A Christmas break in Zurich.

At the beginning of December myself and Chris took a little five day break to Switzerland. This came about because my friend from work in the UK, Louise and her partner Lee moved out there, when Lee got offered a job in Zurich. So on one cold Saturday morning when I had the major holiday blues from returning from travelling, I saw a post off Louise asking for a dog sitter whilst she returned home for a few days. After a quick Google of flight prices we agreed to look after little Bella and have a Christmassy break.

Lee and Louise live in Urdorf which is a 20 minute train ride from Zurich train station, in a lovely flat. Urdorf is a quiet picturesque little town, which has everything you need 10 minutes from the city. The trains run every 20 minutes too so the transport links in Switzerland are amazing, the trains are clean, on time and double decker, the brilliant thing is you do not need a car at all.

When we went out to see them in Zurich, Louise was still job hunting due to a very high demand for German speakers as a job requirement. Since my visit though, I am pleased to say that Louise has started an online UK business as she visits the UK a lot, and she runs it online when back in Switzerland. The company is sells cosmetics called Arbonne (botanically based skincare, cosmetics and healthy living products) which I cannot wait to try out.

We flew from Manchester into Basel, after a few too many in the airport lounge (and a sighting of Jim Macdonald from corrie), a lost handbag (got it back by the way) we arrived in Switzerland. Basel is an hour train ride from Zurich and if I can give you a massive tip it is so much cheaper to fly into here and get the train into Zurich. We paid £30 return each as a pose to £300 each to fly into Zurich (it does go lower than this at times, but when we were looking these were the flight prices). Basel- Mulhouse –Freiberg airport is actually in France on the boarder of Germany and Switzerland, so a great airport to access all these countries.

We spend a night in Basel and hit the Christmas markets as they are the best in Switzerland before heading to the Zurich the following day. As with my Paris blog I am going to do a top five round up of things to do in Zurich. We didn’t do everything as we were on a limited time and also it is so expensive!!!

Bahnhofstrasse
This is the main downtown street in Zurich and one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets. You can spend hours wandering down here looking at the expensive watches and clothes in the window knowing you will never afford them. When we went it was all lit up for Christmas and looked amazing. Louise walked us down here on our first night to show us around and it is so classy. It is also the perfect spot to sample some swiss chocolate, we opted for free samples at Laderach as it is one of the most expensive chocolates in the world! We also went for breakfast a Sprungli café one morning and I had the richest most chocolatiest hot chocolate ever and it was lovely. If you want to treat yourself they do a Sunday breakfast buffet, with a glass of prosecco which is 55CHF (£43 each!). I just opted for the croissant with hot chocolate for 13.50 CHF (£11).

Zeughauskeller
It wouldn’t be a trip abroad without sampling the local food, so on our first night in Zurich Louise and Lee took us out for a meal to say thank you for looking after Bella which was really kind of them! They took us here so we could get the rustic Swiss experience. The décor was old beams and all historic items on the walls and we were seated at long bench seats. I had a massive Cordon Bleu which came with an enormous potato rosti and Chris had a special I can’t remember the name of with lots of mushrooms! It was so tasty, and we washed it down with a few drinks and had a long overdue catch up.

Uetliberg
This is a mountain next to Zurich which has amazing views all over the city and the lake, you can pay for the cable car to the top and then climb the pylon at the top to see beautiful views, make sure you go on a clear day. That’s it really the pictures speak for thereself.

Christmas markets (seasonal of course)
We were so excited to experience the authentic Christmas markets as I am a massive fan of the ones in Manchester. There are lots and lots and festive stalls selling all sorts of Swiss foods and Gluhwein which we had plenty of. It  was so festive to wrap up and drink a mulled wine (or three in Chris’ case when his German didn’t quite go to plan). I tried a currywurst which was so good, I wasn’t too keen on the sound of it, but I was proven wrong. There are 3 or 4 different Christmas markets in Zurich our favourites were the ones in the main station, where the massive Swarovski crystal tree is at Christmas. The other we loved was down by lake Zurich with plenty of food stalls and an ice skating ring. If you can visit Zurich around Christmas it really is magical, and I love a cold holiday now and again.

Boat ride on Lake Zurich
As part of your train ticket in Zurich you are also permitted to a 1.5 hour boat ride around Lake Zurich, so when Louise had returned from the UK on our last day, we all spent the day at the Christmas markets and had a little boat ride. It was also a coincidence that another work friend of ours Natalie was in Zurich for the day so we all had a little work reunion day, it was lovely. The boat takes you out to the areas you wouldn’t necessarily see (including the Lindt factory) and you have opportunity to get off if you like. We also saw Tina Turners house! It’s a great and cheap way to see more of Zurich.

We had a brilliant time in Zurich, and thanks to Louise and Lee for putting us up in their flat (we still miss Bella). I would definitely recommend Zurich for a Christmas break (or any other weekend I just love the markets). Although it wouldn’t be the cheapest city break to go on, I will say this about Zurich it is clean, you feel very safe and the public transport is fantastic and it is absolutely beautiful.

Lucy

What’s in store for 2017?

img_3014

Firstly I understand that it isn’t the best start posting my blogging new years resolutions on the last day of January but I have been busy getting back into things after Christmas and its still January so it still counts 🙂

This is just a quick blog to say Happy New Year and thank you to all my readers who continued to read and support throughout our travels in 2016.

I plan to have all the generic boring new year’s resolutions like eat healthier, go to the gym more blah blah, but I also wanted to set myself a few blogging resolutions.

This year I still plan to blog, we have a few trips planned which will definitely be included. Being away for so long made me realise that travel isn’t just in another country, and the UK has so many amazing places to offer that I still haven’t explored. So this year is going to include lots of UK trips and days out, recipes from my travels and my top travel tips.

The name of the blog will still stay the same as without New Zealand I would never have blogged my way through all our adventures for 18 months! I’m sentimental.

Thanks again for all your support

Lucy

P.s this photo was taken in Malham on Sunday, as one of our days out, as part of our promise to #exploreengland more! If you want to see more of my adventures in real time give my instagram @lucyjbarrett a follow.

Yogyakarta

We have taken a very chilled approach to Yogyakarta and made the most of being in the same place for more than 2 nights! Yogyakarta feels like the Ubud of Java and is where it is all going on, we have instantly noticed that Java is a lot less touristy and we are getting a lot more attention here. By attention I mean people stopping in the streets to stare and asking us for photographs because we are white, I remember it happening a lot in India but it always feels quite strange. We actually asked a tour guide why they do it and she said that the Indonesians are really intrigued by us because we look different, have white skin and pointy noses!

When we arrived in Yogyakarta we were taken straight to our hotel which is like stepping into a quiet oasis after being on the busy hot streets. It has a nice little poolside restaurant so you don’t have to leave at all if you don’t want too. By the time we had unpacked and eaten etc. it was around 3 o’clock so we didn’t want to venture too far, we ended up wandering the streets near to where we are staying and finding a lovely little restaurant that we went and had a drink at, when I say drink I mean 2 bottles of wine and a three course meal! It was nice to just sit and relax drinking nice wine (something there is a lack of in Indonesia).

The next day we spend the morning researching things to do and trips we could go on, we booked a trip to Borobudur and Prambanan temples for the Monday, and then looked at where we could go and see a Javanese show. We wandered to the ticket office and booked dinner and the show and then grabbed a Becak (like a backwards rickshaw that had like a sofa on the front and you get cycled around) to the cool market area with all the bars, basically where it’s all happening called Maliboro road. We had a wander round looking at all the markets and then realised we had walked 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction (it was so annoying in the heat). We turned around and headed back and found a cafe for lunch (it was about 3ish by now). After we had spent 3 hours in the cafe (there is a trend here) we got another Becak – this time it was motorised not pedal so much more fun as you feel like you are going so fast, to the ballet. After the buffet dinner we were taken into the theatre for the show.

image

The show (a traditional ballet called Ramayana) wasn’t really our thing but we are really glad we did it, I could really appreciate the amazing costumes and the performance. It was so hard to follow what was going on in the story though, it was a love story and involved a man cutting off his private parts and a fight between giants and monkeys. It was a very beautiful performance though and it was great to see this side of the Javanese culture. There was a huge tropical thunderstorm in the night which was really cool to watch it rained that much that the pool depth rose by 4inches!

The next day we spent the morning wandering round the very hot streets looking at the buildings and Dutch fort that is here, I can’t tell you how hot it is though it was unbearable. We ended up in another cafe (haha) and Chris decided it would be a good idea to try a drink called ‘Devils drink’ which was snakes blood mixed with honey. It arrived and in the bottom was a snakes heart and also snakes marrow, it looked disgusting and his face was a picture (he later admitted that he’s been reading too many Spider Shepard books by Stephen Leather about a really tough SAS guy who got his name from eating a spider. It’s my fault I got him into the books).

Anyway we got back to the hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool, before getting another Becak up to Maliboro road again to see it at night.

The next day wasn’t much different we have been so full on with our traveling that we have tired ourselves out, we made the executive decision very early on that we would have a pool day, which was so nice! We had a lot of nice food that day too including the best falafel salad ever. That night for some reason we thought it would be an amazing idea to get drunk even though we had to be up at 3am for a trip- I stopped drinking pretty early but my lovely boyfriend was a tad rough the next morning.

At 3am we were up for our tour or Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, we were picked up by our tour company which was probably the most unorganised tour I have ever been on, it was so funny. We headed to Borobudur for sunrise and honestly the driver was mental, swerving, driving very fast, cutting red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road. We got to Borobudur and were quickly hustled into the hotel entrance as we had opted to pay more and actually see the sunrise from inside the temple.

Not a lot is known about Borobudur’s history, it is a Buddist temple that was built sometime between AD750 and AD850 and 60000 cubic metres of stone (2million stone blocks) were used to build it. As there was a decline in Buddhism in the country Borobudur was left abandoned until the early 20th century where the Dutch started to restored the temple but the hill on which it sat started to subside. A Unesco funded restoration took place between 1973 and 1983 to restore and stabilise.

The temple is beautiful it’s very hard to explain but it is 118m by 118m and has six square terraces which are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading to the top. The three circular terraces contain large stone bells that surround one amazing large bell in the centre. There was a scale model at Borobudur so I took a picture to make it visual for you (see always thinking about my readers).

image

image

So now you have had the history lesson we were there for 4.30 waiting for sunrise which was again not the impressive but the crowds were a lot quieter and we got to see the amazing temple as the light increased, and then about an hour later a gorgeous sun broke through the haze! We were given a breakfast and told to meet at 8.30 but at 9.30 we set off due to the crazy unorganised tour, who tried to tell us we weren’t even on their tour! They didn’t believe us until we knew their names!

Next up we were off to Prambanan temple which is a Hindu temple and it is so spectacular. This temple was built between the 8th and 10th century AD when Java was ruled by Buddist Sailendras in the south and Hindu Sanjayas in the north. Prambanan also made the Unesco list in 1991, it is currently being restored today as in 2006 it suffered a lot of damage in an earthquake.

image

The main spire of Prambanan is 47m high and the carvings are very detailed and intricate, the temple consists of eight main and eight minor temples in the main complex and it honestly was so impressive. I cannot decided which one I preferred. It was such a hot day though we were really struggling I think it’s one of the hottest we have had. After this we were taken back to the hotel, it was around 2.30pm so we just chilled for the rest of the day, we had to be up again at 6.30 for our next 8 hour train to the capital Jakarta!

Also another very successful train ride I managed to write my blog and watch 7 episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians!

Lucy 😘

 

Pangea Seeds – Sea Walls Murals

Napier was host to this year’s Pangea Seeds Foundation – Sea Walls Murals for the Ocean, this is their public art project that brings the oceans to the streets around the world. They collaborate with some amazing street artists to create massive street murals to raise awareness for ocean conservation, and the artists do it all for free. They came to Napier and it was so cool, and it will also be taking place in Toronto this year!

The artists had 5 days to paint amazing murals all over Napier and they were fantastic! We got a map from the visitors’ information and walked the whole thing. It was such a great day. I will leave you with photos which don’t do them justice but show you how great they are better than I can. We had so much fun interpreting them…

Lucy 🙂

New Plymouth

Hello there everyone,

I thought it was about time I got my bum in gear and started blogging to all you lovely people again. So basically after a bit of a bad patch plus no motivation (I won’t go into detail) I stopped blogging for a while! But I’m fine now and back 😀

This blog is about our trip to New Plymouth and a bit of an update on a few other exciting things we have done. We went to New Plymouth back in April now (I know I’m sorry I am very behind).

There isn’t loads to tell about our trip there its very seasidey and a lot like Napier but on the west of the north island. We got there on Friday night it was a pretty long drive about 5 hours so we didn’t do a lot on arrival! On Saturday we wandered along the sea front taking pictures hand in hand (how romantic). I was taking a picture of Chris and a massive wave hit him (lol before and after below).

We went to the museum which was pretty cool and took some standard stuffed animal pictures. I was pretty upset as my favourite team off the Block NZ were there and we missed them by 15 minutes (hi if you are reading Cat and Jeremy). We drove to mount Taranaki which was covered in cloud (not very successful).  We did a bit of a lonely planet bar crawl which is standard for Lucy and Chris, so it was a pretty chilled day really. This is why I shouldn’t leave my blogs until 3 months later because I can’t remember anything.

The one thing I do remember is Chris’ surf lesson the next morning. It was two hours long and the poor boy was shattered afterwards (after standing up a grand total of once). Fair play to him though as I didn’t even give the lesson a try.

Our route home took us along the Forgotten highway which is a gravel road full of cool places to explore, waterfalls, tunnels and ‘ghost towns’. It added a lot onto the journey but was definitely worth it! I am sorry for the short but sweet blog but I just wanted to tell you a brief of New Plymouth and say sorry for being off the radar! I am back now I promise.

So other things we have been doing;

  • Pangea Seeds Foundation Art work in Napier (blog to follow)
  • We went to Rotorua to see a kiwi and Chris went mountain biking.
  • We are currently gearing up for the big trip home (blog to follow)

So we currently have 1 WEEK left in NZ.

Crazy.

Until next time

Lucy

8 things nobody tells you when you move abroad

  1. The TV is crap, it is never the same as TV at home. I have only found one NZ program I loved (The Block NZ) and the ones you do love from home Corrie etc. are two years behind. So you will definitely need to invest in a Netflix account and a Chrome cast to survive. Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars have become my lifelines (sad but true).
  1. It takes forever to get used to the currency, after 6 months I still convert to pounds. I have a mini heart attack every time I pay for something as the NZ dollar is roughly double to the pound – so when I see $50 I see 50 pounds not 25 pounds. Complicated stuff.
  1. How bad the homesickness can be. It’s a real struggle, as we are having the time of our lives out here and wouldn’t change it from the world. For people at home battling floods and winds who see us having an amazing time think it’s silly to miss home when its 30 degrees here. It’s something that unless you have done it you never realise how it feels to just want a cuddle from your dog, a pint with your mates or a Saturday night chill with your family.
  1. Adapting to new supermarkets and brands is hard and you will always miss things like bacon and tea. That’s why when we see Yorkshire tea we go mental. Expat shops are genius.
  1. You come to appreciate how great your home country really is. Being so far away and talking to a lot of people makes you realise that you really haven’t made the most of you home country and how close you actually are to Europe. This is something we have vowed to change when we get home.
  1. How amazing it really is. I feel so lucky that we got this opportunity when we did before getting a house or anything else. It came with perfect if not a little rushed timing, and everything just fell into place for us. We have seen and are still to see some great places and I am so glad we made the leap to come here, because trust me it was bloody scary for both of us.
  1. You do things you never thought you would dare do (especially me as a chicken) like caving, jet boating, swimming with dolphins, because why the hell not? I might never be here again. If someone asked me to go caving in the UK I would propose a pub lunch instead.
  1. You will settle in quickly. We had no choice we had a flat and a car within 3 weeks and its surprising how quickly you settle into a job when you are away from home and only have a 12 month contract.

Lucy 🙂

White Island

Whakatane is famous for its White Island tours – a trip out on a boat to see NZ’s only active marine volcano. An old sulphur mine sits on the volcano used up until the 30s where workers would move to this harsh environment for 3 months at a time (the longest stayed for 8 years).

I was so excited about this trip it’s not every day you get to go inside a volcanic crater and as a keen geographer I was in geek mode bad style. We went with a tour company called White Island Tours and it was $200 each for the trip, so it isn’t cheap but it is 100% worth it. I guess with all the permits and insurance the company must be required to have to take tourists onto a live volcano, would set them back a bit. The boat was lovely and spacious with lovely soft sofa seats downstairs, the journey out to the island is 80 minutes so we opted for an inside seat.

To actually get onto the volcano we had to get a rib boat across, climb some metal ladders and then clamber across some boulders to get ashore (I felt like Lara Croft). The volcano was breath-taking, it was a harsh landscape, emitting steam everywhere and bright yellow sulphur chimneys steaming from the ground. We had stepped directly into the crater! The gases being produced weren’t harmful but they made you cough really badly so we had to wear gas masks – teamed with our hard hats we looked pretty snazzy (think Heisenberg from Breaking Bad). Chris found his Darth Vader impression pretty hilarious as we were walking around.

We got to walk right up to the main crater, which had a bright green bubbling volcanic lake inside with a huge plum of steam from the main vent. It was amazing. There were bubbling pools of mud around us and volcanic streams which were really hot running across the landscape. It was a very special trip for me as since uni I have always been fascinated by volcanoes.

We went into the old abandoned sulphur factory which had an eerie feel to it, a lot of the machinery was still there and all badly corroded due to the gases. The guide told us that their t-shirts only last 6 months due to the gases disintegrating the cotton stitching. It must have been such a strange place to be for long periods at a time for the sulphur miners.

I really can’t stress how much I enjoyed this trip and I would recommend to anyone who was a little dubious about spending the money on a trip.

Once back on the boat we were provided with a lovely lunch (cheese sandwiches, cake, oat bar, apple and a crunchy!) and then made the 1.5 hour journey back. We both fell asleep Chris the nodding dog and me with my mouth wide open!

Our Waitangi weekend at Coromandel and White Island is something we will never forget and it probably tuned out to be one of my favourite weekends we have had so far.

Lucy