Saturday, March 29, 2008

Viva-la-France!!!

Well as much as I hate to be cliched Paris truly is a magically romantic city which J and I were fortunate enough to spend the Easter long weekend break in. We departed from Kings Cross St Pancras bright and early and I have to say I was very impressed at the efficiency of the whole eurostar train ride! When we did arrive in Paris a whole two hours and 15 minutes later we took a quick metro ride to montemarte where we checked into our quaint hotel. A lovely establishment with plumbing that ran straight through our room but had a location that could not be beaten; around the corner from Moulin Rogue and down the road from Sacre Coeur. We dropped our bags and made a beeline for the Pantheon, where we visited the crypt and saw the burial places of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie and Pierre Curie. Afterwards we headed out to the Lourve for our obligatory visit stopping at Notre Dame along the way. We spent an amazing hour and a half in the freezing wind to climb to tower and look out high above the skyline of Paris and see the most amazing gargoyles. We finished the day with an amazing dinner, including an entree of snails, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, which was amazing!

The next day we woke early and headed out to the magical land of Disney, much to J's reluctance. At Disney we visited all the themed lands and rode rides including space mountain, peter pan lift off and Indiana Jones's Temple of Doom. However, was very disappointed that the small animated children for Australia in the "It's a small world" ride were merged with New Zealand and only given a brief cameo appearance in the ride. We ended the day watching as sleeping beauty's castle was lit by Mickey and Minnie to celebrate 15 years of Euro Disney.

Easter Sunday saw us head out to the Palace of Versailles, the home of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Where we were shocked by a 3 hour line wait to purchase tickets for entry into the palace. We instead opted to buy tickets to a guided tour which saw us skip the line, pay a little more, but allow plenty of time for a relaxing stroll of the gardens and an amazing picnic of cheese, chocolate, cake and red wine! After our tour we headed back to central paris to prepare for our 8pm show at the Moulin Rouge. The show was amazing! A real highlight was the older UK couple seated to our left who 10 minutes in leaned across and whispered to us "Did you know it was topless?" and "I've never seen so much TIT in all my life". At which point Bec nearly spat out her mouthful of free champagne all over them!

Our final day was spent visiting the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Eylsees, Napoleon's tomb and slowly made our way up to the Eiffle Tower. When we arrived the top level was shut due to an incoming electrical storm so we spent time taking a few photos. We then opted to head back to montemarte and visit Sacre Couer before heading to Paris Nord for our return train ride to London. But pictures tell a thousand words so heres a few ;) from our trip...



The Craic was mighty!!!

Hi Kids, well we have just come back from a great 4 days in Ireland. We arrived on Sunday afternoon, checked our bags, and headed to the local pub (The Knightsbridge) to try some local Guinness and meet up with Corey and Lee. The afternoon turned to night, and the Guinness was still flowing. After trying some different pubs in the temple bar area, we moved to a night club to dance the night away.

The next morning we headed passed the General Post Office and the Statue of light towards Kilmainham Gaol. After visiting the museum and doing a guided tour we headed back to town for another tour, this one was all about the 1916 uprising. The tour was blahh but the guide was awesome, very knowledgeable and excited about the topics. From there we headed to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and more importantly our free Guinness. At the top of the factory there was a great viewing platform to enjoy your beer. That night we went back to O'Connell St for dinner, Blue and Jarratt enjoyed a traditional irish stew, Bec had a Gaelic dish of chicken and potatoe and Rebecca had a Celtic dish, all very tasty.

Monday was the day of the parade and in our green outfits we got in early to reserve our spot for the parade. However one local lady and several little kids had other ideas, by managing to push in 10 minutes before the parade. However we still had the front row in the end. The parade came and went, with much colour and flare from a typical parade. However it was St Pats day and there was Guinness to be drunk, so we got down to business. A great day with many memories.

Tuesday was our last day, and our last opportunity to take in Dublin. So we headed to Trinity College to see the Library, the long hall and the book of Kells. We also took a look at the old Parliament building, the Dublin castle and St Stephens green. Before passing the statue of Molly Malone, who was featured in one of the many Irish anthems heard over the weekend, that continued around and around in our head.

All in all a great weekend was had by all and hear are some of the photos...









Saturday, March 15, 2008

in the mean time...

Howdy Readers! Well it is the eve of our St Pat's debacle and before we forget everything due to large consumptions of Guinness we thought it best to update you on the week past.

Since our last update many memorable events have past including the festivities for the Birthday of Bec. The festivities included a memorable visit to the local Mexican restaurant 'desperados'! We also danced most of Saturday night away at zigfrids, although a few participants failed to remember much and others took off chasing a double decker bus, only to be boo-ed by commuters once aboard!

The weekend also saw us off to the exciting destination of Greenwich. Which does not offer much, except a small sleepy village looking suburb which is home to the prime meridian of the world (AKA Greenwich Mean Time - GMT). We took all the tokenistic photos of feet either side of the east/west divide and watched as the big red ball dropped to signal the start of time (1300hours). As riveting as it is we have included a video for your own enjoyment (you can all reveal in J's enjoyment at my stunt.) So sit back and enjoy... I'm sure you'll hear from us soon! Lots of Love, Us!
Bec and her birthday cake!
J didn't find this as funny as security at the Museum.

Where time begins...

<------------- Sydney is THATA way!!!

video

OLD AND WISE!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rock the (Morrocan) Kasbah!

Casablanca

We arrived into Casablanca at roughly 3pm, and after loosing time, gaining time, we were feeling a little dizzy. We made our way to customs and hit a line longer than the great wall. Seeing this Jarratt said "They need to sort this our before the Olympics" which made Bec and the few Australians behind us chuckle. Promptly after making this comment we were quickly waved through the diplomatic line and processed rather quickly. We then boarded a train headed for Casablanca's Casa Port.

After finding our hostel in the centre of the Medina, we dropped our bags and headed out to explore. Jarratt had found a wonderful walking tour that was meant to take 45 minutes, however I don't believe lonely planet had factored in the getting lost and domestic squabble that comes after 12hours of travelling combined with little to no sleep. After eventually giving up we decided to reward ourselves for not getting too lost (or killing each other) to a flash dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at a seafood restaurant. Trying to order proved difficult when we were presented with a french menu! Thankfully our lovely waiter ordered a fantastic meal on our behalf and essentially tripled his tip! :) After dinner we feel straight into bed and slept happily.

The following morning we travelled out to the Hassan II Mosque which is the third largest mosque in the world. It is also one of the only mosques opened to non-Muslims. It is a remarkable building which towers to the height of Notre Dame and was built in just less than 6 years! In the one hour tour we visited the main prayer hall, the washrooms and a traditional hamman; it was well worth the visit.

Us at the Hassan II Mosque!

Rabat

After a short (one hour) train ride from Casablanca we arrived in Morocco's Capital, Rabat. Once again we dumped our bags and made a beeline for the old town. This time we found ourselves wandering a much more ordered Medina, full of spices, olives and all things typically Moroccan. We even felt brave enough to sample a brochettes (a sort of sandwich with cooked mince meat and spices) from a quaint hole in the wall place for lunch before continuing onward and upward to Rabat's Kasbah. It was at the Kasbah where we rocked out (hehe) and Bec's love of Moroccan doors, mint tea and sugary sweets began. The afternoon saw us head to Mohammed V's Mausoleum and the Le Tour Hassan, before getting caught in the rain and heading to our lush hotel room for a siesta. We awoke later in the night to sample our first tajines, which are famous Moroccan stews cooked in earth ware pots. We then spent the rest of the night camped out on our balcony eating ice cream and watching the donkeys wander past.

Bec and her Brochettes

Fes

We arrived in Fes just after lunch without having accommodation lined up and thought we'd just "Billy Wyatt" it! We managed to find a nice young chap who took us to a local family run riad inside the Medina. After getting settled in an amazing room, we again hit the old town to check out the sights. Along the way we scored ourselves a wonderful little guide, who wasn't all that wanted or familiar with the difference between English and French. Despite repeated "Parlez-vous l'anglais?", he continued to reply "oui!" and continue to speak to us in French. After tossing our tour guide a few dirham we headed towards a local dinner and show where we had our first taste of couscous.

The next morning, bright and early we headed out to the tanneries, that were really spectacular! The tanneries is where animal hides are taken, stripped and dyed to be turned into leather bags, slippers, coats, cushions, everything you can imagine! After having the owner explain to us the process and his top retail man pushing the hard sell on us we left empty handed. We then headed back to our riad where our hostess treated us to an ENORMOUS homemade couscous which she packed up for us to take on our 7 hour train ride to Marrakech!

The Tanneries



Marrakech

We arrived in Marrakech, a little late and a little scared. When we eventually found our hostel we desperately wanted to fall into bed and straight to sleep, unfortunately a few british birds with wafty blonde hair prevented that until the wee hours of the morning. The following moring over breakfast we met a lovely Australian couple who had been just as impressed with the previous nights antics as we had. We decided then and there to accompany them for the day... together we explored the Palais de la bahia (palace ruins) and the Saadien Tombs, but after a while J got the shits with it all (literally) and we had to head back to our hostel. Later that night we all went to an amazing Moroccan/Thai fusion place that overcharged for beers and chased us down over 10 dirham (roughly 1 Australian dollar), it had been an interesting day!

The following day we trekked out into the Atlas mountains for a visit to a berber village, a camel ride and a mountain trek. We are proud to report that another mountain has been climbed by Bec in her thongs... you think she'd learn...hehe. On our final day in Marrakech we wandered the souks, where Bec took nearly a million photos, played with snakes and the snake charmers in Djemaa el-fna square and found a wonderfully lush hotel that gave a very memorable kind of hamman and massage.

Our last day of the trip was spent travelling 15 hours by bus, train and plane to arrive safely back to our house on the monolopy board.

Us with the snake charmers in Djemaa el-fna square

Til next time... take care of yourself, and each other!!! :P