A Travellerspoint blog

Everest Base Camp, a trip home and more of Eastern Europe

One of our most exciting experiences to date occurred in October 2016 with the achievement of a bucket-list item: Everest Base Camp.

Our good friend Jill came along and the three of us had been training for months to make the challenging experience as enjoyable as possible - with lots of hikes, runs and extended gym sessions.

The trip to Nepal, exploring the busy streets of Kathmandu and being surrounded by the vastness as well as beauty of the Himalayas was such an exciting thing to look forward to and without a doubt exceeded our already extremely high expectations.

Below are some excerpts from Juli's travel journal as well as some accompanying photos.

Day One: Left our guest house in Kathmandu (1350 m) at 6am and then flew on a tiny, rickety, old aircraft from Kathmandu to Lukla: the world's most dangerous airport (2840 m) The runway is very short and ends at a sheer cliff drop! Hiked to Phakding for the night (2610 m).
Waiting at Kathmandu airport
Josh and Jill hopping onboard our tiny, rickety and old plane.
View from Juli's seat, landing at Lukla
The super short runway at Lukla airport
Views from our teahouse at breakfast time
Views from our teahouse at breakfast time.
and we are off to Phakding.

Day Two: Today was a tough but rewarding day. We hiked a bit over 836m in elevation to Namache Bazar (3340 m). Huffing and puffing was pretty standard across the group. Lots of greeting people along the tracks with "Namaste", which was special. No signs of AMS. It is pretty chilly during any rest break and now that we have stopped. Looking forward to our acclimatisation day tomorrow. If the cloud cover clears we will catch our first glimpse of Everest.
Following the milk-white Dudh Kosi River
The suspension bridges
The beautiful prayer flags on one of the many bridges we crossed on Day Two
Arrival to Namache Bazar
On the way to our teahouse for the night.

Day Three: Today on our acclimatisation hike we visited a local museum, learned a little more about Mt. Everest as well as the Nepalese and Sherpa culture. The group took some great shots at the top of the "hill" (?). It was too cloudy to see Everest today. Fun fact: the Nepalese prayer flags celebrate the Nepali elements - iron/white, earth/yellow, water/green, sky/blue and fire/red.
View from the museum

Day Four: Today we trekked 7 hours to Phortse Gaon. We are staying in basic accommodation that is a family run business. The husband, Sherpa Karma Rita has summited Everest 8 times!!! On the walls of the tea house are the certificates for the summit, medals and amazingly a certificate for 2nd place in the 2007 Everest Marathon, which starts at Base Camp and ends in Lukla! What?! Our whole trek up takes 8 days! This man is incredible.
Our path into the clouds on Day Four
A prayer point along our path
A Yak jam
There isn't much fuel to burn up here. Yak dung drying out so it can be used to cook dinner
Sherpa Karma Rita and Jules

Day Five: Today we trekked above the tree line to reach Dingboche (4410 m). Josh and I washed our gear in the stream. Really cold up here.


Day Six: Today we got a little and much needed sleep in before the acclimatisation hike up Nagarjun Hill (4600 m). It was a pretty tough hike. Took it easy in the sun afterwards.

Day Seven: An early start to hike to Labuche (4900 m). Spent some time in a memorial for people lost on Everest. When we reached our destination we took a short 45 minute hike to 5000 m with a view of the Khumbu Glacier.

Day Eight: Horrible night. Cried silently in my sleeping bag with probably my 5th ever migraine, so definitely experiencing some affects of altitude. Felt better with some meds after brekkie. Main thing is today is that WE ALL MADE IT TO EVEREST BASE CAMP!!!. Made a stop at Gorakshep (later referred to as Gorakshit) for morning tea. Little creatures found swimming in our water bottles in the afternoon, water purification tablets don't cover that.
On the way to EBC!
We made it!
Everest is mainly hidden when you reach EBC. Here is the tip of Everest.

Day Nine: Really rough night with bowel unrest in the group made more difficult with 7hrs hiking down to Orsho. So grateful for extra Imodium and electrolytes from within our group.

Day Ten: Josh still having gastro problems. Arrived in Tengboche (3840 m). Visited the Tengboche Monastry in the late afternoon, which was great. There were 22 monks all bundled up, chanting and playing music, I can only imagine what it all meant but it is one of our favourite memories so far.

Day Eleven: Josh turned the corner today; just as well as we hiked 7 hours, covering 21 kilometres in distance and dropping a kilometre in elevation. Today we left the national park.

Day Twelve: 5 hours of hiking today and we are back in Lukla. After dinner, our group went to an Irish pub to celebrate. The best thing was seeing Shenge the Sherpa on the dance floor!

Day Thirteen: Took an early morning flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. Stared out the window taking in the beautiful views and our last glimpse of Mt. Everest. Went to the spa with Dianna, Jill and Josh. Had one last dinner with our group and some celebratory drinks out after.

Day Fourteen: Had a yummy brekkie with most of our group in Kathmandu. Visited the "Monkey Temple" then did a little shopping before heading to the airport. Have had an amazing time.

In early November we made an impromptu visit to Riga in Latvia and it was a fantastic city to visit for a weekend. The two of us enjoyed strolling along the snow-covered cobble stone streets of the old town and drinking hot Black Balsam. Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian spirit: vodka infused with herbs and is 'rumoured' to cure ailments such as the common cold.

We also made it to the famous German medieval town of Rothenburg for a weekend. Like most medieval towns, Rothenburg is walled and comprises of traditional housing. Rothenburg did suffer during WWII but the inhabitants appealed to the rest of the world for funds so that they could rebuild and restore their town to its original state. As we walked along the inside of the town walls we could see plaques acknowledging the assistance that people and organisations have given to the town over the years.
One night we went on "The Night Watchman" tour. Our guide, in full character and costume was incredibly witty, knowledgeable and entertaining. large_IMG_5905.jpglarge_IMG_5920.jpg

In November we made a long overdue visit to see Josh's sister Katie and her boyfriend Ian. The four of us enjoyed tasting nips of whiskey and seeing if we could find the same bouquets and notes that were written on the bottle. Katie also introduced us to an interesting sounding but super delicious drink of whiskey and cream soda.

During the weekend we had an opportunity to visit Juli's great Aunt who lives just out of Glasgow in Airdrie. This was a special moment as neither Netty nor Juli had seen each other in approximately 25years.

There was no better way to finish 2016 or see in the New Year than coming home for a visit. It had been just on 3 years since we left Australia and it certainly felt like coming back in a full circle.

Three years ago we were so excited to be leaving Australia with the promise of all the wonderful new experiences that a one-way ticket to Europe offers. Since arriving on New Year's Day in Munich in 2014 the two of us have learned so much about how the world works in different places and also learned a lot about ourselves along the way; it truely has been an incredible experience thus far.

One thing that perhaps is an unexpected measure in our growth is a real appreciation for what we have back home in Australia and this is something that perhaps wouldn't have been grasped to the extent that it has been without being away for so long. Being home with our family and friends is perhaps something that we took a little bit for granted 3 years ago but now feels truely special.

Home was all about family time, catchups with mates, beach dates as well as consuming all the coffee and ginger beer available! It was soul food that we didn't realise we needed until we got home.
A photo from a beach date in W.A. with A-Team.
Nyx and Peggy, "our" (Mum and Keith's) fur-babies.

The beginning of 2017 was pretty quiet on the travel front as we recovered financially from being home. In March we made it to Dublin for a fun weekend away. We had a great time wandering about the city, stumbling across op-shops, visiting the Whisky Museum and drinking all the Irish coffees.

At the beginning of April during the Spring holiday break the two of us went on a two week holiday through the Balkans. We had a couple of days in Belgrade, Serbia and enjoyed exploring the city and finding little gems out and about.

Then we caught the train through Serbia and the mountains into Montenegro, where we spent some time at Lake Skadar. We went on a boat tour of the lake and enjoyed hiking to little and old villages up in the hills.
Next up we made our way into Bosnia and Herzegovina for some long awaited whitewater rafting along the Tara and Drinna Rivers.

With the Tara river providing a natural boarder between the two countries, on each of the two days we started rafting in Montenegro and ended the rafting in Bosnia.The water was so beautiful and clear and a lot of care is taken to ensure that the rivers stay clean.

To end our trip we spent three days in and around Mostar, managing to cram quite a lot into such a short amount of time.
Our favourite meal was eating delicious Chevapi (small meat sausages) served with onions, kajmak (sort of like a cheesy cream) and somun (Turkish style bread) - super yummy!

We visited the Koski Mehmed-Pasa Mosque, which was one of the most beautiful buildings either of us had been into. After climbing the very narrow 89 steps to the top of the Minaret we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of The Old Town and famous bridge; Stari Most.
large_IMG_6908.jpglarge_IMG_6904.jpglarge_IMG_6903.jpg large_IMG_6930.jpg

Mostar was arguably the most devastated Bosnian city during the 1992-1995 war following the breakup of Yugoslavia. The signs of this recent history were all over the city and still at the front of the minds of its inhabitants. The owner of our hostel took a group of us around Mostar to significant places during the conflict and shared his experience as a Bosnian soldier fighting against the Serbian and Croat forces.
A bullet found on the ground in Mostar
Ground floor of a building in the main part of Mostar
Cat crossing a destroyed building
Some beautiful and hopeful street art in Mostar

Whilst in Mostar we also made a trip to Kravica Lake: a natural pool 120 metres in diameter at the base of a waterfall ranging in height from 26-28 metres.

We also managed to get to Blagaj, a village situated at the spring of the Buna River (the largest karst spring in Europe).

In April we visited Lake Koenigsee: a beautiful alpine lake in the southwest of Germany.

In July we visited East Africa which was incredible and deserves a post of its own. The writing is done and we will post soon when we have those photos in order.

Chao for now.
J-Team xx

Posted by julesandjosh 06:08 Comments (0)

Galavanting around the Eurozone

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.
Beach walks.
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,

Posted by julesandjosh 02:03 Tagged #waterfalls #munich #zurich #austria #snow #oktoberfest #christmasmarkets #frankfurt #idstein #christmas #innsbruck #iceland #bluelagoon #glacier #blacksandbeach Comments (0)

Turkey, Rome, Majorca, Slovenia and Spain

Find out what we were doing 11 months ago up until now. #terriblebloggers

View Our adventure so far on julesandjosh's travel map.

During the October break, in addition to going to London, Juli went on a trip to Turkey with Jill, a new friend and colleague from Frankfurt. It was a kind of a “Turkey for Tourists” trip but it was amazing to see some of the huge destinations and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Perhaps we were a little over-excited booking and organising our trip because we crammed a lot into the 5 day break which resulted in travelling long distances, sleeping on busses and trains as well as arriving in ’the wrong’ location.

We arrived in Cappadocia around midnight and were exhausted. Cappadocia has a really surreal landscape and is probably best known for its ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations. The landscape of Cappadocia is incredibly unique and it is difficult to comprehend that such rock formations could exist naturally. We had decided to start our first day with a hot air balloon ride and in a funny way is almost seems futile to provide a worded description because you really need to see the photos to understand the scenery. It was an unforgettable area to visit and a definite highlight of our trip to Turkey. The views were certainly worth the 3:45am wake up (only 4 hours sleep).
After our hot air ballooning we walked around Cappadocia and the open air churches of Gorme from the 10th-12th centuries.
That afternoon we took an overnight bus to Pamukkale (pronounced Pamookully) which is another really unique and interesting place in Turkey. Pamukkale means 'cotton castle' and the terraces you can see in the photos form when the water from hot springs flow down the slopes leaving deposits of limestone. Visitors to this World Heritage Site climb up the white calcium cascades barefoot so they don't damage the deposits.
We walked up the calcified terraces and paddled slash posed in the therapeutic water. (We were at this point over tired and going on a couple of days without showers or much sleep). From here we continued all the way up the calcified slope to the to the huge amphitheatre in Hierapolis which was built around 200BC and housed some 20,000 people. Originally built by the Greeks and later added onto by the Romans.
That afternoon we travelled to Izmir and ended up staying in a dodgy hostel. We didn’t end up in the best part of town and the hostel was located down a strange alley. At no point did we feel unsafe but nothing in the hostel felt very clean and there only seemed to be men working/staying in our accommodation. Needless to say we left there after one night.

Next Jill and I travelled to Istanbul from Izmir starting on an overnight sleeper train which had toilets that were well below par and I guess this really set us up for this leg of the journey. Our train (finally) arrived in Istanbul but it wasn’t what we expected. Turns out that Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and covers some 5, 343 square kilometres and we were at the south end when we wanted to be up north. This then naturally resulted in a bit of a problem but luckily we met a super friendly woman who was happy to take us close to where we needed to go. The journey from Izmir to Istanbul took some 36 hours in travel time and included 3 trains, a bus, a ferry (did I mention that Jill gets sea-sick?), a tram ride and quite a decent walk. Needless to say we crashed and burned leaving us that night and the next day to explore ‘our area’ in Istanbul.
We were staying within walking distance from ’The Blue Mosque’ and the Grand Bizarre which were both incredible. It was really cool to wake up in the morning to the ‘call to prayer’ which is such a different experience to what we are used to at home or in Germany. The next day two weary travellers returned to Frankfurt and slept like logs.

Slipping into December brought wonderful things to Frankfurt including Christmas markets (along with that Juli’s new favourite winter drink Feuerzangenbowle), snow in the city and most exciting of all the arrival of family.

First things first, the Christmas markets were beautiful. The Frankfurt Christmas Market can be traced back to 1393 which for us seems almost unfathomable (Australia was still a long way off being colonised). Point being the stalls at the markets are cosy and you get a real feel for the tradition, from what we can gather the same people run the stalls year after year and go back to the same spot as the year before. We took many opportunities to partake in the ’traditions of German culture' during this time - namely Feuerzangenbowle (an amazing drink which is heated spiced wine with sugar and rum - it is just as heavenly as it sounds) which goes perfectly with candied nuts and of course sausages in bread while meandering through these special markets. :)

Juli's mum and brother (Annie and Keith) arrived in Frankfurt in late December, just shy of a year of us leaving Australia. We celebrated our first cold Christmas with our friend Jo who also also had her Australian family visiting during this time. Christmas was a fusion of European and Australian - complete with family, snow, roasts and mulled-wine. Juli loved having her family visit - she was able to show them all of her favourite places in Frankfurt (namely the Christmas Markets) and more importantly, just being around very important loved ones was very special. To make the most of being all together and in Europe the four of us went to Rome for a few days and even saw in the new year there. Rome is such an amazing city with so much history and amazing architecture. The four of us visited the main sites (including Vatican city, the Pantheon as well as the Colosseum) and climbed the Spanish Steps for a great view of the city. The pizza was delicious, the wine smooth and the tiramisu the best we had ever had.
Push-ups in Vatican City - just because

Push-ups in Vatican City - just because

Family pic in Vatican City

Family pic in Vatican City

View of St. Peter's Basilica from the Tiber River

View of St. Peter's Basilica from the Tiber River

Making our way through the crowds at the Pantheon

Making our way through the crowds at the Pantheon

Just thinking about tiramisu

Just thinking about tiramisu

At the top of the Spanish Steps

At the top of the Spanish Steps

Enjoying some free wine while waiting for a dinner table

Enjoying some free wine while waiting for a dinner table

On the day Juli's family left to travel some of the UK, Josh's mum (Olga) arrived in Frankfurt. Josh's sister Kate was also due to join us in January but an unfortunate accident meant that she had to delay her visit to Frankfurt and subsequent relocation to Scotland. Juli had to return to work now that the Christmas holidays were over but Josh and Olga were able to spend a lot of time together and even meet up with Dieter and Annetta who are family friends living in Frankfurt . They went on a few day-trips to quaint little German towns outside of Frankfurt including Heidelberg and Wiesbaden, as well as a short trip to Hamburg.
Dieter, Annetta, Olga and Josh in Heidelberg

Dieter, Annetta, Olga and Josh in Heidelberg

Josh and Olga in Wiesbaden

Josh and Olga in Wiesbaden

In April, Jules went on a girls getaway for some sun in Majorca, Spain with Jill and Katie - two lovely friends from work. It had honestly felt at this point that it had been winter for 6 months and we were keen to be on the coast and in the sun. The three of us spent a few nights in St. Elm which is a quiet and less-touristy town of Majorca. We had a very relaxing time in the warm sun with beautiful sunsets and fresh seafood. Next up we headed to Palma and did a bit of exploring and beaching there.
View from our apartment in St. Elm

View from our apartment in St. Elm

Sunset views from our apartment in St. Elm

Sunset views from our apartment in St. Elm

Cool_bike_..ly_in_Palma.jpgThe Cathedral of Santa Maria in Palma

The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Palma

In May we hit a little string of long weekends in Germany and we made the most of them - visiting beautiful cities in Slovenia and Spain within a 3 week period.

First up we visited Lublijana, the capital city of Slovenia. Despite being a quite small city (it takes less than 15 minutes to walk from the city centre to anywhere else in the city) there was quite a lot to see and experience. The two of us enjoyed exploring the city and drinking craft beer.
Ljublijana also has quite an artist scene with many locals selling their handmade wares in pokey little shops and at markets. The two of us really enjoyed peeping on people painting/drawing around the city too.
Just across the river from the Old Town in Ljublijana lies Metelkova - which is a main place for Ljublijana's alternative and cultural scene. Metelkova is actually an abandoned barracks and is considered to be one of Europe's largest squats at some 12 500 square metres. Impressively enough, from what we have been able to gather, this squat holds over 1000 events every year catering to a wide range of groups including; theatre performances, disability workshops and music concerts. Walking into Metelkova is really interesting, the walls are all covered - in graffiti, cracked tile mosaics, painted picture frames, rusty metal and sculptures. To us it didn't really look like a squat at all.
Slovenia is known as a outdoor-lovers paradise and we didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to get out and do some hiking. Our first thought was to go to Lake Bled but after chatting with a Slovenian hiker at our hostel we decided to go past Bled to Lake Bohinj. This lake is incredible and is also Slovenia's largest glacial lake at 4.2km long, 1km wide and 45 metres deep.

Barcelona was the second city we went to and it was great. There is certainly a lot more to discover and soak in from this wonderful city and we are keen to travel back there at some point soon. It was really balmy while we were visiting but luckily our little hostel had given us a list of places to try sangria that were scattered around the city - so whenever we got too hot or needed a break we were never very far from a recommended jug of refreshing goodness.
One of the many times we had sangria in Barcelona

One of the many times we had sangria in Barcelona

Barcelona is rightfully proud of its famous architect Antoni Gaudi and we made a point of seeing a couple of his works while we were there. The Sagrada Familia is a very famous cathedral which we only saw from the outside due to time restrictions but both of us particularly enjoyed visiting one of his other projects - Casa Batllo - an apartment block turned museum. The place is also known by locals as the "Casa del Drac" (house of the dragon) and when you look at the outside you can see why. The museum itself is amazing with many things alluding to Mother Nature including sky-lights representing turtles, a fireplace shaped like a mushroom as well as wave shaped windows and balconies.
We visited the massive Boqueria Market which had amazing fresh produce, meals and smoothies. Neither of us had been to a food market quite like this one and we went back for a second visit.

In early August, during some of her hard-earned long-service leave, Olga again travelled to Europe. It was lovely to have her with us once more in Frankfurt and we also enjoyed taking her on a road-trip to Berlin. In the nation’s capital we had a great time showing Olga a few of our favourite cafes, restaurants and historical sites. After two short weeks with us in Germany Olga set forth to visit Josh’s sister Kate, who had recently set up home in Inverness, Scotland.
We have just finished two beautiful sunny weeks in Portugal. First up we spent 6 days in the beachy town of Lagos, which is an old city in the south of Portugal and part of the Algarve.

We had lots of fun getting out and being active in Lagos. We loved being on sandy beaches for the first time in over a year and a half, cliff hikes along the stunning coast while eating wild figs, as well as exploring the same cliffs and grottos from a different perspective - in a sea kayak. There were a few hazy days while we were visiting but when the sun snuck out the water was beautiful to look at (and even more so to swim in).
IMG_2109.jpgView while on a cliff hike along the Algarve

View while on a cliff hike along the Algarve

Josh snacking on figs that we picked while on a cliff hike

Josh snacking on figs that we picked while on a cliff hike

Little pokey beaches just out of Lagos

Little pokey beaches just out of Lagos

Sand, summer and cider

Sand, summer and cider

The two of us also took the opportunity to explore the most western part of Europe by hiking along the South-West coast - the biggest highlight of our time in Portugal. The raw beauty and power of Mother Nature was amazing to experience. We loved trekking along the 150m high shale cliffs, feeling the strong gusts of wind and having to put in some good old fashioned work to climb/scramble our way to some great spots to soak it all in.
Can you spot us perched on the shale cliff?

Can you spot us perched on the shale cliff?

When we weren't making the most of being back in the coast we ate and drank our way through Lagos. The fruit was gorgeous, the sangria tasty and the fish fresh from the ocean! We were a little late thinking about trying to find Portuguese tarts but more than made up for it :)
IMG_2167.jpgEating and drinking our way through Lagos

Eating and drinking our way through Lagos

Summer sangria

Summer sangria

Next up we hopped on a bus to Lisbon. We were only there for a short stop (some 20 hours) but we made the most of it. Lisbon has really cute little trams that run through the city and we saw quite a few as we explored the tiny cobbled streets of the Old Town.
Josh out cold on the bus to Lisbon

Josh out cold on the bus to Lisbon

Taking time to un-wine-d after walking around Lisbon

Taking time to un-wine-d after walking around Lisbon

In addition to the trams, the city has quite a collection on Tuk-Tuks and so we flagged down one and it "tuk" (sorry) us to the highest viewpoint of Lisbon so we could watch the sunset. Although it was cloudy the view was quite special because we could see the north, west and east of the city. Josh in a tuk-tuk!

Josh in a tuk-tuk!

Before heading to the bus depot the next day we ensured that we made one very important stop after breakfast. After doing some research and talking to a local we tracked down what she said were "the best Portugese tarts in Lisbon". The tarts themselves can be found everywhere in the city but we were excited to sample the best Lisbon had to offer. Manteigaria is a narrow and long establishment that focuses pretty much solely on creating these stunning custard tarts which taste heavenly. There are no places to sit, but rather customers stand along a thin bench that runs the length of the cafe - which is great because you can see the chefs through the glass walls of the kitchen crafting the tarts of all our dreams ;). The two of us greedily ate two (each) with cinnamon sprinkled on top (it's a delicious Portugese thing to try) and then took 6 more takeaway (yes a grand total of 10 tarts purchased in one go - at only 1 euro each and tasting so good you would have too). Unfortunately we didn't take any photos for you - we were too wrapped up in it all.

After the quick stop in Lisbon we travelled further north to Baleal to start a surf camp. The camp comprised of 2x2hr surfing lessons a day and we were part of a group with 6 other great people from all over Europe. Both of us improved as the days progressed and by the end of the week we were carving up the waves almost like pro's (see the pics below to get an idea). We even managed to refrain from comments like 'cowabunga' and 'hang ten dude'.
Well we bet you can't believe it - you are finally up to date with our travels! Hope you have enjoyed reading about our last 11 months - here's hoping that it doesn't take this long next time.

Sending lots of love from the Eurozone

Posted by julesandjosh 10:52 Tagged barcelona cappadocia turkey istanbul rome lisbon lagos portugal majorca pamukkale ljublijana baleal Comments (0)

Cycling adventures, a move to Frankfurt & more travelling

We are the worst bloggers in the world - its been 10months!

Well it has been a good 10 months since our last update - whoops! We are officially terrible bloggers! We are going to catch you up in instalments, (or that is the plan anyway) This next post will take nearly all the way through October (*cringe*).

When we left you we had just spent a month studying German in Berlin and were looking for jobs. Since then there have been visits from friends and family from back home, cycling adventures, more German study, 2 job acceptances, a beautiful holiday to Croatia, a move to Frankfurt, and a mini-break to London.

First things first- after finishing up at our language school we went looking for bicycles to get around the city. As we weren't sure if we would be staying in Berlin we decided to investigate rental options. Consequently we met a new Berliner friend Patryk, in a bicycle store when trying to decide on second hand bikes. It turned out the Patryk had his own "private fleet" of better bicycles that he could offer us at a cheaper rate, which we thought was wheely spoke-tacular!

In May our beautiful friends Annie and Adam came to Berlin as part of their European holiday. It was so lovely to see good friends from home for the first time in months. Another positive thing that came out of this is that we both took to time out of our study-slash-job-applying bubble to explore Berlin with fresh eyes and enjoy more of what it has to offer, including the Berlin Wall, Templehofer Feld (a closed airport turned public park), an abandoned theme park used in the 2012 movie 'Hanna' and a crazy 30 odd kilometre ride from Berlin to Potsdam with fantastic company.

Not long after that our friends Anne and Graham came to Berlin for a few days which was pretty special. We had a few coffee dates and even drank champagne to celebrate Juli's new job in Frankfurt!
Before leaving Berlin to start fresh in Frankfurt we had a beautiful holiday in Croatia booked with a dear friend Megan. Josh has for years reaped the benefits of having the same birthday as Megan (who works in events and thus throws fantastic parties). Not wanting to break the tradition the three of us decided to celebrate together in Croatia. Before meeting Megan in Hvar we headed up north to see the world heritage site Plitvice Lakes. The photos really do speak for themselves, needless to say apart from the crowds it was an amazing experience.

Next, we travelled to Split to meet Megan and then caught a ferry to Hvar. We were so excited at the prospect of going to the beach in summer (a luxury we struggled doing without in Europe until this point) and Hvar didn't disappoint - we certainly spent our fair share of time on lounges, drinking cocktails by the beautiful water (a new and wonderful experience). The three of us did balance this "tough lifestyle" with some more active things including sea kayaking around some of the smaller islands near Hvar.
After a beautiful week in Croatia we packed up our bags in Berlin and hired a car to drive to Frankfurt. We may have made a teeny mistake of plugging in "no tolls" on the SatNav which actually kept us off all highways, turning a 3.5-4hr journey into about 9hours. Germany has some lovely little towns and farming land, we are pretty sure we saw most of it!

Juli started at an International Baccalaureate school (Metropolitan School Frankfurt) teaching grade 3 in August. There are students and staff from all over the world which is really exciting and we all love to travel - making the most of long weekends and holidays. Pretty early on in the school year a group of 6 of us casually road tripped to Brussels for a long weekend. We definitely ate too many waffles, drank our fair share of beer and followed the cutest marching band through the city. #EuropeanLife
We took the opportunity to get away on a 'mini-break' to London in October where Juli got over-excited at the prospect of taking Vegemite back to Frankfurt.
London was as easy to live in and as expensive as we had imagined. We found lovely little cafes, saw an amazing poppy installation at the Tower of London in preparation for Remembrance Day and absolutely loved the Borough Market - with its tasty food and oversized pumpkins. IMG_5093.jpgIMG_5081.jpgIMG_5083.jpg

Certainly a highlight of the trip was going to see The Lion King and Book of Mormon musicals - they were so incredibly different and amazing.

If all goes well, you will hear again from us in a week - where we will update you on a trip around Turkey, a snowboarding getaway and an amazing Christmas break with our families.

Love J-Team

Posted by julesandjosh 15:21 Archived in Germany Tagged london berlin croatia frankfurt plitvice_lakes musicals Comments (0)

Dresden, Nuremberg and Berlin

East side

When we last left you we had just started exploring the east side of Germany and were in Dresden. Incase you haven't heard of the city, it claims to have invented the tea bag, toothpaste, the wonder bra, the beer coaster and milk chocolate (before the Swiss)! The city also boasts the biggest fleet of steam boats and has the 2nd longest tram in the world (45metres long) - but we didn't get to see it! Before we go on to tell you about our time here we are going to give you a quick summary of what has shaped Dresden into the city it is today.

On February 13 1945 Allied Forces bombed 60% of Dresden to ruins, killing 25 000 people. After the war Dresden became part of East Germany (or the GDR) and was lead by a communist government. In 1989 when the wall fell, Dresden was able to start anew. It's people painted bright colours over its grey history and many of the ruins left from after the war were rebuilt to look old again.

We decided to stay a little further out from the city this time in the 'Outer Neustadt' (translating into 'outer new city'). It was really cool walking to our accommodation (which we soon learnt was 70s themed which made Dresden even cooler) as we got to walk through the Alaunplatz, this park is a real melting pot; it is an extensive public garden cross green space and has lots of different people hanging out at any particular time. There would have been well over 100 people enjoying the mild spring weather picnicking, throwing frisbees and playing badminton. The walk through the park gave us a good feeling for what we could expect in Dresden. Outer Neustadt (where the park is and where we were staying) had bars next to second-hand shops next to record stores next to cafés next to jazz bars and had a pretty young alternative crowd- which was really cool. This area of Dresden was less bombed during the war and so funnily enough many of the buildings in the Neustadt are actually older than most in the Altstadt (Old city).

Our four days in Dresden went really quickly. Our first day was pretty lazy staying in the immediate area in the Kunsthofpassage which is a series of artsy backyards with cute cafés, takeaway tea and pokey shops to do with art (e.g. a shop devoted to felting). Most of the houses and backyards in this area were rundown and grey during the time of the GDR but after the wall fell the residents and landlords let their imaginations soar resulting in the magical place of the Kunsthofpassage (Art passage). We hope you like the pictures!
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We also spent one day walking around the city and like some of the other cities we have visited, Dresden is split into two sections by a river. The Elbe River separates the Altstadt from the Newstadt and so it was quite lovely to walk into the city from an older part of town. Just before crossing the Elbe we couldn't help but stop at an oversized golden statue of 'August the Strong'. The 'Golden Rider' statue is Dresden's way of thanking August for their huge variety of baroque buildings (he was also the king of Poland)! From here we crossed the Elbe, stopping to look at all the people below us cycling along the river on old bikes and eating ice cream (just generally we have seen Europeans eating ice cream even in alpine areas even though it has been so cold!).

On our way to lunch we stopped by the Fürstenzug which is the biggest tile picture in the world. The work consists of 23,000 tiles which have been individually painted (so its not a mosaic) to show Saxonian Kings and other important people between 1127 and 1904 (considering the dates I'm sure it will come as no surprise there is only one female in the whole work). We then visited a microcafé called Kunzmann's for lunch which is super mini with just 19 seats on two floors! After that we walked around the city, noting the archeological dig in the city centre and walked along the Brühlsche Terrasse which is built along an old renaissance fort and took some daggy pictures.
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We decided to take advantage of a 22 degree day and go on a hike to the Bastei Bridge in the National Park Sächsische Schweiz ('Saxon Swizerland') which was really beautiful. We met a beautiful couple who had hiked to the Bastei Bridge 50 years earlier and were back for a 50th anniversary (have included a photo of them too). Super cool to see some extreme rock-climbers in the National Park too.
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Next stop was Nuremberg, in the southern region of Barvaria. You may recall Nuremberg as the city famous for holding the international war trials of the Nazis. We visited Courtroom 600 where the main war criminals were tried on a unique legal basis agreed upon by the allied governments. These trials lasted for 218 days and were important because it was the first time in world history that criminals who were heads of state were convicted in a fair trial in the eyes of the world. Below you can see a photo of Courtroom 600 as it is today

We explored the very pretty city and walked up to the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). This castle is a symbol of Nuremberg and is one of the most important palaces of the Middle Ages. Below you can see some photos of the watch tower and the courtyard around the Kaiserburg (including one of the sooky-est dogs we have ever met) as well as photos of the city.
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We did find it difficult to find a good coffee in Nuremberg and when times got tough went into Nespresso as prospective customers to "sample" the goods. We also spent some time figuring out our next steps and decided to enrol in a German language school back in Berlin.

We decided that after 3 months of travelling it was time to get a little more serious about learning the language. We stopped back in Leipzig for a few days of study before heading back into Berlin for our entrance exams. We settled back into student life pretty quickly and had a great group of people in our class from all over the wold. We had dinner together once a week and at any given time there are usually 3 different languages being spoken across the table - something that neither of us had experienced before.

We have studied in Berlin for a month now and our German has improved a lot. It seems to be the case however that the more you learn the more you realise you still need to know. Learning a new language certainly has it's challenges, perhaps because we have not learnt another language before but the things to think about when speaking and writing German can be a little overwhelming. There are so many rules and things to learn including: structure and cases within sentences, noun genders and articles, verb conjugations, adjective declinations as well as tense to think about.

Having finished our intensive study we are now in the full swing of job searching- let the fun begin

Posted by julesandjosh 08:39 Archived in Germany Tagged dresden berlin nuremberg Comments (0)

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