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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

we leave on Sunday for Edinburgh to perform our Doctor Who related show, so i thought it was about time I showed you all the photos of Cardiff (see what i did there? no? that’s fine, i’m quite tired)

It was a little while ago now, so stick with me while i remember!

I went by bus, because it was cheap, and, in aussie terms, not that far. Also, Britain is SO green in the spring, a colour you just don’t see back home, so it was pretty too.

Cardiff is pretty small, so i just walked everywhere.

The view that greeted me as i meandered to my hostel

I didn’t do much my first night, just found a nice place (that might be generous, but the steak and cider were both good and cheap) to have dinner and relaxed in my very nice hostel.

The first full day I spent in Cardiff Bay – it was the spring bank holiday and the weather was absolutely perfect!

The Welsh Millenium Centre (complete with Torchwood entrance)

A perfect day for a perfect view

The old customs house and merry-go-round

This is the pier where the ‘public’ entrance to Torchwood was, complete with the wall of mourning for Ianto Jones. Such a strange thing!

Of course a trip to Cardiff Bay wouldn’t be complete without doing the Doctor Who Experience. It was totally cheesy, but i absolutely loved it. The ‘experience’ part of it was aimed at children, but i had such a moment of glee as we walked out of the engine room of the TARDIS and into a hall, I really felt like I was in the TARDIS and it was AWESOME. and there were daleks! they were huge and scary, even though they were clearly mechanical. Such fun!

The actual exhibit afterwards was absolutely worth it though. really enjoyed looking at the costumes and props!

There’s a TARDIS in the bay!

It’s Bessie!

Oh yeah! It’s a lego Dalek. you better believe i want one!

River Song was here…

aaaaaand another TARDIS. there was an older version and the most recent version in the exhibition

I took the opportunity to do some research…

I got to stand in the Fourth and Fifth Doctors’ TARDIS…

 

And totally felt like i was in the wreck of the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS

 

I got up close and personal with some Daleks

And some babby Weeping Angels too

I ate an absolutely delicious dinner of mixed Tapas at a South American restaurant on the bay and was absolutely exhausted when i tumbled into bed!

The next day I spent wandering around the city. I wanted to do the walking tour, but just missed it, and had the clever notion of asking a local for a recommendation for breakfast.

And a proper breakfast it was! It was Garlands in Duke’s Arcade and the whole vibe reminded me so much of Melbourne i almost felt a little homesick. I had a MASSIVE brunch, with tiger bay pudding (which is a variation on black pudding and much yummier) and all sorts of deliciousness! I stayed for ages! (and totally went back the next day). If you are in Cardiff. GO!

A lovely atmosphere (if quiet) for a lovely meal

In the afternoon,  it was off to the Castle. I love Castles. Such an oddity to an Aussie!

The actual castle within the walls.

The palace, built much later…

You can walk through the passages in the walls, where locals took shelter during WWII. It’s kinda creepy…

But it is really cool when you finally get to a window! This is the park, next door.

It was a long way up…

And a long way down again too!

Totally worth it for the view though!

 

After exploring the castle itself, I checked out the palace. It’s an interesting story, basically it was redecorated in the 19th century by some guy with more money than sense to look like what he thought a medieval palace should look like. which of course is nothing like what a medieval palace looked like at all. But it is incredible and it’s a real fairytale house!

The interiors in the palace were amazing…

I REALLY want this library. I can imagine the library in the TARDIS is like this…

And next door to the castle is the park, complete with the Animal Wall which used to be in a different spot, but someone moved it, and added more animals… I stopped paying attention. I did take photos of every animal though, but I’ll only show you one…

 

The last day i didn’t really do anything particularly exciting. It was a dog of a day and I ended up going to the museum, which was a bit of a let down actually, though I did learn a little bit about the geological, geographical and evolutionary history of wales. I wish I had taken the day to go to St Fagin’s which is a historical museum, complete with wool mills and other ye-olde-things.

I guess that means I just have to go back!

I did really love Cardiff though – the people were lovely, the food was AMAZING (reminds me a bit of Tassie!) and the weather put on a good show until the last day!

 

 

 

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Autumn has well and truly set in. It’s been rather cold this month, though i’m still finding that temperatures i would be absolutely rugged up in back home are tolerable here – this bodes well for winter as i’m not wearing ALL the things yet. Haven’t even bought thermals yet!

I had four days off in a row and the lovely Sarah, who i met on the plane moving over here had some holiday so we booked a last minute trip to Amsterdam, a city neither of us had been to. As you all know, I’m quite happy travelling on my own, but it was wonderful to have a travelling companion!

We headed off on a saturday afternoon at a very reasonable hour, but it was still sort of dinner time by the time we got there, headed to the hostel, checked in etc. Amsterdam greeted us with rain… and more rain… but it was still deliciously pretty and full of trams and canals, both of which make me happy. We stopped in at the the Apple store which was pretty much round the corner from our hostel and asked a staff member (after chatting about working for the same company  – later discovered a friend of mine trained her at covent garden!) where she would recommend eating. she gave us the names of a few places, one, Cafe de Koe, was very close by and we headed there – it was a proper local place, not a tourist in sight. I had (belgian) cherry beer (not at all beery and totally delicious) and Venison and we had a great chat with the bartender and our waitress giggled at our attempts to translate the dutch menu (we got some of it right)

The hostel was a complete dive, but again, not such an issue when you’re with a travelling companion, but it’s really not worth discussing – except it was cheap and easy to get to, but i wouldn’t recommend it really.

The Sunday was our most accomplished day. We booked the free walking tour with new europe tours, who came recommended to me and i would HIGHLY recommend to others. They operate all over Europe and I fully intend to at least do the free tours in as many cities as i can! They work on tips so they make sure they are very informative and entertaining. Our guide Kendra was rocking and walk took us through the red light district, to the edge of the Jewish quarter, back through Dam Square, over the 4 main canals, to the Jordaan area where we finished up and had a delicious traditional lunch or mash with onion and carrots, a sausage (or meatball) and gravy and i had a mulled wine. Perfect comfort food after walking in the rain!

The Old Church, right in the heart of the Red Light District. Because sailors like sex. then they like to repent about the sex. When this was a catholic church it sold chits of forgiveness for the sin of adultery that sailors could buy BEFORE sampling the wares of the area. those business savvy Dutch!

The Royal Palace in Dam Square

The very phallic WWII monument in Dam Square

When telling us about the East India Trading Company (and the West India trading company and a whole bunch of interesting stories) Kendra gave us the choice of being out of the rain in a bicycle shed… we said yes, but it was also actually REALLY cool!

This guy was a bit of a Michael Moore of his time, exposing the 1% in a VERY boring book…

Narrowest house in Amsterdam. Crazy.

The best cheese shop in Amsterdam. I sampled the wares. I very much liked it! (bicycle not included)

Westerkirk (west church – the Dutch are CRAZY with how they name things)
This is right next to the Anne Frank House

We were so impressed with the tour that we decided to purchase tickets for one of the paid tours as well as tickets for a canal trip recommended by the company. The tour was at 7, so we took a good tip and headed to the Anne Frank House at 5,30ish to try and avoid queues. We didn’t completely manage to do that, but we were in pretty quickly. It was a remarkable experience. I cried. I don’t know how to explain here the effect being in that house had on me, except to say it made me incredibly sad and angry and heartbroken for mankind. I have never read Anne Frank’s Diary, but i will now, knowing just what a strong young lady she was.

The paid tour we went on was the Red Light District tour. It was INCREDIBLY fascinating! It was definitely titillating to walk past all the windows and see the women working them, but the information on the history of the area and the social and financial impact of the area and the business was really interesting, especially for someone like me who absolutely believes that prostitution should be legalised (at least in some form). Amsterdam proves a few of my beliefs about the benefits of legal prostitution. Namely, protecting the participants (both procurers and clients) and providing funds for the community through taxation.

The tour also talked about the generally accepting atmosphere of Amsterdam and we discussed the place of gay clubs, bdsm clubs/stores and other niche markets. Each sexual movement has its own flag and each has it’s place in Amsterdam. It’s remarkable how open this city is.

The canals in the Red Light District – complete with swans.

After the red light tour we took up another of Kendra’s recommendations by heading to a coffeeshop. Well we were in Amsterdam! 3.50 Euros later and Sarah and i had managed to smoke half a joint between us and were very happy. we then walked to the best burger place in Amsterdam (again, thanks to Kendra) and I DEVOURED an incredibly overpriced but terribly delicious burger and fries. We got into our hostel room at around 12 and crashed out!

On Sunday we got to a slow start having both slept VERY well, and walked along the Prinsengraacht to a highly recommended (by both Kendra and our Apple friend) pancake house. We were early so we wandered through some markets and took FAR too many photos of the canals (The sun was finally shining!!) before going back. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure the pancake i ate (knew i should have chosen sweet over savoury!), compounded with the boat ride we went on afterwards, did not agree with me and i began to feel quite nauseous. Other than that, the canal trip was gorgeous and we picked up even more info on Amsterdam and it’s secrets and history!

Prinsengraacht

canals, complete with trio of buskers

are you sick of canal photos yet? I’m not!

After we left the boat I was feeling quite queasy, so we took it pretty easy, but stopped into the Sex Museum up near Amsterdam Centraal. It was really interesting (and rather arousing!). It was a refreshing experience to be somewhere where curiosity about others’ sexual habits is a good thing and all those questions you would never dare ask are answered. Also? people have had dirty minds for a VERY VERY long time! I was particularly fascinated by how many pornographic items are from the Victorian era! And pornography is totally worldwide – there is not a single culture without its sexual expression! One thing i was surprised by though was the lack of sex toys… anyway! I didn’t like the gimmicky stuff in there though – i think the actual exhibited items speak for themselves.

We wandered around a little more – stopped into some shops, checked out the Magna Plaza (stunning building, couldn’lt believe it was a shopping centre!) before heading to the final restaurant recommended to us – Cafe de Klos

The Main street, leading from Dam Square to Amsterdam Centraal

Magna Plaza
Even commercialism is stunning in Amsterdam.

I needed to include this photo as they managed to erect an entire funfair, including ferris wheel, in Dam Square OVERNIGHT.

Despite managing to eat a rather decent dinner and getting to bed early, I was, unfortunately, sick as a dog all monday night. I greeted Tuesday completely exhausted and still nauseous. And of course we had to check out of our room at 10, with our flight home booked for 9! I was devastated and particularly concerned about ruining Sarah’s last day in Amsterdam. I was DETERMINED to get the most out of my time there so we dropped our stuff in the lockers at the train station and headed to the Rijksmuseum with the hope that being inside out of the rain and the cold and quietly taking in some culture might suit my sickly disposition. It did and it didn’t. It’s really hard to take in art while you’re trying not to throw up! The good new is i didn’t throw up again that day, the bad news is that by the time i saw the famous Night Watch by Rembrandt, I could barely take in anything around me so i don’t remember it particularly well! There are some things i do remember really liking, and the info on the history of the Dutch golden age was great. I have decided i really like Jan Steen and it was great to see what gave Rembrandt his reputation. His portraiture was indeed superb. I just wish i could have focussed. At least there were a lot of stools around! I almost fell asleep waiting for Sarah to enjoy the museum (I really didn’t want to rush her and i was sitting, so i was ok) but it was still only 1pm!! We found a cafe where i had a little lie down on a bench and some peppermint tea and some sparkling water and Sarah had lunch. I was a mess and we couldn’t find anywhere to leave me while Sarah explored, so we decided to chuck it in and head to the airport early.

Well, it was the best decision, because EasyJet came to the party for once and allowed us to switch to an earlier flight for no charge! so instead of flying out at 9, we left lovely Amsterdam at 5 and i was in bed by 8 – still queasy and completely and utterly exhausted. I still don’t know exactly what made me sick, but i felt rotten and it took me a good three days to get my appetite back properly.

Despite the disappointing ending to my trip, I absolutely loved Amsterdam. I would definitely go again. It is a strange city, but so beautiful. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking, open and inviting and accepting, but private as well. It is completely fascinating and I really enjoyed (most of) my time there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Athens of the North

I’ve never written a Bucket List, but if i had, then i would be currently crossing an experience off it with great pleasure.

I have returned from my first ever appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

While the show was met with mixed sentiment and was not as successful or well attended as i’d hoped, it was by no means a failure (not by Ed fringe standards!) and was an amazing experience.

I was performing my first ever solo show, a piece i’d based on a short story i wrote back in 2007. I did pitch it as a storytelling piece, as it’s not a ‘play’ as such, but still, there was a debate from reviewers as to whether it worked as a theatre piece. That being sad, most of the audiences i spoke to really loved it, were moved and touched by it.

One viewer was moved enough to write me a personal email

“…two productions that stood out superbly against all the rest; and yours was one of them. 

A beautifully crafted piece. Superbly written. Wonderfully performed, and marvelously staged. My only negative thought was, that at the end I was left feeling rather sad that it was over. 

… I would not hesitate to book for anything you may write in the future, and if again you are also performing it, then I would count myself twice blessed”

I have never met this person and was so genuinely moved by this response. The experience would have been worth the effort, time and money i’d put in, but this was the thing that absolutely justified it.

The venue was amazing – a little underground vault, built in the basement of a church and the stage was framed by an arch and we projected onto the bare white back wall. It was such a great space for it! The venue staff were super awesome (and probably made up half my audience to be honest, but they all loved it, so it’s all good) and really friendly and i’m really sad that by the time Sunday nights rolled around John and I were too exhausted to go out with them! We had every intention of joining the venue drinks night, but we were just buggered!

I really hated flyering... points for creative marketing?

BECAUSE! we saw so many shows!! Adam Hills, Ali McGregor, Lady Sings it Better, Scales of the Unexpected, Piff the Magic Dragon, Fascinating Aida, Sammy J and Randy, Nina Conti, Hannah Gadsby, DeAnne Smith, Dead Cat Bounce, Axis of Awesome, Gilbert and Sullivan in Brief, Des Bishop, Baby Wants Candy, Josie Long, Bec Hill, The Economist, Comic Strip, The Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol, Carl-Einer Häckner, Terror on Presley Beach (an Adorbs show mostly by highschoolers) some improv shows (of dubious quality) and some new comic talent in my friend’s DeadBadger duo. Not as many shows as last time, but still, but the end of it i was absolutely showed-out. honestly. the last day John and I just sat on the couch until it was cocktail time!

Me Schmoozing with the lovely Ali McGregor

Speaking of Cocktails – who knew Edinburgh was a hive of brilliant bartending skills for a very reasonable price! On Saturday, John and I discovered a wonderful bar, sort of by accident, called Treacle on Broughton Street (as much for my reference as to tell you all to GO THERE). There they had a 4 page cocktail menu, with Finlandia as their house vodka (to speak to the quality) with all sorts of great rums, vodkas, gins and liquers. I started with the Sherbet Martini, MADE WITH ACTUAL SHERBET!

It’s garnished with a LOLLIPOP you guys!

The next on the list was the Rose and Lavender Crusta

omg, what it is? an UNINSTAGRAMMED PHOTO! of a really yummy cocktail!

Aaaand after that i was too busy drinking to take photos, though i did have a Silver Fern (42Below Kiwi, St Germain and mojito-y flavours and my favourite for the night), a Raspberry and Pear Mojito, A Beach Bum Grog and an Antoine 42. John had a Violet and Pear something, a mandarin smash, something that tasted like marmalade, a few other things here and there and a Zombie. Now the zombie has about 10 ingredients, 8 of which are alcoholic and is topped with a lime half, squeezed out, filled with rum and set alight… And we still managed to walk home!

Revolution was the other place we discovered, which much to our delight is a chain across the UK so we can continue our sampling of the many infused vodkas here in London!

Yesterday was our last day so we did do a few touristy things, including Hollyrood palace, but i didn’t take a lot of scenery photos this time round. Two reasons, firstly I was busy and while i did take note of the beautiful land and city scapes often, I wasn’t doing a lot of touristy things or stopping to get my camera out. Secondly, I have photos of a lot of Edinburgh from 2009!

still, here are some for your viewing pleasure

The Forecourt of Hollyrood Palace

John was trying very hard to ruin this photo… luckily he failed 🙂

The View across the Meadows, walking back to our apartment

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are to be expected of course

but lets start with the highs…

Last week i had an interview for Apple retail. I have a second interview next week. this is very exciting and i have to do homework for it! however, it does mean that i have slacked a bit in other ‘looking for work’ activities because dammit, i want this job!

Yesterday i had my first UK audition. I sadly did not get the role, but still, within 2 weeks, with no agent, i had an audition. at the MOTHER FUCKING GLOBE! it was for their education unit, doing beatrice for a minute long ‘choose-your-own-shakespeare’ thing. very exciting. would have LOVED it (also, PAID!) but still, points to me for even GETTING an audition in 2 weeks for paid work doing shakespeare at the Globe.

I have, theoretically found a place to live (in Tooting, which will forever  make me laugh) but i am struggling to get onto landlord properly to make payments and set move in date! In the week since i said i’d take it and he said yay, he’s decided he may sell the house (he’s a Kiwi living in Kent) but i said i’m happy to take it for 3-4 months if they do decide to sell. also, they are not sure yet. it is frustrating the CRAP out of me, because i want to start using an official address for all sorts of things, but won’t until it’s confirmed (which to me is having paid deposit!) also, if i am NOT moving in there, i want to know ASAP so i can look for somewhere else!

it is making me want to tear my hair out!

In 2 weeks i have also taken a trip to France. I went to Hargicourt with my friend John to visit his great-great grandfather at the British Cemetery there. He wasn’t very chatty.

We stayed over night in Lille, where I spoke French to everybody who would let me, including a hilarious waiter who thought John and I should get married and come back with babies. which is never going to happen for oh so many reasons i couldn’t be bothered explaining. I also don’t actually know the french word for gay, so… hmm…

We had delicious local food though and i had a local beer and we wandered and saw many wondrous things…

It's the POST OFFICE for christ's sake!

The Palais des Beaux Arts (or the musee... it's a fine art gallery ok?)

This is La Porte de Paris, a monument in a roundabout outside the town hall - which is the bellfry you can see in the background!

The Place du General de Gaulle in the centre of lille - it actually reminds me a lot of Prague for some reason.

so… that’s what i’ve been up to – and also spending a large amount of time in bed while i can, figure once i get a job i’ll probably be working like a dog. also i have been fighting a mild virus which i *think* i might just have gotten the better of. also, i had a very busy few weeks before i left!

check in soon!

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