A Travellerspoint blog

Pompeii

On the way to Naples

sunny 24 °C

We hired a driver to take us to Naples, along the way stopping in Pompei for 1.5hours:

Pompeii

The main attraction here is obviously the ruined ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was engulfed by Mt. Vesuvius on the 24th August 79AD. The excavated site is huge. We only had 1.5 hours here to look around, but I reckon you could spend up to 3 hours here.

Entering via the Porta Marina (gate). Once upon a time, the sea water would reach up to the gate
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A typical street in Pompeii. There are grooves in the roads made by the carts and stone blocks in the street for pedestrians to step onto to cross the street so they didn't have to walk on water and waste that flows on the street. This is why their sidewalks are higher than the street:
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The Basilica - the most important public building of the city where both justice was administered and trade was carried on. Not really a church, but the layout of this basilica became a blueprint for many churches today:
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The Forum: This was once the center of public life. It was surrounded by many of the important governmment, religious and business buildings:

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This was the fish market

Plaster casts of people that did not escape in time:
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Bath house:
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Massage table?!?

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Fastfood stalls

These fast food stalls were just outside the public baths/gyms. The holes were full of pots with hot foods, just the thing after a workout.

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Beware of dogs- found on the front step of a house. The ORIGINAL beware of dog sign :)

At the biggest house in Pompeii. Apparently it had 40 rooms:
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The writing "HAVE" means welcome- found at the front door steps

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A mosaic painting of the story of Alexander the Great on the floor (made up of over 1million tiles). This is actually the replica. The original is in the musuem in Naples.

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The original lead pipe works

These water supply was split up into 3 lines. Public fountains, private homes and bath houses.

The bakery:
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The Tavern:
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Unfortunately the paths to the brothel was shut.. so no brothels for us :( :(

Off to Naples.. to be continued..

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 11:50 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Sorrento

sunny 26 °C

Sorrento

We flew from Rome to Naples, and prebooked a taxi from Naples to Sorrento. We figured it was a better way to prebook a taxi, rather than go through the craziness at Naples train station. The drive took about 2 hours, stopping along the way to check out the views. We also had a couple of lemon granitas from a vendor in a parking lot. 1.50E for a cup full of lemon granita with a shot of Limoncello poured in. Bargain!!!

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View of Sorrento

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Mt Vesuvius in the distance

Our seafood dining journey started here, with a courtesy shuttle service (provided by the restaurant) to and from the restaurant down at the marina. We had grilled fish, seafood antipasti, grilled scampi, prawns, octopus AND the best gnocchi that melted in our mouth!! So good..

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My dad's decorated fish

Capri

The next morning, we took a quick 30 minute ferry over to Capri (an island off the coast of Sorrento).

Capri was a favored resort of the Roman emperors.

We then hopped onto a smaller boat to take us around the island:
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Faraglioni Rocks: the symbol of Capri

Rolling around on the ocean was a great change, blue sky, calm water, we couldn't have asked for more. The most exciting part of the boat ride was the stop at the Blue Grotto. The majority of the people on our boat didn't want to wait 2 hours (as we were told) to get into the Blue Grotto, so they were transferred onto another boat. A handful of us stayed and waiting. Our skipper was fishing, the rest of us tried to soak in the sun.

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Michelle's dad taking a nap on the boat while waiting to get into the Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto:
The entrance is small and depending on the tide there is just enough space for only a small rowboat to get through.

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Those are the row boats that took us into the grotto

After waiting in the boat for about 30 minutes, it was our turn to go in the Blue Grotto through the tinest hole in the cave. To pass through we all had to lay on the bottom of the boat. As the ocean swells the top of the boat hits the top of the entrance to the grotto.

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We are ready to go inside the cave..

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It is blue inside the cave, hence the name Blue Grotto (Grotto meaning cave). The bright light is the entrance of the cave

Supposedly back when the original romans were here this grotto was used to host orgies and was connected to the surface by a hidden tunnel. Not sure if I believe it but its a good story :) The cave is about 50m long and all of the light comes from the sun shinning on the entrances to the grotto.

After the Blue Grotto we took the funicular up to Capri city and had a quick lunch. After that we got the bus to Anacapri and took to the chairlift up the top of one of the mountains. The chairlift was basically just a chair with a bar so you cant fall out. Perfect simplicity! It was a 15minute ride up with spectacular views.

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The view from Capri city and the trip up the mountain on the chairlift

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The views from the mount at the top of the chair lift

The taxis they have on this island are crazy. They look like chop shop convertibles! We couldn't resist the taxi rid back down in a machine like this.

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'Chop shop' taxis in Capri

Finished the day with my mummy's home cooked chicken porridge. It tasted sooooo good :) Thanks Mummy.

Amalfi Coast

The next day (Day 3 in Sorrento), we were chauffeured (far classier than our usual mode of transport) in a van along the Amalfi coast stopping in Positano, Amalfi and Ravello and a grotto that was meant to rival the Blue Grotto. After meeting our driver Frank we were on the road!

First stop was Positano, the guide book said that it was 90% womens fashion boutiques and it wasn't far off. The view from the beach was my (Blake) reward for passing through the confines of womens' shopping streets.

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The Amalfi coast, beautiful from almost all angles

POSITANO
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Positano from above and below

On our way to Amalfi we stopped in a small fishing village called Furore which annually hosts a high diving competition. Unfortunately neither Michelle or her parents were willing to dive for my photo so you'll just have to use your imagination (or check out Furore diving on Youtube).

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Cliff diving in Furore, on the way to Amalfi

AMALFI
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Amalfi

It was a quick stop in Amalfi, we had some yummy seafood and the local pasta called Scialatielli. It was delicious. Lots shorter and fatter than regular spaghetti and delicious with seafood! Unfortunately we didn't take any photos of lunch- didn't realise the food was going to taste good till we'd already digged in. After this Michelle and I bought some paper which has been produced in Amalfi since 1200AD made of COTTON. It feels a bit thicker than regular paper but looks classy (as it should for the price).

We continued on to Ravello:

RAVELLO
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The Duomo

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Villa Rufolo: A palatial Moorish-style estate that was originally built in the 1270 for the Rufolo family. In 1880, a trip to Villa Rufolo’s garden inspired German composer Robert Wagner to write the second act of his final opera, Parsifal. Every summer it hosts the Ravello Music Festival, an open-air concert held in Wagner’s honor:
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The view from the villa.. simply amazing.. :)

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This is where they've just finished hosting the music festival- pulling down the stage

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My(Michelle) parents found a chestnut tree covered with chestnuts on the ground. So they decided to fill my dad's video camera case full of chestnuts to cook at home. Unfortunately, it turned out to be very bitter and mum chucked it out, thinking it was poisonous :(

Emerald Grotto
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The view of the coast while waiting to enter the cave

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Not as cool as the Blue Grotto, but a great way to end the day :)

We finished the day with a yummy seafood meal & apparently the best lamb chops:
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Marinated seafood antipasti: salmon, swordfish, cuttlefish

Day 4 in Sorrento

We spent the morning at a lemon grove. Michelle's dad sat chatting to an American couple from San Francisco who reckon that there will be an Asian US president in the next 20 years :). We shall live to see..

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Oranges growing out of a lemon tree

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Bought some yummy arancino (made from orange) and limoncello (made from lemon)

Shopping day for Michelle & her mum...

Next stop.. the hustle and bustle of Naples

xoxo B&M

Posted by blake-michelle 12:52 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Rome (Part II)

Rome sweet Rome.

semi-overcast 24 °C

Rome

After spending the whole day travelling- flying from Munich to Dusseldorf to Florence then train to Rome.. we were totally exhausted. Luckily neither of us was hung over from Oktoberfest, that would have sucked big time. When we got to the train station in Rome, we were meant to catch bus number 70 to our B&B near the Vatican. We walked around for nearly half an hour looking for the bus, and finally gave up and caught a cab instead- surprisingly, the cab fare wasn't too expensive.

We spent the next day, just recuperating till we met up with my (Michelle's) parents. We moved to a 2 bedroom apartment near the Spanish Steps, which apparently sleeps 9 people (not sure how?!?!).

As we were in Rome a couple of months ago, we decided to visit some of the sights we haven't been to:

The Colosseum

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Inside the Colosseum

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Hahaha.. taller than you Blake.. :D

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View of the Constantine Arch from the Colosseum. In the background is the Palatine Hill

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Temple of Venus view from the Colosseum

Palatine Hill

Here, there is the Imperial Palace which is now the Palatino museum which contains statues and frescoes from the once luxious imperial palace.

There was also the House of Augusus (a.k.a. Octavian)- the 1st emperor. He lived here in this humble dwelling with his wife before he became an emperor. Apparently he was a modest man who believed in traditional values and would wear clothes woven by his wife and daughter.

(It was pouring with rain, so I forgot to take photos :()

The Huts of Romulus is also on this hill. According to legend, Romulus & Remus were children of the first Vestal Virgin. For some reason, she was executed and her babies were set adrift on the flooding Tiber River and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine Hill. A shepherd discovered them being suckled by a mother wolf and raised them as his own. When Romulus grew up, he killed his brother and built a square wall on the hilltop, and that is how the city of Rome was founded (supposedly) :)

Roman Forum

This was the political, religious, and commercial center of the city. This is where Rome's most important temples and halls of justice were located.
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Arch of Titus
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This arch commemorates the Roman victory over the province of Judaea (Israel) in 70AD.

St Angelo's Castle

This castle was built as a tomb for the emperor, used through the Middle Ages as a castle, prison, and place of last refuge for popes under attack. Emperor Hadrian was quite cheeky. He wasn't supposed to build a tomb in Rome so he had a massive one built just over the river.

It is now a musuem.
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The view from the top of the castle

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The Vatican in the background, view from the top of the castle

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St Angelo's bridge: In the Middle Ages, this was the only bridge in the area that connected St Peter's and the Vatican with downtown Rome. This bridge was infamous as a place for beheadings.

Mushroom season.. check them out:
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Yummy porcini mushroom.. but not cheap

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 11:26 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Oktoberfest

Lederhosen, Dirndl & a bucket of beer...

rain 18 °C

Oktoberfest

Day 1

We arrived in Munich around lunch time and luck was on our side! We found a locker at the train station, stowed one of our bags and made our way to camp.

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Tent living - 50m from the campground pub
It seems like we got short changed with the smallest tent there.. oh well, nice and cosy.

We ventured into the Oktoberfest grounds by 5pm. Unfortunately it was raining, and all of the beer tents were full inside. By the time we'd had a walk around the Paulaner tent and came outside the rain had stopped. We sat down outside and all had a beer infront of us within 2 minutes. Nothing can beat the feeling of that sweet amber liquid sliding down my throat into my eager belly. After 12weeks of wine in France and Italy I was finally home! BEER...

I would love to tell you more of the night but for some strange reason all memories after my 5th or 6th Steins are blank. Michelle seems to think that the local constabulary assisted me down the stairs at the train station and that I fell asleep on the train. (It is true.. I (Michelle) had to drag him out of the train and the walk home was so painful & long.. ) All i know is that I wasn't sick anywhere and whilst I felt poor the next morning it wasn't the worst hangover ever. On the up side it was the best sleep I had in the tent as I couldn't hear the rest of the partying and the campground pub.

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First night at the fest. Beers Lederhosen, Dirndl and a mega pretzel.

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Right before we fell over onto the table behind us for the 2nd time..

Day 2: Hung over day

Woke up, had a shower and decided to go into town with the clan. A bike tour was on the cards but my balance was still a bit off and Michelle's Dirndl (Bavarian dress) wasn't the best for riding. So the rest of the group went off and we decided to find a nice park and relax. Well we happened to find the local nude park. Normally I'd be happy but there was more than 5 nude blokes sitting/walking/star jumping around and no women!?!? Well it wasn't all naked people here so we decided to sit down near the stream and recuperate.

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Blake being hungover.. poor boy

In the evening..
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A hangover and lack of sleep isn't gonna stop us! We went for a slow start, hoping we could find a seat in a tent as it was only 4pm and there was only the 2 of us this time. No joy... We decided to get a half chicken (Oktoberfest speciality) and sit on a grassy hill. I think this was the funniest part of Oktoberfest... We sat and watched hordes of drunk people stumble up and down the hill, spew, pass out and try unsuccessfully to sleep in the base of a tree. My favourite guy was passed out when we got there, woke up and started down the hill. He made it 5m before he tripped over another passed out guy (who didn't stir) and got back up again. He then stumbled into a pair of guys push fighting, bounced off and fell again. Anyway I could go on forever but suffice it to say, it was HILARIOUS.

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Drunks passed out on the grassy hill..

We eventually found our crew sitting out the front of Hacker-Festzelt tent and we eventually found a seat nearby. At the end of the night we decided that it would be a good idea to take our "souvenir" beer steins back home. We needed to get 7 out of the tent and there were security guards at all exits. We needed a plan... Half of the group was to run decoy while the rest calmly strolled out of the exit with the steins. I had 4 wrapped in my jumper and had it "casually" slung over my arm (Not suspicious at all, 5x1L Steins clumsily wrapped in a jumper). Anyway, the plan went off without a hitch and we are all awesome.

Anyway, bit of a quiet night for me. Only 2 Steins and Michelle only had a Radler Stein. The problem with this is that we were sober enough to hear everyone else in the camp and we could feel how uncomfortable the ground was.
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Beer tent on the 2nd night and drunk people

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Day 3

We were all a bit sick of having to sit outside of the tents, missing out on all of the singing, chair standing and atmosphere so decided to head in for lunch. We made it into the best tent, Augustiner Brau, with a table for the 7 of us. Had a yummy half chicken and a couple of lunch time beers. The music didn't start till around 2pm and when it did the party really began. Ok... Maybe a small exaggeration, it looks like people dont sing and party till night time.

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Inside Augustiner Brau tent for lunch:)

Group photo:
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(Blake decided to steal another stein.. and decided to pour the rest of his beer (about 10ml) under the table, and right on my shoes.. so pissed off :()

After 4 steins, Michelle & I decided to go to a cinema to watch an English movie (it was really so that Blake could sober up.. I was not going to carry him twice!!). We watched the worst movie ever- Bourne Legacy.. no ending.. no storyline..

That's it for Oktoberfest...

xoxo B&M

Posted by blake-michelle 11:25 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Nurnberg

Also known as Nurenberg

overcast 14 °C

Nurnberg

Located in the state of Bavaria, Hitler calls Nurnberg the "most German of German cities". Nazi hierarchy turned it into the city for Nazi Party rallies, where hundreds of thousands of people would come to the city to view the nationalistic and militaristic extravaganza. He did this to create the 3rd German Reich. The first being the holy roman empire (Charlemagne), second was the unification of Germany by Otto Von Bismark.

We were actually suppose to go to Bamberg (Blake wants to drink beer there, a special smoky type only brewed locally), but we couldn't find cheap accommodation, so we ended up in Nurnberg which turned out to be a really nice city.

It took about 3hours by train from Leipzig. We bought reserved seating on the train, and for the 1st time (after our 2 failed attempts), the seat number actually existed!! Most other seats were full so it was lucky we did.

We booked ourselves into a 4 star hotel, since were camping in Munich after this. The weather was quite cold espcially at night.

On our 1st night here, we were suppose to eat at the oldest sausage restaurant in Nurnberg. But we entered through the wrong door and ended up having a fancy 4 course degustation!! And it cost 3 times more than the sausage.. Hehehe.. Luckily, the food was really delicious :)

Restaurant Fisher:
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Pre-dinner appetizer (pesto with buffalo mozzarella) courtesy of the chef (ie. was free)

Blake had the meat degustation:
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1st course: veal with pesto and salad

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Creamy spinach pie with crispy prosciutto

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Steak for mains

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Yummy creme brulee for dessert :)

And me, the seafood degustation:
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1st course: scallops :)

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2nd course: prawns in yummy broth

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Grilled fish for mains

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Puff pastry dessert- not as good as the creme brulee though

There was too much to do here but unfortunately Blake was down with the flu so we didn't do much at all. Chilled out in the hotel sauna and watched english TV channels (thank you CNBC, but man.. You are so repeatitive).

Walking tour around Nurnberg

We did do a walking tour around the city- not free this time. It only took 1.5 hours, but got to see the whole old town which was nice and our guide spoke really good English.

Scazy water fountain in the middle of town: This fountain is actually called "Marriage Merry-Go-Round" based on the writings of Hans Sachs of Nürnberg in the 1400's. The fountain goes through young love to lust, marriage, child-bearing and rearing, into old age where couples despise each other.. Lol.. :)
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The hospital

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The only bridge that survived the war

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The castle situated on a hill

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Albretch Durer's house (he is a famous german painter from Nurnberg) and the fortification wall.

We did a bit of shopping, bought a few warm clothes and Oktoberfest costumes which were not cheap unfortunately!!! :(

Dinner on our 2nd night: this time, we walked into the correct entrance and had dinner at the oldest sausage restaurant in Nurnberg called Zum Guldenen Stern:
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The sausages are a lot smaller than most german sausage, apparently according to Blake there is less fat and more meat in it. To me, our gourmet sausages we get at home (not the ones from coles or woolies) taste equally as good as the german sausages over here.. Blake does not agree at all. Yum yum yum!

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In there, is the kitchen

Awesome DB (deutch bahn) musuem=train musuem

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Cool train models

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The gogomobile!! G-O-GG-O

Communications musuem

In the same building as the train musuem, is the communications museum. A display of the history of mail and telecommunications.

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Having fun calling each other through the switch board- amazing stuff

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Check out these old phones?!? I think my dad had one of each of these mobile phones from the chunky motorola to the palm phone to the nokia :)

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The chinese typewriter

Blake also received a love letter from an admirer through the mail portal :). And, we stamped our names in hieroglyphs, but couldn't find the letter E or L :(

Next stop.. OKTOBERFEST!!

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 09:06 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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