On 1st August, PJ (8) and mum, Sandy (ageless) will embark on 5 week summer holiday in Europe.
Their first stop will be Holland, birthplace of Sandy, then a quick 3 day visit to beautiful Paris. Back in Holland, there will be bike-rides, visits to the northern isles of Holland, and lots of time spent with PJ's favourite cousin, Jamie, who is also accompanying them to Paris.
On 24 August, they will fly down to Barcelona to meet up with Pete who is leading a group of 100 listeners to his radio breakfast program aboard the glamorous Queen Victoria, cruising the Mediterranean. As PJ and Sandy have never cruised before, this will be quite an experience.
We'll be posting exciting pics and videos to this blog, so stay tuned and follow us on our exciting travels. We may never come back, choosing instead to stow away on the QV!
Bye for now!
September 8th 2008
Our last days on QV: Sicily, Rome and home! Friday 5th September: Today, we arrived in the port of Messina on Sicily, an island off the southern coast of Italy. We all got up early and boarded our tour bus for the resort town of Taormina, about an hour's drive from the port. Taormina is situated high on the cliffs above the sea and is known as the "diamond" of the Italian Riviera. It is very much THE destination for Sicilians and is serviced by very good highways. Much like Queensland's Noosa, this is an ideal weekend getaway for Sicilians. Indeed, this picturesque town truly embodies all that is charming about this region. When we arrived, every shopfront's window glass was being cleaned until it sparkled by conscientious shop assistants who refused anyone entry before opening ... read more
September 4th 2008
Tuesday 2nd September: Izmir, Turkey (Sorry - no pictures! Somebody forgot to bring the camera, but did remember the video camera...) We arrived in the port of Izmir in Turkey early in the morning. Pete decided to take the group tour which went out to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, however, PJ and Sandra opted for a later rise out of bed. Towards midday we took a taxi with some other travellers into the town centre. The taxi ride alone was worth it - the drivers fancy themselves as race-drivers and ‘burn’ each other off at the lights at every opportunity. Passengers sit in the back seats wide-eyed and slightly worried about their immediate fate as they speed through the streets, narrowly avoiding collisions with any of the hundreds of taxis, pedestrians, motorcyclists and tourist horse-carriages. ... read more
September 1st 2008
Hi all Just posted over 30 photos - so hope you have time to see what we've been up to. Don't forget to click on to the "Next" button to turn the pages if there's more than 21 photos. Love from all of us - sailing away on the deep blue sea!... read more
August 24th 2008
Hi everyone As it's quite expensive to spend any time logged on to the internet during this cruise, I've had to condense things a little! Sunday 24 - Monday 25th August: Barcelona was a fabulous place to visit. Such a gorgeous city and lots to see and do. We visited the usual tourist spots and were finally very excited to boarding the great ship! Wednesday 27 August: Our first port of call was Monaco.Because it is only a small harbour, we had to board the ship’s tenders each holding 75 passengers, which took us to the marina. We then boarded our tour bus and drove to the bottom of the ‘old rock, or old Monaco. We visited the square outside the Palace as well as standing above the most magnificent sea below us. From there, we ... read more
August 21st 2008
Hi again We spent a day in Zandvoort with the Lizzie & Michel Dijkstra and their children, Safira, Joancey and Vijay (very confusing when you also have P.J.!!) The town was swarming with weekend visitors attending the Mega-Market - so it was difficult to enjoy the usual ambience of the seaside town. But, we managed to eat some amazingly delicious fish and of course a few good helpings of Flemish Fries with mayonnaise, satay sauce and onions! This is called "Patatje Oorlog"or "Chip War". ... read more
August 20th 2008
The Zaanse Schans is a township which lies in the industrial area along the River Zaan. Here lie perfect examples of homes as they were in days gone by, together with 6 working windmills, some of which have been reconstructed on this site, and some which have always stood on this site, but which have had bits and pieces from other windmills added to them to reconstruct them completely. Of course it was raining! We took the train to Zaandam, then a bus to the Schans. On the way home we stayed on the bus just a little too long and ended up God knows where. Eventually, we found our way back to the Zaandam station and then went to the town of Haarlem. My hometown (or rather city) of Haarlem lies just north-east of Amsterdam, ... read more
August 17th 2008
No visit to Holland is complete without going to the miniature village of Madurodam where all the major cities of the Netherlands are reproduced in minute detail. This is just the best place for kids and adults alike. I remember visiting Madurodam when I was aged 10 years, and thinking it was just about the best place (especially if you love dolls's houses!). Trains, boats, planes, cars and figures of people all move about in this magical place!... read more
August 14th 2008
Jamie joins on another 3 day trip - this time to the city of Groningen in the far north-east of the country. The language spoken here is Gronische as it is a separate province of the Netherlands. Geartsje Schram is the sister of my friend, Areanne, who has lived in Brisbane for many years now. Geartsje recently enjoyed 6 weeks in Brisbane and accompanied me, along with some other friends, on a weekend away to the Bunya Mountains. It was then we agreed I should visit her during my impending visit to the Netherlands, and here we are! Geartje's house is a delightful urban dwelling with a private back garden and three levels of living. She made us really comfortable and cooked us a beautiful meal on our first night there. We spent about 5 hours ... read more
August 12th 2008
20km north-east of Amsterdam lies the fishing village of Volendam and, 1/2 hour offshore, the island of Marken. These villages still exude the charm and tradition of yesteryear and feature the original homes used for hundreds of years by its fisherman inhabitants. Once upon a time, the villages were host to men and women dressed in traditional garb - the men in balloon-shaped black woollen trousers and black caps, the women in voluminous black wool skirts and colourful embroidered aprons worn over the top, white cotton-embroidered shirts and white lace caps. Sometimes, depending on the wealth and status of the women, coils of gold were worn dangling at their temples. On the feet of all inhabitants were worn the wooden clogs indicative of their lives in their watery homes. These days, the last of the traditionally-dressed ... read more
August 8th 2008
Wednesday 6 August - Sandra, PJ and cousin Jamie departed Amsterdam (Schiphol) at 6.42 am to arrive in Paris at 10.35 am on the Thalys high speed train. Unfortunately, our arrival was heralded by an uncomfortable 36 degrees and, as if adapting to the crowds and negotiating the Metro wasn't challenging enough, to do so in a lather of perspiration and in a largely un-airconditioned way of life, is indeed a test of endurance. Upon arrival at Gare du Nord (North Station), we left our luggage in a locker (it soon became apparent that only those with tertiary studies in engineering could successfully do this). Finally, when our need for oxygen became overwhelming, we emerged from the basement "sans baggage" and began our adventures in Paris. A cruise along the Seine filled in about an hour ... read more