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Final Europe Post

Posted by David McKell On December - 3 - 2017

Well here is the final Europe post from the 2015 holiday. Unfortunately I never got around to detailing what we did like in the previous posts, all I have is the below notes that have been sitting in my email for 2 years. I need to clear this out of my head so I can prepare for a big 2018 (Europe and USA again in one hit!).

Switzerland (Lucerne)
Went to Aldi and bought required camping equipment. It wasn’t too expensive outlay and we did the maths will save many hundreds on accommodation and food over nearly 2 weeks. Checked out of hotel and drove to camp ground, no one was at check in until 3 so we went for a walk.
Set up tent, went shopping, cooked pizza over coals.
Camped here: https://goo.gl/maps/AvdQ4qho5nu

Packed up tent, drove towards Italy. Went over the “x” pass. Awesome road, had to back track as the mountain road was closed from snow, stopped randomly and walked, found the statue and tunnels. Drove to snow, drove to Lake Como Italy!! Set up tent at night. Was raining

Woke up to it raining. Pretty miserable day. Went shopping. Set up tarp for hours before rain, cooked dinner and bed.

Walked to mountain. Gelato and chess.

Extended holiday. Didn’t do much. Went to waterfall. Walked through town, booked canyoning. Played chess

Canyoning, headache, dinner bed

Drove to Milan via George clooneys. Set up tent, shirty reception.

Milan walking around. I was sick n tired so left early.

Drove to Padua and wondered around for a few hours.

Then drove to campsite in Venice. It’s a ways out but good place. Opted for a cabin for only 10euro more with w real bed, shows, toilet, fridge and space. A nice change from camping

Slept in (recover from drinking). Bus to Venice, got tickets, walked around, used public ferry’s, walked some more. Pizza delivered for dinner.

Bus to Venice. Police checking tickets. Went on gondola, basilica, Brioney not feeling well from bumper head, went to café and rested while playing chess, boat into main square, pizza for dinner, bus home, packed up

Packed up into car, checked out, drove to Pisa, knee starting to hurt, went to leaning tower, drove to Florence, ztl zone bs, parking hassles, late to bed

Up early to move car, shopping for lunch n dinner, bus to town n walk back, sore knee, rested while Brioney went out. Coco pops for lunch. Pizza dinner.

Walked around town, went to duomo, had massive tub of ice-cream. Went to michangelo plaza with nice view. Went back to car to get some valuables out. Cooked chicken n salad for dinner.

Went to castiglioncello to hang by beach, paddle boat and swim. Train back n pizza for dinner.

Late start, went to museum (statue of David). Went back home to plan next few days (made changes due to leg injury and holiday bothers). Super doper hot. Had subway dinner, walked through town to tram, went and got car, parked in ztl. Packed n bed.

Up early, drove to Siena. Walked around, had kebaps. Drove to camp ground with lovely reception and nice camper vans. Checked out grounds, cooked spaghetti Bol, Internet and bed.

Slept in till 9. Brioney went for run. Had crepes 4 breakfast. Lay around. Drove to Perugia. Very hot 34degrees. Walked along way too hot really. Back to camp.

Swim in pool, walk, nothin

Washing, swim in pool and relax, jump in lake,

Slept in, washing. Jumped in lake. Pizza dinner, packed

Cleaned cabin, put all gear in car, gave away camping gear to reception, stopped for lake photo, drove to small town for ice cream, Brioney feeling very sick, stopped further up on side of road in shade and rested, drove to Rome, filled car up, dropped it back and went to airport to communicate with Michael re keys. Went to appt, no food around ordered pizza, didn’t turn up till after midnight, bed after 1.

Early start 8. Walked to colosseum and beat most crowds but not the heat. Walked to Trevi fountain, psntheum, fort, Vatican City, tube to shops n home on bus

Vatican to see pope, Vatican museum, tram + bus packed out bus,

St. Peter’s square, bassilica, walked to dome, forum, sat in front of coliseum, slow walk back, packed bags, walked to dinner and drinks, bed about 12

430am wake for 5am taxi to lido. Arrived in London about miday, lunch then home for a nap. Dinner at buffet Indian, drinks and send off and Metz.

Greenwich to see Dave and boys, home for work



Posted by David McKell On May - 31 - 2015


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. 



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. 



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.




Posted by David McKell On May - 31 - 2015


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. 



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. 



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. 



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.







Posted by David McKell On May - 26 - 2015



On Wednesday we went to the Nurburgring. The Nurburgring is a 23km track around the town of Nurburg. It is technically a toll road with no speed limits and not a race track (as racing is illegal on public roads).



We hired a track car for 2 main reasons:

1, our hire car insurance does not cover the Nurburging

2, The hire cars are fully track prepared (roll cage, sports wheels/tyres, etc) and include fuel, insurance, lap tickets.


We originally were going to drive the Golf GTI around the track, but unfortunately were unable to. Instead we chose the Renault Clio RS Sport, which was not only cheaper, but in hindsight a much better choice. It was 200hp engine and automatic gearbox (with paddle shift). Although 200hp is not a lot especially around a track, it was the right amount for us. Since the track has 70 odd corners, varying track conditions (started off belting down with rain and ended up being dry and sunny) we would need to take it easy or risk a very expensive lap.



It was decided that I would drive 3 of the 4 laps and Brioney would do the last one. The first lap Brioney was a passenger for. It had just belted down rain so the track was very wet, in an unfamiliar car I took it as easy as I could being in a race prepared car.  The handling and braking of the car was superb. It was pretty quick off the line but not that quick in the higher rev ranges. It had awesome grip despite all the water on the track. This first lap being a slower lap for us while getting used to the car and track meant that we got overtaken by a few cars, which was just like driving a normal road – keep right and let them over take. There is 1 corner that is quite steep but begs for massive acceleration, in the wet however and especially for rear wheel drive cars like Porsche GT3 you really need to take it easy. Unfortunately for the Porsche he found out the hard way facing the wrong way with his nose in the guard rail. We have a partial video of the first lap but the internet here is to sporadic for me to even try and upload it.

Before the second lap we pulled back into the car park to cool the nerves (The passenger) and let the sun dry the track a bit more.  After about 5 minutes I headed out for my second lap without the second brake. The track was still abit wet and the car and track and still very new to me, so again I took it easy while pushing it as much as I felt comfortable to see what it would do. There was a few under steers with a bit too much acceleration going around corners in the wet, that was really fun (and planned for).

The third lap I decided it might be best to have a longer break and let Brioney take her turn. By now surprisingly most of the track was dry and it wasn’t very busy, so seemed perfect. I think she had a great time, but I am sure her parents will be pleased to know that I don’t think she will follow up a racing career. I also have a video of her lap which I might upload when we get home.

The forth and final lap I took the car out on my own, despite wanting someone to film me. This was by far my best and funnest (pretty sure that’s not a word but it should be) lap. The track was almost completely dry so I had no concerns about the car and sliding, in hindsight I know I still did not push it anywhere near hard enough. The corners were taken sharp and fast, acceleration was applied straight after if not during the corners it felt incredibly fast and exhilarating. Still had the thought in my head of “5000 euro excess ($7500 AUD) must not have too much fun” though so that held me back a bit. The final straight I got the car to 180 kmph which isn’t very fast but as I mentioned before the car doesn’t have good top end power, so it was pretty much maxed out.

It was a great experience and very glad we did it.




Germany – Paris to Berlin

Posted by David McKell On May - 26 - 2015


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.



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.



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



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)



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.



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 ).



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.




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.



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.



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. 



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.



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. 



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.



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.



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