Copenhagen, Denmark 2013

With a week off from my previous studies we decided to visit Copenhagen as the destination in April. It was frosty, out of the touristic period and therefore cheap but it was a great choice for us!

Reserving a room at the Generator Hostel was a great choice as it’s right in the center of the city with very welcoming staff. One of the best hostels we have stayed in based on price, location to city and facilities offered. We stayed in a private room with bathroom. Highly recommended!

Since we were visiting in early April, the temperature was around -5°c so when visiting the popular Nyhavn, there were hardly any places open and realistically too cold to enjoy a beer outside! The beautifully coloured haven was still pretty to see without the busy scene of the summer months.

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Exploring the city throughout the week we came across the Rosenborg Castle and the beautiful grounds. We never went in but carried our walk towards the Amalienborg Palace and further around the city.

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One thing we were recommended not to miss was the freetown of Christiania, unused army barracks that were taken over by hippies in 1971. Since we were travelling during February it wasn’t as lively as we had expected. Walking around this area was rather quiet and most stands were closed, plus we only saw the odd person who would walk past smoking weed or playing music to themselves. We can imagine this would be 10 times more busier during the summer months, but still enjoyed the experience to be there.

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Walking from Christiania we visited the Church of Our Saviour and decided to climb the 400 steps to the top of the spiral tower. A very pretty church, totally worth the visit and experience!

Some famous statues not to be missed are the The Little Mermaid and the H.C. Andersen Statue, writer of famous fairytales such as ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Nightingale’ and of course ‘The Little Mermaid’. It was good to see that the statue wasn’t vandalised with paint or decapitated, which has happend in previous years.

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As it was so cold we also visited Den Bla Planet, a pretty impressive aquarium and easily to reach with public transport. It has a very pleasant walkway throughout to follow and it’s perfect for families and couples.  It ends with a massive tank where you can just sit and watch, enjoying the different species swimming around you.

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We enjoyed the visit, even with the freezing weather. Maybe a small weekend back in the summer time would give us the full experience of Nyhavn, as well as visiting things we didn’t have time for such as Trivoli.

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Normandy, France – Day Four

An early checkout at the B&B meant that we had a good head start on getting back to the Netherlands with plenty of time before needing to check the rented car back in. We decided to drive towards Calais as we had discovered some hidden underground places to visit. They are classed as ‘dark tourism’ so we were interested! It was 3 hours into our 6 hour drive so a great time to stop and stretch our legs too!

Luckily with no traffic on the motorway and a little detour through the Caps et Marais d’Opale Natural Regional Park we arrived at our first destination of the day, the Fortress of Mimoyecques, once an underground world of workers that was the launch base of V-2 Rockets, which would of been sent to bomb London, UK. From the sunny 28°c outside we explored the 10°c tunnels inside. It was cold, dark and a little creepy, since we were the only ones in it for a while! Though very interesting to see what was planned here during the war, and how they managed to keep it a secret for so long from spying enemy planes. Well worth a read on the link and a visit if you are in the area!

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The second destination was something a little similar, with underground tunnels and the perfect hideout for the R&D and manufacturing process of rockets, which again of would been used against London, UK if they weren’t stopped in time. Hidden under a concrete dome is the La Coupole. You follow the cold tunnels through to the lift, which takes you to the main part of the museum under the dome. Here you have two really interesting videos about the V2 rockets and how people were treated who worked and lived in the tunnels. You are provided with so much information via the audio headset, so it’s understandable to hear about the history as you look at the recovered artefacts . It’s a place you can spend the whole afternoon at. Definitely recommended to visit!

DSC_2253Our visit to Normandy was short but packed with knowledge! We recommend the Le Clos Saint Jean to stay if you have a car as it is perfect location to travel to and from for visiting the northern coast between Carentan and Cabourg. The rooms are a good size (we had one with private bathroom) and the served breakfasts are delicious. They included fresh bread and cheeses, different fruit salads, jams and fresh juices made straight from their garden. My favourite was their homemade brioche bread with freshly crushed raspberries to pour the juice over the top, delicious! Good luck to the owners Caroline and her husband who only started running it in late 2016.

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Click here to go back to the start of our Normandy trip!

Normandy, France – Day Three

Bayeux was at the top of our list on the third day, visiting the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy, however after visiting all the other museums it felt a little double reading similar stories and the same photographs. It was all beautifully displayed and the video really put everything together, so we felt it was still worth the visit!

DSC_2085The third cemetery we visited was the British War Cemetery, close to the Bayeux memorial museum. Each grave was also perfectly lined up as the American cemetery, but with flowers surrounding them. I found it more touching to see and walk around, maybe because I knew they were British like I had a connection. Poppy wreaths were still on the memorial monument since the 72nd Anniversary was only a month and a half before we visited.

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After some lunch we visited the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, something that I remembered visiting when I was younger. The 70 meter long cloth embroidered with the story of William the Conqueror and the October 14th, 1066 Battle of Hastings. I really enjoyed this museum visit and really appreciate seeing how much time and effort has gone into telling each chapter of the story in embroidery.

DSC_2121Taking a detour back to our B&B for a pause we stopped at a little 1944 Radar Museum that we found on the way as it was rather off track from the main roads. The museum had a collection of different radars and antennas that were used by the Germans for things like detecting the enemies, as well as a bunker that you can enter that is three levels deep. The bunker explained perfectly what each room would of been used for, and had a mock up of what the sleeping area would of been like. The radar below, called the Würzburg, is one of the three surviving Würzburgs in the world. Unfortunately this one had broken away from the base.

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Lastly before dinner we stopped at the Longues-sur-Mer battery, an open area with four bunkers in a row that had 4 navy guns, two that had been bombed to pieces and two that had not been hit from the bombings. They were placed strategically to see the coast for oncoming ships. 

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Check out Day Four here!

Normandy, France – Day One

We spent our first morning in Arromanches visiting the 360 Museum and D-Day Museum De Debarquement, parking our rented car at the top of the cliff and walking down to the museums and beach. The small town was pretty and clean, with an amazing view out to sea with high tide covering the ruins of the wall that was built during WW2. We enjoyed walking around there so much that we didn’t realise it was already 2:30pm and we hadn’t ate, so before we left we bought a nice baguette and drink each!

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DSC_1688The afternoon lead us to Pegasus Bridge museum, visiting the original bridge that the English fought at, with a very interesting tour through the museum about the glider planes and how easy the bridge actually was to take over with only 2 Germans guarding the bridge at night.

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We really enjoyed this museum, the lady who gave the tour even got a little emotional telling a story of a guy who had returned to Pegasus Bridge after 70 years, seeing the graves of his comrades and speaking for first time about what happened when he was there. The guy was a pilot who helped direct the glider planes to the bridge, which were full up with 28 men. It was so emotional to hear as he had so much responsibility for the glider plane towed behind his plane, which unfortunately broke loose too early, causing the men to die under his watch.

We headed back to Arromanche for a pizza, followed by an relaxing walk on beach. It was now low tide, so we could walk all the way out to the ruins of what had been left in the sea. We finished the evening watching a summer fireworks event at Port-en-Bessin-Huppain with all the locals.

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Check out Day Two here!

Budapest, Hungary 2013

Arriving by Budapest with the night train from Prague was much better than we expected, not being woken once from noise, obviously too cosy under the clean fresh bunkbed sheets. What was good was that you needed your sleep cabin key to get into the toilet provided, so you didn’t need to worry about lack of toilet paper or it getting too disgusting from everyone like guests who had not booked a sleeping cabin.

Day One

The first day included buying a public transport card, as the city is so big compared to Prague there was no way we could walk to everything during our 3 day stay. We stayed at the Friends Hostel Budapest where we booked our own little apartment with kitchen, perfect for eating cheap on vacation. For starters, we had to get used to the change in currency, that made us feel rich! The currency EUR to HUF was €1 to 310 at the time, so for a 10,000 HUF note it was only about €32.

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Stepping on the metro we headed first to the Szechenyi Baths, one of the biggest natural hot spring spa baths in Europe. The weather was so hot the day we visited, making it rather busy, but still perfect to enjoy the outside pools and the inside spas.

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2013-08-15 14.16.53Seeing as we spent most of the day here, we felt so refreshed afterwards that we took a stroll back through the park to the Millenniumi emlékmű monument and towards Parliament, saw the shoes on the Danube bank and further for a walk around the bridges.

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Arriving at the Buda Hill Funicular was our next stop to get to the top of Buda Castle. A beautifully well kept castle with many viewpoints, gardens and museums within.

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Ending the day was with a free 3 hour walking tour of the city and night time walk to the fortress and Liberty Statue for fantastic views over the city. Definitely a highlight!

2013-08-16 21.42.51.jpgDay Three

Started the day by visiting the Hungarian National Museum, the Hungarian Technical and Transportation Museum and the Central Market Hall.

But the best museum we found impressive was the House of Terror Museum. This museum tells the story of the secret police and suffering endured by the Hungarian people under the Nazis and Hungarian Arrow Cross Nazi party in 1944 and the communist brutality after the war. There is also a section which pays special honour to the Freedom Fighters in 1956. Amazingly, both eras occurred in the same building, hence the museum name House of Terror.

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Finishing our trip with a Transavia flight back to the Netherlands ended our 10 day holiday to Prague and Budapest. It was fun, hot, and we had plenty of time to visit what we needed.

Prague, Czech Republic 2013

Our vacation to Prague started at the train station. We had booked ourselves on an overnight train from Amsterdam. Something completely new for us, but it was much cheaper than flying and we wanted a new experience!

We were lucky, since we didn’t book a private sleeping cabin but just chose two chairs due to our budget and we were placed in a cabin with 6 chairs in total. The lucky part was that only one other person joined us in this 6 chair cabin, meaning we could all lay down during the journey. Not that it was very comfy but we survived it fine.

Our first day in the city consisted of checking in at the Travellers Hostel which had a lovely breakfast included. Their breakfast room was situated perfect for the sunrise in the mornings. Good working wifi and perfect location to the city.

We picked up the free map provided and had a plan to visit the KGB Museum first.

This museum, which is more like a private collection, is situated in a small 3/4 room building run by a very enthusiastic Russian old man who has collected many unique World War II and Soviet Era artifacts on display, all related to covert operations and espionage. Maybe even ex-KBG himself? But highly recommended if you are interested and understand English well as his Russian accent was strong!

2013-08-12 14.08.32Of course no trip to Prague would be complete without walking over Charles Bridge. A very buzzing touristic spot filled with painters, jewellery sellers and live music. We stayed listening to the music for a while, some street performers really are good!

2013-08-14 14.31.52From here we walked up the St. Vitus Cathedral at the top of the hill. Below is the one photo I have that doesn’t show construction or scaffolding that was there for restoration.

2013-08-12 11.07.23We never went in, as it really was busy the weekend we had visited, but we enjoyed the atmosphere of the tourists and listened in on some of the walking tour guides close by to hear some of the history. In most cities we try and do a free walking tour but due to the short time planned we decided to explore on our own to the highlights we wanted to see.

Once you are at St. Vitus Cathedral you should take the paths all the way to the Petrin Hill & Observation Tower. There are some beautiful viewpoints along the way and all we could hear were birds singing to each other. The tower you can also go to the top with some pretty views towards the city. We decided for more exercise by walking up the 299 steps in the tower! 2013-08-12 11.43.07

2013-08-12 12.05.09We decided against using the funicular railway to the city below as the weather was beautiful, and walked down the path ending the night with some dinner and a beautiful walk across the Charles Bridge again and local area.

Day Two

Our second day included visiting the Army Museum Zizkov Museum and the Museum of Communism – both worth visiting with lots of information! From here we ended up walking to the John Lennon Wall

2013-08-14 15.22.14 2013-08-14 15.21.18We ended our second day with a delicious meal out in the city center for only €22.00 with drinks! We also visit to the top of the Old Town Hall for the views of Prague during sunset. A VERY popular thing to do, so some waiting was needed. This building also has Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock that can be special to watch (we missed it a few times before finally getting to see it between the many flocks of groups on walking tours). 2013-08-14 17.04.25

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It was the perfect evening to end our few days here. Prague, you were beautiful! One day we will be back to enjoy you again.

Unlike the overnight train from Amsterdam to Prague, we booked a proper sleeping cabin for our night train to Budapest as we wanted a decent nights sleep to explore the next day. You can check out our time in Budapest in my separate blog post here!

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Travel Inspiration

I’ve been updating my Social Media pages like Pinterest and Instagram the last couple of days, as they needed a good update. It’s becoming a little addictive but I have currently made all the boards of places we have visited.

Also, don’t forget to give us a follow on Twitter! We’d love to follow you back.

Some of my favourite boards on Pinterest are the ones below!

Travel journals is something I’m trying out, but have always been crafty and made photo books in the past. My first travel journal will be about our road trip in September in America!

I add all my Instagram photos to Pinterest too, especially photos of my home city of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

I’ll be adding new things more often so follow and I’ll follow you back!

UK Road Trip, 2011

After quitting my full time job in England and having a month before my start date to work as an Au Pair in the Netherlands I wanted to do something spontaneous. I had to sell my car and sort out all my belongings to keep, sell or to give to charity. The month was passing by so quickly!

Well before selling the car we decided on a road trip in England! My partner had arrived in the UK to visit me on the Isle of Wight for about 2 weeks, but we spontaneously decided that I would pick him up at the airport and we would just drive from place to place until the two weeks were up!

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Picking him up from Bournemouth Airport, due to being too late to land at the usual airport of Southampton we had a hotel for the night before we first set off. Our plan was to drive anticlockwise around England.

Below are the cities we visited! The bold cities is where we had a place to sleep and the other cities is where we took day trips to. Planning everything went well, once arriving at one place we booked the next place for a few days in advance making it cheap to do being last minute.

  • Hastings
  • Brighton
  • Clacton-On-Sea
  • Cambridge
  • Scarborough
  • Newcastle
  • Bath
  • Wales

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This is the estimated route we likely took to the cities we had sleeping arrangements in. This map does not include the day trips from each city.

Hastings

This was our first stop, a lovely little place to walk along the beach and for a some seaside lunch.

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While we were here we did the usual touristic sightseeing and shopping but it was raining for the whole time, giving us not much time to enjoy the beach or relax in the sun with an ice cream. We visited a little castle on the way to our next destination, which was pretty and gave us some great views of the cliffs towards Dover.

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This was a beautiful little spot to stay and relax at. Close to the sea with some beautiful walking routes.

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We visited Cambridge for a day trip, a place not to be missed during a road trip around England. The beautiful city has so much to see and do it was hard to decide what to see and where to walk first! As tourists of course we had a punting tour along the river and visited the King’s College Chapel and the grounds.

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Scarborough

Once we were settled at the Cayton Bay Holiday Park, who gave us a luxury camping home with bottle of wine for a different couple (which we drank!), we were greeted by the beautiful view of the sea and coast. We walked here for ages! In the city we visited the seafront, got the ice creams we missed out when in Brighton and visited the castle.

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Newcastle

We took a day trip here to visit the Angel of the North and some shopping. Driving from Scarborough along the coast was beautiful and we ended up having the sun the whole day, making it a great day for lunch outside and lots of walking.

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Stopping here on our long journey back to the Isle of Wight was the perfect place. The city gave us the combination of history with visiting Bath Abbey and relaxing with lots of little cafes to sit at and unique shops to visit.

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Wales

A day trip over the Severn Bridge to visit some castles, such as the Raglan Castle. We also found some roman ruins that we discovered along the road too.

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Heading Home To Southampton

We took the Clifton Suspension Bridge back on the way driving south. We planned to stop at Stonehenge, since I had also never been here so close to home. It was rather busy but we queued up for a ticket and an audio guide. Interesting to visit!

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Overall we loved our spontaneous trip, even if we missed some pretty nice places to visit. Every place had its uniqueness and different activities to do so its hard to pick the best place, however Scarborough was one of our highlights, greeted with sunshine and those pretty views!

Valletta, Malta 2010 – Cruise Day 5

Arriving in the harbour we took a place at the front of the cruise ship to watch the boat manoeuvre into the port of Valletta. Looking over at the people watching us dock, we couldn’t wait to get off board and explore the old city of Malta. It was our fifth day of our cruise. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were very interested in how the city has been rebuilt after World War II, and to see some ruins like the Royal Opera House. Below you can see the ruins and then a photo from the museum of how it used to look like.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe decided to walk around the walls edge of Valletta to explore what the city had on offer. Walking towards the city from the cruise ship we checked out the beautiful Lower Barrakka Gardens and the Siege Bell War Memorial. The gardens were beautifully designed and with music playing from a local artist it gave off a very romantic place to sit and relax. The memorial was also impressive to see, with a bronze figure representing the 7000 who died at the bottom of the memorial tower. Additionally a great place for a photo opportunity.

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Reaching the National War Museum as our next destination, we paid the entrance fee and went straight in. It definitely wasn’t where all the tourists were so we enjoyed our peaceful visit, being able to read all the information signs and closely look at the object. Everything was beautifully displayed and well explained, strongly recommended to visit!

The city was beautiful, long straight streets and flourishing flowers hanging over people’s balconies. Luckily the cruise ship wasn’t departing until the late afternoon so we had plenty of time, as we felt that Malta had so much to offer us we could of easily spent a few days there.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother pit stop was as St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Walking slowly on the marble floors and trying to take in all the beautiful baroque architecture which was completed in 1577. We listened to the free audio guides, while avoiding other tourists standing in the middle of the pathway and not looking where they were going. We didn’t listen to it all entirely as we were on our time schedule not to miss the boarding time again, but we enjoyed the visit and now had a great understanding about the history and the artwork.

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Steadily wandering towards the cruise ship we came across the National Museum Of Archaeology which we had just enough time to visit.  More busier than the National War Museum, but expected as it was situated on one of the busier streets of Valletta. They had some unique pieces that had been found.

It was definitely one of our top destinations of our cruise and likely a location to visit again!

 

Departing Genoa, Italy – Cruise Day 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter digging out the biggest suitcase from the closet and packing all our much needed summer clothes, having our passports in our hands and relevant travelling tickets needed, we were ready to leave. Our journey started at the bus stop where our coach would pick us up for the overnight journey to Genoa, where our cruise ship departs. It was a 16 hour drive through the south of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and finally in the north of Italy. We had the whole back seat area of the coach as it wasn’t completely full, and could luckily get some sleep across some of the chairs. For me was easy, but Lennart sure did struggle with his 196cm length!

Waking up to the early morning sunrise in Switzerland was beautiful, seeing the snow on the mountain tops and the houses hidden on the mountain side. Stopping at the gas station we bought some breakfast before crossing the border to Italy. Most other guests on the coach were 50+ and we had our speculation that the cruise would also be filled with the older generation, but we didn’t mind as it was a brand new travelling experience for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArriving in Genoa at the cruise terminal was an exciting feeling, checking in our bags and receiving all the information needed for when we were on the ship, like our dinner time schedule and room key. We had a few hours to wait before we could actually get on the cruise ship, so like most other guests we headed into the city of Genoa to start soaking up the sun.

Beautiful city, and much bigger and busier than expected! We knew that we would have a few more hours in the city when our cruise returned for the home journey with the coach, so we had no rush to see the city now. While waiting for the time to board we found a little café for some lunch. We were very nervous and excited that we didn’t actually eat much!!

It was time and we were ready. Finally standing next to the ship was amazing, warmly greeted by the personnel while others rushed around with taking peoples suitcases to the correct room, cleaning the whole ship and making all the preparations to depart. It wasn’t the biggest cruise ship on the sea, but to us it was breathtaking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur first day and night was towards our first destination of Marseilles, France. We had to take part in the safety routine emergency drill, grabbing our life jackets from our room and heading straight to our safety point. Definitely made us realise the seriousness of being on a massive ship with up to 3500 people in an emergency. However it was like being in a comic scene seeing people in life jackets, wondering around lost and taking selfies, making the best of the routine emergency drill. It all added to the excitement as our cruise ship departed the docks of Genoa.

Joining in with our first sit down dinner at our time schedule we learnt how we would have the same table every week, with the same guests on our table. It was very organized and new to us. To our delight we had a lovely older Dutch couple who had the same interests as us, and also the same charming waiter every day, making our dinner time’s very ‘gezellig’.

We had an inside cabin, which we didn’t mind as it had plenty of space for us to unpack and make it cosy. Couldn’t feel the ship moving at all and once we turned the lights off it was perfectly pitch black and couldn’t hear a thing from other guests in the hallway. Our first nights sleep on our cruise was a delight.

Check out Day Two where we arrived in Marseille, France.

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