Monday, March 21, 2011

Cambridge Capers

Monday, 21 February, 2011
Cambridge, UK

After arriving back in London from The Netherlands on that dreaded overnight bus, I met the venerable Rish in St. Pancras, (from whence we had to walk to Kings' Cross anyway) to hop on the train to Cambridge. Home of the university, it's about an hour north-eastish of London, and mainly home to a billion uni students. The YHA was full, so unfortunately had to check into the most overpriced, crappy budget hotel ever - don't stay at the one right near the station...

But with bags dropped off (and depressingly before I managed to get in a shower) Rish and I wandered off to find Cambridge Uni. And, more especially, the Engineering, Physics, and Maths buildings so we could get embarrassingly excited in front of them.

As it turned out, the Physics and Maths buildings are waaaaaay on the other side of town, but Guess What we found just down the road?!

The Department of Engineering and a weird sculpture. We literally dodged traffic to get this shot right

There was an old phone box right on the corner, too. You'd think I ought to know by now that they all smell of hobo piss.

Our method of discovery was along the lines of 'Have we walked down this alleyway yet?', but it seemed to work well.

I surprised Rish inside (what I think is) King's College, and he responded by looking bewildered.

As we found our way down to The Backs, we got more and more lost, and spent a heap of the time backtracking. But it was cool, we found a bunch of interesting stuff... Lots of gates saying 'Do Not Enter' and random, colourful sprigs of snowdrops.

Also the River Cam snakes through the Backs down behind the colleges

Clare College also hides down there - old home of Sir David Attenborough

Out the front of Clare College is a huge DNA sculpture-thingy by Charles Jencks (2005)

We were bold enough and stupid enough to masquerade as someone's parents and attempt to attend Parents Day.. Turns out it had been the day before.

I'm not exactly sure why Confucius is hiding in Cambridge Uni

Punting on the Cam

After a few more wrong turns down strange alleyways, we found Trinity College - the old stamping ground of Isaac Newton, Lord Byron, Niels Bohr, Francis Bacon, James Clerk Maxwell, and (no kidding!) thirty-two Nobel prize winners

This is the only fountain in all of Cambridge, apparently. There is a legend that says Lord Byron once jumped in it stark-bullock naked

Shhh... Don't tell anyone, but we went PAST the sign that says you can't go past here. I guess we're pretty convincing students?

Trinity College Chapel is quite pretty...

...and it's got a statue of Sir Isaac Newton himself! We were just pondering some science-y stuff when we were rudely interrupted by opportunistic paparazzi

Staircase E is where Newton actually lived! We were definitely not supposed to be in here

After this, we found some old-fashioned markets and I bought a really underwhelming cheese and onion roll. You'd think they would've at least, like, cooked it? After a bit more wandering, we accidentally found the Cambridge University Publishing bookstore.
Two hours, four New Scientists, some fractals and a few crackpot mathematicians later, we realised we probably ought to stop reading.

We shopped around for a bit and bought matching Cambridge hoodies - to be honest, that's probably the only legit reason we were there. Eventually we meandered back to the craptastic hotel where we found this:

Although I s'pose it's not the real one.

At least the TV worked so we watched a scifi film I wish I remembered the name of, ate Nederlands brioche and drank Panadol flavoured lemsip. Wandered down to the pub for cider and some seriously inappropriate conversation, and made Rish miss his train, oops. He made it back to London before midnight though, thus ending an awesome day in an awesome town.

Next time: Bury St Edmunds and the second smallest pub in the world!


Monday, February 21, 2011


So I began my brief European tour from Brussels, Belgium. The following are a selection of pretty pictures I took!
It is really hard to get all of Grand Place (that's gron plass) in the one photo. This is one-quarter of it
This is a tower - my new Brazilian friend Cintia and I spent way too much time trying to get all of it in the one shot
Eventually I had the bright idea of sorta crossing the street and going round the corner a bit, and it was a lot easier!
We found the Tintin shop! I bought a new badge to include in the collection
The Mannekin Pis... it's kinda small.
I found a record store! With Bob Dylan stenciled on!
And then me and John Lennon hung out for a bit. We're so tight.
In true fashion, I wandered down a back alleyway.. and found a Secret Garden
This is King Albert on a horse. He lives in the centre of a large roundabout which makes it really easy for pedestrians to get run over, and in front of a hotel which used to be a church. Not terribly ostentatious, really.
[Edit: Wait! this is a total lie. I can't remember which King-on-a-Horse this is. And he lives near SQUARE]
A cute little statue in SQUARE... whatever that is.
This is the Park of Brussels, across from the Palais Royale. If you look closely, they've worked it so the branches of the trees are all intertwined.. I think it would be pretty impressive in full bloom
And the Palais Royale itself.
Then I wandered down another alleyway... Only to find a rainbow!
The inside of your garden variety shopping centre. Fairly impressive.
Camilla Parker-Bowles - THE MUSICAL!
My goodness, you must remind me to come back to see THAT :S
The Atomium - a feat of 1950s engineering, the most recognisable feature of Brussels.
The question it inspires is - WHY?
Personally I think it's utterly self-indulgent
..But it is rather symmetrical, which I like. Cintia and I got some Irish tourists to take a pic!
Then we wandered over to the Belgian Comic Book Musuem, where I made friends with some cartoon characters.
Tintin is my favourite, though
Apparently French-speakers have Charlie! What I want to know is, Where's Wally?!
Marsupilami: a cartoon I had forgotten about!
And I had no idea he was Belgian
I wish I had taken a Smurf home with me...

And, after all this sightseeing was done, there was much drinking to be had. I met a Frenchman, and so Cintia, Thomas and I wandered down to the city to find some food. We ended up finding the Jeanneke Pis, which is, basically, Mannekin Pis' sister... I didn't take any photos, so you'll have to use your imagination. We wandered into Delirium Bar, which has.. oooo I don't know, 2000 or so Belgian beers in house.. Only 25 of them are on tap, but! Pretty impressive. We met some a Mexican two Americans, and some crazy Spaniards.

To finish my somewhat disconnected story, I will give you some advice.
Getting back to hostels at 5am, full of wonderful Belgian beer is ONLY a good idea if you are not checking out the next day...

And I also must add that I had so much fun in Amsterdam that I took precisely ZERO PHOTOS.. More fool me I guess.
So the next lot will be from lovely Cambridge, whence I am composing this.
Seriously, I invaded Isaac Newton's old college dorm.

With love,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

En Route

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2:50pm, GMT+0


With any luck, the more astute of you noticed an interesting discrepancy in the last post. Namely, the marker. Anyone? If you haven't picked it, the last post was written in France. Yes, my dear enthusiasts, I was not kidding when I said I was on the road again! It has been a week-and-a-half since I touched down in Glasgow International Airport, and already I am on my third European country. I will not elaborate on the details of the last week, on account of there being a limited photo record (I know, I know :(

But suffice to say there was the long-awaited reunion with a dearly missed friend in England, some fond farewells, a wonderful week with the family in Scotland, the frequenting of some well-known and new-found bars and clubs, plenty of Murder, She Wrote, and way too many unhealthy substances consumed. All in all, a successful week-and-a-bit. Here is the bit where I swear to you that I am returning Glasgow soon-ish and can promise a good helping of visual media then.

But where am I now? Well you must know by now I'm on a bus! Good. In fact I'm fairly out of Calais by now, travelling north-ish. I've been on buses or in bus stations for the last 18 hours or thereabouts, and am therefore probably mad. I left Glasgow (with it's hint of snow) at 10:00pm last night, arriving at London Victoria much too early this morning to really comprehend the new bus driver's explanation that the trains were stuck somewhere and we were therefore catching the ferry to the continent.

Now, this was definitely news to me! I was rather under the impression that a coach, being the landlubbing vehicle it is, would be driving to the continent. Luckily not, for this morning I saw the White Cliffs of Dover (capitals necessary) rise out of the hills as we rounded the bend to the Port. But the biggest surprise was yet to come! Okay, so maybe noone else is surprised by this. But it turns out that when you drive onto a ferry on a coach, they let you on deck. This is cool, because on P&O's The Pride of Calais they've got about a billion bars, duty-free shopping, some restaurants, a food court, and a bunch of secret doors you can find (if you look hard enough) that take you out into the fresh air.

I bet you can guess what song I had in my head the whole time. Hint: T-Pain.

And I swear to god this is true, you really can see France from England.

(You knew that? Well done. I thought it was a metaphor for something.)

So I got some fresh air, took some photos, giggled to myself a bit, decided it was too cold, went inside, and had a pint. Perfection.

Yes, those are the White Cliffs of Dover...

Everybody look at me cos I'm standing on a boat!

Now I leave you as I continue on this hellish bus ride (Okay, fine, it's really not that bad, and it's cheap. And the next stop is Lille.) because by tonight I'll be in Brussels, Belgium! And I get to spend more than an hour there this time! I am super excited. I have been practicing my French:

"Bonjour monsieur. Pardon, je suis en Australie. Parlez vous Anglais? S'il vouz plait?

*Mutters* Oh god please please speak English oh god oh god."

Also I am hoping I have not remembered incorrectly and Brussels is mostly Flemish-speaking, cos then I'm fucked.

With love,


The Traveller Returns!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2:30pm, GMT+0


My honoured followers! It has been some time. You have perhaps been wondering what became of me? Well, it's a long story. Needless to say, the delay in my travels was unexpected and unfortunate. But, (finally!) I am on the road again, and promise to deliver even more indulgent tales, photographs, and oddly over-punctuated; sentences.

Where we left off, your intrepid traveller (read: vagrant) was on her way to Dunedin for a conference of the academic type. The conference was brilliant, Dunedin is fucking cool, and it should definitely be noted that couchsurfing in a broken-down caravan is the best way to do it. Alas, there is a very limited photographic record of that particular week. Probably due to a) the fun I was having, and b) the fact that squinting at countless photos of badly-resolved powerpoint slides on Quantum Photonics is boring by definition.

However! There was a day trip to discover the home of New Zealand's burgeoning steampunk scene, some really really really good cheese, a castle (actually, it's the castle), a fancy dinner, intelligent company, many drinks, a bar-that-used-to-be-a-church, the quirk of evolution that created Dunedin noise, rooms whose power points were great at hide-and-seek, the longest bus ride ever to see the most disappointing lake ever, and seconds for dinner every night.

So, obviously, it was the best week ever.

But could it be topped?!

Tune in to the next episode - same bat-time, same bat-channel.

With love, the Curious Traveller.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Walking Tour

Today I had the intention of doing something a bit more New Zealandy, so to speak. So, I looked at a map, found a walking track near a bus route with dot labelled "Cave", and set off.

Getting there was quite an adventure - someone got airlifted to Ch.Ch. Hospital, and I was there to witness the whole thing.

I wandered around the Avon for a bit...
And was interested by some of the strange things the earthquake didn't get.
(That thing rotates)
Eventually, I made it almost to Sumner, where the track started.
And before I could forget what country I was in...
There was a lot of interesting flora...

And it turns out NZ has the biggest, most scariest bees you've ever seen.
It wasn't too hard of a walk
But the stairs were pretty steep.
Eventually I made it!
And the view was well worth it
I was so exhausted, I did what any self-respecting tourist does, and sampled the local beer - this was a Nor'wester Strong Pale Ale, but I don't know how Pale that looks to me. It was delicious, though.
Stay cool kids, we'll talk soon