Monday, June 06, 2005

Hello & Goodbye

*sniff* last post. Im getting a bit sick of it anyway. Singapore. All fine and dandy. slept most of the way from London so am feeling kinda perky.

A few mishaps though with excess baggage and the whole one of theengines doesnt work so lets all sit on the plane for two hours before even leaving london. Its amazing how it takes 5 min to say ' engine wont start because of a spark plug' and then it takes 2 hours to change it by a team of engineers.

Plan was to try and stay awake from london to singapore then sleep from singapore to melbourne to adapt to time change. new plan is to sleep whole trip. i like that idea much better. i think now is the time to acknowledge the power of the eye mask. 3 cheers! (perhaps i am slightly delirious)

Anyway, farewell blog, hello people. Lots more stories to tell about the trip but they are unfit for publication so will have to finish up there. Ciao, the big V.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Trip in Review (Two Thumbs Up)

And the winners are.......

Best place visited in England:

York. Loved it. Had a whole week there and it wasnt enough. Quieter and less polluted than the midlands and further south. Nice accents too.

Best place visited in Scotland:

I don't think i can single out a place so Ill choose (hey, its my competetition I can do what I want) an area. Inverness - Oban via the southern side side of Loch Ness. The most breathtaking scenery I have seen the whole trip. Lots of animals and the highlands in spring, cant beat it.

Best Place visited in France:

This is a tough one, but I think Ill have to go with the little market street in Les Halles, Paris that I visited each day. The most wonderful pastries, ham, cheese and wine. Really friendly people and beautiful to top it off.

Best place visited in Ireland:

Kilkenny. Heaps of fun, actually got to see the place a bit and got a tattoo to top the night off.

And the winner of best place visited overall (comedy or musical) is....

Scotland. Sorry, cant narrow it down further than that. It was fantastic, had the car, spring time, really friendly people. So much more pristine and less crowded than England.

Worst place visited:

Montebaun. See previos post about train trip from Bordeaux - Cahors. I still dont want to think about it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Final Countdown

It was a big farewell on Wednesday night. Got to bed some time after 5 am and up for breakfast at 8 am to say goodbye to most of the group who headed back to London on the coach. It was heaps of fun and got to see a few really interesting places but it was also really quite crap with an incompetent tour manager. We didnt see any Cork at all even though we stayed there. The only way you got to see any of the cities was if you caught a cab in to town at 9pm to go to a bar.

Having fun in Dublin, went on a sightseeing bus around the place yesty (we had about 5 things pointed out to us as part of the tour so I figured there may of been just a little more about Dublin than that). There's still a few people here from the tour and we are all hanging out together wich makes it better than going off to dinner by yourself each night.

Im going to hike around the city today, ive been sitting on a coach everyday for the past week and eating full breakfasts and 3 course dinners so I need to get out and about.

Everyones had a rest from me for two months but im back in the country on Tuesday, so the fun is over im afraid. I have six hours at melbourne airport before I get a connecting flight to Wagga and Im considering stealing a car. I could get back in 5 hrs or if I have 'the heat' on my tail I could do it maybe 3 and a half.

Going to explore the river and phoenix park toiday along with Oconnell st and grafton st. The hotel is in temple bar and a couple of hundred metres from Trinity College (I went and had a look in the long gallery anbd at the book of kells on wednesday) Wednesday was also the guiness storehouse and a pint in the gravity bar. Tuesday night was in Kilkenny, my favourite place so far in Ireland. Would of liked an opportunity to explore it a bit more.

Im sure this isnt the last from me with the blog as the airports will be driving me insane and Ill jump on the net there.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Seeing as Im part of a group of cattle being herded around ireland, i have to keep this quick as we are being pushed onto the bus again soon. All is going well, have visited Galway, cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Killarney, Ring of Kerry and am now in Blarney. We are staying in Cork tonight, then Kilkenny, and back to Dublin where (thank god) I have a few days by myself before heading back home. Some of the others in the group are hanging around for a couple of days too, so will have people to play with. went for a ride on the back of a horse and cart this morning through Killarney National Park to start the day off which was fantastic.

Its all gone really well so far, made lots of friends my age who enjoy a few drinks down in the bar but not go out clubbing all night. All the pubs shut around 12:30 which helps to stop the over indulgence. Its quite entertaining on the bus with a lot of rifts. ie whole tour group vs tour manager, Australians vs Americans etc. It can be quite comical at times.

Nearly over my cold now which is good and dont fall in a heap at 8pm any more. Ireland is fantastic - of course but I really need to come back not on a tour. I am enjoying it, but it can be really frustrated not being in control of what I eat, where I stop and for how long, when you are allowed to go to the toilet etc, but I digress. It is a great experience but next time I want to do it my way.

Will have to spent a day in Dublin posting half my crap home, but I think I am actually over shopping now and have only bought stuff on one day since being in Ireland. The only thing I need to buy now is something to bribe Tim with to bring my car to Wagga for me. Well, im off to have one more Kilkenny before I leave Blarney...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Potato, Potarto

It is fucking freezing. May have something to do with west coast of Ireland and the arctic etc. In Galway, day 2.5. Tour is going really well, still sick and am now losing my voice. May have something to do with going out last night and half a packet of cigarettes and I cant remember how many beers. I may be abusing my system to a degree but feel I should get brownie points for declining the Jet boat ride at 7:15 this morning in favour of sleeping in and not catching pneumonia.

We havent seen or done much yet, a bit of an issue for some but we have the day off today and then off to Killarney tomorrow. Arrived at hotel in Dublin on Thursday night looking like a crack addict with bloodshot eyes, red nose and both ears blocked so I couldnt hear a thing. After much yelling, found my room and past out. So didnt meet the group until yesterday morning on the bus. Had a bit of a big one last night though and have made friends with lots of people.

Only slightly seedy today which is good, dont want Ireland to be a big blur so am not going to the scheduled drinking session tonight but down to the pub for dinner and a few quiet ales with some of the group.

We are staying in B&Bs in Galway (last night and tonight) which has pissed everyone off because we are all broken into small groups and are scattered throughout town, we have to catch a cab into town and its ten euro a pop but it will be hotels from tomorrow on.

Had an interesting tour of Dublin in the cab on the way in from the airport, driver pointing out things after we went passed. (Insert Irish accent) " Dat wood be the train station we passed just now, Dat wood be Trinity College we just passed" Very amusing, but not overly helpful.

Am going to spend rest of today just wandering around Galway and taking it easy> It seems everyone gets on the grog every night, which I definitly am not up to and am not going to spend the last of my money on. But will try to go out a fair bit though, you know, fit in and everything.

I dont think Ill have much to write about in terms of food though Tim, its pretty much the typical Irish stuff, which is quite enjoyable though and I wont be sad if I never see duck on a menu again.

Not long till home time now, I leave here a week from tomorrow (Sunday) but for some black hole, cosmic time difference I dont get to Aus until Tuesday. Cant wait to bounce back into action 18 hrs later.

Im not home sick at all and could stick around for another month easy except for the whole gotta earn money thing and the little tacker has probably grown so much in the past two months she'll be reading Jane Austen by the time I get home. (Maybe this is the time I should comment on how when in York, it took a great deal of self control to not buy a set of flash cards to teach babies and toddlers French. I wanted to post them back Air Mail and have Bronte say "Bonjour Ness, Comment Cava?"

Well Galway beckons and I have been instructed to buy claddagh rings so must depart. I dont think Ill get a chance to post again until I get back to Dublin on Wednesday.

Friday, May 27, 2005

In Transit

So far so good. Id like to stop now though if thats possible. Had enough flying for one day thank you. Two down, one to go. Currently at Heathrow awaiting the last plane of the day. Havent come close to missing any trains or planes today which is good but did wonder about my bags and sanity too.

Note to self: Self, dont travel with a head cold. It makes you wonder whether to call the flight attendant if you think your ears are about to burst and start bleeding or wait for visual confirmation.

With so much travel in the one day there are sure to be many anicdotes and Ill share just one with you today.

Toulouse - Taxi Driver
Bares some resemblance to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. All was fine until I left the train station and as soon as the cab started moving, so did he. Literally, in a kind of rocking back and forth kinda way.

No problem, of course he is not impeded in his driving or he wouldnt have been driving a cab. Check for visual identification to verify taxi driver status. Cant see any. Its not just me, all the other people in cars during the peek hour traffic are looking too. Pull up at the lights, rocking stops. Lights go green (I go a littler paler) and off he goes again.

It was around this point I made a kind of muffled guffaw which was part laugh, part cry. Turned head to look outside window for the rest of the trip.

With internet time running low and anecdote complete, plane departing and all that Ill be off. May or may not post in next couple of days. Typing may soon be my only means of communication if my head explodes on the next flight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

No room at the Inn

After 24 hours of searching it seems I am left with nowhere to stay in Toulouse tonight, I did consider googling for "toulouse - manger" but dont much like sharing with donkeys. So therefore it is another night in Cahors for me and a much earlier start to the day tomorrow. Instead of just catching one internal french flight and two international flights Im going to add a trip on the ever so realiable french train system in the wee hours of the morning just for fun.

I should hopefully arrive in Dublin by around 9 pm where i will either fall into a foetal position in the corner of my room or head straight to the bar and down the largest amount of alcohol I have had since last visiting lucky 13 Best St and then asume the foetal position.

To top it off Im sick, great news for all the people ill be sitting next to on the train and 3 flights not to mention the next 8 days on the bus.

My way of coping with the situation has been to down numerous coffees this morning and half a packet of cigarettes. My hands are shaking wildly as I type - quite entertaining really. (the last coffee I just had involved me pouring my sugar into the ashtray and attempting to stir.

Disaster preparedness though is my forte and aside from the physical evidence of the DT's Im actually not that stressed - honestly.

Anyway, a few little things I forgot to mention yesterday in my haze of a hangover was my meal. I decided on Beef Carpaccio for the uninitiated is very thin slices of raw beef. The oly problem with the meal was the slices werent overly that thin, but with the slices sitting in 2 litres of lubbly olive oil and fresh herbs with some diced onion sitting in another litre of olive oil (I presume this has some kind of name like confit or something) it was rather delicious, just a little psychologically challenging, thats all.

The other was the dinner that Tim is putting on at ASE. I will be there with bells on in the hope that the entree is Squirrel soup, perfect on a cold winters evening.

Speaking of disgusting food, there is a lot of it here. Ducks gizzards are highly popular, followed by Foie Gras. It is everywhere. Jars and jars of the stuff and on every menu. It really is the foulest (fowlest) looking thing ever. Im still getting over the cassoulet in Paris though. I think the foie gras is most off putting when it is sitting on the shelf of a shop that is cold and all the fat is solidified. Mmmmmm tasty.