A Travellerspoint blog

Bled

Swans, Lakes and Castles in Slovenia

We booked accommodation for Bled rather late so we ended up booking a little apartment.

Bled is a very quiet town. Quieter than I imagined it would be.

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The first afternoon we walked by the lake and watched the birds swimming around and had an early night.

The next day we caught a bus to Bohinj lake and walked for a few hours. The temperature was a bit warmer than Salzburg so being outside was good. The Bohinj area was seriously pretty.

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We tried the traditional Slovenian cream cake which was tasty.

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I was bitten by a giant swan.

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And I learnt to ride deer thing.

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Unfortunately Lucy felt really sick for most of Bled so we had a pretty quiet time. I did a bit of reading and drawing while she recovered.

One morning we woke and it was snowing and everything was frozen, including the entire Bled lake. We went for a walk on it while the locals skated around and we visited the castle on our final day.

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The hinge on my camera broke which is depressing as I will no longer be able to take it under water. Its been a really annoying camera (its an Olympus tough) as it struggles to pick up any colour if there is bright light or if its a cloudy day. The battery also only lasts for an hour or so before it dies so I have to be really strategic about when I take photos. But a camera is a camera and atleast I am able to take photos.

Posted by SusannahBinsted 08:37 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg

Leaving the Czech Republic for Schnitzels and Schnapps

Cesky Krumlov was a great mix of relaxing with pockets of lots of activity. Our hostel, Krumlov house, was excellent although the heating could have been much warmer (particularly considering the cold front that came through).

The town is built around a winding river with sloping hills all around. It seems like it should be a setting for a fairy tale.

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It also looks beautiful at night if you can hack the weather.

Earlier that week a nearby pond had frozen over and the hostel had a trunk full of skates so we took a few turns on the ice. I think Lucy let go of the rail for a minute or two.

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Our visit to the castle gave us a basic idea of the history of the area as well as a basic geography as we looked out from the tower.

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So far my favourite moment on the whole trip has been our horse ride. We booked to go horse riding at our hostel and it costs us roughly $15 Australian dollars for 1 hr. In the afternoon we walked for about half an hour to a nearby town and found the horse place where we communicated with a lady (she didnt speak english) and she gave us helmets and helped us onto the horses. We rode with the lady and her daughter through these gorgeous fields and up a hill through all these pine trees where the ground was blanketed with snow. The amount of clothing we were wearing was ridiculous. I had on a pair of stockings, a pair of thin leggings, a pair of thick sports leggings and a pair of jeans, three pairs of socks, boots, a shirt, three different thermal tops (thick ones), a kathmandu jacket a scarf and two pairs of gloves. And I was still cold. Toward the end I wandered if I might have frostbite because I hadn´t been able to feel my hands for a while. It was minus 15. My horse also had this tendancy to try and run me into things so I copped a nice bruise on my left knee. Lucy also really enjoyed the ride but I could pretty much smell fear in the air she was so nervous the horse would throw her. The best moment was when we came over the lip of a hill and you could see all of Cesky below.

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So if you ever go to Cesky Krumlov horse riding is a must.

I was expecting to be a bit dissapointed by Salzburg because I didn´t really know what was here and didn´t think it would be that special culturally but It´s been really different and I´ve loved my time here.

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Above is a picky that I took from the cable car that takes you up to the Hohensalzburg fortress. It was really interesting learning about the history of Salzburg but outside on the viewing platform was very cold. It has been around minus 16 most days but today felt much warmer than all the other days.

We spent an afternoon looking at the Residence which has gorgeous baroque furnishings and the gallerie.

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Here is Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot and all I could think of was James delivering that line in his year 12 group performance monologue. I had Mr Sandman stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

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Everywhere we´ve been going we´ve made sure we have been eating and drinking tradition goods. Here I am with my Schapps and here is our tasty Souffle.

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On our second day we combined two different tours; the Saltmine tour and the Sound of Music Tour. I had never seen the Sound of Music before so I watched it the evening before as the hostel plays it every night at 7pm. I become a fast fan.

In the morning we went to Bavaria in Germany and did the Saltmines. It was a toasty 12 degrees down there. 27 degrees warmer than outside!

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The landscape was very pretty. The history of the area is fascinating as it was where Hitlers headquarters were so we got to see the Eagle Nest and where the barracks and such used to be.

Salzburg literally means ´salt castle´so being able to go undergroud and learn the history of the industry was interesting. Salt used to be heaps expensive which is how the city made all its money. Underneath we got to go on a few miner slides and took a ride on a boat across a salt lake. If you go to Salzburg it´s worth going to the mines. If you have to choose between it and the Sound of Music tour I would choose Salt mines but thats just me. I think Lucy prefered the Sound of Music Tour.

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There we are looking a treat in our mining suits.

The Sound of Music tour was convient more than interesting as it was freezing so it meant we didnt have to travel large distances on foot. Having the sound track played in the car was also nice.

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And here is a girl I think will probably never be a nun.

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Today we did everything we hadnt got around to doing already including Mozarts birthplace, the Mozart cafe and the museum of natural history.

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Lucy and I are still travelling very well together and I think we´re both a bit suprised that we havn´t blown up over anything yet. The closest we´ve come to arguing was last night when booking a hostel for Bled because we were both tired. I guess nothing has really gone wrong that we can argue over. She has made a very good travelling companion.

Tomorrow morning our train for Bled goes at about 10 and hopefully before then we can figure out how to get to our hostel. I´m optimistic that we can just walk around and find it. Bled is pretty small.

Posted by SusannahBinsted 09:43 Comments (0)

Spain to the Czech Republic

Barcelona, Prague and Ceskz Krumlov

Lucy and I flew from Seville to Barcelona to meet up with Candice and the three of us visited a few of the smaller gothic cathedrals and the Dali exhibition.

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We hired bikes for four hours but we only ended up actually riding them for about 2 hours due to our enjoyable lunch conversation.
Im pretty sure Lucy and I were the only people in Spain wearing a helmet. The lady at the shop was weirded out when she told us they werent a legal requirment and we elected to wear them anyway. Im sure our parents are proud.

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The hostel we stayed at, Sant Jordis on Diagonal, was really well located and had everything we needed. I would recommend it to anyone going to Barcelona. The only thing that bothered me was the chlorine in the shower water which made me feel like Id just had a highschool p.e. lesson.

From Barca to Prague we flew with Vueling and had no problems navigating our way from the airport to our hostel.

Prague is a very beautiful city and we had a lovely time with buffet breakfasts and a chef who cooked us omlettes, pancakes, crepes and french toast.

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We had four nights and three full days and we managed to see Prague castle, Petrin Hill, The Lenin Wall, The museum of Communism - we both enjoyed the museum heaps -, The film the Descendants, A ballet performance of Swan Lake, The new town, The Old Town Square including the chapel and the old town hall, the Monastery and both St Nicholas Churches.

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The food was interesting but very tasty. Just around the corner from our hostel Miss Sophies, which is more like a hotel, was Pvarsky Dum the best restaurant. We ate there pretty much once a day and tasted all the local specials ranging from dumplings to goulashes and sour cherry beers.

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We tried to find a convent on the last morning before we caught the bus but after about an hour of wandering around we decided it doesnt exist anymore or is open to the public. The bus trip took us about 3.5 hours from Prague to Cesky Krumlov and it was beautiful going through the countryside. In Cesky we plan to see the castle, with brown bears in the moat, go horse riding and eat home cooked meals. We are staying in a huge room with our own bathroom and mini kitchen. The hostel is gorgeous and homey. Its called Krumlov house and if you are visiting Cesky Krumlov Id highly recommend. I am happy we are here for another 3 nights.

Overall I have a ver mixed impression of Czech people. They are either extremely lovely and helpful or very abrupt to the point of being rude. They also have a very morbid sense of humour.

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This is a picture of beautiful Cesky Krumlov. Its freezing here. Last night it was -12C, we really felt it in the afternoon when we were struggling to find the hostel and when we were walking home from dinner.

Posted by SusannahBinsted 05:12 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

South of Spain

Granada & Sevilla

We flew from Mallorca to Granada and made our way to our hotel ´El Ladron de Agua´ (The Water Thief) which was in a cute street by a stream very close to the Alhambra. Below is a picture of Lucy and I with our packs. I was very happy to offload some things onto mum so I no longer need to carry a boot bag around with me.

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Southern Spain is a facinating mix of traditional Spanish and Moorish culture which comes across in their food, art and lifestyle. There was a little street full of Arab tea houses so we tried some different teas while over there.

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They also have gorgeous spices and interesting flavours. We ate the best dates I have ever had (I eat quite a lot of dates so it was probably a bit more exciting than it should have been).

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Here is Lucy being overly excited for obvious reasons. I guess it´s the small things in life that keep you going when you´re living with self diagnosed DVT.

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The city center of Granada was lovely to walk around in as you could see snow capped mountains in the distance and there was a nice buzz with all the stores. I have really appreciated the siesta time as it´s good to have a forced chill out time where you grab a coffee, ice-cream or cup of tea. It also means you get to keep doing more things later so you´re active for longer. As we were walking the streets we stumbled upon some ear muffs for 2 Euros and since then we have both been suprised by their utility seeing as that was not the reason we initially purchased them for.

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We visted the Alhambra which is the best thing in Granada (perhaps the best thing in the South of Spain). We spent 5 hours there and could have spent longer.

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I loved all the different tiles and intertwining patterns. not to mention the gorgeous views.

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When searching for the old Arab baths we stumbled across a place where there used to be Arab baths which they had rennovated and turned into a modern bathing spa. We went in the morning to book and the only time they had was 10pm but we were pretty keen so we took it. Unfortunately photos weren´t allowed but it was so nice. I took a photo of the stairs leading down to the baths so you can get an idea of the vibe. It looked exactly how I would have imagined the original baths to look and they had little tea rooms and different temperatures and a sauna. We got a deal that included a 15 minute massage which we all enjoyed very much.

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After Granada it was off to Sevilla. The main difference between Sevilla and Granada is the set out of the streets. Sevilla has lots of winding narrow streets that are very beautiful but very difficult to navigate. It probably has more beautiful large buildings whereas it was the overall look and feel of Granada that made it beautiful. Sevilla was also a little more touristy.

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On our first evening we had a walking tour and went for a flamenco show. If you go to the South of Spain you must see a flamenco show it is well worth it.

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Everyone in Sevilla owns a few gowns (they are very expensive) and in April there is a festival for a week where everyone wheres them. I would love to go to see that next year. Everywhere in Sevilla there are orange trees so it is a very striking city.

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In Sevilla all the infrastructure hints at the peaceful co-existence between the Jews, Christians and Muslims. We vistited the Cathedral, the Synagogue and the Palace. The palace is not as grand as the Alhambra but it is just as beautiful and well worth the visit. I don´t think I´ve ever heard mum use as many superlatives as she did when we were in the South of Spain.

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Next we off to Barcelona for 3 nights to meet up with Candice and then it will be off to the Czech Republic. So far Lucy and I are travelling well together and we are yet to have a cross word. It will be interesting to see if it continues to be that way when mum has gone home and we are navigating Eastern Europe in potentially bitterly cold weather (Spain has been super warm). We are quite happy with the way we have planned the next month as the least amount of time we are spending in any one place is 4 nights so we don´t feel like we are always having to pack and unpack and we are able to get a good sense of the place we are in.

Posted by SusannahBinsted 09:43 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Leaving Barcelona & Mallorca

Lucy arrives and we finish school

Both the Picasso and Miro muesums were absolutely fantastic. Learning about the paintings and the artists with the assistance of the audio guides is great fun. I especially enjoyed seeing Miros appropriation of the great Spanish masters after seeing their work in the Prado. We took a cable car up to Mont Juic which gave a pretty view of the city, the water and sunset.

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We went to the airport straight from Mont Juic to pick Lucy up. In the mornings whilst we were at class she visited some of Gaudis works and checked out all the shops. She dubbed ´Qu Qu´ our local eatery and we plan to eat there when we return to Barcelona.

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The following afternoon we went to Monserrat to visit the monastery. There were some nice views and walks although it got pretty cold in the evening.

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So far the highlight of the trip has been the Sagrada Familia. It was amazing. If you are going to visit one building in your life make it this one. Apparently the construction is a tad over 60% done and they estimate it will take another 30 years or so to complete.

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After visiting the Sagrada Familia we managed to see Iron Lady in english with spanish subtitles. Much better than when mum and I watched a dubbed version of Sherlock Holmes in Madrid.

On Friday we also visted Gaudis house and the gardens he designed. It is a truely beautiful area. We then walked through the Jewish Quarter and that evening we went to a gorgeous hotel with piano music and had cocktails (It´s a hard life).
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Mum and I were sad to finish our classes as we both felt we made a lot of progress this week. I am hoping I will now be able to understand most of ´El Gran Gatsby´ that I purchased.

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Saturday we flew to Palma Mallorca and spent a day in the sun walking around by the water. In the morning we had a traditional Spanish hot chocolate with special bread made from potato. By the water there was a band competition and we stood and watched the orchestra play spanish music as well as Indianna Jones which was pretty popular with me.

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The following day we visted Valdemossa, Port Soller & Soller. They were all sleepy towns which Lucy and Mum enjoyed much more than I. There were heaps of cats which was kind of weird. They followed us. Mum kept talking about Chopin and some woman that wrote ´Winter in Mallorca´, she was also overly excited to see some guys grave. Lucy says I am making these places sound horrible and is telling me to say they are actually amazingly stunning and she is going to marry Ralphael Nadal who lives in Mallorca. That night we found a lovely little cocktail bar and Lucy got a frozen strawberry daiquiri and I had a frozen mojito. They were delish. We have had so many nice meals in nice weather.

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Our final day in Mallorca we visted a castle thing and we decided it was a day to be athletic. Mum said we looked like Californian tourists. The castle had a decent view of the water and Cathedral and gave an overview of the Islamic & Christian history. We finally had some hot chocolate with churros. Tasty. As we couldn´t see the inside of the Cathedral on Sunday due to mass we went back to visit which was well worth it as it had an 11m stain glass window with a unique design. That evening we once again went for Cocktails, sadly our favourite place was closed so we had them back at the hotel. Lucy ordered a chocolate daiquiri which took the guy about 20 mins to make.

Lucy also says I should mention the cobble stone paths because they are very European.

I finally finished the Count of Monty Cristo. It is a truly fun and crafty novel. I highly recommend as a light read. A few of my favourite parts (nor plot spoilers):

´Very well, replied M. Danglars, who had listened to all this preamble with imperturbable coolness, but without understanding a word, since like every man burdened with thoughts of the past, he was occupied with seeking the thread of his own ideas in those of the speaker´

´In fact, the application of the axiom, ¨pretend to think well of yourself, and the world will think well of you¨, an axiom a hundred times more useful in society nowdays than that of the Greeks, ¨Know thyself¨, a knowledge for which, in our days, we have substituted the less difficult and more advantageous science of knowing others´.

´Moral wounds have this peculiarity, - they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart.´

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I heart my kindle.

Next time you hear from me I will be writing about the south of Spain.

Posted by SusannahBinsted 10:38 Comments (0)

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