25 June 2005


just to let you all know we are safe and sound and REALLY LIKING PARIS (much to my surprise)... the tower is poking up, belleville is happening (no triplets, though), the food has been good, the catacombes full of bones and skulls (which i guess count as bones, too), the cemetery has famous ppl in it (but we got lost, so no oscar wilde for us!), the louvre is HUGE and in places impressive (in others over the top), mona lisa still ENIGMATIC, and the PARIS PRIDE MARCH JUST WENT PAST!!! YAY! lots of dancing, and lots of us queeros living it up!

namur (where we stayed in belgium) was great, too - despite the weird plastic covered sleeping appratus! the city skyline is dominated by the medieval citadel, which houses - most excitingly - underground pasages, which you can explore... but you need to take a torch! luckily we had been warned, so we had a lot of fun, pretending to be soldiers defending the castle, or invading forces holding the citadelle under seige!... at least i did, and dan laughed at me for being a COMPLETE AND UTTER NERD!!! We also had waffles and chips - for which belgium is rightly famous (and apart from deep fried potatoes i ate NO vegies in belgium... erk.)

we will fill you in properly when we get to london - prolly tuesday... or wednesday if we're lazy. dan's folks are coming to paris tonight, and we will pick them up from the station in... FOUR HOURS!!! v. exciting!

so, hope you are well, and keep up the messages... we want GOSSIP GODDAMIT!.. and, esther von oldie, HAPPY BIRTHDAY again. hope it was fun!

21 June 2005


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yep, some new pics are up at the photobucket site. enjoy!

tomorrow we are heading to Namur, a town in Belgium... no Brussels for us, as the sprouts are not in season and the hostels are all booked out. Namur looks pretty though!!!

20 June 2005


roermond is GREAT! the weather is BRILLIANT! peter is REALLY NICE and (almost too) GENROUS!!!

since last time: we got an email from my MUM asking whether we'd visited a coffee shop yet, and since we hadn't, and mum seemed to be implying that we ought to, we went to two that day. once was the home of hash brownies (mmmmmmmmmmmmm chocolate and drugs, together at last!) and was decorated my the mother and daughter team with new agey crystals and pot (not POT) plants... heehee, so cute. we lost ourselves again on the way back (which is really unbelievable, when you look at how easy amsterdam is to navigate), and dan fell asleep on me, while i read... we were in the hostel bar to escape from the SURLY GOTHPUNK who coughed and grumped and didn't wash or change clothes and slept in our room... then our other room mates escaped and we had a couple of drinks with them and went to the Bulldog (one of a chain of coffeeshops) and smoked some very smooth joints... well, one was enough, really... dan was really VERY zonked... and i knew when i'd had enough, so i was happily stoned. now, what to do with our remaining joints???

arrived in roermond, and peter picked us up from the station. we had a walk around the town, got some stuff (incluing dutch liquorice, or zotadrops... spelling?) from the market, and had a bbq on peter's balcony in the evening with some of his lovely neighbours!... talked into the night, sang bad 80s songs, etc... hilarious!

yesterday was very family-history-ish. i visited the place where mum lived when she was a kid before moving to australia: no house left, but peter's mum (my great aunt) says they used to play along the hedge which is still there. we also visited the place where oma spent most of her life, and where my uncle john scattered some of her ashes when he was here a couple of weeks ago. it is a peaceful little corner of a field of flowers and grass, near and oak-lined avenue, and inhabited by a power-shed!!! we drove past the house where oma was born, and also visited anty anne's grave (that's mum's aunty, my great aunt) which isin a very pretty little cemetery. in the afternoon we went to a family gathering in celebration of peter's nephew (my second cousin) graduating from highschool. the dutch have a cute tradition - when someone graduates, they hang the dutch flag out the front of their house, along with their schoolbag and books! ... oh my god, there were so many people! oma was from a family of 14 children (i think) and peter's mum (one of the 2 left) had 7 kids, so you can imagine the number of aunts and uncles etc. who were there!... very cool to meet them all, especially oma's sister... and i have to say now, that if there is such a thing as a gay gene, then mine definitely came from that side of the family!!!

today we drove to maastricht, and walked around the old part of the city. it's very beautiful and trendy, and not at all old-looking, except when you round a corner and find yourself face to face with a water wheel, or one of the old beautiful churches... and now we're writing to you!

the sun is hot, the sky is bright blue, people are biking everywhere, there are canals (in which the braver people are swimming, others are boating, and some are lying in bikinis beside them), there are fields of wheat and asparagus (white asparagus, which peter has peeled in preperation for dinner!), there is hagel slag and other such sprinkles for your toast in the morning, the cafes serve tostis (toasted cheese s'wiches), people say ja (pronouncing it yor/yoh) and it is generally GREAT!!! don't want to go to paris afterwards. paris will suck compared to this! might prolong the inevitable by going to brussels first!

pleas eleave us a comment so we don't feel abandoned - even though we are going on about our great SUMMER weather!

17 June 2005


hellooooooo, chappies. we are in amsterdam! yes we are! since we last wrote to you, we have taken over the world, and are now being pelted with rose petals and other such adoring stuff by our fans and loyal subjects. ah HA! didn't know that did you? w'll, that's because you are not on the continent with us, and everywhere esle hasn't got the news yet. anyway STOP THAT, IT'S SILLY! we haven't really taken over the world at all. sorry.

since we last wrote to you... we went to visit the big statue of marx and engels at alexanderplatz, and got our photos with them. i got to sit on marx's knee, and also hop in engels' coat! hilarious!... michelle and charlie took us to the black girls coalition, which is basically an apartment where you go on a monday night, ring the bell, and get a huge plate of vegan food for 2EUR!!! very exciting, very grungy, very berlin. the transDJ also played cool music... david bowie, scissor sisters, buzzcocks... stuff... we wne to haagen dazs (or some variation on the spelling) and ate ourselves almost sick with icecream... visited the pergamon museum, which contains the second highest number of stolen artifacts of any western museum (after the british museum)... or so our walking tour guide said - we don't know how factual that is. it has a HUGE alter/temple thing (basically they lifted the entire building and rebuilt it in the museum), along with the walls of an egyptian temple and roadway, all in brightly coloured glazed tiles, and a mosque which was a present from some king or another. it made me very uncomfortable, being up close and personal to stolen heritage... they were impressive, but depressing too. i much preferred the exhibition of islamic art - calligraphy, tiles, miniature portraits, ornaments, carpets and textiles etc. very cool. more colour, less things made of stone... charlie made us a DELICIOUS meal of cannelloni, for which i have the recipe, and which i intent to feed to other people... mmmmmmmmm, yummy!... we said goodbye to michelle and charlie, which was strange, because we haven't seen them for a year, and probably won't see them again for another 2 years... and then we came to amsterdam!!!

amsterdam is really lovely - buildings are pretty and not to tall, plenty of parks, lots of cats (so cute!), a great vegetarian restaurant/cafe, CANALS (guys, don't bother with venice, just come here... the coffee's better). we went to the van gogh museums yesterday, which was (apart from being a bit of a rip off at 10EUR each) good. i never really like landscapes, because they're usually just BORING, but this guy - he could paint! he makes the picture come alive! ... while we were there we also looked that the temp exhibition of egon schiele (who we'd already popped in on in vienna), which included some fantastically WANKY performance art, in which people pretended to be his models, and wrote him letters from their point of view, or in which they "ättempted to create a dialogue witht he work of egon scheile" and other such performance-art-speak... *shudder* it was great!......... went to de bolhoed, a vegetarian cafe, for lunch, which was DELICIOUS (and amazingly it was recommended by lonely planet)... walked around... i am reading 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot, which is actually pissingly funny in parts. OK, maybe i exaggerate.

now, off to find either more art, a likely looking coffeeshop, a nice cafe... what to do, what to do? we are hopping on the train tomorrow to roermond to see peter! that is exciting! maybe there will be more windmills!!! and cheese! and even hendrika!!!

take care bozos.

xxx rachel and dan xxx

15 June 2005



Well here we are! this is going to beveryshort as the spacebar is stuffed (can you tell?)... arrived safely in east berlin,to be greeted by charlie and some very cute traffic lights (the walk and dont walk symbols have hats, the stop man looks like he wants a hug, and the green man looks like he has - in the words of the famous band Asparagus and the Despotic Lychee - a giant enormous erection... Michelle and Charlies flat is very lovely - lots of light,white walls, wood floors, sparse but cool furnishings, and BEST OF ALL,michelle and charlie, whohave beenwonderful... arranging free tours, giving us directions and showing us how to use the very efficient, but rather complicatedand annoying train systems.

On our first day we did a walking tour... it was great to get an overview of the museum locations, a bit of background on the buildings (and to see the bulletholes in the walls, and have the patchwork walls pointed out to us - repaired after WWII bombings, and after soviet neglect - in hundredyear old stone, 50 year old blocks, and 10 year old bricks), a bit of interesting political history (we walked through the new jewish memorial, stood on thesite of hitlers bunker - now a residential carpark with no signage whatsoever - saw some remaining sections of the berlin wall), and see the place that marlene dietrich was discovered... but more on her later! ... That evening,we met michelle and charlie at potsdammer platz to watch hitchikers guide on its first day of release in germany... and we were given FREE TOWELS!... with KEINE PANIK printed on them in large friendly letters!

On our second day,dan and i met michelle for an early lunch in her break fromwork, and had a very nice thai meal... mmm... then we went to the jewish museum, which is HUGE,and packed with a fantastic array and variety of exhibits - from historical reconstructions of early jewish settlements in germany (middle ages), to a ´learn to write your name in hebrew´section (i am getting better at the alphabet!!!), to the holocaust tower (a tall cold grey dark concrete space, lit only by a sliver of light at the top... it is a fantastic space to be in) and garden of exile, to home videos of a jewish family in the 30s, to a roomdedicated to german jews who served in WWI, to exhibits of items taken by families when they fled gemany in the 30s... our fave bit,where we spent too much time, was the interactive learning centre, full ofcomputers, where a randomchoice of story starts you on a tour of öa small part of german,jewish history and culture. i read all about betha pappenhaim, a jewish woman who set up homes for single mothers homeless girs etc in the early 20th century,and gave lectures on why jewish women should be allowed to study hebrew and judaism just as their male counterparts...

NOW, i just typed up another 4 paragraphs, which the computer has randomly deleted, so im sorry, but i cant be arsed rewriting it at the moment. a quick overview - HITCHIKERS GUIDE on 1st day od german release, where we were given towels with KEINE PANIK printed on them; teh FILM MUSEUM, where i drooledover marlene deitrich exhibits for and exceptionally long time; PICNICSin the rain in the pretty tiergarten, which was once the royal hunting ground; the flea market with heaps of stuff in it, including heaps of cool retro telephones!; we have SHAVED OUR HEADS again!; having a lovely time with michelle and chaarlie; off to AMSTERDAM soon, then to visit mum#s cousin peter, then paris, then back to the uk; WRITE to us!; see some of you soon!!! xxx rachel and dan.

p.s. michelle and charlie say helloooooo to everyone!

8 June 2005


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More photos up now!!!

7 June 2005


OK, so if you don't like politics and/or don't want to hear about weird sex things, don't read on.

I have gauged that approximately 100% of you are still reading.

COMMUNISM. and anti-communist propaganda... We went to the communist museum in praha today (above mcdonalds, beside the casino), which was really cool. in a weird sort of way. it was broken into sections "the dream" "the reality" and "the NIGHTMARE" and it traced the rise and fall of czech communism in general (and through its various forms) from the early 20th century to the 'velvet revolution' of 1989. it was interesting, but at the same time disturbing, to not only see how horrible that time must have been, but also how vehemently anti-communist the museum was. on a number of occasions remarks were made about the communist propaganda against america (of course no mention of the west's anti-communist propaganda), and about the paranoia spread by the czech and soviet leaders re: america's atomic "weapons of mass destruction" (yes they actually used that phrase... no mention of the fact that this propaganda was produced almost exactly on the american/west side, and no credence given to the fact that american missiles probably WERE trained at communist countries!)... still, 'democracy' is very new here, and it's very easy to feel a zealousness in the background here, obviously born from the events of recent history... or something verbose like that.

SEX. or the Sex Machines Museum... Another hilarious (though somewhat different in places... it was redder, and also had a few more instruments of torture) museum. The ground floor is devoted, somewhat tamely, to a variety of corsets, bodices and brassieres... and socks. hm. The second floor heads into some of the more bizarre old contraptions used by people over the years (a seesaw with dildo[e?]s, crank powered manual vibrators, a voyeuristic chamberpot replete with strategically placed mirror for viewing pleasure, electronic anti-masturbation devices - attached to a bell in the parent's bedroom! - peircings, chastity belts, dildos - one of which had disconcertingly melted inside one contraption, which goes to show you shouldn't put your dildo in strange objects). The third floor was, of course, dedicated almost entirely to bondage, BDSM, and GIMPDOM! hilarious! it included all the old faves - the wheel, the masks, the cages (it looked like it was under a massage table!?), the giant inflatable dildos, etc, etc... the walls of the tops floors were also lined with patents (mostly recent) for things such as anti-rape devices (it involves sharp pointy objects placed strategically in places likely to be penetrated... goody), a bra made of bubble wrap (yep, and you thought it was strange that those guys in madrid patented their patatas bravas sauce!), and various items to enhance erotic pleasure (we think. most of them made absolutely no sense AT ALL). There was also a cinema showing 2 VERY WELL PRESERVED spanish pornographic films from the 1920s. all i have to say is that they made just as little sense then, although the men wore funnier trousers which is always a bonus.

Anyway, so that was our day! to berlin to see michelle and charlie tomorrow... speak soon!


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6 June 2005


firstly, comments can be left by clicking the "# COMMENTS" bit... NOT the envelope, coz that send emails... just in case you wanted to know...

secondly, thanks for the tips loose poached, but we are now in the czech republic where the keyboards have been set to the MASTER TONGUE of english, so no funny biz for now.

thirdly, thanks to all those who have emailed, left messages, texted (is this a word?), phoned etc to wish me a happy von birthday... and even to those who left the VON bit out (how could you?). it was happy and it was summer.


1. BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST. was had in vienna (or wien, where they call themselves WIENERS!!! still amusing after all these years), and was composed of EIS... icecream... and mine was EIS SPAGHETTI! it was vanilla icecream in noodles, topped with very tomatoey (!) looking strawberry sauce, and parmesanish (?) coconut... HILARIOUS. dan had a massive contraption involving 4 types of eis and masses of whipped cream (hm) and chocolate in various forms.

2. BETHANY. who none of you other than julia may remember, but she went to melb uni, and did claire wearne's tie thing with us... anyway i saw her at wombats (she was doing... BUSABOUT!)... so my first known person thing meeting quest you know that stuff.

3. CZECH REPUBLIC. is cool. in both meanings. the landscape of the south was fantastic (in both senses)... the train rolled through close hills (almost claustrophobic in places) of REALLY dense woods. it's like all the green trees in the world have migrated to the czech republic. it was like fairytale country, and we even saw a few castles poking up over the hills... the ominous clouds also added to the atmosphere of fantasy...

4. PRAGUE. is obviously seperate from the czech republic as listed above. prague, as you have heard SO MANY TIMES BEFORE, is beautiful. seriously, we did a walk through the old town and the jewish quarter yesterday, and the architecture is amazing. it is astounding how many old buildings are still standing, and still being used, and still looking nice... there are also lots of franz kafka things. like beetles. and monuments to him and whatnot. and also, everything has gold and colours and there is a clock onthe old town hall and when it reaches the hour a funny skeleton thing rings the bell and a procession of saints (we think) parades (procedes...) past the open windows at the top. like diamaru only MUCH OLDER and sort of funnier! people cheered!

5. SYNAGOGUEY CONGLOMORATE. is synagoguey. we went into all of them (if you're ever here, don't bother with the Old New Synagogue... ripped off. although dan did get a funny disposable kippa!!! it looked like a party hat!) ... one of them is empty, but the names of 80,000 jews from prague and around who died in the holocaust are written on the walls... think about that for a moment. eighty thousand. you can't really get your head around it. when you walk into the synagogue, every wall is covered with names, about 1.5 cms high, from the ceiling to the floor, on 2 storeys. every panel contains hundreds of names, lists hundreds of people killed. to be faced with just one panel is overwhelming. i know that i felt small and helpless and angry and incredibly sad and frustrated... it is impossible to read all the names, even on one wall, but i wanted to - i didn't want even one of these people to be forgotten... needless to say, i bawled my eyes out a few times, and spent ages in there... ... ... the other synagogues were interesting, but nowhere near as powerful as that. a couple of times dan pulled me up and said "you know how you were asking me about... (something jewish)... well, here, read this plaque." and so now i know why all those little rectangular boxes are stuck on the doorframes. and why aaron didn't have to pay 5 silver shekels for dan, as first born, to be redeemed... it's because they are all related to dr spock! (sorry, geeky jewish joke there)... the cemetry was also very cool. it was PACKED with toombstones like jagged teeth, because they've piled layer apon layer of soil there, but every time they put a new layer on, they lifted the headstones to the new level. rabbi loew, who made the golem, is buried there.

6. FAKE EIFFEL TOWER. oh. my. god. erin and julia, how could you neglect to mention this in your travel tips book?!?!?!? it is HILARIOUS. today, instead of going to the castle, we climbed the petrin tower... now we don't have to do it in paris... so i guess we don't have to go to france any more... bonus! czechs are nicer than them anyday. it is also near a mirror maze, which is always good fun.

7. THEIR MONEY IS SILLY!!! that about sums it up.

8. OUR HOSTEL. has two snuggly friendly cool CATS!!! called phillipe and BORIS!!! boris is big and fat and ginger and named after boris becker. and phillipe (it is prolly spelled differently) is younger and grey and white and SO CUTE! esther j, are you jealous? serves you right for not answering the phone when we call you at 11pm!!!

prolly off to dresden tomorrow, then berlin!!! michelle and charlie!!! YAY! will try to do pix now... so maybe more delight for you!

p.s. I WANT BOXED SET OF YUGIOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 June 2005


first of all, the zs and ys are going to be all mixed up, and the punctuation is going to be terrible, because i cant be bothered wrestling with the austrian kezboards. ok. good.

zurich (looks dumb as yurich, hez) is reallz quite nice. we had no expectations of it, so to find that we were stazing in the heart of the old town was special. we spent manz an hour wandering around the little streets, asking the comic store that specialised in french comics if thez had zugioh in english (thez didnt but it went up to book 33 in german!!!), wanting to buz an entire shop of funnz colourful childrens musical instruments (the instruments were funnz and colourful, the children were thankfullz not there), and looking at the menu for the outback bar. we will post pictures in the next week or so.

we also ATE FONDUE!!! it was verz exciting, and for all those who have attended one of our fondue parties, i have to saz we do it just as well as the swiss, if not better (ok, i maz be biased, but thez didnt give us caremelised onion, cherrz tomato, or mushroom dippers... onlz BROT).

took the night train to vienna (WIEN!), and checked into a lovelz little apartment for our first night. it was in the middle of the red light district (we are making a habit of this) which was, once again, not verz seedz. i was coming down with a cold (i HATE BEING SICK! sore throats and necks and ezes and noses and ears reallz SUCK), so weäve been taking it easz. went to the leopold museum zesterdaz to see HEAPS of scheile and klimt... i know zouäre jealous, mums!... it was fantastic. thez had a special exhibition called Naked Truth, detailing the changes in artistic depictions of the naked bodz around 1900 in vienna. it was reallz reallz cool. i think iäm converted to vienese (WEINER) painting!

todaz we carted all our stuff over to WOMBAT hostel, then went down to MUMOK, which is FREE this month because it is artyculturaly month or something. also very cool, although the pamphlet analzsing some of the modernist works was THE most wanky thing i have read for quite a while. iäll keep it for zou dad, so zou can impress zour kids at school! enjozed the exhibition Road to War, bz someone or another (canät remember the name)...

HEZ, while im at this art bit, im gonna plug mz folks exhibitions!!! mum has some work up in skepsi near melb uni, so CHECK IT OUT. mum and dad are also busy getting readz for an exhibition in (crap... where) bairnsdale, i think... so yeah, LOOK AT THE PRETTZ PICTURES!!! trust me, some of the crap we have seen in our travels is nowhere near as good (do i sound like im biased in anz waz... NO)

We are off to prague tomorrow... so i guess Youäll hear from us then, or when we get to berlin and meet with michelle and charlie (YAY!)... so take care guzs!!!