Hello everyone,

We thought it was about time that we wrote to you all. We’ve been so busy and having a lot of fun, and the only reason that we have enough time today is that we are stuck in Athens because the ferries are stiking and we can’t get to Santorini (we were supposed to leave last night). more about that later, here’s the adventure so far.

If you see that anyone is missing from the email list, please forward this on. So I don’t have to search through our address book every time for everyone, could you please all sign up to our email list so we can just send it to one address. Instructions on how to do that are at the bottom of this email.

Anyway, enough of the formalities, here’s what we’ve been up to.

We flew out of Sydney a week ago on Monday night. The plane left pretty much on time despite nasty rumours that the airport would be packed because of the Olympics. Customs was a breeze and we did a bit of duty free shopping before we boarded. The plane went backwards to Melbourne (that’s what you get when you go on a cheap flight) and then onto Kuala Lumpar.

We got off the plane in each place for an hour or so to stretch our legs, but by then we were pretty tired because it was about 4am Sydney time. The flight was really long, and even longer in the stretch when our lights, video monitors and radios shorted out and it was pitch dark so we couldn’t do anything. They fixed them eventually, so we watched a few movies and watched the flight cam which shows the view from under the plane. Pretty much every time we dozed off they came along with a meal and it seemed very strange to be eating lunch in the dark. Apart from the long flight time, the broken video etc and the strange eating times the rest of the flight was quite good.

We arrived in Vienna at about 11.30 am (which was pretty much on time), collected our bags and walked straight out onto the street (customs seems non-existent in Austria).

Had my 1st problem with the language barrier when I asked for 2 drinks at McDonald’s and only got one. Caught an airport bus to the area we were staying in, got off, got lost for about 1/2 hour which wasn’t fun carrying our backpacks in the 30 degree heat.

Got to our hostel, which was pretty good. We went out immediately to avoid the trap of going straight to sleep and feeling the effects of jet lag the next day.

Vienna is a beautiful city. It is very clean and the people are lovely. We blew our 1st day’s budget on a horse and carriage ride around the city where we saw all the beautiful old churches and palaces. Took stacks of photos which will eventually be on our website http://www.sytone.net

Vienna has no highrise at all, so everything seems so neat and even. Stacks of people seem to have dogs, although I have no idea where they keep them as there are no backyards! We grasped German pretty well while we were in Vienna, although there is really no need because pretty much everyone speaks English. I even had a one-toothed bum in a wheelchair in the street ask me for money in German, and when I murmered something about not understanding in English, he quickly asked me if I had any Schillings for him. He also gave us some travel tips. Even the bums are nice in Vienna.

We decided that we should have a traditional Austrian dinner that night, so where better to head that the schnitzel shop. We had no idea what we were ordering, and we ended up with a plate of 3 schnitzels each, one chicken, one veal and one pork! Hmm, nothing like meat i the afternoon . . . Actually the Austrians eat a lot of meat. You can buy a slab of meat in between two slabs of bread from vendors on the street. Meat sandwiches.

The jet lag beat us at 6pm when we couldn’t stay awake any longer and we crashed out. Pretty tired the next day, but not too bad. We then got a train to Venice on which we met a really nice (surprise surprise) American couple who were a few years older than us. They had just finished law school and were having their one and only holiday before they embarked on the life of being LA Lawyers. They will probably never have another holiday again! We had a great chat with them for most of the 9 hr journey and pretty much set them straight on Australians and kangaroos on the street.

From the train we could see beautiful mountains and also castles on the top of hills. It was really amazing. We also met and Italian guy who assured us that we would get good food in Italy. Got off the train in Venice at 11pm at night, and we stupidly thought that we would find a cheap place to stay without booking. We ended up paying around $200 Australian for a 2 star hotel whcih was ok, but not the Ritz, I can tell you.

When we got off the train, although it was late at night it was still about 30 degrees and very muggy. The air in Venice is very thick and always smells like cigars. The place is beautiful and amazing, but at the same time is polluted and crumbling. Wouldn’t want to live there, but a great place to visit. After checking into the hotel we went out for dinner (at this time it was about 11.30 pm), but the place was still a buzz with people and I had my 1st real spag bol.

In the morning we got up and went for a walk before we checked out of the hotel. We got completely lost which I think is the best way to do it because you see a lot more. We were truly amazed when we walked through a tiny alley into a massive square complete with a 100m church tower. We attempted to buy some fruit from a woman on the street who yelled at us for touching the fruit, which is apparently offensive in Italy. Bought some beautiful nectarines and apples before heading back to the hotel to check out.

The story continues but I’m running out of time. We have to get back to the hotel to find out whether or not we’re going to Santorini today. The story will continue . . .

Catch you all later.

Jane and Jon