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To Slovenia via Trieste

BY ABBY

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Miramar castle by Trieste

Miramar castle by Trieste

Today was yet another travel day and we were all a little sad leaving our house this time. Today we would be crossing over from Italy to Slovenia. This would be our last time in Italy, as far as this trip goes, so we knew we would all have to keep on the lookout for one last gelato stop.

We saw the grandmother one last time on our way out and she bid us farewell. From here we set off to our midway destination, Trieste. We stopped five minutes from the town at a castle to go to the washroom. We thought about popping in for a few minutes, but then we decided against the castle and stuck to our plan of going to the city.

We spent our time in Trieste wandering around the streets and shops mainly, and every once and a while we'd look down at our map to find a specific location. The town is located on the water so we were able to walk by the boats and look at the ocean. There weren't very many green spaces, but the ones that we found we took advantage of by eating gelato in one, and resting up a little in the other. We got a little lost on our way back to the parkade, but thankfully a friendly Italian lady was able to help us out. Before heading to our car we stopped at the train station for a washroom and a grocery store. We stocked up for dinner as in Slovenia it was Independence Day and we were pretty sure that we wouldn't be able to find any open stores.

Trieste

Trieste

We crossed the border over to Slovenia, and soon enough our GPS announced that we had arrived at our destination. It took a little looking to find out what apartment building was ours, but our host's friend had decided to wait outside for us, so it was figured out in no time. The man showing us the place was very friendly and helpful, giving us some information about the town we were staying in and what we could do here. The apartment is very nice as well. It's organized and clean, and there is a comfortable amount of room. We're also on the top floor which is a bonus, and we have a balcony from which we can see the car park and a bit of a view.

In the evening Hannah and my parents watched a movie called My Left Foot, while I read and caught up with my friends. Tomorrow we will be heading downtown and walking around the streets there.

Posted by KZFamily 13:24 Archived in Slovenia Tagged travel italy trieste city castle slovenia Comments (1)

A Rainy Day in Edinburgh

By Hannah

rain 6 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Britannia: State Dining Room

Britannia: State Dining Room

Since we only had one day in Edinburgh, we spent the time visiting two of its most famous attractions, HMY Britannia and Edinburgh Castle. Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was the ship that the Royals sailed on for 44 years. It's travelled over one million miles, which is more than if it had sailed around the world once each year it was in operation.

The top level was where we got to inspect the bridge. This was the command centre, run by the Admiral, and was full of vintage knobs and dials and tubes that all looked very impressive and bewildering. Behind the bridge sits the Flag Deck, where the numerous signal flags were stored. There were about 2000 flags on board at any one time, as well as extra material in case it was necessary to make one.

On the second level we saw the Admiral's suite, which was very spacious and included a separate cabin for sleeping and its own washroom. We also got to peek inside the bedrooms of the Queen and the Duke, both of which, to my surprise, were very simple and ordinary looking. There was a sun room that had a view of the deck and bow of the boat, as well as a honeymoon suite which had being used by four royal couples, all of whom divorced.

Crew Bunks on Britannia

Crew Bunks on Britannia

We made our way down to the third level, the most luxurious of the yacht's four decks. There was a sort of lounge and bar here for the crew members, where they could relax and drink and play games. One of these games was called Wombat Tennis, which involved throwing a stuffed toy wombat into the ceiling fan and then batting it around the room once it was released. The toy had originally belonged to a lady-in-waiting, who apparently assumed that it would be in good hands upon the Britannia. We saw the State Dining Room, used by the Royals and their guests, and the various gifts from around the world that lined its walls. At one end of the room stood a long thin narwhal tusk, presented by Pierre Trudeau when The Queen visited the North West Territories. We were happy to have this small claim to fame amongst the artistic carvings and impressive swords and other international keepsakes. The State Drawing Room was also quite impressive, complete with a baby grand piano that had been bolted down to keep it from sliding around the room.

The final level was where all the behind-the-scenes workings of the yacht occurred. It was home to the mail office, sick bay, operating theatre, laundry room and engine room. Here was also where the mess and barracks for the petty officers, Royal Marines sergeants, and Royal Marines band was located. The barracks were very tight and cramped, with three-high bunk beds and lockers stacked to the ceiling. We saw a number of stickers decorating the barracks, many of them maple leaves.

It took a little longer to return home than we thought. We got rather turned around on our way back, and ended up taking the same corners several times before rediscovering our parking lot. However, Mom and Dad have adapted to situations such as these, and were so calm that Abby didn't even realise that we were lost until Dad told her. On an unrelated note, she decided to stay home as the rest of us headed out again to visit Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle War Memorial

Edinburgh Castle War Memorial

We didn't explore the whole of the castle, as that would've taken hours. The castle sits on top of a hill, towering over its surroundings and looking quite impressive to anyone approaching it. Inside the castle walls is almost like a little village, where you make your way from place to place walking across stone streets and squares. We visited the prisons used to house prisoners of war from all over Europe and America. There was a large war memorial to soldiers known and unknown, its walls covered in the names and dates of numerous battles that the Scottish had fought in. The real highlight of the tour, however, was seeing the Honours of Scotland, also known as the Scottish Crown Jewels, and the Stone of Destiny, upon which many kings and queens have been coronated.

We returned home and had Scotch pies for dinner, which were very yummy, though not homemade. Tomorrow we will bid farewell to Scotland and come back to England, where we'll have barely more than a week before it's time to head over to the mainland.

Posted by KZFamily 10:52 Archived in England Tagged edinburgh england castle britannia Comments (2)

The Two Cormacs

BY ABBY

rain 10 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we left Inistioge for Killarney, which was a 3.5 hour drive. On the way we stopped at a town called Cashel to visit Saint Patrick's Rock (the Rock of Cashel), which happens to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth (this is what excited me most about going there). When we did get there however, the weather was very much against us. It was raining much more than cats and dogs... elephants and whales more like it. But my parents braved through the storm to find some more information on the place, and whether the majority of it was covered or not. When they came back to the car the rain had almost stopped, and in a matter of minutes after that, the sun had come out and the rain seemed to be finally over.

It is said that Saint Patrick's Rock is where Saint Patrick banished Satan from a cave, as well as being the site where Saint Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity. Cormac's Chapel is also by the castle, and it is the chapel of King Cormac Mac Carthaigh. Hannah and I just made jokes about how it's actually Cormac McLaggan's chapel, who is secretly a saint, not an annoying, self-centered Quidditch player

.Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Learn more about Cormac's Chapel by clicking here.
Learn more about Cormac McLaggan by clicking here.

We watched an audio visual presentation (a video for those of you who aren't aware), which was actually pretty interesting and informative, and even if it looked like it hadn't been updated since the camera was invented, we didn't mind. We opted out of the guided tour, as most of the castle was under restoration, so there wouldn't be much for the guide to actually show us. We wandered around the outside mostly, looking at the view and the small cemetery out back. Inside they had a small museum with replicas of old artifacts, as well as a 'shrine' to Queen Elizabeth's visit, complete with pictures and the book in which she and Philip signed their names. The pen they used is also kept in the glass box along with the signatures.

After the castle we stopped for soup at a restaurant nearby. The soup was passable, but I have definitely seen better bread. Soon we were back on our way though, and I was back to my nap.

Rock of Cashel countryside ruin

Rock of Cashel countryside ruin

Our new place is very comfortable, complete with two bathrooms, a TV and Wi-Fi (hallelujah!). My plan for tonight is to try to persuade the rest of my family to watch as many West Wings as possible, but I think I may only receive two.... oh, the hardships I have to endure.

Click here to learn more about Cashel.
Click here to learn more about Saint Patrick's Rock/Rock of Chashel.

Posted by KZFamily 12:29 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland castle killarney cashel saint_patrick's_rock saint_patrick cormac's_chapel cormac_mclaggan Comments (2)

Cardiff Castle

By Hannah

semi-overcast 7 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Waking up this morning was difficult. I realize that in the last blog post I forgot to mention the entirety of the night's escapades. Laundry was on the to-do list, as my aunt was leaving in just a couple days and we had to air dry all of our clothes. This meant doing three loads in one night, starting at nine o'clock. We realise we should've started sooner, but foolishly expected the washer to be efficient in some way, shape, or form. This was not the case. It was three in the morning by the time Auntie Helen and I flopped into bed. Each load took about one and a half to two hours to complete, and then we had to find creative ways to ensure each article of clothing was able to dry out. We played a lot of cribbage waiting for the machine to finally stop turning. Needless to say, waking up this morning was difficult.

Cardiff Castle Keep

Cardiff Castle Keep

We decided to start off our first full day in Wales by visiting the famous Cardiff Castle. As we approached the castle, we passed by Animal Wall, which is exactly what you might think it is. Fifteen carved animals sit atop the stone wall located next to Cardiff Castle, including a hyena, an anteater, and a pair of apes. The wall was nearly demolished in the 1970s in order to widen Castle Street, which it borders, but luckily this idea was discarded. It added a bit of whimsy to the otherwise intimidating building behind it. Unfortunately, the crispness in the air had amplified Mom's head cold, and she had to bow out and make her way home again. We persevered without her.

Our Cardiff Castle tour began in the tunnels, which were used as air raid shelters during the last world war. Various propaganda posters lined the walls. This one was my favourite. After we emerged, we made our way up to the keep. Mounted on a man-made hill and surrounded by a moat, this was one of the most classic looking castles I've ever seen, complete with battlements and a flag on top. From the top, we had a 360 degree view of Cardiff. Most people were inside the main area of the keep, though, protecting themselves from the wind.

Our last stop was the large Victorian house located on the castle grounds. I walked through the sizeable, well-equipped kitchen enviously, though less so, I'm sure, than my father when we came to the library. The walls were lined with bookshelves laden with everything from city records and Encyclopedia Britannicas to Bibles and Shakespeare plays. The shelves themselves were decorated with carvings and intricate patterns of inlaid wood. But the crowning glory of the place was the five statuettes above the fireplace, each holding the alphabet of one of the five apparent original languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Runes. Making our way through the rest of the house, we found out about the servants that ran the place. It made us feel a bit like we were visiting Downton Abbey.

Cardiff Streets and Buildings-Many Arcades

Cardiff Streets and Buildings-Many Arcades

When we had finished seeing the grounds of Cardiff Castle, we took a walk through the streets of Cardiff itself. Here we encountered many shopping arcades. Apparently Cardiff has six historic ones, totaling about 800 metres in length, and filled with an assortment of vintage shops, tattoo parlours, and tiny cafes. These differ from the modern arcades, which are more like shopping malls, highly polished and with newer and well advertised stores and brands. Though we didn't buy anything, we amused ourselves by window shopping and pointing at some of the more peculiar items in said windows.

Since this was Auntie Helen's last day with us, we went out for dinner at a Thai restaurant a few blocks down from our apartment. Abby was especially happy about this, as she has been missing Little Thai Place, a restaurant often visited by our family for special occasions. She ordered her favourite Pad Thai, while Mom, Dad, and Auntie Helen stuck with curries. We all enjoyed our meals, though we noted that this was probably going to be our last dinner out for awhile. We're definitely missing Turkish prices.

On our way back home, we picked up some cheesecake and ice cream, and wound down the evening with games and conversation. Abby and I bid goodnight and farewell to our aunt, not sure if we would be able to keep any promises to see her off in the early morning hours. She's been a welcome addition to our travels these past two weeks, and we're glad we could give her the opportunity for a vacation, however brief. Hope you have a great stay in Holland!

Posted by KZFamily 10:46 Archived in Wales Tagged cardiff castle wales Comments (1)

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