Thursday, May 29, 2008

UK: Manchester

I should stop following New Zealand sports teams when they come to Europe. My trip to Paris didn't help the All Blacks cause at the Rugby World Cup, and I don't think I helped the Black Caps in the test against England in the Cricket. Oh well, I had fun.

The weekend just passed Andy, Sam and I went up to Manchester to spend a few days exploring and watching Cricket. We took the zing-zing super speedy Tilt Train up there, on which we had an intriguing conversation with an old man about Cheese. Did you know Chedder is actually a place? I didn't.

The Cricket was very cool actually, at Old Trafford. The day we were there Taylor and Mills were smashing the English all over the place. The English fans are fantastic too.

Manchester itself is a very cool city. I think most of the cool stuff was built when it was the centre of the industrial revolution a few hundred years back.

I spent the day after the cricket looking forward to another curry on the Curry Mile, exploring with Sam. We got lost along one of the many canals, had a pint in a pub and watched some cricket, then on the advice of our fantastic host popped into a street festival.

The street festival was very cool, a bunch of European hip hop, acoustic and indie acts playing in a string of bars and underneath railway archers, along with street artists painting the walls. It was a very organised and mainstream way to showcase what is traditionally an underground sort of thing, but I really enjoyed. We cut shapes here till the early hours...

.. once we got back to base we stayed up to 5am hanging out with the fantastic people at Percy Palace (a massive old flat where they have many eclectic people staying all the time... couchsurfing at its finest).

Two un-Manchester related things I would like to finish on. Firstly, I am living in a new flat! Andy, Val and I have separated ways and cease to house the many fantastic couchsurfers and friends we have over the last 7 months. Goodbye Leytonstone.. hello Bethnal Green! I am still East London Hard Core. Although my room is rather small, I still have room for a few of us to sit round and smoke a shisha, so feel free to invite yourself over.

Second thing: A quote from a novel I just finished. The book is call "Of Human Bondage" by my new favourite author W. Somerset Maugham.
Life was before him and time of no account. He could wander, for years if he chose, in unfrequented places, amid strange peoples, where life was led in strange ways. He did not know what he sought or what his journeys would bring him; but he had a feeling he would learn something new about life and gain some clue to the mystery he had solved only to find more mysterious.
I like this quote as it justifies not working for a long time. Its also interesting in that 3 chapters later this guy get married and settles down in a small town by the sea. Just got to live the dream I guess, no matter what dream it is and how frequent it may change.

That is all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


So Lucas and I went on a sneaky long weekend away to Budapest (its in Hungary). We stayed with a couple of American students who we had met in London a few months previous and ended up appreciating a lot more of American college life than we did experience what it was to be Hungarian... which is not a problem as it was a whole lot of fun and we are both cultured enough I think. So aside from the beer pong, mexican parties and excessive use of the word "awesome!" we got a reasonable amount of exploring done.. no fine art though... next time I guess.

View from Castle Hill toward the Danube and Parliament

One of the fanciest thing in Budapest is the parliament buildings, which are the biggest on the continent (smaller than the British Parliament buildings in Westminster though). Information courtesy of a German tout/guide... he had a cool moustache. Also told us the Danube goes through 8 countries... I love touts.

Parliament up close.

Up on the hill is a castle, its a pretty cool Castle with vines growing up it (I love plants which climb walls and building, just a little more than I love box hedges).

My average sized companion with some walls and vines, looking in a hole which may or may not fit an elephant.

A handsome man inside a castle courtyard. You would almost mistake him for royalty.

We did some good exploring around the city. My favourite thing about old cities like Budapest (and most others in Europe) is the streets with lines of buildings all about the same height which all look very similar but up close and all very different.

A street in my favourite style.

Up close these building are fantastic.

Also saw Heroes Square which had some cool statues. Apparently the most detailed and beautiful has been put on a 6 story column, so appreciate the fine details was a little challenging for us.

Heroes Square

So we saw some pretty sweet sites, the weather was pretty darn fantastic and we had a fantastic time. Budapest is indeed a city worth a visit, not sure how you would get a Hungarian experience here though.

The sun, the cloud, and Buda (West back of the Danube)

Something else also happened in Budapest that I would not normally write about, but I feel I should share this with you as it was so special. I have a man crush. I love you Zach.

Zach. Half man, half beard, all awesome.