Karen Cotton

Joined December 2017Living in: Ocean Reef, Australia
  • Day36

    Last Day in Krakow

    June 10 in Poland

    So many things to see....such little time.
    Hopped on a Segway tour for a couple of hours to check out the city. It's a great way to tour - informative and fun. There are a multitude of escape rooms here so as we hadn't done one before we thought we'd had a go. It was heaps of fun and quite addictive. We were pretty useless at the start and they helped us out a couple of times on the walkey talkey. We solved every puzzle but the very last one so didn't make it out this time.
    As it was our last night we headed to Wodka Bar for a last paddle of vodkas and then had street food. There are many nice restaurants here but the market food is seriously good.Got back to our apartment just as the rain started. Timing is everything.
    Unfortunately we didn't get everything done that we wanted to in Krakow. Next (and final) stop - Amsterdam.
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  • Day35

    Wieliczka Salt Mine

    June 9 in Poland

    This afternoon we visited the salt mine, which was originally established in the 13th century. All the sculptures and carvings were done by the miners. They still have mass 300 metres underground every Sunday.
    Went back to the town square tonight to try some more vodka, as the bar we have found has over 100 flavours. We are working our way through the list. Ate street food at the local market - it was sensational. The place really comes to life at night - there are buskers, break dancers, stages set up with performers, markets, bars and restaurants all around the square, horses parading along the streets and many many drunk people. But there are also sober ones so it balances out nicely.
    We didn't stay near the square as it is walking distance but much quieter where we are staying in the Jewish quarter. Well it would be quieter if we weren't staying opposite a nightclub that goes until 5am. Graham peeked out the window at 4am and he said there were bodies everywhere. We were laying in bed singing along with them. One of those moments that will be funny one day in the future, but not at the moment.
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  • Day34

    Krakow Poland

    June 8 in Poland

    Said a sad auf wiedersehen to Switzerland and took a short flight to Poland. As Switzerland is expensive, Poland is cheap. Thank goodness. As I would be a shit busker.
    Krakow may not be as pretty as some of the other cities we have visited but it is vibrant and lively and has soul. Wandered around Old Town before taking a stroll down Horse Piss Alley (if you have been there you will know what I mean) into the main city square, which was full of bars, restaurants, markets, buskers and horse drawn carriages (see reference above).
    We sampled their many and varied vodkas - super smooth, and ate some fantastic local street food.
    We decided it would be a good idea to leave early as a) lots of English stag parties come to Krakow b) they weren't drunk yet c) neither was Graham, and d) if both were this would not end well.
    Oh and I must mention our apartment. It's on the third floor with no lift, so Graham had to lug the luggage up numerous flights of stairs. I helped. The stairs all bow in the middle when you walk on them and the tiles on the landings are all loose, but it is in a great location and has everything we need. Including a bar over the road playing loud music. All adds to the atmosphere.
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  • Day33

    Bike Fun in Thun

    June 7 in Switzerland

    As part of our stay in Thun we get a free bus pass or the hotel provides free bikes. As it looked like it was going to rain we chose the bikes for a leisurely ride around the lake. And if it rained we could stop in a village for a while. No thank you, we don't need a helmet as we are off for a leisurely ride.
    So we headed off, tootling around the lake. It was lovely for the first 500 metres. Then bikes are no longer allowed on the path around the lake and we follow the arrow to find we are now on the main road that circumnavigates Lake Thun, surrounded by cars and trucks and buses, and of course without a helmet. But wait, it gets better. After an hour it starts to rain, and of course there are no villages in sight. Oh, and here's a mountain for you to ride up. And what happens when there is a road on a mountain? It is very windy, with no overtaking, there are tunnels and two idiots on bikes, without helmets. I did not sign up for this.
    After a couple of hours we arrived at our destination, St Beatus Caves. There is a lovely little train that takes you up to the cave, but not today there isn't so you have to climb up. I am not happy. At all.
    We did the cave tour (more climbing) and then Graham bought me some pizza because if I was eating I wouldn't be complaining. And then we rode back to Thun and thanked the lady at the hotel desk very much for the use of the bikes.
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  • Day32

    Murren to Lake Thun

    June 6 in Switzerland

    Sadly we left Murren this morning to head to Lake Thun. I think I left a little bit of my heart in Murren. I may have to go back to try to find it.
    Our hotel is right on the lake. More fantastic views. We dumped our bags and hopped on a cruise up the lake, checking out the mansions on the riverbank. Lifestyles of the rich and the famous. Stopped in at Spiez for a walkaround and look at their castle, one of five on Lake Thun. Jumped back on the boat and there was a Swiss band playing and all these people dressed in national costume dancing. It was fantastic. We didn’t know where to look – out the window at the lake views or the people on the dance floor.
    Was saying hello to a cat when a copper from Perth came up to say hello - must have heard the accent. Can't take Graham anywhere.
    I have patted, talked to or commented on every cat and dog we have seen so far, and we have seen a lot. Graham just ignores me now.
    Switzerland travel tip: You really do need a travel pass when you are in Switzerland. It will save you a bundle and often time, not having to buy a ticket.
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  • Day31

    The Hills are Alive....

    June 5 in Switzerland

    ....with the sound of Graham snoring. Haven't killed him yet.
    Went up to Grindelwald First today. Best cablecar ride yet. It was a bit like the ghost train. They put you in a little cabin and then you go around sharp corners, slow down, whizz off. Great views to top it off (but when aren’t there amazing views here). The hike to the lake was still closed due to snow so we did the ziplines and the glider. With the glider you start at the bottom laying face down and they pull you up the mountain backwards, and then when they get to the top it inches to a stop and you are left hanging for what feels like an eternity before they let you go. There may have been a bit of screaming. I can’t lie – Graham bloody filmed it!
    We were going to do the trotti bikes down the mountain until I read the reviews of people breaking bones and being airlifted out. I am not that desperate for a helicopter ride. The only people we saw on the bikes were a couple of 16 year old boys who said it was hell fast so I was overjoyed we didn’t do it. Graham would have loved it.
    Had a Sound of Music moment for Debbie, as requested. The Chinese were watching me twirl around on the edge of the mountain in awe. They are always up for a new pose to add to their repertoire so I imagine after we left there would have been 100 Chinese twirling around on the mountainside.
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  • Day30

    Bern

    June 4 in Switzerland

    Woke this morning in the clouds, literally, so headed off to the city of Bern for the day. Spent some time wandering Old Town, visited the bear park in the middle of the city and visited the house Albert Einstein lived in. We were going to visit some of the museums, to find they are all closed on a Monday. On a positive note, the Swiss Rifle Museum was closed.
    Bern was pretty but I couldn’t wait to get back up the mountain to Murren.
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  • Day29

    Cotton Adventure Tours

    June 3 in Switzerland

    We decided we would do a gentle hike from Murren to the cable car and from there ride down to Lauterbrunnen Valley. So off we headed beside the railway track, all very civilised. We stopped for lunch on the way and sat with retired sisters from Florida who have done more travelling than we’ve had hot dinners. Age has slowed them down but they were a hoot. We left them to continue on our hike while they went off to find a pub. All of the hiking and mountain bike trails are very well marked and it would be impossible to get lost.
    We walked on for a while and realised we had lost the train track and in fact, isn’t that the cable car above us? There was nothing to do but to continue on down, dodging the occasional mountain biker who would come hurtling past. The Swiss must all be extreme sport junkies. They are either throwing themselves off a mountain or whizzing down it on skis or on a mountain bike at break neck speeds.
    So we walked, and walked, and walked. After a few hours we finally came across a sign showing Lauterbrunnen 30 minutes on the nice road or 20 minutes down this little track. We didn’t even debate – we are taking the shorter route. Someone must have decided that the hikers would probably be bored by now so let’s make the last 20 minutes really exhilarating for them. The track looked like nobody walked it and after picking our way down I know why. Four and a half hours after heading off we got to the bottom and Graham found a waterfall to dunk his head under and I found a bar.
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