Hi everybody. I’m back. Sorry you haven’t heard from me lately, have had trouble keeping up with things. I have no emails to read today so I have time to fill you in.

We have had two trips recently due to a number of bank holdiays recently. At the end of April Richard and I, along with our flatmate/friend Michael (NZ), caught the Eurostar to Belgium. Wasted a few hours in Brussels and then caught the train to Holland (Utrecht) where we visited two wonderful friends that we met while walking in Spain. Diny and Nieske.

Windmills!Nieske owns a lovely new houseboat that Richard and I had the privelige to stay on for 4 nights. While there we visited Amsterdam (took a boat ride on the canals, visited the Van Gogh museum, visited Anne Frank’s house), Kinderdijk windmills (after much difficulty of getting there), Keukenhof flower gardens. On the monday Diny and Nieske drove us to the coast where we rented bicycles. We rode to Keukenhof past many beautiful and fragrant tulip and hyacinth fields. Keukenhof is big and beautiful. we got sore bums (for 3 days) and had to ride back in the wind and drizzly rain. we had loads of fun. On Tuesday we visited and stayed at Lambert’s.

I met Lambert in Rotorua (NZ) while we were away for my sister’s hens (wedding) weekend. We had a fun time. Revisited Amsterdam and took an interesting walk around an old part of the city. On Wednesday Richard and I bicycled to the Alkmeer flower market, the biggest and fastest flower markets in the world, amazing. Lambert took us for a drive up north, saw some interesting villages and towns. real towns folk. Turned down the opportunity to try Pickled herring.

Lambert Clomping GeriThursday, we went to a clog making factory to get my purchase before leaving for Belgium where we stayed with Stijn (whom we also met in Spain). BTW holland is a very beautiful and picturesque country.

In belgium we visited Brugge. A beautiful town that doesn’t look like it has changed with the times. The perfect setting for a film. We stayed in Ghent at Stijns house. There is a castle with a moat and some awesome churches which look fabulous when lit up at night. On the Saturday Richard and i caught a train down to the South of Belgium to a town called Namur. From here we were going to visit some caves, however the town had a fortress on the hill and we decided due to the time that we had to do one or the other. We stayed and visited the fortress. There were many underground tunnels, which we had a tour through. On the way back to the city centre Richard spotted a camino sign marking the way (some of you will know what i’m talking about). How odd to find such a thing in a little town in belgium.

Ghent at NightOn our last day, we met up with michael at the Ghent train station and made our way to Brussels where we wandered around, and saw some of the sights. bought our souvenirs, Richard bought some chocolates, then we rested in a quite little puppet theatre pub and had a beer, before we were to catch the eurostar back to london.

Thanks Diny, Nieske, Lambert and Stijn for being such great hosts. We had a most enjoyable time and were able to tick two more countries off our big list.

On May the 18th, Richard and i with our good friend Michael, and another fellow kiwi Scott flew with ryan air to Salzburg (£16 return), austria. Salzburg is a nice city, also with a fortress on the hill, this one fully intact. We had a perfect and close view of the fortress from our hostel which was overrun with school kids.

Puppets (and Beer)On our first day there we visited the fortress, wandered around the old city and watched the ‘Sound of Music’ at the hostel for Richards benefit as he had never seen it before. On the Saturday morning we visited a place called hellbrunn. it was the bishops palace. very nice with huge fancy gardens. The reason Hellbrunn is a tourist attraction is because the bishop designed and built a lot of trick fountains in his gardens. They startle and get his visitors when they least suspect it. I got pretty wet as did richard. It was loads of fun and well worth a visit. In the afternoon we did the sound of music bus tour which took us to all the famous spots from the ‘Sound of Music’ film. We strugled to stay awake on the bus ride as richard and i were well accustomed to falling asleep while on transport. That was quite fun to do, although a bit sad.

On the Sunday we rented bicycles from the hostel and made our way to a nearby mountain. We were going to take the cable car to the top but realised we hadn’t bought enough money with us, so instead we climed it. 1800 metres and about 3 hours later we reached nearly to the top where we decided to stop. the climb was almost straight up, some of the steps had broken away so i had to get richard to push me up two at a time. I was ready to die after two hours. At least there was snow on the way up which i used to cool myself down. We took a different path on the way down after much deciding and coaxing from me.

The way down was down a ravine. Narrow steps were carved into the side of the rock and all we had to hold onto was a thick narrow wire attached to the side of the rock also. Richard said his knuckles were white. On the way down, we passed about six memorials to people who had died most of them teenage boys. at some points the rock steps were wet which made me be even more careful. at other points we were on steep gravel paths with steep drops below. the view was amazing however, and we were in Austria high on a hill with a lonely goat herd. the track eventually became easier and safer. i got to the point where my knees hurt from all the jarring and speed and which we were going. i was so tired I fell over twice. That happened to me also when we were in Ketchikan Alaska racing down deer mountain to get back to the hostel before it shut.After all that hard work we had to cycle back to the hostel. cripes.

On the Sunday Richard and I locked our luggage at the bus/train station and caught the train to Werfen where we did a tour of the largest accessible ice caves in the world. it was amazing. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos. Inside we got to carry fuel lamps with little open flames on them which was rather neat. We were able to catch a bus and cable car part of the way up to the caves but the rest of the way we had to walk. it was horrible after the previous days big hike. anyway it was worth it.

After the caves we visited the castle in werfen. it was very different from others we had seen. It reminded me of Robin Hood. We were able to go up the bell tower and stand near the big bell when it chimed on the hour. the view was great. The visit to the castle includes a falconing show. it was AWESOME!!!!! falcons, an eagle owl and an american(golden?) eagle were flying within inches of our heads. We were able to see the hugh american eagle up really close as the falcolner stood right beside us and as it flew straight past me almost crashing into me. Their accuracy is amazing. click click click went the camera. it was unique, great fun, and a memory we will always keep in our mind. a rush down another hill to the train station and we were on our way home.

Well this story has been long so i think i will finish there. It is good to write these stories for family and friends to read but also importantly for our personal records. So hopefully some of you enjoy reading them, even though some parts may be a bit long and boring. You can take a look at our website if you want. Richard is constantly working on it, however there are plenty of photos and travel stories. while I am writing this he is scanning some more of our travel photos. so give it a few days and they should all be on there except for our spain photos which we sent home, as we did not have access to a scanner at the time, and Richards mum was able to take them for us.

Our love to everyone, from Geraldine and Richard.

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  1. September 10, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

    [...] my blog, and I found two posts from 2001 and 2004 stuck in draft mode! One is a mass email sent by Geri talking about our time in Belgium and Austria, and the second is an xmas letter I send to all the relatives for Christmas [...]