Saturday, September 25, 2004

When in Rome......

Well we are sitting here after just having heard the bad news through a live radio stream over the net in a Roman internet shop, yes the Lions have finally lost a premiership. However, our scarves are still on and we plan to support our team anyway with a day out in Rome with footy scarves in tow, following some commissoratory phone calls back to Oz.

We have been having a fabulous time here in the eternal city as it is known over here. Day 5 of 11 and still heaps more to see and do! Have seen most of the ancient marvels- the Colleseum, Pantheon (not Parthenon, as we keep hearing from American tourists who dont seem to know which city they are actually in!), the Roman forum which is simply amazing etc.. any of you who know Shane will already realise that we will have plenty of photos for you to see when we get back! However, he has promised no long boring slide shows, which you will all be pleased about - just the important ones!!!

Inside our Roman Holiday hotel room - looking out through the shutters over the street below

The Roman Forum

My first Chianti bottle in Italy, taken out front of the Colleseum on one of many drunk walks home - I still have the bottle!!

Carly and the famous statue of Marcus Aurelius at the Museo Capitolino, which has almost lost its original gold leaf coating (if it loses all of its gold coating - Rome will fall.. so that's why it's now behind glass!)

The coin in the fountain (yes, I know - over the wrong shoulder!!)

Outside the Colleseum

Every street we go down has more sights to see, yesterday we thought we would go into one last church for the day and ended up with a Romanian church volunteer taking us under the present day church and into the ruins of the original 6th century BC church, where we could stand exactly where there was once a vegetable market and temple where people traded 2600 years ago!!!! all I can say is wow - certainly none of that back home! A picture of it is below:

Carly out front of her favourite church as detailed above

After a quick walk by a couple of days ago we are off to do the full Vatican tour tommorrow. We have already seen heaps of amazing churches and Bascilicas covered in fabulous artwork which you can just walk into off the street, so cant wait to see what all the fuss is about the sistene chapel!!

The food is just what you would expect- lucky we are doing so much walking or would be getting so fat! Pastry and coffee for breakfast, pannini for lunch, the obligitory daily tub of gelati as we wander the streets in the arvo, and pizza/pasta for dinner with vino of course- what more could you ask for!

As for shopping- shoes, shoes, shoes, it is brilliant!

thats it for now, will update with more on Roma soon

love to you all


Monday, September 20, 2004

Introduction to London

After pulling up OK from the jetlag with a days rest, we promptly headed into London from Egham on the train for 3 full days of playing tourist.. We managed to walk by most of the inner-city sights such as Westminster, London Eye, Piccadilly Circus etc, Buckingham Palace, West End, Soho and Carnaby St shopping, and all the famous shopping areas of Regent Street, Oxford Street, and of course the gentlemen's clothes stores along Jermyn(?) Street. Carly got a thrill heading down Old and New Bond Street and thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Tiffany & Co store!! Most lunches were spent in back alley English pubs which were amazing.

Buckingham Palace

Shane and the pidgeons at Trafalgar Square

We have caught up with Karen on Saturday at her southern suburb abode of Putney, and the next day visited Renee Workman and Shane Wilke at their fantastic apartment in EC1. We then walked through the City past St Pauls Cathedral and along the Thames to an old steamer converted to a Pub where Shane gave me an introductory lesson in english pint drinking (which ended in a draw!) - needless to say the trip home to Egham that night night was a blurry adventure in map reading and Tube station navigation.. I quickly learned that people on London public transport don't like having a chat, unlike those on the last Friday night train to Northgate..

Our first Queen Mary, and, the aftermath at the Workman/Wilke's

We're flying down to Rome on Tuesday for 11 days of touring the Eternal City.. No accommodation booked, and we'll probably just pick-up a Lonely Planet at the airport - nothing like flying by the seat of your pants!!! We'll publish something from there..


Thursday, September 16, 2004

We've arrived

Compiled at Englefield Green – West London - 11:17 16th September

We have arrived! (or as Kym Oliver would say – ‘the ego has landed!’)

The second leg of our trip was very very long and although I managed to score an exit row with heaps of leg room it still seemed to drag on.. I slept for over half the flight and had two interesting and travel-savy guys next to me who helped fill the time with idle chatter and London and Europe travel tips.. Carly did manage to get onto the flight at the last minute and unluckily for her she did not have the pleasure of an exit row like myself and enjoyed the close company of two large gentleman either side of her on one of the side groups of 3 seats – a far cry from our two separate seats up the back of the brisbane-singapore leg!! Although we had lost the sunlight by that stage, the views of all of the lights across some of the biggest urbanised areas in the world were amazing as the flight tracked from Singapore over central India, across and past Warsaw & Poland, then over northern Germany and Western Europe, then across the channel and into England.

We landed yesterday at 5am, and quickly passed through customs etc with all of our gear.
Heathrow customs was pretty uneventful, with the only highlight being able to skip the large queues of our mainly Australian passport-holding 747-400 passengers and rush through an empty line-up for English citizens with Carly holding a ‘right to abode’ in her passport – I just said “I’m with her!” and through we went..

Smith Family friend Terry Lambrose collected us at the Heathrow Airport car park Coke machine as planned and then gave us the full tour of the area around where he and his wife Kaye live, the scenic and quaint village of Englefield Green. It’s hard to describe but it is a small village near Windsor Castle and Eton with all of the little attributes you see on UK TV shows – the local cricket ground and clubhouse next the town centre shopping strip, the abundant parklands and wooded forests containing squirrels, foxes, deer, and the occaisional Inspector Morse murder, and of course the local church and rows and rows of 18th & 19thC terrace houses. On a lighter side, their village is nearby the suburban centre of Staines, of Ali G fame!! Yes, you know, home of the Staines Massive.... I hope I’m getting a laugh from my brother Mike and also James Plumb – WESTSIDE!!

Carly and Terry Lambrose at Windsor Great Park, with Windsor Castle in the far background

before the day was out we had chased some of the Queen’s deer as we walked though the Windsor Great Park, seen some spectacular views of Windsor Castle down the 3 mile long “The Long Walk” pathway, been shown all around the local area including Egham high street, Staines, and Runnymeade (where the Magna Carta was signed).. later in the day I had my first Sainsbury’s shopping experience where I walked around multiplying the pounds prices into dollars so I culd see how much everything was (and yes brett, everything is bloody orange!!).. last night we dined at an excellent local Italian restaurant in the Village and then visited one of the 7 village pubs for our first English Ale.. I couldn’t remember which beer it was we drank as the jetlag had definitely caught up with me by then and I had started to doze off while standing up.. after one ‘half’ it was time to go home..

day two is turning out to be another lazy one with cs and I doing some preparations being done for the job hunting we will soon be doing.. we will be booking some flights to Rome today or tomorrow for a 10-14 day holiday which will be starting either Tuesday or Wednesday next week.. then when we return to London it will be all go with the job hunting and apartment search on in full earnest..

bye for now.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The adventure begins

Compiled in Singapore – 21:30 Tuesday 14 September

My house renovations got finished (at 7pm yesterday!), all last minute matters got finalised (at 11am today!), and I am typing this in Singapore Changi Airport so we must be on our way on the big trip.. The first leg went very well, with cs getting on the flight immediately (some of you may or may not know she travels ‘staff travel’ on Qantas and therefore is always on stand-by) and the staff at Brisbane even swinging two seats together up the back so we could enjoy that first complimentary drink together. And I managed to sneak on 3 carry-on pieces, all over the 7kg limit – but I am certain that karma will be back to get me on the next leg as the flight is almost overbooked, and little chance of the hosties being lax on the limits – will see and let you know.

The flight wasn’t very smooth, however we were treated to some great sun-setting scenery and views out the window as we tracked across the middle on the Northern Territory, WA, and then out and over Indonesia, including going straight over the top of Bali, where we could see the volcanoes that gav, dan, cs and I have visited, and also that surfing reef break near the 5 star hotels on the southern coast of the island which we went to with the Victorians from bells beach - Of course I took photos..

We're on our way! Carly getting comfortable for the long-haul ahead

The volcanoes on Bali - taken as we flew straight over Denpasar Airport

A great shot I took of some storms over Java, Indonesia - and the last sunlight we saw until London

cs is lying down nearby in what is called the Rest Area, set-up in an alledged quiet area overlooking the airport tarmac with banana lounges and minimal lighting – good idea in a big airport like this, however…. There is a piano bar just behind me with 3 blokes playing some of the worst piano music for ‘the entertainment’ of passengers at the adjacent coffee shop/bar.. it could be the worst piano bar music I have ever heard, and I doubt cs will be napping as it is so bloody loud! (Piano Man update- looks like the 3 Singaporean Billy Joel’s have taken a break so I can get some typing done in peace).

On arrival here cs checked in at the Transfers Counter, so that she can attempt to make the next flight onward to London – at this stage she is only waitlisted, but the way it works is they have a priority listing (or pecking order) for staff and their families, and if there are other staff on the flight with a higher ranking, then cs may get bumped to the next flight (BA flight an hour after), and then if that doesn’t go well, another BA flight an hour later, and if that one looks bad, then its off to the airport hotel for her and a wait until the next Qantas flight at 6am tomorrow – meanwhile I’ll be checking in as a full paying passenger and potentially off on my own to LHR.. my next entry will let you know (Piano Man update- the crappy musicians are back!!)

The next flight is not for another 2 hours, so I might head off and check out the rest of the airport – apparently they’ve got cinemas here with latest releases for passengers.. I couldn’t get web access without paying (yes, tight-arse I know) so I’ll log this once I get on-line in London.

That’s about it for now – I’ll draft up another post once we arrive in pommy-land.