Phrasebook triumphs

I know it’s been quiet around the blog lately… that could be because since my fab sister Vanessa arrived, the pace of tourist activity has been blistering.  Or it could be that I’ve just been a slacker about getting around to blog posts.

So, here’s a short summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen in the last few weeks…

I met Vanessa in Amsterdam in mid-April, where we enjoyed a lovely canal view from our hotel room at the top of some precipitous stairs.  We also enjoyed catching up with family, seeing the Keukenhof gardens in spectacular spring flower, the Speelklok museum of mechanical musical instruments in Utrecht, Anne Frank‘s house, canal cruising, and appelflappens (very tasty dutch pastry… we ate quite a few).

Then we headed to Belgium – more musical instruments along with waffles, amazing chocolate and a giant model of an atom in Brussels, then a sunny day (at last!) in picturesque Bruges proved perfect for more canal cruising, aimless wandering of cobbled alleys, and a free harp concert we happened upon.

Three days of touring the World War 1 battlefields of Flanders and the Somme region with our energetic self-proclaimed anarchist driver culminated in attending the ANZAC Day dawn service at the Villers-Bretonneux Australian War Memorial – a great experience to be a part of, even if it was perhaps the coldest I’ve been on this trip – including Russia.

We spent a few days in Paris (and have way too many photos of the Eiffel tower to prove it), before heading onwards to Italy where we enjoyed looking at very old things in Rome before coming down to Sorrento where we are enjoying a spectacular view over Mt Vesuvius and the Bay of Napoli from our hotel balcony.

We have enjoyed the best frites in the Netherlands, the best ice-cream in Paris, and the best gelato in the WORLD (apparently) in Rome, among other gastronomic delights as we eat our way around Europe.

There have also been several moments of phrasebook wonderment, which I thought it was worth sharing, as it’s always a bit intimidating being in a country (or several) where you don’t speak the language, but we are loving having a go.  Moments of glory include complaining about the mysterious case of the missing Kit Kats in french, an adventure in posting a parcel to Australia in italian, catching a local bus including asking the driver (a) if it stopped at our hotel, and (b) if he could tell us when we got there in italian, and asking for extra blankets, also in italian.  This last instance just occurred this evening, and Vanessa’s phrasebook italian was apparently so impressive that the response was also given in italian and the blankets swiftly appeared.  What a victory!  We’ve also massacred the various local languages ordering food, buying tickets, and gesticulating over souvenirs, and we are having a wonderful time.

Hopefully less slacking and more frequent blogging in weeks to come.  Thanks for popping by!

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