New York, USA.

Jez and I love big cities. New York is not the biggest city we have visited on this trip (statistically behind Beijing, Moscow and Istanbul) but it certainly is a place where you know you are experiencing, or in the epicentre of, something significant.

Personally, I love being caught up in the rush of people as they flit from office buildings; from lunch; from the subway; from their tiny apartments to shops, restaurants and galleries. New Yorkers always walk with purpose! During our 12 days in the city we walked with purpose and at length (as we often do!) to see a number of amazing sights.

One of the best experiences was visiting the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. On a gloriously clear day, we caught a very crowded ferry across to the island to see Lady Liberty up close. We went without an audio guide, preferring to take in the view back to Manhattan and across to New Jersey with quiet appreciation. Our online tickets gave us access to the inside of the pedestal, which housed a museum and the original Liberty torch.

Lower Manhattan from Liberty Island

Lower Manhattan from Liberty Island

We spent one afternoon walking along the famous Highline, an elevated rail system that has been turned into an urban oasis running from Midtown, through Chelsea and finishing in the Meatpacking district. This park in the sky literally runs through buildings and beside skyscrapers. It’s a popular place for people to picnic and people watch or just admire the views to the sky.

View from the high line.

View from the high line.

Another beautiful afternoon was spent walking the entire length of Central Park. Yes, the entire length! We caught the subway to the Upper West Side and walked from 110th street, Central Park North, through the Observatory Garden with manicured lawns and up over the baseball diamonds nestled between rocky outcrops. There was plenty of activity in the park, as it was Saturday afternoon, so there were families riding bikes and enjoying the sunshine. We walked through a particularly wild and woolly section of the park called the Ramble which had a beautiful view across the pond and up to the buildings of Times Square.

Walking through Central Park

Walking through Central Park

We arrived in New York just in time to help celebrate the end of summer, the Labor Day weekend, at a festival called Electric Zoo. We had an amazing time and met a bunch of awesome people. We were astounded at the number of people who approached us, out of nowhere, to chat about the music, their city and where we were from. It was so much fun!

Even though we left New York with many souvenirs of our adventures, I know one of the most special memories will be experiencing the first chill of Autumn in early September. To feel the heat and humidity disappear from the air and the sun’s glow change ever so slightly, was to experience something significant. Something we will always share with this big city.

Madrid, Spain.

Madrid was the last city we visited in Europe. It was only a short flight from Ibiza and it was a key hub for our onward destination – New York.

The Palace and surrounding gardens.

The Palace and surrounding gardens.

It was still hot and steamy in Madrid, shops and their powerful air conditioning providing temporary respite from outside. The city has beautifully ornate architecture as well as many impressive buildings like the Palace and museums like The Prado. We joined a walking tour at Plaza Major to explore the city and we learnt a lot about Spain’s history while admiring the cobblestone streets and numerous squares around the city.

The Toledo Cathedral

The Toledo Cathedral

We took a train to the nearby town of Toledo where Jeremy’s family were staying in a beautiful hotel known as a Parador (which was originally an old manor house) overlooking the ancient town. It seemed like Toledo was a very popular day trip from the city as the train ride, being only half an hour, was packed with tourists reading guide books. We were very impressed with the rail network in Spain, despite the awful accidents earlier this summer.

One of the first stops we made in Toledo was to the grand cathedral whose colourful past meant that it had also served as a Mosque. We had lunch (and a quick dip in the pool) at the resort before catching the train back to Madrid and backing our bags.

We spent almost three months jumping around Europe, experiencing new cultures, languages and customs every week. Even though we knew there was one enormous country still to discover, packing our bags reminded us that a huge part of our trip was over.

Ibiza, Spain.

Ibiza was our holiday from our holiday. Believe it or not, you can get tired of sight seeing! We scheduled a ridiculous three weeks on the White Isle so we could spend days at the beach and the nights dancing away. When you move from city to city three days at a time like we had for three months, three weeks in one place was a huge commitment.

Promo people parading on Playa den Bossa

Promo people parading on Playa den Bossa

Inside Privilege club - one of the biggest in the world.

Inside Privilege club – one of the biggest in the world.

We spent a week on the beach at Playa den Bossa, one of the biggest resort beaches on the island. The apartment we rented was so close to the beach and almost half of the island’s clubs, Ushuaia, Sankey’s and DC-10. Of course, Ibiza is a large island and we wanted to see as much of it as possible. Another popular place on the island is San Antoni which is well known spot for watching the sunset. Friends we met at Tomorrowland were staying not far from San An and had a fantastic view overlooking the water so we had dinner and drinks waiting for the sun to set.

Looking back to Ibiza town.

Looking back to Ibiza town.

The last two weeks we spent in Ibiza Town, the main city and port of the island. It has been a fabulous place to stay because of the shops and restaurants moments from our doorstep. We spent a few days wandering around the old walled city and the marina, both swarming with people from about lunchtime until 2am.

We caught buses to different places on the island, including Santa Eularia, another popular beach resort with visitors to Ibiza. We did see a bit of the island but not as much as we had hoped. August is the busiest and hottest month so there were some days that we were happy to relax on the beach…followed by a siesta!

Cologne, Germany.

Jez and I caught the train from Brussels Midi station to Cologne on a Thursday afternoon and were met by the beautiful Bianca. We located our hotel, dropped our bags and then went to explore Cologne together.

Love locks in Cologne.

Love locks in Cologne.

We crossed a steel bridge covered in love locks, some impressive and others simply small tributes to their love. Afterwards, the three of us visited the observation deck of a tower looking out over the city of Cologne which from above looked like a small but perfectly formed city with parks and the Rhine river.

Yummy dinner!

Yummy dinner!

Hungry and a little thirsty, we had dinner in a beer house along the river and chatted away before waving goodbye to Bianca at the train station as she went home.

Our brief stop in Germany got us thinking about our favourite German foods and we quickly decided that a half hour walk was a small trade off for the best schnitzel in the city. We visited Bei Oma Kleimann and ordered two very tasty schnitzels, both ridiculously large. Tummies full to bursting point, we waddled back to the hotel via the main shopping precinct.

The Koln Dom at sunset.

The Koln Dom at sunset.

Throughout our stay in Cologne, we loved looking at the Koln Dom, the Cologne Cathedral. It is a beautiful building that was only finished in the 1880’s despite construction starting in the 15th century. The cathedral caught the light of the setting sun on our afternoon with Bianca and gave a spectacular show of it’s towers and spires.