Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Runners View of London

One day i took my camera out for a run around London. Who says its always cloudy and dreary in London?! Don't be fooled by the blue sky, it was pretty cold on this particular day. WARNING: This post may appear ridiculously tame after previous posts.

Hyde Park is one of my favourite places to run in London, no big surprises there. It is usually a hive of activity, except for on Christmas day when i think i was the only one up for a run!

Some days the fog is so bad that all you see here is a path disappearing into the mist. Its kind of cool.
London central city has a network of parks in close proximity, they are full of crazy little squirrels that zip around at your feet. I accidentaly came across Buckingham Palace on one of my runs through St James Park, which is right next to Hyde Park. The parks have lots of large ponds in them, which are quite picturesque, especially on a calm day.

Eventually you arrive at Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. This photo is the Abbey in the foreground, and Big Ben in the background.

Then you reach the Thames, which has paths running along parts of it. You can run down to the Tower Bridge, which is quite something.

London may not have hills, but a run around the city certainly doesn't disappoint!

Tales of an exhausted traveller in Slovenia

After 3 days in Budapest I jumped on a train to Slovenia. By this stage i was quite tired, and was craving some familiar faces! There was only one way to finish off a trip like this.
Slovenia has wicked mountains, and amazing scenery. The mountains are not as big as in the french alps, or even the southern alps in NZ, but the place is so picturesque. Its ridiculous. Sometimes you just have to stop and reflect on it. In this regard it rivals anything i've seen. The quaintness and tranquility is quite something. The place could have been designed by Kodak, everything calls for a photo. I was like a japanese tourist, which is not normally my style.

I'm talking beautiful churches placed on small islands in the middle of a mirror smooth lake with snowy capped mountains as the backdrop (pictured). Rustic colour trees all around, leaves falling on your head as you run through the forest (its was autumn). This is slovenia.

The capital city, called ljubljana, is small and hilly, absolutely magic place. I got rather intoxicated one night, stupidly. I blame the frech guy I was watching the World Cup semi final with. It was the first time in a long time actually. Some local girls found me in a disorientated state (many of you can probably imagine), alone, trying to find my way to my hostel using my map and compass. They took me under their wing for a couple of hours. The last thing i can remember was sitting in a bar with them. God knows why they took me to a bar. I'm just glad they weren't dodgy, i still had my 300 euros when i woke up in the morning.

I travelled with a couple of cool kiwi dudes for a while, they were classic West Aucklanders. We hired a car and cruised around the mountains for a few days. It was nice to have some dudes to mourn with. check out my shadow in this photo!

Slovenia was dead. Nobody around. Empty hotels and shops shut for the Autumn. It was hard to find coke but easy to find beer (the opposite of most other places i had been to recently). It seems that it booms in the winter and summer, as is quiet in between. I went running lots, and dragged my kiwi mates on short hikes etc. Soaked in the fabulous vibes in Lubljiana. I would recommend it to anyone.

Check out the clouds below us in this photo, the forest is so amazing in the Autumn time.

First taste of Eastern Europe - Budapest

After the abismal world cup quarter final i jumped on a flight to Hungary. The purpose of my mission was to watch one of my favourite bands (called Muse) play. I owed it to them, since they helped me get through Pakistan.

I arrived in Budapest at at 1am (budget flights are always delayed, this was no exception). Its becoming clear to me why these 'budget airlines' are cheap, its because they suck, and they arrive at times where you have to catch taxis because public transport is no longer operating, therefore you really don't save much money at all.

Buses had finished... Only overpriced taxis, whom were overtly involved in price fixing (agreeing between each other on price). this is illegal in nz, i had to make a decision based on principle, and told them with my body language where to go with their monopolist behaviour.

So i got out my mattress and sleeping bag and set up my 'bed' on the floor at the airport until the buses started at 5am. It was comfy and quiet, so i feel asleep pretty quick. While i was sleeping, this asshole tried to rob me, but i had locked my bag to my guitar right next to my head. Its hard to steal a bag that is attached to a guitar, it acts as an alarm, its so loud. He was spotted, in the act, by a bunch of cool israelis that i had met earlier, whom were also 'sleeping' at the airport. He was escorted away by the Police not long afterwards.

I then experienced the Hungarian public transport at 5am. THis was a rather depressing, but enlightening experience. I quietly observed people going about their lives, with glum looks on their faces. I felt like i was an extra in a black and white movie based in the former soviet union.

Muse was an amazing concert, totally worth the effort. Budapest was ok too. It had many nice buildings, but overall it wasn't really my cup of tea. Didn't quite have the same impact as some of the other former soviet cities i have visited. However, i must admit i wasn't really in the mood for visiting cities at this stage, and it wasn't the best place to travel alone. These factors may have tainted my experience somewhat.