Location: Nelson, New Zealand
I arrived in London on 23 Feb 2004, and now I return to NZ on 23 Feb 2007 - and the matching dates wasn't even planned! Came back for one of my friends wedding in Nelson, which was absolutely beautiful, on a small secluded beach. Then headed down south to see family and enjoy a bit more of the outdoors. Photos say it all I think. No more travel planned in the forseeable future - how unusual is that?!
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Abby and I went to Budapest for a long weekend. Good thing it was a three day trip, as the first day was a complete write off as we had both been out the night before, I had had about 1hr sleep! and we both ended up sleeping most of the day, oops!
The Sunday was COLD brrrr but we headed out to the tourist thing nonetheless. However it was one of those that were not destined to go quite according to plan. The city tour bus didn't show up, after we had waited 15mins in the freezing cold. Then the Meseum of Terror that we thought would be interesting was shut for a week. Then we decided to get a massage instead and went to this Thai massage place (a bit weird for Hungary I know!) and treated ourselves to an hour massage with these wee Thai ladies who pretty much walked all over us. Worth every penny though!
On the Monday we looked around the castle and all the windy streets surrounding it, Fishermans Bastion, and went to the baths. Pretty cool, outdoor hotpools with the little old men playing chess like you see in the travel guides! I did take lots of cool photos, although you may notice that there isn't a corresponding photo page.... On my birthday I was out, with my camera, and it got stolen. With it, my photos of Budapest :( so you will have to use your imagination on this one sorry!! For those of you who don't know my track record with cameras, this is now the fourth camera that has been broken, lost or stolen since I have lived in London.....
Location: Syd/Bris/Melb, Australia
Arrived in Oz on NYE to spend the night on a cat in the harbour with past and present ZPro workmates, what can I say it was fantastic. Then headed up to Brisbane to see the house, catch up with some friends and generally remind myself of my old lifestyle in sunny Bris-vegas. Then down to Melbourne for a week to stay with Lisa and Zane. They were fantastic hosts and showed me all around Melbourne - Yarra Valley, 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island to see the penguins!, rooftop cinema, shopping, eating and drinking! It was great to get some sun and fresh air!!
Location: Scotland, UK
Well another Christmas has rolled by, and I will be rolling back down to London after all the good food and hospitality I have had lavished on me by my aunty and uncle!! Time again to start considering my New Year's resolutions, which will seem like a great idea until about the 7th of January.....
I didn't think I had done much travelling this year but in actual fact I have been to Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Barcelona, Seville, Krakow, Palermo and Turkey!! I have already put on entries for Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Barcelona but have neglected the rest.... I would like to think it is cos my laptop was nicked in July rather than me just being a tad lazy...!
Stockholm - this was a trip that I decided to do and then was lucky enough to have Suz and Craig come with me along with Lou, Jo and Pete from work. I didn't really have huge expectations of Stockholm, but it was fantastic, heaps to see and do, not as expensive as Copenhagen, and amazing food and drink.
Turkey - Abby and I spent a week in Istanbul which was perhaps the most exotic location I have been to. The atmosphere of the place was amazing - when we arrived it was dark, the Blue Mosque was lit up and looked like something out of a travel guide, and the prayer calls were ringing out over the city. Magic. There was SO much amazing stuff to buy that we had to buy a new bag to take it all back to London with us! The turkish baths were very indulgent and quite an eye opener to say the least!! Don't ever leave Turkey without having spent a few hours being scrubbed down and having your hair washed! And then try to find someone to do it for you on a regular basis...!
Krakow - I was really only going to Krakow to see Auschwitz, but it is a gorgeous city in itself and Poland is a beautiful country. I never thought Polish food would be anything to write home about but it was AMAZING!!! (probably helped by being there with Kat who is the quintessential foodie!) And so cheap - a three course meal for three with lots of beer and wine at really good restaurants was about £50 between us. One of our waiters looked like all his Christmas's had come at once at the tip that we gave him!! Auschwitz was one of those places you really have to visit in order to get any kind of perspective on what happened there, and even now it still seems a bit surreal that I have actually been there. The surviving footage of the prisoners at Auschwitz seems like it is from another time until you are standing exactly in the place where you see all the Jews getting off the carriages and being 'selected' by Mengele. All I can say is look at the pics.
Seville - I love being in Spain as it reminds me so much of Australia. It is the climate, the endless blue sky and the jacaranda etc that reminds me of Aust. Seville is the home of tapas, flamenco and bull-fighting ie: everything that defines the Spanish culture. The bull-fighting season was over but Jo and I went to see a flamenco show and sampled the local tapas. The Alcazar was gorgeous, we spent a fair while just lounging in the gardens. Santa Cruz is the old area of Seville and I loved it - it is like being in the narrow windy streets of an Italian village but the big difference is that in Italy the buildings tend to be old, crumbling, and ochre toned, whereas in Seville they are immaculately maintained and are in shades of pink, yellow and white. I would definitely go back to Seville.
Palermo, Sicily - this was my first trip back to Italy for over a year and I was really missing it! Sicily - the home of the mafia and lemons! I was keeping an eye out for the Godfather but I think they were all spending the winter in Corleone. Kat and I found a wee cafe where all the locals were eating and decided to try our luck for lunch. They didn't speak any English, we didn't speak any Italian, but all the little old men took us under their wing and we had one of the best Italian meals I have ever had. They were bringing out more wine for us and olives for us to try and some fruit that I still don't know what it was! We also headed south to Agrigento which is a town with lots of ruined temples on a ridge that overlooks the sea - very dramatic - and to Monreale to see the cathedral there which is all gold inside (along the lines of St Peters in Venice).
I head off to Australia on Friday for a much needed two week holiday in the sun!! I cannot wait. Then a long weekend in Budapest with Abby, and a trip to NZ in Feb for Rachaels wedding which will be the first time I have been back since I moved to London - three years ago!!
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I spent Easter in Copenhagen with Abby but unfortunately the Easter Bunny must have got lost cos he didn't track us down in Copenhagen! Denmark is the home of Hans Christian Anderson (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and The Pea etc) so we had to take a typical touristy pic of the Little Mermaid statue! Copenhagen is also known for the Tivoli Gardens, which is a 100yr old amusement park complete with rides, restaurants, concerts and shows. We spent all of Saturday at Tivoli, and then went back again in the evening for more! Eventually I left Abby to it and she stayed till it closed at 11pm..... I think she had found her lost childhood!! We did the open top bus tour when we arrived and sampled many of the cafes around the place, particularly in Nyhavn which had cafe after restaurant after pub along one of the canals - very pretty. The only bad part was that Copenhagen is SOOOOOOO expensive for food and drink! We paid £7 for a hot choc and a chai tea latte, and £14 for burger, chips and a water! Don't go here if you are on a budget is all I can say. Next weekend in London then off to Stockholm the weekend after!
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This was my first trip to Spain - hola! Barcelona is the home of a proliferation of Gaudi's architecture and the guy was either a genius or taking a lot of illegal substances! I went through the Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera and I was blown away by both of them. His use of colour and irregular lines and shapes are what make his work so unique - none of the rectangles, squares and symmetry that are usually the hallmarks of western architecture. It was my first taste of summer - I got sunburnt! The other thing that I liked about Barcelona were the pet stalls along La Rambla - I could have chosen from turtles, tortoises, fish, chameleons, alligators, ferrets, chincillas, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice and a veritable aviary of birds! (the Spanish are obviously not concerned about bird flu....) I really wanted a turtle as they were only 8 euro!! but I wasn't optimistic about my chances of getting it through customs!
Anyway, enjoy the photos and I will update the site soon with my Easter trip to Copenhagen!
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Sweden - the home of ABBA, IKEA and the Volvo. There were certainly plenty of Volvos in evidence along with a whole lot of snow! I knew it would be cold in Sweden but I hadn't actually checked the forecast so it was somewhat of a shock when I stepped onto a tarmac that was covered in snow! It was quite a novelty until it became apparant that we had to queue outside for passport control as the teensy tiny airport didn't have enough room to fit a whole flight full of people into the passport control area - brrrr. This was to be a weekend of the coldest weather I have ever experienced. There was at least a foot of snow everywhere and it was very clear and sunny - but it was unbelievably cold. I couldn't spend too long wandering around outside as my face started to feel like it was going to burn off so I had to nip in and out of shops to warm up, although I wasn't particularly complaining about that! It was well below zero all day and when I got on the plane at 9pm on the Sunday night it was -13, brrr. So my solution was to spend Saturday afternoon in a spa having a Swedish massage - I was loving it!!
Location: Scotland, UK
I am just about to put some more photos on!! I came up to Scotland just before Christmas and spent Christmas Day with my rellies in Glasgow.
On Boxing Day I headed to the Isle of Mull to meet up with my friends Suz and Craig and a couple of their friends as we had hired a cottage that overlooked a ruined castle. The drive to Oban where I was catching the ferry from was breathtaking as there had been a hoar frost the night before and everything was white with ice, it was magical and very Christmassy! We had a good look around Mull while we were there and it was very wild and isolated, and very cold!!
We got a little bit of snow on the island and then on the 30th when we went back over to mainland there was snow everywhere from Oban all the way through to Glasgow, at least a foot deep. I haven't seen that much snow since leaving NZ!! Suz, Rachel and I were opening the windows all the time to take photos of the snow - I think the boys were getting somewhat sick of the constant blasts of cold air!
When I got back to Glasgow I met up with my friend Abby who had come over from Italy and we headed over to Edinburgh for the New Years eve street party and met up with Suz, Craig etc. (ZPRO people - guess who Abby & I bumped into in a pub at 5pm that night - Jake and Helen! What are the chances?) We partied on down to Hard-Fi who were great and then watched the fireworks that were set off from the castle.
We decided we had better get into a club as Abby and I were doing an all-nighter and then getting on the 7am bus back to Glasgow on New Years Day. So, not knowing the nightlife scene in Edinburgh, we managed to get into a place that was asking for ID - I didn't have any ID but he was happy to let me in. Warning bells should have been ringing at this stage because of the ID thing, and sure enough, when we got down into the club there would barely have been anyone there over 21!! So it was a rather interesting night of people watching.....!! Abby and I left about 5am and spent the next hour getting some tucker and then hanging about in a doorway until the bus station opened!!
Next drama - went to get on the bus but National Express had sold me tickets for the fifth of Jan rather than first (bugger that accent over the phone huh) so I was in the middle of telling the driver that it was their fault that they had sold me the wrong ticket and that we needed to be on this bus, and he was telling me that there was no way we were getting on because the bus was fully booked. Abby thought I was about to smack the guy one but in actual fact I was just about to burst into tears (cold, tired, grumpy!) - when the angels suddenly smiled on us and the guy behind us in the queue offered to sell us the two spare tickets that they had. You wouldn't believe how glad Abby and I were to get on to that warm, comfortable bus!!! Got back to Glasgow and into bed 9am on New Years Day - great stuff. Back to London tomorrow to get back to the real world!
Location: London, UK
Just in case anyone was wondering why the silence on the blog front - I have been back in London for the past week and a half. Have got myself a new flat yahoo!! Will put some pics on for the fandamily! Off to Glasgow for Christmas, then Mull in b/w xmas and NY, then Edinburgh for the Hogmanay street party. Bring it on! Abby and I don't have any accom as I wasn't quite organised enough to get it sorted so we are planning an all-nighter. I am now beginning to see the folly of that decision - by 4am we will no doubt be frozen and grumpy!!
Location: Lagos, Portugal
I spent another day looking around Lisbon and then came down to Lagos yesterday. This place is the postcard perfect image of Portugal that you see in travel books - turquoise water, endless sun (even in winter!), grottoes and scuplted cliffs. It is so quiet and laid back here although it must be absolutely heaving in summer. I spent the avo hanging out on the beautiful beaches and plan on doing that again today!
Location: Sintra, Portugal
I really thought I was losing my marbles today. I was looking for the train station to get the train to Sintra for the day, but after half an hour of wandering around I just couldn't find it - it wasn't where it was meant to be!! As my frustration levels were rising rapidly, I finally decided to ask at the info centre who informed me that the train station was no longer in operation. Marbles restored - what a relief! Sintra has been the highlight of my time in Portugal so far, it is in the hills to the west of Lisbon and is overlooked by two amazing castles - one that is a ruin from Moorish times and the other is a multicoloured palace that is like something out of a fairytale - spires, turrets, domes... I walked up into the hills to see these two castles and got some amazing views from the top - I will put pics on asap.
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
I flew into Stansted on Wed evening and it was fab being in the UK - hearing English rather than Italian, the airport being clean and new etc etc.... What bliss! I hunkered down for the night and bought Watching the English which is a book on English culture. I think everyone around me must have though I was a complete freak as I was laughing out loud at this book - you have to read it!! Anyway, after having no sleep at the airport, I flew out to Porto in Portugal first thing on Thurs morning. It was, surprise surprise, raining. Spent two days there and caught up on some sleep, then headed down to Coimbra via Aveiro. I am now in Lisbon and will be around the south of Portugal for a few days till I head over to Spain.
Location: Naples, Italy
Boo, it is still pouring!! Another day of internet, shopping and movies I feel.
Location: Naples, Italy
More thunder, lightning and torrential downpours. Decided to match it with shopping, shopping and shopping. Oh, and a visit to the underground Roman aqueducts and ampitheatre ruins. The guide led us through miniscule tunnels with each of us having a candle to simulate conditions back in Roman times - whose crazy idea was that?! Backpacks had to be left behind and we had to crouch and turn sideways to get through some parts (no, I haven't been having THAT much Italian food, the tunnels were v narrow!). There was one guy who would have been well over six foot and I think he was having problems squeezing through as we were always waiting for him to appear out of the darkness. Small dark spaces aren't my forte although for some weird reason they didn't bother me this time. I must have been concentrating too hard on trying to see where I was going! One day left in Naples and if the weather is even marginally better tomorrow I am going to go see Capri.
Location: Naples, Italy
I have just discovered that I can upload my photos directly onto this computer, and it is pouring again - I think I have just decided how I will spend my afternoon!!!
Location: Naples, Italy
It is pouring today!! Grrr, I just don't have the necessary motivation to be wandering around outside in the wet. So here I am, on the net instead!! I am going to go back to the hostel and chill out for the avo watching some movies. I have just had a fantastic pizza for lunch, Napoli does indeed have the best pizzas in Italy. As I suppose it should as that is where the pizza originated from! I still haven't figured out why this place is called Napoli yet we in our wisdom call it Naples - can anyone enlighten me?!