Location: London, UK
"The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort - the opening, terror. Conversely, the closing of a door can be a sad and final thing - the opening a wonderfully joyous moment."
Andy Rooney (American journalist)
Life has now begun in London and this will be the final diary entry! See you all sometime soon...
Location: Pyrenees, Spain
"Honestly I do not experience fear in the mountains
on the contrary
I feel my shoulders straightening, squaring, like the birds as they straighten their wings. I enjoy the freedom and the altitude. It is only when I return to life below that l feel the worlds weight on my shoulders". Anatoli Boukreev
Conquered the mountains of Arguelles (3044m) and Pedraforca (2497m) in the Pyrenees over the last few weeks. Also did Vall de Nuria with Gustav and ran up Montserrat for fun. Purely exhilirating..
Happy Birthday Mother...! Feliz cumpleanos!
God made a wonderful mother,
A mother who never grows old;
He made her smile of the sunshine,
And He molded her heart of pure gold;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
In her cheeks, fair roses you see;
God made a wonderful mother,
And He gave that dear mother to me.
Unexpectedly moved into new apartment after 2 frantic days of searching and calling around. Now living in a nice (brand-new) 2 b/room place, sharing with a couple from California. Note new address and land-line details at the top of the page.
Ciao for now
Location: Barca, Spain
Happy 25th Birthday Rajif aka Nick Cole! Hi to all the boys, hope you partied hard & had a ride of the horse!
Location: Athens, Greece
In the true spirit of the games..l had an unbelievable yet exhausting time in the greek capital of Athens, the home of Olympia. To give you a feel, let me highlight the most fascinating aspects of the trip:
- being absorbed in the Olympic spirit which was pulsating throughout the entire city!
- gaining respect for the unbelievable ancient Greek monuments
- watching a motorcyclist get cleaned up by a crazy taxi (luckily he was carrying the helmet on his arm!)
- jibing to the music whilst gazing at the bikini-clad dancing girls at beach volleyball
- laughing at the amount of high-fiving the US women's team did at the volleyball
- trying to steal security's golf buggy @2am (in the Olympic stadium) after a few beers with some Irish folk
- sitting next to Cathy Freeman at dinner one night
- chatting gibberish to Hackett, Klim and other medal winners whom l can't remember
- experiencing the success of the Aussie athletes (especially the swimming)
- experiencing the party of the century - 'Sports Illustrated unofficial Athletes party' - on an outdoor terrace on Kalamaki beach
...what more can l say...Hellas!Hellas!Hellas!Hellas!
Location: Mallorca, Spain
Indulged in 6 adventurous days on the island of Mallorca, carrying only a backpack and riding a mountain bike with a firm seat.
Some short notes about the island:
- 40% of overnight stays in Spain are actually on Mallorca
- The coastline is 555km long with total of 179 beaches
- King Jaume 1 conquered the island from the Moors in 1229 & replaced mosques with churches and developed the island into a dynamic society
- Tourism invaded the island in the 80s and the giant concrete towers that sprung up overnight almost ruined the island thankfully the errors were recognised (buildings are being knocked down) to preserve the character & appearance of Mallorca
Tour de Mallorca Highlights:
1. Beautiful beaches with crystal clear water (Cala de Deia)
2. The ambience of the Monasteries
3. Experiencing (versus just seeing) the island by bike
4. The mountains of the Tramuntana
5. Average temperature of 32degrees
Day 1: Caught the ferry from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca & cruised along the boat-filled esplanade before making my way to the tourist-packed beaches of Arenal. In the meantime l experienced a (typical?) 30min barrage of thunder, lighting & hail. A monastery in Llucmajor, on the summit of Puig de Randa (altitude 542m), was my final destination so l continued east to where l would find rest & solitude - Santuari de Cura. Note: all of Mallorcas Monasteries were built on the summit of peaks to escape the unwanted attention of smugglers & pirates, as well to be nearer to God. Authors note: next time you plan on staying in any ancient monasteries please drive the hills are usually very steep & unfriendly.
Day 2: Cruised down the Puig de Randa to Llucmajor & headed towards Campos, detouring along the way to the coastline, visiting la playa Es Trenc (part nude-beach) for the afternoon. Note: nude beaches arent really my scene as the people who go to nude beaches are those you DONT want to see nude! Continued going east to Santanyi and took a break in Porto Colom, a picturesque fishing village where colourful huts huddle around the quay. Headed towards Manacor along the relatively flat highway and finally reached my destination of Petra, and the monastery of Ermita de Nostra Senyora de Bonany. However fabulous the views were over the plain, it was an excruciating ride to the top of the summit after a long journey getting there. The icing was that all 5 rooms were taken so l had to bunk in an outdoor storage room with a German couple luckily l got the comfy hard redwood table! Least l say more
Day 3: Headed north to the beaches of Alcudia, fist stopping in Picafort to meet the German & British invasion, then spending lunch at Port dAlcudia relaxing by a hotel pool. Cycled the short distance to the Alcudia Peninsula (Victoria) and found a perfect hostal right on the beach at Sillot, Alberg Juvenil Hostal. Nothing like an early evening dip in the ocean after a hard days ride
Day 4: Swimming, snorkelling, tanning, reading
nothing more. Planned a beach bonfire in the night with a small crew but were pleased to talk to some locals who informed us of the 3000eur fine & jail. Camped myself in the bunk of the Alberg Hostel once again.
Day 5: Launched the day with a plunge in the fresh water then travelled towards Port de Pollenca. Conquered the blistering midday sun & the hair-raising ascent across the rugged peninsula & cliffs of Tramuntana, l reached the pale sandy beach of Formentura only to join another 1000 people! Caught some well-needed R&R and cruised back through the gorgeous mountain range, peering down over the edge to get a glimpse of
a damn big fall. Now for the arduous & most challenging climb of the entire tour Pollenca to Lluc. Dont try this one at home steep ascents in the blazing afternoon sun when most locals have been in siesta for at least half-an-hour. Almost two hours later (only 25ks) l was elated to see the sign for the Lluc Monastery, where l was to spend my final night in solitude El Santuari de Lluc (altitude 1200m).
Day 6: Awoke at sunrise and strapped myself to the bike in what was to be another enduring challenge through the mountains towards Port de Soller, Deia, Valldemossa then finally back Palma. It was equally the best day on the tour for me as l spent time splashing in the sparkling waters of Cala de Deia (a magnet for wealthy foreigners), experiencing the beauty of the tree-lined rugged coast of Son Marroig, viewing the grande Mallorcan palaces hidden in the wilderness & briefly capturing the exceptional beauty of the town of Valldemossa (where Michael Douglas is a summer resident).
Sunburnt & exhausted, the trip ended as it had begun, on board an ice-chilled ferry with the cries of ear-splitting children, only overcome by even more juvenile parents.
Location: London, UK
"Fame...l want to live forever...". l still have the song in my head after we saw the musical in London on Saturday night.
- Nicole and l had a great time in London over the w/e - probably because the sun was shining (for the 1st time this summer) and people were happy!
- Things we did in London:
1. Celebrated Filippe's party with some interesting people
2. Caught up with friends (Samo, Marnie & Tim) and ex-colleagues (Kearnan, Sayers & Kirsten)
3. Surprised Nicole with 'Fame' the musical @ Aldwich Theatre
4. Spent time relaxing in Regent Park with Patrick and Lotte
5. Enjoyed a fantastic BBQ with Alex & Jane
6. Experienced the Camden Markets
7. Suffered the unbearable heat in the Tube
8. Walked till our feet were about to drop off!
- Happy to be back in the land of the paella though as its much more affordable and there is no need to worry that sun won't come out again!
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Back from Amsterdam where l have been the last few days with a Dutch friend of mine. Experienced the city of bikes, the bizarre nightlife and all the weird and wonderful things the city has to offer. 5 most interesting things about Holland:
1. Window Shopping in Wallen - red light district
2. Great bars & restaurants
3. Beaches and sandunes of Zanvoort
4. Canal system throughout Amsterdam
We enjoyed the only 'real' Dutch summer day this year on Saturday and relaxed with a Heineken in hand at the Mango beach club in Zaanford - Dutch style.
Location: Plateau de Beille, France
Le Tour de France:
- Cruised up to the French Pyrenees with Clay (friend from NY) with the intention of watching a few hours of the Tour
- After taking the coastal route (5hrs later), we made it to a junction only 10k's from the race - only thing was about 100 other cars were also waiting to watch the race
- The Gendamarie (Police) were really helpful ..."no monsieur, imposs-ible to go through" - so this left one option: we parked the car and put the thumbs to work.
- One Portuguese couple, who got through the barricade after some negotiations, kindly drove us the 10ks to the race site. We could see the choppers hovering above the road as we approached but as luck would have it, we missed the leading pack by...that much!
- Watched some of the slow tortoises pass by and then enjoyed the finish on TV in a small French pub
- After experiencing our first French downpour, we considered our options: walk 10k's or use thumbs.
- Macgyver taught me things l never thought l would use & after rummaging through the trash, we found some decent cardboard and scratched 'Foix' (our destination) onto it
- It wasn't luxury but a kind French farmer drove us all the way back to the car, even if it would have been faster to walk - we shared some chatter, La Panache & l even helped him find his stereo which was under all the rubbish in the front seat!
- Guess what: more traffic jams on the way back - the French really know how to block roads....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENS PETER!
You are growing up to be big and strong like your Father.
Spent the weekend on the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees with my Swedish friends, Stefan, Anna & Elias. Check out the Photos!
HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY MUM & DAD!
Congratulations on the achievement.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Happy San Juan Day - Barcelona's famous midsummer festival! Fiesta Spanish style last nite with massive street parties, dancing, bonfires and ...fireworks. It is Barcelona's biggest night of the whole year, even bigger than New Years: Two things make it special:
1. Fireworks - everyone old enough to light a match gets into it & all you can hear on the streets & beaches is boom, boom, boom! They have firework celebrations in the town squares where maniacs run around with fireworks on their heads! It's not dangerous though b/c they are pro's...yeah right, it's sheer lunacy! And what about the 5yr olds who run around with mini-fireworks....today l think the burns unit will be super busy!
2. Beach Parties - 3 k's of beaches are absolutely packed with people partying at the groovy beach bars called Chiringuitos.
We survived with no missing body parts...truly an amazing experience!
Happy Birthday to my sister Sam - 27 years young!
Location: L'Escala, Spain
Enjoyed a relaxing weekend staying at a villa of a Dutch friend of mine (Patrick) in Northern Spain, on the Costa Brava coast. Beautiful coastal town where the beaches are similar to the Bondi to Bronte coastline - small coves with rocky outcrops and cliffs. Only 1.5hrs drive from Barcelona along the tollroads, its an easy weekend trip which we will do again sometime soon. The diving very close to there (Las Medas) is supposed to be the best in Spain so that is on my priority list.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
OK, if anybody is ever travelling anywhere around the globe (which is quite common) this is the ultimate money-saving site for you - check out www.bancotel.com. Enjoy 4star luxury hotels for only 50euros per room/night!
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Finally moved into our own apartment (piso) and absolutely loving it here. The piso is 110sqm, furnished, very quiet & the plan is to stay here for the Summer as the owner has gone to NY. Perfect position only 15mins to beach, 3mins to metro, 10mins to La Ramblas, 5mins to gym.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
sat 8th - friends Filippe & Jacki stayed for a few days
sat 15th - visited Madrid for w/e for san isidro (Saint of Madrid) festival
mon 17th - started another Spanish course, doing 2hrs per day
tue 18th - taught first lesson as english professor for Berlitz, only doing a few hrs a week
thu 21st - caught train in wrong direction, missed flight to Lanzarote
fri 22nd - made plane to Lanzarote and had a famous time
- moving into new pad on may 31st but location is still to be confirmed
- Getting ready for the arrival of many pilgrims (on our doorstep) for Summer
Location: Lanzarote, Spain
Destination: lanzarote, canary islands, not far from African coastline, atlantic ocean, Kingdom of Spain
Why: surf, explore and support friend Paul Brown in Ironman
What: island is of volcanic origin with barren landscape and very minimal flora and fauna
Highlights: surfing small waves at Famara, swimming in crystal clear water, supporting Paul in Ironman, cruising around island in beepbeep barina, conquering Mountain Tinasoria (503m) with Andrew Kearnan, partying at Club La Santa, visitng lava fields, counting the volcanoes
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Nicole and Terence celebrated their first month in Barcelona on May 1st. Some of the most interesting highlights/places have been:
- Learning Spanish with 7 other foreigners who can't speak español
- T being locked outside for half the day and lying in the sun on the roofdeck to keep warm
- Understanding the cultural differences: it's OK to wait 5mins while the shopkeeper chats with her friend Maria
- Nicole relaxing in the steam room while a man drops his pants in front of her
- El Corte Ingles 14k fun run: bigger than the City to Surf and many more old people with walking sticks
- A 'quiet' night at Champaneria, a champagne/cava bar in Barceloneta
- Government Offices: please wait until we are ready
- Exploring the fascinating city of Barcelona and visiting small unusual alleys
- Park Guell (in city): one of Gaudi's extraordinary works of art
- Cadaques (2.5hrs): a small fishing village close to the French border (2.5hrs from Barc.)
- Figueres(1.5hrs): the home of Salvador Dali and his Teatre Museo
- La Rambla Catalunya (city centre): this place is busy day & night
Sitges (1hr): picturesque beach town where the rich stay
Location: Barthelona, Spain
March 30 to April 14
An update of la vida in Barcelona over the past few weeks
6.45: Run or gym
8.35: Metro to Language School
13.30-14.30: Lunch out or at home
14.30-15.30: Shopping or use Internet
15.00 (to 18.00): Spanish Siesta
almost everything except food places is shut now very annoying
16.30: Spanish practice/revision
19.30-21.00: Dinner at home or go out for a meal
22.30-23.00: Go to slumber
 Use gym and run
 Do washing and clean
 Learn some more Spanish
 Check out the city and explore
 Meet up with classmates or new found friends
 Go out for dinner and drinks at bar
Top 10 things about Barcelona (in no order):
1. The ambience of the city
2. Inexpensive decent quality clothes/shoes
3. The nightlife
4. Spanish culture & history
5. Architecture and Art, especially Gaudi
6. Cheap flights within Europe
7. Morrocans selling DVDs and brand-name products
8. Definite business opportunities
9. Choice of fresh fruit & vegetables
10. Low wages if you own business
Worst 10 things about Barcelona (in no order):
1. Ignorant locals who speak Catalan to you
2. Dog excrement everywhere on footpath
3. Motorbike noise
4. Limited health food stores ie. lack of tofu
5. No waves close by
7. Siestas: everything shuts
8. Siesta time again!
9. Petty crime
10. Low wages if you work
Location: Moscow, Russia
- Last Day in Moscow...we are happy campers
- Awoke @ 6am for a run along the Moscow River which was amazing but freezing at the same time. Ran with some Red Army troops for a while who taunted me but easily brushed them off and cruised back to the hotel almost frostbitten
- Packed, had breakfast and waited for organised transport to Airport. Due to the Volga being late we had to suffer (under terrible fear for our lives) a car ride that would sometimes exceed 160k´s/hr on a highway that has no marked lanes to drive in and was extremely busy!!!
- Made the flight, rode Business Class and was happy to say Do Svidahna to Moscow.