Natalie Grimson

Mediterranean Dreams

Natalie Grimson

My passion in life is travel. I work in a stable job behind a desk by day and I go on long exiting holidays each year. I am half Thai half Australian and having this melting pot of cultures throughout my life has given me a zezt to find out more about different cultures and differnt cusoms. Travelling back to Thailand from the time when i was a toddler and throughout my youth, I have as a young adult travelled through Asia, the Middle East and Europe. I have recently started writing travel blogs to update family and friends on my travels but all are welcome to share my stories and passion for travel!

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 26th 2019

We left Utrecht for Zaandam a short 44 minute train ride away. Our last stop on our epic two month holiday, we decided to yet again finish our European adventure in Amsterdam and stay with my cousin Biab and her husband Douwe. Biab, who moved to the Netherlands 22 years ago from Thailand, and Douwe, live in Zaandam which is only 10 minutes north of Amsterdam. We had visited them twice previously and in 2003 I stayed with them for 3 months (I was 20). They met us at Zaandam station, then a quick break at their place before heading out to Amsterdam for the evening. We parked just outside Amsterdam and took the metro (very new it only opened a year ago) the rest of the way. We had some beers at a bar and ... read more
Bikes by the flower market, Amsterdam
Dam square, Amsterdam

Europe » Netherlands » Province of Utrecht » Utrecht September 22nd 2019

We arrived in Utrecht from Antwerp (via Rotterdam) on the quick and efficient NS intercity rail. Our hotel was nearby to the train station and also nearby was the Hoog Catherijne - one of the largest shopping malls in the Netherlands!! After a quick rest, we went to explore the town on foot. Utrecht is basically a smaller, compact Amsterdam (and dare I say prettier). On our last trip to Europe we met two girls from Utrecht, and they told us their hometown was much prettier than Amsterdam (home pride) convincing us to visit. I'm glad we did now! We had a relaxing walk around town stopping for tea and pie by the canal. I then had to walk around the shopping mall while Bill waited at the hotel. Later in the evening, craving some Japanese ... read more
Bike city
Whale sculpture
Utrecht streets

Europe » Belgium » Antwerp Province » Antwerp September 20th 2019

We departed Leuven for the city of Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish or Anvers in French). Situated near the Dutch border, Antwerp is known for diamonds. We had booked in for a free walking tour the next day, so after checking in we walked downtown towards the Grote Markt to acquaint ourselves with the area and also have something to eat and drink! Belgium is famous for their beers, which is what the world outside Belgium would call craft beers. Belgium has over 200 active breweries and several different categories of beer such as red Flemish ales, lambic (sour), wit (white), ambers and trappist to name a few! After some lunch and beers we wandered around town and then I went for a quick bout of shopping before dinner. We saw a Greek restaurant on our walk ... read more
Grote Markt
Greek dinner!
St Anna's pedestrian tunnel

Europe » Belgium » Flemish Brabant » Leuven September 17th 2019

We left our French troubles behind and took to train north to Belgium via Lille, a town on the French-Belgian border. I had found a French ‘budget airline' of trains called Ouigo – the tickets are significantly cheaper and its €5 extra for luggage. Quite a good concept actually, it’s still a high-speed train but with no on-board bar. The next train we caught from Lille to Brussels was the Eurostar that had come from London. Once in Brussels, we took a local train to the nearby town of Leuven. Leuven is a very pretty town – a university town – on the Flemish/French language border (we learnt that from our Intrepid friend who is from Leuven). Our first day there we just walked around town to orientate ourselves and had dinner in the main square. ... read more
City hall
City hall
City hall

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Avignon September 14th 2019

Our brief stop in France. Unfortunately our experience will colour my ‘mood' of our short 2 day stay in the country but alas, with such a large trip there surely has to be a bump in the road! We left San Sebastian quite early, and caught a bus (I must say the bus station located underneath the train station is much bigger) to Biarritz airport in France – an hour away. Biarritz is in French Basque country, and the airport was quite big for a small regional airport. Our destination was Marseille, where our plan was to train to Avignon and make it our base to visit ‘Les Carriers de Lumiers', an old limestone quarry in Les Beax de Provence that has art exhibitions where they project art images on the walls along with composed music ... read more
Avignon by night
Palais des Papes

Europe » Spain » Basque Country » San Sebastián September 12th 2019

We left Barcelona early on a stormy morning and caught a fast Renfe train to San Sebastian in Basque country, all the way across the other side of the country on the west coast. 5 and a half hours later we were in San Sebastian or Donostia in Basque language. The Basque language, we quickly learned, is vastly different to any language we've heard and we learned that no-one actually knows the origins of the language though we were later told there was a study to find out the linguistic origins of the Basque language and it was established that it's the closest language to the caveman surprisingly. But everyone speaks Spanish of course, and really I only heard Spanish around me, even bar staff speaking amongst themselves spoke Spanish so I'm not sure of the ... read more
Truffled rice with foie
Squid with 3 sauces
Pinxtos bar

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona September 10th 2019

Hola amigos!! We arrived in Barcelona after a smooth flight on Georgian Airways, a nice fight with plenty of legroom on the Embraer 190 (minus in flight safety demonstration – I hazard a guess they forgot!) After a short train and metro ride we were at La Rambla, Barcelona’s pedestrian street filled with shops and cafe's. It had been 9 years since we were in Barcelona, and this time we booked a nice, central hotel just off La Rambla – well priced and well located. Our room wasn't ready so we left our bags at the hotel and wandered around La Rambla, and had lunch at a cafe at one of the central squares on the Gothic District. We feel right at home in Spain, possibly my favourite country in Europe (sorry Greece, you have a ... read more
The port
The streets of Barcelona
Street art

Asia » Georgia » Adjara » Batumi September 8th 2019

We left the mountains for a long drive to Batumi. Situated on the Black Sea coast, Batumi is 20km from the Turkish border and is Georgia’s 2nd largest city. We arrived in the late afternoon, and one of the first things I noticed was the number of casino's in town. Later, someone told me Batumi is the ‘Las Vegas' of Georgia. We went for a hunt for some real coffee as soon as we got there, and had a mediocre cappuccino (but we did find a cute kitty cat). We had dinner with half our group at a fantastic restaurant on the water – the sunset was nice shade of pink and, randomly, fireworks started in the evening. It was a nice introduction to Batumi. The next day, our Intrepid guide Tamta did a city tour ... read more
Batumi Catherderal
Batumi beach
Europa square

Asia » Georgia September 4th 2019

We departed Tbilisi in the morning to make our way to Mtskheta, Georgia's former capital. The city is known for its churches, the city being the spiritual heart of Georgia since christianity was established in the area around 337 AD. The interesting thing about Georgian orthodox churches is that women need to cover their hair like in a mosque. We visited the Jvari church which overlooks the city on top of a hill. We then went to the Svetitskhoveli Catherderal, which dates back to the 11th century. It is an enormous complex, and Christ's robe is said to be buried beneath the central nave. Markets surround the complex as well, so its a nice little walk around the markets picking up souvenirs and snacks along the way, including Churchkhela, a candke-shaped sweet of walnuts or hazelnuts ... read more
Jvari church, Mtskheta
Jvari church
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtsketa

Asia » Georgia » Tbilisi District August 30th 2019

We departed Sheki for the Georgian border early on Sunday morning (which happened to be Bill's birthday!) Our leader Balash was a very good leader, shook all our hands individually and left us at the Azerbaijani- Georgian border where its approximatley a 700m walk to Georgia. We met our new leader, Tamari, on the Georgian side and were taken go our homemade lunch in the Kakheti region (which happens to be wine region). We feasted on delicious Geogian food and sampled homemade chacha, a vodka-type spirit made from grape skins. Afterward we visited a traditional winery where the wine is produced using the traditional methods of fermenting the wine underground in claypots, the wine prodded with a rake type implement and skins, stems and all thrown in which gives the white wine an amber colour. The ... read more
Traditional Georgian drinking horn
Sighnaghi fortress

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