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Munich

Posted by David McKell On May - 31 - 2015

Thursday 

Uneventful drive to Munich, except getting lost following road works detour signs. First thing we did was goto Hertz at the airport to explain the situation with the car (so uncomfortable and chews fuel) and they were understanding and helpful. They gave us the options with prices and allowed us to have a look at the cars etc. We decided to get a Ford C max over the Nissan pulsar we were offered.

Arrived at our hotel, which is one of those places that charge for absolutely everything. Like $9AUD an hour Internet, 3.5€ each undie/pair of socks to be washed etc. obviously we went without. Though we did get a room change for free – from 2 joined single beds to a king. The hotel was nice otherwise I think, sauna, stem room, gym, nice interior and biggish room. The down side is that it’s on a street which is very similar to Flemington road in Canberra. It’s residential/semi industrial with not much shops/food places nearby and far out from the center. So dinner was hard to come by so we decided to drive into Munich to check it out and have something to eat. However driving into the city centre at dusk packed full of people after a full day of driving was getting abit stressful. Impossible to find a park, gps leading us funny places ect. We had enough and we’re heading for the hotel, when we made a few random wrong turns saw a sign for a beer garden and a car park around the corner. So had a nice meal in a beer garden. 

 

Friday

Slept in then went to Dacoa concentration camp. We decided to go on the 2.5hour tour (3€ each), and it was the best value tour we have had. It really gave us so much information and a really in depth understanding of what went on in these camps. We miss out on this information at school and the documentarys/movies only cover a small part. Its hard to describe it, kinda one of those things you need to do yourself to fully understanding what went on and how it was done. To see the gas chambers and crematoriums etc.

After this we went back to hotel, had cereal for dinner and went to the gym/sauna/steam room. 

 

Saturday

Woke up at 7am (wowie) and got the “U” Bahn into Munich center. We had organised a 930am third reich bike tour. The tour guide was actually someone Brioney knew from the Central Coast. The tour was really good and informative while visiting the main sites of Munich,  and included a stop at a beer garden in the center of their tiergarten (“animal garden” – park), it is definitely a tourist trap rather than a typical German experience but was enjoyable. Brioney nearly took out a few pedestrians though. There was also a man made surf spot in the garden. 

After the bike ride we were both pretty tired, so we had a walk around Munich before heading back for a nap. Then went out to for an overdue laundry visit and dinner. 

Munich is much like Berlin. We enjoyed Berlin and really enjoyed Munich as well. The people are friendly and majority speak English. Really recommend the bike tours in these cities. Volvic water is our life saver, tap water is pretty yucky and Volvic was our choice from the UK. Prague didn’t have volvic (and all their bottled water tasted like the putred tap water) so we were SO excited to finally get our precious back. We bought 18 bottles but really should have got more.

 

 

Prague

Posted by David McKell On May - 31 - 2015

Monday 

Got bus from hotel to airport to pick up car. Busses were delayed seemingly forever. When we got to the airport and the Hertz counter our day kept getting worse. I have to say that Hertz rental in Berlin were a bloody nightmare and completly useless and rude. Considering we had pre booked the car weeks in advance you think that they could organise something for you (or the 3-4 other people with the same situation), except when we told them we had a booking for a car the douchebag without as much as a greeting says “yes I have a 9 seater bus for you” and offers the keys. It was a take it or leave it ‘heres a bus or wait an unknown amount of time and get the next unknown car to magically arrive’. We of course left it as we wanted a small car for parking and driving in Italy. We tried the Avis/Budget desk but the best they could do was more than double the price we had organised with Hertz. We went back and the douche offered us a Ford Focus which we agreed. But while he was taking his time with the paper work his collegue gave the car to someone else…we eventually got an Opel/Holden Corsa (which was a heap of junk – more about that later).

Drove to Dresden and stopped for maybe 30-45minutes for a walk and icecream. Then drove to Prague. Parked the car, unloaded bags and had dinner/walk. 

 

Tuesday

Hotel buffet breakfast was included in the price. All the food must have been bought from the paper machet factory. 

Organised a walking tour of Prague the hotel recommended. Except it was pretty shit. We were picked up from the hotel, dropped at meeting spot and had a guide who looked like she was around when Prague was first created, which you think would be good with the wealth of information she could have. But instead we couldn’t hear her very well due to her small voice and thick accent and broken English. The information we could work out was things like “this is an aristocrats house” or “professor xavior of the 17th century lived here” which would be great if we knew who professor Xavior was or why he was important (also professor Xavior I made up to make this dull story sound slightly better). It was also very rushed and felt like a cheap nasty tour. We were lucky to have other good people on the tour otherwise it would have felt completely wasteful. The tour also included a 30minute boat ride and a set menu lunch. Normally we wouldn’t complain about such things as we did get a lay0ut of the land (which we could have done for free) but it was so expensive at 50euro each ($75 AUD) to which the boat was about 10euro and the food 5euro tops (food was very cheap in Prague) and we have had some AMAZING tours in other cities for less than half that price. Had vegetarian thai food for dinner which Brioney didn’t like. Then walked around town and climbed the astronomical clock. 

 

Wednesday 

Went to get the car and had an altercation with the operators trying to rip us off. Thieves they were. Then went to hertz at the airport to try to exchange the car. Absolutely hopeless and extremely rude service. Did not get anywhere with them even with some yelling. Parked the car in a different garage and organized the price before entering. Walked back to most of the places we visited on the tour but with time to enjoy them. Saw a white peacock. Decided to walk up a hill to a white building we saw, except went slightly in the wrong direction and ended up climbing the observation lookout. This was a really great view over Prague. We had a really nice afternoon and felt good with all the walking we had done. Had subway salad for dinner and went to bed. 

 

Thursday

Brioney sorted out refund on tour. I got the car from the carpark – hassle as the guy we organized the price with was not there and the other guy did not speak any English and was frustrated with me and insisting I pay way more then quoted. Waited around 20minutes for the other guy to show up and pay the price. Then left for Munich.

 

Thoughts on Prague:

– Most locals felt very standoff’ish. Not sure why, but I think its a self centered view on the world. Ie they have there own currency still (not the EU) valued at 1eu=25 koruna. They proudly display a statue of the Czech Republic being pissed in (water fountain from penis) from 2 men statues representing the EU. I think they don’t like outsiders in their little bubble.

– Customer service lessons were never taken by most Pragueians

– Parking is a nightmare and ridiculously expensive

– We were very happy to leave Prague

– We went to Munich after Prague despite planning to go to Salzburg. This was because we couldn’t change the car with Hertz in CR only in Germany. Another reason to avoid Hertz, we could rant for hours about how rubbish Hertz in Berlin and Prague were.

 

 

 

 

 

Germany – Paris to Berlin

Posted by David McKell On May - 26 - 2015

Monday

Trained to airport, pickup car from Budget no problem, as we were driving out there was a taxi that crashed into a bus and was all up in a fuss. Drove to Metz for the sake of taking a photo of the town sign for Michael’s girlfriend Hayley. Followed the GPS to where we were staying, and it decided to take us across on a car ferry across the river to the town. Setup at the hotel, walked around the town and had a nice German dinner. Then we walked back to the hotel to which Brioney had finally decided she wanted ice cream, so walked the whole town trying to find ice cream, except all but 1 place was closed by now. We would have had quite the situation if there was no ice cream.

 

Tuesday

No sleep that night due to the room being on the main road, it was quite warm so we had the windows open for fresh air but in turn let in all the street noise, the drunks walking past, the cars/bikes, and gardeners with petrol wiper snippers/blowers at 630am. We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel then checked out and drove up the mountain for a lovely walk to the German war monument and around the area, we had pretty good weather except a spot of rain on the walk back. Drove to Assmannhausen for lunch and organise accommodation for the night. Its a great drive along rhine, castles everywhere and a beautiful view everywhere you look. We got another car ferry over the river, to eventually meet up with the autobahns.  Driving in Germany was great, Australia really should learn from them with road etiquette and the use of autobahns. Also very beautiful country views, much better than the trees up the Hume Hwy. We the drove past the Nurburgring to organize the track car, drive to accommodation and waited for hours for them to turn up (air BnB downside). It was a good size apartment with kitchen, dining, living areas, went shopping and made dinner, then spent the night watching Nurburgring crashes to really get us in the mood.

 

Wednesday

Sleep in, washing day, computer work day, made burgers for lunch, car parking fine, NURBURGRING!!! – There’s another post for this.

 

Thursday

Drove to Bonn to return the car. Caught the train to Berlin, got comfy in the hotel then walked to main street to find some dinner ( and the Lego store – except they were closed)

 

Friday

Took the metro to where the TV tower is, this is the meeting spot for a bike tour we had organized. It really was a great tour and really gave us a good feel for the city with plenty of information both just generally and regarding WW2 and how it effected Berlin before, during and after the war (the wall). Unfortunately after this we were both feeling abit unwell (likely dehydration) so headed to hotel, had a nap, and had Indian for dinner.

 

Saturday

Sleep in day, went to check point Charlie, remnants of the Berlin wall, topography of terror museum, Potsdamer place – big shopping mall, then to main street for lego store (we don’t have 1 in Canberra so very exciting, may have ordered another set for myself ).

 

Sunday

Went to markets in Northen Berlin, they were like a trash n treasure type market but much bigger. Went back and played chess at café, then had amazing burgers for dinner.

 

 

Paris

Posted by David McKell On May - 5 - 2015

Paris Adventures

 

Basic list of what we got upto in Paris. Most of this was written very late one night so the details are very sparce.

 

Monday

Drove car back to Heathrow then got the tube to Notting Hill. Had a delicious lunch at Jamies Reciplease. Walked down to the Kensington Palace and gardens, walked down through Kensington’s main street where I bought some new walking shoes (great idea with all the walking I have already done in them), then on the tube back to Michael and Hayleys.

 

Tuesday

Woke up at 330am, Michael drove us to the train station at 5am. Arrived in Paris about 10am and had crepes for breakfast. Very tired, slept at hotel for 4 hours.  Then we got the train to “Opera”, walked to the Louve and around the area. Trained back to “Republique” to find some food, nothing suitable until we found Thai food. Except they couldn’t speak English and served luke warm thai food. Surprising did not get sick from it. 

 

Wednesday

Slept in, had croissants for breakfast. Hired some street bikes and biked our way across Paris. Some stops were; pole thingy, garden thingy, church thingy, another garden thingy, military museum, Eiffel Tower thingy, the Louve for a visit, then rode home.  This was a big day with beautiful weather.

 

Thursday

Slept in (because it was raining), refused to have croissants for breakfast, walked all of Paris to find anything else. Found somewhere that sold crepes with different fillings. Walked to Notre Dame, the military museum and back to play chess in a Starbucks, then train home, but we jumped the turnstile because our tickets didn’t work and we thought they should have. Had pizza with an egg on it for dinner. 

 

Friday

Slept in, had breakfast at hotel consisting of cereal and you guessed it croissants. Played some more chess then went for a walk to scope out dinner. Found a big park that had an area closed off. I wasn’t happy that it was closed off so jumped the fence to have a look. It was a rope rock wall, rope play ladder things, some kind of wooden cave, an awesome slide and play house thing. But it was closed off for a reason, the place is a death trap. Who knows how many children were hospitalised from that place. It was a playground of the fittest.

 

Saturday

Raining. Slow start to the morning. Open bus tour around Paris (got a bit wet), climbed the Eiffel Tower, visited the military museum, open bus tour back home.

 

Sunday

Another raining day. Off to Sacre Coeur, boat cruise up and down the Seine, then a final (expensive) dinner in Paris. We had mussels and salmon, yummy.

 

 

General thoughts on Paris:

– The people are friendly contrary to popular stereotypes

– The city itself is beautiful and full of history. But it is a dirty filthy city. Not by rubbish on the ground etc, but the pollution not only by the vehicles but the smokers leaves a film of grot everywhere. Everywhere you went someone was smoking, and if you couldn’t see them the smoke was wofting from somewhere. Leaves a huge negative for me. I like my air quality.

– The trains are a mix of old and new, some with audio and/or visual to inform of the next stop, some had nothing.

– It is impossible to find a decent meal. Unless you can somehow survive on croissants (extremely buttery at that) then it is hard to find anything other then bakers. It was a daily chore to find our next meal.

 

 

Again apologies about the photos being jumbled up and not rotated, it happens when they get uploaded.

 

 

Brioney’s Photos

 

 

UK Adventure

Posted by David McKell On May - 4 - 2015

David and Brioney’s travel log 1

 

Thisl is a brief collection of what we have been up to on our adventure. I am writing it in chronological order mainly for our future record, so I apologies if there seems to be any boring/seemingly unimportant bits.

 

Day 1 – Monday

Pretty uneventful flight to London. Sat next to a male Qantas air host on his trip to Syria, so he was able to pass the time with stories. Slight delay leaving Sydney and therefore Dubai but I found the flight pretty good when compared to my flight to LA in 2011. We hired a car from Budget at Heathrow, was pretty straight forward. We had booked an Astra but got a VW Golf (non gti) instead. It’s a really nice car, very smooth, comfortable, powerful enough and intelligent. Driving in London some might say is an experience, but if you are from Canberra then it is just another day of driving. Except London roads are poorly marked, often disappearing without warning, cars parked on both sides of the road turning every road into single lanes but the drivers are a lot more courteous. We had a fun trip to Hailey’s mums place to pick up the keys to Michael’s house.  After we settled in we decided we had to get out and do something or we would pass out on the couch and our sleeping pattern would be off to a bad start. We had seen Hampton Court Palace on the way to Michael’s and it looked like a nice time waster. Off we went, however without GPS we relied on memory – which, well, it failed. We had a lovely drive through random streets and suburbs and ended up at the Kew gardens. Brioney really enjoyed this as it had plants and things. Back to Michaels for pizza dinner and catchup.

 

Day 2 – Tuesday

Michael took us on his famous walking tour of London.. This was a massive day getting the bus and tube into Waterloo station where we walked to the London eye, photo op of big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Barclay Park for lunch, Green Park to Buckingham Palace, bus back to Piccadilly to hop on a cruise boat down the Thames to Greenwich passing all the sites including Tower Bridge, Naval academy at Greenwich, walked up the big hill to the observatory and the Greenwich meridian line, boat back to Catherine’s wharf then to an old pub for a deserved drink and rest.

 

Day 3 – Wednesday

Drive to Brioney’s brother and fiancé house in Hearne where we met their 2 boys (Finlay and Kian) and Kylies mother and father. Later Brioney’s mum, dad, aunt Carol and daughter Caitlin arrived for dinner. Was feeling exhausted this day so headed off early.

 

Day 4 – Thursday

9am breakfast at the Grove Ferry Inn which is where we were staying. Then off to Canterbury for some shopping therapy (Brioney), lunch and sports direct shop! This was exhausting so back to the Inn for dinner and an early night.

 

Day 5 – Friday

Breakfast out in Canterbury followed by more shopping…Then back to Kylie and David’s house to help transport and setup items at the wedding location. Dinner was at a nice old pub in Canterbury with Brioney’s whole family pretty much. Lovely dinner and people.

 

Day 6 – Saturday – Wedding day

Breakfast in Canterbury again at a fancy hotel just with Brioney’s immediate family. It was nice food with good service. The occasion was a last meal with David before he got married. Not knowing David, he is either really good at not showing his nerves, or was in fact not nervous! After this would you be surprised that there was more shopping for last minute items and hair preparation…back to the Inn to get ready ourselves and to drive to the wedding. The wedding was on a huge property in a country area, it featured open gardens with a maze, The wedding itself was held in the mansion’s front entry and the reception in a large dining hall. The wedding was really laid back with laughter during the ceremony which toned down the general seriousness expected of weddings. Followed by photos, 3 course meal, or 2.5 for Brioney, and speeches. After speeches the rest of the family, mainly cousins arrived and the band started playing.

 

Day 7 – Sunday

Dropped Brioney’s parents back to their car and continued on to see Michael and Hailey compete in the warrior run. We also met Steve, Mel, Stef and Michael Metz. We watched Michael and Hailey finish, had some lunch then headed ‘home’. Finally, dinner at the Metz before an early night as everyone was so tired.

 

Day 8 – Monday

Rest Day/shopping day…

 

Day 9 – Tuesday

Tower of London, Queens b’day 21 gun salute out the front. Then drinks and dinner with Brioney’s friend Bryony and Michael.

 

Day 10 – Wednesday

Michael had taken the day off work. In the morning we went to the cabinet war rooms. This is where the government was run from during WW2, and was setup how it was when it was last used. Also it contained a museum of Churchill’s entire life. After this we met up with Hailey and went to the science museum followed by a brief visit to the natural history museum.

 

Day 11 – Thursday

Went to visit Brioneys Grandma north of London, then stayed at her aunties close by.

 

Day 12 – Friday

Drove back to collect Michael and head to Leeds castle. Bit of a boring long drive but we got there. It is quite a picturesque place with lots of water channels, a moat, a maze, a birds of prey aviary/show. The castle itself was nice, but not really what you would think of imagining a castle. It was more an illustrious house on a mini island then a castle. Headed home for a bbq with the Metz.

 

Day 13 – Saturday

Well needed sleep in. Then a hurry to get ready for Brioney’s friend’s wedding in Milton Keynes. Got there with 15minutes to spare after some spirited driving on the motorway. The wedding itself was a funny one, too religious for our liking but they had a good time and suited them.

 

Day 14 – Sunday (Today)

Lazy day. Had a bad sleep (first one) so slept in till 1030. Michael took us out to breakfast down the road. Hint – Don’t order pancakes it is not food, rather than just a pile of cream and icecream on some flour based substance, so it was delicious but not food. Then spent the next few hours doing some work and writing this damn email! Brioney is enjoying watching a ‘Friends’ marathon as if she hasn’t seen them 100 times before.

 

Photos below, apologies about the random order and any that are not rotated – the system reverted them back to original orientation.

 David’s Photo’s

 

Michael’s Photos

 

Brioney’s Photos

Laguna Seca Raceway

Posted by David McKell On July - 28 - 2011

I know some of you wanted me to put my car around the track, and i would have loved too, however it is not Bathurst and thus i could only view it from the sideline. They were actually packing up from a few days of moto raacing and they had pretty much everything open to allow them to pack up. So i could pretty much go anywhere, so yes there is photos of m me gong places i shouldnt be. Oh well, and i so could have gone on the track to as you can see in some photos. Decided against it, not sure why. I think because there were cranes and stuff on the track i thought best not to. Anyway here are the picturess. Again i could not be bothered sorting the blurring ones or ones pointing at nothing, so you can do that 🙂

 

Also most of them should be GPS marked if your interested.