Archive for November, 2014

Europe 2016 – Putin together a Plan

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Travel

Its been almost a month since we returned from Europe 2014 so must be time to look at the next big one. Common sense says that should be a couple of years away but then I have never been accused of being over endowed, at least in the area of common sense. Enter the voice of reason AKA CLP. As someone who still works and has no plans on retiring anytime soon there are factors other than simple finances to consider. And I do have a solo trip to USA early next year to fill in the gaps. So CLP suggest as a MOL I should start coming up with a few plans. Now given my abhorrence of acronymns this confused me a bit until explained it stood for “Man of Leisure”. So I replied “you could be LOL?” She replied “more like ROFL” . When I suggested “Really Old Fat Lady ?” she said “No ya clown those acronymns are already taken!” Younguns eh. So after a couple of Bex and a lie down it was time to get serious.

I suggested a couple of weeks at Brighton taking in the cloud on a nice deck chair; CLP suggested we climb Mt Everest. Clearly some common ground was required. Given that we are still moderately mobile and capable it seemed sensible to be a bit more adventurous while we still can. We like to combine some well known places like Paris and a few new countries each trip. Greece looms as a definite possibility both with Athens and Islands on the agenda. Athens is a tad isolated from other European countries by train but planes are always a possibility. Then comes Budapest which has always appealed much like Prague. What other countries could fit within the parameters of “slightly adventurous zimmer frame friendly”

Russia of course. Once again not the easiest place to get to by train – one famous one not withstanding. Moscow and St Petersberg appeal. CLP discovered you could get an overnight ferry from Helsinki to St Petersberg. Suddenly a 4th new country was added and things were starting to take shape. And it is easier to get to Helsinki from Budapest then into Russia. Now the plan will likely change a lot over the next 6 months but that is part of the fun isnt it.

Brisvegas – Dubai – Athens – Island – Budapest – Helsinki – St Petersberg – Moscow – Dubai – Brisvegas.

In the meantime, all together now

The Hughes Blues

Posted: November 29, 2014 in Sport

Tragic, plain and simple. By all accounts, and irrespective of any sporting talent, he was a genuine nice guy who showed some of the prima donnas in sport how to handle the ebbs and flows of professional sport with grace and dignity. One is reminded of the old adage about a parent should never have to bury a child. One can only imagine the pain and suffering of the family. In reality though why is so much coverage devoted to this one event in a world where tragedy occurs every day? If easily offended maybe stop reading now although really should you be following this blog anyway??

I noted in other media commitments that while the 2014 version of news reporting allowed me to keep up to date with any new developments, once the tragedy was confirmed it would have been great to get in the old time machine and whisk back to 1970. There the news would have been relayed on the 3 pm Radio news and we would have had time to digest it before some more information would have been supplied in a dignified and short news story by Mike Higgins on the 6pm bulletin. Once. Fast forward back to 2014 and the golf is rightly interrupted to bring the sad news to the nation. Then the nonsense starts and we have a Kochie eulogy rolling out within 5 minutes. Fuck me slowly. For the next hours we see a “news” station bringing us every minute detail, every celebrity sighting at hospital, every moronic tweet from non sporting clowns including Clive Palmer!! Of course you can turn off the TV as I did but it still burns me that is how media behaves these days – and of course three days later shows no signs of abating. Channel 9 is televising the funeral – Why?? To catch a glimpse of Warnie and see if he has a new squeeze, or better still a new rug?

The Gabba test has been postponed and it was always going to be a tough call. With the funeral in Sydney on Wednesday it is a bit much to expect players to attend as they would certainly want to and then get to Gabba and prepare for test next day. Not sure what the answer is but believe they need to get back to playing as soon as possible. No one expects Mitch to steam in at 150k in that first over and let fly but eventually he will – because he has to. That is cricket and it is a professional sport generating a shitload of money. Remember the Alex McKinnon tragedy. Ok he did not die, but still catastrophic. Who could imagine footballers tearing in again in tackles after that? But they did. Within 6 weeks we had head high tackles, lifing, spearing……. its human nature .

Time for a reality check. Phillip was a talented good cricketer and a fringe test player which makes him in the top 30 cricketers in Australia say. Maybe top 100 in world? He was never going to be a great of the game but likely would have played more tests. His technique ensured he would unlikely ever be a permanent test fixture. One thinks of the first time diving judge at the Olympics who gives a 10 to the first dive he sees. Where does he go from there? So as tragic as this event this, especially for the family and friends, what would the coverage be if it had been Michael Clarke for example – or Sachin Tendulkar? We already had the message from the Queen. Maybe the Pope and then its only old Whiskers himself. Another old adage is a “picture paints a thousand words” and there have been some wonderful and respectful images in recent days including the leave the bat out or stopping sporting events at 63 minutes. There has also been the ugly side of human nature with the “Phil Hughes Memorabilia” framed images on sale at Ebay the next day ala WWOS tat.

There is tragedy everywhere if you look for it and often it can come down to simple bad luck as with Hughes. The storms that ripped through Brisbane could easily have claimed a life – maybe a child caught under a crashing tree. Luckily it did not. On a side note – why does the media have to dumb everything down? Apparently there was 97 tonnes of rubbish to be cleared away after the storm. Gee I cant fathom how much that is – cue gifted reporter ” in other words the equivalent of 24 elephants” WTF?? I looked at CLP all confused. She simply replied “imagine 106 Giraffes dear” Ah ok thanks, that makes sense.

When this event first occurred and we saw the images of him falling flat to the ground we were shocked and concerned. The distress on fellow players only intensified our concern. Most people suspected the worse I imagine and this was confirmed 48 hrs later. All the right things were said, including concern for the bowler. But then the media machine kicked into hyper drive looking for that unique angle or simply to quench what they consider the undeniable thirst for news that the great unwashed have. I am more in the Joe Friday mold folks – “all we want are the facts”. Instead we get caught up in the media dragnet.

Eventually there will a semblance of return to normal for the sports mad Aussie populace. Cricket will go on as did Rugby League.

But there can never be a return to normal for the Hughes family ever again. No amount of well intentioned “reporting” can ever change that. Lets leave them in peace

Europe 2014 – The Flashies

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Travel

No not inappropriate selfies – that is another blog with a paid subscription. As threatened previously these are awards in various categories for our recent trip to Europe. Like their namesake they are a complex enigma that may not always make sense. In the category of transport for example then BC in Emirates is without peer but Blind Freddy would know that. It also comes with a whopping price tag so looking more for that enjoyment factor or bang for buck or simple whimsy. Figure it out yourself. We were very fortunate to stay with friends in both Spain and Italy and these are excluded from the awards because they were easily the best accommodation/food packages but are not available to your average punter (Note clever Cup Tie In). The more advanced amongst you would recognise that a Flushie when given is the exact opposite and indicates a far from ideal experience even allowing for fact you may indeed be surrounded by a bunch of foreigners as well

Accomodation We used a mix of VRBO apartments and hotels organised by Railbookers. Apartments are great for stays beyond 2-3 days and also offer the benefit of laundary facilities. All accommodation was good really but lets not sit on a fence here.

Flashie – Hotel Internazionale Bologna. An unexpected oasis in the middle of downtime great unwashed Bologna. Walking distance to station, spacious, good bar, good breakfast
Flushie – Our “Hamlet” at Millau. Real mixed bag with the best view of any accommodation we had but simply poor service from owner, no wireless, had to drive to anything

Transport All plane travel was fine and as some was BC you would expect that. German Wings check in was a bit dodgy but the small planes were fine for the money. Being held up by late passengers at Dubai was a pain so just shoot the bastards. Train travel is like the little girl – when it is good it is very good, when it is bad it is horrid. If I ever say I am doing a self drive through Europe ever again just shoot me – do us both a favour

Flashie – Freciarossa train from Chambery to Milan. All ran on time, at seat service (first class), comfortable ride
Flushie- TGV high Speed Barcelona to NFI. We escaped relatively easily only having one major disruption to Perpignan. Suckers going on to Paris were in for a world of hurt with zero information or explanation really. Very shoddy treatment of tourists and shows worse side of French Arrogance
HM – The Bitch of Berlin really deserves her own category methinks but for now lets just not forget her
HM2 – The Paris Airport Shuttle organised through Viator was hopeless. Late, non communicative, and drove to unscheduled stops. Avoid at all costs

Food There were some standout feasts on this trip from the Jules Verne experience (for a price) to the amazing Gibas Seafood Restaurant adjacent to the Adriatic but am going to plug for a late comer – the revolving Al Dawaar lunch buffet (with endless wine!) in the Hyatt Regency Dubai. It was simply the best spread of its type I can recall and when you throw in all the wine you can drink for $90 each then it is also surprisingly good value

Flashie – Al Dawaar (yes suspense may have been lost on this announcement)
Flushie – none really. If you order the wrong food clip yaself around the ear

Alcohol Yes Please. Oh sorry, thought you were taking orders. It was all good of course and in Europe you do get generous portions of wine. The beer could be colder in most places but again good size. Coldest beer was probably in Dubai at the end

Flashie – all alcohol is good
Flushie – see above

Hot Drinks Sadly this category includes the beer served on ICE trains (ironic eh?) and in Centre Del Mon in Perpignan. We invariably found at least one good coffee in each town – and plenty of bad ones. Paris was a struggle as always. Italy was helped by local knowledge – its all in how you order. Barcelona was odd – a Cortado in morning at place was great, same order same place next day was crap. There was a very clear winner and loser though

Flashie – Coffee to Go in Aix-En-Provence
Flushie – and I think it had been. Some shit hole near the river in Millau. It gave Swill a bad name. Simply undrinkable and I did try trust me

Tours. The bane of any holiday for me but none were horrid enough to get a Flushie although the bus trip to Dresden threatened early on. The tour of The Catacombs was poorly organised too for a “skip the line” deal. There was a clear winner though as we always find on holidays – if you want to get a great overview of a city do a Segway

Flashie – Berlin City Segway Tours

Museums/Cathedrals/Dead People Usually my absolute favourite part of any city and there were so many contenders zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, oops sorry dozed off while thinking about them

Flashie – La Sagrada Familia. Outside facade largely blocked by scaffolding but interior simply stunning
Flushie – Take your Pick especially if they charged me to get in
HM – Rodin Museum. Simple but effective and relaxing in great surroundings

Surprise Packet Montserrat . Had no idea we would go there but our friends in Spain detoured on way to Barcelona. Simply amazing place and vista