Thursday, 29 September 2011

So far surviving both the UK food & drink

Current City: Glasgow
Well, I managed to cross another item off my bucket list (I would put that in quotes except my keyboard has decided to make รจ instead...); I tried haggis today at a Glasgow pub. I must say, for being a concoction of oatmeal, spices and assorted animal entrails, it was actually quite tasty! If I hadnt had such a big breakfast I definitely would have cleaned the plate (with the exception of the mashed turnips. Ive had those before and I know I dont like them).
Been a great few days; aside from the culinary adventure that is UK cuisine, Ive gone climbing at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho, walked the Royal Mile, climbed all 287 steps to the top of the Walter Scott Monument, and toured the Scottish Paliament!
I also have to make mention of the incredible Scottish hospitality Ive encountered. Its very nice to know that I have doors open to me if I choose to come back (and indeed, I have been encouraged back. Numerous times.) Time permitting, I would love to return at the end of the trip and visit with the people who have been more than hospitable in the land of kilts and ales.
Glasgow University. This isnt even the main hall, or anything. Its just a sciences building.

The Cloister just off of the Quadrangle in the University

Lord Kelvin, an alumni of the University. Inventor of the temperature scale that makes more sense than the Fahrenheit scale.

I-Forget-The-Name canal that runs through Kelvingrove Park, with Whats-Its-Name building in the background.
Hey, 1 out of 3 aint bad...

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Male and female Sydney Funnel Web Spiders, the deadliest spiders on earth. David, this pictures for you...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Aye, just a wee 'ittle post

Current City: Edinburgh
It`s interesting to think that the flat I`m staying at in Edinburgh is roughly the same age as the oldest building in Vancouver. And this isnt even that old. As a North American, this seems like such a novelty. And the fact that every day thousands of people walk past this incredible castle that`s hundreds of years old perched on a hill overlooking the city.
As amazing as Edinburgh is, getting here proved to be a bit of a challenge. In the interest of saving a couple of pounds on a flight, I flew out of London Luton Airport; one of the shittest airports in the world. Calling it a London airport would be like putting an airport in Mission and calling it a Vancouver airport. To make things easier for people getting there (because occasionally people have to get to or from an airport), the trains will stop at either Luton or Luton Airport Parkway, although not all trains stop at the one you want. Most of the time they stop at the one you dont want. Needless to say, I didnt get off on the stop I wanted and ended up going on to Warwickshire, or something like that, and sumarily missed my flight. The options were to catch a flight to Glasgow a few hours later and then train across to Edinburgh, or go back to London Gatwick and wait even longer. I opted to stay at the airport. What`s interesting about Luton is not that the security was actually worse than most airports I`ve been to, but that there are no seats at the departure gates. All outbound passengers have to wait in a single lounge until their departure gate is displayed on a screen (which only happens about 20 mins before the flight leaves), and then run to that gate.
So I finally got to Edinburgh about 6 or 7 hours later than expected, was thoroughly exhausted, and proceeded to have a couple pints at the club that Bryan Jones works at.
Edinburgh has been amazing so far! Went climbing yesterday at Ratho Climbing Arena (pictures to follow), plan on catching a rugby match later today, then off to Glasgow for a bit of a party.
Bryan Jones doing what he does best at The Voodoo Rooms

View of Edinburgh from Blackfriar Hill

Princes St. Gardens looking towards Waverly train station

St. Marys Cathedral

The Balmoral Hotel; very posh and swanky hotel

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Whats London Called?

Current City: London
So if Los Angeles is the City of Angels, and New York is the City that Never Sleeps, and Rome is the Eternal City, what’s London?
Been keeping quite busy the last few days, meeting up with Jones and Casey and getting a guided tour of London. What sucks is that when I plugged my memory card into the reader, it decided to corrupt it and erase all the pictures I took yesterday. There was, naturally, only one thing I could do about that; go back and retake all the pictures again today! This actually turned out well, as I got to see Tower Bridge lit up and night.
Here are just a few of the 371 pictures taken thus far (I know, only 371... I need to step it up a bit...)
Camden Market

This place used to be horse stables and is now an open-air market (thus the equine motif). The individual stables have been turned into shop stalls.

Parliament! Technically you can’t see Big Ben, as that’s the bell located within the clock tower.

Trafalgar Square from the steps of the National Gallery.

Chilling on a park bench in Green Park (Buckingham Palace is in the background through the trees) Not Shown: the crazy religious lady who accosted and tried to convert us.

Size? I always did consider it to be more of a question...

Timber Wave, a public art exhibit outside of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Inside the Science Museum. So much incredible stuff I had to come back a 2nd time. Warning: very geeky posts to follow.

Goddard rocket; the first solid-fuel rocket ever.

Listening Post: very cool installation; each screen displays snippets of conversation randomly pulled from internet chats and forums.

Babbage’s Difference Engine #2: basically a giant mechanical computer.

Prefect cross-section pulled from the fuselage of a Japan Airlines 747.

Main gallery at the Natural History Museum.

Life-size replica of a Blue Whale, with various whale skeletons above.

The o2. The actual arena is inside the dome, along with several movie theatres, performance halls, another museum, and dozens of restaurants. It’s very big.

Canada Water Tube Station!

Strolling through the Docklands; a recently built-up section of London. Very modern architecture, doesn’t feel at all like London. A lot of international banks have their headquarters here. Canary Wharf is the building on the left.

Strolling though Hyde Park. My quick stroll lasted well over 2 hours. It’s a very large park.

Tower Bridge at dusk. (Not London Bridge, apparently that’s a common misconception).

The Tower of London at night from across the Thames.

Tower Bridge and London City Hall at night.
That’s just a small portion of what I’ve seen so far. Heading to Edinburg first thing tomorrow morning to meet back up with Jones and check out Scotland!
And now, for my last night here, I will see the city off in a way most befitting London: with a pint.
Or two.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Jetlag is truly a cruel mistress...

Current City: London
I'm sure most of you are aware of this, but they do drive on the lefthand side of the road in the UK.
For those North American readers, I just wanted to stress the importance of looking to the right while stepping into a crosswalk. I'm not used to having to think about where I look when I walk.
I'm glad the London weather decided to do what it does best n(ie, drizzle); definitely helps make it feel more like Vancouver.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A few goals for the next 2 months

Current City: Vancouver
The last few weeks have flown by. In just 5 weeks I've quit both my jobs, helped my roommate move to another country, moved myself, been to two utterly fantastic weddings (congraulations again Jess & Tim, and Chris & Heather), and now I'll be taking the vacation I've always wanted to take.
I suppose as I sit beside gate 53 at the international departures terminal at YVR it might be a good time to examine some hopes, goals and expectations for this trip;
-I want to climb at Ratho Intl. Climbing Centre in Edinurgh (Ivana you might be able to help with this one).
-I want to eat haggis and drink a pint at a friendly pub in Glasgow.
-I want to explore a winery in the south of Spain
-I want to look up at the towering Millau Viaduct (and hopefully drive across it)
-I want to sit at a cafe in Paris with a glass of wine and watch the sun set behind the Eifel Tower
-I want to see a castle that's older than Canada
-I want to drink "a mas" (a litre of beer) at the Haufbrauhaus in Munich (and I know I spelled some of that wrong)
-I want to stand underneath the Brandenburg Gate at night
-I want to see the Bone Church in Kutna Hora
-I want to get sprayed by the waterfalls at Plitvice National Park in Croatia
-I want to see the Sea Organ in Zadar
-I want to sit on the beach on the island of Korcula and do nothing all day
Failing any of this, I want to meet some great new people, catch up with old friends, and have some fun.
I think if I can do that, I will have a good trip.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Preliminary packing complete

Current City: Vancouver
I gotta say, following a packing list is actually much easier than just winging it! Cant believe how much stuff I might have forgotten if I wasn't going off of a piece of paper.

Well the backpack weighs in at about 28 lbs, and the carry-on bag (including smaller camera bag) tips the scales at 21 lbs. The trip was started at 161.5 lbs, so we'll see what I weigh when I get back!

Friday, 9 September 2011

This is only a test

Current City: Vancouver
So I figured I had better get a post up, for 2 reasons;
A)So that I have something here to read when people check this blog and
B)So I have some practice typing on this miniature netbook keyboard. Seriously, how do people do word processing on these things? Not to mention there's an amazing abundance of odd and foreign characters, and I'm worried the fine people at Samsung might have missed something important I might need. Like the letter O for instance. I guess I'm safe.

Well, they keyboard seems to check out. I will be leaving in exactly 1 week and 1 hour, and it's at this point that I'm hoping I have everything in place that I need... I guess we'll find out soon enough!