Monday, April 23, 2007

Muscles from Brussels

Despite my best attempts, I was not able to locate John Claude Van Dam on my short weekend away in Belgium- i searched high and low but the little man with the guns that make the girls go weak at the knees was not to be seen anywhere.

I arrived courtesy of the Eurostar- which saw me leave my office and standing in Hazel's amazing 'home beautiful' apartment in just over 3 hours.

Exhausted from a big week work wise and feeling a little emotionally drained (it was my mum's birthday a few days earlier...a time that is always a little sad for me)- i was glad to get on with things and create some fun for myself.

First stop- a cafe/bar that was heaving and allowed me to sample some of Belgium's finest beers- after only a couple- they are STRONG i was on the way.

Next morning, i awoke in the home beautiful apartment- it is equisite with 4 metre ceilings, glass windows over looking a rustic garden with a lilac tree, a white broome tree, a delicious coloured camellia in bloom and an abundance of lady beetles.

Soon we headed off in search of chocolate- not very hard around here and a waffle (for me).

We wandered down the lush Avenue Louise, as we strolled past Prada, Louis Vitton and D&G- i was discovered an entirely knew phenomena- people in Brussels wear a lot of brown! After the discovery was made it was all i could see- tan pants, chocolate coloured tops, right down to scuffed shoes- the city is teaming with a brigade of designer dressed brown aficionados and i felt out of place in my stripey yellow T and green cap.....

First we went to a lovely square with an arguable 'antique' market, full of the odd piece of treasure but by and by new things meant to look old with the occasional chandelier for effect. next we paraded the chocolate shop, my favourite moment of the weekend- i sampled some of the finest chocolate known to man- flavours rich, soft in texture and delicious in taste. HEAVEN.

Next we headed to Manakin Pis- a bizarre tourist attraction which essentially is a 40 centimetre statue of a boy doing a wee....lucky for me- it was a special day at the statue and instead of the usual water he was relieving him self through a reverse catheter of beer... only in Belgium- people lined in a quest for the holy piss and i laughed- took photos and found it all rather bizarre.

Next stop was the main square, possibly the nicest spot in town- reminiscent o the main square in Venice- gold glittered on windows, statues bathed in sunshine... very European.

In the afternoon- after walking most of the city- H and I decided it was time for a power nap before we met up with 6 other lawyers for dinner- i discovered that 25% of the population are expats- mostly centered around the EU offices.

Dinner was a slow affair- the service invariably bad but the food was good.

We ended the night downing cocktails in a swanky city bar.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

I could have been a WAG

In my last entry about Iceland- i forgot to mention the handsome man who tried to pick me up at a bar.... thinking nothing of it (he is human ... ok a joke), i talked and chatted away like usual, in an attempt to get an insight into the Icelandic phyche... his friend told me that by occupation the guy i was talking to was a professional soccer player and famous in Iceland.....

Noting that everyone is a professional soccer player when they met a foreigner-or at least should be... i laughed it off until..... the other day he sent me an email to say hello... intrigued as to whether he really was a soccer star... i googled him (as i had his full name..) and to my surprise he used to play for none other than the hotties... AKA The Tottenham Hotspurs- my team! it is a small world after all


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ice Ice Baby!

As the plane touched down, I gazed out the window, i wanted to remember my first impressions of Iceland.
The first thing I noticed whilst looking out of my small window was it was covered in a thin film of ice, like crystals they shinned in the moonlight... the penny dropped- this is why they call it Iceland.

After disappointingly going through passport control and receiving only a standard EU stamp when I was in pursuit of something much more exotic, I boarded a coach bound for the YHA- the bus driver, extremely jovial given it was 1:00am delighted in taking me.

With eyes glued to the window, I noticed a low rise landscape of grey pebbled ash buildings with only the occasional splash of colour and neons lighting up the black night.

From my window the influence of American culture surprised me- hot dog bars, pizza and American kebab shops made up most of the food outlets i saw from the bus. The roads were wide and i could not help but thinking i was in an Artic version of Canberra. Not surprising that Reykjavik has a population just over 100, 000 is built by a harbour (that looks like Lake George) and is surrounded by mountains (although ice capped).

Up early the next morning after only a short sleep, I went on a whale watching adventure, braving the cold in my pink puffa jacket that Jen gave me- I resembled a walking doona. I boarded my boat and was quickly overcome with cold- lucky for me i was given all in one fishing overalls- tre sexy but I did manage to regain the feeling in my legs.
Dolphins played by the boat and i was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some minke whales diving near by. Unfortunately, my usual quick action with the camera was lost- perhaps because my arms were near freezing and i only got one picture where you can make out clearly 3 dolphin fins.
By afternoon I was exhausted and skipped my planned sight seeing trip to Reykjavik preferring sleep to a city that looked empty and uninspiring by night.
That evening i went to the blue lagoon, Iceland's most famous sight. Situated near a power station, it is a lagoon with milky aqua water that smells like egg farts to the untrained nose (I heard later it was sulphur- it stinks).
I did what all people do and rubbed silica mud onto all exposed parts and received a nice body mask, I sat in the sauna and delighted in the steam room- not a bad way to spend a Friday night and watch as the sun set in shades of pinks and yellows that you never knew existed against a barren black landscape.
On Saturday,I went into the wilderness and braved the severe cold, sleet that whipped your your face like a cat of nine tails and rain that got you drenched in seconds. I saw Guilfoss a spectacular waterfall, an old volcano and i went to Iceland's largest lake- the scenery at times reminded me of the dartmoores in in the UK- it is vast, empty and the land of big sky country- it feels like you can see forever.... snow capped mountains, icey ledges, rocks, cliffs and moss all in abundance. You could be forgiven for thinking it could be the set of the next mad max film, so rugged and beautiful it is.
I learnt a lot abut Iceland during the day- it is self sufficient in carrots, has over 75,000 horses and had its first cockroach epidemic in 2003.
By nightfall, having amassed a group of friends comprises some Americans, a couple of English and some Spaniards we hit the town in earnest- bur only after finishing a couple of bottles of vodka... after dancing at some of the hippest clubs in town we collapsed in bed at 5:00am just in time for a few hours sleep.
Up at 7:00am I was off on my next adventure.... a visit to the biggest glacier in Europe- the day was spent wavering from exhaustion to pure delight. At the glacier I drove a skidoo across the landscape- managed to go sideways a few times (thought that would impress the boys) and hit 80 kilometres at my top speed. At times the sky was not separated from the snow and it felt like walking on fairy floss.
I ended my day gasping at the briliance and beauty on the edge of a massive waterfall (i forget its name now) but it was breath taking.
I stumbled home just in time for a few hours sleep before my 7:00am flight back to London.
Truly a wonderful weekend!

The local

just a snap of the pub two doors down from my house....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

At home now

Today I am at home sick from work, I am suffering from a head cold and have spent most of the day oscillating from sleep to blog and back to sleep again.

I thought I was about time I did some maintenance on my site and given that my Internet and PC are now both working at home- look out.

I can't promise the excitement or the adventure that I provided you with from Asia.

The last few weeks have seen me really dig my nails into London- little routines have developed and I feel like an official resident. Signs include the fact that I recently received my National Insurance number in the mail... similar to a tax file number, I also have a 12 month mobile phone contract and I own more books than one could ever read in a lifetime.... i just love them!

This weekend, James Rigney, George Nguyen (Uni Mates) and I checked out the Temple Walk About- a terrible brand of Australian themed pubs that broadcast the best sport-noticed the prominance of setanta Conor... unfortunately I missed watching the swans live but I heard about their defeat... we watched Liverpool take on Arsenal.... and old favourite Peter Crouch got an amazing hat trick- is there nothing he cant do.... boys???

I have let myself love soccer and am learning the talk and will enter fantasy football tipping contest next season... boys send your tips... I would love to teach English boys in my office a lesson. Conor maybe i could enter the same team you do??

On Sunday, James and I went to Hoxten Square- apparently the coolest place for people to be seen in the east end on Sunday afternoons. I laughed out loud at the cool kids in abundance- it seems that fashion here whilst similar to Sydney is so OTT. If i see another person in fluro tight jeans i will vomit... and the sun glasses... white sunnies never suited anyone, least of all a pastie English people!

It seems that people try and look ugly on purpose and choose to wear colours that don't match, fabrics that clash and shapes that are wrong on purpose- i wonder if it is for attention or the look? I realise now that i am turning into an old lady and i will soon be the one that says 'turn it down' and 'in my day' ....

I am off to Iceland this weekend, which should be spectacular- i will go to the blue lagoon, wat ch whales, ride a snow mobile across a glacier and take a trip to the golden circle...a lot for one weekend. I toyed with the idea of a side trip to Greenland but i figure one Arctic adventure per month is enough for the kid.

Write of Iceland soon.


Back on Track

I wanted to stick some more pics on here to document my daily life.... the view from my bedroom