luckykaa: (Travel)
The sun was shining. And there was a demo of the Ubisoft VR game at Blackpool's Star Trek Exhibition. I trip to Blackpool was on the cards.

First stop was the Star Trek Exhibition. Mostly this is a collection of props, and some history of the show. There are a few interactive exhibits, including a thing where you can record a video of yourself beaming down. Also the bridge section where you can put on a Star Trek shirt and get photos.

This weekend, Ubisoft was promoting their Star Trek VR game on the bridge. We had a go. [personal profile] flickums  was captaining. It was a little difficult to work out what was going on. There were people there to demo it, but since we had headphones on, it wasn't easy to work out what they were saying. VR takes a little getting used to. Having someone else's body there is a little disconcerting.

So, we flew around a bit, beamed some people up, found another spaceship, rescued the survivors, and then destroyed it (we were meant to do this - we had orders). Sadly, we were a bit too close to the other ship, and our shields were down, so we almost destroyed our own ship. Oops. We decided to bail while the ship was on fire.

Had lunch at a pirate themed restaurant.

Next stop was Blackpool Tower. This starts with the "4D experience", which is basically a 3D movie, with random water sprayed at you at various intervals, and puffs of air from behind you. After that, you're allowed up in the lift. They have windows so you can see blackpool. Poor Flickums found this a little scary. At top they have glass floors. Flickums found this absolutely terrifying, but showed how brave she can be, by stepping on the glass. The tower has several levels so we went up to the top to see the view from there.

Had tea at the base of the tower. Went to the sea. Went for a paddle. There seemed to be some jellyfish in the sea.

Also this weekend was a car show. Some gorgeous cars, including a couple of AC Cobras. And some vintage cars like the Austin 6s. Took lots of photos.

We also took a ride on the heritage tram. Apparently Blackpool has a selection that they wheel out at the weekends. This time we had an open-top boat shaped tram that sails up and down the coast -  This took us to the pleasure beach. The big fairground at one end of Blackpool. Not really enough time to go in, so we went back and tried the pier instead. Flickums bought me an ice cream!

And that was Blackpool. Lots of fun. Plenty more to do if we want to go again. We probably should do.
luckykaa: (Travel)
One of the things I miss about being a  contractor is having vast amounts of cash roll in every week. There are quite a few things I'd like to do this year. But I do have to budget for it. I also need to budget holiday time. Not sure what I should pick. I already have a few days in a cabin in the Lake District - this was a gift from my parents via BuyAGift.com. This is bought and paid for. Should be fun.

I want to visit a country I've never been to before. The choice I have to make is whether to do this by going to worldcon Worldcon, or a birthday holiday.

Worldcon

I was a supporter of the bid. I do have supporting mebership already. I would quite like to visit Finland. Lots of friends will no doubt be there, and I want to encourage non-US cons. The downside is [livejournal.com profile] flickums isn't particularly keen. We're not joined at the hip, and she has no problem with me going on my own, but I would like to go away somewhere together.

Birthday

Birthday Holiday - Previously if I've been to a Worldcon, it was the same weekend as my birthday. Sadly not this year. I like to go away on my birthday. Since 2006, I've only spent 2 birthdays in England. Granted, a couple of those I didn't really do anything, but this time I'll have a flickums!

I actually have no idea where I want to go for my birthday. Rome sounds nice. So does Venice. Perhaps I'd like somewhere a little quieter and more out of the way though. Also would like a beach! Essentially i want somewhere as awesome as Dubrovnik was... That said, I have a pending demand to visit a friend in Canada and I would like to visit.  Of course if I do Worldcon, I always have the option for a weekend trip somewhere nearby. Maybe a long weekend in the Azores or Madeira, or even just a weekend in Paris or Dublin. I'd really like to go to Grenada or St. Lucia, or maybe Nassau - somewhere in the Caribbean with a decent chunk of history. If it really appeals I can find a ship and become a pirate!

Other Conventions

Am sort of keen on Clone Club... Downside is I do have certain issues with Starfury. But I would love to spend a weekend geeking with other Orphan Black people, and all the Starfury muppets I know. Also there's Vampire Ball which has always been a lot of fun.

Can't do all of these. I need to pick and choose.
luckykaa: (Travel)
Another trip to Belgium. Bit of a short trip because we're a little light on reamaining holidays.

So, I felt I should wait in the First Class lounge at Macnhester and take advantage of the snacks. Then when I got on the train, I realised I didn't actually have a first class ticket. Will have to try that more often... Penedelino pendelinoed me to Euston, and walked to St Pancras. Found myself arriving far too early. Did see an odd altercation where a policeman told a woman "I wouldn't do that", followed by the woman apparently doing whatever "that" was.

[livejournal.com profile] flickums arrived with plenty of time to spare, so we got a burger. I accidentally ordered off-menu. Apparently a bacon Whopper doesn't exist. Well, all I can say is, it does now!

It was finally time to go to the Eurostar terminal and so we went. Train whisked us to Brussels, while Flickums revised her highway code. We arrived late, walked to the hotel, because it was only walking distance away. Checked in. Discovered the hotel was rather nice, and collapsed in bed.

Saturday

I wanted to go to Leuven because it's a bit different. So, after breakfast (included in price) we caught the train, and zipped to the next town along. It was Saturday so it was market day. Lots of junk, and a few stalls selling worthwhile stuff. Bought a Christmas present for my dad. We then found the Christmas market... Found a present for my mum. Found a pancake stall. Flickums bought be a glühwein but I didn't ike it. Then she felt terrible guilty so bought me a hot fruity drink that was nicer, but got fleeced with her change.

The reason I actually wanted to go was that it's a more traditional town than Brussels, with a nice university vibe, and there's the beguinage (Or the Groot Begijnhof since we're in Flanders). These days it's student accomodation, but the beguinage was a place that housed beguins - women who live in a religious commune but don't take the vows that nuns do. This particular one is a UNESCO world heritage site. I think it's worth looking at.

I learned that they light candles at 5pm, but it was nowhere near close to that time and there was nowhere near enough to do in little Leuven to occupy us until then, so we returned to Brussels, and looked around the St. Catherine Christmas market. Little Canada was still there. Flickums was still feeling guilty about buying me inadequate glühwein, and bought me another hot beverage - Canadian style. Which I accepted warmly. I bought some beer. One of them had a bar wench on the label, and I was strrongly encouraged to buy that. Flickums wanted to go to "Choco Nads" because she has a muture sophisticated sense of humour like that, and they sell nice chocolates. I wanted to go to the Delrium village for a beer. Delirium Christmas was nice and warming.

We went for dinner at the Cheescake Cafe, because it's a cafe that does cheesecake. More of a large restaurant than a cafe, to be fair. I had beer and steak, followed by a hot fudge sundae. Flickums had omelette and "pop" of some sort, and cheeesecake. Were knackered by this point so returned to the hotel for essential snuggles.

Sunday


Had breakfast because we could.

I was planning to do the Brussels market today but we'd done that yesterday. Still, we went back for remaining purchases. Flickums was still feeling guilty about the glühwein, so bought me another. This one was actually really good. Had an edgy flavour, and genuine bits of lemon. Also tasted spicier as I got to the bottom. Very good. Flickums bought a goth Alice picture, and a Cinderella picture. We shared a fondue roll type thing. Then it was a matter of killing time until it was time to get the train. Stopped in various geeky shops. Belgium does have its comic tradition... Went back to Delerium cafe for more beer. Wish I knew what it was. Decided to walk up to the park and palace. Then checked tickets before we got there, and realised that I'd got mixed up over time, so it was probably a good idea to return to the station.

They've rearranged the Eurostar terminal! Apparently they're refurbishing, which is fine, but it does mean there are annoying queues and I had sore feet. Still, we got there with plenty of time to spare. Sat on the train and zipped home.

It was a shame we only had a day and a half to spend this year. We did do everything we wanted (I drank beer, fickums bought chocolates and had cheesecake) so it's not terrible, but I'd have liked to have been able to watch the parade. Maybe next year.

Flying home

Sep. 4th, 2016 11:32 pm
luckykaa: (Wolf)
So, we slept, not very well. I apparently slept better than [livejournal.com profile] flickums who was kept up by inconsiderate guests and an inconsiderate boyfriend snoring in her ear.

Struggled out of bed at 6am. Checked out. Drove to airport. Dropped off car. A person came to check it was okay, and we gave him the key. Either he worked for Europcar or he's a con artist there to steal cars.

Checked in. Found out that we couldn't have seats next to each other. Was angry at myself about that. Should have done online check-in the night before.

So now we're back.

Feel I could have dne this holiday better. I made a bad choice with the hotel. Grotty. Rubbish breakfast. No parking at the hotel. Pool closes annoyingly early. Tripadvisor seems to have mixed reviews. Also the heat was difficult to deal with, and the country was quite scruffy in general.

Hiring a car was a good choicem and despite the crappiness of the Peugeot 107, it does the job, is extremely fuel efficient, and fits into small parking spaces. Would have been a problem if there were more than 2 of us since there's no boot space (My MG has a bigger boot even with an engine taking up most of the space in the back), and really no leg room for rear passengers. Beaches were really nice.

Would have liked to have had more time to see Valetta and some of the Roman sites. Also more time swimming in the sea.

Not sure if St. Juilans was a good place or not. On one hand it's a bit too much of a party district, on the other hand, it was nice to go to the Hookah bar on my birthday and there are a lot of useful shops.

Still, I enjoyed doing the tourist stuff. And swimming in Ramla Bay. And the food was good. I like walled cities and ancient archaological sites. Gozo is a lovely place. Especially that bay. The ferry ride was fun. It was nice to get away from England for a bit. I liked the Game of Thrones tour. Prices were pretty reasonable most of the time.

It was a nice holiday. On the whole I enjoyed it. Just think it could have been better. I think I was spoiled by Dubrovnik.
luckykaa: (Wolf)
Have arrived back in Britain, and done the epic drive to Manchester, so I have a few minutes to update.

Final day of holiday. We went to the Game Of Thrones tour. We were told to look for a silver van with "Peppin" written on it. We saw a van matching that description and it went right past us. Turns out a lot of vans match that description.But the right silver van with Peppin arrived, and we started the tour. First of all the minibus bounced around the island's bumpy roads to pick everyone else up. Then we were taken to the first site. Our guide Malcolm seems to have done all sorts of odd jobs on various films, doing minor bits of acting, horse riding, set direction, stunts, looking after the cast and so on. Much like in Dubrovnik, he had screengrabs from the show so we could compare. Also talked a bit about how the makeup is done and how they covered up things that needed to be covered up.

Seems most of Kings Landing was San Anton palace and gardens. Was probably a lot less hassle than Dubrovnik, since it isn't a busy tourist site, and all the useful locations are pretty much in the same place. Next stop, we went to Mdina again. Our guide pointed out some of the historical locations. I foundit interesting. Poor [livejournal.com profile] flickums wasn't dealing well with the heat. And one of the locations was completely outside of the shade. Turns out that the reason for all the scots is that there's a Scotland Malta match on.

Next stop was down an even more bouncy road to where the Dothraki scenes were shot. Turns out that the desert plans were actually CGI'd in place of the sea. Also turns out that the scene with thousands of Dothraki was shot by that old trick of sending horses round in a loop, so as soon as they're off camera, they gallop back to the back of the line and circle round.

Tour ended at a point overlooking Popeye Village - the actual set from the Robin Williams movie.

Returned to the hotel and jumped in the pool. Flickums was a lot happier after shedding heat, and this time we weren't thrown out early. No idea what the deal was the previous night. Went into town and saw even more Scottish footy fans. Had food, cocktails, and an ice cream from the make your own ice cream place. I made a point of adding a Maltese Malteser. Since they were priced by weight, that Malteser pushed the price to €5.03, but fortunately we were lett off the odd 3 cents.

Returned to hotel and went to bed because we needed to get up early for the flight.
luckykaa: (Wolf)

[livejournal.com profile] flickums bought me dinner.  Cake didn't have a candle in it though.

Wandered through the party district, and Flickums coerced me into trying a hookah. Something I've never tried before. We went for vanilla flavour, and had a Tequila Sunrise to go with it. Thus making that song stick in my head.

Flickums was wearing her long skirt, bodice and shawl, and looked every bit the madame of an opium den. The sort of high class establishment our adventurers go to for their leads.

The party district is not really my sort of area but a great place for people watching. Quite a few Scottish people. Not sure why.

Finished the evening drinking Pina Coladas, but it wasn't raining so that song doesn't really fit here. So Eagles still stuck in my head.

luckykaa: (Wolf)

40th birthday celebration started with [livejournal.com profile] flickums waking me up and letting me open presents. I now have all of Futurama to rewatch, Mysterious Cities Of Gold season 2 to watch  and 2 new extra geeky t-shirts.

Set off back to Mdina to see the catacombs, the WW2 shelters and St Paul's grotto. Perhaps we should have paid extra for the audio tour since there wasn't much context. But it seems St Paul preached from here after being shipwrecked on Malta. Catacombs are a maze of passages which may have been also been used as bomb shelters. Will have to look into the details.

Flickums bought me a White Chocolate Magnum.

Also visited Valetta. This is the serious tourist centre of the island. Loads of tourist tat shops, restaurants, ice cream shops. Flickums bought me a yoghurt ice cream.  There's also the regular selection of regular high street stores. Found a cafe advertising local craft beers and enjoyed a Blue Lagoon brewed in Gozo.

Heat was getting to us so we headed back to the car.  Flickums bought me a caramel Magnum on the way.

Returned to the hotel to chill in the pool. Turfed out at just after 6 though. Was told it closed at 7.

Still, not to worry.  Flickums is taking me to dinner.

Update: Flickums took me to dinner. I had pork chops.  They were yummy!

luckykaa: (Wolf)

Tasty tasty food at a restaurant that seemed to close at 7pm. Didn't want to go straight back to the hotel, so went for a wander. We meet a nice horsey and his owner persuaded us that we should go on a horse drawn tour. Quite good fun, and both horse and owner were friendly. Learned about a few things we missed.

There was enough time to do a bit more exploring, so we tried to find a secluded bay mentioned by the guidebook. After bouncing down lots of increasingly narrow roads, Holly the evil SatNav decided to take me through an obviously closed road. Decided to rage quit at that point.

Now at the hotel bar drinking local beers, and bemoaning the fact that I only have a few more hours of being in my 30's.

In other news; The discovery of the rear doors on the car was quite a revelation.

Mdina.

Sep. 1st, 2016 07:01 pm
luckykaa: (Wolf)


Had a morning chilling in the pool and hot tub before heading out to sightsee.

Visiting Another walled city.  This one on the mainland. Mdina - Pronounced Em-dina or possibly Mmm-dina rather than Madina.

Started with a tour on one of those little trains. [livejournal.com profile] flickums was disappointed it wasn't a real train. We  were bounced along Malta's dishevelled roads as a recorded voice pointed out the things to look at. Gave a nice overview of what we want to look at later. Also showed that the city itself was just behind us.

It's a nice city to explore. Lots of narrow streets and passageways, apparently to thwart knights and archers.

Had a look at St Paul's cathedral. Were about to pay for tickets to get in (Flick was, I'm less willing to pay just for a church) but apparently entry was free two minutes later so we waited.

Thought we should see something else before everything closes so bought tickets for the audio - visual tours. We bought the triple ticket, in part because I was a bit confused about what we were buying.

First shiw was in another buikding, so we started off with an escort mission where we followed someone to the first venue. The show was a series of static displays about knights. Each segment  has an audio description. Then the tour abruptly ended.

Second escort mission took us to a display of life in Malta in historic times. No audio stuff here. Just signs explaining stuff. Seemed to end before it really started.

Finally it was "The Mdina Experience - audio visual spectacular", or "Movie"... still, it was an interesting documentary, and well worth the money to sit down in an air conditioned room

Found a lovely place for foods. They had wifi I had  delicious steak, Flickums had a burger and we ended with chocolate mousse.

luckykaa: (Wolf)

Gozo is a lovely little island just next to Malta. Much less densely populated, and full of exciting places to visit. We drove there, found the ferry, and just missed the boat. Still, they run every 45 minutes so not a massive wait. Got a bit lost getting back to the car and got shouted at by ferry crew.

Started to follow the driving tour reminded by Lonely Planet. Got lost. Found Xewkija, with its massive church visible from most of the island. Got a bit lost trying to find somewhat to park.but eventually found what we were looking for. Sure is big. There's a lift up to the top, for views of the island. Got back on the road tour, and went to Nadur. Everywhere was surprisingly shut.

Flicking through the guidebook, I saw mention of the Ggantija Temples. Seemed just the place to summon an Eldritch horror. If we could find the damn place. Signs pointed in the general direction, and then stopped. But we did find the place. Nice visitor centre with air con, and the temple itself, is showing its age a little, 5000 years does that to a place. Still, certainly possible to see how it was laid out, and signs explain what we're looking at.

I think by this point we'd abandoned the tour. Decided to head straight to the beach. Ramla Bay is one of the best beaches I've been on. Golden sand, warm water. Not horribly crowded.

Realised we hadn't seen the walled city in Victoria. Also needed to eat. As luck would have it, there is a restaurant in the walled city. So we found somewhere to park, and climbed up the hill to the city. There was a lot of climbing, on account of fortresses generally being designed to keep people out, rather than initially as tourist attractions. Still, we climbed up, and then up the steps to the restaurant. And finally arrived. Where we were directed up another flight of stairs, and a narrow winding staircase to the terrace. There was a lot of climbing. Very small selection, but a couple of Maltese items. I had rabbit. [livejournal.com profile] flickums had goat.

Covered, we struggled back to the car, got lost trying to escape Victoria, but made it to the Getty terminal despite Holly's frequent attempts to send us the wrong way down 1 way roads. Meet a cute doggy on the ferry.

So that was a pretty complete day. Have done all the things I felt I had to do on this holiday already.

luckykaa: (Wolf)

We have arrived in Malta.

Hired a car. Helpful man showed us how to get the seat down because a Peugeot 106 has less boot space than Thunderbird. Couldn't work out how to slide seats forward to access back seats.
Holly the evil SatNav took us to the hotel. We found Malta's only free parking space, and checked in. Then went on a food hunt. Found a place with a nice selection of food and cocktails, after taking a slightly odd route into the restaurant part of town. Took a more direct route back.

First impressions; St. Julians seems to have a lot of strip clubs. Hotel room is a bit grotty, but the bed is nice and big. We seem to be next to Little Scotland.

Went up to the pool. It was shut. Opening times are a bit short. Not the best hotel. Nice weather though, and it is a bustling part of town even aside from strip clubs.

luckykaa: (Travel)
Still had a few more hours on the Salzburg card, so we had a look at the Toy museum. It's pretty good, even if it is aimed more at kids than big kids. At first it seemed a bit disappointing since there were three rooms, but then there were another 2 floors that we almost missed. It's very interactive. There's a marble run and a room for constriuction toys. Upstairs are a bunch of more static exhibits, including the He-Man exhibit, which was there to mock us for being old enough to remember. Apparently the slot car racing runs from 3pm to 4pm, but we didn't wait around for that. The top floor has a lot of model railway stuff. Press button to make train go. Quite a nice layout.

After that we went to the science and natural history museum. Lots of hands on stuff. These things are fun, but I do wonder if kids actually learn anything from them. Flickums braved the reptile house, fearing they may have sneaked some spiders in there but it was mostly snakes and actual reptiles.

Finished the day by heading to the palce that does vintage photos. I was the King of Austria, and [livejournal.com profile] flickums was my lady. I was possibly a bit too smiley for a serious royal, but I'm a naturally smiley person.Olde worlde photoe undere ye cut )
So, time up, we strolled back to the hotel, got a taxi to the airport, and took turns being stressed out an anxious. Me because Salzburg airport was small and crowded; flickums because of scare-o-planes. Still, we found a nice place to sit and at least we had spare space on the plane.

Plane took off. Plane landed. Am only slightly bruised by flick grabbing me.
luckykaa: (Wolf)

Finished the day going to the Augustiner braüstübl. A brewery and collection of beer halls.

Was a little bemused at first because the entrance looked like the entrance to an apartment building, but heading down the stairs we heard the bustle of people.

We found a tale and I tried to figure out how to buy beer. It's a bit of an odd setup. Collect mug. Pay for beer. Acquire receipt. Exchange receipts for beer. There were two beers listed but I only worked out how to buy one of them.

Food was a little simpler. A series of stalls in one of the rooms. There didn't seem to be a lot of option for a complete meal though.

Decided to buy some souvenir mugs. And some souvenir beer. The mug purchasing system was similar to the beer purchasing system, but the bottled beer purchasing system was the simple prices of exchange money for crate of 6 beers.

Happy with my purchase, we returned home.

luckykaa: (Wolf)
...And I'm going to climb it with strength not of my own.

Instead I'll use the cable car.

The Untersberg cable car costs almost as much as the 24 hour Salzburg card, and the salzburg card gives 24 hours free public transport, plus a morning of visiting other places for free. So buying the card seemed a good choice. So we caught the bus to the mountain. I was worried that I wouldn't know which stop it was but it turned out it was the last one, so that made it easier. We got into the cable car. Quite a journey. Not been on such a long cable car ride before.

At the upper cable car station there are signs on the wall describing the place. Apparently Emperor Frederick Barbossa is asleep in the mountain. The mountain is also notable for being used at the start and end of the sound of music. It's no surprise Maria was late back though since they filmed from the German side. Also - the mountain is nowhere near Switzerland so not a good escape route.

Trudged up the slippery slope and there's a nice little cafe where I ordered a gluhwien and soup, and flickums ordered ham and bread. We then swapped food halfway through because I already had a hot warming gluwein, and flick didn't seem to like her nibbles all that much (possibly because of the horsradish). I like horseradish so was happy to trade.

We then walked a little further up. There's a cross right t the top of a mounain and some fantastic views, so I made it all the way top thetop of the mountain! I played with the panoramic mode of my camera app. Flick threw snowballs at me. I threw some at her. They weren't good snowballs but it was fun. We strolled down and just missed the cable car. Fortunately there was one more. It ocurred to me that I hadn't paid attention to when the last car was.

Stopped on the way back to get photos of the correct Von Trapp house (the one used in the movie, not the real one, which is miles away). Took more photos. Now we need to find somewhere to eat.
luckykaa: (Travel)
It was [livejournal.com profile] flickums' birthday. So we got up and I gave Flickums her birthday presents and cards. The card had dinosaurs on it.

We'd already done the sound of music tourso this time we went on the Bavarian mountains and salt mine tour. And Crepes. Gotta have crepes! Then I bought myself a hat, which does make me look a bit like Where's Wally, but does keep my head warm.

The tour took us into Germany (Salzburg is right by the border) and into the mountains, where we saw Hitler's holiday resort. Then we were taken to the salt mines.

The tour started with us donning stylish and tasteful overalls. Then we got on the train and we were taken deep into the mountains. This took us to a wooden slide that allowed us into the mines. Flick was too scared to use the slide so she took the walkway instead. I think she missed out. So, the tour continued, with an audio guide that seemed a little out of sync with the actual tour, but gave us the information about what we were seeing or had just seen. There were UV lights that made the white lines on the overalls glow. Tour went to a salt filled lake. It was hard to tell it was a lake, the water was so still. They had a barge going across and a light show to keep us entertained. We then went down another slide. I nagged flickums to try this one. She was very brave and did so, so I promised her a reward.

We stopped at the gift shop and bought gifts, then the tour took us to a pretty litte tourist town called Bad something or other. I bought Flick a goat as a reward for her bravery. She called it Monty. We then had hot chocolate and drove back to Salzburg where we got stuck in traffic.

Finished the day with aother trip to the restaurant we went to on Sunday. Flick wanted to try the chocolate pudding.

I had fun. And I think flick enjoyed her birthday, which is what's important :)
luckykaa: (Robot)
Today I successfully woke up [livejournal.com profile] flickums. It was an easy going day so we strolled into town and went up in the lift to the modern art gallery. The gallery is at the top of the cliff that Salzburg juts against.

It is very nice up there. Away from the traffic and bustle of the city (although Salzburg is small so not too noisy or bustly). The old fortifications are up there and some nice paths to stroll along. Weather was chilly, but clear and sunny and this time we remembered our coats.

Had a peek inside the art gallery because we'd paid for it. I wouldn't say it really caused an emotional reaction, unless bemused counts as the reaction the pieces were trying to elicit. I guess I'm just a philistine who doesn't understand art. So we went out again and wandered around the clifftop. The sun set behind the mountain as we were up there and it suddenly got very cold. We got some lovely photos though.

Decided we'd had enough traditional Austro-bavarian megafood for a while so went for Italian. Still had an Austrian beer though. Can't have too much of that.
luckykaa: (Travel)

Took a while to got Flick out of bed. Apparently some jerk was keeping her awake by snoring. Ooops.

But I needed to get her out of bed because we were off to Munich for the Bavarian film studios. Had trouble working out the best ticket. €74 each seemed a little much. As it turned out there was a cheaper option; €30. Return. For both of us. Including Munich public transport. We had to get the slower train but since that was 1h 50 rather than 1h 30 it seemed worth the saving. And the train to Munich has a pretty view of the mountains and of picturesque Bavarian villages.

Since yesterday was so warm, I decided I'd just borrow a hoodie from [livejournal.com profile] flickums. By the time we got to the studios, it was sleeting and my coat was in another country. Still, we made it there. And we appeared to be in a fairly non-descript set of studio buildings. Was this even the right place? Eventually we found the entrance. Turns out that the tour is in German only. The English language tour is a summer only thing.

Worried that it might be a bit of a washout, we decided to sign up for the tour anyway. We'd come this far after all. As it turned out it was really good. Our guide - Michi was the guide for the Enlgish tour as well, so he spoke English and was kind enough to give us an English summary of what he said. The studios are used for a range of different show types, incuding the 24 hour shopping channel. So we saw part of that being filmed. More interesting was the set for some German soap opera (Sturm Der Liebe). The tour involved one of the guests being the receptionist reading from the autocue, and cutting between filmed footage I gather in reality, the filmed footage would also be recorded live.

Another section had a bunch of movie props from Big Game (a fairly obscure Finnish movie, but it did star Samual L Jackson), and I got a photo of myself in Air Force One. We also saw the set for Das Boot. A lot of it was fitting from a real German submarine. The director apparently was very keen on realism so tried to make the actors as miserable as possible.

Other fun interactive elements were me giving a weather forecast, and a film on a train set, with a moving scenery background (I was the moving background operator).

Finished the day meeting with a German friend of Flick's. Nice chap. A lead programmer with BMW. We swapped horror stories about big companies and bad projects. We went to a German beer hall and had beer (well, I did; Flick doesn't drink) and tasty steak in pepper sauce.

Caught a train home and arrived back at a sensible time.

luckykaa: (cortina)
I have the lonely goatherd song from the sound of music stuck in my head! Damn you Rogers and Hammerstein for your catchy songs!

It was a nice sunny day, we decided to do the Sound of Music tour today rather than the planned Flick's birthday thing. They have minivans with 7 passengers, but I expect they have a big bus during peak tourist season.

Our guide was a Spanish man named Antonio. So we drove around town, saw the lke that Maria and the children fell into, went to the gazebo where a 22 year old sang how she was 16, going on 17, took a photo of the wrong yellow house... We didn't get close enough to the Von Trapp house (and I'm not sure if it was the actual house or the movie prop) to get a good pic of that one. We did see some nice views of the Alps though. Not the Hil Maria twirled on, because that was miles away and in another country. Tour finished at Mondsee where we see the church where Maria was married.

Antonio was lovely. He was very talkative, and pointed out all the key locations for the sound of music as well as other sites of interest, including Doppler's birthplace, and took our photos, and stopped the one person who wasn't part of couple frm beinglonely.

Finished the day at a nice restaurant where they provided hefty Austrian luberjack sized protions of pork. Also two beers! Yum.
luckykaa: (Travel)
Plane left at the convenient time of just ater 4pm. Unfortunately, getting to Gatwick with plenty of leeway meant leaving early. And we arrived quite late. Weather was 'orrible. Still, hotel was dry and had bed in it. Also a bath, that [livejournal.com profile] flickums decided to take advantage of. Flick was still full after second breakfast at the airport, but I wasn't, so I had to hunt down food. Took a while finding somewhere that just did something snack-like but I was much hapier when I returned. I was a bit cold and wet though, and flick was enjoying lounging in her jim-jams in the warm.

Sunday morning - weather still grotty. Also mildly anxious about there being enough to do. We do have a couple of planned trips. It being winter though a number of places are closed. I would have liked to have seen the marionette show but that only hapens between March and December. Stil, there is a contingency if we do run out of ideas. Am pondering whether to spend a few days in Munich instead.

Day 1 is best spent exploring. We walked into town. Salzburg is very pretty. We went to a nice cafe for lunch (zum mohren). Apparently Mozart and Schubert were amongst its patrons. Had a look at Mozart's bithplace because we're in Salzburg so we should.

I also wanted to visit Hohensalzburg castle, but had heard it was shut durng the winter. Turns out I had it confused with Helbrun palace. The castle was open. There's an option to walk. Or you can take the funicular and save the effort. So we did. Turns out though, it was later than I'd thought (timezones messed up my time sense). Still, we had enough time to see the bling room, a hatchet/wheel-lock pisol combo, varous weapons and what I assume it the magical theatre. Fantastic views from the tops. We saw some alps and some hills.

Having finished that, we loitered a bit before going on a hunt for strudel. We saw a shop that was selling strubel or owned by Herr Strubel so we figured we must be close. It didn't take long to find a strudelry. We strolled to the strudler and ate tasty main meal followed by strudel. We are now fully strudled.

Also less anxious about finding things to do to fill the time. There's actually quite a few things here and around. And if we do run out there's always an option of a second day trip somewhere.
luckykaa: (Travel)
It had been a long time since I was in Brussels. 2 and a half years or thereabouts. But I wanted to see the Christmas market, and [livejournal.com profile] flickums seemed keen.

I've always loved Eurostar. It's a lot less hectic getting to St. Pancras - although I was getting very panicky when flickums' train was getting more and more delayed. Still, it arrived and after a brisk walk to the Eurostar departure area, we checked in with a whole minute to spare. Sadly there wasn't enough time for flickums to admire the Disney tree. But once we were inside, we could wave our passports at the passport people, put our bags through the security scanners, and relax. And this time neither of us were suspected terrorists.

Trainn took us to Brussels at the incredible speed that Eurostar manages, zipping through the tunnel, then through France and then through Belgium, and then we arrived, and I confidently led us to the metro. Except while I'm absolutely certain I went in the right direction, clearly someone had rotated the entire station 180 degrees since I was last here and the metro was in the other direction. Also got a bit confused with buying tickets because they've changed from the paper tickets. And we had to queue up at the ticket barriers because the machines don't take notes. In hindsight, getting a 10 trip ticket was a false ecnomy because we only used 4 trips. Oh well.

Arrived. Met with Barbera - the lovelyiest of Italian ladies. I knewher when I was living here and it was nice to catch up. She took us to a nearby restaurant - just round the corner from the hotel. I had rabbit in a very nice kriek sauce, and Belgian beer.

Woke up next day, had the lucicrously expensive hotel breakfast, strolled through the market - which was just opening, and flickums was highly amused by a stall that said "Choco Nads". It was just opening though and I had an urge to visit the essential sights of Brussels.

Then we went to the Atomium. Belgium's famous alien spacecraft. Flickums bought me a beer at the restaurant, and we saw all of Brussels and the surrounding area and all the other displays in the Atomium.

After that the market was open so we looked around there and I had a gluhwein, and we saw lots of exciting things. Then we went to see the other essential sights - the Grand Place and the Mannekin Pis. I think something might have been going on in the grand place just before we were there because we seemed to be fighting against the mass of people. I always feel the Mannekin Pis is a it disappointing, but it was at least wearing an outfit.

Flickums was excited by the Cheesecake Cafe, and had an omelette and a cheescake. That girl loves her cheesecake!

Sunday we largely ambled around town. Had a look at the comic museum but didn't go in because it looked a bit dry and we were both a bit tired. Had a look at the giftshop though. Flickums decided to goive names to the various parts of Brussels. There was the chocolate district, the beer and chocolate district, the gloves and chocolate district, and the pushy restaurants and chocolate district.

I went ice skating, and found that it was harder than it looks. I would have been a lot happier about it if other people there were as inept as me but I was the only person who wasn't, so I decided it wasn't really for me. I did get a maple lolly as a reward from flickums though. Went on the big wheel after that, and flickums decided it wasn't for her. She did get a chocolate lollypop as a reward though. Flickums bought herself some Chocolate Nads, and bought me a beer (Delerium Tremens!) and a glass with pink elephants on!!! And various other gifts.

That evening was the Christmas parade. Lots of floats. Some of them really well done, including a humungous train, and santa and reindeers, and some giant teddy bears, one of which seemed to be having trouble with his gloves. They played a repretitive french Christmas song that

Ate at one of the many nearly identical restaurants in the St. Nicholas area (The pushy restaurants and chocolate district). Decided we'd go for the one with the best sales pitch, But the first guy did such a good job that we decided to get there instead. We had waffles! I was worried we might end up missing out on them.

My bag weighed several times more on the way home than the way out, because it was laden down with beer. And a few glasses. Glad Eurostar doesn't have a weight limit. Glasses survived the trip home!

So that was a busy weekend!

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