Monday, July 28, 2008

Winter Wonderland

As expected (well at least as I expected) 2008 is shaping up to be a bomber season in the Southern Alps. My rather achy body can atest to a solid weekend of winter warrior styles. Take a look.

Saturday - Cheeseman

Maiju bringing some European style to the slopes!

Rach taking it easy.

Not the only ones enjoying a sweet day in the mountains.

Getting in a bit of hiking and some graceful fresh lines before my next challange....
Me getting ready to dominate on skis while Mike and Jo look on skeptically ....
And rightly so!

Well earned cold beers!

Good old Lake Lyndon basking in the last light of the evening

The crew!

Can you spot the climber?

Sunday - Craigieburn Magic

Sunday brought new snow and plenty of excitement. The visibility came and went but the snow was soft and fluffy, and everywhere! Crazy sensations of wide open slopes and no visability, where perceptions of speed where greatly marred by the lack of reference points but the intensly felt if the balance flinched.

Much joy and freedom was had in the abandonment of carving deep lines and sharing in the woops and calls of a crew - come together for one sick run top to bottom. Sorry guys - no proof that any lines where actually carved out but the following atest to a magic of the Craigieburns!

Me and Dyls on one of many hikes
Dyls getting amongst it
Looking down ......
Amping up .....

And being treated to the last light of the day - last people on the hill .....

One last hike of into the sunset.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Halo, Guten Tag!
It’s been quite a while, I will admit, since my last update! I caught the quintessential travellers’ disease – slackness! So a fair bit of trail blazing has been done since New York: spent a bit of time in Berlin which was awesome… bought a rail pass and boarded a train to Munich, Basel, and Aachen… then headed to London to stay with Lace, and had an awesome weekend with her in Edinburgh!


Arriving in Berlin was a bit of a shock at first. As is usual for me, I had left a lot to fate, and possessed little knowledge of how to get from the airport to my hostel, and it took me a while to get on top of the language barrier to suss it all out. Having finally made it into the city, I was content for quite a long time to just walk around and admire the European architecture and public spaces.

I really liked Berlin, it was hard when walking around to really understand all that had happened there in the considerably recent past – it’s only been 18 years since the fall of the Berlin wall. There are lots of really interesting memorials, not just your old marble statue of somebody vaguely significant, but interactive and evocative ones.

(The Jewish Holocaust Memorial)

(The Brandenburg Gate)

(construction all over the city...)

And Berlin is well known for its art scene, so I was very excited to go and see the Berlin Biennial, and several other exhibitions. A lot of art and stuff is buried in the underground scene, and I think I would have benefited from a German friend in the know. But I still got to see some cool stuff, like a massive artist quarters that people were able to wander through, and the graffiti art plastered everywhere, and I happened across a poster for a visiting ‘Free Art School’, a bunch of people from Manchester who organise their own art education, and so I went along to some cool events including a very interesting take on a life drawing class…

(A work in the Biennial)


(free art school)

The amount of people travelling around Europe was also surprising. It was hard to choose somebody to ask for directions in the street, because it seemed nearly everyone was a tourist! And hostelling, of course had its joys and sorrows – some fun people to hang out with, some early morning/late evening awakenings, and I still have vivid memories of the guy spewing on the dorm room floor at 3:15am followed by the loudest snoring you have ever heard.

I found many things to amuse myself, a free bike tour of the city, a converted barge that has been turned into an awesome swimming pool floating on the Spree river, a free music festival, markets, a trashy pub crawl, and constantly stumbled across things in the street, such as a Japanese inspired fashion parade, and an insane pyrotechnic display. It also just so happened that the Euro cup was on while I was there, which basically turned everyday people into patriotic freaks! It was all very amusing anyway, the hype surrounding football over there is pretty phenomenal. I watched Germany dominate in a few games, in public viewing arenas - once in a massive outdoor bar with sand and deckchairs, and once in a old traditional theatre!

(on a pub crawl with friends from the hostel)

(girl busking on a strange instrument outside a market)

(me infront of the Berlin Wall!)

(A random fashion parade)

(artist quarters)

(a crazy pyrotechnic display I walked past)

(Watching the euro cup at a public viewing arena)

(and more football at a theatre)

(a band in the street)

(a floating pool on the Spree river)

(Fete de la Musique- free music festival)

(me having a picnic by myself in the park!)

I decided to see some more of Germany while I was there, so I bought myself a rail pass and headed off on my way….the only hindrance being the Euro Cup, which meant accommodation in a lot of cool places was chocka or uber-expensive, bloody football! My first stop was Munich, and I quickly discovered really the only thing to do there is to drink beer, so I had a fun night out with some Canadian girls from my hostel, complete with beer steins and apple strudel from the Hoffbrauhaus. I also went on a tour of Dachau Concentration Camp, which made for a solemn but informative day.

(on the train)

(The most overrated tourist site ever - a glockenspiel that goes for 15 minutes, with some little men twirling in circles, yawn!)

(a strange busking fruit bowl)

(Beer! mmmmm, this was a beer with a lid after we'd just run through a thunderstorm, and I also tried out the massive one litre steins...whew)

(Dachau concentration camp)

After Munich I headed to Basel, Switzerland on the border of France and Germany, where I eventually arrived after a train changing error, whoops! I was hoping to make it further into Switzerland but the soccer stopped me, and I ended up having a rather uneventful time in the quaint but ultra-expensive city.

My final stop was Aachen, up on the west border of Germany, right next to the Netherlands and Belgium, to visit a German friend I met in Christchurch, Raissa! I had an awesome time hanging out with her and her mates, took the five minute drive to Belgium and went tenpin bowling, drank beer, watched yet more football, saw the Lindt chocolate factory where Raissa works, and had the best hot chocolate of my life!

(Reunited with Raissa!)

(Raissa outside her work... mmmm)

(Tenpin bowling in Belgium)

(Raissa and Steffie set up my bed, complete with a little toy!)

(Steffie, Karmen and I preparing to watch Germany in the Euro Cup)

(Raissa arrives just in time to see the end...)

(And the hysteria when Germany wins!)

After catching the train back to Berlin, there were only a few days left, and all of a sudden I was in London, reunited with Lacey! (My bag and I didn’t reunite until the next day, but I guess you can’t have everything.) As a result of several weeks on a basic diet of falafel and German ice cream, Lacey and Tim’s home-cooked dinner of fajitas and salad was amazing, and it was hugely relaxing to be in the company of family again, with Meg and Stu and Otto in London too. So I had a great time, went to the big museums, saw some amazing art exhibitions, one called Psycho Buildings in which a whole lot of artist had created incredible architectural spaces or environments, and it was just... really awesome. Stumbled upon a lot of the big sights quite unknowingly, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye. Caught up with half of Christchurch’s population (or so it seemed – everybody lives in London these days!)

(A travelling butterfly show at the Natural History Museum, this fulla was massive!)

(Psycho Buildings exhibition - that big dome is kept expanded by air and you can lie in a suspended membrane in it above the ground)

(These artists had created a frozen scene of an explosion in a furniture showroom)

(I was wondering why there were so many people with cameras swarming this large building, when I suddenly realised it was Buckingham Palace)

(Posing as your typical tourist in front of Big Ben)

(Meg and the super-cute Otto on a lovely afternoon out)

Lace also took some time off work so we could go on an exciting wee adventure to Edinburgh. It’s a pretty amazing looking place, with Old Town, and New town not looking much newer, and the Castle sitting up there on the top of the hill looking down on everything. We had brilliant fun exploring all the boutiquey stores selling the cutest and quirkiest handmade tid-bits and art books and designer clothes, in all the pubs and eateries, and the farmer’s market, the little alleyways and closes that are supposedly haunted with burnt witches and ghosts of body-snatchers and what-not. But it has to be said that we did wuss out on trying the local delicacy, haggis, if it hadn’t looked so much like vomit, we might have given it a chance…

(at the hostel, Lace with our sheets wrapped up very creatively)

(Old Towne)

(Edinburgh Castle)

(Lace being a lion, at the Castle)

(Up on Observation Hill, Lacey, well, observing...)

So that is the end of that chapter, I'm now already all the way in Bangkok reunited with Dave, having a brilliant time, soaking up the humid air and the "Very Strong Cocktails" from street vendors on Khaosan road who "Do Not Check ID Cards"...!!!

Dave has been on to it, and has been updating a blog on our trip in Tokyo, and soon, Bangkok, so check it out...