Monday, 19 September 2011

Short and Sweet - A weekend visit to Gothenburg

We have a spare weekend next weekend, what shall we do? Lets find cheap flights and go ANYWHERE, we are in London we are close to everything.... Is how the conversation went that saw us end up in Gothenburg this weekend. Not sure I had even heard of the city even though it is the 2nd largest in Sweden and is home to the largest amusement park in Scandinavia (not that that is any good to a chicken like me who is afraid of looking down from the Sky Tower), before we booked the flights. The images I had in my head of the place were dark and ominous, full of vilans that Batmam and Robin would soon bring to justice... Imagination runs away on me sometimes..

Anyway we booked cheap as chips flights via Easy Jet which we discovered are much better to fly with than Ryanair. First flight was on time, second one landed early and we didn't have to line up for any long passport check lines - Shot Easyjet.

Our Saturday morning started bright and early... So early we were at the bus stop with all the drunkards still out and about enjoying their Friday night.

Not too happy to be up and about at 3am...

The bus ride from the airport to Gothenburg city gave us a feel for Sweden, lots of pine trees, lakes and rocks, reminded me of what I imagine parts of the US would look like... We were waiting for Yogi bear to jump out of the bushes. One thing we weren't expecting was the cold... Kelly, always the optimist read a high of 16 degrees, shame that it was only 10 degrees. We did not arrive prepared. 

After checking into our hotel we went on the food hunt... Gothenburg is not a touristy town which was great because there weren't thousands of people everywhere and felt like we were right amongst a different country, not so good that they don't accommodate for English speaking people as much. We couldn't read the menus so we ended up at an American restaurant that reminded us of the Hard Rock Cafe (situated next door).

We decided to get a feel for the city we would take a boat tour around the moat. There was a tour guide up the front of the boat giving the commentary spoke in three different languages, thankfully one English. The guy at the back driving the boat looked just like Craig Wilson!

An old lock

Getting low for the Cheese cutter bridge. OSH would of had a heart attack.

London Eye copycat

The Lipstick... Eugh

Cranes in the port

Low bridges again

After a very cold boat trip we explored and amazing food market, an anti pasto lovers haven, then jumped on a tram and went for a ticky tour. You can buy a 24 hour transport ticket that gets you on the trains and buses… It was a waste of our money as no one was checking tickets and we didn’t validate our cards or swipe them once.

Swanky food market

Delicious meats!

The old Cons were a popular mode of transport

People protesting... Hospitals want more money, same shiz different country.

We decided we would get a couple of bottles of wine to drink back at our Hotel before we went out… Went into a 7 Eleven to ask for the closest liquor store. I thought the lady was taking the piss when she told me that you actually can’t buy any. WHAT? *outrage* apparently in Sweden the only people that sell alcohol are a company owned by the government, which closes at 3pm on a Saturday and don’t open on a Sunday…  Some monopoly carry on. Luckily the 7 Eleven had a few sneaky (expensive) cans of Carlsberg in their fridge that we had to make do with before heading out. Dinner was delicious Italian (you can tell we really got amongst the Swedish food) followed by a drink at a local pub that looked a lot like an English one.

Haha sorry Scott I had to put this picture in... 
The next day we got the tram to the end of the line out by the ocean, again it was cold but very quiet and quite beautiful. Tried to get Scott to go for a swim but he wasn't keen, only because he had no towel he reckons! Sure sure. 

Brave girl

All in all a great weekend out of London. Though there is a lot of not so awesome things about London in comparison to NZ there sure are a lot of awesome things too, one being that you can get on a plane and in under two hours be amongst a different culture in a different country. It feels great to be doing what I came here to do. If only I had the cash to do it every weekend.... 

Next stop, Brussels? Amsterdam? Paris? Watch this space.....

(More photos on Facebook)


Thursday, 1 September 2011


Sail Croatia what a trip, what could beat it?

We flew into Zadar on the Friday night after an Amazing Race run to get the bus to the airport. If there is one thing I am sick of, it's that feeling that I'm in the Amazing Race, running everywhere to get somewhere in time. Lucy knows what I am talking about.

Zadar was a gorgeous little town and for the first time I really felt like I was a world away from home. We stayed in the old town which is surrounded by a wall and was still buzzing with music, lights and stalls late at night when we got there.

Delicious dinner in Zadar at about 11pm
I woke up with the sun on the Saturday and snuck out for a walk around the town while it was quiet and had not yet reached soaring degrees.

Sunrise in Zadar

Some keen back packers sleeping by the ocean

We boarded our pirate ship Taryn in Split after a four hour bus ride from Zadar. Every day on the boat we were served a delicious three course lunch made by our on board chef Kuki. We were also served a delicious breakfast… If you got up in time for it.

Every day had a similar structure, we would set sail at 6am or 8am and if you weren’t on board, you miss the boat. Around 11am we would stop for a swim then have lunch. Following lunch we would lie on top of the boat and simmer in the sun before another swim. We would then set sail for the next town. Upon arrival, another swim then explore the town.

After sun down we would explore the town a little differently.

A view of our little cabin
We set sail for Hvar the longest island of the bunch travelling along the picturesque coast. The mountains looked like a painted back drop, unreal.

We went out in Hvar to one of the ‘Top ten night clubs in the world’ Carpe Diem, that is definitely the captains quote, not mine. It was still a good night out getting to know our crew!

Raging at Carp Diem

Trying to pronounce Te Puru to some Canadians didn't go well so a beer box and some lip gloss did the trick

Some fun bar tricks


After a big first night out... After every night out, which are always big, we get to wake up to this bliss. I cannot think of a better thing to wake up to.

Living the life

After Hvar we cruised down to a little traditional village called Trstenik. We moored in the most beautiful bay of the trip. The water was an amazing blue and very warm!

One of our delicious lunches


We docked here for the night and our chef put on a BBQ for us on board our our ship. We were docked up next to all the other Sail Croatia ships as well. One of the other boats we named The Party Boat as it had lights & smoke machines so of course after dinner we thought it would only be polite to go and introduce ourselves... And get amongst their sound system.

Muz and Lavery wanted their hair straightened for the night. 

Dancing to Chases and Status at dinner time...
Tomato sauce all over face, the result of bass dropping at the dinner table

Croatian shots with dinner!

Party boat! 

Woke up to yet another beautiful day. Seriously there is a country out there getting ripped off big time with all the good weather Croatia has... I'm going to vote that country is England.

We set sail (let me clarify we didn't actually sail any of the trip) to Dubrovnik which is the town I was most anticipating seeing. It definitely met my expectations and I would like to go back one day.

Old town Dubrovnik

The wall around Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik was amazing by day, all the little back alleys and old buildings. There was no doubt that by night it was going to be raging... The best way to get to know the Dubrovnik night life is of course with a pub crawl. We started at an Hour of Power in the little back alley with free flowing jugs of beer and Croatian shots then proceeded to a few other bars including a bucket bar and finished in a massive club with dancing cages and two massive rooms.

Van tour boys theme was Sons of Aeotearoa!

Hour of Power

Lavery and Dan

Kent, Kelly & Emma

Kells and I at the Bucket Bar

Raging club!

The following morning we sailed down, towards Mljet National Park stopping of at another stunning bay along the way for a swim. Once al Mljet we could get dropped off on shore and explore while the boat sat in the bay waiting for the other ships to come in before mooring. Kelly and I decided to wait on the boat, then after sitting on it for half an hour decided we wanted to go explore... So we gathered our things, put on our floaty rings and swam the 8kms to shore (exaggeration). That night we had our Captains Dinner out in a secluded bay for a quiet (sort of) but late night with our on board family.

The Mussels are about the size of your little toe!

Kuki telling stories till the wee hours

Muz, John, Lavery

Our next destination was Korcula the birthplace of Marco Polo. We did a lot of exploring in the afternoon and finally found some chilled white wine!!! It is like gold in Croatia.

Self timer rush!

One of the quieter nights out!

After a fairley quiet night (in comparison) we moved on the next day to Makarska... I think this was the hottest town we stopped in. It was the biggest relief to walk into a air conditioned supermarket! We explored some awesome markets here and bought our costumes for the dress up party that night. We couldn't do much more because of the heat so we stopped at a bar for a couple of hours to cool off with some cocktails and enjoy the view of the bay.

If you have heard much about Sail Croatia you will have heard about the night club in the cave. This is where we were destined for come night time. It was a dress up night, many of the boats went as sailors, another boat got singlets printed but after searching the markets the boys on our boat came up with a better theme, Belly Dancers! Or gypsys either way we had the most temperature apropriate attire and you could hear us coming a mile off with all our jingling! Quite a scene.

Relaxing with some cocktails

Sorry, I don't have a non blurry photo, check FB for more

Elise and Amanda Shakin' the jingles

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the cave on the night as my camera died. It was hot, packed out and a lot of fun. Great to see everyone put in a good effort dressing up!

The next morning was quite sombre as we knew it was about to be our last night on the boat. We were having such a great time we didn't want it to end. We headed back up to Spit where we mde the most of our last hours of sunbaking and enjoying the ocean, upon arrival we did some life sorting, checking emails and getting cash out to pay our on board tab 3,000 kuna later!

Gong out with a bang we had a huge night in Split, another pub crawl, starting with another hour of power this time including all spirits... You either got awesome or got to bed after this first bar!

Split pub crawl, hour of power
Kells and Erin raging

After and awesome night out, and a very late one. I woke up almost ready to go home, the hangover finally kicked in... Or maybe it was the Bye Bye Croatia Blues? Either way we were off the boat after sad good byes by 9am to get back on the bus to Zadar. Waited at Zadar airport for 4 hours and finally got back to Sarah's house for a well deserved/needed sleep at about 11pm the Saturday night. I have finally stopped feeling like I am swaying.

 Sail Croatia should no doubt be on everyone's bucket list! No question. 

Here is a little before and after of the trip. Came back quite black woohoo, not that it will last long in this grey concrete jungle called London.

Fresh faced nice shiny hair

Frizzled, dry, tired but a few shades darker
Over all, awesome trip, ready for the next....


x x