Since it's December and the memories of my European adventures are becoming distant, I though I should get them out now. In August my boyfriend and I, and a few friends took a three week vay cay, stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, Hvar, Rome, Paris and London. It was a pretty hectic schedule with a few quick stops here and there, trying to hit all the spots the the four of us especially wanted to go to. Rather than bore you with long winded dialougues about the beauty of each place, I'll give you the highlights.
Best places to rest the head
Berlin - Zennor has already extolled the virtues of The Michelberger, but seriously, it is such a wicked place to stay.
London - The Bermondsey Square Hotel was awesome. Great location, well designed, clean rooms, close to a tube station and walking distance from the tower bridge. I'd actually rate it higher than the Michelberger, it was around the same price, but it was a hotel rather than a hostel. Gregg's, the restaurant that is part of the hotel did a great breakfast and there are a few nice restaurants in the square to grab a dinner, as well as a little supermarket to fuel the chocolate addiction!
Blackboard Art at the Michelberger
Light shades made of old books at the Michelberger
Lobby Art in The Bermondsey Square Hotel
Best spots to grab a drink
Hvar - Hvar is FULL of bars, but we stumbled across Falko Bar one afternoon and returned every day after. The bar is perfect during the day, with hammocks and sun loungers - I confess to having a sleep in a hammock there after a pressing afternoon of reading Vogue. In the evening, it is THE spot to watch the sun set. Loungers are set out on the rocks and as long as you are clear of the spray from waves, it is the perfect setting.
Dress by One Teaspoon
Paris - Sacré-Cœur is a beautiful church on the top of the highest point of the city. The views are amazing, and there are lots of hawkers selling beers on the steps of the church. As the French taxi driver who was taking us to the airport on our way out of Paris told us, it's one of the best places in the city.
The best eats
London - Brick Lane Curries. Determined to get the best deal we could, we walked up and down brick lane, bargaining with the waiters outside each restaurant as to exactly how many free drinks and nann breads our 10 pounds would get us - we, of course, ended back at the first restaurant we had been too. The butter chicken I had was like nothing i've ever tasted. Every one was eating from my plate by the end of the meal. So delicious. Also, incidentally, a great place for picking up leather goods - I got a lap top case, the boy bought a jacket.
We also checked out Union Jacks in Convent Garden, which is a Jamie Oliver Restaurant, and was damn tasty!
Paris - We stayed in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and were super close to lots of great places to eat. To be honest, I didn't really pay much attention to the restaurant names - we pretty much picked a street and worked our way up it. I had all the mandatory french tourist dishes - Croissants, Escargot and Frog legs.
Dress and slip both by Moochi
I also went to the super market before we took the Eurostar back to London and dream about the Cheese, Bread and Creme Brulee flavoured lindt I picked up.
The best activities
Kuala Lumpur - Shopping. It was pretty much the only activity that we had time for in KL - We managed to find a mall that made both the boys and girls happy - the boys were firmly planted at a bar, while Hayley and I broke into a sprint when we saw Top Shop and spent a good hour scouring the store for the items we had spent the weeks leading up to our trip picking out online.
It probably isn't so much an activity, but the most adrenaline pumping thing we did was catch taxis in KL. The first driver we had took our nervous giggling as a reason to go faster, overtaking other cars on the patch of grass between the road and the median barrier at 150kms an hour, while asking us "Are you scared? Are you sacred?". YES. WE WERE SCARED!
Top Shop changing room walls
This is an awful photo but I couldn't really capture just how intense this Mall was!
Berlin - We took a bike tour of the city. You go a little bit further than a normal walking tour, and I really enjoyed it. Of all the cities we visited, Berlin was the easiest to identify with Historically, as events like World War Two and the Berlin Wall aren't so far back, as with other countries, where the history is far more ancient. With the Berlin Wall especially, I felt like I spent a lot of time marveling at the fact that this was something that had happened in my lifetime...
We also managed a bit of shopping in Berlin, the most notable shop being Garage (Kleidermarkt) where you can buy vintage and second hand clothing by the kilo. I picked up a suede and wool creation that I will post next time.
Around the area we stayed in there were lots of photo booths - known as Photoautomats. They make for a really unique souvenir. We went back more than once to these!
Wearing Soles Boots from Market HQ, One Teaspoon Shorts, Black Pantyhose, Trenery Shirt, Insight Jacket.
Hayley coughed up 2 Euros for a photo with this bear, who was rather smelly and tried to cop a feel...
Photo by Hayley Black
Wearing Soles Boots from Market HQ, Cheap Monday Jeans, Vintage Shirt and Top Shop Jumper. Photo by Hayley Black
Hvar - We rented a boat for a day, and cruised around for a bit. There are a few little outer islands, so it was a great day exploring, swimming and sunning our rigs.
Ben and I also rented a jet ski for an hour one day - we didn't realise it at the time we were paying, but the hour rental was about $200 Australian Dollars - a bit of a rip off - and you aren't allowed anywhere near the shore. We were collected by boat and met by a guy with the jet ski in the middle of the ocean. It was fun, but got old quite quickly, so probably wasn't the best use of our funds. Definitely made us think about doing a quick conversion in our heads BEFORE paying!
Our little vessel
Rome - We didn't pick the best time of year to hit Rome, as August 15th is a major public holiday there, so a lot of places were closed during the full days we were there. We did however, manage to knock all the Major Tourist sites off the list - The Colosseum, The Pantheon, St Peter's Basilica, The Vatican Museum and The Trevi Fountain.
We walked up the 550 steps to get to the top of Saint Peter's which was a dizzying experience that I wouldn't recommend to anyone suffering from claustrophobia, but the view was worth it, and it is definitely something that I would do again if given the chance.
I would point out that you need to have your shoulders and knees covered to enter pretty much anywhere in the Vatican as it is a religious site and they are not afraid to turn you away if you do not meet the decency standards. Also, it really pays to pay for a tour - even if you just do it to get the priority entry. The lines are intense, so if you can pay to get in a tour and skip them, it's a much better way to spend your time. The day that we went to the Vatican Museum, we arrived about half an hour before it opened and the line was already snaking around the block!
Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Dress by One Teaspoon
The View from the top of St Peter's Basilica
The Vatican Museum
Paris - Again, we knocked off all the tourist hot spots in Paris - The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, Champs De Elysees, The Arc De Triomphe, and Sacré-Cœur as I have already mentioned. If you get to The Louvre early, you will miss the lines, go the the Eiffel Tower around 5ish and the same applies. I think that one of the best things we did was take a night time stroll along the Siene, which was alive with people picnicking by candle light. We walked up to the Louvre to see it lit up, before crossing into the park and watching the Eiffel Tower glitter as it does on the hour, every hour, after the sun has set. It was really beautiful, and although we had done the same walk the day before, it was completely different at night. The boy and I also placed a lock lock on the Pont Des Arts Bridge, which might be a little cheesy, but is worth checking out.
Pont de Arts Bridge
Arc De Triomphe
View from the Eiffel Tower
London - The Lion King! So freaking epic!
We strolled the streets, and covered a lot of ground while we were in London, and as is a running theme, covered all the Tourist spots - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben etc etc. On our first leg in London we were staying practically across the road from Hyde Park, so the jet lag meant that I got to spend an hour or so exploring the grounds while the sun was rising. I want a squirrel! It was quite wicked being there for a few days while the Olympics were on, there were so many people there t ask questions to and the city was really clean and there was lots of cute touches like bunting everywhere.
I did a heap of shopping in London, and think every one should make the trip to Ryan Town - Rob Ryan's store. The store is located on one of the cutest streets I saw, and I think had I been able to spend a bit more time perusing, my suitcase would have been even harder to close!
Sunrise in Hyde Park
ROA Graffiti off Brick Lane
Mementos from all over the place!
Whewwww... This is turning into a novel!
I'll post pics of my buys next time - a two parter even!
Hope I haven't put you to sleep!