Sunday, September 30, 2007

Grand Final

First some scene setting: 5.50am. Darkness. A cold and drizzly morning. Puzzle Pub, Hammersmith, London:

Yes, we were glued to the screen. And there were lots of us, who'd paid 9 squid each for a Tooheys New, soggy chips and a pie (chicken!).

And then there was me, decidedly flu-ey and grumpy:

Perhaps not the greatest of ideas considering I'd been sick all week with the world's most persistent cold. Ah well.

For a much better update of what I've been up to lately, see here. It will probably explain how I got the cold. Cursed partying and its detrimental effect on the immune system!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Too much of too many good things

Last weekend Brenton and I visited Amsterdam to get our hit of.... culture (just kidding mum and dad!)

Well, I do wish that I could live in a city with canals. When I eventually tread my way back to Adelaide, I may suggest to the Council that some get built in the city centre since they add so much to the atmosphere of a place. How could you not enjoy having a view like this everyday?

One highlight was Anne Frank's house on Prinsengracht. I remember, like I'm sure everyone else does, reading that book at school and it having a profound effect on my 13 year old self. It has been years since then but it was still quite poignant to see the swinging bookcase and the hidden door, and wander around the tiny rooms of the Secret Annex. I was also thrilled to see the famous diary itself... until I found out it was only a facsimile due to 'humidity' issues.

(This is Anne Frank's house with Brenton out the front, trying to be funny)

We also saw Rembrandt's house, which was furnished as it was when he lived there, including the hilarious beds when everyone used to sleep upright because they thought they could be killed by a blot clot to the head if they lay down! And the Van Gogh museum was also amazing - we saw the famous Sunflowers and Irises, and his much gloomier earlier stuff. What a difference an artistic pilgrimage to Paris can make. From this:

To this:

Colour! Brenton had to drag me out of the place when I had finally exhausted looking at his early sketches (as mtk and Bonnie can testify, when I go to an exhibition, I see it all, even if it takes hours).

What strange people the Dutch are. They are extremely efficient - I was very impressed that you could buy your train ticket while you were waiting for you baggage to come onto the carousel. They also have quite an exhibitionist streak, houses were always on the street and curtains were always open. You could literally look into someones living room as you walked past, which was fascinating and unnerving, especially if someone inside looked back at you! I loved all the narrow, wonky little houses though:

And yes, we had a look at the red light district one night. Had to have a look, and it seemed there the Dutch exhibitionism manifested itself (though actually very few of the prostitutes were Dutch). I couldn't believe how unashamed everyone was. Not the tourists like us who had come for the novelty value, who were probably the majority of the people there. But the people participating in it and especially the men who would stand at the girls' windows negotiating their price and then walking back into a street full of people when they had finished, as nonchalant as if they were just leaving the hairdressers. Weird.

We stayed in a lovely little houseboat just near the central station, which was a lot of fun and had a lot of character. Unfortunately the two gentlemen we were sharing with were quite anti-social and spent most of their time there trying to fill the houseboat with as much smoke as possible. They were from the Isle of Mann, and I took it that they didn't get out much.

Incidentally, we both got a thrill when we were watching CNN on our houseboat TV and saw the Chaser prank at APEC. The reporting was hilarious: "According to a survey conducted by a national newspaper, most Australians thought the prank was 'very funny'". That cracked me up.

And lastly, a special mention must go to Febo/Smullers, the good people who have managed to take that last tiny bit of human interaction out of buying a hamburger. What a stroke of genius this contraption is, especially after a drink or two, which helps you forget the fact that you have no idea how long the burger has been sitting in the little metal dispenser...

So back to reality (i.e the finer points of food law) for now but I am packing in two more trips before Christmas; Rome in October and Barcelona in November with my compadre Emmalene. And we are also moving into a lurvely new flat, but that's another post...