Monday, October 30, 2006

Barcelona Birthday

Thursday night I finished work, and headed to my much anticipated flight to Barcelona for the weekend. Arriving just on midnight, it was 23C in the Spanish city, and very lovely!

Waking up in my hostel room to texts, and presents and cards that had arrived in London during the week, I began my 29th birthday with chocolate and sprinkles. I wandered down Las Rambles and found somewhere for brunch, where I got several calls from home.

Rambling along the main tree lined street, I walked through bustling Boqueria Market, and then through the cobbled and tiny streets of Barrico Gotico. Finding the Dali museum, and then Museu Picasso, I had an art filled afternoon. The Picasso collection, with history and artistic journey well set out, was very good, and in a very beautiful space and building.

I then walked along to Parc de la Ciutadella, and the gardens, up to the Arc de Triumf. As darkness fell, walking back along Las Rambles, into the anti-climatic Placa Reial (maybe it´s hard to match the place of this time last year!), and then past the Christopher Colombus monument and down to the port at night, was busy and pretty.

Saturday, after another glorious lie in, I took in the works of Gaudi - my new hero! First to Casa Batllo, and it´s pretty facade, before going over to La Padrere, and the amazing residence here. Functional chimnies, ornate and beautiful, this building is gorgeous. One of my favourites - I want a house like this when I grow up! It was commissioned as a private residence, and Gaudi came up with this design. Genius!

Then onto the awe-inspiring and breath-taking Sagrada Familia. Gaudi was brought onto this project, put some grand plans into action, which are still far from complete today. Walking around the grounds and looking up at the spires and ornate features that are complete so far, and then seeing the pictures of the man´s vision. Wow! Talk about man with a plan! Going up the 60 meters to the stage high up in between the towers allows an amazing veiw of the city, and mountain surrounds - plus all of the detail far up in the sky on the shorter of the planned spires. I definately want to come back here to see the completed version!

Following on the Gaudi path, I made my way up to Parc Guell. This is another of Gaudi's projects, which he planned and actually ran out of funding to complete in full (I can relate! Hee hee!). The park is set high up on the outskirts of Barcelona, with another amazing view of the city to be veiwed...and amazing structures out there too. The inside ceiling of the would-have-been market, with the rooftop mosaic pretty, and pretty amazing.

That evening I popped into the church of Santa Maria del Pi for a peek, before finding somewhere for dinner along the busy Las Rambles. Basking in my post-sunshine all day glow, the weather was lovely all weekend!

Yesterday I set off to the hills overlooking the water, thinking I would see the Olympic Stadium from 1992. Not to be, but I found the Fort up there, and another amazing view of the city, with the blue Mediterranean, over to the city, and over the mountain surrounds. From here I took the cable car across the Port, and made my way to the beach for some sun worshipping.

As the sun was setting, I Metro-ed over to the Espanya area to see the National Museum of Art of Catalyna, and then the Olympic stadium grounds behind that in the twilight, before heading out to the airport for my flight back to London, my birthday weekend over.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sweden for George

This weekend I went to Sweden, Stockholm and Uppsala, to see George Michael in concert. Visiting Camilla and little Miss Ella, and staying in Uppsala where we were for Christmas last year, was so lovely.

I flew out of dreary London around Saturday lunchtime, to an even colder, and darker Sweden. I treked through the buses to get to Uppsala, and meet Miss Ella for the first time, and caught up with Camilla, who I haven't seen for years. Hanging out with them for the night, and next day was really nice. I took Ella for a walk, and got to see Uppsala without the snow of last December!

A home cooked meal (first for quite some time!), after meeting Johan, and his parents, I was absorbed into a Swedish dinner. Camilla and I then went into Stockholm, and found the Stockholm Globe, in the Globen complex, for the concert.

Wanting to see George in concert since I was quite young, I have fulfilled a dream! And was not disappointed! He looked good, sounded amazing, and grooved for most of the night.

The show started with his Waiting as an intro, of which the lyrics were really poignant given George's position in life, and his reflection of it. The show then kicked into Flawless, and then Fastlove, which were full on dance tracks, and awesome. George was in full grooving form, and was looking fine in his black suit. The graphics on his big stage screen were very cool, although the young eyes looking out of the birka for Father Figure was quite naughty!

Speaking of naughty, his inflatable prop of Bush during Shoot The Dog, and just before his 20 minute interval, was George's politics of the evening. The heartrending tracks like Jesus To A Child, and You Have Been Loved showed how great George's voice still is, and songs like Faith, Outside and Amazing were brilliant, and why I have always loved George!

The Swedish crowd were very into it, and knew the words to sing along, which always make a concert great. They even knew the more obscure tracks like Star People and Spinning The Wheel, and helped George out with his only fluff during Careless Whisper.

Very much a goodbye feeling to the concert, with a full selection of all his tracks, and a thank you to the crowd for their support throughout his career. Fingers crossed he comes to Australia, and I get to see him again! He was amazing! One of the best gigs I have been to.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hanging out in old London town

I have had quite a lovely week, catching up with people, despite the winter weather and darkness creeping in.

Tuesday night, Charlotte and Laura and I met Hilary in the city, at Momo for dinner and drinks. Apparently a place for cool people and stars - we just hung out for a good gossip session and a general catch up! Food was Morrocan, and very yummy! Red wine was very good too! I had forgotten the ordeal of travelling into the city though, on the train and then the tube - how quickly the memory blocks! Such a mission.

Wednesday night Charlotte and I went off to see The Departed, after hearing rave reveiws. Brilliant movie, loved it. Haven't seen a movie that envokes a real stress response for a long time! And Leo was very good...

Last night, Charles took me to the theatre for my impending birthday, to see the long-running musical Blood Brothers. A story about twins seperated after birth, and their experiences growing up in two very different family, and socio-economic environments.

Quite a depressing look at the hard working class English experience. For quite sometime during the show, adults played the role of seven year old, which was a little odd. The actor portraying the mother of the two boys was fully into her role, and played the full emotions...and poor Marylin Monroe got a workout in the song sung throughout the show. Was quite good, and amazing to think that this production has been going for so long.

The narrator in this production was quite creepy, and funny, popping up throughout the show, speaking rather than singing, and just geerally being a presence.

Thanks heaps, Charlie!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I took the tube over to Camden...

to wander around. Yesterday. One of the things I have wanted to do in London, and have only just gotten around to!

After the very long tube ride up to Camden, I walked around in the autumn sunshine, taking in the sights and smells. Very busy, the network of markets had the full variety of wares on offer - and all variety of people wandering around too! Hippy, punky, funky, Camden markets have it all. Alot of people dressed in very weird stuff, too. I got quite lost, but could always find the collection of food stalls in every section!

On Saturday I went down to Brighton for the arvo with Laura, and her mate Dave. Walking around the pebbled beach, along the pier, past the palace, and through the Lanes. Several pints in a few of the very old pubs, it was a lovely way to spend a lazy Saturday.

I'm in London still. However, the end is near. I have resigned from my job, booked my flight, started thinking about what I want to be when I grow up...and I have five weeks till I am on that long haul flight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Charlotte

Yesterday was Miss Charlotte's birthday, and after some silliness in the office all day, a batch of us headed into town for a night in celebration. Happy hour cocktails at Ruby Blue in Leicester Square was our first stop, which ensued jugs of pink cocktails galore! The group grew, and I think we got louder, and more volumes were consumed.

The plan for the evening was for a regressive, or backwards, dinner, with drinks, then dessert, and then dinner. However, time, cocktails, and liquid full stomachs won over the ice cream idea after drinks, and we made our way for dinner.

Hi Sushi is a cute and colourful Japanese restaurant, with all you can eat sushi! We piled into the downstairs section, and were placed in a sunken red table. We ticked all the boxes for the menu choices, and then the food started coming. And coming, and coming! Great sushi! Starting with miso soup, complemented with Asahi.

A dare at the end of the feast saw our birthday girl eat a big green pile of wasabi, which was scared and then cracked us all up. She's a crazy, and easily led, kid!

Spilling out onto the street, some of the gang surprisingly had room for Ben and Jerry's before we tubed our way home.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rubiks Cubed

On Saturday night many of us made our way to Nathan and Fletcher's house party in Raynes Park, under the Rubiks Cube theme. The notion of wearing every colour from the rubiks cube was quite hard, and needless to say, looked very silly on the train. Red jacket, blue jeans, white shoes, orange hoody, green top, and yellow scarf. Looking good!

Jelly shots in the eight colours, and many drinks later, the idea was to swap around till you made yourself one side of the cube. (More photos)

I think I did quite well, while continually watching the location of my beloved red leather jacket, I managed to deck out in a green jacket, green hat, and eventually swapped white shoes for green! A little tricky to get the jeans swapped, and perhaps not quite enough alcohol consumed for that level of participation!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Game on at the 'G

In the early hours of Saturday morning, I left the house and set off on two night buses to get to Slug and Lettuce in Fulham, to watch this year's AFL Grand Final.

Meeting up with Toni, Clare and Ben at 4am, we settled in for our first pint, ensuring a good spot in front of the big screen for the game to be beamed in from the 'G in Melbourne.

This is the first actual match I have watched, despite many attempts to see replays of others during the year. After quarter time I ventured over to watch a half with Renee, Rachael, and Shae in a similar vein as our possie last year. Seeing the same match up as last year, I was going for the opposite result this year.

The final quarter was game on, and a really good match till the end. Back over with Toni and crew, we watched the excitement unravel from the other side of the world. Some brilliant 1%er work by our man Chick, and the game, and the premiership was West Coast's - by a mere one point. Renditions of their terrible song (it's really bad!), and then many typically Aussie anthems were sung, until we left the dingy pub into the daylight, and home (although I am unclear how that really happened! Opps!).
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