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Lederhosen and Tartan

Out of the city and into the land of fairy tales: Bavaria! We have spent a full week exploring the region, including the former medieval capital of Bamberg, famed for its (hideous) smoke-beer and an unusual town hall that precariously straddles a raging river. We also visited Nuremberg, where I was able to see the house and workshop of Albrecht Durer (1471- 15238), a pioneering engraver and printmaker. Here I was able to gain a better understanding of the early printing process as resident artists were still using traditional methods such as copperplate etching. I very nearly threw out all the clothes from my backpack to make room for twenty kilos of bookplates and woodcut illustrations. I will definitely be looking up printmaking workshops when I get back to Melbourne in July.

After Nuremberg, we spent three amazing days in the village of Raubling in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Missy had lived in Raubling about ten years ago while on a high school exchange and her host family, the Van Der Lindens, we kind enough to take us hiking in the mountains and cruising on mirror-like lakes. We took a boat down the Königssee fjord, with the notes of a lone trumpeter echoing off the towering, snow-capped mountains around us. Living in a normal house, with a normal family, eating normal food, made me miss home quite a lot (not to mention we were spoiled rotten!).

Missy and I spent our last couple of days together in Munich. It was terrible to say goodbye to her after so long travelling together and I felt a bit lost going to the airport without having her at my shoulder. Thankfully she will be spending the next ten days travelling with her mother, eating too much pizza and enjoying the Italian sun, so at least she has some company for a little while yet. It has been excellent travelling with such a close friend and I will really miss not having her around every day.

I have flown to Edinburgh to meet my old flatmate Joanna, who will be spending the next month travelling with me around Scotland and Ireland. It is Jo’s “first” trip overseas – she doesn’t count her brief cruise ship voyage to New Zealand (sorry Kiwis). It has rained for the past couple of days and we have spent a lot of time waiting in pub doorways or scuttling for cover down dark stone closes. Despite the weather, we have both been thoroughly enchanted by Edinburgh. We climbed Arthur’s Seat this morning to take in the undulating skyline. Unfortunately the police and a forensic team had blocked off one of the paths as a human body had been discovered at the bottom of the cliff face. It was amazing how many tourists zoomed in the scene with their cameras (and I am guilty as charged, though somewhat relieved I only saw a white body bag). Edinburgh seems to have its share of grittiness and we had spent most of the evening before on a ghost tour at the Carlton cemetery. We were sorry to see something so confronting after the silliness of the night before; rather sobering to say the least.

Jo and I were overdressed for the climb, but the views (as always) were worth the discomfort. We had a good rest at the top of Arthur’s Seat, admiring both the sprawling greenery and the amusing people who stumbled up after us. There was one intrepid Australian guy who had made the ascent wearing flip-flops, shorts and a singlet. The Scottish summer is as cold as our winter so even the locals thought he was a bit of a ‘crazy git’. Tomorrow, we head to the Highlands for ten days. I am on a mission to find a scarf in my family tartan as not a single shop in Edinburgh seems to stock it. Most of the shopkeepers have suggested I just ‘Google It’ as the Cochrane tartan isn’t as popular as Braveheart or Macbeth. We will spend tomorrow night in Inverness so maybe I will have more luck there.

Waiting at the traffic lights in Edinburgh; a Scottish summer day.

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