Wednesday, November 13: We’re going to Budapest by train tonight so there’s lots of time to kill hanging out in restaurants and coffee shops trying to stay warm. Krakow’s main square is pretty at night.
Friday, November 15: Utterly exhausted we deem our number one priority to be soaking in a thermal bath. Budapest has many of them but we chose the largest Hungarian style baths for our soaking – Szechenyi Thermal Baths.
Saturday, November 16: The Budapest Zoo is incredible. I’m obviously a huge fan of good zoos, but wow! In the Budapest Zoo there are a few enclosures where you are right in with the animals. There are Zoo volunteers wearing fluro vests, but there is nothing separating you from the sloths, lemurs, bats, and vultures, we were in enclosures with all of them.
Tuesday, November 5: Our free tour of Prague, full of laughs and wacky sound effects from our enthusiastic guide ends, and after finally finding a place to eat that is both warm and not smokey we leave just in time to finally catch the astronomical clock doing its dance. The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn is another of Prague’s gothic beauties.
Friday, November 8: We rolled into Krakow at 6.30am after spending the night not sleeping much on a train. Exhausted, we drop our bags at the hotel and because it’s so early have to head out again for breakfast and then straight on to a walking tour. The castle on the hill features some pretty interesting combinations of architecture styles.
Sunday, November 10: Benefits of traveling on shoulder season include free entry to castle exhibitions. Drawbacks are that this is when locals and weekend visitors come to the city and the lines are too long to make visiting possible.
Monday, November 11: It is Poland’s National Independence Day, which we mark by watching some parading and speeches we don’t understand while waiting for our tour to start. Today we’re visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was…worse than I expected. The size of Birkenau, I can still not comprehend.
Tuesday, October 29: After our free walking tour we took ourselves to the East Side Gallery, an outdoor gallery of works on part of the old Berlin Wall. This obviously isn’t part of the wall, but was one of the only pieces of art in the area that hadn’t been tagged.
Tuesday, October 22: We took an afternoon tour with Reykjavik Excursions to see Gullfoss (Golden Falls, don’t even try to pronounce it in Icelandic) , Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park. Gullfoss is a truly magnificent sight. We even got to see the magical afternoon rainbow that sprouts when the sun is just right.
Thursday, October 24: Our second attempt to see the Northern Lights (we tried on the 21st with no luck). This was as good as it got for us unfortunately. The green was not nearly as visible with the naked eye, it’s tricks of the magical all seeing camera lens. You can be in the right country, in the perfect year, at the perfect time, and the lights still on’t show up for you. Our tickets are valid for 2 years though so we just need to make sure we go back! Oh to have arrived a week earlier when the lights were visible in the main street of town!
Sunday, October 27: OMG I love Berlin so much. We walked all over and saw things from all spectrums. The broken wall, beautiful street art, a busy Sunday market with so so much great stuff to buy, and crazy old beautiful buildings. Like the Berliner Dom, my favourite for sure. It is ridiculously grand.
Tuesday, October 15: We spent most of the day at the Vancouver Aquarium followed by a big walk home through Stanley Park full of autumn colours and squirrels getting ready for the winter.
The Aquarium is really cool! Seems to be some great conservation projects going on and the shows by the dolphins and belugas were so awesome!
Thursday, October 17: Our last day in Vancouver. We woke up to fog covering the city, it was quite incredible to see from our high balcony! We met with Janine & wandered around Kitsilano, the beach, and saw the 100 foot centennial totem.
Friday, October 18: After a long flight to Frankfurt all of our plans to explore the city for a few hours went out the window. The nice people at the Meininger airport hotel made a room available for us early so we showered and slept and slept and ate terrible food in the “restaurant”. I was full of cold and in quite a bit of pain from it and quite happy to do nothing but sleep and feel sorry for myself.
Saturday, October 19: ICELAND. After one night in Frankfurt we flew with Iceland Air to Reykjavik. This city, man! All we did this day was walk to the mall that Brendan dumpster dived at last time and ate some dinner, inside, that we paid for.
Sunday, October 20: Time to explore the city! The Phallological Museum (yes, a museum full of penises), some classic Icelandic food, Hallgrimskirkja church, a big ol’ graveyard, and super cute little buildings.
Monday, October 21: The Laugardalslaug pools warmed us up from 0 degrees so we could walk through the botanical gardens. We tried desperately to find the entrance to the fun park/zoo but failed until we saw a driveway with the gate open and suddenly there were animals! Icelandic horses, seals, and stags. But most importantly there were a couple of beautiful arctics foxes! I almost cried. I love foxes so much and these were my first real life sightings.
We explored the park a bit and on exit finally found the real entrance…where you’re supposed to pay. Oops.
Wednesday, October 9: Happy birthday to me! The weather was quite very crap & it almost put us off our plans to go to the beach for brunch. We braved the wind and rain and cold and went to Maranui for a delicious brunch.
Sunday, October 13: Hello Vancouver! Our second Sunday the 13th for the year, we arrived in Vancouver long before we left New Zealand, isn’t time travel funny. This is the view from our Air BnB apartment in the West End. <3
Monday, October 14: Canadian Thanksgiving! We got to spend Thanksgiving with Brendan’s sister Janine. After enjoying the sights and tastes of Granville Island we bought some meat and veges from the market and went back to the leafy streets of Kitsilano.
After 46 days away we’re back in the land of the long white cloud.
Europe & Canada were amazing, exhausting, beautiful, cold , delicious, and exhausting.
It’s nice to be back in a familiar, soft bed which is higher than a foot off the ground. It’s nice to be able to make tea whenever I want and to use a washing machine instead of a sink and to have a shower I can turn around in without turning the water off with my butt.
I’ll miss warming up with a mug of hot wine while shopping for ornaments in the multitude of Christmas markets in Vienna. The incredible volcanic landscapes of Reykjavik and the bountiful thermal springs. The beauty of Prague’s magnificent buildings; everywhere you look it’s a fairy tale. And the beer! Berlin’s young generations remembering but moving on from past atrocities & making it a lively fun place full of good food and good art. Krakow’s walkability and the ring of park that surrounds the city centre. Budapest’s resilience and the pockets of greatness everywhere – the zoo, the views from high hills, incredible buildings, thermal baths, the market, and Gozsdu alleyway full of cafes and restaurants. And Vancouver was Wellington on a larger scale. Therefore I love everything about it.
I’ll be back one day Europe, for now I’ll try to forget how long it takes to get to you. And how much better your public transport is.