Archive for June, 2009

21
Jun
09

London and more…

During the 9 days we’ve had here in London, we’ve squeezed in quite a lot.  We’ve been very lucky with the weather, enjoying rain-free days and even experienced some sunshine! On our first 2 days we firstly went on the Eye which really helped us get our bearings. Great view from the top! On our way, we walked past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
The London Eye

The London Eye

 

 

On the Eye

On the Eye

 

Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

 

 

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

 

Afterwards, we strolled along the river Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral, viewed some art at a few of the galleries, and marveled at the exhibitions at some of the free museums. Daniel particularly enjoyed seeing the fossil skeleton of the one-eyed giant at the Museum of Natural History.

On Thursday, we went on a day tour to Stonehenge and Bath. Stonehenge is just breathtaking, and although they’ve figured out how and when it was built (some 5 000 years ago), the mystery still remains as to why it was built and what it was used for. The most solid theory presumes it’s an ancient calendar, as the sun rises and sets through particular stones to indicate the different months and even the summer and winter solstices.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

The town of Bath is very charming with lots of shops and a spectacular display of houses built from the famous Bath stone.  We even drove around the ‘circus’ which is a circular stand of luxury apartments where Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage have both bought apartments next door to each other – and sadly we didn’t bump into them. The Roman Baths are amazing – the Romans discovered the natural hot springs and subsequently settled in Bath and built around the hot springs to create a central place where they congregated to bath, socialise and even seek the believed healing properties of the water.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths

IMGP1976

 

We’ve also been to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace where we saw the changing of the Guard.

 

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

We checked out Harrods which sells absolutely everything! Very impressive. And later in the afternoon we strolled through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. We went to the IMax theatre in the Science Museum to see a 3D movie – check out our sexy glasses!
Cool tree in Hyde Park

Cool tree in Hyde Park

Imax theatre

Imax theatre

 

Yesterday we went to the Notting Hill markets which are fantastic! We caught up with Claire and Dan for a pub lunch, and they later took us out to Fulham to experience the nightlife of London at a few of the pubs – we even had a couple of ‘snake bite’ drinks that Claire enjoys!

Notting Hill

Notting Hill

 

Catching up with Claire & Dan

Catching up with Claire & Dan

 

One thing that we’ve found hard to get used to here are the long days, as it only starts getting dark around 10.00pm, and the sun starts to rise around 4.00am – yesterday was the summer solstice here. We’re spending today mainly relaxing and planning for an early night, as tomorrow we start our European Contiki tour and drive to Paris. Very excitied!

Sending our love, Nat & Dan xxx

Advertisements
16
Jun
09

The Wedding & Shenanigans

Wow! The Irish sure know how to party! We arrived in Castlebar on Thursday evening and met up with everyone for a local pub crawl where we met both Dean and Deb’s family and Irish friends, and also the other Aussies who have travelled here for the wedding. Celebrations continued Friday night – mainly the boys who headed out for more pints of Guinness. 

The wedding was Saturday – the ceremony was held at a local church and the reception was at a gorgeous hotel. Dean and Deb both looked great, Deb absolutely stunning!

Dean & his brothers - Luke & Troy

Dean & his brothers - Luke & Troy

 

 

 

 

 

The bridesmaids and flower girl

The bridesmaids and flower girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deb & Dean

Deb & Dean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

 

 

The entertainment included a band, with the straw hat people arriving later for more entertainment. All us Aussies were very confused by the show, and it was later explained that in the old days when there was a local wedding on, the poor and crazy town folk were not invited, so they used to arrive in these traditional straw hats so nobody knew who they were. Not the most subtle way to sneak into a wedding I thought, but it must have worked! The night kicked on with a DJ arriving at 1.30am and we decided to leave at 3.00am, however some were known to finally leave the reception at 7.00am the next morning!

The straw hat people

The straw hat people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boys

The boys

 

The wedding bonanza continued the following evening despite a few sore heads and we left Castlebar Monday morning after a very eventful and fun weekend.

Night after the wedding

Night after the wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The newlyweds - Mr. & Mrs. Kay

The newlyweds - Mr. & Mrs. Kay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deb with her Irish girls

Deb with her Irish girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the Aussies

A few of the Aussies

 

Deano, Troy & Luke

Deano, Troy & Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel has done really well with the driving, especially in our big Ford Transit van. The roads and road rules are much the same over here, however we have found it hard driving along some of the very narrow roads, as they were once built for horse and cart. We have been so lucky with the great weather we have been having, despite a chilly start and are now really enjoying the summer here. We dropped off our van this morning and are now back in London for about a week before our Contiki tour.

Thanks too for all your lovely comments – we love hearing from you all back home and hope you’re enjoying our blog.

Love to you all.

Nat & Dan xxx

13
Jun
09

Ireland

We arrived in Dublin on Sunday where Dean and Deb’s sister, Siobhan picked us up from the airport.

Our first Guinness

Our first Guinness

Dean showed us around Dublin and we had our first pint of Guinness at one of the great pubs they have over here. I’m also hooked on Bulmers which is like an apple cider over here, but I’m struggling with the huge pint glasses! The pubs here are fantastic – very cosy with friendly locals and fantastic live music. We stayed in a Dublin backpackers hostel for 2 nights – shared a dorm with 6 German bikies!

Live pub music

Live pub music

 

Dean & Daniel enjoying a Guinness

Dean & Daniel enjoying a Guinness

Dean drove us to the picturesque region of Wicklow – where much of the movie ‘Braveheart’ was filmed. The day was very cold and misty which was fit for the mystic scenery.

Misty Wicklow

Misty Wicklow

Wicklow

Wicklow

We picked up our van and travelled to Kilkenny, which is where the Delaney’s are known to come from. Travelled then to the town of Cork and stayed at Blarney which is where the famous Blarney castle is. Legend has it if you kiss the Blarney stone, it will give you eloquence.

Blarney castle

Blarney castle

We spent a day driving around the Ring of Kerry which is renowned for it’s amazing scenery and beautiful beaches – is definitely a favourite of Daniel’s.

Yesterday we went to the Cliffs of Moher and walked the entire length while teetering off the edge: they don’t seem to be too safety conscious over here! I now have a phobia of heights!

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

We have now settled in Castlebar for a few nights and are very much looking forward to Dean & Deb’s wedding which is today.

Love to everyone,

Nat & Daniel xxx

06
Jun
09

Phuket

Phuket was great – beautiful beaches and streets filled with markets and stalls where we’re hassled to buy things like clothes, jewellery, sunglasses, watches and DVD’s.  We stayed at Patong Beach and it definitely took a couple of days to settle in and fine-tune our bartering skills. Tried not to buy too much as our luggage is already heavy enough. 

 

Daniel getting his foot scrub

Daniel getting his foot scrub

So we spent out money on pampering instead – daily massages, pedicures and manicures. And yes, Daniel got a pedi – rather, a ‘foot scrub’ which as you can see, turned into a 2 man job which took 1 hour. For those who know Daniel’s feet, this was definately a challenge.  The girls told us they had only seen one other worse – a 51 year old man, who had 20 years up on Daniel.

 The traditional Thai massages are not quite what I expected. Instead of relaxing, we were poked, prodded, pushed and pulled in every muscle for 1 hour and they weren’t gentle about it either! We came out feeling like pieces of tenderised meat, which actually felt really good!  

 

 

 

James Bond island

James Bond island

The ‘James Bond’ tour was great, which took us to the island where the ‘The Man and the Golden Gun’ was filmed. The tour also took us canoeing through the caves, including the ‘bat cave’ where hundreds of bats were hanging from the ceiling.  The untouched lagoons on the other sides of the caves are just amazing. Due to the tide, we had to lie down in the canoe to enter and exit from the caves.

Canoeing through caves

Canoeing through caves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger prawn

Tiger prawn

We enjoyed some of the town’s local seafood, and as you can see, Daniel enjoyed his super-massive tiger prawn, and yes – that’s just one prawn on the plate! The Thai food over here is so much spicier – not quite the same Masaman curry as back at home. We particularly enjoyed the cheap cocktails and beer (a bottle of Thai beer ‘Singha’ is 40 baht – approx. $1.50).

 

Baby elephant

Baby elephant

We took a cab ride down to some of the quieter beaches of Phuket – Karon Beach & Kata Beach. On the way down, we came across a gorgeous baby elephant on the side of the road who gave us both a big kiss.

 

 

 

 

Maya Bay

Maya Bay

Our next tour took us to Phi Phi islands (Phi Phi Don & Phi Phi Ley). Went to Maya Bay where they filmed ‘The Beach’ – absolutely stunning. Luckily we were one of the first boats to arrive, so it wasn’t too crowded. We went snorkelling on the reef, drifted into the gorgeous and secluded Pileh Cove and went to Monkey Beach where we welcomed the locals with bananas. The day ended on Bamboo island where we snorkelled some more and swam in the warm waters while surrounded by tiger fish.

 

Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach

Our last couple of days were spent relaxing and we squeezed in one more massage before our flight to London.

06
Jun
09

Bangkok

Our first experience of Thailand was 2 nights in Bangkok – busy traffic and smelly. We took a rice barge cruise down the Chao Phraya river and explored the very modest homes raised by wooden piers in the ‘suburban canals’.  Daniel got a tailor-made cashmere suit made for the wedding at a very good price!

City of Bangkok

City of Bangkok

A home in one of the Chao Phraya river canals

A home in one of the Chao Phraya river canals

The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace

We checked out more of the culture and took a tuk-tuk and discovered the amazing Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha – houses the Royal residence and a number of government offices. The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha is one of the most venerated sites in Thailand where people convene to pay respect to Buddha. 

The Royal Palace

A guard at the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace