05.09.2015 - 20.05.2016
Welcome to the next instalment of our travels around the Eurozone. As per our tradition, this post is a little late but includes lots of pictures and will let you know what is next on our travel list.
Throughout the beginning of September Josh had a very important project for an upcoming weekend away - growing a massive beard for the opening weekend of Oktoberfest in Munich on the 19th of September! Naturally Josh seriously dedicated himself to the fine art and practice of engineering the male facial form with what we are sure you will agree is proof that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.
Watch out Oktoberfest we have arrived!
Oktoberfest is an age old tradition that started in 1810 in Munich, Germany. The festivities are exactly as you can imagine: beautiful women with massive beer steins, bearded lederhosen-clad men and the smiles of everyone while holding a litre of beer at a time. It is a 16 day folk festival where approximately 6 million litres of beer are consumed each year. Just incase you were wondering "Why does it start in September if it is called Oktoberfest?" The answer is simply beer-cause the weather is better in September, so the last weekend of Oktoberfest always falls in early October.
The servers are incredible, can you imagine how heavy these drinks are?
We had a great group of people for the opening of the festival: celebrating all things beer and participating in what can be best described as crossfit for your liver!
And if you are wondering if our efforts were something to be proud of...
Of course they were
We spent most of the day in the Hacker-Pschorr Tent which could be described as “Bavarian Heaven”, as those inside are surrounded by clouds and stars; combine this with a cold Mass (litre of beer) it is not hard to understand why.
In October, Juli had a long weekend away in Zurich. Needless to say, she synced her watch to ’Swiss time’, was gobsmacked at how expensive everything was and spent the last of her Swiss franks on a fine selection of Swiss chocolate.
Late November brought with it the opening of the Christmas Markets, which just like last year we visited regularly after work and on weekends. Here are some photos from the Frankfurt Christmas markets 2015.
A view of the Christmas markets at the Römerberg.
A cute little stall at the Frankfurt Christmas Market.
If these little stands, the smell of cinnamon star cookies, roasted chestnuts and feuerzangenbowle doesn't put you in a good mood, nothing will.
Here is a photo of a schwenkgrill: a round, rotating BBQ Germany breaks out for festivals
A beautiful little merry-go-round at the markets all lit up.
In addition to the Frankfurt markets, Juli also went to the super cute town of Idstein to visit the town's Christmas markets for a day with Megan and Devon.
Juli, Megan and Devon in Idstein
An unimpressed Mary feeding the goats at the market
The Old Town of Idstein
An underground Christmas Market in Idstein
Here are some photos from around the little pokey streets of Idstein. There were little hidden gems decorating the streets and cottages.
This last photo was of the feuerzangenbowle made at the Idstein Christmas Markets. Here brown sugar is soaked in run, placed on a slice of orange and set alight. The melted sugar, drips into the warm spiced wine and is heavenly. Normally this process is done on a large scale and ladled into mugs. Having the whole process done per cup was quite fun.
December was lovely. Jill, Barbs, Sara and Juli decided to whisk you a merry Christmas on a whole day baking event. Things got quite serious and our baking spilled out from the kitchen tops and onto the floor.
Here are some photos of our white Christmas away in Innsbruck, including Christmas Day with our Christmas jumpers and Santa hats
Josh and Jules sporting ugly Christmas jumpers on Christmas Day (a tradition we will continue)
Josh making his way down Stubai glacier
We were lucky with 'blue bird' days during our trip.
Ready for another run.
View from the chairlift.
In January, Juli met up with Jill during the Christmas break in Iceland for an arctic adventure. Iceland was incredible and should be added to your bucket list. As we were traveling quite north in winter, there were only a few short hours of muted sun light shining over Iceland each day.
We went to the famous Blue Lagoon and chased the northern lights by night but had no luck until their last evening seeing aurora borealis. People go to the blue lagoon for its geothermal seawater which is rich in minerals, algae and silica.
Sunrise over the Blue Lagoon around 11am
Buildup of silica on the rocks at the Blue Lagoon
Another photo of the Blue Lagoon.
The entrance to the Blue Lagoon
We were lucky enough to spend a day exploring one of Iceland’s many underground lava fields and snorkelling the Silfra Fissure. A lot of Iceland is covered by massive lava fields and the lava tubes we navigated through were formed when liquid lava flowed in high volume beneath the exposed hardening service. After everything cooled down, Iceland was left with really interesting to navigate through.
Just before sunrise over the snow covered lava field.
Getting ready to head into the lava tubes.
The floor of the lava tubes were covered in ice.
A view of the ice stalactites growing on the ceiling in one of the lava tubes.
Here is a different part of the ceiling of a lava tube with (pretty) bacteria growing on it.
A impressive stalagmite from lava that has dripped down onto the floor of the tube.
Jill in the lava tube.
Making out way to the exit of the lava tubes.
Back outside on the lava field.
Later that day, the two of us wore water-proof suits to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure. Swimming through the actual gap between two tectonic plates that drift apart a few centimetres each year was an amazing experience. It is one of only a handful of places worldwide where you can see the divide in the earth’s crust.
Everything was covered in snow and surprisingly it was warmer in the water than out of it (a tropical 2 degrees in the water). There wasn’t much grace to be observed as we descended the cold metal staircase in flippers and entered the water. The drysuit was ridiculously buoyant and as I struggled around in the water I had an ominous cold feeling seeping into my clothing and I realised that perhaps my drysuit wasn’t quite as watertight as it should have been. So I spent a good 20 minutes in a leaky suit in 2 degree water - luckily the views were well worth it.
An underwater camera was hired from our tour operator but the memory card wasn’t put in. As a result there are not many photos to portray the experience. The visibility through the water in the Silfra Fissure was pretty spectacular, exceeding 100m. I was relieved that I had some additional thermals in the car and that the heater was cranked up high.
The next day, Jill and I travelled along the south coast of Iceland stopping at some really incredible waterfalls on the way to the most southern village in the country.
Making our way to the hidden Gljufrabui waterfall .
Getting wet at the Gljufrabui waterfall.
View of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
This is the beautiful skógafoss reaching 60m in height.
Here is another picture of the skógafoss but from a little higher up.
At the foot of the skógafoss.
The last waterfall we visited took a little bit of work to get to but it was so worth it.
Here it is, the Kvernufoss waterfall.
Behind the Kvernufoss waterfall.
Our next point of exploration along the south coast of Iceland was the black sand beach of Vik which was quite surreal. The strong waves are streaked with grey from the black volcanic sand they carry. The basalt pillars at the base of the cliffs almost look like mismatched stairs.
Watching the waves along the beach.
Feeling the breeze on the basalt pillars.
Here is a view looking up the coast. The two columns you can see in the water, according to Icelandic legend, are the remains of 2 night-trolls, who tried to pull a three-masted ship to land but they were caught by the dawn and when daylight broke they turned into stone.
If you race the waves, it is possible to get behind the basalt pillars to a little cave pictured here.
One of the most beautiful things we saw on our Iceland adventure was sunrise over a frozen lagoon at Svinafellsjokull glacier. The photos really do not do it justice.
The sun didn't get up very high but it did manage to make clouds orange, pink and purple.
Our guide told us that the intense blue of the ice is due to the low percentage of oxygen in the ice.
Later that day we visited another black beach; The Diamond Beach in Jökulsárlón - I thought we were pretty lucky to see the big chunks of ice scattered along the shore.
To finish our time on the south coast we did some glacial hiking on Jökulsárlón in hopes of hiking into the famous ‘Blue Ice Cave’.
Starting off in prime position for some glacial hiking
Here is the ice blue cave that we were really excited about getting into during our trip. Unfortunately we didn't get to hike into the truly amazing chunk of ice; safety first.
This is not a cave but actually where a large rock has sunk into the glacier over time.
Jill in a very small ice blue cave (tunnel)
One last shot before heading back to Reykjavik. The icing on the cake of a breathtaking trip in Iceland.
Before heading home we had some time in Reykjavik. Here are a couple of pictures from around the city.
Little Christmas cat.
In February a few of us got out of Frankfurt for some skiing and snowboarding in Solden. We had a fantastic time. Unfortunately Josh wasn’t able to go on the skiing getaway due to some demanding tasks at his new job.
On the way home, Barbs, Jill and Jules found a beautiful little lake. After parking the car and risking their lives to scramble down the embankment they were rewarded with these beautiful views.
With March coming on, so did Spring. Josh and Jules took an impromptu weekend away to the Black Forest. It was really beautiful to leave the city behind and hike through some beautiful sections of the Schwarzwald.
During the spring holiday break and wanting to escape the cold weather we went to the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa. There is nothing quite like the sun and beach.
Sun and smiles are out!
Views of the coast on one of our many sunny walks.
The sand and salt made interesting patterns all along the beaches.
Wind surfers making the most on the conditions.
Josh using his height to full advantage when playing pool with Jules (who was drinking sangria).
This now brings us up to May. The two of us took a weekend to cycle down the Rhein and Main rivers, starting in Bonn and ending at home in Frankfurt. The ride took two days and was some 200kms. It was one of the prettiest rides either of us have ever done.
Two of the most exciting things coming up on our travel list are hiking to Everest Base Camp in October and heading back home to Australia for the Christmas/New Year break in December!
Lots of love,