Amy Amberg

Joined January 2018Living in: Queensland, Australia
  • Day159

    HONOLULU, HAWAII

    September 5, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Aloha! I think we could not have picked a better place for the Grand Finale of the Buzacott World Tour 2018. Pleasantly surprised by this America/Polynesia blend. The surf is addictive, and the boys have spent multiple hours each day on their rented longboard. Getting quite skilled at it, too! (And chafed). We hiked up Diamond Head (the volcanic crater) yesterday, a beautiful view at the top. Zach got a bit of heatstroke though, poor man, so it was a slow walk back down. Nothing that an air conditioned hotel room and a bit of ice cream & water couldn’t fix, though.

    A week before we arrived, level 4/5 Hurricanes were predicted and we wondered about the wisdom of coming. As it turns out, the weather has been consistently gorgeous. Jesse and I have taken a woodcarving lesson and a lei-making lesson. We’ve seen hula dancers, and spent hours by the pool. Not a bad life.

    * * *
    Today marks the final day of our 6 month journey.

    EPILOGUE: It’s now been 2 weeks back in Australia, and at the time I couldn’t quite find the words to sum up this magnificent journey we shared. It meant a lot to me. The privilege of exploring the world with your family by your side is priceless. The words still aren’t there, so until ‘Buzacott World Tour: The Sequel,’ I bid you adieu!
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  • Day127

    DUBUQUE, IOWA

    August 4, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Home. The heartland. Middle America. Have been too busy seeing family to write- even though there's plenty to write about: pickleball tournaments, ghillie suits, fireworks, shooting real guns at the range, vertical jump, Aunt Sara's air hockey table, basketball, cinnamon buns, frisbee games, sticker game charts.... and the plans continue.

    2 SEPT
    Sigh. Always sucks to say goodbye. But we were extremely fortunate to be able to spend so much time in ‘Murica with the fambily. Been too busy winning stars on the star chart to write about all our trips to the batting cage, mini-golf, giving Sara & Alin’s new dog Tyson lots of love, Heritage Trail, Galena, Runs of Death with the airsoft guns, baking pumpkin pies with grandpa, playing Pass the Pigs & rummy with grandma, winning a fortune in BINGO, lighting off Eric’s fireworks, biking up and down the street,spilling BB pellets at Walmart, tetherball scars, canoeing down the Maquoketa with Sophie & Pans, & Sara, eating Uncle Mark’s chokkie bikkies, more pickleball, solving puzzles (so many!), Beecher’s ice cream and Mines of Spain....

    It was brilliant and lovely and I’m always sad to say ‘see ya’ to Dubuque.
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  • Day110

    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    July 18, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Thanks to my taste for crime fiction, I had imagined Washington to be a city full of crack addicts on every corner, rampant crime, and sad homelessness. I am so pleasantly surprised! Well, maybe it is, but definitely not in the tourist hot-spots, and also no signs of it in Arlington, where we are staying. It's all clean, wide streets, organic markets, and fresh air. The Metro is the cleanest and easiest of all we have traveled. No one has asked us for cash and it feels okay to sit on the subway seats and there are no unpleasant city smells.

    Today we walked from the Capitol down the long National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. We caught a few glimpses of the White House on the way back to the Metro. But 20,000 steps on we were too tired to tourist further. Good thing we have a week here. Sooooo much to do!

    MONDAY:
    Washington is great (apart from our president, who is a national disgrace). There’s so much to see, do, and learn. Nonetheless, we are never at risk of taxing ourselves. Caught up with my cousin, Matt, & his lovely family on Saturday. Very nice to see him after something like 20 years (& I hope I didn’t refer to him as Tony too often- the Lewis boys definitely look alike!) Another highlight was catching up with Michael & Tonya, fellow debate-team/ speech & drama nerds and v close friends from high school. They have gone on to live spectacular lives and I had no idea how much I missed them. Could have spent all day chatting.

    We have toured the US Capitol, the Library of Congress, visited the White House, and played at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. And we haven’t even made a dent!!
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  • Day103

    NEW YORK CITY, USA

    July 11, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    USA!!! ❤️ Taking a bite of the Big Apple. Thanks to the London time difference we have been up at 4am- and it's kind of nice to be out and about before The City That Never Sleeps wakes up. Staying in Manhattan. Doing the usual tourist stuff: Staten Island Ferry to view the Statue of Liberty, saw the 9/11 Memorial (actually quite sobering), walked through Times Square, played in Central Park (aptly dubbed the NY Tree Museum by Buz), took a cab, took the subway, and getting in a good amount of steps on the Fitbit. Still so much to tick off the list! Leonard Cohen songs running through my head, and Buz has been playing Sinatra. Oh, and how could I forget: American shopping! 😁. After wearing the same clothes for 4 months it is a real treat to not only get new clothes, but to find pants that fit a vertically challenged person with an American butt! Even Buz, Zach, & Jesse found some new duds and I was a lucky lady to be surrounded by such handsome men at the deli last night!

    TUESDAY
    NYC was fun! I love big cities: interesting people watching and an endless to-do list. The boys prefer the country- something about dirty streets, weird smells, second-hand smoke, and crowds with many 'interesting' people. Still, we all enjoyed ourselves. We ticked a lot of the boxes in addition to those already mentioned- walking over Brooklyn Bridge, Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station... and of course we watched France win the World Cup. Highlight was the Museum of Natural History- wow! Dinosaur bones, African animal exhibit, so many hands-on science experiments and a cool movie about the Big Bang Theory.
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  • Day99

    GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

    July 7, 2018 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    This is a sweet town! (-But it was so hard to leave Chamonix!!!! We were all wistful. Boys made some friends at paintball last night and were invited to stay on for a BBQ after. Great mums to chat with. The boys had such good fun with their new French mates and exchanged emails. Didn't want to say goodbye. Wish we could have met them earlier in our stay! Sweet.).

    Switzerland is famous for clocks, cheese, knives, chocolates, banks, and remaining neutral. Home to the European UN HQ and the European Red Cross HQ, Geneva is definitely a bit 'quiet.' On the 'Top 5 Things To Do' tourist brochure, the #2 best thing was the 'flower clock' (a small hill of flowers with a clock in the middle). We had actually already passed it on an earlier walk without realising it was the second best tourist attraction. Whoops!

    The lake (biggest in Europe) is impressive and I imagine it will be a site for many walks. The chocolate shops will also get a visit from me! And it's quite fun to people-watch. Geneva seems a bit of a melting pot. So, it will be lovely to have a few quieter days before saying Ciao/Adios/Au Revoir/ Auf Wiedersehen to Europe!

    TUESDAY- Today we make our way to London and will stay over at Heathrow before catching our flight to NYC tomorrow. Geneva was full of pleasant surprises- free 4-hour Geneveroule bike rentals which allowed us to explore at leisure, as well as some great beaches to play in, complete with floating docks, floating rock climbing towers, and a restaurant with a massive floating table so you can still eat while in the water.
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  • Day92

    CHAMONIX, PART DEUX

    June 30, 2018 in France ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Yesterday was another game of paintball with Teddy. The boys were on such a high- they love it. Teddy has won some European paintball matches and he also professionally referees paintball tournaments, so their mutual enthusiasm for the sport was contagious. He brought out his pro-level gun to let us have a try at shooting it. It's like a machine gun and would definitely inflict a lot of pain. He even joined the boys in a match against Buz and I (we lost). Great fun!

    Our visit here also coincides with the 2018 Chamonix Mount Blanc marathon and ultra-marathon. Hundreds of superfit athletes have arrived. Yesterday was the 91km ultra through the mountains. Unreal! They started off at 4am, and at 7pm we were out lining the streets with the rest of the town to cheer them on as they trickled in to cross the finish. It has motivated me to dust off my running shoes. It even inspired Jesse to join the Kids Mini Cross 2km event this morning! I was super impressed with his effort!!! These European kids don't seem to get the idea of a 'fun run.' They sprint like the wind as soon as the buzzer goes off and sprint right on through to the finish! A few of the less fortunate even got tripped over and jumped over after the starting gun. Jesse did great!! He didn't finish first, but he wasn't last either! I was so proud he gave it a go.

    TUESDAY
    Hmmm..... let's see. Since the last entry... We tried white water rafting with our guide, Tom/Bradley (2 personalities: safety Tom / fun Bradley). That was BRILLIANT! We all loved it! I was a bit nervous after the safety briefing- thinking of everything that could go wrong and how I would prefer not to die by drowning in freezing glacier water. We carried the rafts over a rocky embankment that was filled with large bright red/yellow signs warning us in French about Danger and Do Not Enter! The water was churning about (Tom Bradley referred to it as the washing machine). We got in and paddled hard. Within minutes he was yelling 'Bonsai!' -our cue to grab the rope and duck down in the boat. So exciting! The boys got front seat and loved getting splashed and churned. When it got a bit calmer, he let us take turns jumping in to the water and trying to climb back in the boat. We practiced 'crashes' (boys loved that), and went over 3 little waterfalls. At the very end, we got to try swimming in the rapids, trying to reach our boat by swimming hard at just the right time before grabbing the 'rescue paddle of shame.' We all tried it and made it! And perhaps equally fun on the van ride back, Tom Bradley let the boys sit in the front of the van. He turned the French music up loud and drove crazy around the gravel roads.

    Then yesterday morning Buz decided to paraglide! I wasn't worried (much) as it was tandem, but still v glad when he landed safely. We had fun watching from ground level. I don't know if I will be able to watch when he does solo paramotoring!! However, we will cross that bridge later.

    Did a little alpine hike yesterday arvo (Le Petite Balcon Sud). The boys changed into togs so they could take turn pouring jugs of freezing waterfall water over themselves in various challenges, one of them was called the Nut Challenge, which doesn't require further description. No brain, no pain.

    Today we went up Brevent for another mini-hike and play in the snow. I think we could easily spend a whole summer here- soooo much to do!

    FRIDAY
    Tomorrow we leave this wonderland. Sigh. Had another great 4-hour hike from Flegere to Chamonix- most of it was descent, so pretty easy. To make it more challenging (of course you can't just enjoy the silence of an alpine forest) the 3 males devised a 'pine cone fight' so much of the steep descent was spent dodging prickly cones. The weather has now turned and there were some spectacular rain showers and fog yesterday. Of course, we are finishing up our Chamonix days with a paintball match tonight!
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  • Day87

    CHAMONIX, FRANCE

    June 25, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    This town is so cute I could pinch its cheeks (edited for Buz). It's directly out of a fairy tale. In the French Alps, close to the Swiss border. Think Sound of Music meets Beauty and the Beast. The village lies at the foot of Mt Blanc, nestled in a valley full of dramatic landscapes. On the train climb up we saw mountain goats, waterfalls, glaciers, and skinny, long train bridges. The apart-hotel, 'Le Majestic' is this stunning 1920's (??) palace. Look up Grand Budapest Hotel and I swear it's a spitting image. The long hallways are so wide I could lay across them 3 times. I honestly can't see where it ends. There is an incredible urge to cartwheel until I just can't cartwheel anymore. And it feels empty, which makes it even cooler! And more likely that I will cartwheel.

    Photos to follow... this is definitely is a playground I want to explore!!!

    THURSDAY
    Chamonix started off with a bang (literally) in a family paintball match. So. Much. FUN! I've never played paintball, but the boys were so enthusiastic to try we had to give it a go. There is something very therapeutic about shooting your loved ones. A young guy named Teddy set the course up in the woods in Les Tines. Loads of forested ground on which to play: many forts, hiding spots, cubbies... The boys were in seventh heaven. Priceless! We played for 2 hours and went through 3 bags of ammo. Buz seemed to be the overall winner, although Zach and Jesse are pretty good shots. I need to go to the shooting range for a bit more practice, it seems. We all had fun comparing our little bruises after (although the 5psi guns are pretty tame, they still pack a punch).

    Yesterday we took the cable car to Plan Praz. Buz and Jesse were extremely brave and carried on with cable car #2 to Breventz. I'm a bit ashamed to say that neither Zach nor I could manage to coax ourselves on. In fairness, the cable car is suspended between 2 super-high, rocky snow-covered peaks with nothing in between but sheer drops thousands of feet below. It's maybe an 8 minute ride across air. If something were to happen, I can't see a back-up plan. So I justify our cowardice as intelligence.

    After Buz and Jesse returned safely, we started off on an alpine hike to Flegere. AWESOME! The boys are turning into mountain goats and managed the hike brilliantly. Although it's 'level,' there was a lot of ascent/descent in between and a few hours of walking. There were patches of snow to play in, cliffs to cling to, scree to cross, and most of all just stunning scenery which I won't even try to describe.

    We liked hiking so much that we went back up to Plan Praz today and attempted the hike up to Breventz peak. Unfortunately we hadn't realised most of the track after a certain altitude was all snow. Zach only wore his canvas skateboarding shoes which were quickly soaked through. And Jesse hadn't eaten breakfast. But the REAL reason we didn't make the peak was that the boys were having too much fun turning their rain jackets into makeshift toboggans and spent ages 'sleighriding' - every time they got a bit of altitude they would fly back down. Australians and snow- they couldn't resist. And it probably ended up being more fun than reaching the peak.

    Buz kindly took the boys while I repeated yesterday's hike to Flegere solo. Because honestly he was having as much fun as the kids playing in the snow.

    Tomorrow more paintball is planned.
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  • Day81

    PARIS, FRANCE

    June 19, 2018 in France ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Bonjour from gay Paris!! Took the Eurostar through the Chunnel and 2 hours later... v'oila! Staying at an awesome apartment on the top (6th) floor of a quintessentially Parisian street in Republique. It was an early 5am London start, so troops were in fatigue mode, but nothing that an hour of PubG Mobile couldn't fix.

    Revived, we mastered the Paris Metro to stroll along Champs-Élysées and climb up the Arc de Triomph. Whole lotta stairs! Think we better get used to that here. The views were worth it!

    FRIDAY:
    Playing tourist in Paris is so easy!

    I'm losing track of days, but no matter. Had a stroll through Nortre Dame cathedral and walked around Left Bank after, admiring the art. The boys chose a few Paris posters to add to their growing collection of cityscapes. Found a park to sit in and have a gelato while listening to a pop-up high school choir with amazing voices sing weird ditties about Ireland that stuck in my head for too long after. Later that night & at the end of our street, we strolled along Canal St Martin, a fantastic long waterway that snakes through Republique. At night everybody emerges with a glass of wine and sits on the edge of the canal for a few drinks. Some people bring instruments and there is spontaneous dancing. Fun vibe.

    Yesterday was 'epic.' We went to the Louvre and walked until our legs hurt. With 5 floors of art, you just can't possibly. However, we saw Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the oldest known sculpture (almost 9,000 years old), mummies, sphinxes... A lot of the French paintings in particular had written histories giving a context around the painting. That was awesome. Napoleon was quite vain.

    Exhausted with tourist fatigue we came home via the local boulangerie which has the best tarts ever! Jesse cooked a vegetarian spaghetti with salad, which we had on the balcony. Spontaneously a huge band started playing on the street below. Within hours more bands popped up, and dancing crowds filled the streets. Drum bands, orchestras... all funky music!! We got our second wind and went out to explore- which culminated in a 11:00pm Eiffel Tower visit! The views of Paris at night were awesome, and they put the sparkly lights on! Rather cold at the top, so hot Nutella crepes after were yummy!!

    The train home was packed with revellers. Happy, drunk Parisians singing loudly. It kept the boys awake & amused long enough to get home. The street party was still going strong (turns out it was a Midsummer festival of music), but we had no problems falling asleep!
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  • Day77

    LONDON, ENGLAND

    June 15, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    The home of Austin Powers. And a few other historically significant events. 5 nights is nowhere near enough to touch upon ALL the amazing wow that London has to offer. And unfortunately the first few days we all had a bit of mild sore throats which made us less-than-enthusiastic tourists. But we are all good now! We've ticked a lot of boxes: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (which is sadly covered up for restoration), Westminster, Downing Street, Picadilly Circus, British Museum, Coventry Gardens.... We have been enjoying cups of tea, street performers, souvenir browsing, and general people watching. Buz caught up with his old mate, Johann, who lives in London now. The city is absolutely incredible.

    MONDAY:
    Tomorrow we take the chunnel to Paris, so we have worn out the boys with sightseeing galore- starting off with Tower of London- except the lines were so incredibly long we decided to walk around the perimeter instead. The Crown Jewels are overrated anyway! Crossed over the Tower Bridge and got vertigo watching people sitting on the edge to pose for photos. We walked along the Thames to Blackfriars Bridge, stopping in at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre & also for a bit of 'culture' at the Tate Modern, which included (among its prized displays): a blank white canvas, egg carton structure with strings attached, a painting of a canvas entirely in black, another of 'soil mounted on canvas,' a gallery of large canvases with a single square painted on each with a comment that this particular artist will only paint 'on themes of the human condition: terror, ecstasy, doom, etc'. I wondered what emotion squares represented. And also thought perhaps I ought to submit a few works! It’s easy to criticise, but truly it seemed to be a case of the emperors new clothes. So we had fun renaming each work: spilled coffee, bad vindaloo meal, etc.

    Our English accents are getting pretty good!
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  • Day72

    VIK, ICELAND

    June 10, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Today's road trip to Vik was a bit delayed due to 'inclement' weather yesterday. We had to turn back and admit defeat after spending 30 minutes driving through the thickest fog I have ever seen. The roads were okay til we got a bit of altitude. Then suddenly we were in complete white-out, literally unable to see clearly 4 meters in front, on winding roads with steep cliff-drops to the right. Knuckles gripping the wheel and windscreen wipers full blast. Life is too short.

    But the sun came out today, and it probably even got up to 10C, an Icelandic summer heatwave.

    Waterfalls galore (Seljafoss & Skogafoss most notably). You can walk behind chilly Seljafoss which was super fun and wet!

    We drove past a glacier to reach Vik, and en route saw puffins on the cliffs (!!!) as well as a dead seal on the beach. The Dyrholaey sea arch, basalt rock formations, cliffs, birds... views were amazing- postcard perfect .

    We drove up to the 1930's church, Vikurkirkja, with views over Iceland's southernmost city. Had a play on the black sand beaches, and (at Jesse's insistence) we hiked out to Solheimasandur- a 3.5km hike (each way) across flat crunchy empty landscape to reach the site of a 1973 US Navy plane crash.

    Huge, great day!!! Beat!
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