Thursday 21st July – 24 days, 7 1/2 countries (we only stopped in Innsbruck, Austria for half an hour so I have decided it doesn’t warrant an Austrian flag sticker in my travel diary), countless Busabout bus rides and approximately 2 million loud, obnoxious Australian tourists later (and quite a few awesome Aussies as well… they´re not ALL annoying), we’re about half way through the European portion of our awesome adventure! From a late night arrival into Paris on our maiden Easyjet flight from Luton airport, in and out of European borders, getting completely mixed up with which native interpretations of “hello”, “thank you” & “how much for your biggest yummy beer?” we should be attempting to vocalise, to our current journey to Valencia from Barcelona, this trip has been… interesting…
For starters, Europe is frickin’ amazing. The history is longer than any Pulp Fiction monologue, any list of amendments to the Foreshore & Seabed bill and any roll-call of 18-20 year old Australians gallivanting around Europe as we speak. By the time Maui had fished up the North Island of Aotearoa, at least 6 trillion (oooh, two gross exaggerations in one blog!) wars had been fought and won/lost in Europe/UK, empires built and obliterated and, more importantly, recipes for beer – that would make any leading NZ brand taste like the underside of a run-over hedgehog (poor hedgehogs, I think they’re the least-deserving roadkill. They mean no harm… they just want to get to the other side of the road) – had been refined, taste-tested and perfected. In all reality, if the UK and Europe was a middle-aged working professional, in comparison, little ol’ UnZud would merely be a toddler, doing it’s best to let it’s parents know it’s hungry by pointing persistently at it’s gaping mouth. But, little ol’ UnZud is still #1 in my books.
Highlights so far include (but are not limited to):
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. This stop-over blew me away. Imagine rolling green fields, filled with lodge-type homes (complete with flower window-boxes and long lines of hanging cow bells) with a rushing fresh-from-the-local-glacier river (lined with trees of course). Now picture a sheer cliff either side of these rolling fields (call it a “valley” if you will), big enough to… say… BASE-JUMP from. THEN picture snow-capped mountains to be seen further afield from both these cliffs and towards the end of the valley. THEN (wait for it) picture frickin’ WATERFALLS cascading over the edges of these massive cliff faces! Awesome. Take whatever you’re now imagining and then times it by at least Pi (3.14……). Say no more.
Munich, Germany. We only spent one night here (one of many time-restricted cut-backs we were forced to make) unfortunately. But what we did see was a great introduction to the Bavarian way of life – massive beer halls, a beer garden able to hold 6,000 stein-wielding, ¨prostïng patrons, huge succulent pork knuckles (amazing) with the biggest covering of crackling you’ve ever seen, and locals erupting when the German woman’s football team scored in their world cup pool match. I definitely want to go back to Germany. Now.
Venice, Italy. Our 3-hour express tour was never going to do this amazing city justice (another time-related cut-back). Packed, as expected, with tourists, gondolas, tiny streets and river-side eateries. we managed to squeeze in quite a bit – including the very impressive San Marco Piazza. For me, Venice was better than what I expected it would be… and I though it would be pretty darn cool. We’ll be back.
Cinque Terre, Italy. The big cities are must see, but this line-up of 5 towns (“Cinque” = 5, “Terre” = Land… I think) along the coast of Western Italy is definitely worth seeing. Google “Cinque Terre” if you’ve never heard of it. OK, I´ll make it easy… click here for an obligatory wiki link and there´s a googled image just to show off. The walk along the coastline between the towns is a must! Amazing views, testing rolling hills and tiered vineyards. Choice as bro.
Nice, France. The first time Ams and I arrived in Nice, I couldn´t wait to leave. The place looked nice (haha… Nice… nice) enough, but it had a very dodgy vibe and is renown for pickpockets, scammers and general dicks. However, the second time was awesome, not for the place itself but, for the company! Ams and I were joined by my friend Jo for the weekend. She made the trip up from St Raphael, near Cannes where she works on a boat, to hang out. Very cool. We all explored Monaco for a day, pretended to own at least half the massive super-yachts moored in the harbour and drank supermarket-procured Heinekens on the edge of the wharf (6-8 euro for a pint at a bar was just not on). Late night pizza and wine on the beach in Nice was also a highlight – very amusing people watching to be had.
Will be back with another update… sometime.