JoelDixon.com

"Three days? That's tomorrow!" - Peter Griffin, Family Guy

Blog
General
Travel
Hockey
Technical
Gaming
Catalogue
Movies
TV Shows
Music
Video Games
Stats
Pages
Travel Plans
Hockey Games
Live Music
Phone History
Monument Mounting
Things to Do
Links
About


Blog Archive
Current Blogs
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (4)
March 2017 (1)
July 2016 (1)
2015 (24)
2014 (1)
2013 (4)
2012 (39)
December (1)
November (1)
October (10)
September (9)
August (11)
July (7)
2011 (2)
2010 (18)
2009 (28)
2008 (25)
2007 (67)
2006 (23)
2005 (32)
2004 (10)

Blog Tags
General (13)
10 in '10 (4)
Books (1)
DVDs (3)
Funny (13)
Gadgets (5)
Hawt (1)
Movies (14)
Music (7)
Pets (4)
Recipe (17)
Running (3)
TV Shows (2)
Web (29)

Travel (75)
Akihabara (1)
Amsterdam (1)
Argentina (2)
Asakusa (1)
Barcelona (1)
Berlin (1)
Brussels (1)
Budapest (1)
Buenos Aires (1)
Cairo (1)
Calgary (2)
Cusco (1)
Dijon (1)
Dresden (1)
Edinburgh (1)
Edmonton (12)
Florence (1)
Gero (1)
Ginza (1)
Harajuku (1)
Himeji (1)
Hiroshima (1)
Iga (1)
inca-trail (1)
Ireland (1)
Japan (22)
Kamakura (1)
Kawaguchiko (1)
Killarney (1)
Kobe (1)
Krakow (1)
Kuala Lumpur (1)
Kyoto (1)
Lima (1)
Lisbon (1)
London (1)
Lyon (1)
Madrid (1)
Meguro (1)
Milan (1)
Montreal (1)
Nagoya (1)
Naples (1)
Nara (1)
New York (8)
Niagara Falls (3)
Nice (1)
Nikko (1)
Nile Cruise (1)
Odaiba (1)
Osaka (1)
Ottawa (1)
Paris (1)
Phuket (2)
Pittsburgh (10)
Porto (1)
Prague (1)
Provins (1)
Quebec City (1)
Rome (1)
Sakura (1)
Shibuya (1)
Shinjuku (1)
Takayama (1)
Toledo (1)
Toronto (1)
Ueno (1)
Valencia (1)
Vancouver (1)
Venice (1)
Vienna (1)
Warsaw (1)
Washington (4)
Whistler (1)
Yokohama (1)

Hockey (3)
Lemieux Fantasy Camp (4)
Pittsburgh Penguins (28)
Wolverines (1)

Technical (4)
.NET (3)
Java (4)
Software (3)
Work (2)

Gaming (6)
Commodore 64 (2)
Master System (1)
Mega Drive (1)
Rock Band (1)
Xbox 360 (16)
XNA (1)

The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs posted in 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cairo, Egypt - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 22/12/2012 00:21:22
Updated by Joel Dixon at 06/10/2016 07:54:15


It has taken almost two months to start writing the final blog of EuroJoel 2012 - the three incredible days I spent in Cairo, Egypt. It is much harder to find the time to write when I need to re-introduce a full-time job into my weekly schedule. This has helped me put in to perspective the European Adventure, especially cities such as Prague, Dresden and Bucharest. I had such a wonderful time in those cities - but I wonder how much of that was due to the 0 hours of work I was required to complete each day. I could commit my day towards having a delicious lunch, dinner and dessert, see the sights and try to catch some of the city's culture (in between my naps, siestas, snoozes and brief comas).

Cairo (well, all of Egypt really) was different. Even though I was feeling pretty tired after 10 weeks of living out of a suitcase, my time spent in Egypt took my holiday to another level. I had an amazing time in Cairo and it certainly wasn't just due to my time away from work.

Although amazing not everything was particularly fun at the time - arriving at Cairo airport is the prime example of this. I normally organise a detailed plan of attack to take me from the airport to my hotel room in the cheapest / easiest way possible - but I neglected to complete this preparation for Cairo. Big mistake. After our flight from Luxor, Pao and I landed in the midst of a feeding frenzy of unlicensed taxi drivers. The airport is tricky to navigate, and as far as I could tell there is no official taxi rank. Although mentally draining - Pao and I were able to laugh off the unwanted advances from our hopeful chariots and eventually found someone that didn't seem too dodgy (I was confident we would only be overcharged and not robbed).

I had organised a tour of Giza's pyramids for my first full day in Cairo - something I wanted to make sure I would not miss. As far back as I can remember I was fascinated by the pyramids and the Sphinx - never thinking I would have a chance to see them in real life. When I was debating whether or not to join Eastern Europe onto my itinerary I realised I could also tack Egypt on to the end of my trip and have a chance to see the pyramids. This inclusion made the idea of taking a month of leave without pay deliciously palatable - my hindsight now confirming an excellent decision.

Egypt
"Meh - the middle pyramid is a tool. He can lick my half-man, half-lion balls! He ... he's behind me, isn't he?"

I've always been more interested in the Sphinx than the pyramids, and the stone kitty certainly didn't disappoint. But not only did I get to see the pyramids up close and stand on one of the stones (larger than I expected) - I actually entered one of them. Over 4,000 years old and the only remaining wonder of the ancient world - and I had the chance to walk inside it. The inside of the pyramid was actually a little underwhelming and surprisingly did not result in me gaining any superpowers - but I am glad to have had the opportunity. After exiting the pyramids we were almost swindled into taking a camel ride ("Just sit on the camel and we'll take your photo" ... ten minutes later ... "Now that you've had a wonderful camel ride - I would be happy to accept any tip you wish to give") but I'm actually glad this happened because it was quite an enjoyable experience.

ChinScratch
As the Sphinx only has the body of a lion (while the head is that of a man) - I was actually just pretending to be patting a dude on the chin. I regret nothing.

Camel
Camel is now my preferred method of transportation

We also went through the Egyptian museum on the way home from the pyramids, which was interesting but nothing compared to seeing the monoliths (they probably should have started the tour with the museum). King Tut's mask was expectedly flashy - and few other exhibits caught my eye - but by this time I was starting to get a little museumed out. Upon arriving back at the hotel I had a meal that probably made the top 5 from my whole Europe trip - a delicious Philadelphia Cheesesteak sub from room service. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of the delicious sandwich as it was devoured too quickly, but I'm happy that the lazy option of getting room service paid off.

The second day in Cairo was spent on a road trip to Alexandria which was a lot of fun. The Necropolis was pretty incredible, with a mixture of Egyptian and Greek Gods carved into the stones. I'm glad this occurred after my time in Luxor and Aswan because it meant I had a (tiny) bit of knowledge around the inscriptions. The main attraction of Alexandria - the Bibliotheca Alexandrina - was very cool and worth a visit, but at the end of the day it is still just a library. The architecture of the building was the best feature - apparently being modelled around eyes and eyelids. After a fantastic meal overlooking the Mediterranean we made the long drive back to Cairo.

Nerds
It was actually interesting taking the tour of the library to see how much effort they are putting into the online componenets of their collection

FoolishDewey
The best thing about the Dewey Decimal System is that it allowed for the creation of this rap video!

For both the Giza and Alexandria tour we were taken around in a mini-van by the same driver. The traffic in Egypt was as to be expected - extremely crazy with a constant sound of car horns - but I think there was still method to their madness. We were never in an accident - and never even witnessed any fender benders. Our driver was an ultimate professional, he took us around all day with the same stoic expression and sensible approach to driving. He didn't speak to us at all (except to say "No English" when I tried to initiate polite conversation) but all that changed on our final drive back from Alexandria.

Looking out the window we saw dark clouds that led to rain and eventually thunderbolts and lightning. The stern look was wiped from our driver's face and replaced with a giant smile while he pointed at the sky each time the lightning flashed. I didn't really think much of it until our guide informed us that this kind of weather is extremely rare in Cairo - he'd only seen it once before while back in primary school. It was also pretty clear that the traffic was not used to driving in this weather as everyone slowed down and the window wipers did nothing at all (I doubt they'd ever been used). Our guide suggested we were very lucky and must have brought the rain with us - and as corny as it sounds - I did find it a perfect finale for such an amazing journey (which was further improved by an amazing dinner).

NoNoRain
I tried to capture the falling rain - but it turned out a bit blurry. At least I got a shot before the windows were covered in water

MoreFood
Pao has accused me of concentrating too much on food when discussing travel - I fear I do not concentrate on the food enough

On the next day Pao flew back to London while I had a final day in Cairo. I decided to go into the city centre and just walk around (like I loved doing in places such as Lisbon and Venice) which was a bunch of fun. I was in a pretty good mood, so wasn't as grumpy as I might normally be to strangers that came up to chat with me. Sure enough - all of the friendly locals were interested in nothing other than my money. I got caught up with some pretty common scams ("Where are you from? Australia? I am going to Australia tomorrow, tell me about it. Come back to my shop so I can give you my business card!"). I ended up sitting in a perfume essence shop (I had already purchased some essence prior to this so was not interested in acquiring any more) and him and his "brother" were trying every trick in the book to get more money out of me. Long story short, I eventually stood my ground and we came to an agreement that we were both unhappy with - which I'm going to count as a win.

Not wanting to risk a taxi - I decided to walk back to my hotel. I knew the basic direction (North) and my building was pretty tall compared to others so I was confident I would find my way back without issue. I clearly took a tour through the dodgy part of Cairo as after walking down a number of tiny alleys I got to the point where there were no fellow tourists walking the streets. The locals were staring at me for most of this time as I begun to start feeling fearful. Thankfully it turned on ok - one old man followed me while screaming and pointing while a number of other younger people came up to me with exclamations of "Hello America" wanting to shake my hand. Kind of a sureal experience - I was pretty happy when I finally arrived back at the hotel.

PetCow
Very odd! Egyptians don't secure their valuables with a bike lock as we do in Australia

Thus ends my European Adventure. 16 countries, 38 (or so) cities, countless planes, trains, buses, ships and bicycles later I can finally say I've experienced Europe. I saw pretty much everything I set out to witness, never missed a train or lost my wallet and ate my way across a continent in style. Many people have since asked me what my favourite place was: Barcelona was a pretty tough city to top, and Egypt was definitely the best country (as far as my experience went). Three months of living out of a suitcase was surprisingly difficult (two months would have been a better length) but I had such a wonderful time that I wouldn't really mind if I never get to leave Australia again (even though I still have a lot of places to check off). Without question, the best part of this trip was meeting Paola - who is, as I type, on a plane bound for Australia! Apparently Mark Twain once said "I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.". While I am surprised at the grammar utilised I couldn't agree with the sentiment more - there will certainly be further travel for Pao and I in our future


This is the 32nd in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (2) | Add Comment

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 18/11/2012 23:25:57

Throughout my time in Europe I've certainly had some unique experiences. I've spent time in places that cannot understand any English, driven roads seemingly designed to cause confusion and interacted with people from all walks of life (including sitting next to a girl on the Cairo airport transfer bus that recognised me from high school). None of this adequately prepared me for the experience of landing in Aswan, Egypt - for the beginning of a river cruise up the Nile to Luxor.

For a start, it is complete desert out there - with nothing on the horizon. Catching the Metro or heading to the taxi rank was not an option at the Aswan airport, we could only waltz over to the group of locals offering a ride into town. In Egypt I was joined again by Paola - and it was comforting to have a second opinion when deciding whether or not the helpful local was planning on robbing and murdering us or hopefully just playfully ripping us off. We made the right choice at this time and had an enjoyable drive towards Aswan centre, constantly reminding ourselves that we were in Egypt and the crazy scenery was probably normal around here.

DFO
I assume this is the local DFO

The hotel had a best exotic vibe about it, but was nice (and with an impressive view of the Nile). We went for a quick walk and was again smacked in the face by the strange sights - but also comforted by an occasional familiarity (such as a Vodafone logo and movie poster with hammy actors). We needed to eat - so I added the continent of Africa to the locations that I have enjoyed a McDonald's meal (joining the likes of Australia, North America, Asia and Europe). I probably shouldn't have been - but again I was surprised at how McDonald's can taste exactly the same no matter where it is produced (presumably with locally sourced ingredients).

Ham
Ok, so from the poster I can gather that this movie is incredibly high quality. A man with a penchant for pink shirts and pin-stripe vests is surprised when he meets a thick-necked and straggly-haired woman. The rest of his family, including his poor disabled daughter that was born without a palm on her left hand (the fingers connect directly to the wrist), are understandably scared of this. His uncle just wants someone to hi-five him (and has trouble keeping his eyes open when getting his photo taken). Hijinks are sure to ensue

Maccas
Surprisingly they didn't offer a McPyramid salad or a 6-pack of Sphynx Nuggets

I knew there was a lot of interesting things to see in Egypt, but I also knew the country was full of hassles. I made the decision to book a cruise from Aswan to Luxor and organise a private guide for the pyramids and Alexandria because I didn't think I'd be have enough time to organise everything myself. I was a little worried that I would be disappointed by a cookie-cutter experience with this approach - but thankfully that wasn't the case and I had an amazing time without having to organise much at all. I also tasted some of the most delicious soups I have yet encountered.

The cruise ship was quite classy, the staff were fun and helpful, the other cruise participants were interesting and great to hang around with each day - but it was the soups that impressed me the most. Each day on the ship we had a different soup as part of the lunch and dinner buffet and I almost died a new death of satiation each time I tasted the liquid silver (silver was more precious than gold back in the days of Pharaohs - I thought I should stay on theme).

GoldenSoup
I wanted to take a photo of the soup so I wouldn't forget it in the years to come. Pfft - like there's any chance of that happening

The first day of the cruise we were taken to a few interesting sights such as the Unfinished Obelisk and Aswan's High Dam. I enjoyed the symbolism and stories behind each of the temples we visited - and started to recognise each crazy Egyptian God by sight. I have never had a great deal of interest in Egyptian history as a youngster, but after a few of the sites were explained to me (by our helpful guide) my enjoyment levels increased.

Temple
The first temple we were taken to - I now understand the Wu Tang Clan's logo

The next morning was a quite interesting experience - taking a felucca ride after saying no to the hundreds of offers we had heard in the last few days. It was a nice relaxing cruise around the Nile (unfortunately Ducky Poos was stuck back in the suitcase) with lovely scenery before our guide informed us of the incoming pirates. Two young boys (aged around 8 and 12) rowed up to our boat and started singing random songs hoping for a tip. The songs were amusing, as they would occasionally get the lyrics or melody correct - but never both at the same time. After the felucca ride we had some free time on the cruise ship while we headed up the Nile - and it was one of the nicest parts of the experience. Swimming around in the sun deck's pool or sunbathing on the chairs while watching the amazing and varied scenery was indescribable.

In the afternoon we took a horse-drawn carriage to one of the local markets which is a good point to discuss the reaction that Pao would get from the locals. As a young, attractive and tall Western woman Pao quickly drew the attention of the Egyptian males. Only very occasionally did this result in the kind of behaviour that I was expecting (kind of like the Naples response but without waiting for Pao to walk past). Far more frequently we would hear a "Lucky Man!" directed towards me. I suspected it was mainly a ploy to separate us from our money (we heard "You're a lucky man - I will give you discount!" a few times) until we heard the call from guys that weren't even outside of a shop touting. Later I thought I heard a shout of "Shakira, Shakira!" but assumed I imagined it until we also heard the same cry over and over. Sure they are both South American - but Pao is tall, brunette and Argentinian to Shakira's short, blonde and Columbian appearance - I guess all latinas look the same to an Egyptian.

That night on the cruise ship was designated to be "Party Night" - which was actually really fun. We were awed by a Tanoura dancer (YouTube it - amazing!), let down by a belly dancer, then played some games. I was selected to be turned into a mummy and I resisted my urge to complain about the lack of authenticity (I am pretty sure that toilet paper was not used during the original mummification process). All-in-all it was a great night and a good chance to get to know the others on our cruise better.

Daddy
If you look really closely, you can see this is not a real mummy

The last full day on our cruise was spent exploring the tombs of Luxor. While most of the big name sights are in Luxor, including the tombs of Tutankhamun and Hatshepsut, this wasn't my favourite part of the cruise. The tombs were pretty basic and lost some of their interest with all of their treasures removed. Even so it was another fun day seeing ancient sights I never thought I would have the chance to see. We also walked through the Luxor market but days of withstanding locals trying to take my money had really put me on edge. Whenever someone starts talking you know there is a 90% chance that they are just after your money and it really gets tiring (causing me to not spending money on things I normally would have).

Beardo
The temple of Hatshepsut, apparently pronounced "Hot Chicken Soup". I scoffed at this silly memory device - until I notice that even now I can recall the name quite easily (although it makes me hungry)

TowelMonkey
The room animals (apparently another couple on the cruise had a crocodile) that the cleaning staff were really cool - but again I couldn't help thinking that they were just looking out for the tip we needed to leave upon checkout

Before flying to Cairo we had a hot air balloon early in the morning. I have never had a desire to get onto a hot air balloon in the past - but when it was offered as an extra part of our cruise I figured I'd give it a go. It still wasn't the most enjoyable experience I have ever ... um ... enjoyed - but it was a heap of fun nonetheless. It was great seeing the sun rise over Egypt - but the best part of the experience was the landing. It was pretty clear that we were blown a little off course as we ended up landing in a banana field. Thankfully the Air Egypt flight wasn't similarly off course when we left the city of Luxor for Cairo later that night

Balls
For some reason this picture made me think of the Muppets just now - a quick google solved that mystery


This is the 31st in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bucharest, Romania - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 26/10/2012 10:00:30

Of the three Eastern European countries that I graced with my presence - Romania is a clear third. It is hard to compete with the beauty contrasted with a horrific history in Poland and having an amazing time while wandering the natural attractions of Hungary. With that being said, Bucharest was still an interesting city to visit - the revolutionary history making up for the tacky bright neon lights and angry people.

Once arriving I immediately noticed how much larger the city was compared to my expectations - and well supplied by fountains (turns out it was just Unirii Park that had installed a fountain upon every spare piece of ground available). There was a free walking tour organised every day at 6 pm which suited my schedule perfectly, and before long I was wondering around the streets learning about Bucharest's history.

Spurt
Unirii Square - "Where water is squirted into the air"

The walking tour afforded me a good introduction to the main sights of Bucharest - the gigantic Parliament Building, Revolutionary Square and a number of interestingly designed buildings. Alex, our guide, was appropriately knowledgeable in his home city and passed on a number of interesting stories (such as the process of moving a number of churches up to 200 meters so they wouldn't be destroyed in new developments). I got myself lost on the way back to my hotel and got to see the seedier side of Bucharest. Plenty of neon lights, erotic supermarkets and very dodgy looking people. I also witnessed a car accident on this walk, which I am sure is not a rare occurrence as people drive like idiots in the city. Unfortunately it was too dark to take any good photos, so I re-created the walk the next day while the sun was still shining.

Classy
I have so much trouble figuring out what this sculpture represents. I mean - look at how his knees are in the wrong proportions - what's going on?

PooStick
As soon as I saw this I thought "that looks like a potato on a stick". Sure enough - the locals call it Stick Potato

Fred
I saw this guy riding around and immediately thought of Freddy Mercury. I was very disappointed when I discovered that's not what was happening

Large
Gigantic, under-utilised building. It's called Iceberg by the locals because there are a further 4 stories underground. It was also the mascot for the Pittsburgh Penguins for a few seasons

Two traits very apparent among the people of Bucharest are crappy driving and religious / superstitous behaviour. Even buses run red lights and would kill pedestrians if they habitually cross the road when the man turns green. So many speeding drivers, cars swerving and horns honking - Bucharest is probably the worst city traffic-wise that I have visited. Perhaps that's why the people feel a requirement to perform the sign of the cross on their chest every two or three minutes. I'm pretty sure I saw people doing the "father, son, holy-spirit" thing after just crossing a road - let alone when we passed a church or cemetery in the bus. I didn't even see this much religious fear in Italy, it was quite interesting to see.

Tinge
In this photo the green signifies a delicious kiwi fruit flavour being added to a soft-serve iced cream

Now I'm off to Egypt to see the pyramids, the sphinx and meander up the Nile river


This is the 30th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Budapest, Hungary - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 17/10/2012 18:28:42

When I initially included the Eastern European cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest and Bucharest I was expecting to see cities filled with Soviet-style drabness along with massive amounts of poverty. So far this has just been further indication of my ignorance as each of these cities have surprised me with their colour and beauty - Budapest was no different in this trend. There is still a lot of visible socio-economic issues throughout the city, which can make for an interesting contrast (i.e. seeing a homeless guy sleeping in a tunnel between two immaculately groomed parks with fancy tiles on the tunnel walls).

I met up with Pao, a friend I first met in Edinburgh, which just goes to show the advantage of living somewhere like London as opposed to Melbourne. If Pao wants to travel and has a few days off from work she can easily take a short flight and spend some time in a country with a vastly different culture such as Hungary. If I were to take a similar flight from Melbourne I'd probably be in New Zealand or Perth. Of the two I would probably choose NZ and enjoy some Perky Nana.

The restaurant we enjoyed for the first night was amazing - Hungarian delicacies are full of deliciousness. Lots of meat and heaps of onion was the theme - perfectly suited to my taste buds. After dinner we went to the original of Budapest's ruin bars. Over the last 10 years people have been building bars inside abandoned buildings in Budapest's old Jewish quarter. There's not a lot of external signage, and while they are all pretty well known now - it used to form quite a cool underground bar scene. We went to Szimpla Kert - still one of the more popular ruin bars - and it was a great experience. Interesting architecture and decor along with alcohol and dancing made for a great time had by all.

Ruinous
The ruin bar we frequented - in this case the blurry photo is a result of artistic expression *cough*

Compromise
The interior of the ruin bar - apparently Sweden is next

For the first full day in Budapest we picked a few monuments to visit and went for a long walk with a map in hand. While Pest (East of the river) has the vibrant night life of Budapest, the Buda and Castle District on the West of the river is where all the prettys are at.

Europe has done things to me - that I thought would never be done. I do not dry-heave at the thought of drinking sparkling water anymore. Not only do I enjoy coffee now - I actually look forward to some after my main meal. When I get back home I will probably look into buying a coffee machine allowing me to try different coffee blends (every part of that sentence has made me cringe at myself). I also feel my stance on bridges is softening. This is probably the fault of London's beautiful Tower Bridge - but I enjoyed looking at Budapest's Chain Bridge even though it wasn't lit up with fancy colours. What have I become?

CallMeChain
It is called the Chain Bridge, for some reason. This may be explained by a quick Google - but instead I will assume it is because the bridge started as a single chain going from one side to the other that people needed to shimmy across. This, of course, led to the phrase "shimmy across my bridge" being introduced to the common vocabulary

View
The fancy looking Buda side of Budapest. I'm not sure why the boat has an multi-purpose knife flag flying

After Pao went back to London I still had another full day in Budapest so I put on my shoes and went for a long walk. I crossed three of the seven bridges that span the Danube river, which allowed me to see quite a lot of the inner city. Budapest is an amazing place with so many parks, fountains and beautiful buildings. My favourite spot that I stumbled upon was Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube - a nice little sanctuary in the middle of Budapest. I also loved walking through the City Park - another excellent chance to get away from both the hustle and the bustle of the city.

Fount
Another fancy fountain - this one on Margaret Island. I presume there is no crowd watching the water theatrics, because we were on a frickin' island surrounded by water

Park
I was trying to get a generic shot of the pretty park - but it seems I made the garbage bin the centre focus. I guess it is fair enough - it is a nice looking bin

Budapest was lovely, but similar to Poland and probably Romania - I don't feel like I really got the complete picture of Hungary. I guess that's the downside of visiting so many different countries - I've had to stick to just the main cities to keep this trip to three months in duration. Maybe one day I'll return and do some of the Eastern European countries in greater detail - I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the little I saw.


This is the 29th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vienna, Austria - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 16/10/2012 19:37:22

Vienna is another city that I had no initial interest in visiting - only making it's way onto the itinerary because it was too difficult to find a train going straight from Krakow to Budapest. The difference this time - I could remove Vienna from my trip memories and I wouldn't be that upset. It wasn't a terrible place - but it just didn't have a lot that interested me specifically.

I arrived super early from the sleeper train (upon which I got zero sleep) and could not check into the hotel until 2 pm. I formed a quick plan of things I wanted to do and made my way to the Vienna Zoo. It was fun seeing further antics from seals, but on the whole the Vienna Zoo was pretty average (certainly not up to the level of Berlin). After a delicious lunch of wiener schnitzel I made my way to the meeting place for a Segway city tour.

Hugs
"Why are walruses the only ones that can haz buckets?" the seal lamented to his trainer

CanadasShorts
When I realised this schnitzel looks a little bit like America - I thought there should be a website displaying schnitzels that look like things. The internet has achieved so much - but still has a lot to go

The Segway tour was ok - and it was fun to be on a segway again - but once more Berlin was a far more enjoyable experience. I was also confronted by Australian accents again as four Aussie's were also taking the tour. I've gotta say - it was a bit of a shock hearing the Australian twang - do I really sound like that? Vienna has some nice sights, but again there wasn't a lot that tickled my fancy (except for the baddest looking Horsey Sorehoofs in Europe). I actually ended up not taking any further photos of Horsey Sorehoofs as they were so frequent in Vienna. I guess that can be a claim to fame for a city.

LetMeAtHim
"Let it go, man. You're on parole - he's not worth it"

Pointy
A model replication of Vienna from the days of fortifications. Note for future visitors, not an effective chair

An interesting aspect of the inhabitants of Vienna is that they are quite obsessed with the dead. Apparently everyone has a financial plan setup to afford a fitting funeral at the time of death, the cemetery is huge and receives many visitors each day and there was even a funeral museum on the list of suggested attractions. I decided to make my way down to the cemetery on the second day in Vienna to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, as I very rarely visit cemeteries in any other country at all - I was unable to make any comparisons. Vienna's cemetery seemed large, and there were some pretty ornate and well decorated plots - but I have no idea if that is normal or otherwise.

Zombie
The front gate to the cemetery - strangely lacking zombie guards

Winky
If this painting of an excited bird trying to peck a winking dick 'n' balls doesn't successfully sum up my stay in Vienna - nothing will


This is the 28th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Krakow, Poland - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 14/10/2012 07:19:54
Updated by Joel Dixon at 18/04/2015 03:26:49


The juxtaposition of day one and two in Krakow was stark. Day one was a beautiful day weather-wise and consisted of a lovely day walking around the market square. Day two was wet and miserable and contained a visit to Auschwitz I and II. On day three I visited the Krakow salt mine which is neither here na there.

After checking into my hotel I decided to go for a walk around the Market Square to experience a side of Krakow I really wasn't expecting. My senses were immediately met with the sounds, smells and colours of Krakow. The square isn't that large, but was awash with colourful people talking and laughing to each other - and I couldn't walk in any direction without hearing quality music from one of the many buskers. It was such a great place to buy a bread-like item from a street vendor and wander around.

FlatCube
As usual, like most squares, there were a bunch of touts unsuccessfully trying to sell light-up toys that can be flung into the air via an elastic band. Just once I want to offer to buy one to see if they know what to do when someone says yes

Freddie
Old grey mare she ain't what she used to be

The ambience of dinner was great - but the food itself was decidedly average. I've eaten some interesting foods in various countries, Poland is certainly not leading the "most delicious country" competition. Maybe I constantly went to poor choices when purchasing food, or maybe the food just isn't catered to my tastes - but I wouldn't recommend that a journey of food takes place in Poland.

On the advice of many friends, I decided to take a tour of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz while in Krakow (well, this tour actually precipitated the stay in Krakow). I was prepared for it to be a sombre, eye-opening experience and that I wouldn't really be prepared for the information I was to receive - but this was only the half of it. About two hours into the half-day tour, I didn't want to be there anymore - I just didn't want to hear anything further. I physically recoiled at some of the information we were being given and a lot of it just washed over me as I couldn't completely comprehend what I was hearing. These responses just made things worse when I realised that I was reacting to only hearing about the atrocities that men, women and children actually lived through. I was more than glad when the tour was finished - I felt like curling up on a bed and being covered with kittens. I am glad I've had the opportunity to better understand what the word holocaust actually means, but just a little bit less optimistic about the capacity of the human race.

GateOne
The front gate of Auschwitz I - with the inscription "work sets you free"

GateTwo
The main gate to Auschwitz II - Birkenau. My mood was lifted slightly as I saw a happy face welcoming visitors, until I remembered this was a purpose-built extermination camp. What a sadistic gate

I had nothing planned for my final day in Krakow and my sleeper train to Vienna didn't leave until after 10 pm, so I decided to go to the second attraction on the hotel's suggestion leaflet - the Krakow salt mine. It was actually an interesting trip even though I am not a life-long fan of industrial salt mining (surprising I know). Sure, it wasn't as interesting as the Auschwitz tour but the subject matter was light and the tour guide was amusing - so it was perfect for Krakow's day three. The best part about the mines were the salt sculptures that the miners themselves created - including a pretty sweet replica of The Last Supper.

Salty
An underground chapel cut into the salt - you can actually get married here if you so desire. I'd prefer a sugar mine personally

Supper
They disciples are actually all recoiling because they just took a taste of their meals - could do with less salt


This is the 27th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Warsaw, Poland - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 13/10/2012 16:51:30

Allow me to take this time to confess something to this limited readership of friends and family. While in the Polish city of Warsaw I did something completely different, quite foreign and perhaps a little dangerous to me - I didn't plan anything (well, almost anything). Those that have been privy to my Google doc of travel plans know that it is quite extensive (including currency required, language spoken, nights of stay, hotel bookings, arrival and departure method and times and planned activities for each city). Many of these cities will also list a restaurant / eatery for both lunch and dinner of each day of my stay (with an occasional backup option in case something is closed - which has come in handy before). Unfortunately I only had enough time to plan to this level of detail for the first two months of my trip - being forced to plan the rest "on-the-fly" whilst in Europe. I got myself booked into accommodation early, but activities and meal plans are generally planned out the night before I arrive to each new city now. Buoyed by a successful stay in Amsterdam which was sans-planning (due to the assistance of locals Carolyn and Jesse) - I decided to leave my single day in Warsaw to the whims of chance and set out in the morning with just a city map.

The first thing that struck me about Warsaw was how green and fountainy it was. In my head I pictured Warsaw as having very Soviet-style feel to it - but it is really quite beautiful. While it was tricky to walk around without seeing a nice park with a stunning fountain or monument - it was downright impossible to walk a hundred metres without seeing a construction site. I think this is mostly due to the creation of the second Metro line in Warsaw - but it made for an interesting and contrasting morning walk. After getting my green on, lunch was fast approaching and I admit I panicked a little.


I like Doritos as much as the next guy - but I don't think we need a public sculpture just to praise the snack. lol jk - of course there should be a sculpture to honour Doritos (perhaps one for each delicious flavour)


Even though it visually has nothing to do with it (and the timeline probably doesn't work) - I like to believe that this fountain was built in memory of the original (and best) Milo Bar


In Warsaw I saw instances of Horsey Sorehoof replaced in popularity by Stabby McFleshWound here - I'm not about register a complaint (lest I receive a stabbing)

I had wanted to try out a bar mleczny (literally "milk bar") while in Poland - which is essentially a low-priced cafeteria offering very basic food at a reasonable price. I had noticed quite a few "Free Wifi" signs as I approached the Old Town part of the city - so I figured I'd give it a shot. Sure enough, an IP-address was assigned and I was quickly on Google Maps pin-pointing the closest milk bar. Considering the difficulties I've had getting any form of internet access in some of my hotels - free city WiFi was quite a shock (but I wasn't about to check it's teeth). Technology in hand I made my way to the milk bar and had one of the least satisfying meals of my European odyssey.


I can only assume the diagram describes the unwanted states your digestion system will go through after eating your meal


The only part of this meal that actually had any taste was the knife and fork - and that was before I had even put them near the food

After lunch I saw a mini sightseeing train wanting to show me the sights of Warsaw - how could I say no? Apart from being a cool sight-seeking train - the tour itself was pretty average (the voice over was impossible to understand, so it was really just a drive around the city). After seeing some cool buildings and further fountains from the comfort of a fake train carriage, I decided to follow the tourist map and check out some of the memorials that were a short walk away.


Upon reviewing this photo - I am somewhat confused: where are the tracks? I know it was a real train, the driver was wearing a conductor's hat and everything

My walk through out the remainder of the city actually went pretty well, and I saw a few really cool monuments. The Monument of the Warsaw Uprising and The Monument for the Fallen and Murdered in the East were both quite amazing. I also visited the monument in the Umschlagplatz (Jewish Ghetto) where thousands of Jews were assembled before being deported to extermination camps. This was pretty somber and thought-provoking - but was nothing compared to what I experienced in Krakow the next few days.


The Monument of the Warsaw Uprising - I really liked the look of this one - but was a little surprised to find no-one else there


The Umschlagplatz Memorial. Wikipedia says it is supposed to look like an open freight car - which I kind of ruined with my angled photo. I knew I should never try to be arty


This is the 26th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (2) | Add Comment

Monday, October 08, 2012

Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 08/10/2012 18:47:40

I managed to avoid the first major plan-changer of EuroJoel 2012 in Belgium as thankfully the train strike that would have derailed me (huh!) was not taking affect until the day after I arrived. I went straight to Bruges while the trains were still running in search of food history (and food consumption). I immediately bee-lined it to one of Bruges' chocolate museums - and slightly enjoyed the mediocre displays. Far more enjoyable was the small chocolate tasting that came just before the exit, when I made my way to the other food museum - this one dedicated to fried potatoes. Another average-to-good museum (but with no taste testings) I really enjoyed all the artwork that was dedicated to chips. Confident I had received my share of culture, I purchased some fries and chocolates and returned to Brussels for dinner.

Gibson
Which do you think gets more customers? I checked and it was just a normal lamp museum - not even a chocolate-covered lamp museum

Lab
The yellow thing at the front is a cocoa bean - why didn't they base the size of a jelly bean on that?

Crispy
I was getting sick of the tall female mascot's attitude as she pointed me around the museum - until I realised that at some point she was forced into a vat of boiling oil until her outsides were crispy

Art
I am not yet an art collector - but pieces like this have started to persuade me

Once back in Brussels I went for a walk through the city in search for a meal. I felt like the city had a bit of a dodgy vibe to it, but without spending much time there in total it is hard to say for sure. In any case, I found a great bar for my dinner and had no issues making my way back to the hotel (where I enjoyed my pre-bought chocolate dessert).

Shapes
Belgium chocolate is certainly nice - but who decides on the shapes to use? I think the four turds at the top look more appetizing than the horse's head

The next morning I realised Amsterdam did not provide me with enough of a rest - only reminding me what sleep felt like. I spent most of the second day in Brussels napping in the hotel room (along with some intervals of sleep). I guess I've been trying to fit too much into each day, so I'm glad I had a city like Brussels to prepare myself for the month of travel still ahead. After my day of rest I packed my things and prepared for the next day's flight to Poland - the start of my Eastern European experience.


This is the 25th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 07/10/2012 00:55:49

The main impetus for my current Europe trip was to visit two of my uni friends that are now living in Amsterdam. Two months into a crazy adventure filled with ... well ... crazy adventures, the opportunity to stay with some good friends in a normal house (complete with home cooked meals) was certainly a welcomed respite. I assume Amsterdam isn't the city most frequently associated with rest - but it certainly was for me (but I still managed to have a great time amongst all the resting).

Once I arrived at the central station, Carolyn picked me up and we went out to see the town. I love having a local point out the parts of a city that they enjoy the most - something that I could never replicate on my own. We started out travelling through the main squares (Dam and Rembrandt) and found a nice boat bar to have a quick beer and delicious local snacks. Fried, cheesy and taste-filled is how I would describe them - even if I did have a better vocabulary.

Fried
Everything on this sampler plate was delicious and quickly consumed. I think we actually finished the food before we completed the tiny amount of beer remaining

Walking towards our next location I had a true WTF moment that took me by complete surprise. There we were walking through the middle of a bustling, populace-filled square when I noticed a guy turn around right in front of me while he was zipping up. His tallywacker had just been in his hands, and now he was relegating it back into it's denim prison. I took further stock of the situation and realised he had just been peeing on a semi-wall, semi-drain thing. He basically had just used an open-air urinal in the middle of the city - and he looked very pleased with himself (post-urine euphoria I guess). Carolyn had seen this exchange and just looked knowingly towards me - her expression saying "yep, that's a street toilet", her grin daring me to reject such a bizarre concept. Turns out they have street toilets in Amsterdam. No matter how badly I have needed to pee in Melbourne on various occasions - I am glad we have not followed the Europeans in this trend.

Urine
As most toilets in Europe require a small payment for use - the argument can be made that street toilets like this provide an opportunity for homeless people to take care of business. To that I say "Europe, stop charging for toilet use - and don't ever allow people to pee on the street"

Once the shock wore off, we continued our walk through the city and checked out some pretty cool buildings and squares. Other than the improper use of urine, Amsterdam is a really nice city to walk / ride around in. I trialled some delicious cheese in the inventively named "Cheese and More" store, and then Carolyn took me to a really cool bar called Wynand Fockink. An impressive range of liqueurs were available - served by the eccentric barman that required an enthusiastic "slurp" of the liquid at the bar before the drink's vessel could be lifted and taken elsewhere. After sampling Japanese Cherry and Brides Tears we made our way back to Carolyn's place to pick up Jesse and head off to dinner.

Legs
Seriously - what is happening here other than Rembrandt showing some thigh?

Fockink
Regular flavours are joined by inventive names like "Quarter to Five" and "Your Uncle's Socks". There was no "Desolation" flavour - so I was confident I was not about to taste any Barcelonian Pringles

When I first arrived in Amsterdam Carolyn buoyed my spirits with her initial dinner suggestion - Everything on a Stick. True to their word, pretty much all options in the restaurant came appetizingly on a stick (even though I was slightly disappointed that they had not invented technology to consume beverages using stick glasses). The food was very delicious, and while I'm not ready to say that this is entirely attributable to the stick-based delivery system - I am positive the skewer to meat ratio had an impact.

Sticky
Jesse's thumb positioning only begins to describe how content I was after this delicious meal

After the meal we made our way back to Carolyn and Jesse's home via Amsterdam's famous red light district - De Wallen. Although not entirely sure what I was expecting - the red light district was much classier than I thought it would be. Firstly, it was full of both male and female tourists rubbernecking their way though the crowded streets and alleyways. Interestingly, the quality of the ladies in the windows improved the closer that you got to the centre of town, yet the percentage of closed curtains (indicating a successful price negotiation - and sexy times) did not seem to vary. Being so up-front and visible it felt like there was nothing untoward about the whole situation - until I read the wikipedia article to see De Wallen is rife with sex trafficking and forced prostitution - which is no fun for anyone. After finding some friends for Ducky Poos we returned home and called it a night.

Ducks
When uploading this photo to Facebook, it helpfully suggested I tag my purple-faced friend. I'm guessing Facebook's facial recognition software is evolving with the times (and expecting duck face more frequently)

The next day in Amsterdam started in style - consuming a fried delicacy from FEBO, the vending machine-based snack repository. If I am ever in the situation where I need to move to Amsterdam, you can be sure I'll be living close to one of these stores (and as far away from urine-ville as possible). After the morning snack and purchasing supplies for dinner, we decided to have a pancake lunch (thankfully Carolyn and Jesse apply a similar import to food as I do). I think I had the best pancakes I have ever consumed (it was in the top three at the least) and was left in an excellent mood. The rest of the day was appropriately lazy, culminating in an excellent home cooked meal and a spirited YouTube party (where I was introduced to Gangnam Style for the first time - I can't believe I missed this one).

FEBO
We call Australia "The Lucky Country" and yet we do not provide our citizens with FEBO. Something doesn't add up

Success
Ham, onion and goat's cheese. Just try to order a more delicious pancake - I double-dare you!

Thumbs
If I had more time, I would love to start another blog comprised entirely of delicious meals with Jesse giving the thumbs-up in the background

My final full day in Amsterdam was going to be consumed by a visit to a cat boat and checking out the Van Gogh museum. Once arriving at the cat boat to see it was unexpectedly closed - I went back to the apartment and napped away the rest of the day. After appreciating another wonderful home-cooked meal (unfortunately no thumbs-up photo for this one) I slept my final night on the comfy air mattress and prepared to head off to Belgium. Thanks again to Carolyn and Jesse for a great weekend, and a much needed chance to recharge.


This is the 24th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment

Friday, October 05, 2012

Killarney - Ireland, 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 05/10/2012 08:23:42

I have mentioned on a few of my blog entries that I was only visiting a particular city for the one single thing. For example, I only really put Porto on the itinerary so I could sample a delicious sandwich (which was both delicious, and a sandwich). That being said, I still stayed in Porto for two nights sampling further cuisine and checking out the city which I enjoyed. When it came to Killarney however, I was literally only there for Dan and Leonie's wedding - flying in an hour before the ceremony was to start and flying out once I finished partying at the reception.

As the cabbie drove me towards the bed and breakfast, I noticed that Dan and Leonie picked an excellent location for their wedding. Killarney itself was very picturesque and the Cahernane House Hotel was extraordinary. It's a shame I wasn't staying longer in the town - I think it would have been a great place to get in some relaxation before a final month of travelling.

Tom
No matter how nude I made myself, nor how widely I left the curtains open, I was never visited by a single Peeping Tom. Which is a good thing, of course cough

Before too long I was sitting and listening to Dan and Leonie pledging themselves to one another - and although short and sweet, Dan managed to put in some great character with his enthusiastic answers of "yep". The speeches were equally aww-inspiring, Dan's having the perfect mix of humour and sweetness and Bres' being hilarious but with enough feels thrown in. The last time I heard Bres making a speech was when he drunkenly stumbled through an acknowledgement of Dykesey's 21st - what a difference 10 years can make.

IStache
I want to marry Dan's moustache - it effortlessly illustrates the dichotomy of chaos and order

The reception dinner was delicious and I was put onto a great table with fun and flowing conversation. Afterwards the dancing begun and while it took a while for the alcohol to disable my inhibitions - before too long I was out on the dance floor once more (making an ass of myself as expected and hopefully appreciated by all). I had an incredible time with great friends - but managed to Phantom away and grab some sleep before my early morning flight to Amsterdam.

TeaBiatch
Chris is both, in equal parts and at the same time, the classiest and least classy man I know

Dance
The dance floor before things started heating up, and ties were fashioned into headbands (ok, so that was just me)

Congratulations Dan and Leonie


This is the 23rd in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
Comments (0) | Add Comment


Next Page
Blog Search

Advanced Search


Recent Blogs
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)
Marc-André Fleury still giving high fives to his injured buddy
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)
Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
Pittsburgh Penguins - 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!
The Inca Trail, Peru - 2015
Lima & Cusco, Peru - 2015
Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

Feed
Subscribe to feed Blog Entries

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!

Recent Comments
Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
posted 2 months ago by joeldixon
Welcome Mac - Love to see you here Mac! Speaking of the ice - shame that your big break ... link

Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
posted 2 months ago by MacBeltKarate
Bad-ass Trip Bro - Woah dude! You played hockey with Mario Lemieux!? That bozo is up there as one of ... link

Living up to my title
posted 7 months ago by joeldixon
Yeah, I don't think it's working link

Living up to my title
posted 7 months ago by DonaldWhick
Test, just a test link

Living up to my title
posted 7 months ago by joeldixon
Was the test a success? link


Comment Standings
1. the man with no name (45)
2. Hoff (39)
3. Hitman (33)
4. Gav (27)
5. Brad (24)
6. Eryc-Ads (13)
7. milly (7)
8. Deep Lurker (6)
9. thefury (5)
10. Dieter (4)
About This Site | Contact Me | 209 days until we leave for Argentina :)