I have begun uploading pictures. Its taking a bit longer than expected, but its worth the wait I guarantee. So far I’ve been able to get my WYWOP/ Schladming pictures up. Here are the links:

I now have all my pictures up on Facebook. You can view them even if you don’t have an account (although, you should get one and add me if you haven’t done so already). Enjoy, comment, and thank-you for reading.

Schladming I
Schladming II
London I
London II
Paris I
Paris II
Paris III
Shrewsbury, Bygrave, and Others

Well ladies and gentlemen, I have returned home from the other side of the world safe and sound. I spent my last day in the wonderful company of Bobby, Steve, Robert, Ginger, and Dianna. We went to see Mama Mia and had an excellent time (its a great movie! I highly recommend it). Ordered in chinese food for dinner and watched Whose Line is it Anyway while sipping tea.

Next day Steve drove me to Heathrow Airport and after being in the air for 9 hours I returned home and got a great big bear hug from my father.

I’m in the process of uploading pictures to facebook and will post the links here when I am completed. Thanks everyone for reading my adventures!

I am now in the cutest hamlet in the UK with the Kerr-Wilson’s and friends of there’s from Brampton who have moved back to their old house here. Everyone is incrediably kind and the scenery outside is breathtaking. Its almost like I’m back on the prairies at home. We picked black berries from the side of the road and saw someone horseback riding down the public footpath between the wheat fields. Its a nice change from the hectic life of a non-stop tourist living in hostels.

To get here Mr. Kerr-Wilson came with me by coach from Canterbury to London and then train to Baldock. We talked the whole time about the Lambeth conference, the Mid-Europe festival, and Jeremy’s odd eating habbits when he was a kid. We also got Cornish Pasties which were DELICOUS!

Jeremy’s family is heading elsewhere today and I’m staying with Bobby and Steve for another night (their friends from Brampton). I catch an early coach to the airport tomorrow morning and then after 9 hours in the air I’ll finally be back home. I can’t wait.

OK, I now humbly welcome you all to the day of travelling from hell. Yesterday was quite the interesting experiance. Our goal: to get from Amsterdam to Canterbury in one day. WE accomplished this goal, and the story is quite excellent.

So, we first catch a train from Amsterdam to Antwerpen, Belgium. That is fine and dandy, and only took us about 1.5 hours. We had to wait an hour for the train though, which was our first setback. We get lucky and immediatly catch a connection to Lille (which is where Flandres fields is. We didn’t have enough time to go check them out though. Sad day.) We had 6 minutes to get to the next train and had to run from the bottom floor (platform 24 or something like that) all the way to the top floor and platform 1. We just barely made it. We get lucky again at Lille and caught a transfer to Callais decently quickly.

At Callais, things get a little interesting. We wait over 30min to catch a bus to the ferries, and from there we have to wait 2.5 hours before the next ferry allowing foot passengers is ready to go. The ferry was crazy nice and it was an enjoyable 1.5 hours. When we get to Dover and its raining (not surprisingly seeing as we are now back in the UK). WE go to catch a courtesy bus to the train station, but first we talk to a guy for directions and he tells us that the courtesy buses are done for the evening (its about 8:15 PM now). We walk for 20min with our 40lb backpacks on and just as we arrive at the train station a courtesy bus full of people drives past us. Needless to say we were pissed.

We catch the train and decide that we should phone Jeremy’s family. Good idea, if you have the number. We lost the notepad with that number in it so not only could we not contact them but we also had no idea where at the University of Kent and Canterbury they’re staying. We find a map of Canterbury and head out to try and walk to the University and end up heading the completely wrong way. We stop at a convieniance store for directions and this incrediably nice guy named Tom offers us a lift to the University.

So, his friends pick us and Tom up and we head to the university. HIs friend, we think her name was Laura, takes us to her dorm in Darwin College and talks to the cecurity guard who can’t tell us where Jeremy’s dad is staying. Laura then offers us the use of her internet so we can check Jeremy’s e-mail to find out where his family is staying. While we’re checking it the fire alarm goes off. Luckily we’ve found the information and we head out and trek to the otherside of campus with Laura as our guide.

We find the building, but can’t get in cause we don’t have card access, so we start calling out Mr. Kerr-Wilson’s name. A different bishop comes down and lets us in and shortly before midnight, over 12 hours later, we officially arrive at our destination. Good times.

Amsterdam: The last stop of our trip. Finally! We both know that we’re coming to the end because Jeremy is coming down with a cold and I have an enflamed foot. I can’t wait to get home and sleep in my own bed.

Anyway, we have been in Amsterdam for almost 2 days now. Our hostel is huge! It looks more like a hotel then a hostel. We are sharing a 6 bed-room with 4 guys from the Czech Republic. They’re quite nice. We planned on going to the Heinekin Brewery here, and were getting more and more excited until I found a brochure telling us that its closed for renovations until October! Needless to say we pouted and then decided to just randomly walk all over. We went to Vondelpark, the Red Light District, The Dam, and a bazillion places in between. We went into a store that sold cheese. Every kind of cheese you can possibly imagine! Jeremy bought a tiny block.

One last day to explore around. Probably do a canal cruise and buy some postcards.

Today we visited just about every chocolate shop in Brussels looking for the best deal on Belgium chocolate. After spending a small fortune on all the chocolate we could possibly fit into our backpacks we bought one box of truffles for ourselves and some fine Belgium beer to wash it down (from a store that had 400 varieties of beer. Wowza!). The truffles were heavenly. We may just buy a second box for the train ride to Amsterdam tomorrow.

We also went for our first REAL dinner out tonight (thank you Mark and Fran! Our tummies thank you too).  I had some excellent pizza and Jeremy had spaghetti. Sure beats our usual bagguette and cheese. Cooked food has become a luxury.

Now, to comment on a few cultural things here that I’ve noticed, the crazy lady in our hostel room, and Maurice the photogenic backpack. So, first of all, the cultural things: J-walking may or may not be legal, but either way everyone does it. The little walk or don’t walk sign is mearly a formality to be ignored. Sure makes getting around easier. Beer is substantially cheaper that water (37 cents for a bottle), and I’ve yet to be ID’d since I got here. Now, the crazy lady: SHE IS CRAZY! We’ll be having a perfectly civil conversation then she’ll suddenly be like: “You’re talking too loud. People across the street could hear you” or “Don’t sit there, its a communal space” or “I wasn’t talking to you. Don’t talk when I’m talking.” All our roomates think that she’s totally off her rocker. And third: Maurice. Maurice is Jeremy’s UofA backpack. Now, I take all the pictures, and often times Jeremy will walk ahead of me and his back (and therefore Maurice) will end up in the picture. Its rather hilarious. Also, my photo count in around 750 right now. I’m impressed.

That is all for now. Hopefully Amsterdam also has free internets.

Brussels is by far the best city I’ve been to this trip. Jeremy and I have agreed that out of London, Paris, and Brussels that this is the only one we’d want to live in. We headed to the Grand Place first thing this morning and went looking for the famous Mannekin Pis statue (the little peeing boy) and ended up walking right by it without noticing! Its much tinier then I thought it would be. We also checked out some of the chocolatiers here, and even got ourselves some free samples (its DAMN good). Tomorrow we’ll purchase some I’m sure. Also, while we’re talking about food, we had Belgium Waffles for lunch. I got the most decadent one I could: waffle, chocolate chip icecream, bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce. It was excellent.

We then headed to the Royal Palace (or atleast one of them). It was open for free tours, because the Belgian royal family doesn’t like to live there. Its by far the best looking (or atleast tasteful looking) palace I’ve been in. The ballroom reminds me somewhat of the one from Beauty and the Beast. I had this urge to jump into my grad dress and to just spin around in circles. However, the best part of the palace was the random room full of science! There was one room converted into a little Space and Science Centre type thing. We made paper rockets and shot them at targets. Hurrah for re-living your childhood.

Next we headed to the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum). Definatly one of the better put together museums. Everytime you walked up to one of their strange/bizarre instruments a song would play on  your headphones. It was quite excellent. Some of the instruments were like I’ve never seen before: there was a brass instrument of some kind with 6 valves and 7 bells. It was CRAZY!

Then we went on a wild goose chase to find the Atomium, which is a giant molecule monument thing. We ended up almost walking a complete circle around it. An hour or so later we finally find it, take a look, and then try to find the metro station. This is harder than you might believe. Any signage we found would point us in the OPPOSITE direction! It was rather frustrating.

One more day here in Brussels and then we head to Amsterdam! I’m ready to come home now. Travelling for this long makes one rather home sick.

The Tour de France in a nutshell: the greatest test of patience known to Kim. We got there at around 10:00 and bought ourselves some souveniers and then proceeded to find some fence space along the Champs Elysee after checking out the Arc de Triumphe. 6 HOURS LATER a gaggle of guys on bikes ride by on about 8 loops. It was great and all, but definatly anti-climatic after all the waiting and standing by THE creepiest old man in France *shudder*.

After that we headed to the last thing on my list of Paris things to do and see: the Eiffel Tower. That thing is damn big. I splurged and bought an elevator ride all the way to the top floor (where there was a champgne bar amoung other things). Jeremy climbed the stairs to the second floor and chilled.

Today we headed to the land of chocolate and beer: aka Brussels. So far I like it a lot. The metro system is clean, tidy, and efficient. It seems a lot tinier then London and Paris (I’m beginning to miss Edmonton’s modest population). The hostel is also awesome (mostly because I finally have a bottom bunk that allows me to sit up straight in bed).

Sidenote: I’ve had more bagguettes in the past week than I’ve ever had in the last 19 years of my life combined.

I must state again just how much I am loving the weather here in Paris. Its just the way I like it. High twenties everyday, but nice and cool in the shade. I even managed to get my first sunburn of the trip yesterday (just a little one on my shoulder blades). Yesterday we had nothing planned so we randomly chose stuff out of the travel book and went there. Saw some beautiful parks and even came across these street vendors selling art and other such things. We saw the Opera Garnier (the opera theatre that Phamtom of the Opera is set in). We didn’t actually go all the way in though cause it was expensive, but I did see a bit of the grand staircase.

Now, the most amazing part about our random wanderings was the MASSIVE BEYOND IMAGINATION shopping centre we came upon. It was really just one department store spread over 3 buildings and 8 floors. Yeah, that’s right EIGHT FLOORS!!! Its called Gallerie Lafayette. I can’t even begin to truly describe just how much stuff there was. Every floor was dedicated to something else. Floor 6 was like a French Toys R Us equivalent. Floor 2 was Gourmet cooking ingrediants. Floor 5 was sports wear and lots of bathing suits. Just wow! My sister would have died of happiness. Gucci, Prada, Lacoste, Versacci, and so many more high designer labels were all there. Jeremy wasn’t as enthralled as me, but I expected as much.

Today we went to Versailles. The palace itself was extravagent and had so many pointless rooms that I ran out of fingers to count them on. The true amazing thing of Versailles is the gardens. The stretch out in front of you, and it would take well over 30min to walk from one end to the other. To see everything in them would take over a week. My favorite part was the Petite Trianon, where Marie Antoinette would play Milk Maid with her ladies. It was adorable.

Tomorrow is the Tour de France ending in Paris under the Arc de Triumph. I will be there. Rock.

Well, we are now in Paris, France. And I am wishing that I actually bothered to pay better attention in French class. Jeremy can actually carry out a full conversation and understand what people say while I can just say simple things. However, I can read most of the stuff to an extent. Either way, I like France a lot better than the UK. Mostly because its sunny, almost no clouds, everyday so far, with temperatures in the high 20’s. Thats much better then overcast and showers everyday. Blech.

So far we have seen the Louvre (we managed to lose eachother for over 3 hours in that monstrous museum). Saw the Mona Lisa, amoung a bazillion other wonderful works of art. As promised, it was fairly tiny (when you consider the entire wall across from it was one gigantic painting anyway). We’ve also seen the Jardin de Tuileries, Notre Dame, St.Sulpice (from the Da Vinci Code incase anyone thought the name was familiar. The old rose line runs through the church), the cemetary where Chopin is buried, Jardin de Luxeumburg (incrediably gorgeous. Possibly the prettiest garden I’ve ever been in), and the Moulin Rouge.

Tomorrow is laundry day! Hurrah for clean clothes. I depart now to eat my dinner, which is a baguette.

August 2022