We´ve made it to the snow!!!
Trip Start Nov 28, 2008
5Trip End Jan 07, 2009
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Well, first we landed in Hong Kong after a fantastic flight with Cathay Pacific - the in-flight entertainment system is awesome, the kids were amused for 9 hours straight, we even managed to catch a snooze while they played! We stayed in a big hotel which the girls were very excited about, their first experience of that type of accommodation. They loved the pool and the breakfast buffet, Charlotte thought she was pretty special ordering her omlette every morning. I have to say, everybody in HK was soooo friendly and just gorgeous with the girls.
On our first day we caught the Star Ferry from Kowloon to HK island which is an experience in itself. Sydney looks like the country cousin compared to HK, its like our CBD except on steroids. We wandered through a really nice shopping centre and lucky for Mat none of the shops were open so our wallet stayed closed and we made our way up to Victoria Peak to take in the view. We had brillant weather, about 23 degrees and completely clear with no smog at all which is pretty lucky in HK. You don't realise how steep the island is until you are looking down on everything. We caught the tram back down which was really cool - about as steep as the one in the Blue Mts but waaaay longer. We wandered around HK island for a bit longer and what is amazing is the juxtaposition of all these skyscrapers and then you have these little alleyways full of traditional Chinese market stalls that have probably been there for centuries. Fascinating. We ended the day in Nathan Road on the Kowloon side which has all the glitzy neon lights which was pretty cool for all of us.
On Sunday we caught the train out to Lantau Island and lined up with thousands of HK day-trippers to see the largest seated bronze buddha in the world, which is reached via a 20-min cable car ride. There is a buddhist monastry there and a small village with shops and eateries etc. When the cable car comes over the mountain and you see this huge Buddha the sight is really amazing. We walked up many thousands of steps (only a slight exaggeration) to see the buddha up close and the girls took it all in their stride. It was quite moving to see the obviously devout Buddhists praying and lighting incense to the Buddha. It was very busy, but there was a great atmosphere. Happily the station where we got off to reach the buddha was also home to HK islands outlet shops, oh dear how sad, completely blew the daily budget in about 5-mins flat!! HK unfortunately makes you realise how ripped off we are in Australia!!
On Monday we were all up bright and early for our flight-frrom-hell to Berlin via Helsinki - the kids were actually brillant considering the 11-hour flight between HK and Helsinki offered NO KIDS MEALS (only in Business Class, like anybody in the real world travels business with their kids)!! Anyway, suffice to say the kids had about 10 mouthfuls of food in 11 hours and survived on the chippies, rice crackers and chocolates that we had packed as snacks! They survived right through until Berlin on this fantastic salt and sugar combination and despite our best attempts at finding some more crap food at the airport in Helsinki we were thwarted in our effort because Helsinki airport must be the only one in the world that doesn't have a McDonalds. When we eventually arrived at our apartment in Berlin (at 3am HK time) we all had a piece of vegemite toast and felt alot better. Nothing like a bit of vegemite to calm the nerves!!
Our couple of days in Berlin were fantastic - the city has a really cool buzz about it and again the people were really friendly and great with the kids. We visited the DDR Museum which is really hands-on and explains the history of the former East Germany. The kids were actually really interested and took in quite alot of information. After that we had promised them a visit to Legoland which was awesome. They had all of the famous Berlin sights done in minature, but the biggest hit for the kids was Bikini Bottom - for those of you not up-to-date with Nikelodeon this was all the characters from SpongeBob SquarePants and the kids were really excited. They also had a 4-D cinema and a great play area plus loads of Lego tables set up where the kids could build stuff. Really cool place, we spent a good couple of hours there. Our second day in Berlin was changed somewhat by some very ordinary weather - snow showers all day - the girls were really excited because we were walking through the snow but the reality is that it's just really WET. Had to ditch the Brandenburg Gate etc and go shopping instead. Clearly not too tragic for Mat and I as we do love a bit of shopping but a bit disappointing all the same. Oh well, it is the middle of winter in Germany so it's to be expected.
We're now with Mat's Godfather in Pegnitz, where he was born. The girls love Uncle Otto and Marianne and despite the fact that they can't understand each other they are quite happy to spend time together and Mat and I have been able to escape a couple of times by ourselves! It is a real trip down memory lane to be back in Pegnitz where we lived just after we were married - 17 years ago!! Now we are really relaxed because we're really just hanging out and we aren't on any kind of timetable which is just fantastic.
We'll head down to the famous Nuremburg Christmas Market this week and I'll write again then. Hope all is well back in Oz, love to everyone.
Mat, Jenn, Anna & Charlotte