15.08.2008 - 16.08.2008
- Fringe Festival 2008 - one of Edinburgh's biggest festivals that runs throughout the month of August complete with buskers, street performers, comedy acts, musical/theatre acts, etc. Royal Mile street was packed with people and performers and there was always something different going on every 20 metres or so! Will definitely try and go back again! I could spend the whole day just walking up and down the street catching all the various street performers and stopping for a pint or whisky among all the street-side bars/restaurants/cafes..
- Our apartment, Festival Apartments, had a fantastic location, just steps from the Royal Mile. Unfortunately it was an older apartment with a sub-par bathroom (mildew on the shower curtains) and water-stained ceilings so we pretty much only used it to sleep and store our stuff during the day.
- Tattoo military festival - very popular worldwide-known military festival with military bands from all over the world doing various performances against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Tickets are sold out well in advance, usually you need to buy tickets one year in advance to get in! So on Saturday night, we ended up waiting about 1.5 hours at the bottom of the hill leading up towards the castle to catch a glimpse of the bands. To be honest, all we saw were groups of people lining up and we had no idea what they were waiting for but after a long time and fireworks going off, we finally were treated to some bagpipe playing and all the bands marching (well, running) down the hill towards their buses. I think I'll wait to see the actual Tattoo on the BBC later this month.
- Tried haggis for the first time! Its good!! Sort of tastes like mince beef, but yeah I had it for breakfast the second time!
- What? It rains in Scotland? Only rained for a short while on the Sunday afternoon we were going home, we really got lucky with good weather all weekend!
Posted by dnaman
Archived in Scotland
- Lake Zurich is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the town of Zürich. It is formed by the river Linth. (thats my Wikipedia entry lol)
- On Sunday, we met up with Eckhard and Laura for a boat trip to Lake Zurich. Eckhard had a beautiful 15-16 ft boat with cherry wood panelling and room for 5 people..perfect! Water was about 18-20 degrees so it was nice to jump in..
- Tried waterskiing for the first time! Damn it's tough. It was so hard just positioning in the water with the two skis on and it was a bit wavy but once I settled in and 'assumed the position', i would give a thumbs up that i was ready. But i wasn't haha! I fell face first, backwards, spread eagle, sideways, all over the place and took in a lot of lake water but fortunately it was fresh water and no burning sensations here.
- Out of 8-9 tries, i finally made it up once for a total of 4-5 seconds before getting excited and crashing out again. It was a funny (and fun) time but this week my body is soooooooooo sore..forearms, back, etc..
- We also had drinks and chocolate on board and the rest of em jumped in and swam around the lake, of course Michelle and I had our lifejackets on lol! After 3-4 hours in the sun, it was time to get back to shore and catch our flight home...boo. No sunscreen = burnt for me haha!
Posted by dnaman
Archived in Switzerland
Off to Zurich, Switzerland we went for a weekend trip to visit Eckhard, Michelle's Director from work who is in the middle of a 6-month sabbatical (seriously, i need one too.)
- Stayed at the Continental Hotel about 2 blocks away from one of the main shopping areas, Bahnhofstrasse. I'd give the hotel 3.5-4 stars for being in a good location and having an alpine-lodge type feel. Free fresh-pressed apple juice in the lobby too!
- We arrived in the evening and were met by Eckhard, Michelle's co-worker who is on a 6-month sabbatical and lives in Zurich. Took us through a cool, area with small sidestreets, cobblestone walkways and filled with restaurants, bars, and one-off shops. Had dinner and drinks at a separate lounge/bar and actually ended up the lounge/bar the night after. It was also a national holiday in Zurich so there were fireworks going off around the river/lake.
- Next day went shopping in and around Bahnhofstrasse which is a high-end shopping area, like Rodeo Drive, but with tons of watch shops...next time i will get a Swiss watch (just have to bring along my 4000 CHF (1 CHF = 1 CDN)).
- Zurich is EXPENSIVE! I thought London was expensive but Zurich is now top of my list of most expensive place i've been to live-wise. Put it this way, it may have been partly b/c we were at the airport but, a Whopper combo + single burger cost me 20.40 CHF !!! A Swiss t-shirt (all red with a white cross) was 39 CHF !! wtf?! I'm just going to assume that salaries are higher there and/or income tax is lower...
- Zurich is CLEAN and MODERN - love it! Could definitely live here assuming i was making a relatively good salary..
- Met again with Eckhard and his girlfriend Laura, who graciously took us around Zurich and showed us places like Dolder Hotel (most expensive hotel in Zurich located atop a hill overlooking the city and Lake Zurich), FIFA headquarters (where Zinedine Zidane had to report to after headbutting that dude in the last World Cup..)..very cool.
Posted by dnaman
Archived in Switzerland
26.07.2008 - 26.07.2008
Spent this past Saturday in Brighton, which is about 1.5 hours South-East of us and by the coast.
- Brighton Pier - this is probably the most famous landmark in Brighton and is a long long pier with a carnival at the end of it and hundreds, well probably thousand of tourists just wandering in and around it. We actually didn't go on the pier but instead sat on the beach.
- The beach itself was odd in that it was completely small rocks. No sand whatsoever. So when i stepped into the cold water and got up to my knees wet, the walk back uphill to my sandals was painful on the feet lol.
- Norbert brought along his kite which he flys in a sport called 'kiting'. Basically its hard-core kite-flying and pretty cool. Though when I tried, i didn't quite get the feel for it and i had to luckily struggle and crash land it between sunbathers! whoops! We will definitely try it again, but at an open park!
- Brighton has also a large gay community and that's cool and all of course. The funny thing I noticed was that on the radio, there was a local radio station called 'Gaydar Radio' which played mostly electronic music...lol love it!
- There was also an Indian-Chinese pavillion called the Royal Pavillion which Michelle and Cigdem toured through but Norbert and I skipped it and just headed to the beach.
- Great shopping in and around he city of Brighton, with lots of little independant stores that outnumber and type of chain-type stores. We will definitely go back to do more shopping for unique stuff. Also bought my new Prada sunglasses there lol. Who would've thought eh?
Posted by dnaman
Archived in England
18.07.2008 - 20.07.2008
So on a whim, Michelle and I decided to go to Barcelona for my birthday, a Fri-Sun trip to the coast of Spain...and all i can say is WOW. Initially at first I wasn't too impressed with the city since we only did go down the main shopping street and didn't have very good tapas. But, from Friday night and through Saturday everything changed and my eyes were opened..
- Stayed at the Barcelona Center Hotel, a 4-star property that was 2 streets away from Placia de Gracia but at the top end. Not near the water but right beside the BEST tapas restaurant ..the BEST - called Cerveseria Catalunya. The BEST tapas and amazing friendly service..from mostly Filipino waiters!
- Placia de Gracia - main shopping street with high-end fashion. Of course we didn't shop there but the day we planned to (Sunday), all shops were closed! Good thing? possibly..
- Gaudi - a 19th century Surrealist artist who is intertwined with Barcelona's landscape and architectural beauty. Seriously, this guys work is all over Barcelona and the detail and fantasy-like almost candy-like nature of his work is a huge attraction in BCN. From the famous cathedral Sagrada Familia (scheduled to be completed in 2030) to the Parc Guell - two places we visited, it was almost like entering another world and you either absolutely loved it or thought it was one of the ugliest designs...we loved it.
- Took a tour bus all around Barcelona and stopped at the Olympic Park, site of the 1992 Summer Olympics. It's unreal how all the buildings and the site seem so 'abandoned' and 'unused' after seeing the millions of people mulling around during those 2-3 weeks. Also drove through various neighbourhoods and along the coast..very cool.
- At night, we headed down to the beach area and for a couple nights, listened to good house at a couple beachfront lounges, Shoko, Opium. Miguel Migs was also at a club while we were there and we only realized it as we were catching a cab back to the hotel..argh!!
- Ate so much cured ham (Prosicutto), tapas, beer (San Miguel and Estrella!)..we will definitely come back and next time visit the beach!!
Posted by dnaman
Archived in Spain