Tuesday, May 12, 2009

European Road Trip



Last week we got back from a road trip around Italy, Germany and Holland. Although I do not recommend everyone doing this in their first trimester (!), we had a wonderful time and one of my dreams came true, to see tulip season in Holland.

Firstly we drove to Milan and spent one night with our friends Payman and his wife Veronica. Payman is also an engineer (like husband) and used to work with Jason in the Karratha gas plant so we had plenty to reminisce about. I had been off fish for a long time and Veronica cooked salmon for dinner....well it was the best salmon I had tasted and it was delicious. My fish appetite has returned.

The next day we set off through the Swiss Alps (that were still covered in snow and were as beautiful as always) for our ten hour drive to Cologne, Germany. It amazed me how different driving in Europe is where there are road stops every 50 kms. When we used to drive from Karratha to Perth (in Australia) sometimes the next road stop with fuel was 200 km's away.

Lots of singing and eating lollies later on a speed limt free autostrada (very scary), we arrived in Cologne. It was wonderful to catch up with family in Germany and also to do some relaxing. We weren't interested in sight seeing as we had been there numerous times before, however Jay could not resist taking night photos of the Cologne Dom - we think it's the most beautiful cathedral in all of Europe.



The rest of our time in Germany was spent visiting more family, sleep ins in the hotel and ordering breakfast in bed. On mornings when we weren't completely lazy we would get up and go to my beloved Starbucks.

Next on our road trip was Holland. Husband had been to Amsterdam before for work but I had never been and was very curious. Our friends Ryan and Elize live in Amsterdam and we stayed with them. Ryan, an engineer, also used to work in Karratha with Jason. In fact he was our neighbour and is one of our dearest friends.

Ryan and Elize live in a gorgeous apartment overlooking one of the canals and about 50 metres from Anne Frank's house. This didn't mean that much to us until we visited Anne Frank's house and that is when reality hit home. On that very street, just years ago, Nazi's were storming the streets and bombing homes and terrorising Jews, amongst others. It was an eye opening museum which I really recommend (just like I recommend Auschwitz in Poland for everyone to see).

Amsterdam made a funny impression on me. I found it very beautiful with it's canals, gorgeous buildings and cosmopolitan atmosphere. But you could be in a gorgeous street, then seemingly walk two streets ahead and like we did, stumble into the red light district. We stumbled across it during the day so I wasn't as saddened by it as I thought I would be. (I know it's stupid but I get very sad when I see young girls forced (debatable I know) into selling themselves in windows. It was funny in a sense that these girls were there but there was normal looking families just walking past and carrying on with their daily activities of getting from place A to B. After being offered coccaine on the street twice (ummm I wouldn't even know what to do with it, put it in my herbal tea perhaps?) we decided we had seen enough. We walked past all the people smoking marijuana in coffee shops (that is everywhere not just in the red light district) and returned back a couple of streets to the posh side of town again. Very strange, but interesting.

One of my favourite things about Amsterdam was of course to do with food - Dutch apple pancakes!We had pancakes 5 times in Amsterdam and we were there only four days, go figure!





Apart from seeing our friends, the highlight of Amsterdam was driving to a town called Lisse which is famous for it's tulips. Look at what we saw on a random road we drove by!!







One our way home, we stopped in to visit our friends Peggy and Mike in Lake Como. They had kindly offered us a room in their apartment. Peggy and Mike are just a gorgeous couple that I had met in my Italian class in Florence but they had since moved on to Lake Como. When we arrived we soon realised their 'apartment' was in fact a stunning villa overlooking the whole of Lake Como. It was just beautiful and Peggy and Mike (and their two daughters Elizabeta and Nicole) were perfect hosts and we had a wonderful time with them.
Another highlight of the trip: Peggy's dinner that she cooked for us and we ate on the balcony overlooking the view. I couldn't believe how good the food was and Peggy admitted she had been taking private lessons from a chef in town that has cooked for Oprah. So if it's good enough for Oprah, it was good enough for us!

I think we would have had a wonderful road trip anyway, but spending it with friends, both new and old made this trip just even better. It is our last big trip in Europe before we go home and we certainly won't be forgetting it in a hurry.

12 comments:

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Wow a wonderful way to spend your last big trip in Europe...with your lovely friends..and friends from all over Europe, amazing. They all live in great places too!

Any photos yet?

Anne in Oxfordshire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Monika...Wonderful photos..I only thought about it, because in one line you said "Look at what we saw" :-) :-)

Cologne cathedral is absolutely stunning, saw it years ago when I lived in Germany. Wow those tulips are RED!!! oh yes Dutch Apple pancakes, and you had how many?? LOL..A great trip thanks for sharing.

ShawnaHanna said...

Those tulips are absolutely beautiful! I can only imagine them being 20 times more beautiful in person. You two (well three now!) are definitely going to have some wonderful memories to return home with. So jealous! :)

erin :: the olive notes said...

I can't get enough of these photos...they are amazing!

Gil said...

I've heard about the beautiful fields of tulips and have seen a few pictures before but none of them can compare to the ones you posted. Your pictures are so sharp and vibrant, of course red doesn't hurt as I love things red! Thanks for posting.

Sue said...

Your pictures are simply spectacular. I am SO jealous!

Stef said...

Mon - I am so so rudely jealous! I have always dreamt of seeing Holland in spring and visiting the Keukenhof gardens. Those photos are amazing! You will have to show me the rest when you get back to K-town!

And dont get me started on the pancakes...

Kathryn said...

We did a similar trip last year - so cool - I loved it - my first time in Amsterdam - hopefully we'll get to go back this year - but this time we'll fly and cut out all those hours on the road! Fantastic photos btw!!!!

Pierre said...

Congratulations on a fine Blog - I've thoroughly enjoyed browsing it and there are some great pics too. Perhaps you would like to share your experiences at trivago also? Keep up the good work, I will be back for more!

Francis Bell said...

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Chef Chuck said...

Wow, So beautiful!!!