Archive for May, 2012

From the motherland

May 9, 2012

Actually the title is a lie, I write this while in the beautiful surrounds of Positano. Before I let the Springtime weather completely take me, I wanted to write a few more words about old blighty, good ol London.

Previously all mentions of London had included the words cold and dreary. While that definitely remains true, I am happy to say that I found the good bits behind the icy exterior.

England to me was always a depressing place that I had little interest in visiting. Much of my opinion had come from the glimpses shown on various tv programs. Usually it showed drab people in rundown looking locations surrounded by grey grey and more grey. Usually there was some drizzle there to boot.

Of course the tv can never really illustrate what a place is really like, and anyone who feels it can is clearly deluded. No as with anything, the only way to experience it is to actually go there.

Completely ignoring the shitty weather, I was first surprised by just how green London was. No not the rolling green hills just beyond the city limits; with their wide yellow belts of rapeseed, but the sheer number of public parks or greens as they call them. They were everywhere and in most cases beautifully well kept little plots of nature. So many of these were markedly statues of some old notable that further added to their interest.

And here I will mention squirrels. Why can’t we have these in Australia? Someone needs to sneak some past customs (yeah good luck with Nazi Germany..er Aussie customs) and start a breeding program. I love these little guys! I probably stood out like tourist scum from half a mile away, my neck always craned back scanning the trees for cuteness. I have a feeling our beefy brush tail possums might eat them for breakfast however.

In many ways London reminded me of a very big Melbourne, though I do have to say I think we peg the motherland in the food and coffee departments. I loved the old buildings, the plinthed statues, the layers of history that were simply everywhere. The entire place was alive with movement and activity and like Melbourne, so utterly multi-cultural.

I was also floored by the cab drivers. These guys were the most polite, friendly and well spoken people I have encountered in a very long time. They were genuinely concerned about their customer, querying in detail our destination so they could most effectively deliver us there. They would offer random facts and information, all with sweet east London accents. Australian taxi drivers could learns few things here. One guy told us the story how his school had sung in Pink Floyds The Wall (showing us the school as we drive past- Islington Green it was called back then) and how he was absolutely gutted as they used the grade 3 students while he was in grade 4.

All in all i came away from London feeling like I had experienced the essence of what makes it one of the worlds great cities. Not only was it nice to see where my brother (and several great friends) have lived and worked for many years, but I have cleared up that tv instilled inspiring that London is a dreary hole – it so isn’t. Individually, many of the housing buildings can be seen that way, I do understand how it looked that way. Taking into account the entire picture however paints an entirely different picture.

I was also blown away by just how effective the bus system was. For tourists I can’t recommend enough cruising around on the top level of a double decker. The way that these buses allowed us to view the city really surprised me.

20120508-220755.jpg

20120508-220848.jpg

20120508-221029.jpg

Hygge in Copenhagen

May 5, 2012

Denmark has come and gone and I find myself in London. It has been great to see my brother and his girlfriend and explore one of the worlds great cities, but the dominating feeling here is of being cold. Maybe it’s due to not being acclimatized, or maybe I’m just being a panzy but man, it’s so damned cold! Jumping back across the North Sea, I really miss Copenhagen. It surprises me that England can be so dreary in the weather department while just a short distance away, Denmark is enjoying clear blue skies and sunshine.

Copenhagen was just such a surprisingly nice place to spend some time. The Danish notion of ‘Hygge’ – spending quality time with friends and just relaxing, permeated the entire city. From the food to the beautiful old lanes and streets, Copenhagen was an amazing introduction to Europe for a first timer. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring London yesterday, but the weather had me more focused on my own discomfort(again, panzy!) rather than my surroundings. Perhaps we just got lucky in Denmark, but regardless, the beautiful weather allowed us to really enjoy the experience.

I made every effort to sample as much of Denmark as was possible within a mere few days. From devouring delicious pickle covered hotdogs to ploughing into Godzilla sized traditional Danish pork sandwiches. Each day we’d set off from our hotel which was nestled in the dodgy red light district and hit the cobblestones. We capped off our trip with a beer in the fading sunlight in one of the many little squares.

As we wandered around, it still spun me out to see different nationalities speaking European languages. I’d see Asians and Indians walking around speaking Danish and it’s always interesting to hear how their entire voice changes depending on their native tongue. For now it’s off into the English countryside in the dreary grey. I’m sure it will be interesting but my mind is still lingering on Denmark or moreso, Monday and Italy.

20120505-112238.jpg

Hello from Denmark

May 2, 2012

Well hello from Denmark and what is the first time I’ve ever written to a blog from a mobile phone. If there’s some kooky words mixed in there well we can thank Mr IPhone!

This is my first time to Europe and so far it’s been a really interesting experience. We are staying in Copenhagen and have really gotten lucky with the weather. Despite each day only being around 16(what we’d consider cold in Melbourne), the sun has been out and I even got sunburnt yesterday.

The thing that’s really stood out to me so far is how different it feels to be in the language minority where everyone is white. The European languages really stand out to me. They seem loud, sometimes abrasive and just really hard to ignore. I wonder if it’s because I am so familiar with both Chinese and japanese that neither of these languages seem so loud to me.

One thing is for sure, I do enjoy being in the language minority. Despite the fact that most Europeans speak English, it’s nice once more not having to listen to what people are saying.

It’s also nice to be on holiday with no concrete agenda. It has taken several days to get passed the tiredness of the initial travel. Leaving Melbourne at 2pm to arrive in Bangkok in the evening then take off again at 2am. We were traveling for over 24 hours and seriously lacking in the sleep department. What I wouldn’t give for the Asian ability to sleep upside down.

From an Asian perspective it seems that the Chinese world takeover tour hasn’t yet penetrated Skandinavia. It’s seriously disappointing not having my beloved cheap Chinese massage shops on every corner – but alas, I am sure I will survive. I actually had a Thai massage in Bangkok during the stopover and while it was good, man the sore ribs on the Copenhagen leg weren’t really something I would recommend. Anyhow enough unedited babble, there’s a beer to consume in the land of the Nordic drinkers.


%d bloggers like this: