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Belgium
On this day, we woke before 4am, did our final packing, had a quick "breakfast to go" and headed for the coach that would take us to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais. I hate boats because I get mild motion sickness on them if I can't look out the window and see the horizon. But this boat had free wifi everywhere, so I suppose it wasn't that awful. It also only took about 90 minutes, and we had a fantastic view of the white Cliffs of Dover! Plus, I somehow got a free coffee due to finding an extra token in the machine.

Bruges was our first stop, where we admired the church, the fast food, the waffles, and our first Belgian hot chocolate (that we unfortunately had to down in about 5 minutes due to needing to get back on the bus within 1.5 hours. We then moved onto Brussels, which I was excited to visit due to the Bronte sisters having studied there back in the day. And the Christmas markets! Our dinner consisted of fish, followed by a Belgian chocolate mousse cake or sorbet with cherry beer.

The hotel wasn't supposed to have free wifi, but my brother and I figured how to log onto the conference centre's, and therefore I managed to upload my Doctor Who photos. But before I could put the remainder of my England photos online, I have to admit that I collapsed into bed and was asleep in seconds...

Germany Day 1 (Heidelberg)
We were on the bus before dawn again, driving to Heidelberg. En route, we stopped at a number of other German towns...especially...Cologne! We also got on another boat, a cruise from Boppard. Which I also spent most of curled up by the window trying to avoid seasickness. But that night, we went to Heidelberg, explored more Christmas markets, had mulled wine, and stared longingly at the Bavarian costumes in the shop windows (apparently people really wear them on weekends!!) Dinner was a three-course affair in the hotel. The wifi, unfortunately, was a two-digit sum of euros a day.

Germany Day 2 (Munich)
We left Heidelberg early in the morning for Munich, stopping at Rothenburg en route. We spent ridiculous sums of money in the Christmas shops, grumbled about the non-free public toilets, and if you were a 19-year-old boy, bought weapons. See, Rothenburg is an authentic medieval town, complete with shops selling medieval costumes and accessories. I was tempted to get a corset belt but they were all too big. I therefore had to be satisfied with photos of castle-like buildings. Apparently the last 2 HP movies were shot here? I see some resemblance to the Godric's Hollow scenes...

We walked into the main square of Munich, in front of the church, hoping to see the glockenspiel, but missed it. Instead, we wrapped up the night with a visit to an authentic beer hall called the "Hofbrahaus" which my father got excited about when he mistakenly heard it as "Opera House". My brother and I managed to down a litre of beer each (although mine was mixed with lemonade). Which, anyway, made for an interesting night...I think at this point, I properly caught up on all the sleep I skipped out on in London :P

Austria
We pulled into Salzburg in the afternoon, after being treated to some breathtaking alpine scenery. Sadly, the bus was moving too fast for me to get really good photos of it. But the snow! OMG!

Firstly, we were taken on a tour of the Sound of Music locations. In particular, the houses used for the back and front of the Von Trapp's house, the lake they fell into (which had frozen over, though not enough to walk on it), the trees they climbed, and the gazebo where "Sixteen on Seventeen" was sung. We also got to see more Christmas markets!

But still, the highlight of the day was that we got to play in snow, most of us for the first time! The locals probably looked at us and thought we were crazy...I myself was jumping in it and throwing it at trees/walls/people...but luckily I have the excuse that I'm just a dumb Aussie. I suppose it was because I was properly dressed for the occasion in my boots, jacket and gloves, but I wasn't cold at all. Well, until my gloves started to get wet.

That night we spent in Salzburg, we went to yet more Christmas markets. We visited the church, the graveyard, and the Mozart Square. Dinner was fish and rice...I also wanted to try eggnog but we couldn't find any. Instead, my rather went on a Mozart shopping spree, buying chocolates and CDs from a shop just below Mozart's birthplace. When I got back to the hotel I tried to make the most of the horribly slow wifi (that is why none of you have many pictures yet), repacked my suitcase for Italy, and was asleep before midnight.

February 2013

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