Saturday, 31 October 2009


I don't usually like autumn. Granted it's pretty, but it also means that summer Pimms, long days, green trees and sunny mini-breaks are over for another year. Given that we are leaving the Northern Hemisphere at just the right time this year though I feel like I can really enjoy the autumn as I'm not so worried about months of barren grey and it getting dark mid-afternoon. It's quite nice this way, because it really is pretty isn't it?

The Old St Pancras church in North London

Saturday, 24 October 2009


When I told my workmates we were heading up to Liverpool for the weekend, they said I must be looking for a reason to leave the UK. Apparently the city doesn't have the nicest reputation in Britain.

Maybe the reputation was deserved back in the '80s, when the only good thing about the city was the all-conquering football team. But not now. Liverpool was European Capital of Culture last year, it's had some serious money poured into making it look good.

The Liver Building. Legend has it that if the statues of birds on top fly off, the city will fall.

As Liverpool is a port town - once one of the world's most important - the main attractions are by the sea. We particularly liked the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which had lots on three great doomed ships that sailed from there (the Titanic, the Lusitania and the Empress of Ireland), the Battle of the Atlantic and, commendably, history of slavery and how Liverpool benefitted from it.Sarah, Lauren and Erica hanging out by the docks

Liverpool's not just famous for the port and football though. There's the small matter of a mop-topped band who had a few hits back in the '60s.

Though we avoided doing a Beatles tour, we did wade through some of the Beatles tat (as The Sound of Music is to Salzburg, so are The Beatles to Liverpool) and did the other obligatory musically-touristy thing in Liverpool.

So the next time someone tells you Liverpool is rubbish - don't believe them. Any city that's been home to Gerry and the Pacemakers, Fernando Torres and John Lennon is definitely worth a day trip.

A note on Ealing

Yesterday Tane and I left the flat we've had for over two years and embarked upon four months of dossing and travelling. Living in Ealing has been fabulous, we couldn't have asked for a nicer part of London to make our home away from home. It's green, safe, calm and has the perfect number of shops and facilities, and excellent transport links. Ealing has a fabulous Council as well ;)
The "West Walk" in particular gets a special note. We've walked up it countless times, sometimes laden with bags from Tesco, sometimes in our backpacks after a trip. We've laughed at the squirrels, and tried to get close to the foxes. We've trudged through snow, kicked fallen leaves, and walked under trees in full summer leafiness.

Yes, we are still in London for two more weeks, and yes I will be in Ealing every day for work but it was still sad to leave our actual home there. It was also sad to realise that the two backpacks and two boxes we came to London with has somehow turned into eight boxes , two backpacks, two large suitcases, a laptop, a guitar and a mammoth pile of electronic crap to be recycled on Freecycle. I can only assume that while we have been away on our travels our belongings have been breeding.

E noho ra, West Walk and Ealing!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The easiest job in the world

Must be being in charge of promoting Salzburg to tourists. Alps, Wolfgang Amadeus, singing nuns - and a stunning old town packed with churches and topped with an impressive castle. It's possibly the all-round best long weekend destination we've been to in Europe - and I don't even particularly like The Sound of Music!

We lucked out with our visit, because not only was the weather awesome, there was also a festival on so many of the locals were out in leiderhosen and dirndels. It's kind of weird being in Europe and seeing people in traditional costume - normally what you'd see in say, Berlin, is variations on what you'd see in London, New York or Auckland. Jeans, t-shirts, skirts, etc. Watching grown men walking around in leather shorts is a bit odd.

Eins, zwei, drei ... flug!

And of course, it being Central Europe, the beer is awesome.

Cheers Lauren, for getting us to go!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Climb every mountain

Not only is Salzburg home to the Sounds of Music and Mozart (and boy, does the souvenier trade do well out of those), it's right on the edge of the Alps. One of the few things London lacks - along with beaches and the sea - is proper hills, let alone mountains, so we were determined to get amongst the peaks. And what better opportunity than visiting the world's biggest ice cave?

The Alps didn't disappoint. They were really dramatic, very steep and rugged.

The cave is high up an Alp so the views were superb. Nearby is a very cool castle that Alastair Maclean fans will be interested to know was the setting for the movie Where Eagles Dare.

Despite it being crowded and rather claustrophobic inside, it was a literally very cool experience. You can't take photos inside, but you can see some here.

One of the weirdest experiences was coming out of the cave. It was a gorgeous and warm day outside, while inside it's close to freezing. So when you walk out the door, you get shoved by this gale-force gust of cold air rushing into the open, which pushes you along for a metre or so.