Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This week I decided to treat myself to a little present. In January I'll be heading to Singapore for a week (yes for work) and have booked myself a business class seat on the new A380! I had to pay for the upgrade but from what I've heard it will be worth it.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
As you know I set a random goal for myself to visit 30 different cities this year and am currently sitting at 29. No more trips for work are planned so I wasn't sure I would make it. Last night at dinner with friends we decided to take a road trip next weekend so I can hit 30 cities. Not sure where we'll end up maybe the white cliffs of Dover, maybe Bath, maybe somewhere else it doesn't matter. All that matters is the random goal I set for myself will have been achieved.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
- Hotels that require you to insert your key to select a room number for security in the elevator, but the stairs are right across and have no doors and require no keys.
- People on a plane that pick up the magazine/book you put down on the seat next to you when you got up to return and find they were reading it.
- Clubs that put you on the guest list only to be told when you arrive that they're not letting people in off the guest list.
- Signs like this in hotel bathrooms.:
Sunday, December 7, 2008
With all the luxury at the hotel I did still manage to wander around the city all day yesterday and most of today. Overall walked over 20 KM over the
Today since we were already living the high life at the Hilton we decided to end our visit to Paris with lunch at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It was by far one of the best meals I've had in a while. We almost weren't able to have lunch there but we convinced the hostess we could be gone in an hour and she allowed us 2 seats. Here's just a couple of shots of our meal.
Speaking of photos I will be uploading the shots I took over the weekend to my photography site at some point on Monday.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Today I found out that a friend of mine from Boston was in Paris, which is where I'm writing this from. Given the short notice and the fact that she didn't have a mobile we weren't able to connect. Facebook is what informed me that both of these people were so close and yet so far. This has gotten me to thinking how Facebook has changed the way things are. In the past I'm sure there have been people I know the next town over or in the same city but I never would have known. With Facebook sharing up to the minute information on where you are and what you're doing you start to realize what you're missing out on. If I didn't know friends were in the same town I was,it wouldn't matter, but knowing people were so close makes me a little homesick. On the plus side only 21 more days until I'm back in the US and able to catch up in person with many friends.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
- I decided to sleep in. After being a tour guide for 2 days, cooking Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday and getting up at 5 AM on Sunday to travel I really needed a few extra hours of sleep.
- Once I checked out of my hotel on Monday I was in customer meetings all day and had no access to Internet. Normally I would just get online at the airport but...
- My flight was delayed. I took the last possible flight out of Stockholm to Madrid which involved a change in Amsterdam. As the flight was delayed I would have missed the connection. This meant after walking all the way across the terminal to get to KLM, I had to walk all the way to the other end to SAS. I got to the security gate and was told I should go to a different gate. Which was at the furthest end of the terminal and guess where my gate was - that's right all the way at the other end of the terminal. I definitely got my exercise and did manage to make my connection. However I didn't have any time to get online.
- I landed in Madrid at around 1130 PM and didn't get to the hotel until after 12. I actually did try to get online at the hotel but...
- The Ethernet cable in my room wasn't working so I had to wait until today before I had Internet access once again.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I also introduced the new feature of Photo Friday. Sorry Amy you were wrong the photo on the 21st was of the Alamo.
While I've enjoyed the challenge the chances of my continuing to blog on a daily basis is slim, especially since my schedule this week is chaotic and I'm not 100% sure if I'll have the time or Internet access throughout the week. I'm currently in Stockholm, tomorrow evening I head to Madrid, Wednesday Paris, and then Sunday back to London. Just in case you've forgotten with the travel this week I hit 29 different places - just 1 more city to hit my self-imposed target for the year.
Thanks for putting up with my random ramblings this month and hearing about some of the rather more mundane aspects of Dawn the expat.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Yestreday we went on the train to the palace. We saw the changing of the guards with horses. After we went to the park and the horses showed us where it was but we didn't walk very fast. We misseded them. At the park was a big ferris wheel, at winter wonderland. We went up really high on the ferris wheel. We saw Santa. Here they call him Father Christmas. Santa knew I was four!
My mommy taught me how to fly like a bird to them (Mommy says they're penguins but they're pigeons). I went on a pig and a reindeer by myself. I went on a Thomas train with Aunt Dawn, mommy, Myra. There were no seatbelts on it, but I wanted to sit on the front. That's all.
Today we went to the muffin man, we didn't see him cause he was sleeping. We saw Big Ben and lions in Trafalgar Square. If they were real I was scared. I got a 3 in 1 puppet of Little Red Ridding Hood, Grandma and the wolf. That's all.
Here's some photos from our trip.
Myra on a Reindeer Ride
Myra and Santa (AKA Father Christmas)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
4 more days to go!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It also looks like I'm going to make the 30 posts in 30 days - only 5 more days!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So what I am thankful for - I am thankful that there are only 7 days left in this 30 posts in 30 days challenge.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Luxembourg airport is rather small, so small that I had nobody in front of me at security and nobody behind me either. I can't remember that ever happening to me before, there's always at least 1 or 2 people somewhere nearby.
And the final and most important first is this is the first time I stayed in a hotel that was right next door to two adult entertainment centres - before you ask no I did not go in. As I was leaving to go to dinner I looked around the hotel to get my bearings to make sure I could find my way back and had to chuckle as I saw the big neon signs advertising the clubs.
Unfortunately I had less than 24 hours in Luxembourg and wasn't able to get around town and see anything all that means is that I'll have to go back sometime.
Finally I would like to sincerely thank my outsourcer for helping me post and keep the 30 posts in 30 days going. When I found out the wifi was down in the hotel I figured I would try and access blogger from my blackberry - no luck. I then remembered that there is a mobile blogging option where you can send posts in via email or mms - that however wasn't supported with the mobile carrier I was on. When all technology failed I had to enlist help.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Trying to post every day presents a lot of challenges. One encountered today is travelling to a hotel that doesn't offer internet service. To resolve this issue, today's post has been outsourced.
Other things that present challenges is trying to complete home renovations from abroad. Now normally in the course of these things you should expect to have some previously unforeseen obstacles come up. This picture is an example of such unforeseen obstacles.
This is a picture of termite damage that was discovered after the bathtub and walls were removed. Hopefully, the work will be finished before Christmas.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm sitting on a Virgin train right now headed back to London after a day spent up north, no the train doesn't have wifi I'll post when I return home. I just figured if I have 90 minutes to kill I might as well make myself useful and write my post for the day. Too bad I don't get air miles on my Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account for trips on Virgin trains.
Before you get confused the title of this post doesn't refer to the service on Virgin although I have no complaints there, the service was at the customer I was visiting today. There's a woman (possibly more than one I'm not entirely sure) that regularly goes around the office picking up empty coffee cups and taking orders for tea and coffee. Not sure if this is seen as a perk or a way to stop people from gossiping around the coffee machine and be more productive. It was new to me although I hate to say I didn't actually take advantage of the service, I'm trying to limit myself to one cup of tea a day and I had a cup when I first arrived - oh well maybe next time.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
What makes this challenge even harder is that I also maintain a blog for work. I try to post there on work days only so between the two blogs I've written 27 posts this month. To make matters just a little more interesting my schedule is about to get hectic. I was telling a coworker this week that I am out of the office until the second week of December between customer meetings and holiday at the end of the month, it's about to get crazy. Maybe to offload some of this blogging I'll have my guests write some posts when they're here next week. It may just be the first time a 4 year old blogs.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Agent: "Liquids aren't allowed"
Me: "I know, I wasn't aware it was in my coat as this is the first time I've worn it since last winter."
Agent: "I have to throw it out."
Me: "That's fine."
Agent: "Would you like to take a sip before I throw it out."
Me: "No - it's at least 6 months old!"
It was almost as if he was reading from a script and wasn't listening at all to what the answer was instead was just moving on to the next line in the script.
As I related this story to my coworkers over dinner we were laughing about people trying to sneak things through security or not realizing that the rules applied to them. I honestly had no idea this bottle was in my coat. However at the Dublin airport today a couple of gentlemen ahead of us were a trying to take through a full bottle of champagne and whiskey and were arguing with the security staff over their inability to do so.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I could go on and tell you about the differences but I figured it's time for a game of "Spot The Difference." There's only 1 rule to the game - how many differences can you see in the screenshots below.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
|Knock on wood||Touch wood|
|Take a nap||Have a lie down|
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Once all the decisions were made now came all the paperwork, I was emailed 50 or so pages of drawings and plans that I needed to sign and/or initial and then email back. So far so good. The next hurdle was the signing of the permit. It took the designer and contractor about a week to determine that this was a document that was a carbon copy and needed to be signed in person. My dear sweet sister drove to the store to sign the permit only to find that it wasn't filled out. I don't know about you but I would never sign a blank document. I think the contractor has since brought her a new version to sign and hopefully work will begin next week. I was originally hoping everything would be completed by Thanksgiving now it looks like it will be closer to Christmas. I hope all the delays will be worth it when it is completed.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The questions I was not prepared for were:
- What percentage of the vote did Obama get in MA? According to CNN it's 63% I guessed it was around 60 so I wasn't too far off.
- How many votes does MA have? I honestly had no idea but I thought it was the low double digits and in fact it is 12.
I was also in the minority as most of the people had stayed up all night watching the results come in. Not me I went to bed and just caught the news first thing in the morning. After staying up to the wee hours of the morning the last 2 elections and not having a clear winner determined I decided I didn't need to see the state by state announcements.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
25 December depart London 12 pm arrive Toronto 3 pm. Spend 3 hours at the Toronto airport before a 6 pm flight to Boston arriving at 7:35. It appears that coach was sold out so I'm in first class for this short flight - if coach is sold out why can't it be on the long haul flight not the short one.
I am then in town until 6 January when I head to Whistler. I will do my best to see everybody while I'm stateside.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
What is the most interesting is that everybody seems interested in the outcome of the election and can tell you exactly who is running - I doubt many Americans could tell you who ran in the 2007 French election or the 2008 Zimbabwean election. Of course depending on what country I'm in I can't always tell what the news is saying but just seeing the faces of John McCain and Barack Obama on the television in France or England or Germany or wherever I am shows the global interest and concern over the next US president. I even had somebody tell me that the right to vote should be opened to non-US citizens given the impact it will have on the whole world.
By far my favorite quote from the election this year didn't even come from the presidential candidates or vice-presidential candidates instead it came from Mike Huckabee during the Republican National Convention:
'Barack Obama's excellent adventure to Europe took his campaign for change toIt seems the former governor is unaware that there are millions of Americans that live outside the US and still maintain the right to vote and pay taxes. Trying to find the actual number of Americans living in Europe though isn't the easiest thing. Turns out Americans living abroad are not counted in the census as it would not be cost-effective. The only Americans that are counted during the census are members of the military or government employees which are likely only a small fraction of all expats. The only metrics I could find are from 1999.
hundreds of thousands of people who don't even vote or pay taxes here.'
I'll end today with the following public service announcement: For those of you in the US please go out and vote after reading this if you haven't already done so.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I've learned the NHS has advantages and disadvantages. I called the doctor on Thursday night to make an appointment for Friday but I wasn't able to. The only appointments that can be made in advance are for physicals or check-ups if you are sick you have to call the day of to get an appointment. Calling Friday morning I was able to get an appointment for a few hours later. I barely had to wait once I arrived and a few moments later I was handed a prescription. I walked out without having to make any co-payment and was on my way to the pharmacy where I paid £7.10 for the prescription. this is a flat rate all prescriptions are the same price doesn't matter what the type or quantity - 60 days worth of generic allergy tablets £7.10, 3 days of steroids £7.10. Of course it looks like I may have to go back on Monday to get more steroids as I still keep getting a few breakouts which means paying £7.10 again. Overall it is still cheaper than in the US - no monthly premium and no office visit copay.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
UPDATE: Thanks to a keen observer it was pointed out that I had accidentally left my trip to The Berkshires off my list. The tie is broken 25 locations this year! And since the original posting 2 potential work trips have arisen - Madrid and Scotland . I just may hit 30 places this year.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Last week at our sales conference I received this award for achieving my targets during our last fiscal year. The company commissioned an artist to create these sculptures for the people that made the 'Achievers Club.' Of this group a percentage were chosen for the 'Circle of Excellence' which is an all expense paid trip to Whistler in January and I received that as well. This means that I will not be in the US for Christmas but will be there for New Years before I head to Whistler.
Winning Ways #2
I entered a photo competition sponsored by Pikeo & Lonely Planet in August. Lonely Planet is looking for a new cover photo for some of their travel guides. As I was in Barcelona over the summer I figured I would enter a few. As I was digging through my stacks of emails that accumulated over the 2 weeks I was away I received a notification that one of my photos was short-listed for the jury selection. This means I am one step closer to winning. What do I win you ask - in addition to my photo being on the cover I can choose one of four holidays from Intrepid Travel Russia, India, Morocco or Serengeti. It also means that my photograph will be displayed in a gallery in March . Even if I don't win I think getting a photo shown in a gallery and being selected is very cool. The photo that was selected is here (I think you may need to register with Pikeo to actually see it).
Winning Ways #3
Speaking of winning, I mailed my ballot for the presidential election today. Since normal mail takes 5 working days I had to send it special delivery to ensure that it arrives in the states by next Tuesday. Here's hoping I picked the winner there.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunday October 12 8:50 PM EST (My body thinks it's Monday morning).
This is a first for me I'm writing the blog post by hand to be transcribed when I return. For the 1st time in ages I am away and completely unplugged - no laptop, no blackberry, no nothing. OK to be completely honest I do have my blackberry but I get no data connection. The reason I have opted to write by hand is I am afraid I won't be able to remember everything when I am back in front of a computer.
The day started with a taxi pick up at 6 AM for a 9:45 flight. If this was me travelling alone it would have been 7 or 7:15 however since this was a group package we were told to be there three hours before the flight left. This left a lot of time to kill at the airport. As I'm not big into terminal duty-free shopping I decided to just walk from 1 end of the terminal to the other. I figured 9.5 hours on a plane I should do something to get the blood flowing.
The flight was just the way I like them - uneventful. I cleared immigration without a problem. I was asked a couple of questions in Spanish which I was able to understand & answer (those Spanish lessons I took earlier in the year seem to have paid off). Speaking to my travel companions they weren't asked questions. It must have been the silly American passport. Once immigration is cleared there is a security check just like you go through when boarding - all bags are scanned and you walk through a metal detector.
The next hurdle is collecting checked luggage. There were 2 baggage belts next to each other & it just so happened that bags from our flight were appearing on both! Luckily my bag appeared on the belt I was standing near.
On the drive to the hotel we passed a wide range of vehicles on the road. Motorcycles with side cars, 1950s autos, coaches and modern SUVs. What I find more intriguing are the license plates. I've seen 4 different colors so far. Not sure if this is significant or not - I'll find out. Here's a sampling of the different types of transportation I saw:
It has been quite entertaining to hear the Brits I am travelling with warn people not to expect to much from the food. Yes that's the right the British that are known for their gastronomical fare are critiquing others. The dinner at the resort tonight was roughly what I expected, lots of rice, chicken & pork, not a lot of fresh vegetables the hurricane has impacted a lot of the local produce.
One interesting thing about the resort is that you have to pay 2 pesos a day for use of the in-room safe. In all my travels I've never encountered this. The safe has a card reader which is programmed and accessed with the room key.
Signing off Sun 9:15 PM (These take much longer to write by hand than by keyboard.
Monday October 13 8:10 PM EST
I only have a few minutes before I have to meet the group for dinner so this will be short - more tomorrow. Of course since this is all being written off-line you have no concept of tomorrow this will flow seamlessly to the next entry.
Obligatory bathroom post:
The toilet in the hotel lobby has 3 stalls but only 1 toilet paper dispenser. The dispenser is located outside the stalls so it is very possible that if you're not paying attention you'll end up in a stall and not have any TP. Many public restrooms actually have somebody sitting outside handing you TP - of course you're expected to tip them. Many of the stalls don't even have locks.
Today we spent the afternoon wandering around Old Havana - the town is pretty much what I expected lots of old buildings, lots of people trying to get money from tourists either offering tours or posing for pictures. There are a couple of famous people that hang out in the same place every day to pose for photos - cost 1 peso. I imagine they make 100s a day.
Police are very visible on the streets nearly every couple of blocks. Our Cuban guide kept getting stopped and had to show papers. The police are very concerned with locals fraternizing with tourists.
After wandering around for 2 hours a drink was in order. We stopped at The Floridita famous for Daiquiris and being a bar Hemingway used to frequent.
It's now 8:25 need to run - dinner at a Paladar tonight.
Tuesday October 14 8:25 AM
A good night's reset and I'm ready to go again. Right now I am sitting outside listening to the waves crash and eating breakfast - rough life I know.
Last night wasn't at all what I expected. To start out we were told the paladar was a 10 minute walk from the hotel - 25 minutes later we actually arrived. Luckily I was in the front of the group those in the back got lost, we weren't give the name or address of the place we were just blindly following the leader, luckily everybody showed up.
We were told that paladars are located in family homes and are not restaurants that are run by the government. Most of us were expecting to be in a house however the paladar looked an felt just like a restaurant - 2 fully stocked bars, lots of tables and a professional kitchen.
The food however was very tasty, I had rabbit but for the price I paid I was a little disappointed in the whole experience, it really seemed like just another giant tourist trap.
Of course milking tourists is the way everybody makes money here. Everyone no matter what profession makes the same amount of money each month. In order to survive side endeavours are taken - some legal some not - and it is all strictly cash, even the restaurant in the hotel wouldn't take credit cards
The photography workshops start today hopefully I'll learn some stuff.
Wednesday October 15 5:40 PM
Dinner at last night's paladar was much more along the lines of what I was expecting - a small room with only 4 tables and tasty food. This was a nice day to what was a mediocre day.
We were broken into 2 groups - beginners and advanced. The advanced group had 10 people while the beginner group had 5. With a group of 10 people all trying to photograph the same thing you don't get much instruction or time. We had a model and were shooting on location - as this we my first time photographing a model I was a little unsure about what to do. Overall I don't think my shots came out that bad although it's not really my cup of tree. I am much happier with the subjects I am more comfortable with like trees.
After the photo shoot we were off to the marina - yachts, boutiques, views of the city it sounded great. Unfortunately this isn't where we ended up. It was pretty apparent that we were dropped off in the wrong spot but we had no idea since no organizers were around so we just stayed there and figured we would leave when the taxi returned in 3 hours. About an hour later the organizers appeared and we were told we were in the wrong place - there was another marina they were thinking of however it has recently started charging $25 for entry so we were sent here instead. I felt this was a complete waste of an afternoon I would have much rather have gone back into town.
After this a group of us decided to go off on our own into town in the morning. Since we were getting up early, I decided to pass on the nightclub after dinner.
This morning we drove around some non-tourist areas, unfortunately we didn't stop and take photos. It felt we would be a bit intrusive and some people in the group didn't quite feel comfortable. I did ask to stop near the capital - it was fascinating, all sorts of local shops loads of people walking around. I easily could have spent all day here, however we only spent about 10 minutes before we headed back into the town centre. As there was so much to photograph I rolled down my window and started shooting from the car. I was rather surprised that some of the shots came out ok.
We wandered down to the markets and Ike was itching to get out. He has a thing for markets as he was raised in Spitalfields market. So here it is Invisible Kangaroo in Havana:
The owner of the stall then tried to convince me that Ike should stay in Havana he'd be happier there. I thoroughly disagreed and Ike remains with me. I was actually a little surprised that he didn't charge me for taking the photo. So far I haven't paid for a single photo I've taken (not counting the coast of the trip).
This woman didn't take too kindly to being jilted after her photograph was taken. She grabbed her badge (I can only assume it was a license or some other official document stating she was licensed to operated in the square) and ran after the tourist. I didn't catch if the fee was paid or not.
I've been writing for 30 minutes non-stop and my hands about to fall off so I'll sign off for now. Tomorrow we have a 2 hour bus ride to Varadaro should be able to write more then.
Thursday October 16 - sometime past my bedtime (actually 11:15 PM)
Let's see where did I leave off or more precisely where should I begin ...
Last night was the last night in Havana. We went into town to a Flamenco restaurant just a little past the cathedral square where I have spent most of my time. IT seemed quite different than the rest of the city cobblestone streets, lots of restaurants and shops a very quaint little section of town - at least at night it was. Looking back I wish I had spent the whole day in Havana yesterday instead of going back to do the glamour photography sessions that were part of the course. The main reason I returned was I felt I had paid for the training and should be taking advantage of it. From my perspective I didn't learn a whole lot & mostly just felt uncomfortable. It seems like the photographic world users the word glamour to describe topless somewhat erotic photography.
This was a bit much for me to jump into and not something I am all that interested in oh well this is a learning experience all around. I've learned that for the rest of the holiday I will be skipping a number of the training sessions and just relax. As I'll be kicking back in hindsight I wished I harder to do things I wanted in town instead of following a set program. This doesn't mean I won't do another photo training holiday I've spoken to people in the group that have done other programs and speak very highly of them.
Blue - Government vehicle
Orange - Personal
White - Ministry
Burgundy - Tourist
There is a 5th colour that I haven't seen and don't remember what he said but that is for foreign diplomats
After the brief stop in Matanzas we headed to our luxury 5star all inclusive resort. The original plan for Varadero was that this is where all the tourists would stay. As I stated previously the government really doesn't like the locals mixing with tourists so they didn't want tourists staying in Havana. To keep locals out of Varadero there is a charge to enter the town.
At the resort you are given a bracelet to wear throughout your stay to identify you as a guest. Not sure why it matters as the place seems fairly empty, many of the bars and restaurants are closed or under construction.
I am quite looking forward to the workshop tomorrow - travel photography. I am hoping to learn some new tips and tricks. Signing off 1150 PM (Phew it's not tomorrow yet).
Sunday October 19 9:00 AM
Bored out of my mind at the airport. My flight leaves at 11:20 but for some unknown reason the holiday rep booked my taxi for 5:50. Varadero is 2 hours from the airport so I was anticipating a 6:30 or 7:00 AM pick up which would put me at the airport by 9 still plenty of time to check-in and pay my departure tax. That's right you need to pay to leave the country - the final way to milk the tourist.
As I am at the airport that means my holiday is sadly coming to a close. I spent most of the last 2 days just resting. I did manage to fire off a couple of shots on the beach for our travel brochure assignment. Do these photos make you want to come here?
There was supposed to be a group critique and slide show tonight however times got reshuffled and it was unfortunately dropped. I did manage to get a critique from both of the instructors. What was interesting was there perspective - one looked at things from a purely commercial perspective. I found that over the course that was the main focus of most people - how to make money from your photography. I seemed to be in the minority in that I wasn't looking on how to turn photography into a profession.
But I digress back to the critique. One of the things that kept being stressed during the workshops was about changing the angle of the shot or perspective, not to shoot straight on, tilt the camera, etc. In some of my shots where I did this one of the instructors commented that it needed to be straightened along the horizon (kind of defeats the purpose of shooting from a different angle). The other instructor liked the angle. It just goes to show that it pays to get multiple opinions as everybody is looking for different things.
The best compliment I received from the critique was that I have a very creative eye. My photographs pick up things that many people may miss. I was told it's easy to teach the technique but you can't teach creativity. My macro work also received very high praises.
Overall I am happy with the trip although the courses weren't for me . If I do another one I will likely look for one that focuses less on the commercial aspect of studio/staged shots and more on technique or travel.
It's not 9:40 only 1 more hour to kill before the flight starts boarding and I can sit down in my comfy airplane seat( I upgraded!)
Sunday continued 11:50
Am now en-route to Jamaica and I saw the strangest thing on the plane. Two passengers were allowed to take pictures of the cockpit. They just strolled right in without a care in the world and the pilots let them take a photo.
This concludes my holiday wrap-up. I'll get the 100 or so photos that turned out well onto my photography site tonight or tomorrow we'll see if the jet lag gets the better of me
Friday, October 10, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Oops I fell asleep on the keyboard I'm awake now and going back to work.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm in Ireland this week but you wouldn't think that based on the following pictures.
Spent the day in Dublin on Monday and took one of those hop-on hop-off buses around town, as we were rounding a corner the American flag caught my eye it was only a few seconds later that I saw the BC flag. I told my co-worker that we had to get off so I could get a picture. It's not often you encounter a flag from your alma mater in a foreign country.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Yesterday I went to Greenwich for the day with my photography group. For those of you that don't know Greenwich is known for being the home of the prime meridian. Tourists actually queue for long periods of time to have the picture taken standing on the line, personally I didn't. Instead I just wandered around the park at the Royal Observatory. It was very peaceful and relaxing even though I didn't take too many photographs.
The day started out with a boat ride to the Thames Barrier. These were built about 20 years ago not to prevent the Thames from flooding but to slow it down given people more time to evacuate. I managed to get some decent shots of Canary Wharf and the Millenium Dome from the river.
The most exciting part of the day for me though was the walk home - I walked under the Thames! A tunnel was built from Greenwich (Cutty Sark) to Island Gardens which is open to pedestrian trafrfic. Now I've driven under the ocean many times but this was the first time I had walked under a river. I'm not sure why they decided a pedestrian tunnel under the river was better than a bridge over - but it does make for a cool experience.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
There is a definite difference between where are you from and where do you live. For many people the answers to these questions are the same, but to expats like myself the answers are very different. In speaking with other expats they have encountered similar dilemmas when posed with the question.
It has gotten to the point that my answer usually is something along the lines of "I'm from the US, but I live in London."
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Highlights from the last week in Barcelona include:
Finally having a proper Paella. I got a recommendation from one of my teachers for a restaurant off the tourist path that specialized in Paella. I spent last Sunday drinking Sangria and eating Paella - fabulous.
Visiting Plaza Espana and the Magic Fountain. Over the weekends during the evening they do a music and light show at the fountain. The place is packed with tourists but I still managed to get some good photos. All along the sidewalk on the way to the fountain there are people selling all kinds of stuff. This is not legal and every so often you see them pick up their blankets and run off. The vendors really have it down to science many of them have strings attached to the blankets with their wares with one end of the string in their hands. If the police come it is a quick pull of the string and everything is packed up and they're off.
Seeing a Flamenco. Loved the music and the dance.
On a sad note my G6, my point and shoot camera, died while I was in Barcelona. Not sure what exactly happened but the lens is dislodged which means that the photos are all out of focus. To repair it will cost between £150-175 I think that means a new camera is in order.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Since Thursday I have been going out and about enjoying all that Barcelona and the surrounding area has to offer. Thursday evening I went out to Park Guell (pronounced whey) which was desinged by Gaudi.
It was intended to be a garden community but nobody ever bought any houses there so now it is just a large park. Going with the school I was able to learn a bit about the history of the park that many people wouldn't normally know. As this was supposed to be a private community a lot of the constuctions were designed to trap water, there were supposed to be a number of underground tunnels that all emptied out into the central area so residents could escape from their houses if needed. During the trip I was quite proud of myself as I could understand a lot of what the guide was saying when he spoke in Spanish - now I know that he was speaking slower than he normally would but it's a start.
Friday was a night tour of Barcelona with stops at La Sagrada Familia and some other structure that I keep forgetting the name of. Here I spent more time taking pictures than listening to the guide. What I do know about the structure that after 100 years it is still not completed as you can tell by all the cranes around the building, estimates are that it will take another 30-40 years to complete. It is an absolutely amazing structure with all sorts of symbolism 3 different doors one representing the birth of christ, one his death and one his resurrection. In total there will be 12 towers 1 for each apostle.
Look closely at the towers you can see the names of the apostles written. Guess which photo represents his birth and which his death.
After getting in late on Friday I had an early start to go to Montserrat, probably one of the more beautiful, tranquil places I've been in a while. I could have spent days walking around, enjoying the scenery and taking photos. As it was we were only there for a couple of hours as there was a second stop at the beach. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again - I hate organized bus tours as you are on somebody else's timetable. I didn't feel like I had much of an option here if I wanted to see Montserrat the only way to do it was with the school.
Walked around the cathedral a little bit primarily to see the black madonna then it was a tram ride up to the top to get a birds eye view of the place. From here there are a lot of hikes you can do however with the limited time I wasn't able to do too many. I only walked down from the top. There were a couple of side paths off the main path down which I think the guide led the group down however I got separated from the group.
I had walked down a path to get a shot from the top and happened to stumble across some butterflies and birds eating at some flowers. I got rather engrossed in taking photos of them (surprise, surprise) and missed the meeting time by a few minutes. I quickly caught up with a few other people that were taking their time walking down so I wasn't too far behind and probably could have caught up with the whole group but instead enjoyed a peaceful walk down the mountain at my own pace with many stops to take photographs. And now for the photos that delayed my return to the group: