4.4.08

Catching up, sort of...

So it's been ages since anything has gone in here... I'm not sure how much I'll actually write about any particular subject until I've actually started to type. Let's see where this all goes.

Family Visit:

My cousin Dave and his family were in London for a week and I had the chance to visit with them for a couple days. On Wednesday last week I met them at a pub near Waterloo station, not far from the flat they were renting, and after some walking across the river we wound up at a pub near Embankment station to have a few drinks and chat and catch up. It was a great time and it'd been a couple years since I had the chance to talk with them. After a while we saw Denise (Dave's wife) back to the flat and Dave and I went to a different nearby pub for a nightcap and more yapping.

The day after I had a full schedule (more on that later) so I didn't see them then but did meet up with them (along with the young 'uns, Rachel and her friend Sarah) Friday morning at the John Sloane (an architect/artist) museum which was quite the sight to see. We wandered around the Holborn area in the rain and meandered to a nearby church Denise had wanted to see. Lunch was had, much walking and sightseeing was done including a visit to the Spitalfields market (where I'd not been before) before we hopped a taxi back near Waterloo and had a wonderful dinner at their flat. Things ended earlier that night as they all had theatre tickets and had to get to the show. We parted company and I headed back.

Overall it was a great visit and it was nice to see them but also slightly surreal to have seen them in London as opposed to the norm of Edmonton or Calgary (where they live).

Thursday:

Thursday last week saw my visit to the Earl's Court exhibition centre where I met up with a friend to go see the Doctor Who exhibition there. We spent a good 2 1/2 or so hours there taking in the exhibits and probably looked a bit silly photographing nearly every square inch of the stuff on display but had fun nonetheless.

After a quick bite of lunch we grabbed the train to Waterloo to meet up with another friend to go see a recording of The Friday Night Project, a chat show of sorts, featuring David Tennant as the guest. Much queueing was done but eventually we got in and took our seats. As things turned out we got front row seats (albeit well off to the side) so the view was pretty decent save the occasional blockage by a camera or other equipment.

As is the tradition on that show, there's a segment where a quiz is held to see which of the two hosts knows more about the guest with each host playing for a side of the audience and the winning side having someone run up the aisle wearing a coat of £5 notes. Our side of the audience "won" during that bit and as the person with the coat of cash never gets far up the aisle before being mobbed it was quite fortunate that not only were we in the front row but also quite near the aisle. While the chap in the coat did indeed get mobbed, and my reaction time was not what it could have been, I scrambled around and did wind up with £15 out of it all. With 3 of us there I shared the money evenly, although a moment later, Alan Carr (one of the hosts and a fairly well-known comedian) came up to me and handed me an errant £5 note lying about so I wound up with £10 for myself in the end which was enough to cover after-taping drinks at the pub with some change left over.

Another fun day.

Edinburgh:

The week prior I spent a few days in Edinburgh. I left early on the Tuesday morning and returned late on the Thursday night and spent about 2 1/2 days there total considering the train ride was about 4 1/2 hours each way. I was quite amazed at how nice the city looked and (at least in the areas I went) how uniform it all looked. Often with European cities you'll get a wide range of architectural looks and styles but the uniformity in (parts of) Edinburgh was actually refreshing. I spent most of my time in what they call the Old Town but did notice the usual variances in styles when I went around other areas (such as the New Town).

Many museums were visited but the best attraction was Edinburgh Castle, which (quite rightly so) is the top tourist attraction in Scotland. Much more of it remained relative to Dublin Castle and looked like a proper fortress where you could easily imagine sieges being fended off and invading hordes trying to get through the gates whereas Dublin Castle, at least what survives of it, has been mostly absorbed into the surroundings.

One question a friend of mine asked upon my return was "Dublin or Edinburgh?" and I easily and quickly answered Edinburgh. I'm not sure I'd go back there since I've seen most of the sights I wanted to see, but I'd certainly be more inclined to go back there than Dublin. Mind you I found the people easier to understand in Dublin... Scottish people in Scotland talking with other Scots get into this really heavy accent which surprisingly sounds nothing like English at first. It could be a regional/dialectical thing too but in just overheard things people said to each other on the streets I found myself often straining to comprehend vast tracts of what they said. I had no such issue in Dublin.

Still, a very enjoyable trip.

Paris:

I left for Paris this past Saturday afternoon and returned this past Wednesday night, spending about 4 1/2 days there. I was very tentative about going mostly because I wasn't sure if I trusted my French well enough to manage there on my own. I was reassured by many people that the city is cosmopolitan enough that you can get by with just English, but I did try my hand at conversing in French to varying degrees of success. As with any foreign language I found it most difficult with the spoken word and/or the rate of speech as I'm fine with the vocabulary and written word. Nonetheless I tried though more often than not when someone French detected my accent they'd just start speaking in English (so long as they knew enough English, and that wasn't always the case).

The sights were very cool to see, especially the notables like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe (both of the Arcs de Triomphe, actually... yes, there's more than one as I learned). The city is so very, very flat and there are very few skyscrapers outside the downtown and financial districts that you can see a lot from almost anywhere. The view from atop the Eiffel Tower was impressive though it was pissing rain that morning and all the cloud made it hard to distinguish a few things. It was actually cloudy more than not during my time there so I did eventually adjust to a degree. Nevertheless, as nice as the view from atop the Eiffel Tower was, the absolute best view was from atop Montmartre by Sacré-Coeur church. You could see almost everything from up there (except that which was blocked by the church itself of course!) and despite it being 290 (yup, I counted as I went up) steps from the base to the top the minor climb is well worth it.

Sacré-Coeur itself is pretty inside and out but not as much so as Notre Dame cathedral. No photography was allowed inside Sacré-Coeur but I got a load of pics inside Notre Dame. The lighting was a bit iffy and some of them doubtlessly didn't turn out so well but so far I've not had the opportunity to transfer the pictures from the camera to the computer thanks to low hard drive space. I will endeavour to get things up as soon as I can since I'm fairly anxious to share some of the sights with those who've never been there to see them.

Ultimately the city is utterly easy to navigate (despite the weird divisions) thanks to the metro system. The RER has a slight learning curve to it but the main metro system itself is dead easy to use, though probably no moreso than the London Underground (or from what I understand but have never tried first-hand, the New York Subway). I worry about being able to find my way around a new city (or more importantly I worry about being able to find my way *back* in a new city) but those concerns were quickly vanquished in Paris. Moreover, the metro system is cheap as dirt there. While a peak hours trip on the Tube here in London can cost you as much as £4 one way, a book of tickets for the Paris metro (also valid on the bus, trams and Zone 1 for the RER) is €11.10, or €1.11 per trip, or about 85 pence at current exchange rates. As an added bonus, unlike with Tube trains, I was actually able to stand upright in all Paris metro trains so I didn't even object when I had to stand for lengthy trips (such as the one from Reuilly Didérot to La Défense on line 1, which was 18 stops). I can't say the same for the London Underground trains or the LRT back home, that's for certain.

As noted, pictures from Paris will be up ASAP.

Doctor Who Season Premiere Party:

After my return from the taping of The Friday Night Project, I found in the post that tickets had come for the season 4 premiere party for Doctor Who to be held this Saturday (tomorrow), hosted by Jeremy Bentham, a notable name in fandom circles (and a really nice guy, too), so I'll be off to that this weekend to enjoy some good ol' geeking out with fellow nerds. Tickets were (partially) distributed via a lottery system where you submitted a request and a certain number of tickets were made available with names being drawn from a hat or something similar. I didn't expect to get tickets given the event is fairly well-publicized but not only did I score a pair of tickets, a friend of mine in Yorkshire did as well so I'll get to see her there too. Bentham was at the monthy DW pub night at The Fitzroy Tavern last night handing out more tickets to those with whom he'd arranged to meet there though by the end of the night I forgot to ask him if he had any spares (though he did tell me earlier in the night he'd be giving away any of the tickets not yet distributed by the end of the night as it's too late to put them in the post) otherwise I might have been able to invite some others along as well as I'm sure there are a few people I know here who'd like to go but don't have tickets.


Anyway I think that's pretty much got me caught up now. I could have expanded on some things I'm sure but people know how to reach me if they want anything more in depth about a given subject. =)

Until next time...

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home