Kronoberg Castle Ruins, Sweden

After the wonderful Midsommar celebrations (read about them here), the weather turned and grey clouds and fresh winds rolled in.  The moody weather was quite fitting for our visit to the nearby Kronoberg Castle ruins. It was a very dramatic location, with the castle on an island in a lake which we accessed across a rickety bridge. It becomes even more dramatic in the wintertime when the lake freezes over and snow covers the area.

Scroll past image mosaic to read more. Click on an image to view a larger version and enter the slideshow.  This is another photo heavy post because Rich and I love taking photos and also because Scandinavia is so amazingly photogenic. 

I’m not very good at paying attention to historical details, but I think structure was originally built in the 1400’s and featured in several battles between the Swedes and Danes.  One of our favourite facts was how enemies waited until the surrounding lake was frozen over so they could approach and attack more easily. Imagine that, waiting for subzero conditions to make your task easier. Continue reading “Kronoberg Castle Ruins, Sweden”

Møns Klint. The White Chalk Cliffs of Møn, Denmark

Møns-Klint

A trip to Møn would not be complete without a visit to Møns Klint.  These white chalk cliffs are one of the highest points of Denmark, with a 120 m drop to the beach below and they are stunning.

When you arrive at the site, you are greeted with the Geocentre where you can learn about the cliffs, their formation and also the value of chalk.  It is very interactive and very thorough. We really enjoyed interacting with the exhibits, including chipping away at a crusty piece of dried mud to find a (plastic) dinosaur tooth, or was it a toe nail?

Continue reading “Møns Klint. The White Chalk Cliffs of Møn, Denmark”

Love is in the Detail: A review of Støberiet in Stege, Denmark.

stoberiet_stege_feature_image_02

The decision to visit the island of Møn in Denmark was more born of convenience on our journey to Växjö for Midsommar, than a thoughtful addition to our touring itinerary.  It was also a little bit magical.  I was enchanted from the moment we lined up for our ferry ride.  Ferry rides nearly always make me feel like an excited child.  Then came the beautiful flat rural landscape, gorgeous B’n’B where we stayed and the wonderful restaurant we stumbled on.  And it is that last subject I’ll write about today.

One of my favourite cliches is “Love is in the detail.”  For me the phrase captures the idea that when people execute a project with great tenderness and great passion, often you will discover those feelings carried through all levels of the project, right down to the finest detail because it really matters to the creator that it’s all executed ‘properly.’  Experiencing something created this way is one of the greatest joys in life and that is exactly what happened at Støberiet in the small Danish town called Stege on the island of Møn. Continue reading “Love is in the Detail: A review of Støberiet in Stege, Denmark.”

Hannover, Germany and that red line.

We only had one day to explore Hannover because we were on our mission to reach Sweden for Midsommar.  Unfortunately that one day had pretty miserable weather.  Thankfully it didn’t rain much, but it often threatened to and the skies were grey.  The very long drive and our tricky arrival also did not put us in the best mood.  The GPS system had not been informed that certain streets had become one way and construction was going on all over the place.  Just as in Lille, we made a few loops around the CBD before we could work out how to access our hotel, even though we could see it on each loop. The hotel was clean and large and we were grateful. Then we found some dinner and rested up for a day of sight-seeing.

Hannover has developed an interesting and useful system to explore the main landmarks of the city: The Red Thread. When I first heard of this red line, I thought it meant a red line was marked on a city map that you could use to take a self-guided tour. Instead it was actually a red line painted on the ground that you diligently follow to all the sights. And follow it we did. Continue reading “Hannover, Germany and that red line.”

A Little Time in Lille, France

Before we landed in the UK, and for some time thereafter, we had no real idea what the itinerary of our European road trip was going to look like. All that we had was a pickup date for our car in Paris and the appropriate Eurostar booking.  At some point, I think it was at dinner with friends in Soho, I hatched a plan to visit my Swedish friend for Midsommar celebrations (more on that glorious day another time). In fact, I became quite obsessed with the idea.  I think I became overwhelmed with the same things many travellers lust after: 1. Contact with old friends and, 2. that illusive “authentic experience of a different culture.” Despite this, I tried to remain rational and reasonable. Rich did some calculating (as he is prone to do, sometimes to the extreme), and it was revealed that it was possible for us to reach Sweden in time for Midsommar. I contacted my Swedish friend to be sure of appropriate etiquette and availabilities.  Replies were positive. Rational thinking and reasoning were cast aside.  And then IT. WAS. ON.

Preparations and planning began for an epic road trip. An extreme journey that took us from Paris, France to Vaxjo, Sweden in not enough time.  Along the way we stopped in the Northern French city of Lille.  And we had ourselves a lovely time. Here’s the report on Lille.

There is probably nothing extraordinary to report about Lille, except the fact that we made it there. You see, it was our first day with the car. Rich had never driven ‘on the other side of the road’ and Paris is a pretty intense introduction. We had also never interacted with a GPS system and arrived to peak hour traffic in Lille. It may have taken three loops of Lille’s business district, but the car was parked and the new hotel was better than expected.

Lille is not a touristy city where you can view iconic landmarks your friends have already seen.  There are interesting old buildings, nice parks and hardly an English-speaking person. We loved it. We wandered through town admiring what it had to offer, but the real adventures were had at the local modern shopping mall. Interesting food finds, practising our very minimal French and just generally seeing how the citizens of Lille went about their daily lives was fascinating.  Once, a shop assistant was so surprised to discover Rich was from Australia she called her friends over and presented her extraordinary find.  From what he could gather she had met people from many countries, but he was her first Australian.

After we rested up for a couple of days in Lille it was time to hit the road again.  More than five hundred kilometers and three countries later we were in Hannover, Germany.

I’ve created a few slideshows below that cover the main sites of Lille we saw. If you want to know more about Lille a good place to start is the Lille tourism website.

Click on an image to view a larger version and enter the slideshow.

Slideshow 1 of 3: Around Porte de Paris

Slideshow 2 of 3: Around the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille

Slideshow 3 of 3: Around the Citadel

 

Our Margaret River Family Trip for Throwback Thursday

It happened a while ago, but I thought people would still find it interesting, so here’s my contribution to Throwback Thursday: a brief rundown of our trip to ‘Margs.’

While in Western Australia we took a 3-hour road trip from Perth to Margaret River to spend some family time in the sunshine and great outdoors.  The photo mosaic reflects pretty accurately how we spent our time, that is, mostly in caves.  They were beautiful viewing and an excellent escape from the heat. I underestimated how many steps there were for one of the caves and was embarrassingly a bit puffed after the climb. The children seemed to be fine though, which only made it more embarrassing.

The Margaret River region is most famous for it’s surf and wine. And for good reason, they’re amazing in this part of the world.  Just remember, like I wrote about in my post about Perth, visit the beaches earlier in the day because later in the day can be too windy. Many of the larger wineries have restaurants attached and large manicured gardens surrounding.  This can be great when touring around with children, have a feed and a good runaround.

There is an information centre in the Margaret River township that is very helpful and their website is similarly useful.  There are many options for accommodation, from budget to luxury.  With many activities suitable to families including farm experiences like fruit picking, mazes to run through and free tastings at the chocolate factory and the dairy company.  It’s a very popular destination, so it pays to book in advance and expect ‘tourist prices’ at the attractions.

We really enjoyed being out of a city environment and we were also lucky with the weather.  It reminded me how refreshing it can be to experience proper wide open space and fresh air.  Hopefully my vow to do it more is going to come true on our current trip around Europe.

Click on an image to view a larger version and enter the slideshow.

Visiting Kings Park and its Botanical Garden

It’s difficult to write about Kings Park without sounding like a brochure: Magnificent views, extraordinary plants, amazing gardens, fantastic playgrounds.  It’s all true. Instead I’ve collected a few photos from our visit for you to peruse. This is only some of what we saw.  The park also has it’s own, very thorough, website here, that I definitely recommend taking a look at.  If you are staying in Perth a while, then you could probably make several visits there.  I think it would be hard to take it all in over one visit and also tiring if you have children in tow.  The are several large and impressive playgrounds spread through the park and a special Naturescape area was developed to give children the chance to be ‘in touch with nature,’ just as previous generations fondly remember doing.  Unfortunately on our visit we didn’t have time to check out the Naturescape area, but anyone I have spoken to that has visited has told me how wonderful it is.  It’s high on the list for our next visit.

Click on an image to see a larger version and enter the slideshow.

*This post originally appeared on my other blog that is currently on hiatus. Most posts from that blog have been transferred to this blog, except a few, like this one, that didn’t far so well in their travels.  I decided to fix this one because it was one of my favourites.  The rest are still a work in progress.

Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix with Kids

Last weekend we attended the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix as a family.  I’ll be honest, I was not entirely sold on the idea when my husband suggested it, but in the end IT WAS AWESOME!!! OK, so maybe not every single minute of the hours we were there, but definitely enough of those moments to make the outing worthwhile.  There are few things I would have done differently, which you’ll see in the tips at the end, but overall IT WAS AWESOME!!! Continue reading “Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix with Kids”