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On Hiking and Home

By Hannah


View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Now THAT'S a picnic table

Now THAT'S a picnic table

Austria is pretty much all about the outdoors for us. Today was no exception. We took a cable car called the "Flying Mozart" up the side of a mountain in order to hike one of the trails recommended to us at the tourist office. We were as motivated to do this trail by the recommendation as by the need to use the six euro map that Mom had convinced herself to buy. The walk was much easier than the hike we'd been expecting, and as we ambled through the woods, it felt exactly like walking around a campground in BC. It wasn't exactly filled with breathtaking views of mountains and valleys, but I think that the woods were a nice change, and they provided some relief from the muggy heat. On a related note, it's possible we prayed a little too hard to the sun gods, as we're expecting 25 °C+ weather for the rest of our stay here.

We met a few tourists from Germany, and Mom and Dad were able to have a conversation with one of them, despite there being about ten mutually understood words between the three. It involved a lot of improvised sign language, but was still very impressive. Dad received a genuine "gesundheit" from one of the other Germans, which seems much more likely to grant good health when spoken by someone in their mother tongue. We also met a friendly lady who pointed us in the right direction after we'd gotten lost (or "turned around", as my parents put it). Austrians and Germans seem to be an amicable bunch, especially the trekkers.

Wagrain walk

Wagrain walk

We have just a month and a half left in our trip, which is a fact that all of us are reacting to differently. Abby is very, VERY excited to go back home. Not to say that she isn't enjoying the trip, but home is something that's been in the forefront of her mind ever since we left the UK. Dad, on the other hand, is dreading our return. Well, perhaps that's a bit hyperbolic, but I think he'd like at least another year of travelling. Mom is looking forward to coming back, but is definitely savouring the last weeks of the trip.

Now that the length of time until we come home is short enough that I can wrap my head around it, I don't find myself as homesick. I'm looking forward to the next several weeks, and while the thought of home is always in my head, I try not to let it overshadow the happenings of here and now. I feel comfortable travelling, happy to be in Europe, and am anticipating great experiences both east and west of the pond.

Posted by KZFamily 12:45 Archived in Austria Tagged home austria walk hike gesundheit Comments (1)

Sundae Wednesday

BY ABBY

sunny 21 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Mayen hike

Mayen hike

Travelling has, unfortunately, made us a little lazy on the exercise part, so as often as we can we go for walks and hikes. Today was one of those days. All four of us agreed on a walk to go on called Rastplatz (which Google translates to "resting place") and headed out onto our 9.3 km hike. The walk went through towns, valleys, hills, forest and farmland, so we were able to see a wide variety of scenery without going too far. The weather was glorious too, as the sun was bright and there was only a slight breeze. Our cars detected 21 degrees in its spot in the shade. It's nice to finally experience some summer as we have been pretty deprived of sun on this trip. I was even wishing that I had worn my shorts. My dad described the view around us as "not breathtaking, but nice to look at everywhere, so that you don't have to stop at everything," which pretty much summed it up.

Mayen area

Mayen area

Part way through our journey we stopped to look at a hunting blind, of which there were many along the trail. Dad climbed up to take a look around and called down to us about his discoveries. The inside was carpet lined, and there was even a bench and pillow. We stopped for lunch along the way as well, at a small area with some benches in a shaded hut, as well as wooden sun chairs and a picnic table. We snacked on some cheese, bagels, cheese, bread, cheese, carrots, cheese and chocolate. But we were soon on our way as we still had half of our walk left. Our walks and hikes have let us both take a break from the stress of travelling, but also let us experience countries in ways that most people overlook. We get to talk and enjoy each other's company (because we barely see very much of each other, especially in the past 7 months), while still being able to have the feeling of travel fulfilment, even if we didn't pack our day full of tours and sightseeing. In the last 500 metres before our car we found a water tap coming out of a rock, and promptly filled up our empty water bottles. Unfortunately, when we took a drink we found out that it was pure mineral water, which means it was sparking. None of us are big fans, even though around Europe, and especially in the last few places we've been to, carbonated water is an enjoyed form of refreshment.

Eiscafe creations in Mayen

Eiscafe creations in Mayen

When we made it home I took a quick shower and we all made ourselves presentable as our next stop was the ice cream cafe in the nearby square. As we still owe our mother a birthday treat, she opted for ice cream instead of cake, and we all ordered some very large, very expensive, and very delicious sundaes. We three girls got After Eight flavoured creations, while my dad opted for a chocolate coconut flavour. We sat out in the sun and quickly devoured our dessert, while taking small sips of our mineral water in between.

After we were finished eating back all the calories we had burned that day (and more), Hannah and I went back to the house while our parents set off on yet another walk, this one being 10 km. Neither of us were very hungry so we bought some veggie nuggets (for me) and some schnitzel (for Hannah). Our parents joined us later that evening, but Hannah and I shut them out and re-watched our rented version of Rise of the Guardians a second time, before heading off to bed. We've been deprived of West Wing because the internet in this place is terrible. It's been pretty hard on all of us...as you can tell it even forced us to interact with nature today. Sigh.

Posted by KZFamily 11:37 Archived in Germany Tagged germany walk hike ice_cream Comments (2)

The Netherlands, Day Two

BY ABBY

semi-overcast 12 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Hagelslag

Hagelslag

Today was our second full day in Holland. As some of you may know, we've had a few house troubles, but thankfully we were able to reach an agreement with our hosts. Today we planned to rent some bikes and cycle around the nearby town. However, when we got to the train station we found that there were no attendants to be found, and we were out of luck. We walked around town in the sunshine for a while though, and did a couple days worth of grocery shopping while we were at it. At the grocery store we picked up some common Dutch foods such as speculaas cookies, stroopwafels, and hagelslag. As we left it started to rain on us so we hurried back to our car. From here we went back home again, and spent most of our afternoon planning for the next parts of the trip. Tomorrow we plan to spend time with some of my dad's relatives.

Although we haven't been here long I'm starting to like the Netherlands and the people here, who are always very friendly. The area that we are staying in is next to a small village, and a canal runs right in front of our house. There are often children running down the street when school is over, and one of them even caught a duck and came to show us the other day. I'm excited to go to Amsterdam, which is what we have been planning for the most here, as lots of the other days will be spent with extended family.

A little info from Wikipedia about hagelslag:

Dutch hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) was first invented in 1936 by Gerard de Vries for Venz,[4] a Dutch company made popular by said treat. Hagelslag is used on bread. Most of the time butter is spread out so the hagelslag does not fall off. Several letters to Venz from a five-year-old boy, H. Bakker, asking for a chocolate bread topping, inspired and prompted de Vries' development of sprinkles.[citation needed] After much research and venture, de Vries and Venz created the first machine to produce the tiny cylindrical treats. They were named "Hagelslag" after their resemblance to a weather phenomenon prominent in the Netherlands, hail. Only hagelslag with a cacao percentage of more than 35 can bear the name chocolat hagelslag. If the percentage is under the 35%, it has to be called cacao fantasy hagelslag.

Posted by KZFamily 10:58 Archived in Netherlands Tagged food bikes town walk netherlands groceries Comments (1)

Hadrian's Wall Washout

by Abby with a closing endnote by Ben

semi-overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

This morning we drove off to Hadrian's Wall, which is a wall that was built to keep the Scottish Barbarians out of England. We had planned to walk alongside the wall for a while, checking out the museum that was along the way. But our plans changed a little when we realized that the forecast for warm sunny weather had been wrong. It was cold, windy and wet when we got in, but we decided to at least walk the 10 minutes to the museum, in hopes that once we were finished there the weather would have passed.

The museum was small, but informative, and it even had a short video presentation as well. We were all hoping to learn a little more about the wall though, but all we were able to discover were facts about the Roman soldiers, and what their life had been like in the fortresses and barracks.

More about the wall here, and here.

Walking on top of Hadrian's Wall

Walking on top of Hadrian's Wall

The weather had cleared a little when we finished our stop, so we gave the walk another go, and were even able to walk across the top of the wall for a stretch. But the rain came back again, and we all agreed that maybe the car was a better place for us to go, instead of onwards in to the sheep infested fields. My dad was disappointed, because he had looked forward to this walk for so long, but decided that it was for the better, and none of us would have enjoyed ourselves anyway, maybe not even him.

We chose to fill this extra time with driving to Durham, which is the city close to the inn we are staying in. When we got to the city the weather was much better, and there was sunshine and only a slight breeze. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at a small cafe, and walked around for a half hour. Then my mom and I opted to go see the third Iron Man movie together in the nearby theater, while Hannah and my dad walked around for a couple more hours.

For dinner we ate out at a a place similar to Noodle Box.. but it was loads better. Right now the other three are walking down by the ocean and I'm stuck here writing a blog.. but that's life I guess.

Walking Durham and an Evening Stroll by the Sea

by Ben

Rowboats on the River Wear

Rowboats on the River Wear

While Muriel and Abby were engaging in bit of Hollywood escapism, Hannah and I walked Durham. The town is home to a prestigious university (3rd oldest and the rival to an "Oxbridge" education) with an excellent rowing team, a stunning cathedral and a spiderweb of cobblestone streets all set along the picturesque Wear River. Hannah and I enjoyed the warm sunshine and walked the river that loops back on itself and takes you through the town and sprawling university. The final university term extends through to the end of June so the banks were teeming with students relaxing along the grassy banks of the river, rowing the river or making there way to the town to do some serious "clubbing." The dress code for the women consists of ultrahigh heels and and ultra high hemlines while all the guys are in shortsleeves and jeans. It appears mid to late afternoon is when it all starts.

While Abby chose to be dropped off at the Three Horseshoes Inn, the rest of us drove several miles further to get to the coast and a enjoy a stroll along the grass covered bluffs next to the ocean. The slanting evening rays of the sun gave the whole landscape a golden glow. Hadrian's wall may have been a wash but our afternoon and evening were warm compensation.

Posted by KZFamily 11:14 Archived in England Tagged rain england sheep walk durham hadrian's_wall Comments (1)

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