Part 1 Europe 2009 Trip Transcribed from hand written book.

In October 2009, for my 16th birthday I went on a 3 week European guided bus tour with my mother with Insight Vacations, a very generous present from my grandmother and uncle (whining and persistent “I want to go to Europe” does actually get you somewhere sometimes :-) )It was amazing, and during our trip I write a journal. I have finally transcribed it, at least some of it, so I have decided to put it on the Internet so it is here forever! Most of journal 1 of 2 is on the computer.

I have tried to keep as much of the spelling and sentence structure the same, so there are inconsistencies, which I would hope that I do not do anymore. And yes, I do know how to spell ‘highway’ now…you’ll know what I am talking about once you read a bit further. If you click ‘read more’ it is quite a bit more, nearly 15 pages, so just a warning that it is long. And again, I was 16, and tired and jetlagged while I was writing, so if anything doesn’t make sense, I really can’t help it now. It will just be interesting to see how my writing on this exchange to Wales differs from then.

30th September, 2009. 4:30pm:

On ferry, very close to Vancouver. Gotta go back on bus, buffet food was very good, but kind of nervous/anxious/excited. Maman very upset very upset about leaving sisters at home, hopefully will pass. ___________________________________________________

1st October 2009 3:30pm:

Well after being on the plane for hours, screaming baby, cramped seating, although there was a pillow, blanket, eyeshades-albeit very see through-awful long no shape blue socks and a toothbrush and paste all waiting on the seat. I had nice window seat, though as it was night as we left Vanoc [Vancouver] all we could see were lights-lots of them. Fell asleep briefly during flight listening to Beethoven opera. Kind of awful pasta for meal, goodish cheesecake w/ half a strawberry and a cold cucumber and tomato dill salad. Waited an hour and a half for passport to be checked, and when we got to front it wasn’t even 30 seconds of talking to the guy. But oh well. (landed 1:40ish)

Waiting now for shuttle bus to arrive to go to hotel. Really want to go see the Mousetrap, won’t be able to walk in these sweaty feet and socks, and don’t want to ‘waste’ band-aids and clean socks. But Maman is very tired so we’ll see.

Bought a water for £1.20, so $2.40. Not as bad as I remember [The water, first trip to London in 2006 water was so terrible]. Maman is also hungry, I am feeling a little sick, probably ate the pasta too quickly, Maman had chicken and rice.

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5:00pm:

In hotel, okay, nothing spectacular. Going to go eat now, but now but put on Channel 4 and the Paul O’Grady show just started.

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11:30pm: So after turning forever-not complaining, just saying-but finally found Marks & Spencer, but no choco milk. And as there was a Nando’s right in front decided to eat there, chicken is same, although I think slightly bigger. A few different sides too, got a take-away menu. After that we went to tube station and went to St. Martin Theatre! After paying a hell of a lot for an oyster card and a ticket for me, asked 4 people where exactly the play was, and hurry! We did finally find it, with 10 minutes to spare, sat at the very top balcony, third row from stage, so quite steep, but still very enjoyable. Almost exactly like the play-book except for a few sentences to update it.

Then walked around, very crowded streets and bought a London magnet. Went back to M&S and bought the creamiest, thickets choco milk ever, thought that might be as it is actually milkshake – and so good! Like the entire L [litre] is almost gone. Gonna shower now! (Hand cramp)

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October 2nd 11pm:

Long day, ate buffet breakfast before a good choco croissant thingys. Wanded [wanted] to find area to get hop-on-hop-off bus, got lost so walked Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus. Finally found bus, 2 different buses we went on, first was historically interesting and entertaining, second had hilarious social commentary, both awesome. 30 min river cruise, got on London eye really fast, no line up. Before those ate at McDonalds, seems healthier there somehow. Went on 2 hour walk, interesting ghost stories. Lots of pictures, so tired.

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Oct 3 2:15pm:

Sitting in a *Pret a Manger chain that are all over the city, this one very close to Harrods. Had a crayfish and avocado salad, with a pesto/cheese/tomato sandwich, quite good. We went to H’s food hall and got a chocolate éclair and strawberry topped cheescake, so delicious. This morning, to start the day; got up 7:10, went down to breakfast, didn’t rush but not as slow as we could’ve been as there was a tour to depart at 8:20. It came at 8:30ish, it was part of Insight tour, but not an Insight bus. It was warm in the bus, a nice change from yesterday, but kind of hard to see. We got off at Westminster Abbey, before the tour was officially over, but really wanted to go to Abbey. Quite beautiful inside, not too many people when we first got there, but eventually it did get a lot more crowded took a few pictures even though there are signs everywhere saying you can’t, a few did turn out. Bought coin replicas of 2 Tudor monarchs, then took the Tube to Harrods. Right this second we are sitting at a tiny circular table, with very high seats in a corner of this ’restaurant,’ it is very fast, though healthy-more like a deli actually. Oh yesterday got choco milk and wrap from Tesco, very good eating right next to the Abbey on the grass where Maman says she saw a rat. She keeps trying to find free Wi-Fi areas, this place being one [when] pictures and emails are being sent. So crowded and noisy at Harrods, although it is Saturday, it is to be expected. Hearing all different languages all over city, lots of French, ow, this took 15 min to write.

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10:36pm:

In hotel room now, going to bed, but first watching Monty Python. Right, so went back to Harrods to the ‘luxurious’ washrooms, nice doors and perfume to sample, but nothing spectacular. The food hall very full and crowded, and so freakin expensive and huge. Then walked around St Paul’s area, all the shops were closed, so the only things I have bought are a poster of the monarchs and families tree style, and the coins. Sent a couple of postcards, crossed the Millennium Bridge, then thinking we would take the next bridge back over the river, but as there was construction we had to go further south, then we couldn’t find the Thames again, so after wandering around a definitely not touristy place for quite a while, some kind of deserted streets, found North Lambeth (ton?) tube station, far away from where we were, but 2 stops away from where we wanted to go (Embankment) as there was a walk about all the – rather some – murders around that part of the city. Ate pastries and chocolate milk for supper, pretty good. Tried to pack as much as possible tonight, but I think just a massive haul of everything in hotel. Should mention, the walk’s guide was a good storyteller, although my feet hurt so much kind of tuned out occasionally. Still watching MP. The hotel is pretty nice, awesome cleaning. Drank most litre of choco milkshake stuff, so good. London is really so nice, it would be so great to spend – maybe live – here for a while to really get to know the city’s lanes and alleys, though apparently to become a taxi driver you have to pass exams, and know the city well, which takes a few years. Dead parrot sketch on now.

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Oct 4, 3:00pm:

In Belgium on Insight tour bus. Got up at 4 in the morning, still dark out and we had to be packed and suitcases out the door at 4:45. Watched Skynews, kind of pessimistic. We had really lousy breakfast box, courtesy of Kelloggs. Mini cornflakes w carton of milk, apple flavoured soft bar, apricot things and a super junky awful looking ’croissant.’ Didn’t eat anything then, too early went down to bus, tour guide seems nice, British. Got on the bus only to realize I forgot my jacket, so ran to front desk, got key card returned, back up to 329 and went back into the very dark bus. It was optional to buy currency for $200 at Insight and Trafalgar head office, which we did not get. Drove a couple hours on a hiway in the English country side passing lovely looking towns and castles. Got to the White cliffs of Dover, just making the 8:30 boat as there were no passport or safety checks. The boat is very rocky, much more so than BC ferries. Had an English breakfast in cafeteria, it was okay. Went shopping in the store on board, lots of perfumes and alcohol. I got some earrings for £11, pretty pink flowers. No sign to indicate where foot passengers get out, but as there was a crowd of people and Maman asked we found it. Walked down a ramp that was quite dirtier, longer, back and forther, than BCF, but eventually went down to Calais. A couple nice buildings in backround, long wide beaches. But, onto the coach bus, nice windows, blue seats. Drove to Bruge which is so gorgeous, were dropped of at a square with a fountain, walked down streets, crowded but the buildings were amazingly pretty. Got off the main center square where the main part of the movie – the wonderfuly hilarious awesome film with Colin Farrell – was set. It would be so nice to go back and stay a while, especially to see it at night. Saw the canals, so beautiful. Its D Day so there was a slight ’parade,’ army trucks and a marching band which I filmed. I have been lugging around this camera all day in its rather horrid case, but worth it to film Bruge. Ate a sugar waffle, really good. Had only 1 and a half hours in Bruge, had to get back on the bus. Made it back on time, weren’t the last ones on. Just arrived to Brussels!

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Oct 5 7:50 am:

So, Brussels. Absolutely beautiful, gorgeous square, most of it built at the end of the 17th century, so pretty and crawling with tourists. But before we went there we went to the hotel the Royal Windsor. It is 500 euros a night to stay here, but with my North American standards not really worth it. Nothing wrong with the hotel, just not 500 euros. 2 beds put close together, just a few cm apart. Pretty purple chair, nice purple pillow as decoration on bed, if slightly dusty. Lousy TV remote, but big screen flat (reverse those words) which takes several clicks to get channel. CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Flemish and French channels can be viewed. A very expensive money bar, 5.50 for a tiny bottle of water. In room service menu it is so very much a lot of money, 5.00 for Coca-Cola. But nice enough room, if slightly small. Awesome location, right next to old square. So many chocolate shops, like everywhere. We got some, so much better than NA. Lots and lots of restaurants of all different kinds, with waiters standing outside trying to drag you in. So we didn’t go into any, just got some chocolate, walked around some more, so pretty, the exact same tourist store everywhere, same merchandise sold. We had some fries in a cone, when we ordered in just a little take out place Maman paid, and the two guys there left for a few seconds out the front door, but came back and we had pretty good fries. So far it hasn’t rained anywhere, happy about that, but I have put my umbrella in purse and that takes up room, I think I will just leave it in bus. Went to bed rather early, too tired to write last night so I am on the bus to the Netherlands right now, sitting way at the back. Belgium was really quite pretty, at least the touristy part, but before it was for tourists it was still beautiful, and that is what I like, quite annoying really tourists – or at least the shops that are over priced and cheap trinkets.

 

 

I really love Bruge, want to go in the canals. It was nice to go, see Belgium, the square was really very pretty, a 14th century church, lots of pictures were taken, feet hurt so much, though. Nice people though, had a welcome drink in the hotel bar. Orange Fanta, but in a very nice glass bottle, with a glass that was shaped like this__ well, lousy drawing, but tube glass with an orange slice and 3 ice cubes. Nice way to class up an orange crush. Got up when it was still dark, nice breakfast, thin slices of salmon, waffles, crepes, (with nutella, of course) meat-of-some-sort meatballs, mini sausages, croissants and stuff. Sitting in bus, on hiway, trees lining it, a cover for high speed train that was built because of the green party to protect the trees next to us. Otherwise nothing much, it’s a hiway. But occasionally see steeples surrounded by little houses, and industrial buildings which are not pretty, but the steeples are. It is a quarter past nine!

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10:30 am

Stopped at a little rest stop, there is a McDonalds, a kiosk, Maman bought nice candles for Arianne’s piano teacher. There were some earrings exactly like I have at home, the stars circle in a big silver ring, 4.95, so no point buying and selling them, no profit. Lovely countryside we’re driving through now, farms and animals right next to hiway, no fences separating land and road, just water canals. Back to the stop, had really chocolaty milk with really super skinny straws. There was like a whole market place, well not really, a cafeteriaish place, fresh fruit and vegetables, already made smoothies in glasses on ice. Lots of animals here, cows and pigs and I think sheep, crossing water, little canals with boats on them. And horses and trees and now a huge mountain of hay, and the occasional house and flat farm land and cars. Everything is in Dutch, quite a harsh language. In Belgium it was nice to be able to speak French! And marshy canals, and muddy row with construction going on and now buildings, now still on hiway, but more highway-ie than before. On the bridge over water, can see cows and flat farmland with the occasional house. And trees and sop far 2 traditional old windmills, and several new ones with rather spiky looking whatever they are called, the things that turn. Maman just fell asleep, but we are in the Netherlands! Should probably be looking out window instead of writing, but it is all the same. Oh now there are cement walls with graffiti, and now they are gone. And trees, and snoring and cows close to a house and water and buildings and cars – lots of them now in front and horses and construction is going on, and cement walls with graffiti, now just plain cement walls, glass building, passing sound barrier with red roof, expensive car dealership gallery Hessing, glass wall for sound and trees and farm land. Not tall trees, rather skinny leafy things. Well we’re not that close so I don’t really know how tall they are, but they are skinny. In dairy land, still lots of farm. 28 acres is the land for cheese farmers, 28 cows, 1 per acre for a farmer. And cows and a slight car collision on other side, mass amount of traffic, but there are only two lanes. Oh, 3 lanes. Close enough. Going to a Dutch city for lunch.

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12:13 pm

Stopped at a cheese farm for an explanation of how Gouda is made, pronounced Gowda. Rather quick, but didn’t need to be long. Then, right now on bus passing lovely farm houses and land. Saw how wooden clogs are made, really quite quick to shape from wood that has a lot of water in it, and were made traditional way, blade saw scraping wood and tools to hollow it out. Nice shop for souvenirs, didn’t get any though. But did taste a lot of different Gouda, there was a curry-cumin-flavoured cheese, and some rather good mustard. Also some very sweet wine, good too. Stopped on windmill for pictures, saw expensive houses. Now going to Volendam

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2:14pm

Well, just had a few terrifying moments, I thought I had lost my gloves just when we came back on the bus. We were the last ones on, a few minutes late, but we didn’t get the evil eye from anybody, I don’t think. Volendam was really very nice, a quaint little town next to the water. We ate at an interesting place, they just have a few big tables and everybody sits together, we were in front of a couple people from Ireland, nice talking to them. And 3 people from the tour. Maman had not fantastic soup, and I had a raw herring open sandwich on plastic bread. It was really like mackerel, nice at first, but couldn’t have a lot of it. The waitress was really quite abrupt and quick, definitely not the calm Canadian service I am used to. Then we walked the main street, had some Dutch pancakes with choco sauce, so good, but expensive. Got a few souvenirs, a spoon, a butterfly necklace, and some tiny, medium, but still small, big mini clogs. Blue, pink, and I think the tiny ones were white, can’t remember and they are above in a compartment in my bag. Right when I was getting my necklace, trying to pay with coins I grabbed a handful of Canadian, Euros, and Pounds. Ended up paying with a 20 Euro bill. Then ran back to the bus. But it was very awesome. Now driving past farmland and cows and trees and water and houses and canals. It looks rather like BC, the land, but with absolutely beautiful canals. Now on hiway, over another hiway and passing buildings and cars. In outskirts of Amsterdam. Flood, fire, plague are signified with 3 crosses xxx that are red, the 3 enemies. Building new stuff, a Subway system. In tunnel now, and now Amsterdam!

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4:55 pm

In hotel, the Movenpick. So nice, it really is very wonderful. We are on the 10th floor, so we have a spectacular view of the harbour and buildings, some industrial ones, but can also see some rather beautiful roofs, towers and such. The beds are like Belgium, close together but look comfortable. The bedside tables look like chairs, but there is a lamp attached to them. A free bottle of water, empty fridge, big(ish) safe, flat screen TV, but again to switch channels it is slow. Dutch television on now, can understand some words, but harsh language. Cheaper food on menu, but it’s 22 euros for curry and rice. Blue couch, no lock on cloudy glass bathroom door, and there is a door for an adjoining room. Free Wi-Fi, so Maman wanted to connect to send some pictures, but couldn’t make it work, so went downstairs to ask reception how to get it, the first lady at the desk couldn’t really understand, the one next to her didn’t know how, so she called somebody who was very nice but didn’t know how to connect either. So he called someone who has an iPhone to come help. He touched one button and it connected, waited 5 minutes for that, but hotel is nice. Nice card that gets you free admissions to museums, discounts and public transit for not that much considering what it has, though that was only at a glance. Gorgeous view from hotel, gonna do an optional excursion now. Can see two cranes from window.

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10 pm

Weren’t the last ones on the bus to go on a river cruise. It was really nice, we went under so many bridges, and I swear that there were birds living in them, there were spaces – on purpose – of gaps between the bricks and there were birds. There were a few ducks, the occasional lone one. But crossing tonight to go to the red light district there was a much bigger flock of a whole bunch of other birds maybe they are attracted to all the marijuana smoke. I can’t believe I didn’t mention the diamonds. We went to Gassand Diamonds and saw a 119,175 Euro diamond. And slightly cheaper ones at 40,000 euros and some. They were so sparkly, and so pretty, and so twinkly, and so nice, and so exquisite, and so utterly fantastic. But alas we didn’t buy any, but one day. Afterwards there was a coffee and souvenir place in a separate building but same company where we got one of those thin waffly things with warm caramel in the middle. So delicious. Also coffee and tea coming out of an automated machine, free. But it was super hot, boiling temperature, and when I did taste it it wasn’t very good. But the diamonds were so sparkly! Some really beautiful rings. Supper tonight was after the very nice boat ride, some of which I did film. It was quite nice, the appetizer (carpaccio with a salad w lettuce, tomato, olives, capers, and cheese-very good. And Maman had the fish plate, a whole bunch of fish cooked differently, we shared half and half). And the dessert (a crepe, advertised as a pancake on menu, with an orange sauce next to ice cream topped with real cream, and it was very good). The entrée was okay, I liked the mash of orange and white vegetables, but couldn’t have too much of it. Also the miniscule amount of stew served with it was very good, but the sausage was just meh. Good mustard and little baby onions, and a bowl of fries were brought to the table. The restaurant itself is very large, quite a walk upstairs and past lots of other table for the washroom. After the food, and I should say it was very loud and hard to hear what the Australians right in front of us were saying. But so, RL district interesting, lots of marijuana smoke and people just walking down the street smoking cigarettes of a special kind. The women in the windows are under a black light so they wear mostly white, the little that they are wearing – some are pretty, others just look scary, and then there were lots talking on cell phones. Very nice streets, seriously, the cobblestones are so wonderful, very historic. I would love to come back with a bike, there are thousands lining all the roads, would be quite nice to see the city.

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Oct 6 7:05am

I think that I shall just fill this book with rambling and random nonsense. Just write when I am bored. Not that I can really be bored here, but waiting to get on the bus after breakfast as we are now, surrounded by food but feeling slightly sick as it is dark out, as it is 7 in the freakin morning! But anyway, this hotel is really quite nice, and Swiss. Maman says the restaurant reminds her of Switzerland. There are only long tables with 6 chairs at each; those are the high ones, as we are on. 3 people next to us – one just left – speaking German, I think. The teapot looks quite large, and is tall, but really doesn’t hold that much tea, just enough for one person. I had a quarter of a cup, super sweet as I had already put 2 sugars in. The cream is a different colour slightly, a tad orangy. The knife is really quite annoying, a blackish sort of handle pressed flat in different parts. The tea bag was tall to fit the pot. Walking through hotel, waiting for elevator, in elevator, going down, out, nice butterfly necklace I am wearing from Volendam. Walking through lobby, talking to Ruth [the tour guide], giving 1 of 2 keys back, standing in reception, writing standing up, more people coming to check out, Maman on wi-fi iPhone as it is free, checking mail. New hotel, about 2 years old, but very nice. Individual brie and camembert at breakfast buffet, brie good with a slightly warm bun and ham. They also had soft boiled eggs, a whole bunch and they were soft and premade and waiting, rather just sitting on counter, for people to take. Now on bus, in a garage so no view. Going to Germany today, and tomorrow will be in Prague. Orange Fanta is the drink we are living on, not as… junky somehow it seems, not as intense. But of course it is just as bad as Coke or Sprite, the other drinks available non-alcoholized, the ones that I could drink. But that will change in 9 days! In the dark now, looks like night. Leaving Amsterdam, other side of road lots of cars, but still moving, and it is 7:40 am. Licence plates are yellow, like the ones in England, but on the left side there is the European Union flag, blue with a circle of yellow stars, and right below that the initials for the country, NL for here, got a picture of one with D [or P]. Still dark, 1.40 euros for gas, cars not really moving on other side now, we still are luckily. Trucks and cars not moving now. Must read e-mail now about Belmont and its threat that closed it down for a bit last week, whatever it was. I shall find out soon, once I read it but I really do want to start using my other notebook, this one and a pretty purple with black felt design for cover came from the dollar store, and I want to fill this one as quickly as possible. Maybe I should start looking in dictionaries for bigger and longer words. Or just lots of rambling, saying the same things over and over. That would be fun to read now wouldn’t it? But I would get a hand cramp writing really too much, only twice has there been an actual table – no wait 3 times – for me to rest this on. Cars moving on opposite lane. Trees lining the road, and a tall green fence, the height of several cars. This pen is from the hotel, cars not moving in 3 lanes beside us. Cloudy outside, Maman says that she will transcribe this, and if this is being read then I do hope you are sitting at a computer to type this all out, whoever you are. It could be me, and it would be very nice if this was on computer, but I really hate transcribing (if I am not getting paid, and I even considered paying Arianne to write-type-onto the computer my English from school) which reminds me, really should get to the email, Maman is waiting. Laurent sends us faxes at the hotels we stay at, so very nice he made up a logo for the trip in is first fax, so he ends them with the dog from Tin-Tin, which we did see a Tin-Tin store in Bruges. Beside us there are 4 lanes, or 5 or 6, but half of them are separated with grass. Closest to us is not moving much, on bridge over road, off bridge over road, single lane beside the grass now, and that is moving. Very left – I mean on the left side it is very flat, occasional little shrubby trees. Right side some buildings and trees. Cows again on left, all the cow colours. Cars moving. Very cloudy but a lot brighter, but still 8 in the morning. Factory on left, was raining a bit too yesterday during the cruise, but it was completely enclosed and during the red light district. So there were lots of umbrellas with prominent Insight written on them. By the way, future transcriber, do write all these ramblings, even the parts about you typing, really every word, and if it is unreadable, I have a good excuse, on a moving bus. Cows on left, hill on right. Wow, wrote a lot of nothing in 1 hour. I think it is Beyonce music on right now, how that is German I don’t know. House on left, industrially on right. Lily Allen on now, Jessica’s favourite song by her. I was going to stop writing a couple pages ago, and now again half a page ago, but I was – Ikea on left – was so close to the end of the page, might as well write to the next one. Trees everywhere. Cars on other side not moving, but we still are!

Train beside us, reading email now, corn-looking crop beside us, gas station, back to farm. No cars, then suddenly a whole bunch on parallel side, other direction, going into Amsterdam. It was really nice, I prefer it to Belgium, but maybe I was just really too tired in Brussels. Should continue to read email, but will leave notebook open with pen behind ear to write on scenery and whatever else I want. It should have relevance to Europe though, or what I am doing. P!nk is on the music now. Farms on both sides of us. Oh, hand sanitizer was past around the bus. Well now I really should just finish the page. Lets see, no lock on bathroom door in Movenpick but I did already mention that I think. Trees surrounding hiway. 1 minute later… still trees, but right behind is farmland. Daddy did send an email, but nothing about Belmont. Oh well, no emergency. I am going to Germany! But there is the so annoying song by the Blackeyed Peas on know. Now don’t really know which specific one I am talking about, as they are all annoying and horrible! In farm land still, they really are quite nice. Cars moving. Wow, 7 pages in 1 hour, pretty good. Listening to Muse on iPhone, new CD Resistance, first song. Now second song. English people are nice, when we got a bit lost in London they helped us a bit, and we did get kind of lost. Stupid ear bud keeps falling out. Trees. Little shrubby trees, an orange box, metal. Looks like an electricity one. Now we are still next to trees, we were practically over them, I mean at level with there tops. Muse is really so good. Flat land with trees. 8:35 am. Cloudy, normal day. The sink in the bathroom at the restaurant last night had a minuscule amount of water coming out of the taps. I shall just write random things like that down, will be more interesting, or not. Trying to decipher my writing written on a moving bus will be fun enough. Just passed a very nice looking pink van. Trees. Cars. Trucks. Should try and take pictures. Actually, will film for a few seconds. Overpass. Trees. Trees. Sound barrier made of glass on left protecting town. Farm land, white cows. Horses (or ponies one looks rather small and they look slightly different). I think I don’t really know what a horse is supposed to look like. Trees. Farm. Grey horse. Cows in distance. A row of trees, single file encircling some animals. Approaching Germany through and open border. 1 km away! We just entered Deutschland! Trees, road, cars, windmill. Farms. Aahh! I am in Germany! So cool! So awesome! Corn-like crops again. Guten tag! White license plates, but still the blue and yellow star flag, and a D bellow it. Cows, trees, some very fast cars as the speed limit is usually 130km, or none at all. Canola crops. Trees. It is very green here in Europe. Almost at rest stop with apparently fantastic bathrooms.

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9:50 am

Didn’t go to the bathroom, but there is this whole ticket dispenser, ticket for .50 euros off a purchase. Long line up. Got some choco milk though. Nice bottle, but not as good as the one – was it really only yesterday? – in the Netherlands with the super skinny straws. It is simple chocolate milk. Did get some real chocos, about to try now. The bus smells like chips. Good chocolate, quite nice actually. Bus is moving and it is off to Cologne! Where there is the gorgeous 600 years to build cathedral of which we built – tried to assemble a puzzle of the cathedral illuminated at night, so green lighting. But it is day light now, so it should be different. Trees. Cars. 1248 first stone laid. Once was tallest building in Europe, 1400’s. Trees lining the hiway, separated by a fence covered in vines or moss. Lots of traffic. Some graffiti. We are in the traffic. Now it is moving a bit more. 26 Australians, 2 Americans, 1 person from Singapore, 4 from the Philippines, and 6 Canadians.

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12:10 pm

Just left Cologne; it actually wasn’t a very pretty city, demolished during the war it was rebuilt not very prettily but the cathedral is really amazing. Very dirty, the stones have turned black, but so tall. Such nice music in the bus now, violin. Went inside the cathedral. Sculptures all over carved into the stones. So many people, absolutely gorgeous stained glass windows. Filmed it all, so much easier than a camera as it is so ginormous! But we did only have 30 minutes. Bought myself a ring, 4 euros and it’s a very pretty purply pink flower. Had a wrap, feta cheese paste with sun-dried tomatoes, and lettuce. It was okay. 1770 Beethoven was born in Bonn, where we are going. 1756 Salzburg Mozart was born. It was quite a rush – very quaint looking town we saw for 1 second just driving now – just to get back onto the bus, we were not last, but we have to make it for the boat. Beethoven Fur Elise is on right now but not just traditional piano. So very much a nice piece of music. Trees. Cars. The Fanta orange here has less sugar than the Dutch, but fizzier. It is very pretty driving these hiways, lots of greenery. Listening to a waltz. Whoever is transcribing this should correct spelling mistakes as I am so tired I can’t – fields and farms – be perfect 100% of the time. But not colour, spell check takes out the U, so leave that. Same with favourite, leave it too. Lots and lots of power lines all over these farmlands, over the trees and crops. They are very tall and have lots of arms, the electric cable connecters are almost like aliens, the form. Now it’s trees again, and my hand does hurt a bit, I don’t really needs another sore limb. And the excuse for the awful writing is the moving bus.

1:07. German countryside really quite nice, little towns that look so pretty, some had castles within them. Don’t know what day of the week it is, but does not really matter. Driving for the Rhine Cruise, and some parts of Germany are really quite beautiful. It’s too bad we are not going to Neuschwanstein, but this is really awesome. Passing stores a, Toys R Us.

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7:54 pm

In Wurzburg, at the Maritin hotel. Very nice, we are on the third floor, overlooking a big industrial kitchen. Gonna go down for included supper, hope it is good.

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10:05 pm

Well it actually wasn’t really that good, lots of sauerkraut, warm and vinegary. Sausages that tasted just like the breakfast kind, we covered it with mustard. Also mashed potatoes, it was pretty good. First course was a leafy salad with good white dressing. Quite good bread with butter. Dessert was Bavarian cream, custardy. That was topped with raspberry puree, pretty good. The city is quite bland, dark when we got here, didn’t wait for the suitcases to come up and left to walk in the town. Past my pink suitcase in lobby. Walking most of the stores are closed, and the cars go super fast, turning corners and such. Went into a Sears like store and got silver in a circle in a circle in a circle earrings, 4.95 euros. And on the way back got a preztel, Maman ordered in German. It was a giant soft salted preztel, really good. Did not take any pictures, didn’t want to look like tourists. But on the Rhine took so many, and filmed a lot too. But my opinion of the boat ride is that it was fantastic. Should just mention the hard floors here in hotel room. But on the water we saw so many castles along the water, but I did take so many pictures, and films. It is so surreal seeing all these castles in the mountains, most of them are hotels. It was really very wonderful, lots of trains going right by the water, but also right in front of all the houses. It was raining, but I don’t really mind, had an umbrella. Going to Prague tomorrow, plan on buying lots of souvenirs!

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Eating breakfast in hotel, don’t know what time it is as no clock in room. And also needs a real key to open, which the porters have a duplicate of as when we entered after our walk they were in our room [I imagine that I mean the suitcases].

A few minutes later…

Breakfast was – and still is – a tasting meal. Lots of different kinds of fish, mostly raw or pickled, and I took one of everything. Just a bite of each, it was all very fishy. Also 2 kinds of pate, after taste. The best thing were mini croissants with strawberry jam. But entire thing was so huge, so crowded too, took us a while to find seating. The hotel was very nice, postcards in lobby are .75 euros each. I would love to come back for a bit, actually walk around when it is day. Did not this morning, no time and wanted to sleep a bit more. Noticed quite a few CZ cars and trucks. In bus now, going to Prague now! But first a few other cities. 17 Celsius outside, 9:14 am according to bus. (there is a red number clock alternating time and temperature). Passing skinny wind mills, 3 spiky arms turning around. Random note; the hotel in London was a block away from Wicked [the musical], super close to Victoria station, in Belgium we were walking and walking and just by chance we found the hotel, Amsterdam hotel had no 13th floor, took their pen and showercap. On lovely bridge over water, now passing through the German countryside, lots of little towns. Kaufland we just passed, look up what it means (it was a huge store of something, I think). Sprawling countryside, really very wonderful. Lots of trees and very fast cars. Now I shall write the letters of the nationality of cars that come by; D, land also the view as I see it, 80 km to Nuremberg. Farm, trees, D, D, (stands for Deutschland) D, farm with trees and hills in distance, houses, trucks, yellow license plated car, here they are white but might have been NL. Trees, not that many cars, that I can actually see the letter, on opposite lane there are more, but they are going really very fast. And you hear this “tchoum” sound as they whiz past. Farm with little pond, green grass and brown patches quilting the area. Trees enclosing and dotted throughout, houses speckled within. Really pretty. Trees, D, D, trucks, D, D,D, car with no EU flag or letter, D, D, truck with a dozen cars on it, trucks, cars, D, trees, countryside. It looks kind of like a painting, so picturesque. Roller coaster looking thing, village, D, D, church surrounded by houses. Car driving in middle of fields (there is a road of course, it just looks funny). Trucks obstructing our picture-taking abilities. D, village, D, NL.

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12:58 PM

246 km to Prague! Stopped in lovely Nuremberg, it was really very pretty, new churches that have bells that ring. Bought a snow globe, a ring and a pair of earrings, all for 11.50 euros. It was really beautiful, the city. A few McDonalds, but old looking buildings. There was a T mobile in a very old looking, just very funny. Passing trees now, and saw cars with H, SK, and a think a few other S something on their license plates. Lots of different kinds of trees, all the tree colours.

Still in Germany, on way to Czech border. Houses and farms now, and now back to trees. And super fast cars. License plates, well actually not that many cars of which I can see their plate, so I shall write – L – about the pretzels from Nuremberg. Soft and salty and taste almost like a bagel. Quite good. That L was on a license plate that just sped ahead, but I caught a glimpse of it. Trucks, trees. Very spindly tall trees, no leaves for most of it, then at top – about a meter only – of green. A farm and cows! Finally, some visible animals! Netherlands were full of cows, here it is agriculture. Little German town on left, all houses bunched up in the middle of the crops, the sprawling countryside. Back to the plates: cars to fast but there is a red and white electric wire tower holder connector things with all the arms. These farms are really very beautiful. On bridge over forest, now beside the trees again, very, very skinny trees, and very tall too. 2 CZ cars, 2 D. Now D, D, D, D, D, D, D, CZ, D, it is 1:51, CZ, D, D, CZ, now 2:01 and that really is how many cars on the left – D – there – CZ- are. We are on the right lane, and we are sitting on – CZ – the left side of the bus halfway. Every day we move to seats forward or back it goes in a clockwise direction. NL, spiky windmills in distance, roads, trees, now some christmasy types farm, more trees. At border now! 2:10 at the Czech border. Stopping for a bit to enter legally, TD [tour director] will do that. Other borders we have just driven through, but this one we stopped. PL truck just drove by, A car.

In the Czech Republic! 2:15. Trees separated by road with line checkered wire see-through fence. Hand hurts, will now read about the Czech Republic.

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