Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!01 Jan 2015
Following our graduation a couple of weeks ago my better half (Genevieve) and I decided we should do something to mark the occasion. As we both share a love of travel and will only get 4 weeks of annual leave this year we decided to fill our last couple of months of freedom with one big holiday - a last hurrah!
Over 52 days we will visit Dresden (via Munich), Amsterdam, Ireland, Toronto, Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Calgary, Big White and Vancouver, before flying back home on the 15th of February.
Flying to Europe is always a mixture of excitement, boredom and frustration - it is exciting to go travelling but there are only so many movies and TV shows you can watch! The fact that it signalled the start of our trip only exacerbated these emotions.
On arriving in Singapore (our first stopover) Gen found a massage chair and that was the last I heard from her for 30 minutes. After this short stopover it was back on the plane for another 7 hours.
Our second stopover was in Dubai for 2 or so hours - if you ever get the chance to visit Dubai airport I highly recommend visiting Shakeshack near gate A10 for some homemade lemonade and the thickest of milkshakes! Gen noticed that Shakeshack also offered something called a Concrete - it is described as a "dense frozen custard ice cream blended at high speed with mix-ins". We thought that might be delicious but after getting off a plane such a dense drink is just not appealing.
After downing a croissant from Paul (a French bakery that apparently has the best coffee in Dubai Airport) it was onto an A380 for the last leg to Munich! Emirates has never disappointed me - the planes are new, the food is nice, the flight attendants friendly and there's free Wifi on their fleet of A380s.
Landing onto a snow lined runway, we finally arrived in Munich. We deplaned, went through (a surprisingly friendly and funny) immigration, collected our bags, and made our way to the Europcar counter. Now came the first big test of my planning aptitude. Hiring cars as a 'young driver' (under 25) is difficult and expensive. Add to this the strange QLD/Australian graduated driving licence system and you have a recipe for uncertainty and noncommittal emails from car rental companies. Would they accept my QLD provisional licence as a full licence (I had been informed they would) and would they be happy to rent the car to 22 year old me?
Well luckily the answer happened to be yes and Gen and I were presented with the keys to an Audi A3! What. A. Car. It looked fantastic and had more buttons and gadgets on it then you could poke a stick at! That said, driving a manual on the opposite side of the road, through two roundabouts, in the snow and dark, following instructions from a very german GPS could have been a recipe for disaster but it was non-eventful, helped by the bucketloads of adrenaline that was surging through my body.
We found our hotel (Hotel Hallbergerhof) and were pleased to find out our room had been upgraded from a twin room with a shared bathroom to a double room with our own bathroom! We were early to bed and woke again early the next morning ready for the big drive to Dresden. Before we got on our way we found a small local bakery and bought breakfast - it cost us €4.50 for a day's worth of bread and an excellent cup of coffee.
The drive to Dresden was great! Cruising along German Autobahns at an average of 140km/h through snow covered mountains is an surreal experience. It was a team effort with Gen letting me know when I was drifting too far in one direction and watching out for cars when changing lanes - essentially a beautiful lane assist. It is invaluable when you are driving on the opposite side of the road.
It was a reasonably uneventful trip minus getting stuck behind a couple of snowploughs and occasionally being overtaken by someone going way too fast given the snowy conditions!
Finally, after hours of travel we made it to Dresden where I spent my GAP year in 2010 as a teaching assistant and lived with, what is now my German family, the Kirchbergs. Catching up with the Kirchbergs, and all my other German friends, is always great! They are some of the friendliest, open-minded and interesting people I have ever met.
After dropping the car back off to the airport it was back to the Kirchbergs and early to bed. We were buggered!