A Quick European Winter

December 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm (Germany, Travel)

Facebook-20141217-080018Amazingly I coped with the change of weather from Brazil to London quite well.  I arrived to a miserable and rainy 4°C after perfect sunshine and high thirties weather.  I braved the trip from Heathrow to my Aunt’s house, basically putting on everything that was warm in my bag (which wasn’t much I can assure you!), and then it was straight back out to catch up with Debs and Kerry.  I marvelled at the Christmas lights, finally had a decent cup of tea and braved Primark for a gorgeous Christmas hat and some mittens.

While in London I managed to not only see both Debs and Kerry twice, but also Suzie and her partner John and had a home cooked meal from my aunt.  I even got to spend John’s birthday with him, taking him to a British Museum exhibition on German culture through 60 items.  This was put together by the same curator who did the very popular ‘The History of the World in 100 items’.  Knowing quite a bit about German culture, I was surprised about some of the things that were not covered and a little disappointed that some of the items were very similar to each other.  Highlights included the hat Napoleon wore at the battle of Waterloo and the famous portrait of Gothe on lone for the first time!

IMG_2404 The main highlight in London though was participating in the Santa Run on St Nicholas Tag, 6th December otherwise known as James Sleeth’s birthday.  Kerry and I had been booked up for months and in usual Suzie style, she decided to tag along at the last minute. IMG_2399 The event is quite comical… picture beautiful blue skies but a very cold brisk morning and around 2000 people dressed as Santa runing 6km around a park.  We had an absolute blast and even got interviewed by a Chinese TV crew after the race.

I spent the rest of my time in England visiting family up in Scarborough, which also included a wonderful pitstop in York to see Sarah, who I had worked together with at the SISS.  She finished at the end of the last school year and now lives about twenty minutes from York.  Catching up with her was just brilliant and it is great to see how happy and settled she is back in England.  She was just beaming and I think the catch up was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.


Scarborough, as per usual, was a delight.  I spent lots of time with Vicki and Matt’s two kids and even got to see Dylan’s Christmas play, which was a huge treat.  I spent a morning in at their school with a Year 4 class, which was great.  Getting back into the classroom was a real treat and reminded me how miuch I am missing it.  By the end of the morning I was covered in glitter after making snowflakes though!  I went for a lovely walk along the foreshore with Simon and was treated to one of Viki’s amazing roast dinners.  Both being in Scarborough and London is like coming home in a way and I really need to make sure I get to these places more often.

IMG_2428My one week back in Germany was a whirlwind of catch ups and Glühweins.  I did a pretty goot job of catching up with everybody yet still having time to myself and also for packing and organising a few things.  I might have been there for only a week but boy did I fill my Glühwein quota.  🙂  Some of my favourite moments include:

*  being treated to a night at Da Capo by Katha, which is a variety circus show in Darmstadt during the Christmas period, for Christmas
*  feeling like a celebrity when I visited my old school and the students kept calling out my name across the school building
*  playing my last hockey game for TEC Darmstadt and even scoring a goal (quite amazing considering my lack of indoor practice and current state of fitness)
*  somehow managing to attend four Christmas events (Katha’s Advent Evening, SISS Christmas party, Hockey Christmas party and the Mühlstraße Auszeihung- Weihnachtenfest

IMG_2439Now it is time for other adventures and as I write this there is approximately fourty minutes until Katha and I land in Melbourne.  I’m looking forward to showing her my city and catching up with lots of friends and family.  I’m not so much looking forward to cleaning out my bedroom though.  😦


P.S  More photos?  Photo of the Day is still going strong!  Check it out here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152705041795589.1073741841.509745588&type=1&l=a62aac7f3d


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Bye Bye Brazil

December 8, 2014 at 12:28 am (Travel)

IMG_0930People following my Photo of the Day album will already know that I have left Brazil and started on the next leg of my journey.  They will also know that a lot has happened since I left the riverboat!

I very stupidly arrvied in Manaus with the name of my hostel but not the address.  This resulted in a grop of us walking through the city with no idea where we were going in the search for internet.  When we finally found it, it was so slow that obtaining information was basically impossible.  Luckily some locals were out practicing their English and offered to drive me to the hostel.  I’ve had some lucky escapes.  🙂

IMG_0978The next day my Amazon tour begun.  Ellen, who had overheard me talking about the tour, decided to tag along and we spent the next four days riding a lot of boats, fishing, lazing about and eating rice and beans.  Some highlights included going on a hike through the jungle, spear fishing, pirhana fishing with two Germans whose banter and troubles catching fish had both Ellen and I in hysterics and holding a baby cayman.

In Manaus we hunted down a Bob’s milkshake and visited the Teatro Amazonas.  This beautiful opera house was built during the rubber boom and looks quite out of place.  It’s a magnificent theatre and easily lives up to rivals I have seen throughout Europe, which is quite breathtaking considering it is in the middle of a third world country!  I guess the Europeans felt they would be around to use it because it really is a spectaular building.

During my time in the Amazon I particularly enjoyed getting to know Ellen.  She’s Dutch, speaks perfect English, brilliant German and has travelled even more than I have.  We had a lot in common and it was fun switching between languages when we met people.  I’m definitely looking forward to visiting her in Holland at some time in 2015!  Thank you for a wonderful Amazon experience!

IMG-20141125-WA0001After five weeks of amazing backpacking experiences I found myself back in Rio with Maria and her mother.  Rio still wasn’t prepared to turn on the sunshine so my time was spent catching up on emails and internet related things, shopping and the occasional visit to the beach weather permitting.  To finish up my time and to give Maria some space to study for her exams and final univeristy presentation I made my way to the Ilha Grande.

This beautiful island has been spared much of the high rise tourism due to its history.  It began as a pirate lair, followed by a leper colony and then lastly a penitentiary.  It quickly became state parkland after the closing of the prison and as such has defintiely held onto it’s charm.  I also found it much more clean, with beautiful secluded almost untouched beaches.  Quite different from other parts of the coastline I had seen.


Unfortuantely the weather once again had something against me.  I spent four full days at the island and only the last one and the day I left rewarded me with sunshine.  The people I met and the walking I did defintiely made up for the weather though.  My bunk buddy P1030934Stefan quickly became my partner in crime and we had a lot of fun exploring and walking around the island.  We saw Cachoeira da Feiticeira (a waterfall), old prison ruins and beautiful rainforest.  We also teamed up with a German couple Julianne and Julian to walk the Pico do Papagio.  This 982m rock formation actually does look like a parrot and was a fabulous walk, even if we were not rewarded with a fabulous view at the top due to the weather.

We spent two days at what is supposed to be the second mostIMG_2312 beautiful beach in the world; Praia Lopes Mendes.  This endless stretch of sand was truely beautiful and one of the most lovely beaches I have seen in Brazil or in fact the world.  The small amount of people on the beach may have helped form this opinion though.  🙂

Unbelievably… it was back to Rio and only one and a half days left in the country.  Seriously?  Where does time go?  My last day was spent at the beach, getting my nails done in the 2014 most popular Brazil colour and somehow managing to get everything back into my backpack.  However it was my second last day which will be forever imprinted on my mind.

Finally we had a perfect sky blue day for visiting Cristo Redentor!  This has always been the symbol or Rio for me and I had eagerly been waiting to see the statue up close.  The 38m statue can be viewed (on clear days) from many places in Rio and he does look out over much of the city.  The view was simply breathtaking.  Skyscrapers, favelas, beach, water… everything.  He truly has one hell of a view to admire.

IMG_6777I didn’t realise that the statue is actually a mosaic which is why they say it is a piece of art niveu work.  Orginally the staute was going to be Christ standing with a cross and a world globe in his hand but this was changed so he would be more visible from the city.  I also found it interesting that they build the trainline before the statue.  It must have been a massive undertaking but it definitely paid off.

I have seriously had an absolutely brilliant trip and have loved every moment.  It’s been a whirlwind adventure and I am so glad that I turned my life upside down and that I listened to Fiona when she said I should just buy the tickets.  There is one person I need to thank in particular though.  Maria, thank you for your expertise, taxi service, laughs and beach time.  It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you and I look forward to returning the tour guide favour over Summer.


P.s  More photos?  Check out Photo of the Day Brazil – England  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152705041795589.1073741841.509745588&type=1&l=a62aac7f3d

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