A Travellerspoint blog

August 2012

Charlie Caper by Gabi

THIS MIDSHEN HAS GOT TALENT ...

semi-overcast 22 °C

When we were in Stockholm Sweden we were walking down the street and we met Charlie Caper. He is a midshen. He could me up and he said what is your name.

We did some tricks. First trick was he had a lide in his hand and I thought it went in his pocket but it went down his panss.

warm up act ...

warm up act ...

Second trick I had a coin in my hand and it decsapead behind my ear.

watching closely ...

watching closely ...

how did he do that?

how did he do that?

Last trick he had two paper balls in his hands and they desapead into my hands.

not this time Charlie!

not this time Charlie!

it really is magic ...

it really is magic ...

Then he said “thankyou Gabi” and a nother lady came up.

Editor's note : This guy we happened across was fantastic, and a quick internet search that night revealed him to be a past winner of 'Sweden's Got Talent'! His internet site for anyone interested is www.catchmagic.com.

Posted by happellfamily12 07:17 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm street theatre magician Comments (1)

Sweden

We found Pippi Longstocking, but where is Wallander?

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Sweden was a bit of a leap into the unknown. We were tossing up between Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia, and it was only some super-cheap flights with SAS (remember them?) into Stockholm that swayed it for us.

Speaking of which, we enjoyed possibly the perfect airport travel experience from Arlanda airport (45 kms north of the capital). Pick up luggage from the carousel, take lift down 2 floors, walk 20 metres to waiting Arlanda Express, leave platform 2 minutes later, reach a top speed of 200kms/hour 5 minutes later, enjoy a pristine carriage with TV, magazines and multi-lingual announcements, exit train 20 minutes later in the center of Stockholm. Unbelievable experience ... but can it be replicated down under??

A whirlwind day and a half in Stockholm gave us the merest taste of its charm and beauty. A city made up of 14 islands - with 30% of the city area consisting of waterways, and 30% parks and green spaces - obviously has a huge natural advantage. Throw in the well-earned reputation for design flair, and a surprisingly strong multicultural feel, and this all adds up to an entertaining and interesting visit.

very flash Ostermalm from our ferry trip

very flash Ostermalm from our ferry trip

downtime in Gamla Stan (old town)

downtime in Gamla Stan (old town)

Lisa heading into Riksdagshuset (Parliament House)

Lisa heading into Riksdagshuset (Parliament House)

our Stockholm hotel ... a pleasant slice of Swedish style

our Stockholm hotel ... a pleasant slice of Swedish style

We had however made the decision to 'do as the Swedes do' in summer, and thus a visit to the beautiful island of Gotland off the east coast beckoned. Figures vary, but they say that at least 50% of all Swedes visit this island at least once in their lifetime. It is hard to think of an Australian equivalent ... possibly Byron Bay ... but this place has a strong emotional hold over many carrying the blue and yellow.

A one hour bus ride to Nynashamm, followed by a 3 hour boat ride on the massive 'Destination Gotland' ship (carrying over 1400 passengers plus cars) was seamless and enjoyable. The Swedes are big pet lovers, so there was even an allocated area on board where you could sit with your canine friend!

sailing the high seas ... and braver than their parents!

sailing the high seas ... and braver than their parents!

Our accommodation was in a large camping area called Kneipbynn, and we elected to rent an apartment rather than expose our limited camping abilities. This campground is famous for being the site of Pippi Longstocking's house when they made the movies many years ago, and they still hold little plays on-site which young and old enjoy. The other main activities were visiting the two fantastic onsite parks - Vattenland (Water Land) and Sommarland - and cycling the short distance into Visby, the island's main town. We were fortunate to run into medieval week at Visby, which was re-enacted with some vigor by the locals. Visby is a stunning town ... right up the top of our list of belle citta.

view from our apartment in Kneipbynn

view from our apartment in Kneipbynn

Pippi's house

Pippi's house

we only touched on Gotland's beauty due to the weather ... next time ...

we only touched on Gotland's beauty due to the weather ... next time ...

locals at play in Visby ... Lisa had a crush on the bloke with the long prong

locals at play in Visby ... Lisa had a crush on the bloke with the long prong

Despite pretty ordinary weather throughout, we had a fantastic week, and returned to Stockholm with our fellow Swedish holidaymakers keen to return again another day.

Note : for TV (and literary) buffs, the answer to the question posed in the sub-heading is Ystad, in the south of Sweden. I was tempted to do a day trip from Copenhagen - via Malmo - but bike duties called!

Posted by happellfamily12 07:36 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Legoland

Wow - that hurt the hip pocket - but the kids had a great time.

semi-overcast 24 °C

Saying goodbye to the Christiana we caught the train to Billund for Legoland. We had fallen into the trap of staying in the over-priced fairly average Legoland hotel. Many of the comments on Trip Advisor pan the hotel, and it is not much more then a Flag Inn charging Sheraton prices. On the plus side it is great for kids with entry to Legoland included in the price; allows easy access to the park; and there are buckets of Lego for them to play with scattered throughout the hotel.

The kids were in their element and loved going on the rides and seeing many famous cities and sights made out of Lego.

Lego Ride

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Gabi was brave enough to go on the Polar Ice roller coaster with Dan, and I think they were both as terrified as each other. It was a gutsy effort by Gab, as it is very high, goes extremely fast and is more suited for older children.

Of course it is hard to leave Legoland without clutching a box of Lego and both kids came away from the massive shop clutching a small box. Lego for the kids has kept them entertained in every country since we left and has been played with on trains, planes, airports, stations, restaurants, apartments and hotel rooms, so adding to the collection is a plus for all parties sanity.

It's all Lego

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I was hoping that there would be a history of Lego where one could take a walk down memory lane and see the sets we'd played with as kids in the late 70s : train stations, hospitals, star wars. However it was not to be ...

Posted by happellfamily12 08:55 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

Copenhagen

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes but where is the Christiana?

all seasons in one day 22 °C

When in Denmark it is important to do as the Danes do and ride a bike. Copenhagen alone has over 360 kms of bike tracks, and 55% of the population commutes daily! This is the solution for us we thought ... the adults peddling and the kids in a carrier ... EASY! Day 1 - we set out to track down the bike shop for our transport however it was not to be as it was Sunday and most shops were closed. Day 2 - we excitedly set out again map packed. Alas many a shop but none who would cater for the needs of our family. 'The Christiana' was what we needed but we were told but the Christiana was hard to find. After the 4th shop I was thinking of using my trusty Swiss army knife to cut a Christiana loose from the many stacked on the side-walk.

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes

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Day 3 - not to be defeated Dan set off early with the Christiana in his sights (to be obtained legally). He returned triumphantly with the beast in tow ... the kids were ecstatic ... their chariot awaited. No trailing behind mum and dad on foot; a comfy seat; a cover for the rain, and a good view. They were set.

The Christiana

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The bike gave us the freedom we needed and although we were a bit nervous at the start we soon got the hang of it. It was a bit like driving in Italy, keep to one side and let the experts pass by quickly. On bikes we saw the changing of the guard and hoped to hang out with Mary & Frederick as their kids are similar in age, but they were apparently in London for the Olympics.

The Changing of the Guard

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Lisa on Bike

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We explored the coast line and went on board a beautiful Norwegian clinker free of charge. Visited the beautiful botanical gardens and saw the amazing herb garden. An undoubted highlight was a visit to the famous Tivoli Gardens - the second oldest amusement park in the world. They have spent 170 years perfecting the art of draining every last kroner out of your wallet, but they also put on a hell of a show ... some of the rides made you feel ill just watching!

Boat

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Herb Garden and Botanical Gardens

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Amazing Tivoli Gardens

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Climbed to the top of the round tower (Rundetarn) and enjoyed amazing 360 degree views of Copenhagen. Also peddled along the waterfront and enjoyed dinner in a funky local cafe. Made a half-hearted pass at the world's number 1 restaurant - Noma - but thank goodness it was closed for renovations!

Rundertarn

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Noma - No.1 two years running - bank loan anyone?

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Nearly made it back to our hotel room in lovely Nyhavn before the storm hit and we had to shelter under an awning. Rain is common place in the Danish summer and our first two days had been marred by rain and Melbourne Autumnal-like temperatures. It should also be noted that Dan spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down Sophie Grabol - star of the hit TV show The Killing. Apparently her favourite cafe was just around the corner from our hotel, but alas no Inspector Sarah Lund despite his best efforts ...

Nyhavn

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Copenhagen is a beautiful city and although it is very expensive we really enjoyed the ease of travel on bikes, the wonderful architecture, laid-back vibe, efficiency and organisation.

Posted by happellfamily12 08:32 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Morocco

ROYALTY, RAMADAN, AND ROULETTE

Flicking through the Easyjet mag on our flight to Berlin, Dan came across a cheap deal for Morocco. Stay 7 nights pay for 5 and kids eat for free ... why not! Our travel weary feet needed a break, and a bit of resort style living would fit the bill. Flights booked, accommodation booked, credit card frozen (mine) due to suspicious transactions ... too many overseas entries despite it being an o/s card ... priceless.

The travel manager from our team had overlooked the fact that it was Ramadan, but this surprisingly had very little impact on our stay, even though at least 80% of the staff (at a guess) would have been fasting. From the guests' perspective, alcohol was still available with meals ... it was only curtailed as a stand alone activity. On this point, a nice German woman we met who worked at the resort said that many Moroccans were not strictly practising Muslims, and whilst observing Ramadan, would otherwise not be devout followers of Islam. A moderate country indeed ...

Our trip consisted of a train ride from Switzerland; a four hour stopover in Milan (where we could not leave our suitcases at the Station due to a scopero (strike), so this somewhat limited our sight seeing of Milan); and a 3 hour Royal Air Maroc flight. In Milan we did manage to see the stunning Duomo and the equally impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. From Milan centrale out to Malpensa by bus (trains also on scopero), and then we entrusted ourselves to the 112th ranked airline in the world! Suffice to say we got there in one piece, but the clapping upon landing from the predominantly Moroccan passengers did little to increase our confidence levels in the national carrier!

Lighting Candles in Milan

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Accommodation - Mazagan Beach Resort

This resort is only three years old and includes a golf course, wellness centre, two pools, casino, and its own section of private beach (7km). Compared to the surrounding areas the resort is very green and water appears to be in abundance. I am not sure where they source their water from and the use of it does seem excessive when the surrounding areas are so dry. When you are in the resort you are a bit removed from reality. A trip to Casablanca for Dan and I was an eye opener. Many of the areas are extremely poor and children work the fields and donkeys and timber carts are still in operation. However there are pockets of wealth as well including lots of new construction harbour-side and a massive shopping centre the equivalent of a Westfield. We had been warned by our friend Leonie that Casablanca was not much of a city and this proved correct.

The Resort

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Casablanca Town

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Casablanca Beach

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A subsequent trip by Dan to El Jadida gave a much better taste of Moroccan life in a good-sized town. Thriving market; old Portuguese town; bustling port; and many, many locals playing scratch games of fudball.

El Jadida

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As mentioned previously it was Ramadan, so many of the staff were only allowed to eat and drink between sunset and sunrise. I felt sorry for them as the resort guests were filling their plates like pigs at the trough at the all-you-could-eat Market Buffet. Despite the guilt I felt at the excess of the resort, it was a fantastic week and the kids especially loved it. Highlights :

A camel ride along the beach in the late afternoon was a huge success and something we all loved, despite the kids initial fear and high pitched screams as they rose up in the air and snapped their teeth (camels not kids).

Camel Ride

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Camel_Ride.jpg

The coast line was stunning and it was lovely to have a wide uninhabited stretch - morning swims, and afternoon walks/runs were delightful.

A trip to the spa for Dan and I for a bit of off-road pampering.

Chatting to some of the other guests and the kids making new friends at the pool and the kids club.

The Pool and Beach Bar

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Watching the big ball of orange sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Surf and Sunset

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Improving our non-existent French. Despite it being a beautiful, world class resort, most of the staff spoke Arabic, French, and only a smattering of English. Google Translate again was a saviour.

Casino visit for Dan which was meant to pay for the trip, but ended up putting some Moroccan dirhams into the resort coffers. National laws state that there can only be one casino in a 100km radius ... pity it ended up at Mazagan!

Posted by happellfamily12 09:20 Comments (0)

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