Off we go...
I haven't had a great deal of time to write anything over the past few weeks. Going back to work, in early September certainly put pay to that!
On reflection, I always wanted to write a blog entry about my summer holidays, but just finding the time was the only obstacle that need to be overcome.
Many years ago, when I was 18 and 19, I had a plan and that plan came into fruition. I organised and then embarked on a long European adventure for the very first time. At that age I was relatively care free, fresh out of college and looking to enjoy life t University. I obviously felt free and that the world was there to be taken. With a strong sense of adventure and time on my side, it was time to explore and make life long memories. So with no hesitation I proposed the plan to my best friend, who thankfully and gladly agreed to join in. The only thing we didn't have is a great deal of money, but we had the desire and that was pretty much all we would need. When two good friends set their minds to it, anything is possible!!
Years later and fast approaching 'old age' it really got me thinking once again about how it important it is to seize the day and enjoy eveything you do. I have never been someone who will settle for second best and to settle my inquisitive and adventurous nature, that's exactly what i did...
The past year has been one of the most challenging, yet enjoyable years on planet earth with so many high points and unfortunately one or two lows.
On the 23rd July I finished work, for the summer and soon headed to Amsterdam for the start of yet another new adventure. Manchester to Amsterdam is a straightforward 50 minute flight, one that I had already completed 4 times in the last year or so. No sooner are you are up in the air, than you're safely back on the ground.
Arriving at Schipol is always a nice feeling. It's a huge airport and efficient in every way. You leave the plane and walk the corridors for what seems like a month. Part way along is passport control and then finally the arrival hall, where you know your bags will be waiting the moment you get through. All in all that month probably equates to around 10 mins and from here the outside world.
On walking through the 'big doors', Claire was waiting for me, happy and delighted to see me as usual. From here we would take the short train journey back to Rotterdam, where Claire lives. On arriving Claire aka @claireonline was obviously very happy to see me, but also was equally anxious to show me the scene from the down MH17 flight which had been sadly shot down over the Ukraine only days before.
On seeing this I couldn't help but think back to how lucky I was. It it was of course an extremely moving experience. People stood in silence, some laid yet more flowers as memories. The country was still in mourning and yet life all around me was still going on as usual.
After spending an initial few minutes there, standing and observing, we proceeded downstairs to the underground station and the onward to the city of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam Centraal Station
Here are few more photos from the ever changing city of Rotterdam
Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second city of the Netherlands and a rather cool place to boot. Flattened during the Second World War it has grown again from the ashes into a city of modern architectural splendour. The city boast a fantastic waterfront and a fine selection of modern buildings that are both daring and unique. I particularly love the new station as it is a huge space, yet so calm and peaceful once you are inside.
France - Paris
After spending the evening in Rotterdam we woke up early and heading straight to the main station to catch an early train to Paris. We had purchased our 3 week rail passes, but even though they allowed you to travel almost anywhere in Europe, they did have one or two restrictions. Mainly on the type of train you could catch.
The Thalys (fast) train would get you into Paris in around four hours and the alternative train eight hours. To ultimately save over £100 pounds each we opted for the eight hour journey. This ended up to be the best option, as it allowed us to travel from to Paris via Antwerp in Belgium and both Arras and Amiens in France.
Stocked up with sweets, fruit and drinks we enjoyed the scenery of Northern France and head towards Paris. On arriving in Paris the heat, noise, hustle and bustle soon hit us. Paris is a great city, but today was also the grand finish of the Tour de France. A race I have always wanted to see, but today I was actually going to get nowhere near it as the entire world had turned up.
Instead we headed close by and still enjoyed the sights and sounds around the Effiel Tour and along the Seine On route back to the hotel we wandered along the river Seine, but soon realised we were running low on food, energy and desperately needed some drink. We searched and eventually found snails in abundance, together with frites and French bread. Rounded off with a couple of 1664's and we were back on track.
The next day saw us hop across to station Austerlitz where we would gather ourselves and connect with the train that would take us onwards to Switzerland. At the station it was rush hour and it was so busy. People rushing all over and it struck me that it was going to be a rush onto an already packed train. Thankfully, running down the platform laiden with luggage and then diving into the nearest available carriage really did pay off, as we helped ourselves to two wonderfully located seats.
The journey again was long, five hours in total, but the scenery was truly amazing. Love France, so open and expansive. Rolling fields and thundery weather allowed for some dramatic moments. Eventually, we made our way into Basel and beyond into the beautiful Swiss town of Interlaken.
It's fair to suggest that I truly love Switzerland. If there is a place I could live on earth, then it would be there. Such a wonderful country with a wonderful mix of mountains, lakes, forests and a super standard of living. We ventured to Interlaken and also to Zermatt.
Interlaken is a great location situated between two major Swiss lakes and also close to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery the Alps has to offer.
Austria - Vienna
Poland - Krakow
Germany - Berlin
The Netherlands - Amsterdam
We'll I started off writing about my summer holiday and sadly couldn't actually find the time to write it all down.
I had a million other photos and a million other memories to share. One day I will build on this and probably get it all written down.
I had an amazing time, at a point in my life where I just needed to do things because I wanted to do it. I shared this experience with Claire and it was the best time in the best company.
I wouldn't have wanted it any other way and wouldn't change a thing. Well, only to do it all again tomorrow and visit somewhere new.
I will continue to venture and experience new experiences as it helps make me the person that I am.
Claire is a talent, a wonderful human, with an ability to capture the world in a very unique and inspiring way. If you have enjoyed reading this or perhaps enjoyed viewing my pictures, then you need to see an expert.
Please stop by Instagram @claireonline or www.claireonline.nl and marvel at her work.