told us we could have two single rooms on the same floor for tonight, and then move to an executive double room (which was an upgrade from what we booked) for the next two nights. We agreed. He ended up being really friendly and accommodating, and apologised for the mix up, explaining that he’d simply gotten to work that day and noticed the computer system had double booked and now he had to deal with it best he could.

We checked out our two single rooms. They were tiny and we ended up using one room to store all our luggage in and the other room to use the laptop, watch tv and sleep in. The internet cost money in our rooms, 21 euros which was expensive, so Harry was going to use the free computer downstairs to get some information on what to do around Brussels for the next few days. I told Harry to just pretend to ask the receptionist the price for the internet as he’d probably give it to us for free due to the inconvenience caused. Like clockwork, Harry came back 5 minutes later and had received free Internet for the entire 3 days in Brussels.

We headed out to look around late in the afternoon, got Subway for a very late lunch. The Christmas markets were 5 minutes from our hotel and they were really busy. We strolled around for an hour or so, finally found Harry his delayed Christmas present, dog-tags with ‘Brussels’, his name and the date engraved on them. We walked around the main square of Brussels, which was just amazing. Really beautiful. It’s this sort of enclosed square and everywhere you look there are these incredible buildings that are so detailed and just gorgeous. Definitely one of my favourite parts of Brussels.

We continued walking towards a statue called “Manneken Pis” literally meaning ‘Little Man Pee’, which, as you may be able to guess, is a statue of a young boy urinating and yes it is a fountain as well. This small statue brought a huge crowd from what we saw. We then got a drink at the bar across the road from the statue, Harry loved his Belgian beer, then headed back to the hotel. Got some takeaway dinner from across the street for dinner – just kebab, chips, salad, chicken – and saw that there was a movie cinema nearby and decided we would go tomorrow!

Photos:

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Waiting for the tram

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Waiting at the train station in Paris

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My little freak out...

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Brussels :)

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Christmas Markets

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the main square

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the peeing boy statue

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The bar

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Where we bought H's present

:)

Posted by Harryandamanda 09:25 Archived in France Comments (0)

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