Wednesday 14th December 2022
After finally arriving home at 2.45am after 30 hours travel,I was still wide awake at 4.30am, so I decided to take a long walk around one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Wednesday 14th December 2022
After finally arriving home at 2.45am after 30 hours travel,I was still wide awake at 4.30am, so I decided to take a long walk around one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Monday 12th December 2022
Well we have woken to snow falling. It must have snowed most of the night as the cars and the footpaths are cpovered i a blanket of snow. It looks so pretty. We have been very lucky to have had snow falls on both of the last two days we have here in Europe. It was lovely to share this experience with Ban and agin in Prague. I love this city and have enjoyed walking its streets in the snow this morning. It was very very cold. Only -5°C this morning. Eekkk!!
After a very big breakfast buffet in the hotel for only an extra 4.50 euro each we head out to explore a little. We head firstly, down to the river where we can only just see Charles Bridge and Prague Castle faintly in the distance. It is so dreary a day, the fog very thick and the snow falling quite significantly. The pathways are quite slippery and there are people everywhere. You would think it was a bright sunny day there are so many people. Apparently from what one of the shop keepers says, the area is filled with tourists from now until Christmas. We didn’t realise this when I was booking the hotel as there didn’t seem to be too much of a shortage. Anyway, we continued down along the river and then walked across the famous Charles Bridge. We should have got up early so we could have seen it with fresh untrodden snow, but that means being up and out by 6am. That was noty to be today. We enjoy a walk across the bridge, I would have liked to go up to Prague Castle and see the entire city covered in snow from above at the lookout at the castle but unfortunately we were time poor today. Although we are frrling very grateful to get to see Prague in the snow at all. It was a lovely morning walking through the streets in the snow, looking at the city in a different light. I will say it again “I feel so lucky”.
We headed back to the hotel by 11.30am, packed up the reest of our bags and checked out of the Hotel att midday. I am really glad I managed to find a hotel with a midday check-out as this meant we could do the final things in our room rather than in the hotel foyer. As we checked out I ordered and Uber and it was there within seven minutes to drive us to the airport. Only 512CZK which works out to about 34AUD. A bargain and so convenient. They picked us up from the door of the hotel and dropped us at the airport International terminal carpark. So easy. It was about a 35min drive.
We went in to the airport, eremoved and stowed some of our clothes in our luggage and joined the line for the checking in. This took about 40 mins,David’s bag had grown to 15kg anfdd mine to 21kg. We need to get lighter. I have started a list for the essential things I need to pack, do you think I will ever learn.I hopw I get another opportunity to find out. We headed through border and baggage control and were at our gate with about 45 mins to spare.
The day has finally arrived for us to come home. We have had an amazing time. We have travelled to Italy, Sicily, Aeolian Islands, Croatia, through Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. To Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and then to Prague. It has been a whirl wind of languages, weather, food, mountains, seas, scenery and cultures. It has been the most amazing 12 weeks. We have been away for 84 days, travelled by plane, car, ferry, bus, train, metro, tram, bicycle and on foot. We have covered enormous distances and we have seen so much that I need to have a holiday to look at my holiday all over again. What an amazing experience. We have been in sunshine, rain, snow, fog and wind. It has been fantastic. We have competed in the surf titles, managed a few medals, huiked some amazing mountains, swum in the sea, hung from cliffs connected to ropes and had one hell of a blast. Thanks to my amazing husband and tour guide David for this most wonderful experience. And I am sure you are also grateful to him for giving you the opportunity to see such amazing places.
We are now on the plane, starting at 4.15pm Prague time, 45mins late as the plane had to be de-iced before take off. We are due to arrive in Sydney at 10.30pm on Tuesday evening. We hope to make it home at some stage in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
After 5.5 hours we arrived late to Dubai. we were escorted and fast-tracked through the airport, in the lift, on the train to the other terminal, through baggage check and we arrived in time to remove some thermals and go to the bathroom before we boarded the train again for the 12.5 hour flight to Sydney. I was lucky to have a spare seat next to me so I could lie down a little, so I have had a good amount of sleep but David had very little. We arrived to Sydney at 10.45pm only 15 mins late, we were fast tracked through bio-security but the late plane was enough for us to miss our airport train and then the Central Coast train at 11.48. We arrived at Central at 11.54pm, only 6 mins in it. Bugger. So after a 54min wait we are now on the 12.48am train. Headed for home. We will make it to Gosford at 2.17am and will catch a CAB home.
A big summary of our travels over the last 12 weeks as per Mr Google – so give or take a little bit for its accuracy.
Plane – I don’t really know, but a long way.
Bus/Train – 1457km
Ferry – 417km
Car – 12,961km
Bike – 19km
Walk/Hike – 578km
What a mammoth effort on my husband’s behalf for the driving as I probably only drove about 1,000km. His comments about driving in the different countries is that the south of Italy and Sicily are another level of madness. After driving there the rest is a piece of cake.
We look forward to seeing you all again very soon. Hugs to you all. Fiona and David.
Sunday 11th December 2022
Well it is time to leave Benny’s today and head to our final destination before we catch the plane home. I have been awake since 4am because I couldn’t sleep. I caught up with my blog and some Facebook posts whilst everyone else slept. When we all got up this morning it was still lightly snowing and it looks like it has been snowing all night because there is a heavy blanket of snow everywhere. After breakfast we finished packing and Benny walked us to the bus stop. It was a little difficult as the snow was quite thick but I had it easy as Benny looked after my wheelie bag. The city is very pretty and I was trigger happy on the camera, as we haven’t really experienced snow very much. I think Benny thought I was a bit nutty but it was very pretty. The temperature was -5°C this morning as we waited for our flixbus. Once again a very cheap form of travel. It was a total of 27.32 euro for the two of us to travel 3 hrs from Chemnitz to Prague and that included the extra for premium front seats in the bus. What bargain.
Well we sadly said goodbye to Benny and were on our way at 10am. Benny headed off to work as he has two Nutcracker shows today. One at 2pm and the other at 7pm. Sao really big day for him. As we head towards Dresden there is heavy snow cover all the way. Then as we are halfway between Dresden and Prague, about 2 hours from Benny the sun comes out and there is no snow. Half an hour late the sky clouds over and there is a light snow fall but when we arrive in Prague there is no snow at all, although it is forecast for 2cm overnight, Lets see what develops.
We arrive at Florenc Bus Station right on time at 1.10pm, after heading inside the terminal where it was warm to work out the way to our hotel, we decide to walk the 2.3km. we forgot how much of Prague was on cobblestone so the walk was hindered a little but was pleasant all the same. Our little hotel is very nice, I tried tolerant a couple of Czech words before we checked in but was greeted by the receptionist with a hello, so promptly forgot them all. I will try again for tomorrow morning. After going up to our room we have a rest for about 20mins and then head out for a late lunch. We walked via the river and Charles Bridge to a place called Bageterie Boulevard and had a very expensive beef roll, small soup, small wedges, Pepsi and a coffee (347CZK – about 22.44AUD) and it was only pretty average. We then walked to the Old Town with its Christmas markets. The lights and the Christmas tree were spectacular amongst the most beautiful old buildings. It was a fantastic setting. We meandered through all the stalls and were amazed at the crowds here. It was like everyone was out and about tonight.
We continued walking looking in all the stalls and then shops as well at all the different souvenirs available. On the way home via the edge of the New City and Wenceslas Square we have some dinner at Vapiano – an Italian style restaurant that cooks for you as you order and wait for it at the counter. You get to watch them cook your dinner. It was quite nice although I made a bad choice. It was a big walk, although it was only 5km we were out and about for about 5 hours. We are both exhausted and by the time we made it home it was -4° and we were pretty cold. I have enjoyed a lovely warm bath and am feeling very weary now.
Not long to go now and we will be on the plane home.
Saturday 10th December 2022
Our last full day in Chemnitz for another visit. Benny went off to work again and we headed off to the pool for a swim. Our 3rd swim in 4 days. Not too shabby. Hopefully it will help us kickstart the training for our surf season. It has been very tough on the arms as they have laid dormant for 3 months. It was very cold today and Chemnitz has provided us with a lovely winter atmosphere. It has been snowing lightly all morning. Looks like I get to experience a white Christmas Day with Benny. After our swim we spent a couple of hours with Benny at home whilst he rested up for the start of their Nutcracker marathon which starts tonight. David is really looking forward to the performance tonight.
We head off to the theatre in the dark at 5pm making sure we don’t have the last minute rush this time as they have a full house (712) tonight as it is the first Nutcracker performance this Christmas. David keeps calling it his first Premiere. It was a great show yet again for me. There are quite a few new dancers this year plus the ones I have got to know over the last 7 years. It is amazing to think Benny has been here for so long.
As we left the theatre the snow had been falling whilst we were inside and there was quite a thick blanket of snow outside. It continued to fall quite heavily as we walked to the city centre to the Bierhaus for dinner. It looked very beautiful but was very slippery. My ballet flats were definitely not a good option for snow walking. We enjoyed a lovely meal and our last dinner with Benny for another year. We headed home to pack as we leave tomorrow morning. We are almost to the end of our 12 weeks in Europe. It is hard to believe that we will be home in a couple of days. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Big hugs to you all.
Friday 9th December 2022
Today it doesn’t feel so cold, it is 3°C. Amazing how quickly you adjust to new climates although I don’t know that we could live here full time but it is lovely to experience life here with Ben at this time of year. We enjoyed a swim in the lovely heated pool again today. We met Benny after work at 6pm and went to the Christmas markets. The atmosphere at night was fantastic, there were many more people and the music and lights was so beautiful. The weather felt balmy compared to the raining, windy day we went before. We enjoyed Gluwein for Benny, Kinderpunch (warm cranberry or raspberry juice) for David and Heiss (Hot) Schokolade for me. I had to help DB with the punch as it is sickly sweet. We then walked around the market stalls and enjoyed some more market food for dinner. Benny an rissole role, DB a curry wurst sausage on a roll, and we all shared rice, herb potatoes and mushrooms. Dessert was a Nutella crepe. We met Sascha and Constantine for a Gluwein and another hot chocolate. It was lovely to have a chat with Benny’s work colleague and friend. We then headed home as we were now a little cold from standing in the one spot in the cold, as long as you keep moving you don’t feel the cold so much. We headed home for a game of scrabble which Ben won 188, to DB 187 and me the loser. Oh well. It was a very nice evening. Not long to go and we will be on our way home.
Thursday 8th December 2022
We woke to another day of 0-2° today. It is so cold, although the day looks a bit brighter today. Benny has a big day of work today 10am-10pm so we are planning a rest, a little exercise and a quiet day. After doing a little computer work, booking accommodation for Prague on Sunday and enjoying breakfast in bed. We headed out for a walk at about 2pm. It was very cold. We walked to the Botanical Gardens via Kuchwald Forest (8km loop). The gardens had many flowerbeds that were being replanted or the flowers had died. We spent a little time in the warm greenhouses, looking at the tropical plants and some turtles. They also had some bird cages and farm animals. After a quick visit we headed back home to Benny’s as he was given an unexpected break and was now home for an early dinner. This was lovely as I got to spend a little time with him today.
We gave him his Christmas presents, as we have only a little time with him now before we head home via Prague on Sunday. It was a lovely quiet day.
Tonight’s forecast is for some snow and a low of -1° tonight and another high of 2°C tomorrow. Eekkk!!!
Wednesday 7th December 2022
Benny headed off to work as usual at about 9.30am and we just lazed around in bed until about 11am. It was very cold today forecast for between 0-2° with a wind chill factor of -2°. Eek!! We need to kick start real exercise again so went off to the 50m indoor pool in the city near the theatre. It is a beautiful facility with all its little rules along the way.
1. Remove your shoes before walking through the change rooms
2. Shower before entering the pool
3. Wear thongs/scuffs in the pool area
They have fantastic change rooms, shower, lockers and private change rooms. The pool is fantastic as well. The room temperature in the pool area was over 29° and the water was 27°. Absolutely perfect. This time they only had one lane rope across 4 lanes which worked out really well for us as you can overtake down the middle, which was especially handy for Speedy Gonzales DB. We managed 1500-1700m. Neither of us even felt strange swimming on the right hand side of the lane as we have definitely adjusted to this on the roads. We even cross the roads looking the correct way now as well.
After our lovely swim, David with blow dried hair and mine a bit wet, we headed to meet Ben for a walk around the Christmas markets. We enjoyed some traditional foods and looked at the market stalls with their traditional ornaments, food and normal market fare. They really embrace the season. After a while we headed in to Galleria (like Myer) to drefrrost and enjoyed a nice chat in the cafeteria over coffee and hot chocolate. At about 4pm Benny headed back to work and we walked home in the very, very cold late afternoon fading light.
We waited for dinner with Ben at 9.30pm as he was sharing one of his special baked Christmas cheeses, blue cheese, another soft cheese and a truffle cheese, with warm bread x 4 kinds and salamis. It was very nice. We then enjoyed some chat time before heading off to bed late again. We are in the habit of going to bed after midnight. It was a lovely day.
Tuesday 6th December 2022
Well the weather is looking inclement and it is very cold. We are aware that the low temperature could be very problematic on the road today. Snow is predicted along our route from just north of Frankfurt to Chemnitz. We can still go south which now looks like the better option whereas yesterday the northern route looked better. Oh well, we will just have to be careful, or should I say, David will have to be careful.
We set off just after 10am as we didn’t want go too early as the temperature was only 0° overnight and that could cause an icy road. As we haven’t really done any snow and ice driving before, we will err on the side of caution. We have about 4 hours driving time to Benny’s but obviously the weather and road conditions may increase that time somewhat.
We were straight on to the freeway (as opposed to tollway) and it was hectic right from the start. The outlook for the day was quite dreary. Drizzling rain, fog, icy roads and snow, and we encountered all except the icy roads. The temperature throughout the day only reached about 3° and dropped as low as 0° and hovered anywhere in between depending on elevation throughout the day. We drove through some beautiful scenery, through tunnels and over bridges. Apparently bridges and tunnels are the most risky place for icy roads, we think the reason for this is because of the air below the bridge and the lack of air flow and condensation in the tunnels. The conditions didn’t stop drivers reaching speeds of more than 170kmh. They just scooted passed. Sometimes when it was safe and the road was dry, David would accelerate to gauge what speed they were doing. He could get to 150kmh and they were still pulling away from him. One time he went as high as 169 and they were still pulling away. This was only done to see how fast they were going, most of the day he stayed between 100-125kmh. Love his safe driving. Anyway we still made pretty good time and arrived home to Benny at about 2.30pm. In time for a chat and a cuppa before he had to go back to work and we had to return the car. Petrol price in Germany surprised us as we thought it was more expensive here, it was only 1.68 euro per litre.
It was still pretty dreary outside after returning the car. We walked in the almost dark and light rain at 4.30pm. We waited and enjoyed a nice home cooked dinner with Ben when he arrived home at about 9.15pm. It was just a salmon and prawn stir fry but when you have been eating fast food and pub meals for a few days, the simple things in life are often the best. The speciality in a few places was bacon or pork or steak with eggs and chips, so veggies were beautiful.
We now have until Sunday morning here with Ben and I am really looking forward to a little rest before coming home to get organised for Christmas.
Monday 5th December 2022
Today we will head as far as possible to Benny. The weather is forecast for some rain, some snow and possible icy roads. David has done all the research possible to ensure a safe trip. We have 3 different ways we can go, each with a different level of snow so we will be watching the radar carefully to ensure we head in the right direction. We have 1097km and almost 12 hours to reach Benny, so we will see how we go. One thought is to drive all day until we get there but that means night driving and DB isn’t too keen on that one if icy roads are a possibility. The weather for tomorrow is a lot colder and more snow so it is a catch 22. What will prevail.
We headed off just after 9am and David forgot he had No Tolls on the GPS last night so for the first hour we travelled a lot slower but after leaving the town there was a lot less traffic, until he realised what he had done. He knew when he turned toll roads off last nights so we didn’t have to pay a toll to get dinner that he would forget to turn them back on. Oh well! It was a quite pleasant drive anyway and we probably saved 20 euro.
The drive today was through beautiful green countryside. The weather was annoying with light rain for a couple of hours which had DB driving a little slower than yesterday. It then stopped and the roads dried up and was safe to drive at the speed limit of 120kmh. David was happy to drive as he knew I wasn’t keen on icy, wet roads. We had a 70s and 80s music revival today. It was fun to listen and sing to all the old songs. Wow my memory is very good for old stuff although it is a shame I forgot what we did yesterday. We crossed the border from France to Germany at Saarbrucken at about 2pm and 46.20 euro in tolls. I think we saved some money by going the wrong way earlier. Yeehah! We were going along very nicely to start with in Germany, the roads were dry and the traffic moving along at 130kmh or more as the speed was unlimited in this section of the freeway. Although this makes it quite intense as the cars fly passed doing over 160kmh or even more. We thought about continuing to Benny’s but 10 mins later it was raining again and we booked an apartment just north of Frankfurt. We will make a decision in the morning which way we go even if it means going back through Frankfurt as there are icy road warnings until at least 10am here.
David drove 725km today in 7.5 hours so a very big day. We have only 376km and 4.5hrs to go to get to Benny tomorrow.
Sunday 4th December 2022
The temperature wasn’t as cold as we expected although it was still only about 2°C in the car when we left at about 9.30am, although there was still ice on the windows. The driving was pretty intense to start and David did a fantastic job. He drove until 2pm with our lunch stop at 1pm for about 30mins. A great effort. I only drove for about 200km of the 801km we travelled today. We were very lucky as the forecast was for rain and we only had a light sprinkle in the last 30km of the day. It was a lovely day of driving, beautiful scenery and a lot nicer drive as trucks over 7.5t are not allowed on the motorways on Sunday right across most of Europe. We crossed the border from Spain into France without being stopped by the police. David had his shoes on this time, just in case. The tolls were continuous in France today and very expensive (78 euro) compared to our full day across Spain yesterday which was only 12 euro. We now have only 1105km 11 hours to get to Benny. The weather is looking a little sketchy for the next two days with fog, a little rain and a little snow. David has done all the research, finding an altitude map of where we are driving to ensure we don’t end up in the alps somewhere. He is so careful and always makes the extra effort to research everything to ensure our safety. We stayed in a little hotel right on the tollway with restaurants all around but we decided to head out for some take-away pizza. It was very yummy. David turned off tolls so we didn’t end up paying a toll on the way to get dinner. Hopefully he remembers to turn it off tomorrow so we get straight back on the toll roads as they are a lot quicker.