TravelKiwis and Friends

What have TravelKiwis and Friends been up to: Autumn 2018

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Since our last series of updates about our adventures in Croatia in June, things have been hectic for TravelKiwis and our friends.

As an overview, we spent:

  • July and much of August, housesitting in two different homes in Fontenoy-le-Chateau in France
  • From August to September, we had visitors from our home in New Zealand, Joe (Maura’s brother), Marlene (Terry’s mother), and Nic, a friend of both of us.

Our travel buddies from the USA, Alicia, Mariel and Omar (who we first met in China and then visited when we were in Florida), were in Switzerland, so we caught up with them in beautiful Luzern.

We also caught up with friends Brett and Jane, who live in Russia (previously Shanghai), who were in Versailles to celebrate Jane’s birthday.


House Sitting again in Fontenoy-le-Chateau, France

We have been fortunate to have several houses in this lovely medieval village.

Homeowners Marion and Monk and their two dogs, Miki and Misty, have become great friends. They invited us back for an early June house sit, which we eagerly accepted.

Related Post: Life in Fontenoy le Chateau

In past visits, we got to know several other residents quite well. Justin and Deb were heading away in their motorhome for a couple of months and asked us to look after their home while they were away.

This was brilliant as we were eager for an extended stay in the village we regarded as our European home. Deb and Justin have no pets, so it was a case of looking after the home, plants and gardens in the hot summer.

There is always something interesting going on in the villages in this area, and we were keen to experience some of these.

Tendon Bread Festival, France

A woman at a bread festival
2 Metre long bread at Tendon Bread Festival

Football World Cup

A crowd of happy people under a canopy
Celebrating France winning the 2018 Football World Cup with the locals


Medieval Festival

People dressed up as medival characters
Fontenoy-le-Chateau Medieval Festival


Feu de St Jean, Fontenoy le Chateau

Wooden structure on fire
Feu de St Jean. The Fire of St John

Every year volunteers from the village build a large structure with wood donated by a local timber yard. Then the structure gets burned.  This year a fairy tale castle was built, destroyed in a storm, partially rebuilt, and finally set ablaze to the joy of many.

Family and Friends Visit Europe

Maura’s brother Joseph is a priest back in New Zealand. He also loves to travel and has done so extensively over the years.  He was invited to look after a parish near Bremen, Northern Germany, for a month through his network.

So we travelled to see him for his birthday in late August. Our son Daniel and his wife Jessica came over from the UK to celebrate with us.

Joe did a great job showing us around some of the places in the area.

Related Post: Milton Keynes celebrates 50 years

Five people at a dining table
Celebrating Joe’s birthday with Dan & Jess

Wuppertal, Germany

Upside down train
The Schwebebahn of Wuppertal is a transport system that is seemingly an upside-down train track. It has been doing a great job transporting locals for over 100 years.

Bremen, Germany

Man and woman at bronze sculpture
The “Town Musicians of Bremen” statue

Limburg, Germany

Church next to a river
The Cathedral of Limburg, also known as Georgsdom.

Terry’s Mum Comes for a Visit

Our next visitor was Terry’s mother, Marlene, and we were so excited to have her visit for a month from late August. During her trip, Marlene would also head to the UK to spend time with Daniel and his wife Jessica, living in Milton Keynes.

Daniel and Jess spent time with Mum in London, Stratford upon Avon and Cambridge.

Related Post: Explore the Beauty and History of Cambridge

Mum was flying into Frankfurt, so it was a nice connection for us to meet her after leaving Joe.

While with us, we would take her to some of our favourite places and some we had yet to experience.

Alsace, France

Pretty coloured villages
Colourful buildings of Riquewihr

The most beautiful section of the trip was the Alsace region of France.

Two ladies in front of flower baskets
The displays of flowers in the villages have been wonderful.


Loghts from house on a river
Strasbourg at Night

The Alsace region has been under the control of both France and Germany over the centuries. As a result, Alsace reflects both cultures in its architecture, agriculture and food. A favourite of ours is always visiting Colmar.

Fontenoy le Chateau, France

Man and woman next to a canal boat
During Mum’s stay with us in Fontenoy-le-Chateau, we took a cruise along the canal.

Luzern, Switzerland

Five people next to a river
Our friends from the USA, Alicia, Mariel and Omar, at Kappelbrücke in Luzern.

Alicia, Mariel and Omar were making a road trip through Switzerland to celebrate Mariel’s 40th.

The timing was perfect as we had just dropped Mum at Basel airport to fly to the UK. We had a great catch-up to reminisce about our travels together through China in 2016 and our visit to Florida in 2017. We will catch up with them again in Seville in March 2019, where Omar will celebrate his 40th.

Three ladies at a restaurant table
Three lovely ladies out to dinner in Luzern. Omar and Terry were elsewhere discussing the merits of Swiss beer.


Mum was flying back to New Zealand from Amsterdam. We could take a few days to get there, stopping at Luxembourg, Ghent and Bruges.

Looking down on a church
The Views in Luxembourg are incredible due to the city being built around deep gorges. This view looks over St. Jean du Grund church.

Related Post: Discover Luxembourg


Three people enjoying a beer next to a canal
When in Belgium, drinking beer is a must. We are in Ghent by the River Leie, enjoying the brews.
Castle with a moat
The impressive Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium. Very close to the town centre.
An array of colourful jelly lollies
Have you ever tried Cuberdons? Sweets with a firm shell and a soft gooey centre are also called ‘neuzekes’ or little noses.

Related Post: A Walkthrough Ghent


Horse and carriage
A birthday treat for Mum – her first horse and carriage ride. It took us through the beautiful town of Bruges, Belgium.
Windmill near a canal
The lovely port of Willemstad in the Netherlands, a stop on the way to Amsterdam Schiphol airport.


Related Post: Discover Bruges Medieval Charm

A Trip to Portugal with Nic

Seven people smiling
Catching up with Nic’s Mum & Dad and her Dutch relatives Ad and Lidy in Heerenveen, Netherlands

Our friend Nic from New Zealand was travelling with her parents (who are Dutch) in Europe. So we took the opportunity to spend time with Nic in Portugal for the last week of September and celebrate her 50th.

Related Post: 5 Fabulous Places to Visit Wellington Waterfront

Timing again worked well as we had said our goodbyes to Marlene at Amsterdam airport, and Nic would be arriving in Amsterdam the following day.

Woman smacking a statue
Making sure the statue behaves himself on the Afsluitdijk

We travelled over the famous Afsluitdijk to Heerenveen to catch up with Nic’s family before catching our flight from Amsterdam to Portugal.

Two ladies with decorative elephant
Excited to be at Amsterdam airport heading to Lisbon


Tram painted with graffiti
The view outside our Airbnb in Lisbon on Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo
Three people at a restaurant table drinking red wine
The food at Os Bons Malandros restaurant on Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo in Lisbon was so amazing we went there twice

Related Post: Best Things to See in Lisbon


Colourful painted castle
Pena Palace in Sintra near Lisbon has to be seen to be believed. Can you see Maura and Nic waving?


Quarteira on the Algarve

Six people at a resturant table
We had two wonderful meals out with the lovely family of Eddie, Elia and Denise in Quarteira. We met Denise 2 years ago in Lisbon.
Cliff overlooking sea and beach below
One of Portugal’s stunning beaches on the Algarve coast is near Quarteira. Swimming and sunbathing were great, even in October.

Related Post: A Short Break in Tavira, Portugal

Three people at a concert
Eddie, Elia and Denise took us to a U2 Tribute concert in Quarteira after a great Portuguese Peri Chicken meal.


War Graves of Europe

After bidding Nic farewell in Amsterdam, we headed back towards France to see Brett and Jane in Versailles.

On the way, we paid our respects to Maura’s great-uncle Frederick Mawhinney in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetary.

Lady next to headstones
Maura at the gravesite of her great-uncle Frederick Mawhinney at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetary in Belgium. He died on 13 October 1917 at the young age of 25.


Water fountain
The fountains and gardens of Versailles
Three people enjoying cocktails
We got so busy talking with Brett and Jane that we forgot to take a picture in Versailles, so we prepared one in Shanghai.

Then from early October through to late November, we have been house-sitting in south and west France.

We will do an update on those adventures later.


  1. Kevin says:

    A great summary and fantastic read

    • TravelKiwis says:

      Thanks Dad, it was such a wonderful period of time with so many visitors.

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