Friday, June 22, 2007


On Wednesday we paid a visit to the ancient Roman ruins at Carnuntum, about a 20 minute drive from Vienna. It was a very hot day, but we managed to visit all of the significant sites, most of which were outdoors. We joined the hundreds of school kids that were touring the various areas. Carnuntum was home to a huge Roman army, they are still uncovering ruins and here is a picture of the dig site, where you can also view replicas of Roman buildings and uncovered ruins.
The dig site at Carnuntum
Here is a picture of the old Pagan gate, superimposed with a graphic of how it would have looked originally.
Carnuntum Pagan Gate
We also visited an old amphitheatre where gladiators battled. Here is a picture of the gate where competitors entered and exited (mostly dead) the arena.
Carnunthum Gladiator Arena
There was also a museum full of artifacts that had been uncovered in the course of excavations. Many items were thousands of years old, including several ancient pieces of amber. Carnuntum was on the "amber road" in ancient times.
Near the ruins was a magnificant castle, in a bad state of repair. On our way home we snuck in (it was closed to the public) to take these pictures. This is Schloss Petronell and was built in 1650.
Schloss Petronell exterior Schloss Petronell Courtyard
You can view all our Carnuntum pictures by clicking on the image link below.
Link to all our pictures of Carnuntum


On Monday we visited the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. We arrived by a short ferry ride down the Danube which took about 1 hour. Bratislava is bordered by both Austria and Hungary, and has a long political and cultural history. The old city centre is actually quite small so visitors are able to do several walking tours to see the major cultural sites.
Here is a picture of the Brataslava castle which is built on a hill top that has been inhabited since the stone / bronze ages. The first stone castle was built in the 10th Century, and had various renovations until it was destroyed in 1811, it then laid in ruin until the 1950's when it was rebuilt in the former Baroque style.
Bratislava Castle
Unfortunately we were unable to go inside when we visited as it was closed for a private function. The castle had some beautiful gardens with a picture of the view of Bratislava from the garden walls below.
View of Bratislava from the Castle
We also visited the parliament, which is protected by 2 armed guards which are in the picture below (although probably too small to see here).
Bratislava Parliament
After many hours of walking around Bratislava we caught the train back to Vienna. The train trip back only took 1/2 hour - but we waited on the platform for a 1/2 hour in Bratislava before the train left. No explanation was given for the delay - passengers just had to sit an wait! Here I am waiting for the train to leave, after I gave up trying to decipher the departure board outside the window.
Waiting for the Train to leave

View all our pictures from Bratislava by clicking on the picture link below.
Link to all our pictures of Bratislava

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Viva Italia!

Hello Again

Yesterday we participated in the 2nd day of the 12th Viva Italia Franz Wurz Trophy 2007, a (mostly) classic Italian car rally. We drove in Papa Malgarini's classic Alfa Romeo GTV Bertone Coupe all around lower Austria and even into the Czech Republic. Marco was co-driver and I was a passenger. Here is a picture of us before the start - I'm carrying the clipboard with all the paperwork for the course.
Waiting for our turn to start
Part of the course involved a single timed lap around a race track, here is a picture of us going around. You can't really see how tightly my fingers are gripping the headrests of the front seats! Sadly, we missed out on watcing the Lamborghini's doing their laps.
Round the race track
We ended the rally at this lovely old castle in Greillenstein. There is a beautiful lane of trees here, all of which are 200 years old. We were lucky enough to meet the old Count and Countess and also their son (the current Count).
The castle at the finish
I couldn't end this blog post without adding this picture I took at lunchtime of Lamborghini's as far as the eye can see. There were actually 5 and here they are waiting to start. You can see Marco on the right-hand side ...... dreaming .....
Lamborghini's as far as the eye can see!
For those rev-heads out there, here is a video to listen to the Lamborghini Sonata a la Viva Italia!

It was a memorable day, here is a picture in the rear view.
Rear View

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hello from Vienna

Hi Everyone

Just a quick update to let you know that we are now safely back in Vienna, and currently recovering from our whirlwind tour of Europe. The weather has been fantastic, averaging 29 degrees during the day and about 16 at night. We've been spending a lot of time getting to know Remo, the parents little (52kg) doggie.

This week we've been doing a bit of wandering around town, catching up with people and sorting out Marco's old belongings which are making the attic sag under their weight.

Here is a little picture of Remo in case you don't know him.
Little Remo


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lubeck and Hamburg

Finally we headed off to Lubeck, which is about 50km from Hamburg. We hired a car, which made it much easier to get around. As soon as we landed the first thing that struck me was CLEAN - not a spot of rubbish anywhere. It was a shock coming from Italy, which is a little more laid back! Also, absolutely postcard perfect. Beautiful thatched roof houses, and perfectly manicured gardens.
Old houses in Lubeck Lubeck Rathaus (city hall)
Lubeck old city gates Inside a church built in 1210
We went to the harbour, also fantastically tidy. They smoke fish straight off the boats on the wharf.
Lubeck wharf
Then we headed to Travemunde (literally Trave River mouth) for a quick dip in the Baltic sea (thanks Peter) !!. You may be able to see in the background a man actually swimming in his speedo's. He later told us he was originally from Vienna and had lived in this area for the last 40 years. For the record the water temperature was around 16 degrees and considered warm and perfect for swimming!
Temperature test of the Bering sea Travemunde at the beach
The next day we drove to Hamburg where I was amazed by the high standard of living. Can you believe it was 29 degrees? Anyhow, it was beautiful, however we only had a few hours to explore as we had to catch a plane back to Vienna at 1pm. Here are some pictures of the Rathaus (city hall) and the port area which is accessed from the North Sea.
Hamburg Rathaus (city hall) A fountain in the courtyard of the Rathaus
Swans on the river - they were hungry Buildings on the canals in Hamburg
A building near the port area in Hamburg The very busy port at Hamburg which empties out to the North Sea


Next we were off to Pisa in Italy - we actually stayed in Terrenia which is a seaside area about 20 minutes drive from the city of Pisa. As you can see it wasn't exactly perfect weather, although it cleared up as the day went along.
Famous old builidng of Pisa
I'm happy to say the tower is still standing,
Leaning Tower of Pisa
in spite of Marco trying to push it over ....
Marco pushing down the Tower
and thanks to me propping it up!
Monica saving the Tower
We also visited the beautiful church:
Outside the Church Inside the Church Holy water in the Church
In addition we ate some fantastic food. Here is Marco with a Tartufo, a favourite dessert of his. I also had the best gelato I have ever tasted - sorry no picture as I ate it too quickly!
Marco's tartufo

Valencia 32nd America's Cup

We left Barcelona by train and headed to Valencia, with the primary purpose of watching the last few races of the Louis Vuitton Cup which would decide who the challenger for the 32nd America's Cup would be. The Swiss team (Alinghi) are defending. I didn't know much about Valencia before we arrived, but I assumed they grow nice oranges (which they do).

First some images of Valencia itself, which has an interesting mix of both new and old.
Valencia old quarter Valencia old quarter
Valencia modern architecture Valencia modern architecture
Now, the America's Cup. This is a huge event for Valencia to host with and the facilities they provided were excellent.
Swiss AlinghiThe Defenders (Swiss Alinghi)
Emirates Team New Zealand Win Louis Vuitton Cup The Challengers (Emirates Team New Zealand)
Americas Cup The prize ... the Americas Cup. Racing starts in early July.
Marco, his father Pietro and best friend Roman had their sailing dreams come true by going for a sail on an ex-Americas Cup racer. At 175 Euro per person, I'm sure it was worth it. I hung around Valencia and investigated the beach and the harbour which were both beautiful. I also got to see the Kiwi's do their victory dance!
Marco and Roman on the coffee grinders Marco at the helm Kiwi victory march
I could get very used to Valencia, which was a beautiful place. It was hard to get used to the eating times - lunch at 2:30 and dinner no earlier than 9:30. Here's a picture of all of us after dinner at a "locals only" restaurant in the suburbs (recommended by our taxi driver). Nobody spoke English so we had to rely on Marco and sign language. I was sucessfully able to communicate lamb by saying "baa baa".
Rustic dinner

Pictures of Barcelona

Hi All

Apologies for the delayed transmission due to a lack of computing power for the last week. Here are some pictures of Barcelona.
A typical building in Ramblas area
One of the beautiful buildings in the Ramblas area, near where we stayed.
Christopher Columbus
The huge statue of Christopher Columbus overlooking the harbour.
Barcelona Yacht Club
The yacht club where we had a fantastic (and huge) lunch.
My new headband
I just had to show you the beautiful headband that I bought :)