Where did we go and what did we do?
- Ireland – Dublin
- Ireland – The North and a wedding just out of Belfast
- Ireland – finishing a lap of Ireland via Galway, Dingle, Kilkenny and finally back to Dublin
- Berlin in Germany.
- A train to Amsterdam in the Netherlands (Holland)
- Brugge in Belgium including a Flanders Battlefield trip wih Quasimodo Travel
- A train to Paris – The city of light
- A train and the final wind down to London and our home in Chelsea/Kensington for 4 days
A follow up of things we liked, disliked, and could maybe improve on next time.
What we liked;
- Amsterdam, really liked it but not immediately. Like the Jordaan area to stay in rather than the red light or tourist area.
- The Flanders Fields WW1 battlefields – sobering and such a small area and so close to the Somme area in France. Would like to go to the Somme area and check out Villers Brettoneaux and the Sir John Monash Museum at the memorial.
- Ireland – good fun and easy to travel around
- The gardens of Versailles, spectacular. Get there early and go to the gardens first before the Palace.
- The Kathmandu backpack/trolley 70 ltr bags – such versatile bags to travel with
- Lyca SIM cards bought in Dublin – €20 for calls and 35 big of data worked a treat all over Europe. I researched that one. Only used about 5 gig. Phones worked everywhere in Europe. Data is king. BUT do the research before you go and most likely buy the SIM card in the first city you land in
- Google Maps – with data while you’re away from wifi – this is a godsend for walking and public transport options in places like Berlin, Paris and London with good metro systems.
- GPS for driving in a car – won’t leave home without one now
- Ride the local public transport Berlin = U Bahn and S Bahn free when you buy a Berlin Card, Paris Metro = buy cannet of 10 tickets E1.49 each v E1.90 each f you buy individually, London get an Oyster Card & put money on it and tap on and tap off
Some things we didn’t like;
- Rude ignorant pricks who push into lines, you find them everywhere
- Trying to find out where train carriages were going to stop on the platform – the Navigator has a small issue with this and may need counselling. Some platforms show you bit some don’t, and even when you ask train officials quite often you’ll get a bum steer.
- Bicycles in Holland and Belgium – watch out for them they are killers, much more dangerous than cars, step in front of one and you’ll get the stink eye and the venomous spitting insult.
- This is just me – but the Irish just like drinkin’ and dancin’ at weddings way to much
- We were good packers we thought, but there are still about 6-8 pieces of clothing maybe more that didn’t see daylight. Pack less, keep it simple. Jocks, socks 3 shirts, 2 t shirts, 2 long sleeve ts, 1 rain / wind jacket, 1 pair of good walking shoes, iPad, camera, phone to plug overseas sim into, little charger unit, a few toiletries, gps with international maps if your driving anywhere ( we like Tom Tom), 1 book to read on planes and trains ( when read discard and buy a new one), a light easily packable hat of some sort. * take less gear, less= more space to bring home shopping.
- The amount of tourists and school kids in the main cities, it really slowed after 31 st of August when their summer holidays finished, but I did notice a few Italian accents on kids in London so maybe they have a bit longer. I reckon best time to travel in Europe is October.
Some things we could have improved on;
- Trains in Europe that link to smaller lines – if the price isn’t too big a difference go First Class as the smaller link train should have a First Class section and you will get a seat, second class you risk not getting a seat if it’s busy line eg Brussels to Brugge.
- Taxi in Paris from Gare de Lyon, find the official taxi line, otherwise risk finding a rip off driver that will cost you €15-20 extra than what you should pay.
- A bit more language training eg French & German, Mark was starting to get into the groove, Genelle not really interested at all in anything other than English.
- More common food decisions, two of the traveller’s have very limited food ranges, and as such they have to decide where to eat, conversely I’ll eat anything so I’m easy to please.
- A bit more time in some places, perhaps to be able to do the travel a little slower, we travel hard and fast and there isn’t much down time to just chill.
- Pack less, as per above comment
What are the plans for travel in the future;
- Genelle – maybe Italy with a group of women next year doing a cooking trip, some interest in Sri Lanka, interested in Thailand for a short break
- Me a) Thailand Chang Mai and Mekong trip to Laos. b) Southern India -maybe an Intrepid trip. c) Eastern Europe Poland, Russia, d) Iran e) Australia where I haven’t been eg the Kimberly, SE WA
- Mark – Eastern Europe – Russia & Poland
Update Monday 17th September
Its been 1 week now, the parallel universe is releasing its grip on me, and I’m starting to feel a bit normal again, however I’m still waking up at about 3 in the morning but now I go back to sleep and don’t stay awake. The swelling is gone from my ankles and feet and I’m not up 5 times a night to go to the loo, I’m even starting to think that I could actually handle another long trip.
Today the parcel of expensive china turned up from Belleek, the pottery town in Northern Ireland, a few bits of nice stuff to go in the “special” shelf with with our travel memorabilia. The Navigator will be eagerly waiting to open up her parcel when I get home tonight.
I see the Cowley’s Facebook posts from Italy and it brings back memories of what I like about Italy and the places we still haven’t been and seen there.
Ciao for the last time on this trip