September 30, 2006

London Calling

We arrived in sunny(!) London on Tuesday arvo, and headed straight to Hyde Park with YDG for KFC and Rose wine by the duck pond! Later that night we had famous Roast Duck from The Four Seasons chinese restaurant in Bayswater, complete with Duck Nazi style waitress, down the road from YDG and Eric's place.

Over the next few days we saw a few of the classic sites - Tower of London, London Eye, Westminster and Big Ben, Trafalger Square, Buckingham Palace, Camden Markets, Harrods and things pointed out along the way by YDG our illustrious tour guide. And we enjoyed more of the good things - shopping at H&M and window shopping along Oxford Circus, eating and general bumming around with old friends and of course the reason for our trip... to celebrate Kim's big birthday!

I wish we could have stayed another week or two just to hang out and check out London! Instead I had to try and cram all my luggage into the backpack and a new pink wheely bag (bought in Turkey) and catch that plane!

Next stop: Tokyo

September 26, 2006


We arrived in Istanbul in the middle of the night and straight into the hostel that 'someone' recommended. It was an 8 person mixed dorm with the shower from grimy hell. We moved out the next day to a decent hotel with real beds (not bunks), MTV and our own clean bathroom. BLISS. I enjoyed MTV so much that I was beginning to think I could bust out some bootylicious dancing like Beyonce (yes. Deluded).

We spent 4 days in Istanbul - we had hoped to make it to some of the ruins and coastal parts of Turkey, but we ran out of time and energy. Istanbul was great though, totally different from France and Italy - the people, the food, the whole vibe of the place felt distinctly 'foreign'...and yet familiar like we had stepped into a grander version of Auburn hehe.

We stayed in the Sultanahmet area in the heart of Old Istanbul, which meant we had great rooftop views of the river and alot of fantastic buildings. We visited Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) - a fabulous building that was once a Christian church and then a Mosque and is now a World Heritage site, the Blue Mosque which was lit up at night especially for Ramazan (Ramadan), and The Topaki Palace where The Sultan lived including The Harem (sorry no belly dancing concubines left in the Harem).

As for the Grand Bazaar - we bought a whole bag of silver jewellery, intricately decorated pot tiles, and evil eyes. Red Ginger showed her true bargaining power, managing to score 50% off all initial prices with her First and Final Offer technique. We also managed to find the Spice Bazaar, and the main shopping strip in the CBD side of Istanbul.

At night we walked along the cobbled streets and down to the Hippodrome area where the Ramazan feasting took place at night. We tried pommegranite juice, Kebabs, Baklava, Cola Turka and convincing fruit shaped soaps as well as getting turkish style calligraphy done by a man with a very stylish mo, if he wore MC hammer pants I would have guessed he was a Pasha!
Oh and we had a good scrub down in the same Hamam (turkish bath) that Cameron Diaz had visited. There's no actual 'bath', and you get scrubbed and rubbed by big turkish mamas on a marble slab infront of all the other women. So squeaky clean!

Next Stop: London!


Ciao Bellas!

Roma was bellissimo! Those crazy Romans and their crazy scooters and driving skills. I have new found respect for Roman drivers, their ability to negotiate traffic, pedestrians, and avoid getting caught by police for entering the centre zone without a city pass is frankly extraordinary. It makes sydney CBD peak hour look like a walk in the park.

Mel and I spent the first few days hitting the sights.
Trevi Fountain {tick}
Pantheon {tick}
Piazza Navona {tick}
{Not the Tim Tam} Colesseum was excellent! If you ever want to feel like a VIP and walk past a line of 100 people I recommend buying your tickets from the Roman Forum first! There were lots of large ITalian men dressed as Gladiators for tourists, which reminded us of Billy and Linda's fantastic Roman party.
Vatican City {tick} we almost saw the pope on wed morning but didnt have the special red pass and so couldnt be bothered waiting around! Sistine Chapel was superb!

As for the shopping i am now the owner of cowboy boots and knee high boots. haha! Spent 1 hour in a shop trying on different boot styles.

The food was great, Voodoo's old flatmate, Vittorio showed us around he was so sweet taking us out every night we were there, to the pub area in Trastevere and we had a ball meeting his crazy friends and eating home cooked meals. I even got to try Buffalo Mozerella! And learnt how to 'scarpetta' although i already knew how to do it i just didn't know the term for it!

Next stop
Istanbul not Constantinople!

Swimming in Venice

...Well not really but almost. We arrived in Venice in the pouring rain. The heaviest since we have been on our trip. It was kind of just wet and funny as we stomped in puddles in our flip flops and other people in gum boots and some were wearing entire plastic bags over their feet and wearing these plastic thong contraptions that were specifically designed for ..tourists. haha.
Luckily the rain stopped the next day and we could appreciate the beauty of Venice when not completely flooded!

Highlights of Venice
~murano island checking the funky and not so funky designs
~that wet dirty pigeon smell in St Marks Square unforgettable!
~staying in a nunnery without TV. *when did i become so dependent on MTV!!!!*
~the quaintness of it all...even with all the chinese mainlanders who are now working in italian cafes I will not tolerate my coffee being made by a nonitalian in italy!!!

September 17, 2006

Under the tuscan rain

Today Red Ginger and I went on a cycling tour of the Tuscan countryside outside of Florence. We started off on our cool mountain bikes under blue skies, until we hit the city gates and up to Michaelangelo's Piazza, (which has a bronze replica of his David statue complete with pooping pigeons). It was so dramatic and fun - we cycled through the rain and thunder past olive groves, old villas, little towns and had a great lunch in a little trattoria near Galileo's villa.

Almost got run off by a bus when we re-entered Florence , perhaps abit too much Chianti at lunchtime!

Afterwards, Red Ginger and I hit the San Lorenzo markets BIG TIME. Leather goods, people, leather goods. I think I might be needing another luggage bag for the trip home!

The food here in Florence has been excellent, tonight we had the traditional soupy bread dish called 'Papa di Pomodoro' which is stale bread in olive oil and tomatoey kind of glug that is very tasty. Last night we had the Florence Beefsteak. Not just any kind of steak but a whole whopping kilo of t-bone that looks like it came from the set of the Flintstones. We shared it between two, but it was still too much!

Tomorrow we are off to Venice.

Ciao for now!
-bec & mel (in leather jackets)

September 16, 2006


Ciao! Mel and I have left Easycruise and we're back on solid ground in Florence. Easycruise was too easy - arriving each day on shore at 1pmish too see all the glitzy shops and glamour of the french riveria meant that we didn't do hardly any shopping. We spent most of the time checking out mega yachts and the villas as per 'Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous'...staring at the beautiful and not so beautiful people and their tiny dogs.

The scenery was great, but the coastline is not nearly as beautiful or as clean as Australia, so appreciative of our own beaches now!!

The big orange Easycruise boat was big and orange and was alot more comfortable than the chinese tourist boat on the yangtze haha. The sun deck and sports bar were our favourite places..oh and the gym. Yes, we actually used it!

Today we checked off teh sights in Florence and ate more gelato! I have art coming out of my pores. Tomorrow we are leaving for Venice...hopefully the trains wont be delayed again. Yesterday it took us 5 hours to come from Cinque Terre, instead of the usual 2 hours....ahh gotta love the Italian way of life!

Ciao for now!

September 08, 2006



Our first week has been C'est Manifique! Ahh...Paris! After a long flight to London - we were greeted by a chirpy YDG! Walking through the streets of London was like walking onto a movie set. Abit surreal. After a quick tour of the shops, Red Ginger and I were back on the road and onto the Eurostar to Paris. We changed onto the suburban train line RER - and it was like stepping into Africa. I felt more like a minority than ever! We meet Rockstar's brother's friend, Sam at the meeting place and our fave girls Kim and Cazz! Yippee!! Talk about one big reunion!

Mark's Apartment was so cute - in an old building, but so relaxing to have our own little place to call home. The area, St Michel is filled with art galleries and is quite trendy. The Seine was just up our street, and a cute little street called Rue De Buci has it own supermarche, florist, 'Carton' patisserie and lots of other little cafes and shops.

On our first night, Sam took us to this cool bar on the right bank called Film Noir i think - filled with beautiful skinny smoking women and us in our daggy clothes. Then it was off to dinner at 10pm at some little french restaurant in the Marais Area where I had the Confit de Canard! Yum!

I love that the sun doesn't set until around 9-10pm and people go out to eat very late - Red Ginger and I have been getting up super early, then spending hours walking around and then coming home at 6pm to sitback and relax our aching feet and eat some gelato and then off to dinner at 9ish . Then drag ourselves home past midnight and pass out on the bed.

We saw lots of the sights - The Eiffel Tower from the Champ De Mars - park next to it, we didn't actually go up! And we went to the Jardin de Luxemborg (gardens) where you aren't allowed to sit on the grass but can take the little chairs and sit near the grass to enjoy the view. Saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, saw Rodin's Gates of Hell at the Musee D'orsay and lots of my favourite paintings!!

Yesterday we left Paris and made our way down to Nice by train.

The next update: Easycruise!!