Donna H.

Category: Travel

51 days until Spain!

Only 51 days until Ross and I (and potentially a few more friends) go to España!  We’re going to Barcelona and then to Murcia, or more specifically Alhama de Murcia.

We’re visiting two friends, both on the same course, studying languages and on a year abroad as a teaching assistant.

ImageImage

 

Not sure what we’ll get up to yet but hopefully it will involve churros! It will be a nice little break between dissertation and exams.  The only problem is that I have zero money after booking this trip and Sardinia in June with Ewan.  Oopsie.  I seem to think I have all the freedom in the world now that I’m graduating but I need to remember all this means is that I have no guaranteed income in four months time!  So I’ll have to make sure I save some of March’s student loan for spending money 🙂

Super excited.

Second picture is stolen from Lynn’s blog which you can read here.

Final Munich Photos

Over a month since we came back and I’m finally getting round to uploading the last of our photos and what we got up to on our final few days in Munich….

Neuschwanstein was the last in our tour of the royal castles and a magical way to end it.  Unfortunately it started to rain as we got there which was pretty gutting as it was the part of our holiday I was most excited for, but luckily the place was so beautiful that I don’t think it dampened anyone’s spirits too much.

ImageThis was Schloss Hohenschwangau, yet another royal castle, just across from Neuschwanstein.  We didn’t visit this one but the views were beautiful.

Image

Before our tour of Neuschwanstein we visited Jägerhaus for some lunch and despite the name, there were no Jaegerbombs in sight!  It was full of old people and had a little bit of a stuffy/stuck up attitude if I’m honest.  The food was good though and typically German (I had wiener-schnitzel).

ImageImage
Unfortunately Schloss Neuschwanstein itself was very difficult to get a good photo of, unless you went to a bridge which we didn’t get time to go to.  I’m pretty sure all the fairytale postcards you get are either taken from surrounding mountains or helicopters.  I saw it with my eyes though and that’s enough for me – absolutely stunning! Image
I was a Disney princess for the day and got a horse and carriage up to the Disney castle!  The only thing that could have made me feel more like Sleeping Beauty was if I had a ball gown and heels!

ImageImage

When we got up to the castle it was absolutely jam packed with crowds and we had to wait ages for our tour to begin.  The tour itself felt very very rushed and in all honestly, was a tiny bit disappointing.  The castle’s interior was beautiful and intricately decorated but again, we weren’t allowed any photos inside.  It was great to see but it very much had the feel of cram as many people in, get them through as quickly as possible and earn all the money possible!

ImageImageImageImageImage
Not a bad view King Ludwig had for his 172 days living in Neuschwanstein eh?!ImageImageImage

The following day we went back to somewhere we’d seen on our Third Reich tour.  These are parts of a synagogue which Hitler ordered to be demolished as it was an “eyesore”.  We then went to the Jewish Museum which was really really interesting.  They had interview transcripts on the walls that were really hard hitting but also some funny cartoons about Jews in Germany which meant it wasn’t all doom & gloom.
ImageImageImageImageImage

Image

We then went for food at the German market – wurst and beer of course!  We hit happy hour again and we hit it hard.  We then went out to Kultfabrik (without my camera thank the lord) and got drunk on “porno vodkas” (vodka shots accompanied by a packet of sherbet to make it taste slightly less awful!).
ImageImage
The next day we were horrendously hungover, deservedly so.  I forced Ewan to crawl out of our hotel room around 3pm to go for Mexican but he managed one nibble and I didn’t do much better.  We went back to the hotel and died some more then finally made it out for a Chinese at 9pm which was delicious… and we both managed to eat it this time!
The next morning we had to check out but had the whole day to hang around killing time before our flight.  This would have been great except that it was raining so wandering the streets wasn’t my first idea of fun.  We sat in Coffee Fellows (a great German coffee shop chain) for hours and I wrote in my little travel diary while Ewan sat and drank hot chocolate.
Image

When the rain cleared up we went for a final wander round the German market near our hotel and got our favourite thing ever – olives.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

It was then time for one last Haagen Dazs (a cone with one scoop salted caramel, one scoop cookies n cream with milk chocolate sauce for me) before our taxi to the airport.  I’m already having holiday withdrawal and we’ve started looking at destinations for our next one!  All in all it was an amazing holiday and Munich is definitely somewhere I’d recommend.  It was already getting busy for Oktoberfest when we left so it would be nice to go back one day to see all the fun of the festival but maybe try staying somewhere in the beautiful Bavarian countryside!

 

Munich: Part 4

After the Third Reich Tour we went for a walk around the Englischer Garten which was beautiful, especially with the lovely weather.  We were looking for the river surfers on my brother’s recommendation but didn’t really know where we were going!P1000365 P1000368P1000372 P1000374 P1000375 P1000376
The next morning it was an early start for our bus tour to see the royal castles.  Our first stop was Linderhof, the smallest of Ludwig II’s three royal castles built in the 19th century.  The grounds were absolutely beautiful and in my opinion the inside was nicer than the more famous Neuschwanstein.  The guided tour was really good but no pictures were allowed inside.  It was decorated with a lot of gold and intricate details everywhere.P1000385P1000387P1000393 P1000394P1000396 P1000397 P1000398 P1000399 P1000400

 

We then drove on for a while before a short break in Oberammergau which is famous for its wood carving and painted houses.  It was like a fairy tale town, I loved it!  The shops were full of intricately carved ornaments, clocks, furniture, animals etc but all I bought was a tiny wooden heart!
P1000413 P1000414P1000418 P1000419 P1000420 P1000421P1000425

 

I am going to try to squeeze Neuschwanstein itself and the last few days into one final post because I feel I’m going on about Munich too much with too many photos! Thank god it was only a week away!

Munich: Part 3

After the toy museum we took a walk to find a meeting point we had to catch a bus tour from in a few days for our trip to Linderhof and Neuschwanstein.  All the buildings are so beautiful that I never really stopped taking photos, much to Ewan’s embarrassment!P1000268 P1000269 P1000270 P1000272 P1000275 P1000282

We then went to this beautiful beer garden which was absolutely huge.  It was covered in lovely paintings and looked very grand.  For lunch we went traditional German and our waitress said she couldn’t speak much English so it gave me another chance to attempt some of my Standard Grade German!  I had wiener-schnitzel which is so fun to say!  We wear constantly surrounded by wasps though because of the flowers on our table which didn’t make for a very pleasant, relaxing meal – I’m such a wuss!P1000287 P1000289 P1000291 P1000292 P1000293

Then it was back to happy hour and some white Russians and fruity cocktails!P1000306 P1000307

For dinner we went to this restaurant which we’d seen the night before and looked really cute (I should really take down the names of these places) but unfortunately it was a huge disappointment.  Service wasn’t great and the food was really overcooked.  What we hadn’t realised was that there was lots of restaurants further down the path where it had looked cute so I wish we’d had a proper look round before choosing rather than just sitting down at the first one.P1000312 P1000315 P1000316 P1000320 P1000321

P1000323

The next morning we went on a Third Reich & Nazi Party walking tour which was one of my favourite parts of the trip.  We saw the place where Hitler became leader of his party, the square where he did a lot of his public speaking and the Gestapo HQ (which is now a police station).  We learned how Hitler was shot at and his bodyguard took 7 bullets for him (and survived!).  We learned what the three Ludwigs are famous for: Ludwig I – Oktoberfest, Ludwig II – the Disney castle and Ludwig III – letting Hitler join the army!  There was a pathway which had golden cobbles through it and that was because it was the way people who refused to do the Nazi salute walked, even though they were watched and their names were all taken – how brave!P1000335 P1000339

This is the courtyard where Hitler used to paint.  I’m sure lots of you have seen his artwork.  He was very good at painting landscapes but got kicked out of art school because he had “no appreciation for the human form”.  He also used to paint busy places such as Marienplatz but never with a single person included.  Very interesting!P1000341 P1000342 P1000343 P1000344 P1000345 P1000346

This is the beer hall (or Bier Halle) where Hitler became leader of his party.  He used to entice people into his speeches with free beer and it worked!  The hall was huge and is now a restaurant.  They had an exhibition up with history of the hall but never mentioned Hitler or the party once.  Similarly, Hugo Boss, who used to design their uniforms, have no history on their website unlike most fashion designers who have a history to their brand.P1000347 P1000349 P1000351 P1000355 P1000356 P1000357 P1000358 P1000361 P1000363 P1000364It was a great tour, our guide was great and I’d definitely recommend it.

 

Munich, Sep 2013: Part 1

To end my lovely summer before returning to Glasgow, and to uni, Ewan and I travelled to Munich, Germany for a week.  (excuse the stereotypical plane picture)

P1000020

P1000037We were lucky enough to have both our flights and accommodation paid for us as a present for Ewan’s 21st from his parents.  This left what little money we had to be spent on food and drink!  Our flight arrived at around 9.30pm so we went out to grab a bite to eat and sample a German beer.  Our hotel was a two minute walk from the main square in Munich, the beautiful Marienplatz.

P1000042 P1000041

We were still playing round with the settings on my brand new camera at this point so I’m a not happy with the quality of some of these but here we are loving pizza.  I love places where you can get pizza by the slice, seems to be an abroad thing!
P1000049 P1000047 P1000057

The next day we went to explore the hotels surroundings and scope out some attractions we wanted to see.  Luckily the sun was shining bright, not like the forecast had told me (I was convinced it was going to rain the whole trip).  It’s such a beautiful city and seemed to have a very laid back atmosphere.

P1000064 P1000066 P1000067 P1000069

The road up from our hotel was covered in designer shops and I tried my hardest to act/look like I could afford them!

P1000070 P1000072 P1000073 P1000074 P1000075 P1000076 P1000077 P1000078 P1000079

We then went for a walk round town and found a lovely German market, not far from our hotel.  It was so warm and sunny that before we headed out for lunch we needed to head back to the hotel and rethink our outfit choices – we were melting!P1000081 P1000080 P1000083 P1000084 P1000085 P1000088 P1000089 P1000092 P1000093 P1000094 P1000095P1000111 P1000116 P1000118 P1000119 P1000120 P1000121

Once we were more suitably dressed for the heat we went to Sausalitos, which is a chain in Germany, maybe other places too.  They do great cocktails and Mexican.  I got nachos and Ewan got chicken fajitas (so adventurous for our first lunch in Deutschland!!).

P1000122 P1000123 P1000124 P1000125 P1000126 P1000127 P1000128 P1000129 P1000130 P1000131 P1000132 P1000133 P1000134 P1000135 P1000136 P1000137 P1000138 P1000139

We then went for some more exploring and to St Peter’s Church which was the most beautiful church I’d ever seen!  

P1000141 P1000142 P1000146 P1000149 P1000154 P1000158

 

More pictures soon… 🙂

Edinburgh, July 2013

Ewan and I are spending the summer apart as I’m home in Shetland working and staying with my family while he stays in Edinburgh for work. The week after the Rolling Stones I went to visit him, as well as to do some flathunting in Glasgow for next year.

Here are a few pictures from my trip mainly consisting of sunshine, cocktails and food!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

London, July 2013

It’s a whole month since I was in London and I still haven’t blogged it so here goes.

imageimage

We flew to Heathrow on the Thursday and I feel like we packed in a hell of a lot between Thursday and Sunday!  I just love how much there is to do in London.  I’ve been 4 times and had a totally different holiday each time.

This is our hotel – The Park Grand.  Don’t be fulled by it’s fancy exterior; it’s basically just a glorified Travelodge!

image

We were there in the height of the heat wave so it was around 30 degrees the whole time which was great.  On the first day me and my parents had a Vietnamese lunch near our hotel and then sauntered around central London, had a few drinks in Leicester Square and went to China town for tea.

image

image

imageMam and Dad checking out the cakes and pastries!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

 I managed to catch up with my friend Harry on the Friday.  We wandered around in the sunshine and had lunch al fresco in the park!  It was really nice to see him as we don’t get to see each other very often and he has just turned 21 and graduated from his theatre set & costume design course. 

image

image

image

That evening, we went to Loch Fyne for our tea which was absolutely delicious but let down by the service.  It was obvious that they were in such a rush to get rid of us!  Our mains came while we were still eating our starters, they took food we weren’t finished eating and thrust the bill at us when we were going to order more drinks.  We the went to a bar across the road for some cocktails which I unfortunately can’t remember the name of!  The staff were lovely in there.  We then went to the theatre to see Fences which was so so good! It was in a small intimate theatre and is about a black family living in America in the 50s and I can’t recommend it enough.

image

image

image

image

image

Saturday was the Rolling Stonesday (!!) then on Sunday we went to Notting Hill and Portobello market before heading to the airport.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Unbelievably I didn’t buy a single thing  while we were there!! Very disappointed in myself. I did go shopping in Edinburgh though which is where I headed after London to spend a week with my boyfriend before going home again to work.  Blog post coming soon…

Throwback Thursday – Climbing Kilimanjaro

I always moan at my mam for not opening texts (and emails – her inbox is a MESS) so she always has a little message icon which really bothers me because although it’s all appointment reminders or spam that she doesn’t bother opening, it means she can miss important texts. So I was going through her messages last night deleting all the unopened nonsense. I got towards the end and realised she still had messages from 2011 and it was when I found this one that I was inspired to write this post: “I didn’t make it. 😦 I got to 1 hour and 15 minutes away. Pretty annoying after 4 days and 5 hours of hard trekking. Diabetes effed everything up as usual. I got a piggy back down though and got to hold hands with a beautiful black man! xx” Reading this I still found my eyes welling up but what really bothers me is if someone asks me if I made the summit, all I can really say is “No.” I can’t go into how in the first 4 days, despite having type 1 diabetes, not being particularly fit at the time and never having climbed a mountain before(!!), I was storming ahead loving every minute. I was up at the front the whole way through and two of the boys said that they were surprised I was the only girl that had been up the front with them the whole way (probably a backhanded compliment, as a lot of the other girls were a lot more sporty/active than me!). I was so proud of myself and felt a huge sense of achievement. I also loved it because of the people I was with and the beyond beautiful sights I saw. But why did I sign up in the first place?

DIGITAL CAMERA

In my first year at university, I think I was the bravest I ever have been! Something about moving away from Shetland to the mainland, a remote island to a big city; moving into halls with a bunch of people I’d never met before; the transition from school to university and all the other changes involved with moving from home and going to university… It made me feel excited about life, like I could do anything.
One evening in halls, we were in the flat upstairs eating curry and playing multilingual Chinese whispers with the exchange students and two boys who we first assumed to be PRs came to the door. There were PRs from clubs over most nights so we weren’t expecting anything exciting from them. But these two boys turned out to be 2 of the group I’d travel to Africa with in September 2011. They told us they were planning to climb Kilimanjaro for Childreach International and were looking for a group to join them. A few days later me and my friend, Toria, went to an information meeting and the next thing I knew I was signing up online.

DIGITAL CAMERA

When I told my family, I think they thought I’d lost the plot. I’ve always had a really keen interest in travel and want to see the world, but due to being skint 24/7 I hadn’t really been very far. I had never been outside Europe, plus, prior to this I hadn’t really been into anything outdoorsy, as I said before, I’d never climbed a mountain, mainly because Shetland doesn’t have any – lots of hills but no mountains! My nanny is the biggest worrier in the world and she was absolutely horrified.

DIGITAL CAMERA

We flew to Kenya then drove through the border to Tanzania. The night we arrived at our hotel, before we started climbing the next day, I remember being terrified and thinking “what have I done?” The next day we got the bus to our starting point (which is already higher than Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain). We met our guides and they were the lovely, but the star of the show was Geoff. Geoff the chef. He woke us in the mornings with a hot drink and always started the day with a group rap of 50 cent “hey hey hey, go shawty!” When I returned to camp after I got ill on summit night it was Geoff I turned to. He gave me a cuddle then, as Geoff did best, he rapped! Unfortunatley I do not have a good picture of Geoff, but here he is mid-rap in some terrible lighting…

DIGITAL CAMERA

On the climb we experienced all different weather and scenery. There was rain, sun, snow, sunburn, -20… extremes of all the seasons. And the scenery varied everyday, sometime it was moist and humid – rainforest-y, others the ground was so dry and there was no water to be seen. Then at the top of course, it was snowy and we had 5 or 6 layers and struggled to get changed and get out of our sleeping bags in the morning!

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

Our meal times were super cute. We all crammed in round a table and ate whatever Geoff had russled up (usually soup and bread followed by spaghetti and “spaghetti sauce”). We were eating around 4000 calories a day to keep going which could be hard sometime as altitude can make you feel like eating is the last thing you want. We had hot drinks with tins of powdered milk which was actually surprisingly nice. We chatted with Geoff and got a talk from Jonas (another total legend) about what the next day of trekking would entail.

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

I think Barranco wall was one of the scariest parts of the trek. It’s an 800ft “wall” and from the bottom it looks just like a vertical wall but once you get started there are more nooks and crannies than you expect to aid your climb! The guides consistently remind you to take it “pole, pole” (Swahili for ‘slowly, slowly’, pronounced ‘polay, polay’). But what’s really amazing is the porters!! They climb it quickly in their battered trainers carrying heavy bags for us on their backs. Amazing.

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

To get used to the dropping oxygen levels, some nights when we got to camp, Jonas would take us on a small climb to a higher altitude then we’d do yoga to take deep breaths and take in the air. It was unbelievably relaxing. I’ve never felt anything like it.

We sung songs as we went to keep morale up (when we had enough breath), often Lion King songs – how cliché! I never realised how many words from the Lion King were Swahili e.g. simba – lion. Jonas used to always tell us we had to be “Imara kama simba” (‘strong like a lion’)

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

One of my biggest disappointments of the trip (aside from not quite making the summit) was not having a good camera. Some of the group had SLRs with them and got great photos which we’ve all shared on Dropbox. I had a dirt cheap point and click that was on the verge of breaking. But I could barely afford the trip itself and spending money, never mind forking out for a DSLR. I still don’t have one but am currently saving up for a compact SLR, hopefully in time for my upcoming trip to Munich. I have little summer work at the moment so I’m trying to save the balance up on Paypal through selling on eBay! Fingers crossed.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Richard sneaking into the background of the girls' photo!

Richard sneaking into the background of the girls’ photo!

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

In writing this post, I nearly forgot to explain the reason behind it all! We were fundraising for a great charity called Childreach International. We each had to raise around £2,400 each which seemed monumental! Being from Shetland, I think it was easier to fundraise because of the sense of community. I got a lot through advertising on Facebook and Twitter and wrote to a lot of local businesses who were so so generous. We also had a club night in Glasgow to raise some as a group. Altogether we made almost £50,000! I am so so proud of that. The charity works for education, health care and child rights. They have lots of challenges and if you’re interested in doing something like this you should definitely have a look at their website.

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

The trip was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. If anyone is considering it, I cannot recommend it enough! I actually want to go back and make the summit. I met a man in the hotel we stayed at before who had come back from doing just that – didn’t quite make it first time round so came back and tried again – and did it!

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

If anyone else has climbed Kilimanjaro, I’d love to hear about your trips or if anyone has any questions about the trip, equipment, climbing with diabetes etc I’d love to answer them.

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

DIGITAL CAMERA

Coming soon – the rest of my Tanzania experience: Moshi, visiting one of Childreach’s project schools, going on safari, the paradise island of Zanzibar!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

 

152

This is me trying to be Asian! I decided on Asia for this week’s photo challenge because it’s probably the culture I try to copy most when I’m at home. Or at least when it comes to food. My kitchen is covered in rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil and so on. I’ve never been to Asia but I am dying to go. A friend from Penang in Malaysia says I should go and see where he’s from and I’d absolutely love to (It was him I took this photo to send to with the caption “How Asian am I?!” Haha I’m such a wannabe!).
The two places I was to go most though are Hanoi and Tokyo. Both of these come from when I was at school. When I was about 15 I was obsessed with Harajuku where all the cool Japanese kids hang out with their crazy styles! I used to stick pictures of them in a scrapbook I had and since then have become fixated on the idea of going to Tokyo. The Hanoi thing came about when I was doing Higher Art & Design. We had to do a design project and make mood board type things to base a piece of jewellery on. Mine was a necklace based on a junk ship. It was when researching these beautiful boats that I came across lots of pictures of Hanoi and my love grew from there.
For now this is all just a pipe dream with a £10 a month deposit going into my “Travel” account! But one day I’ll go…

 

Kragero, Norway: Part 2

The real reason we got the whole family out to Norway was for little Lukas’ christening. None of our family were christened and we don’t have a religious background but it’s the done thing in Norway apparently and I really enjoyed it.
Annika was wearing Norwegian national dress and looked lovely, don’t you think?Image

The christening was part of a normal church service, which was obviously in Norwegian so I didn’t understand much but they did give us a mention in English! There were lots of children’s songs and Kevin and Annika played a tune on the fiddle and hardanger which they wrote for Lukas.  It was a lovely service.

Afterwards we went back to Annika’s parents’ house for FOOD.

Image

Unfortunately I was too hungry to capture any photos of the amazing buffet but here are the cakes. And my sister’s husband made some Scottish tablet for the Norwegians to try!

Image

Image

This is an unfortunately small panoramic photo taken on my phone of Annika’s parents’ view!  Their house is so beautiful and this is what you see out huge windows (which open out onto a balcony) in their dining area.  Breakfast looking out to this?  Yes please.

Because it was such a nice day me, Fiona and Janice went out for a walk before joining everyone sitting outside as the children played.  We also went up to Kevin and Annika’s house site for a look.

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageI think these photos are super cute and love how children can get on with each other when they’ve just met and don’t even speak the same language.  (The girl in the middle is Annika’s niece so only speaks Norwegian, while my niece and nephew, Ellie & Lewis only speak English.)  Us adults need to take a leaf out of their books and have less inhibitions when meeting folk!
Image

Image

ImagePerfect way to spend my last night.  Lukas loves bath time!

I’m hoping to get back to Norway in the summer time to see them.  It feels like I’m missing out loads with a nephew in Norway while I’m in Scotland.  But luckily they’re coming to Shetland for 3 weeks in the summer while I’m up too.  Very excited about that!