Tuesday, July 3, 2007

La Pedrera - Barcelona

This is a shot of the front of La Pedrera, an apartment building that Gaudi was asked to design, which showed the growing consumerism of Barcelona in the 1920s.

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One apartment is on display and is decorated with genuine 1920s furniture, although it is not the exact furniture used at the time. This is a light fitting in the hallway.

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And of course there is the roof, which is very famous, and which captivates everyone who sees it. You can tell that Gaudi is fascinated by creatures of the sea, which are reflected in the shapes of the water cooling towers, smoke stacks and other functional constructs. If you ask me, some one them look like a cross between medieval knights and futuristic spacemen, while others look slightly phalic. You decide for yourself.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Sagrada Familia

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The carnival is over

We are back in Australia and reinstalled in our Woollahra apartment, but packing up to move to sunny Randwick. Might I say it's more than a tad depressing! It would be very nice to still be wandering the streets of London, although we are very sorry to hear about the attempted car bombings. While must people be so cruel?

We have about 1000 photos in total from the trip. I will attempt to resize the files and put a few selections up on the blog. Especially the ones from Barcelona, which is basically a Gaudi fest!

Thanks all that have been reading and writing while we were away. Receiving messages from home definitely helped stave off the home sickness!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A brief review of holiday liquor

In Thailand, I recommend drinking Singha beer. Pet didn't like it that much but I thought it was grand. Cool and crisp and thailicious.

In England, Carling's been my beer of choice. I've opted for pints, which have served me quite nicely.

The first beer I ordered in France was a Leffe Blonde. "Une Leffe!" I said to the girl. She said something in return in French then gave me a beer. We were quite the team. The Leffe was quite sweet. Pet preferred this one. I also tried to regional beers around Brest, neither of which I can remember the name of. One was cloudy and like home brew. The other was less so.

I have no idea what I drank in Spain. But it was good. But that's probably because Barcelona's the greatest city on Earth. Ever.

The big kiss off

Well, we've had a top day in London. Contrary to popular belief, it was not dreary and raining today. Instead, we had a fairly constant blue sky, some warm sun at some points, and not a drop of rain.

We spent the day fossicking around at Harrods - again, which amuses me to no end. Who would ever have thought my husband would be BEGGING ME to go shopping? I sure married the right guy! For me, the highlight was the Ladulee room, which apparently originates from France. It is a patisserie of the highest order, where cakes are not cakes - they are art.

The counter was filled with macaroons, which I so enjoyed in Paris. But having just had icecream, I couldn't possibly indulge. Never the less, the macaroons were every colour of the rainbow. I am sure I have a recipe for these in a Jill Dupleix cookbook at home, so I will be experimenting with colours and flavours.

Incidentally, I found 25ml bottles of banana flavouring in Sainsbury's. I can only buy this by the litre at home, so I'm delighted to have collected a couple of bottles here. Of course what ever is created with them will have a limited life, owing to lack of ongoing supply!

For me, this trip is ending on a great note. I found it really difficult to get into London when we first got here (Thailand is a pale memory). I was glad to get to Windsor, but surprisingly happy to return to London from the countryside, and even happier to return again from Spain (thanks to the stinking hot weather over there, which doesn't suit me at all). London is restored in my eyes - but I won't feel the need to come back here for a long time. If anything, I might whip over to Harrods on a discount day trip whilst enjoying an extended stay in Paris, on the way to Rome, some time in the most likely distant future. Afterall, the last trip I had like this was seven years ago.

But I'm truly happy to come home. I want my bed! My bathroom! My kitchen!

Tonight we pack up and tomorrow we hit the road at 8.30am London time (add nine hours if in Australia). We don't touch down until 8.00pm Aussie time on Saturday night. Blah!!! It's about 26 hours transit time including the two hour stop over in Bangkok. Can you imagine 26hrs without getting horizontal??? Not to mention the controlled food... Well, that's the price we pay for the crimes of our forefathers who were so silly as to get transported to Botany Bay. Eh?

Bye bye and see you in the southern hemisphere!

Soho so long

Well, here we are. It's our last night in London. We just got back from an evening checking out Soho, where we had some tasty Japanese for dinner.

Today we went shopping in Harrod's (again). Let me just say that Harrod's could quite possibly be my favourite place in London. Whilst there, we sat ourselves down at the ice cream counter and had this amazing feast of ice cream. Called a Baci, it included a scoop of chocolate icecream, a scoop of panacotta icecream, and a big swirl of soft vanilla icecream. It was topped with chantilly (that's whipped cream for us Aussies) and roasted hazelnuts, and drizzled with hot chocolate which solidified as it chilled to the temperature of the icecream. On the side was a litte chocolate cup filled with soft chocolate sauce that had crispy something in it - all served in an extra big, extra tall kind of martini glass. Of course we got two spoons and cleaned the plate. The waiter told us it was the number one seller on their menu, and it's easy to see why! It cost us £10.50. Multipy that by 2.6 and you've got the price in AUD$. Having found £5.00 on the footpath this morning (actually dropped by a silly biddy wouldn't stop for me to give it back to her) I feel justifed in such a big splurge.

Then, after some hardcore shopping, we took ourselves off to see Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was pretty darn good. We actually took the bus for a change, thanks to the help of a friendly old man at the bus stop who said the C1 would get us to High Street Kensington. And what do you know, it dropped us right at the front of the cinema. And even more amazingly, we arrive the minute the film was starting (well the ads at least). Talk about synchronicity!

So, all in all, an enjoyable last day of our holiday. It's hard to believe that it's come to an end. It's really been an absolutely amazing experience.

Last day in London

Last night we went out to dinner and we asked the waiter what he would do on his last day in London. He was utterly stumped! Being from Kosovo, he said he was really happy to get out of that place, but now he's been in London so long, he just wants to get out of this place... but what to do on his last day? He had no idea.

We caught up with Mark's friends who have been living here for two years now and we asked them the same thing - what would you do on your last day in London? Again, they had no idea. Sarah's boyfriend came close to a good suggestion - walk about the South Bank, get a bottle of wine, and enjoy the atmosphere. Sounds kind of good... but we've got to save our booze credits for a visit to SoHo tonight.

So what WILL we do in London on our last day? We'll go back to Harrods because Mark wants something else from the Thierry Mugler counter. Dammit - I do too, but I'm not williing to part with the cash. I am going to get myself to Spiral Guide to Paris though. I've decided that's essential and I'm not going home without it. Even though it took me 11 years to get back to Paris after my first visit, I'm convinced it won't take so long next time round.

A wrap up on yesterday - we went to Buckingham Palace and it was covered with people waiting to see the changing of the guard. Too many people, in fact, so we decided to skip the spectacle (because we saw it in Windsor) and got straight to the State Rooms. Only they weren't open, and won't be until August! Blast it. The Queen is still in residence so they don't do tours until she goes on holidays.

We walked down the long Mall and headed for Downing Street. We passed the horse guards and I stood next to one of them to have my picture taken. A sign behind me said the horses bite and kick so I wasn't too keen to stand there for too long. And the horse kept looking me in the eye! We checked the photo later - he's actually poking his tongue out at me!

At Downing Street there were more hoardes. Mr Blair and Gordon Brown were scheduled to go visit the Queen at 12.30pm. We didn't stick around, again, because of the crowds. We have been astounded at the disrespect for Mr Blair. People call him Tony or Tony Blair. Not the Prime Minister or Mr Blair. It's really rude.

Finally, last night we were on our way to dinner when some cops on motor bikes came down the street and stopped a woman crossing the road because a cavalcade was coming. As the black car came by I spotted Prince Charles - Mark got a good gander at Camilla. So there you go! We've seen royalty!

Well that's it for today. Hopefully the weather will hold and make a trip to the London Eye appealing. Yes we have seen all the reports of the flooding in the north here. One poor young bloke got his foot caught in a grate as the waters were rising. The rescuers held him up while they worked out what to do. They finally decided to amputate his foot when he drowned. It's tragic. The locals tell us because England is so flat the flood waters won't clear for about three weeks. I guess the drought is over.