Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Forest and Lymington

The New Forest, and Rachelle directing us ("We're not lost!")

One slightly dreary and wet Saturday, Rachelle, Tom and I headed to the New Forest (near Southhampton) for a day's hiking in the New Forest. The hiking quickly turned to mud shuffling, and almost getting lost on the multitudes of paths through the forest (Though Rachelle will contend that we were never lost!). We gave up at lunch - it was really quite wet, and after a pub lunch, we decided instead to ride the train system for the afternoon. Hopping on a train to Lymington, the starting point for ferries to the Isle of Wight, we were expecting to find a windswept port set by an uninteresting seaside village. We were pleasantly surprised to find a sizable town, set on a pretty marina, and the sun had just decided to come out. We watched the pretty sunset as we left on the train. All in all, it was an enjoyable day!
The Marina of Lymington at sunset

Vienna - Home of Rex

The Riesenrad at the Prater - a site often featured in Kommissar Rex!
I visited Vienna over a couple of days before Christmas.

This was my second trip to Vienna, one of my favourite cities in Europe. Vienna is such a beautiful, cultural and cosmopolitan city... and also the home of one of my favourite TV shows, Inspector Rex (or Kommissar Rex) - I even have a personalised 'paw print' from one of the Rex dogs, and am responsible for getting my whole family into this show.

Left, Votivskirche and right, Stephansdom

I have many things that I love about Vienna... This time I met up with a friend who took me to one of the oldest restaurants in Vienna, where we had a lovely traditional Austrian meal. I was also lucky enough that my good friend Bindu, was travelling through Vienna with her husband, so I got to spend some time with them as well. I did quite a bit in my couple of days there - I went to the Schoenbrunn Zoo, wandered around the grounds of the Schoenbrunn palace, visited the Prater - one of Moser and Rex's hangouts (unfortunately I didn't run into them that day...). I also visited Stephansdom and Votivkirche, the cemetary with memorials to the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Brahms, and almost got blown into the Danube.

Bindu at the Danube, and Schoenbrunn Palace
Bindu and I also had fun roaming through the Christmas markets, and I also got to do a spot of shopping...

Bindu and I - rugged up for the snow and rain

Can't wait to go back again - Vienna is such a great place!

The Riesenrad of the Prater, and the Burgtheater
Hotel Sacher - home of the delicious and chocolatey Sacher Torte

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On the Munich bier trail...

Here I am with my Mass (the standard - a litre of beer) at Hofbrauhaus

Along the Munich bier trail - one of the highlights of any trip to one of the world's beer capitals.

It wasn't quite Oktoberfest, but all year round it seems you'll find these beerhalls full of people drinking different types of beers. Greg took me out for a Munich pubcrawl... Admittedly we only made it to two different places - the Hofbrauhaus and Schneider-Weisse. But hey, a litre is a lot of beer.

The main types of beer in Munich are lager - the four main brewers are Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Augustiner; and Weissbier - which is a 'wheat beer' with a slightly different flavour. Weissbier has become one of my favourite types of beer. Schneider-Weisse is one of the main weissbier brewers.

We had a fun night out, and I managed to get through a Mass, which is the term for the big litre mugs of bier.

Here I am finishing my Mass at the Hofbrauhaus, and Aventinus at Schneider-Weisse (It was good!)

Greg at the Hofbrauhaus, and the interior of the beerhall

Monday, March 27, 2006

Wingardium Leviosa

As most of you probably know I'm a mild fan of Harry Potter (yes, I'm a little eccentric, but not to the completely obsessed fan stage).

So what better to do in London, but track down some of the HP locations!

So here we have the Reptile House at London Zoo - where Harry spoke to the snake!

And the good old Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

At home in London

While at times it may look as if I'm doing anything but working and living in London... I have been making a lot of effort to see the sights of my temporary hometown.

I'm living in Canary Wharf, which has been quite pleasant (and convenient for getting around). It's well linked by tube or DLR (Docklands Light Rail), and full of high rise, major banks, modern pubs and bars, sometimes I feel like I'm still living in Sydney! To be honest, it took me a long time to work out exactly how to get around Canary Wharf. You can walk around for ages underground, come up to the ground level and have little idea how to get back to where you need to go. Each of the main buildings are linked underground - you could work in this area and spend entire days never going outside! I usually choose the overland route...
Canary Wharf, and Docklands as a whole, is a maze of waterways and residential complexes. It seems to mean that almost everyone can have a waterfront place (except for me that is! I have a nice view of the apartments opposite me). Still it's a very pleasant place to wander around, and the abundance of security officers means you always feel pretty safe, even walking around late at night.

I walk across this footbridge almost every day. Canada Tower, in the centre is where my office is, however I don't often need to go there.

Views of the high rise of Canary Wharf. On the right is the stillest I've ever seen the waters in this part

So on most weekends that I'm not jetting out over Europe, I'll usually venture into town and take a look around. There are so many different places you can go in London, it's hard to get to all of them. Sometime it's nice to just go wandering and see what you can find... On occasion, I've managed to 'find': the Tower of London, the ever impressive Tower Bridge, lots of parklands, endless bridges over the Thames, the British Museum (I looked for the Elgin marbles, expecting to see a pile of round balls... I found the Parthenon!) and lots of great shops... I have been having fun discovering London.

The Tower of London
The spectacular Tower Bridge
Early evening at Trafalgar Square, and silhouette (at Midday!) of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye
As for the weather... well it has been cold... So far there's been two days where I haven't felt the need to venture out in my winter coat. But despite the cold, it has been fine. I remember a time where 15 degrees would strike fear into my heart... I think I managed to acclimatise very well, and am not that bothered by the cold anymore. Especially on the few occasions where it has snowed.

Frohe Weihnachten!

I spent Christmas Day with Greg and Andrea in Munich, where we had collected a group of their friends to spend Christmas Day with. A great day/night was had by all.

Preparations: Here we can see Greg modelling our beverage preparation area. By the end of the day, this was fairly empty!

Presents: There were many presents well received by the recipient... Greg loved his copy of the 'Pool Room Edition' of The Castle, a great Australian film.

Culinary delights: The food prepared was one of the big successes of the day. There was so much, and it all tasted so good! Especially the flaming puddings. Yum!
Photography: It couldn't have been a Holmes sponsored event without cameras around. Greg and I did our best to keep up the tradition of the family Christmas photos throughout the evening.
Exercise: Here we are on the post eating and post drinking walk, posing at the Neue Pinakothek. We did a walk around the block and then headed back. It was quite cold outside after being indoors all day!

Frohe Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas!)

A trip cross-country

The downhill runs at Lenggries.
What better exercise on Christmas Eve when you are in the 'White Christmas' realms of the world is there, than a day's skiing. Greg and I took the BOB bahn from Munich down to Lenggries, not far from the Austrian border. We thought we'd have a go at some cross-country skiing.

I don't think I ended the day as a pro, but was certainly vastly improved. I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it, though it was very hard work... I think I fell asleep around 9pm that night, along with all of the good boys and girls waiting for Santa to come.

Proof that I did spend at least some of my time on skis standing up!

There was a lot of snow at Lenggries - a picnic was a little difficult, however it was very pretty. The world seemed a bit monochrome.

Here I am enjoying the snow, and Greg skiing along.

Greg up to mischief as we got back to town.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Freezing in the Bavarian mountains - Linderhof

During my Christmas break in Bavaria, on a day that hit -18, Greg and I trekked down to Mad King Ludwig's (Ludwig II) palace in Linderhof. It was a beautiful day, and the castle is set in amongst the mountains in the south of Germany. There was a lot of snow around, so it was very pretty walking around the grounds of the castle, where all you could see was white. Inside the castle, we got an insight into the mad king... After having visited Neuschwanstein on my previous trip to Bavaria, I knew it was likely to be fairly eccentric, and I wasn't disappointed. For a castle, it was very small (only two levels, and about 4 main rooms on each floor), but it didn't lose anything in grandness. Each room is ornately decorated, and each decoration reflecting something of the eccentric personality of Ludwig, from the peacocks to the mirrors.

After visiting the castle itself, we wandered through the grounds, covered entirely with thick layers of snow in December, but a complete winter wonderland. It was cold though...

Everything was covered with bits of snow and ice, from the horses carting tourists around, to the steps and gardens of Linderhof.

The interior and exterior of Linderhof, Mad King Ludwig's castle

Sunset beginning to hit the mountains