May 15, 2010
Well we’re now on our way to Paris on the fast train - just! Despite meticulous (some may say obsessive!) planning I’ve only just realised that our Eurail pass was issued incorrectly and includes Germany, rather than Switzerland. Seemingly absolutely no way to fix it other than to fly back to NZ and have it re-issued, so we now have to budget for all our rail travel in Switzerland (damn!). So having absorbed that news we thought we’d just go ahead and book our tickets from the Hague to Paris, only to discover all the trains were fully booked and our only option was to buy a full price ticket a day earlier. There goes another 300 Euro! Anyway – we’re on the train and on our way, and will be booking ongoing train travel far in advance!
We’ve been moving cities every 2-3 days lately, so beginning to feel a bit bedraggled and unkempt – Darren’s seemingly given up shaving on this trip although is complaining about needing a haircut, whereas some of us have more pressing hair-related issues to attend to! Anyway – have a week in Paris so that will give us some time to unpack and catch our breath.
Denmark was interesting – not too sure what to make of it, really. Lots and lots of farmland and hardly anyone about, apart from in Copenhagen. While Copenhagen had some really beautiful areas to walk through and picturebook houses (and shops – Claire, you would have absolutely gone crazy!) there was some stuff that left us feeling a little uneasy, although nothing you could put your finger on - heaps of graffiti everywhere, and groups of kids just sitting around on the street (at lunchtime) slugging back booze and getting hammered. Also stumbled across a very vocal pro-cannabis rally in the town square with around 1000 people, reggae pumping, so we had to explain to the kids what that funny smell was!
Lachie also picked this point of the trip to come down with tonsillitis (as diagnosed by mum by shining the torch down his throat – the boys haven’t really been a picture of health so far on this trip), but at least we had some great accommodation (with a bath! And separate beds for the kids!)
Left Copenhagen via a four and a half hour train trip to Hamburg (kids now over the excitement of trains), although the fact the train went onto a ferry was pretty cool. Our Hamburg flat was tiny & felt a little Eastern European in style, but it was clean and had a reasonably comfy sofa bed, and you could walk into town which was great. The loo was a particular design feature – the bathroom being too narrow to have the loo at 90 degrees to the wall, thanks to a bit of extra plumbing it sits at 45 deg (which means when in use the lid has to lean against your back as it can’t open properly!) Shower was nice and strong though – you just had to step over the loo to get to it!
Had a good couple of days in Hamburg touring the sights and harbour, visiting the maritime and art museum etc. Kids really seemed to enjoy the art museum, but of course they have no understanding of how lucky they are to actually see paintings by Rembrandt, Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet etc. It was the annual harbour festival while we were there so wandered around all the stalls and carnivals during the evening, grabbing dinner (and a couple of cheap glasses of Italian red!) at various street stands which was fun for the kids. Adding a bit of spice to the trip was the Europa Cup final which was on in Hamburg on our last day – resulted in a huge Police presence because of the English football fans, and the kids were pretty impressed by all the guns!
Was also impressed to discover my German still be buried in there somewhere, although pretty dusty (almost bought the boys ibuprofen suppositories instead of tablets!), but kids seem fairly amazed that mum can actually communicate in a foreign language (or more importantly, efficiently order them 2 hot chocolates and croissants), and every interaction is followed by “What did you say! What did they say?!”
So then it was off to Holland for 4 days via a 6 hour, 4 train trip to stay with some very old friends of ours from NZ who have moved back to the Hague. Another couple of full-on days visiting the Hague (funparks, seaside, town and madurodam), Amsterdam (canal trips, Rijksmuseum and more explanations of funny smells) and relaxed dinners and lunches out, which was great, but has kind of blown the budget!
And that brings us back to the train to Paris. While Paris will of course be fantastic, we’re looking forward to our 2 weeks in the French countryside just to have a couple of quieter days to wander around markets and sip the odd quiet coffee (and check out those French farmhouses! Have a couple of days booked with the real estate agent...)
Hope all’s well at home. Love to all
L,D,I & L x
PS the tooth fairy paid in Danish crowns...!