Because we couldn't decide where to go this summer ... And we don't like flying much.
  • Day18

    Last day in Brussels

    August 22, 2019 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Another fantastic day in this amazing city - I had no idea it was so grand. Stumbled upon the phenomenal Courts of Justice up a street lift and bridge whilst looking for the Royal Palace and Parc de Bruxelles. Popped into the parc but it was disappointing, apart from the ice cream opportunity it afforded. Palace, however, was fabulous- free to go in, fabulously ornate, and with a couple of temporary exhibitions; one reasonably interesting, about moon-related stuff, and the other a completely brilliant collection of interactive science installations. We spent ages there! More impressive buildings on the more direct route home. Lunch was Belgian waffles ... Dinner was back to the same place for meatballs, spaghetti, omelette and salad.Read more

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  • Day17

    Brussels part 2

    August 21, 2019 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Covered a lot of ground and got very hot today. Found the Mannekin Pis, then metroed to Atomium. I was very brave ... And it was interesting and worth the effort, in spite of the queues. Also included in ticket price was Adam, the Design Museum, full of plastic furniture etc. from last 60 years. Lots of very cool pieces. Fell into bed on return, and fortunately revived sufficiently to order takeaway to eat on our balcony and watch some of Independence Day. Finally I went out alone to join the crowds in the Grand Place by night- magic! Yet our hotel is really quiet. Perfect.Read more

  • Day16

    Brussels part 1

    August 20, 2019 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    So we arrived Brussels after an easy journey from Amsterdam, but it was quite tricky to find our air BnB. Once we had, we wished we hadn't bothered. It was truly scuzzy ... Feelings about it not helped by the police incident going on at the top of the road! 5 minutes with Google and a hotel was booked, and it's just fabulous. Named Hotel Mozart, but we're sure it used to be Hotel Morocco or similar - it's so ornate. And within 2 minutes of starting our exploration of the area, we fell into the Grand Place. Had a curry for dinner and just cosied down on our private balcony and in our beautiful room!Read more

  • Day15

    Amsterdam day 2

    August 19, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I started this day by getting our laundry done in the hotel's single washing machine, which was occupied last night! But the boys started the day by showering us with anniversary gifts, which they had very thoughtfully, and entirely secretly, sourced and bought during their independent shopping trips in Heidelberg. And we thought they were just enjoying a bit of browsing time! Bless them.
    We trammed in to the city, and started off by going on the quick, free passenger ferry to the Nord, and the Amsterdam lookout tower. Boys and Andy braved the lift, height, glass floor and amazing views whilst kindly allowing me to stay at ground level and treat myself to a hot chocolate in a gorgeous stepped café overlooking the water as the sun came out. We then walked miles through the web of canals and streets before finding drinks and poffertjes (not sure of spelling but they're a Dutch speciality - a cross between mini pancakes and churros) in a restaurant on the edge of Park Vondel called Carousel. Uno made an appearance. More walking brought us to the terrific Riks Museum and gardens. At this point, Thomas (who'd really had enough sightseeing) decided to experiment with a fountain which was sending up jets in a sequence around a square. It's fair to say he underestimated just how much water was being sent up, by several gallons-worth - just running through a single layer caused him to be utterly soaked to the skin. We all headed back to the hotel to dry him off, and the over 40s amongst us promptly fell asleep! Dinner was much later, back into the city as the sun was setting, in an Italian called Pepinos. And I got to fulfill my dream of walking through lit up city streets at night with my boys again.
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    Alison Wood

    Happy anniversary Gina and Andy

  • Day14

    Amsterdam 1 - Linda's walking tour

    August 18, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Another 3-train journey dropped us safely in Amsterdam in the middle of the afternoon. We sorted out our onward trip on Tuesday (always the first job on arrival!) and put our luggage into a locker which just left time to book transport around the city for two days before meeting up with Linda, my lovely friend whom I last saw 15 years ago, having first met her whilst travelling around the south island of NZ. She took us on a super walking tour around the Centraal area, pausing only for dinner. Hotel is very basic - more of a hostel really (although not a kettle in sight!) but will do us fine. Air con and comfy beds.Read more

    Matthew Kirkwood

    According to Linda, the owner of the "sightseeing" house in the middle of the photo refused to give up his property, so the hotel had to be built around his shop!!!

  • Day13

    Heidelberg part 2

    August 17, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    I spent quite a lot of time on Saturday way out of my comfort zone! Actually, heights and edges have been more of a feature of this trip than I anticipated. Our second full day in Heidelberg began with a bus ride to the edge of the old town, crossing a bridge then a climb up many, many stone steps to the beginning of the philosopher's walk. Great views of the castle, river and old town from the walk but my legs were jelly the whole way! Very steep cobbled path down at the other end took us to the old stone bridge, and straight to the most wonderful ice cream sundae shop, where an intake of wonderful puds restored us. Our next challenge was to clamber up the steep cobbled hill on the castle side of the river up to the Schloss itself. First daytime rainfall of our trip fell here but it wasn't heavy. Fascinating Apothecary museum with beautiful displays, and a very impressive Big Barrel which apparently stored 220000 litres of wine! By this time we were exhausted so after lots more photos, we retired down to the town square again for drinks. Boys did some shopping in the Lindt shop. Dinner was in Mandy's American Diner, a fab converted railway carriage we'd seen on the way in. Completely delicious and exactly what we needed.Read more

  • Day12

    Heidelberg 1

    August 16, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Took three trains to get here; first to Olten alongside fabulous Rhône-Alps scenery, then to Mannheim, then the short hop to Heidelberg. Taxi to our apartment as the helpful lady in the station clearly thought we'd not cope on a bus! - although subsequently we've found an excellent bus route which drops us outside a handy shop just around the corner. After the bijou tight squeeze of Geneva, this place feels huge, with a separate bedroom for us and comfy beds for the boys in the lounge. Andy cooked omlettes for dinner and we introduced the boys to Groundhog Day which they thoroughly enjoyed. Was a late night though so had a late start in the morning- decided to walk in to get our bearings and it took a long time to get anywhere attractive! Once we did, we were sorry we'd not got there sooner - the Aldstadt is just glorious, with university buildings, churches and civic buildings lining pedestrian squares and streets. Matthew bought a magnetic clock (Grandpa may approve) and we learned the word uhr. Eventually found information, bought tickets and went up both funiculars, modern and historic. Lots of queues, so no time for Schloss - hopefully later. Fab, dizzying views from top. Ice creams needed twice to keep some of us in a happier frame of mind by this stage, but locating a marvellous pub for dinner where we could sit inside, unmolested by wasps, made a fantastic end to a great day.Read more

    Gina Kirkwood

    Thomas loved the wall which was all covered with notes and currency from across the world!

    Gina Kirkwood

    Best. Salad. Ever.

    Gina Kirkwood

    The boy chose well!

  • Day10

    Genève: city of sparrows

    August 14, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Not too many disagreements about naming Geneva, although "City of Money" comes a close second. Apartment in fantastic location; 20 minute walk from station across bridge at base of the lake, in full view of the Jet D'eau. Wonderful lakeside marina, gardens, parks and eateries. Spent our 36 hours here relaxing, strolling and sunbathing ... And wishing we were millionaires! Lovely city surrounded by mountains and lake, and teeming with gorgeous people and - did we mention - sparrows!Read more

    Julie Clark

    There seems to be a lot of ice cream being eaten on this trip 🍦🍦🍦

    Gina Kirkwood

    It's the rule, Julie!

    Julie Clark

    A very good rule!