Thursday, June 29, 2006

Farewell to Newcastle.... next stop Europe

Well, its all happening now. I've resigned from work and finish there on the 14th. I move out of my house tomorrow and will be staying with my mate Ken for a few weeks, before I leave Newcastle on the 16th to go to London, and then head for Paris for the start of my Europe trip! Nita and I are meeting there and will be travelling mostly by train for 2 months.

The basic itinerary is: Paris, Holland, Krakow, Prague, Czesky Krumlov, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul, Athens, the Greek Islands, Naples and Spain. Then I'll be back to London before flying home to the Gold Coast in mid September.

So it is all very exciting! I'm going to miss my friend and work mates here in Newcastle, but I'm ready to leave and return home to some decent weather. I don't think I could handle another English winter...

A few weeks ago I went on a science communication conference in Belgium. It was very interesting, and Belgium is lovely. I've put in a few pics from the trip.

England has gone football crazy. I must say I've got quite into it all, especially with Australia doing so well! Robbed I say, and all my English friends have been very supportive and totally agree. Out side my work they have set up a big screen for the England games, so I've attached a pic. Cars are driving around with England flags attached to them (some even with 6 attached!) and every bar and pub and shop has England flags flying. Its all very intense! They really love their football here, that's for sure.

I've had Kirstie staying for the past week, which has been lovely. We were at college together at Uni and we haven't seen each other in almost 4 years. She is in between 2 trips around Europe, and is really enjoying it.

On Monday night it was my housemate Marek's Birthday, so we had a bit of dinner here at home and I managed to cook up some polish food for everyone. He hadn't had any polish food since coming to the UK over a year ago, and he said it was better than polish food (a very nice complement). It was a bit of an expience cooking food I'd only heard about, but it all turned out well and was quite tasty. There is a pic attached on the night - Marek is in the Newcastle football shirt we gave him for his birthday. He's a real Geordie now!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

latest adventures

Well I've been kind of busy lately. All these things I've been planning for so long are actually starting to happen. I've covered a fair bit of ground in the past month and a half considering I have been travelling on weekends, so hopefully you can make it through the email to the pics I've taken on my travels.
The South of England: Haywards Heath and Brighton
Lizzie came on her holiday to the UK for a month. I visited her down at Haywards Heath, where she was visiting the family she nannied for 2 years ago. We went to Brighton for a day and I caught up with some old friends who I met in Montreal 5 years ago, Sarah and Dana. Great to see them again. It was lovely down in the south, so different to the north of England.Lots of trees and tiny country lanes. Brighton was different again, a beachside resort town with white building lining a pebble beached ocean. The was a big pier with amusement games on it, and another one which was almost fully collapsed. Dad says he used to fish off the old pier when he was a lad. Was interesting to see some places he had grown up.
My Birthday party
I celebrated my birthday on the Saturday before the 18th with lots of friends. Lizzie was up visiting by then, and Nita came down for Glasgow, with 12 of us going out for Italian dinner and then to a nightclub. Was great fun to party with my mates in Newcastle
My actual birthday
Mum and Dad arrived on the 17th, so for my birthday we had the whole family together again after over a year. It was so great to see them again!

Prague
We all went to Prague on the 21st for 3 nights. Prague is such a beautiful city. It reminded me of Florence quite a bit, with its terracotta coloured roofs, river running through it and beautiful buildings. But Prague had more beautiful buildings and much more gorgeous bridge, wider streets, and the castle complex was quite incredible. Plus it was cheaper and had great food and beer! It was so easy to get around on the metro and trams too. I can't wait to go back there in the summer now. I can imagine it will be just perfect weather for sitting in a bar, drinking delicious Czech beer, and watching the tourists pass you by.

Pics of Prague:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=2e0wkff.amz2sou7&x=1&y=i94qaa

Lizzie headed back to the States from Prague. She is now living in Vancouver for 5 months with the same family she was in Costa Rica with, nannying for the 2 kiddies.

The Lake district
First weekend in June saw me, Mum and Dad in the Lake District, which is one of the most beautiful areas of the UK. Beautiful fells (mountains) and lakes. The weather was pretty crap unfortunately but my parents still enjoyed it. We went for a few walks around lakes and fells. Just lovely. We also stopped by Hadrians Wall (the roman wall that was built across England to keep out the scary Scots) and a ruined castle - Barnard castle. If only the weather had been warmer than the 12 degrees max it would have been much more pleasant
Pics of the Lake district and the Netherlands:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=2e0wkff.5pjymklr&x=0&y=-2j9hrv

Holland
I was in Holland last weekend to visit a friend who was observing the international criminal war courts there as part of his law degree. My friend Katie also flew over from London so it was a semi-reunion of college days 6 years ago. We were lucky to get some fine weather as Dave said it had been raining the whole time he'd been there until Katie and I arrived.

Amsterdam was an interesting city- I had expected the canals and clogs in the souvenir shops, but not the sleaze... there were quite a few stag parties around and it was a bit wrong. The sex industry is really in your face, girls in windows. I'd never seen anything like it, that's for sure. It was great seeing the wonky houses, so narrow and tall and leaning because of unstable foundations. I'll be going to the museums there when I return in a few months.

The Hague was a pleasant surprise. Like I didn't know there was a nice beach there! Not that you would go in the water cos it would be freezing, but it was really nice along the beach, they had some very nice restaurants and bars along there. It had a very Indonesian feel about it - reminded me a tiny bit of Bali (the weather made it a tad difficult to see the similarities).

We had a fun night out on Saturday, watching the sun set from a cosy bar on the beach with Dave, Katie and Dave's two mates in his course. They were nice guys. We all ended up at an Aussie bar singing along to songs by Pearl Jam and other random music.

The cycling tour around the Hague was lovely, very relaxing riding around the flat bike paths on a very nice bike. There was a nature reserve we rode though, then the royal forest near the summer palace, and then through the centre where we saw the UN buildings and more palaces. A very easy city, nothing spectacular, just nice. I really enjoyed the M C Escher exhibition though. It has his entire collection. Incredible art pieces, so detailed.. I wish I'd had more time to spend there.

What now...
Well Mum and Dad return from Portugal tonight, and they leave to go south to visit their friends tomorrow. It has been so lovely seeing them. I have really missed my family being over here.

Tomorrow I'm off to Belgium for 5 days for the ecsite conference (European science centres conference). Very exciting. I'm doing a presentation on the Centre for Life shop. I only found out I had to do the talk on Tuesday, so its a tad nerve racking, but I welcome the challenge.