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This is the last entry for our 2015 adventure! Wow. After a relatively good flight home with Cathay Pacific, and a brief stopover in Hong Kong we were really excited to step foot on Australian soil! We were welcomed home by all of our favourite Canberran’s for a lovely dinner at home. We are both so grateful for the opportunity and means to have been able to travel and see and experience so much of the world. It has certainly been such an eye-opening year, and not one that we will ever forget.

Our next adventure…we are expecting a baby in August 2016!

Berlin-29

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Berlin

Last stop…Berlin, and man was it cold! We brought in the New Year here surrounded by crazy fireworks on the street, the shells of which were not cleaned up for days. We spent our time here with a walking tour, a visit to the Holocaust memorial, the Typography of Terror museum and of course the graffitied remains of the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery. Unfortunately it was just so, SO cold, and combined with the fact that it was our last stop, we didn’t love Berlin as much as we were expecting.

Nuremberg

After a brief stop in Munich to watch the famed river surfing in the park, we made it to Nuremberg with a 2 Pound Mega Bus ticket! We loved walking around the old town and treated ourselves to Thai for lunch (we are getting a bit sick of the European food!) We also visited the Nuremberg Documentation Centre, an excellent museum  where we learnt a lot about the Nuremberg trials and more horrors of the rise of Nazi Germany.

Ellmau

We spent a week in a little chalet here in the Wilder Kaiser region over the Christmas period looking forward to another ski week. Unfortunately for us, the European winter hadn’t quite hit this far west in Austria, so the snow was pretty terrible. We did enjoy the buffet breakfasts and extravagant dinners each night put on by our hosts, the beautiful Alpine scenery, participating in a traditional European Christmas Eve dinner celebration and the novelty of skiing on Christmas Day!

 

Innsbruck

This was actually our fourth visit to Innsbruck. In the course of our travels this year, this Alpine city has become an unexpected constant due to its convenient location. Although each time we have stayed here hasn’t been for long (mainly overnight stays to break up a journey) its been enough to let us feel comfortable and familiar with the town. We enjoyed lots of strudel here, a visit to the site of the 1964 Olympic ski jump, winter Christmas markets and beautiful architecture.

Ischgl

We had two fabulous weeks skiing in Ischgl – a resort that sits on the Austrian/Swiss border. We were joined for the first week by our Port Macquarie friends Mel and Dave (who had also been on a UK working holiday) and as we couldn’t really think of anything better to do for the second week, we just stayed. It was great!

We had beautiful bluebird conditions for almost every day for two weeks! Unfortunately the snow slowly degraded, though there were two welcome dustings during the fortnight, which were pretty great considering how early in the season it was. Our legs were pretty knackered by the end!

Cologne

We had four nights in Cologne where we delighted in all things Christmas! The Christmas markets here were insanely beautiful and we got into the spirit by drinking lots of mulled wine, listening to live carol performances and sampling lots of Christmas treats. We stayed right across from the Angel Christmas Market, which is the oldest of the eight markets in Cologne and the most beautiful!

Paris

After a great visit in September, we were excited to board the Eurostar and head for Paris round two! On the way over, our train hit a wild boar (more common than you’d think!), so we got a partial ticket refund for the delay! As we’d hit most of the main sights last visit, we enjoyed just wandering around the city, eating as many croissants as possible. We enjoyed a day trip out to the Palace of Versailles, a morning at the Musee d’Orsay and multiple visits to the Eiffel Tower. We also had a few drinks with our airbnb friend Sophie who gave us some local insight in the wake of the November Paris attacks.

London (again!)

We had a fabulous week in London in mid November and really got stuck into the tourist attractions. Although we have passed through London many times this year, we hadn’t really seen it. Generously, my Uncle let us stay in his Wimbledon townhouse while he was abroad, so we also got a bit of downtime and enjoyed cooking for ourselves.

Highlights included:
Harry Potter world – we had so much fun exploring the Harry Potter sets at the Warner Brothers Studio. I got sorted by the sorting hat into Hufflepuff (wrong!) and tried some butterbeer!
The Shard – we celebrated our last night in London with a drink at the top of the Shard at sunset, we admired the view as all the lights gradually came on (at 4pm!!)
Churchill War Rooms – we had a fantastic day here looking at the old underground war rooms, as well as the Winston Churchill Museum. I’d just finished his biography, so I found it really interesting. Most of the museum is untouched from WW2, including the map room where we could see all the pin holes tracking enemy/ally advancement. We also fit in visits to the V&A and the Natural History Museum
Changing of the guard – we enjoyed a sunny morning at the gates of Buckingham Palace watching the iconic guards
Harrods – it was my birthday while we were in London, so we celebrated at Harrods with a high tea. I loved browsing through the food hall there too with all the Christmas decorations!

 

Ireland

No Euro-escape would be complete without an Ireland road trip! We hired a car in Dublin and drove around most of the country (not Northern Ireland – this time!). We stopped in at Doolin, Gallway, The Coonemara, Dingle, The Ring of Kerry, Killareny and Kilkenny. Being November and all, the weather wasn’t great and the rain hampered our view. At least we know why it’s so green!

Highlights included:

  • Our walking tour in Dublin – we had perfect blue-sky weather and learnt a lot of Irish history
  • Irish music in Doolin – this was definitely the best folk music we had the entire trip. We spent an evening listening to a 3 piece folk band – guitar, flute and accordion.
  • Guinness – it tastes so good here!
  • Cliffs of Moher – simply stunning.
  • The Ring of Kerry – unfortunately it rained the entire time so the views weren’t all that great; we will definitely be coming back because the countryside was stunning

Islay

What a place! The Isle of Islay has definitely made it to the top of the best-ofs for the year – if you ever find yourself in Scotland, please please please check it out!

We hired a car from Glasgow and, after enjoying the stunning autumnal scenery too much, were very late and SO LUCKY not to miss the car ferry from Kennacraig to Islay. We arrived two hours later to the most peaceful, isolated and genuine place I think we’ve ever been to. The weather on our first day was stunning so we drove around a scenic loop from Bruichladdich to Portnahaven to watch the sun go down – complete with a view of Ireland on the horizon and seals casually cruising around.

The next day we raced between tours and tastings at Ardbeg, Bruichladdich and Bowmore distilleries which were all fantastic. It was awesome to see the scotch making process in action (and taste a couple – even the wort!)

We will definitely be back Islay!

Glasgow / Loch Lomond

Glasgow definitely doesn’t have the charm we found in Edinburgh, it is a much more liveable and practical city. We enjoyed catching up with our Port Macquarie friends Brit and Sheri who are living there at the moment. We also enjoyed walking around the stunning Queen’s Park in all of its Autumnal glory!

We then drove up to Loch Lomond for a few more days of relaxing and enjoying the serenity of this beautiful region in the off-peak season. We spent an afternoon at Milarrochy bay and we didn’t see another soul for hours, it was so peaceful.

Edinburgh

We got a true Scottish welcome (think rainy and drizzly skies) as we caught the train into Edinburgh. We enjoyed a wet day looking at all the exhibitions at the Edinburgh Castle and admiring the artwork at the Portrait Gallery (definitely worth a visit, a lot of history as well as art). When the weather cleared, we did an interesting walking tour that took us to lots of the main sights and cemented more of the interesting history. Highlights were: Greyfriars Kirkyard, Grassmarket, and shopping along the Royal Mile. Dan was very chuffed to buy a Harris Tweed tie (we’ll come back for the jacket when we’re rich!)