Friday, September 30, 2011

Day Eight - Moving on to Munich

Another 4am start this morning but not quite by choice … the flight from London to Berlin was scheduled for 7am and you know how I like to be early or on time. After 5 hours of waiting and flights we got to the hotel, dropped out bags and got busy being tourists. We decided since we did so well on the London Public Transport system how hard could the German system really be. They use trams and we need to take the # 17. It took a good 20 minutes to realize you stand on one side of the street to go one way and stand on the other side of the street to go the other way…. Well Duhh.

One thing I am finding is that Ben seems to freak out whenever someone tries to speak to him in German. I would almost say its funny but the first time it happened was security at the airport where they asked him questions and he just looked at them dumbly, tilted his head to one side and called out my name repeatedly until I came up and they realized he spoke English. I have told him all he has to say when they address him is “Do you speak English” but darling hubby says he tries but his brain just freezes and no words come out … something to work on hey?

The town itself if actually quite lovely, its not old old but there are so many parks and lovely cobblestones streets its almost like its in a film set. There is so much to like about this place but as far as a city goes, even a very busy city like this one its actually impossible not to slow down and just enjoy the sunshine. It seems to be built around relaxing and taking things easy.

Walking around Munich it was amazing to see just how many people were wearing the national costumes of Leiderhosen and Drindle. It is phenominally busy here at the moment (last weekend of Oktoberfest) and we were rather hesitant to enter the Hofbrauhaus House which was recommended by everyone we have talked to. Boy was it was busy, you step into the hall and the noise is almost deafening, people sing, thump their glasses on the table and they speak really loudly as they try to be heard over the stuff mentioned above as well as the big brass band playing in the centre of the room. IF, and the IF is a huge IF at the moment because as I said, its pretty busy. IF you get a seat you spend the next 10 minutes shell shocked, watching everything and everyone in a sort of daze before desperately trying to get someones attention because at this point the only way to survive the crazy is to join in. Its funny, after a beer and an hour in the place, you actually just sort of relax into it all and look at the shell shocked new comers with a sort of mocking pity.

It was at this point we stupidly decided to dress up for Oktoberfest tomorrow. Rather an interesting choice coming from boring old me but hey, do as the locals do, drink as the locals drink and then hopefully fly out fast enough you beat the obligatory hang over. So tomorrow I may have some rather interesting pictures for you … Ben has brought a full Bavarian costume, Leiderhosen and all. I found a Drindle (sort of a beer wench costume without all the boobs and legs they seem to show in our Australian versions) and am desperately hoping this years work Christmas party has a German theme so I can wear it again. After going round and round in circles trying to convice myself it was going to be fun I think I may have actually done it … I, Miss V am actually looking forward to Oktoberfest.

So my little prayer tonight is as follows - May I survive the beer, crowds and a very druken husband … and may I wake up feeling great the next day so I can say “I told you so” to said husband.

Day Seven - A Day With The Royals

Today we got back on the tube … I am really getting quite good at the tube now, ha its hilarious the tube. I’m almost a Londoner … calling it the tube. No really we wander through the tunnels up and down the escalators trying to figure out how to get between lines desperately looking at my mini tube map … oh dear, lets play ‘pick the tourist’

We cleverly thought that in order to avoid the cues at Buckingham Palace we should just arrive slightly early. Easy right … ha I think not. After walking down the 200 people line I was then lucky enough to preach to hubby about how patience is a virtue while we waited in the line… and waited.

I should say though it was smooth sailing after we got the tickets. They have groups of about 30 people moving through in 15 minute lots and even with all the security it was almost painless.

The palace itself was amazing, unfortunately I was unable to take pictures, they are very big on security there however what it meant was that instead of trying to document the moment we actually got to live in the moment. So I have this tendency to look up no matter where I am, the ceilings at the palace are almost breathtaking. I have to say its almost obscene, the amount of opulence on show. Obviously it’s a showcase not a home, the queen lives in a totally different wing of the house to the state rooms but still, at some point these rooms were regularly used.

We did one last wander around the city, relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine, had a lovely lunch a a very cute little Italian restaurant. The owner sang as he served us, he gave us olives and bread when we sat down and Limoncello after the meal. I want to rave after this place, it was small, quaint and the food was amazing.

Now home to pack and get ready for a 4am pick up tomorrow morning for the flight to Munich …. Viva a la Oktoberfest!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day Six - My Feet are Suffering

This morning I have something amazing to report … I woke up at 7am. See that’s normal time well ok work normal, but still, anything is an improvement to 4am.

Now to confessions. This morning my husband called me a goldfish …. “Oh look there is a castle… swim swim swim …. Oh look there is a castle!” Now maybe I should explain, I am deathly afraid of heights, I start getting queasy, have trouble breathing and generally just freeze on the spot with a death grip on whatever is closest to hand. When we visited Singapore I went on the Singapore Flyer and ended up with all of the above mentioned symptoms and unfortunately the death grip happened to be fixed to hubby’s hand. This morning we went on the London Eye and to be honest, I was pretty excited bouncing around about the view and how much fun it was going to be. Step onto the “pod” and suddenly I froze up. I wanted off and I wanted off NOW! Obviously there was no way off and I was stuck taking deep calming breaths for the next 45 minutes. Apparently I am now banned from high things but surely he doesn’t mean the Eiffel Tower. There is no way in hell I am not doing the Eiffel Tower … everyone has to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower … well duhh.

 After that we just wandered around town, saw the very end of the changing of the horses which was 4 horses on either side of the entrance staring at each other. Hubby decided to ask the security guard when they were going to start fighting .. let me tell you, that didn’t go down very well, more incredulous looks were cast out way.

After more wandering we visited Churchills War Rooms, which were totally amazing. Everything was very well set out and so so interesting. It must have been such a crazy space during the war, people everywhere, phones ringing, and the constant fear of the air raid sirens.

 Other than that we shopped on a very well named Regent Street… Firstly Regent Street itself is total heaven, the architecture is decadent and I was loathed to actually leave the street to walk into the shops… however shop I did and ended up with not 1 but 2 lovely coats from a Spanish designer called Desigual. After spending enough money to make even my little heart flutter my feet started screaming very loudly that they had had enough. We braved the underground and staggered home under the weight of our shopping bags and even the two flights of stairs to get from the lobby to our room looked insurmountable.

After resting said feet for a to short period of time we get dressed and decided to wander around yet again to find somewhere to eat for dinner. Now apparently Indian is one of the main food groups in the UK so we thought …. Hey lets give it a try, we love Indian. Let me just say its rather different, its creamier and almost like Thai as opposed to what we related to as Indian.

Last day in London tomorrow and I'm a bit sad to be leaving, we are having a heat wave here and its been perfect 27 degree weather for our entire stay. Thankyou thankyou thankyou Karma.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day Five - We Ventured 'Outside'

I know its becoming a theme but we woke up this morning at 4am…. Obviously there is no point playing the blame game but these early mornings are getting to me!

Anyways enough about my sleeping habits, I may or may not have mentioned in one of my previous posts how I had ‘cracked’ the train system! If I didn’t say it I was certainly thinking it, I was thinking about just how easy it is to use, how simple to get from one place to the other and feeling quite smug about just how easily we picked it up. Unfortunately today I learned the truth, I was talking about the light rail system, we had yet to experience ….. (dah dah dah dahhhhh) “THE UNDERGROUND”. Anyone who says the underground is easy is either crazy or lying. There is nothing simple about this form of transport, there are numerous lines with north east west and south tracks, there are transfers, there are stairs and labrynths of hallways saying ‘way out’ where you just keep walking until you almost despair you will ever find your way out…. So we thought … why don’t we ask someone.  A simple premise however this is what we were told “Take Jubilee to Baker then Bakerloo to Paddington” ….. She must have repeated this about 5 times before she realized we just were not getting it so she got one of these really cute little maps and circled every time we had to get off and transfer. So I get it, I don’t think I have it ‘cracked’ however I now know that Jubilee and Bakerloo are lines and Paddington and Baker are stations. If you don’t believe me have a little look at the map below … this is what I was working with.

Moving right along, because of the 4am start we decided we may as well make the most of our time and go to Bath instead of waiting in the city for things to open at 10am. So we made it to Paddington in one piece, got on a train and went to Bath.

We loved Bath! I should rephrase that we adore Bath, its heavenly really, its pretty and its just plain quaint. There is the most amazing bridge we just stared at for hours. There are lots of little shops and streets to walk down, there is obviously the Roman Baths but we will get to them in a minute. I cant think of anything I didn’t like about the cute little town and if we ever come back to the UK we would definitely be spending some time here.

Now the Baths! I was really looking forward to this and although they were really lovely I have to say I wasn’t “Breathless Over the Past” (One of my bucket list items) It was amazing but maybe because in the 1800’s it was redone it just felt a bit like a film set. Still amazing but im not going to tick it off the list just yet.

Finally last night I dragged the hubby to the Lyceum theatre to watch Lion King. The costumes were amazing, the music was great and the show was wonderful. However the signs saying no drinks, phones or cameras seemed to be ignored, track pants, back packs and shopping bags also seemed to be acceptable and to be honest it almost broke my heart. In Australia there is still a tiny bit of formality associated with going to the theatre, you dress appropriately, you appreciate how luck you are to be in a 200 year old venue and you respect the rules. Oh well, lets say I was shocked, but it didn’t take away from the overall experience … let us hope this means we have nice sleep in to maybe 7am tomorrow morning.