Florence, you unexpected beauty!

Once again, this is uploaded from my phone so I apologise for the layout of the photos 💁🏼

Up nice and early and we’ve departed the French Riveria to head to Florence via Pisa. We were pushed for time due to some bad traffic on the way to Pisa, so we only had 15 minutes when we arrived to walk around and take some photos before we had to get back on the bus, this was so we didn’t push back our Tuscan dinner and other pre-booked items. When we arrived we quickly snapped some photos and attempted to find a spare area of grass to get a tourist shot, lets just say that Kat loves Pisa too much to share with anybody else.

After this we continued to Florence where we had to quickly get dressed and ready for our tour photo, followed by the Tuscan dinner and after we would head to a Karaoke Bar! The view from where the photo was taken was absolutely amazing. The photos just don’t do justice to how beautiful and intricate the city of Florence is. It was great to experience it with such awesome people 👍🏼

The Tuscan dinner was a three course meal with bulk wine each and a free shot, so we weren’t complaining, apart from the fact I was still sick with a the most productive chest cough I have ever had, and Kat was just beginning to get sick as well, let’s just say it was a good excuse not to do karaoke! However, I still don’t understand Hamish how our shirts got buttoned up together, bloody red wine I tell you. But I still don’t get why people we complaining, it’s not like we naked chest pumped.


The karaoke bar was fun ++, there were some good acts, and some bad ones who compensated for it by taking their shirts off towards the end. The alcohol was cheap and the beer was great, mainly because it came in a 3L tower with a sparkler, copious amounts of these were drunk.

The next day with hangover in hand, we headed to Florence to go to a leather and jewellery workshop, followed by a walking tour and then free time to explore. It was awesome listening to the presenter of the leather shop talk about how it’s all made and prepared, well that was until Oliva sat on our chair and broke it, causing it to fall onto the back of my ankle, shout out to you Olivia you Scottish queen you. After the presentation we went and had a look in the store and Kat and I both bought Puzzle Rings, Kats is a four band gold and mines a 6 band silver, I’ll have to get good photos and post them later. 

After this we went on our walking tour around Florence, Kat and I both didn’t expect it to be such a beautiful city, with once again the intricate walk ways, buildings, sculptures and such a extensive historical atmosphere. We once again didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to explore the streets, museums and shops, but we managed to learn a little about the history of Florence and its many famous architects, painters and the like, here’s just a few photos of the parts which caught our eyes. Including you Mo, you always caught our eyes 😘


This is why Florence, you were the unexpected gem of our trip, and we definitely love you for it! 

Au Revoir Paris, Bonjour French Riviera!

We left Paris to head to Lyon via the Contiki Chateau in the Beaujolais wine region. We were meant to stay here but they were overbooked with 2 other tours so we just stopped in for a wine tasting and then moved to stay in a hotel in Lyon for the night before heading to the French Riviera.

The beautiful Chateau was amidst a massive wine region which mainly produces a light red wine, everywhere you can see whilst driving through this area are vineyards, on the sides of roads, in paddocks, across mountain sides, basically anywhere. The wine itself was quite nice (yes I am now a wine connoisseur due to all of the wine tastings we have done throughout this trip), however I do enjoy more of a full bodied red.

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After we left the Chateau, we moved to Lyon for a good nights sleep. We had the option of heading out to the city of Lyon after dinner for some drinks and to do a bit of sightseeing, but I had just become symptomatic with the almighty Contiki Cough, so thought a good nights sleep could do me well. The next day we continued through the country-side down to the town of Villeneuve-Loubet where we were to stay for the next 2 nights. On the first night Kat and I quickly went to the shops to get some bread, cheese, meats and beer. We then made our way to the beach to relax and watch the sunset, at 2030 :/ haha some of the other lads went for a swim but I really wasn’t feeling up to it because of this damn cough.

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The following day we jumped on an early train to head to Nice so we could make the most of our short time there, and it was totally worth getting up early for. We walked from the train station, up to the fruit and veg markets, then down the main strip past all the colourful buildings with there individual patterns and louvers to the esplanade, and what a view.

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After heading to a bar for some food and drinks (the bar staff were dicks) we then began to wander the back streets for a little while down towards the lower markets, all of the vibrant colours from the varying types of flowers, fresh fruits and veg created its own atmosphere which was full of life.

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After strolling through the markets, we made our way up some more back streets until we came across a church & clock tower, and enjoyed a couple of the hundred odd gelato flavours at the Fennichio Glacier cafe. After this we walked up to the Castle Hill or Colline du Chateau, this is via a multitude of winding paths and can also lead you to an unexpected waterfall coming from the Chateau, once up the top however is where you can get absolutely breathtaking views out over the contrasting red roofs of Nice, and the mixed hues of blue from the ocean and sky.

After spending an hour or so wandering around the Chateau, we headed down to the beach side to hire some sun chairs, eat some hot chippies (to satisfy Kats daily potato needs), drink some cocktails, relax and go for a swim in this absolutely beautiful part of the world.

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After this we strolled back to the train station to head back to our hostel and prepare for a night out in Monaco visiting the Palace and the Monte Carlo Casino. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world but the most populated per area, after learning some history on our way in, we soon departed the bus to go for a stroll through the streets up to the Palace and to enjoy some dinner. Shout out to our tour manager Anne-Elyse and driver Balazs!

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After this we went to the Casino, walked along the Monaco race track which when not in use for the Grand Prix. Once out the front of the casino, and after walking passed all the Maserati’s, sports Mercedes, Ferrari’s and other rich boy toy cars, we finally got to head inside this world famous rich mans casino. Inside was quite elegant with murals and sculptures, more artwork and of course, the machines and gambling tables. Kat and I got a cocktail each from the bar, Kathleen got a Mojito and I enjoyed a James Bond Casino Royal Martini, come on guys, I had to. After this we tried our luck at gambling but lost and didn’t have enough budgeted to risk anymore so we stopped, but one day we will be back with some pocket change to play at the high rollers rooms.

We then got back on the bus after about and hour and a bit at the Casino and headed back to our Hostel once more, because tomorrow, we say Ciao to Florence! So another sad Au Revoir to another favorite of our trip, we absolutely loved you Nice. Vive la France.

Paris Paris Paris 🍷🧀 🐌

So the WIFI has not been fantastic at all, and Kats laptop is starting to bite the bullet, so I’m attempting to do all this from my phone, woo! So I apologise for the layout of the photos and orientation of the videos, I will have to fix it up when I can get on a PC. 👍🏼

Two and a half hours sleep after a classic Kat & Mark big night, and we are waiting for the Contiki bus to take us to Paris. Kat is hungover +++ and I’m just riding the hangover wave. We first get on the bus and a group of wogs sit next to us, shout out to the boys of the trip, Ali, Ali, Mo and Yosh! They are constantly coughing their guts up, thanks for getting me sick lads.


A further shout out to the best tour leader Anna-Elyse, and our awesome coach driver, and best shirtless cleaner Balazs! Photos to come!

The bus trip to Paris included a 90-minute ferry ride from Dover to Calai, and the white cliffs of Dover were absolutely beautiful! Note to Kat and Mark, you have to go back and get a boat ride around the cliffs when you’re not hung AF. During this ferry trip, Kathleen didn’t fair(y) to well, and vomited thrice. Kat was then generally unwell the further bus trip to Paris. But once we arrived and unpacked our gear into the room, Kat was feeling a little better! That night we had a Parisian dinner of escargot which Kat didn’t mind, and every time I have it, it constantly make me wonder why, I have chosen this dish, like I love love love garlic butter, but the snail just adds another element I’m not sure whether I enjoy or not. After this we had a night tour of Paris on our coach, after this Kathleen and I and a few other got dropped off at the Eiffel Tower for photos and a night climb. It was amazing and had breathtaking views of Paris.

The next day, we were still shit out of luck with the weather, of course it rained on our free day. Kat and I got dropped off with some of the other tourists at the Arc Du Triomphe, which was an absolute highlight of our trip around Paris. Once we had been tourists there, Kathleen and I walked down the Champs Elyse, which is a busy street I might add, and went to one of Kathleen’s must do stops in Paris, Ladurée, the famous macaroon shop. After she indulged herself, we then continued down the Champs Elyse until we came across the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. Followed by a quick look at the Fountain des Fleuves, Place de la Concorde. We then strolled through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Place du Carrousel and the Louvre. Kat and I were pushed for time so we decided not to head into the Louvre as it wasn’t top of our priorities for the unfortunately limited time we had in Paris


Once we had decided to move on from there, we walk across the Seine River, and past little market stores where Kat found some vintage perfume posters. We continued down the Seine until we crossed back over to get to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, another one of my highlights. Prior to heading in we had lunch next to the Cathedral which consisted of two types of pasta, crepes, scotch and wine, and bread, the never ending bread baskets. We then heading into this medieval cathedral, the stain glass windows were simply amazing, along with the interior paintings, sculptures and overall feeling. We said some prayers for loved ones, and then moseyed back down the Seine to our coach pick up point.


The Parisian architechture in these buildings, roadways and in basically everything you can see, is amazing, the amount of detail that goes into the construction of every building, and then every stone carving; the lines, contours and symmetry is absolutely magnificent and equally beautiful.

Tonight we have another highlight of Paris, the tour group are heading to a burlesque show, where as I bought Kat for her birthday this year, VIP tickets to Moulin Rouge, needless to say she’s absolutely excited. But before this we had a group Parisian dinner, I had Duck a l’orange and Kat had a beef dish, after scoffing these down we quickly made our way down the Moulin Rouge, I never thought I’d say this but, holy shit, what a show. 


The main act was absolutely amazing, and the interval shows were gobsmacking. It’s hard to write down and explain what is was like without photos, but, there was an act where two people on roller blades on a raised platform and the man swung the girl around by her feet wrapped around his head, another where a lady swam with multiple 3-4m pythons then there were three men doing acrobatic stunts and finally a man performing ventriloquism. It was absolutely fantastic and Kat and I have already said we are going to come back again. Recommend +++. 


Now it’s time for group drinks and an Irish bar called Sully’s to get to know our group a little better, followed by an early departure tomorrow to a winery and Lyon, then on to the French Riveria, Nice and Monaco! A further shout out to the other couples of the trip who’ve also become great friends; Hamish, Louise (Han-)Joel(o), Stewie and Chris! You were the meat in all our sandwiches Joel.

We’re off to Europe! First stop, London!

Today is the day! we finally get to head off to Europe. Kat had a countdown going for weeks/months now. After packing & unpacking, and then sorting out what we definitely didn’t need to bring, we got going to the airport at 0230am… fml

At the airport we checked our bags in and made the walk to the all famous departures sign… #sorrynotsorry

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Then through customs and on to Dutyfree… Kat actually didn’t buy as much as I thought she would have, only some perfume, which I can’t complain about because I bought myself cologne as well

Then came the long 14-hour flight from Brisbane to Dubai… which was initially delayed because someone had a last minute change of heart in business class and wanted off as we were taxiing. Other than that and the multiple screaming children who could not be controlled by there parents, the multitude of other passengers who were rude to the staff, and everybody that had no idea that when the seatbelt light is on, that it means sit the fuck down, the flight was pretty good. The Emirates staff were fantastic, super friendly & helpful and we even scored some Polaroids from them! Shout-out to Francesca and William for making the flight amazing!

 

Once in Dubai we strolled to our next gate and had enough time to relax a little before boarding the A380. That’s one massive ass plane. After being delayed again due to an air-conditioning problem, we got to our seat and probably one-third the plane was empty, which was great because Kat and I could stretch out and actually get some sleep on this flight.
We landed at Gatwick Airport, picked up our baggage, found our way to the train station and managed to spend £30 on two tickets, all in the matter of an hour, yay!

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England really turned the weather on for us, with rain, it turned the rain on for us. Once at the hotel we realised I had left my Contiki vouchers for my trip at home, and Kat took full advantage of this to tell poke fun at me about how I always lose stuff, but I didn’t lose it, I just left it in Brisbane, there’s a difference Kathleen.

Anywho, we are now at the hotel and just heading to bed.

28 hours in transit, two international flights, 6 hours sleep, multiple movies, breakfast, lunch and dinner on an airplane, and the adventure has only just begun.

 

Day 2

 

Today Kat and I decided to check out London, our initial thought was to hire one of the Santander bicycles and make our way round… but classic London, the weather was shit. Overcast with spotting rain throughout the day. So instead of risking riding on the road in the rain and probably eating dirt, we decided to just walk, and walk, and walk. We strolled east on the Thames to the Tower of London via the Temple Church & London Bridge.

 

Followed by our first UK beer, and more rain.

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We then jumped on the tube to head to Westminster to see Westminster Abby, Big Ben, the London Eye. Unfortunately I was unable to get good photos with my Nikon due to all the rain… so GoPro time it was! #bulkfisheye. We then walked to Buckingham Palace and explored around The Queen Victoria Memorial.

 

Finally we managed to get on another tube and head to Lesctier Square to meet up with some of our mates who work over here for London Ambulance and had a few beers, cocktails and good chats, big shout out to them for catching up with us, was good seeing you all!! Pincus, McGuffick, Kyle, Sully, Rowan & Anthony!

And we also managed to catch up with Krishan and Ben who showed us around some pubs in Camden! Thanks guys and cheers for the hangovers the next day, it was definitely you and that bloody cider.

Kat and I both think we needed to spend a little more time in London to actually explore the sites and no just see them from the outside, but, looks like we will have to do that next time!

Adios London, next stop, Paris.

p.s. we are having problems uploading our GoPro footage and Nikon shots, so will have to add it later. When we get good enough WIFI, good old unstable WIFI.

A Pure Potato 

In response to this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge; Pure.

I’m sure people are going to read this post expecting to see the most perfect, simple yet wholesome potato, and hear about how it was extremely fulfilling. But, this post will funnily enough be about my girlfriend, Kathleen. I’m not too good at this, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

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Kathleen (or Kat as she prefers) to me, defines the meaning of her name through and through. She’s kind, funny, intelligent, witty and beautiful and so much more. She can dance like no other, sing like no other, and is forever the performer. She’s a little adventurer, explorer and makes moves to conquer fears. She works hard and yet knows how to party harder. Overall, Kat’s just a barrel of fun and how did I ever become so lucky.

Why a potato you ask? Because Murphy, Kats last name, means potato in Irish heritage (according to Kat), and Kats favourite food is potato; hash browns, hot chips (with gravy), potato scallops, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, and the list goes on.

She loves them, and I love her, Kathleen Murphy, the Pure Potato.

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A Jubilant Thirtieth 

Oh my family, the majority of it is dysfunctional, but the family that we actually spend time with and see regularly, are absolutely fantastic.

My cousins surprise 30th was on Sunday, and it was great!! She walked through the door just after the majority of people had arrived and settled, unfortunately, I was going to attempt to capture her reaction when she walked in, but I was distracted, with the food, classic Mark.

She said she thought she was heading to a small gathering with her husbands family and was just wearing gym clothes before Robbie (her husband) made her get out of them and take the coffee stained jumper off. Classic Bridgey. Needless to say she was super surprised, and the whole thing went off without a hitch!

The setup was very quaint and simple, yet beautiful. Plus, Aunty Anne and all of that side of the family, cook amazing food #bonus, oh, and that cake mmmm.


I also got to play with my baby second cousin, Bella. She’s adorable, and I don’t know whether I think that because she the only new little one added to the family since we were all kids, or the fact that she’s just absolutely adorable.


Anywho, we managed to get photos with all the all the men (Fathers, Uncles, Brother, Cousins and the couple who married in) in one, and the women in the other, just from our side of the family, that was a laugh. This part of our family can be a riot sometimes.


Always make sure your legs are crossed the right way in the photo, next time Bella will get it.

It was one of the nicest catch-ups we’ve had in a long time. And I think this photo of my Grandma, Auntie and Cousin, shows just how jubilant the occasion really was

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In reference to the Weekly Photo Challenge, #TheDailyPost – Jubilant

Natural Bridge, Springbrook

Today Kat and I decided to head up the range to Springbook National Park, and explore the region. We drove the 45 minutes up the winding mountain range to head into Springbrook, then we decided to head to the Natural Bridge walk in the National Park.

This was the first time I have actually used my Nikon D7200 taking nature photos. I was able to change the aperture settings and shutter speeds etc (+ more settings which I really have to learn more about) to take a few photos of the area. Although they might not be professional, I’m quite happy about how they turned out!! But, I bet they would have turned out ten times better If I knew how to use the setting on the camera more efficiently and to suite the scene better. On a better note, my parents bought me a photography day course for my birthday (yay for me).

Back to Springbrook, it was beautiful! The Natural Bridge walk was just under an hour with some long stops for photos. A bunch of areas to stop to take photos and the walk was nice and easy. I’ve definitely got to practice taking further timelapse & slow shutter speed photos. Kat and I then went to the Scuttlebutt Cafe and got Thick shakes (Lime flavour is my absolute favourite), and Beef Burgers nomnomnomnom. After chowing down on our food, we headed to the Goomoolahra Falls track to check the view from Springbrook to the Gold Coast.

I highly recommend heading up to Springbrook to check out the area as there are plenty more walks than the couple Kat and I did, plus, the Fudge Shop & Cafes are fantastic 😀