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The (late) Christmas card - part 3

I must admit my preconceived ideas of Amsterdam were both confirmed and challenged. I had imagined scores of British tourists walking the streets off their faces (this turned out to be true), but had not imagined the craziness of new years evening.

Nothing can really prepare you for the onslaught of fireworks, noise and chaos that is 1/1/08 at 00:00:01. People were letting off fireworks everywhere and anywhere, which were crashing into buildings, canals, and (more worryingly) people - myself included at one point! You really have to pay attention not to walk in the firing range of any crackers.

The city itself is beautiful. The canals, buildings, and diverse range of people in the city make it unique and really pretty.

The (late) Christmas card - part 2

We spent Christmas in Paris, which was lit-up with festive lights - tres jolie! Krust, Shaz & I were lucky enough to catch up with a mate of mine from University, who joined us for the day.

After spending Christmas day in Paris we headed off to Colmar, which is west of Paris near the German border. People rave about Bruges but I reckon Colmar is at least as picturesque. The only thing it lacks is the Belgian beer.

Colmar has a distinctly German influenced architecture. The buildings have exposed beams and are colourfully decorated.

The town becomes even more spectacular at night.

The Christmas markets were also on while we were there…it was a pity we had already decorated our Christmas tree!

We also decided on a short side trip to Strasbourg. The Cathedral in Strasbourg and its astronomical clock is without a doubt one of the most amazing buildings that I have ever seen.

After Strasbourg we headed off on a full day journey to Amsterdam.

The (late) Christmas card - part 1

A very belated seasons greetings! For the festive season, We decided that a trip to continent was in order, otherwise we would have spent the whole of the break in Colchester, thanks to British rail canceling the train services for the entire holiday period…. how nice of them…. and then they go and raise the cost of travel. Sounds like a good job to me (stuff it up and get paid more). Anyway I digress.

The adventure began with a Eurostar trip to Brussels followed by a short train trip to Bruges.

First on our agenda was a trip into town for a stickybeak and something to eat. Surprisingly the water in the canals was completely frozen, which added a nice wintery touch.

The town square featured a number of christmas markets and an outdoor ice skating rink.


More importantly some of the market stalls were serving freshly cooked waffles with a chocolate sauce…mmmmm. After Bruges it was off to Paris for Christmas.

Pre-Christmas Post, Post Christmas

Well a lot happened in the few short months prior to Christmas 2007 (our first winter back in England)….. So here is a quick summary (short but sweet):

1. Colchester turned on the Christmas cheer with a street festival.

2. John Howard lost the Australian Election…. so we celebrated (as did almost everyone we know) by chowing down some home made tapas, but the meal wasn’t as sweet as the election result.

3. We visited the beautiful city of Canterbury and its majestic Cathedral.

Sunn O))) - A Weekend To Remember

During the last month of 2007 Krust, myself, Melissa and Dylan headed off to the nightmare before Christmas festival in the beach paradise of Minehead (anyone who has visited Minehead in winter will understand exactly what I mean by paradise).

As is often the case in the UK the Journey turned out to be an epic trek across a small distance (w paved roads). The 300 odd miles took us over 8 hours of driving. Anyway it was good fun.

The festival was curated this year by Portishead, who played a fantastic set on both of the nights we were there.

But the real surprise was the horror of Sunn O))) with their post apocalyptic drone metal. At this point it is worth reminding people what ‘apocalyptic’ means. I like the following two definitions:

  1. Prophesying the complete destruction of the world
  2. Resembling the end of the world: Momentous or Catastrophic

…. Anyone who has seen this band will understand what I am saying. The next picture should help to fill in the blanks for everyone else.

Anyway the weekend was fantastic fun…..and we even got to enjoy a session in the water park. Continue reading ‘Sunn O))) - A Weekend To Remember’

Australia & Hong Kong

In November we headed back to Australia via Hong Kong for my brothers wedding. Having never been to Hong Kong I was not entirely prepared for its ‘vertical-ness’ and insane pollution levels. The city is very impressive: it feels like a set from the 5th element or blade runner.

Even more impressive is the almost bizarre blend of old and new Hong Kong. There are still echoes of both English and Chinese pasts.

After our brief stop over in Hong Kong it was off to Australia for the main leg of our two week holiday (unfortunately we forgot to load the photos into Flickr). Daryls wedding was fantastic, it was great to catch up with so many family and friends. After the wedding we headed on down to Krust’s folks place for a night and then onto Mikes’ place in Newcastle.

While Krust stayed in Newcastle I took a quick (1 day) side trip to Melbourne to visit friends, which turned out to be well worthwhile…. the only downside is that it reminded of how good life in Melbourne is.

The Summer of Love, Part 2: Barcelona

Most happily, we were paid a visit in September by the rocking Farina and James, who were in the midst of a world-wide travel adventure. After spending a couple of days in Colchester, we rocked on over to Barcelona for a long weekend. Ahhh….Barcelona - such a fantastic city! We spent the first morning exploring the Barri Gotic, the centre of the old city, which is filled with cobbled labyrinthine streets, many medieval buildings, and beautiful little squares.

We also sussed out some of Barcelona’s modern architecture, including Gaudi’s Segrada Familia.

We climbed one of the towers for some cracking views out over Barcelona.

We also checked out the Palau de la Musica Catalana, a concert hall designed by Montaner. It was most impressive! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any photos.
Of course, we also indulged in some fine tapas and sangria. Ola!

The Summer of Love, Part 1: Zurich

Since it is well into autumn now, I thought it time to write a post about the highlights of the rest of the summer.  During the August bank holiday long week-end, we popped over to Zurich to visit our rocking friends, Lissy and Dylan.  Most excitingly, Lara was also on the continent and in Zurich at the time.  We had a most lovely time exploring the city, visiting funky cafes, eating zoph, bircher muesli, cheese and chocolate and hanging out by the lake.

 

We also went for a hike in the mountains (I can’t remember exactly where now - I only recall the names Rigi and Vegas!!), which was most spectacular:

 

and took a ferry on Lake Lucerne.

 Lucerne itself was gorgeous!

 

 All-in-all, our trip to Zurich ROCKED! Thanks for the cracking times Lissy, Dylan and Ra.

Tripping Around

The past couple of months have pretty much been spent working away in Colchester and London (with a couple of work trips to Kosovo), but we did manage a few short trips away to try and make the most of the European summer. In July, we spent a long weekend in Paris with Sharon, and had a most excellent time! We checked out the city’s more spectacular sites - the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the Louve.


One of the most tres jolie sights was the beautiful Saint-Chappelle - a 13th Century cathedral featuring a room decked out with beautiful stained glass windows.

We also had a most pleasant time wandering around many a pretty rue in the Marais (our adopted neighbourhood), the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, lounging in brasseries and cafes and indulging in a croissant or two. Paris rocks!

In July, we also paid Ye Olde Cambridge a brief visit where we hung out amongst the college buildings and watched many a punter pass down the mighty Cam.

We also made our way to Belgium for a weekend. We spent most of our time in Brussels, checking out the most spectacular Grand Place and the cobbled streets surrounding it, and of course, indluging in Belgian beer and chocolate.

We also made a brief trip to Antwerp - a most funky city north of Brussels.

Brighton Rock(s)

On a recent trip to Brighton to attend a farewell shin-dig for a couple of friends who are moving to Australia (hope it’s all going well Flea and Brooke!), we also had a look around the beach and pleasure pier. Here are some pics: