Friday, January 30, 2009

I kissed a camel!

Well we are in Petra now....just back from visiting the ancient city of Petra Wow. It would take you days to see it all so we had to content ourselves with visiting a bit of it. Fantastic. The highlight was seeing the treasury....a beautiful rose colour. 200 photos later.....of course a lot were of donkeys, camels, a puppy - heck even a cat. really a highlight in my life seeing this place. Amazing. It's one of the seven wonders of the world - modern that is.

In another hour or so I will be going to a turkish bath - a first for me. No modesty allowed so should be interesting.

And yes I kissed a camel - he was a nice one. we were in Wadi Rum yesterday - gorgeous red sand and sandstone monoliths. wonderful. please excuse the lack of capitals - this keyboard is probably clogged with dust as it"s everywhere here anyway we took a four wheel drive tour of the place and it was great fun>

our hotel here leaves a bit to be desired _ they are fixing my shower now> they assured me they were going to fix it today and when I checked it out I got sprayed in the face> oh well>

well will sign off before I go postal on this keyboard>

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hello from the desert

Starkness of Sinai region
Hotel pool

Am in St. Catherines right now - having a very quick and expensive internet session. Thanks everyone for your emails but I probably won't be able to answer them until I am in London now as internet access will be limited.

We are in the Sinai which is beautiful in a very stark way. Staying in a beautiful hotel with a huge pool. I am the only one not climbing Mt Sinai in the morning so will be able to enjoy the hotel. With my bad knees no way am I climbing and they start at 3 a.m. to see the sunrise. I've seen the pictures and it does not inspire me. I am saving my knees for the Monestary at Petra. I am looking forward to enjoying the facilities here especially as none of us liked our hotel in Cairo. The buffet tonight was wonderful.

Funniest sight today.....two camels kneeling in the back of a pick up truck. No one had time to pull out their camera as they whizzed by too quickly unfortunately.

Yesterday we had a tour of Christian and Muslim Cairo which was interesting. Saw a place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus hung out for a few days as well as a gorgeous mosque. Afterwards a few of us went to the famous market - we stopped first and had a wonderful traditional drink - yogurt and cream with spices and nuts and raisins. Then we walked around and were constantly harassed to buy something which I didn't. "Let me take your money" was the best line I heard. We then had lunch in a lovely restaurant - I had lentil soup and bread with fresh strawberry juice. We took the metro back but finding it was something else....we walked for about half an hour through crowds of people. It was awful! The sidewalks are not even and they are high so my knees were not happy going up an down. Cairo is not a city I like!!!

Tomorrow we head for Jordan on the ferry - we are warned to be prepared for a LONG wait! From there it's on to Wadi Rum, Petra, floating in the dead sea and Amman. Can't wait!!!! I guess I have to put away my capri pants for the trip though as it will be colder in Jordan.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hello from Cairo

Amazing Abu Simbel

Well back in Cairo after an overnight train journey from Aswan.

Yesterday afternoon we had a ride on a traditional Nubian felucca (sailboat) which was fun - we had a picnic on board with some good bread (finally - so far it's been nothing but white sweet bread) and lots of dips and cheese. Yum! The felucca had a huge mattress on it so I spent most of the time laying down and relaxing after our early morning. We had a break at a Nubian coffee shop where I had a ginger coffee - espresso with ginger. Delish! The rest climbed a sand hill while there but I gave my knees a rest. I did hold a baby (3 years old) crocodile though - long enough to get my picture taken. Cold, soft and wet - shudder. Well he was kind of cute in a repulsive slimey way.

We had gotten up at 2:45 am to head out for Abu Simbel - it was a three hour journey each way and we had to go in a convey of vehicles for safety reasons. It is close to the Sudan border so they don't want any Sudanese rebals to get any kidnapping ideas so this is "safety in numbers" reasoning. Anyway the temple was absolutely amazing with gigantic statues of Ramses II (or III?) on the outside and all sorts of carvings (called reliefs) inside. I think it was my favourite yet. And the most special bit was that it was due to be flooded back in the early 60's due to the building of the Aswan High Dam. So the world got together and donated money for the temple to be taken apart bit by bit and put back together again at a safer location on the newly created (from the dam) Lake Nasser. Really something. It was a three hour bus trip each way so we were pretty tired last night - and then we had to get on the shakey noisy train. We miss our beloved Melodie boat already!

This afternoon we are going to downtown Cairo with someone in our group who is studying Arabic here. She will show us a "Fair trade" area for shops and then we will have lunch - Egyptian fast food. (probably falalfel) Then tonight we are all going out for an Egyptian meal. Our meals have been sort of half aEgyptian/half western so far. Our train was late this morning but we passed through villThe ages that we were able to see which was so interesting. People here are friendly. Getting used to hearing the Call to Prayer.

I am tending to hang out with people as still not comfortable walking around Cairo on my own. Me a gal who loves the big city - but not Cairo - it is not on my top ten favourite cities that is for sure!

Well that's all for now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sailing on the Nile part 2

Doing this in two posts in case the computer crashed. Anyway after a couple of dances most of our group sat on the deck and had a discussion with Carolyn, our group leader on Islam women, customs, etc - all very interesting.

Our group is great - we all get along really well and have a lot of laughs.

The markets are interesting - Carolyn pointed out some good places to buy in the market in Luxor so I got some scarves as well as some jewellry made out of local stone - nothing expensive. She pointed out the "manic t-shirt guy" and he was - I did not want any of the t-shirts that he had and he was chasing us across the street. Not in a scary way - but in a funny way. The sellers can be a pain though and they are like flies that won't leave you alone. One guy said "I have lots of good rubbish at good price" - have to laugh at that - another one was "how can I take your money". And at the end of the day they are just ordinary people trying to make a living so you have to respect that. Everywhere you go they are trying to get you to take their taxi, horse & carriage or go in their shop. Just heard a good one a few minutes back - one horse and carriage driver yelled out "Egyptian Ferrari".

Another challenge is remembering not to flush the toilet paper down the toilet as the sewer system cannot handle it - it goes in the garbage. This was the case in India and Peru as well.

I think after tonight I will be "templed out" but they are very interesting.

I will miss the relaxation of sitting on the top deck of our Melodie and watching the life on the beautiful Nile.

Sailing on the Nile

Our boat - the "Melodie"
Our "flasher"

Rocky and me

Well actually we are finished our sail and are now in Aswan. Still living on our boat but not going any further south. It's been a terrific few days. Our donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings and back was great fun. When we were nearly at the Valley it was the Donkey Derby as they knew we were getting into the home stretch. My donkey who I named Mr. Higgins (sadly they had no names other than Mr or Mrs. Donkey) was very open to suggestions so a click of the tongue or "alla" from someone else would send him trotting. He also liked pushing in between other donkeys. Coming back my donkey ("Rocky" - I should have named the one going there Rocky!) was much more sedate although he did steal some clover from a wagon. The trip back was through villages which was fun. We toured three tombs in the Valley of the Kings - unbelieveable. I had to buy a small book as we could not take photographs and I wanted something to remember them by.

The boat cruise has been very enjoyable and we have spent much time relaxing on the upper deck watching life on the Nile as we pass by. We even had a little flasher - photo above. I was able to photograph people living their lives along the shores of the Nile with my new zoom lens so it was worth the investment and postponing the purchase of a new TV! The weather has gotten warmer the further we head south.

This morning a few of us took the flerry over to Elphantine island and visited a Nubian village.
I found it very interesting although some found the trash piled about and the general 'stinkiness' of the place disturbing. So we didn't stay as long as I perrsonally would have liked but didn't feel like wandering around on my own either as it would be very easy to get lost. But like I've said once you've been to India nothing shocks you anymore. That's the way they live as facilities are limited - but it's their home so I show respect. If you want things the way they are at home stay there!

Later we will visit Philae temple for the sound and light show. Tomorrow is Abu Simbel -up at 2:45 a.m. for the three hour bus trip!!! Followed by a felucca ride on the Nile and then we get the train back to Cairo tomorrow night.

Last night was Egyptian night on the boat so our whole group dressed up. I bought a turquoise blue beaded dress along with a beaded head scarf (like I will ever wear that again but hey sometimes you just gotta do some crazy things!) - some Nubian dancers came in and we had a great time dancing with them. Anyone not on the dance floor was on by the time the DJ came on and played "Dancing Queen". Great fun. Later had an interesting discussion with Caroline about Muslim women.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yeah Toto you're right - definitely not in Kansas

Anyway the boat is okay - nothing fancy. My room is okay - should be intersting to take a shower later today as there is really no shower area - the whole tiny bathroom is one. Anyway we went on a tour of the Karnak temple this morning which was AMAZING. Everyone was blown away. 134 decorated columns which had your mouth wide open plus too many statues to mention - it's something else. We all agreed that this was MUCH better than the pyramids! Plus we had an excellent guide who was a real character. Said he was a direct descendant of King Ramses and he nominated me as his queen so I had to stand beside him mostof the time. :) Unfortunately he was about 65 years old. I guess he was in a Bond film so must rent it and look for him. I reminded him of a friend so that's why I was chosen as his queen - anyway he was full of knowledge and my head is still spinning from all the stories. Finally he let us loose for 45 mins. to look around and take photographs - and that I did. It's one of the most spectacular things I've seen in my life and I have seen a few believe you me. - here's a bit of a taste.

Back to the boat via a store (can't say what kind as I bought some gifts to be a surprise for certain people!) and then lunch. I walked over here on my own - brave girl! Had to stop at the ATM and of course got honked at by taxi drivers, guys wanting to take me to stores, etc. but hey I've been to India and can handle anything now. :) Later we are going walking to the market with the guide so that will be fun as I adore markets. Dinner at 7 and a relaxing evening for me as we are up early tomorrow morning to visit the Valley of the Kings with our same guide. On DONKEYS. Am so excited as I am obsessed with donkeys. Then once we get back we set sail so tomorrow aft. will be sunning ourselves on the deck. It's not really hot - about 22C which is perfect. Capri pants and short sleeve weather!!!

Queen Laurie signing off for now....

Hey Toto we're not in Kansas anymore

Well here I am in Luxor as I am typing this. In an internet cafe listening to some funky latin type music and smelling...well you don't want to know....

The flight over was good and the tour rep was right there to meet me which was great - he helped me get a visa and get through customs and got me to the hotel. I was woken at 5 a.m. the next morning by the call to prayer - fell back to sleep and an hour later was woken up bya rooster of all things! In the middle of this huge city. Next morning early we were off to see the pyramids. I knew they were in the suburbs but when you can see them through a satellite dish well it's a bit shocking. I was underwhelmed I must admit - I mean one part of me is saying holy shit little old me is seeing the pyramids and the other part was saying well there they are - now what? Most of the group went into one of the pyramids but they were not for the weak of knee (me) or claustrophobic type (me) so I walked around and got harassed by all the camel guys and kids selling postcards. We drove to a look out and saw the three from a distance and had the usual picture taken and that was kind of cool. Then we went to see the sphinx which was neat - more photo ops. We had lunch at a fast food stands - a falafel for 20 cents. Can't beat that. Not all food is that cheap trust me!! Then on to the Egyptian musuem which is unbelieveable. You need weeks to see it but we had to make do in a couple of hours - luckily we had a guide who showed us the best bits. Tutatuckan - well you know the guy - his casket and tons of stuff from his tomb plus so much else I couldn't list it here. And I paid extra to see the mummy room - kind of gruesome but hey, I can say I saw several mummies - and royal ones no less.
Last night we took the overnight train from Cairo here to Luxor - oh my. A journey we get to repeat - from Aswan to Cairo. Our guide (who is from Canada and is very nice) told us that we had an especially noisy car. A bizarre thing happened about 10 - was sitting listening to my earphones and someone knocked on the door and it was two men. One said to me quite agitated "Communication" and I pulled my ear phones off and said what and then the other said oh singing okay and they left! I told Carolyn, the guide and she had no clue what was up with that. Too weird! Anyway I turned my MP3 player off and read instead! Arrived into Luxor early and we were bussed to our boat - the SS Melodie. Gonna save this bit now in case it crashes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday in London

Well woke up this morning to absolute pouring rain so snuggled back under the covers. I had told Simon, the B & B host that I wouldn't be having brekky until tomorrow as it gets a bit boring having the same thing every day. Anyway once I knew the people I share the bathroom with were gone I got up and had my shower. Looked out the window and blue sky! Had a banana, some seveille orange and cream yogurt and some delish cox apple juice for brekky - man I wish we could get that juice at home - love it.

Headed to the Borough Market which was near London Bridge. A foodies paradise. I'd never been there before and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Had sausage and fried onion in a bun and eyed some brownies but resisted - next time! And had a cappucino at Monmouth coffee - it was very very good. Now I know why there was such a mean que - or however you spell it. Once I managed to tear myself away from the market I walked over London Bridge to Covent Garden. Lots of buskers including a fella made up to look like a dog in a kennel - just his head and he was talking away to people - well you had to be there - it was hilarious and then a fellow dressed like a gold statue - well it goes on and on - Covent Garden is one of my favourite places in London. I think I found a poster to put on a spare wall but will think about it and get it when I get home. Had a long conversation with the artist - he couldn't get over the fact I was staying in Hampstead Garden Suburb for some reason. Then took a bus to Trafalgar Square. They were getting ready for a rally to protest the carnage in Gaza. I took some photos but didn't want to get involved in a rally like that in case it got violent. Hopped the bus to Hyde Park Corner where I took a few photos however it was starting to cloud over so took the bus to Marble Arch and on to Notting Hill and then walked on to the Holland Park area. Now I am back on Oxford St. ready to head along to St. Martins for a nice dinner - I hope. Followed by a concert.

Then back to the room to finish up packing and off on another adventure tomorrow. Not sure how well I will be able to keep the blog up. I will update later though and will be posting pictures and embelishing once I am home. I am sure you are quivering with delight at that news!!!

I am flying Egypt Air and just read in my Lonely Planet guide last night that they advise taking ANY airline BUT Egypt Air as they use old Russian jets and their in flight service is crap. Oh goodie.

Next post will hopefully be from Egypt!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quiet day in London

Well for me anyway. I decided to make this a "rest day" and hang around the area. This morning I did another 10 pound (as in price) laundry in preparation for the Middle East on Sunday. Then this afternoon I walked around Hampstead Garden Suburb a bit as for all the times I have stayed at this B & B I haven't explored the Central Square or some of the little parks. There is actually some Woods but didn't go too far as it was starting to look gloomy and the paths were wet enough as it was. I then looked in some shops and walked back here - in the rain - will order a cappucino in a bit. I am getting quite hooked on my afternoon cappucino!

The Thriller show last night was pretty good. At first I wasn't sure but it got better as the show went along - it ended with Billie Jean and Thriller of course. The fellow who was Michael in the later years was a lot heavier so it was a bit strange but he did the moon walking thing and could really boogy. I am glad I went. Tonight it is a night in with a double episode of "Coronation Street". Woo hoo! Hey, we can't live the high life every night. Also an 'eat in' day so bought myself a prawn and mayonaise sandwich and a little fruit trifle to have later in the room - life is good!! :) With the price to eat in restaraunts here I try to eat in every other day or every third day anyway.

The DaVinci Code walk was okay - the London Walks guide wasn't the best one I've had that's for sure and at times acted like we were a pain in the ass he had to put up with. But it was neat to go to the different places and will have to rewatch the movie now. Also to hear the theories. Who knows what is the truth and what isn't. All very interesting. I got to see a few buildings I'd never seen before so that was cool. Visited the second oldest church in London (built in the 1100's) Tomorrow afternoon I hope to do the "spy" walk and then tomorrow evening is the Mozart concert at St. Martins in the Fields church. The church has a wonderful cafeteria (the cream tea is YUMMY) so plan to treat myself to a meal before the concert.

This may be my last post for a while as not sure I will get onto the 'net tomorrow and who knows what time I will have to go on the 'net in Egypt & Jordan. I know there are internet cafes but I might not be wanting to spend my time in them when there are other things to do!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Doggies galore

Tuesday January 13th - Well this morning I walked through Alexandria Park which is in North London - somewhere I barely knew existed. There is a palace there as well but not a royal one - it was built for the people and now houses an indoor ice rink and is host to community events. Anyway I saw a bunch of dogs as in six tied up to a post outside a cafe so had to stop. The lady came out and we struck up a conversation - turns out she is a dog walker/sitter so I told her so was I. She was dumbfounded but excited so she has given me her number and wants me to call her when I get back to London in early Feb. Maybe I will get a connection to my dream of dogsitting (and free accomodation) in London yet!! The cafe was amazing too and the smells coming out of there were to die for - I wasn't hungry so had a cup of tea but must time my visit with a meal the next time. I guess the area is a haven for dog owners and Janet, the dog walker told me I should come at the weekend when there are maybe 30 dogs there. My idea of heaven!

Later that afternoon I visited the British Library which was amazing. The original Magna Carta, original manuscripts of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, etc. Not to mention words of famous Beatles songs written by hand by Paul McCartney and John Lennon! It was a treasure and a place I have never visited before.

Boogying with Whacko Jacko

Yep that will be me tonight - well with a fake one. Okay I confess I like Michael Jackson - so sue me. I think he is strange but harmless. He is quite the cutie patootey back in the early 1980's and too bad he messed it up with surgery. I LOVE his music so am quite excited. I got to see him in Vancouver with my niece Erin in 1984 - performing with the Jackson 5 and it was awesome! Right Erin?!!! Anyway seeing fake ones tonight will be fun and I plan to BOOGY.

This afternoon I am going on a walking tour of the sites of the Davinci Code and Occult London so that should be fun. On that subject...the atheists have billboards out saying "There is probably no God. So Stop worrying and enjoy your life". I have only seen small versions on the tube and never been in the right place to take a photo but hoping I see it on the side of a bus. Right on! Words to live by!!!! Take responsibility for your own life.

Visit to an old friend

Well yesterday (Wed. the 14th) was bittersweet...went to Bedford which is about 50 minutes by train from central London. The reason for going there was to visit a dear old friend - Tom who is 93 and has been a friend of my family since the 2nd World War when he came to Saskatchewan to train for the RAF and befriended my grandparents, my parents and aunt and uncle. He and his wife were friends from that point on and every trip to England I have visited him and his wife - his wife Jean passed away in 1982 but I still have seen him. He is my "uncle" in England. Anyway he fell (slid off his bed) in November and broke his hip and it's been downhill ever since - he now has pneumonia and a chest infection. He is in the rehab unit of a hospital - an area to get patients ready to go home although he will never be going back home to his beloved bungalow... He knew me and was so pleased to see me and even though he is profoundly deaf and cannot see well we managed to communicate by me writing things in a book. Just sitting quietly together holding hands was enough. I stayed with him for about three hours. It is probably the last time I will see him which is very sad. So needless to say I was in a bit of a funk last night and not up to posting in my blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Well yesterday I ended up doing exactly what I had planned to do - a coffee in Notting Hill and catching up with my journal and then a short tour of the British Musuem which was very enjoyable. The British Musuem is HUGE - you could spend years in there - seriously! I have been there several times but it is all so overwhelming that I didn't grasp too much. So the guided tour (by the same lady who we went to Oxford and the Cotswolds with) was ideal - saw some very interesting artifacts left by Anglo Saxons in East Anglia, the Elgin marble statues and tablets from the Acropolis in Athens, the Rosetta stone which was amazing as from there scholars were able to translate other documents from the Egyptian period.

In a few minutes I am heading off to do a walk in Alexandria Park which is a new area for me then going to the British Library this afternoon as it is supposed to rain. I am thinking of ideas to do this evening so it could be a ghost walk but depends on the weather. I may do something in between the walk and British Library as it is open a bit later tonight.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I don't know what to call this post

Well a dull Monday (weatherwise that is - London is NEVER dull!) in London but hey I will take it. Still enjoying the city and nice to relax and enjoy it at a slow pace. I think I will be going to the British Musuem this afternoon after a look in the shops in Notting Hill.

Yesterday I went for a walk from Victoria station through the Lambeth area of London which was new to me - past the War Museum but didn't stop - no interest in seeing a museum about any war - and on to London Bridge via the Southwark area. I had a roast lunch in the George Inn which is an old coaching house that Shakespeare used to visit. The meal was okay - had my first brussel sprouts since I got here so that got me excited but it could have been better. For the price I was hoping to have one of those meals that you want never to end and just want to say YUM YUM YUM. (okay maybe that's just me....) I walked along the south side of the Thames until it clouded over and got cool. My walking boots were giving me grief for some reason yesterday so I had to keep sitting down to rest my feet. It was nice not to have to wear my handband or mitts. Today I am back to sneakers.

I was lucky enough to get on one of the "old" busses of which there are only two routes (shortened) left. They are the kind you see in films where people jump onto the back and there is a conductor. They were all over when I visited London in the 70's and 80's. Now while the majority of busses are still red double decker there is no open entrance at the back and you pay or swipe your car with the driver and no conductor. Anyway I had a wonderful conversation with the conductor who has worked for London Transport for 28 years. He was a driver but developed diabetes and became dependent on insulin injections so they pulled him off driving. Anyway he was happy discussing the "old days" and told me the bus we were in was about 56 years old - I said the same age as me!! :) I commented you had to have nerves of steel to be a London bus driver with the traffic and idiotic pedestrians stepping out in front. He told me of one incident where he was driving along Oxford St. (VERY busy shopping street in central London) and this young woman wanted to walk between his bus and the bus in front (stopped in traffic - not at a red light) - he pulled forward deliberately to discourage her as there was busy traffic on the other side. Not to be deterred she actually went SIDEWAYS (all the room there was) between two honking big red busses and her clothes became filthy - not only that she got out the other side and was hit by a car. Not badly(injury to her hand) but if you ask me she deserved it for being so stupid. I love to ride on the top deck at the front and you just assume we don't run over the people who dash in front of the bus - the bus is so big you wouldn't even feel it. :)

I was "naughty" (as they say here) and ate too damn much yesterday and suffered for it last night in bed. Oh man. My tummy is still a bit wonky this morning so am taking it easy. I just hope it's due to being greedy and not a bug - the flu is going around here like wild fire. I am just nicely getting over my cold.

I had hoped to go to Windsor Castle today - haven't been inside it since about 1975 and not been to the town itself since 1980. But I went on the website and the state apartments have just closed for two weeks so guess that will have to wait until I get back from the Middle East. So maybe Leeds Castle - as much as I love London I am feeling the need to get into the English countryside.

I hope to visit an elderly family friend Wed. or Thurs. - haven't been able to go while I had the cold. I am taking each day as it comes but I should really make a list - as much as I am not a list maker - of things I MUST see before I go home in case I run out of time and go "oops I forgot".

Next stop is the ATM - but first have to check that Pioneer Village paid me!! (hi Dena - thanks for your comment!)


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cold day in London

Well think this was the coldest day yet I do believe - sure felt like it anyway. I started off walking in Hampstead in the mist and fog - kind of neat actually. But stopped for a coffee as needed the loo and no public ones around. Was enjoying reading a paper and my coffee until a family came and sat next to me - I could only handle so many "mommay" and "daddays" and I scadaddled out of there. Once I got out again it was so cold that I ended up bussing it to Camden Market and had a look around. Well it's a lot of markets but once you've seen one you've seen them all as they pretty well sold the same stuff - but I enjoy markets so I was happy. Loved the t'shirt "Ipood" with a guy with headphones on sitting on a toilet!! :) I got a pair of wool mitts made in Nepal - I needed them on top of the gloves I got yesterday - being as I lost my others. It was so cold though - would like to go back on a nicer day and maybe walk along the canal. Then I got the tube out to Tooting Broadway - just because.....had some great chips there - the best of the trip so far. Took the bus back to Trafalgar Square and saw the frozen fountains. First time I've ever seen the water frozen in those fountains in all my trips here. I had a cream tea at St Martins in the Fields church - yum yum yum. Bought myself a ticket for a concert of Mozart music there next Saturday night. I did a quick visit to the National Gallery to say hello to Van Gogh's Sunflowers. I am a philistine when it comes to art - I know nothing - I only like pictures of children (that's when they are the best - in pictures - so you can't hear them!) and dogs. One day (retirement part two?) I will take an art appreciation course - then I will want to revisit all the art galleries I've visited in my travels and never appreciated!!!

Got some shots of Trafalgar Square at dusk with Big Ben in the background with it's face lit up. glad I am in London.

I had wanted to take a walking tour of "India in London" however 1) it was too cold and 2) the tube station was on a line that was closed today. Too cold to walk and no clue what bus to get as it's not an area I am familiar with.

Next stop - back to the room to have a hot bath and relax. I bought myself a little bottle of wine so me thinks after I have my healthy banana and fresh squeezed orange juice for "supper" I will pour myself a glass to have with some root vegetable crisps (like potato chips) that I have developed an addiction to.

Off to an ice sculpture festival tomorrow!!! Other than that I am winging it. Would like to walk along the south side of the Thames but it depends on the weather. We haven't seen the sun in a few days so it would be nice if it would pop out and say hello tomorrow.

Oh well whatever the weather throws at me beats being in Regina in January!!!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Victoria & Albert & doggies

Well after a very horrible night - my cold having gotten worse - I did not get up in time for breakfast. After a hot shower I did feel a bit better and even better now. I got the tube to South Kensington and joined a walking tour of the Victoria & Albert musuem which is a museum of textiles, ornaments, etc. It was interesting and I am glad I did it - I have been to the V & A museum before a few times but it is impossible to absorb everything in one visit. The guide just picked a few highlights of course but it was very informative. In the afternoon I went to Battersea dogs home again - a trek I do every time I visit London - and paid my pound to visit the doggies. Always breaks my heart in two but I stop and talk to each one of the dogs and say their name and make a fuss. Maybe a bit longer for the cute ones! Generally they rush to the front of the cage with tails wagging and it is so hard but you are not allowed to pet them because of spreading disease. But they are so excited to have someone speak to them - a few just slept and that was sad and there was an Akita that came up to the bars and had the saddest look I have ever seen in a dog's eyes. I teared up then that's for sure. Why the hell do people go to breeders and pay big bucks for their pedigree purebreds when a visit to the local animal shelter will give them as beautiful a dog - probably better - for a fraction of the price and knowing they are saving a life and NOT adding to the pet overpopulation which you do when you insist on buying a purebred. And who cares if its a mutt - my Sandy was a mutt and she was fantastic and beautiful and I liked the fact that there weren't a lot of dogs like her running around. Enough of my rant - for today that is.

Anyway....yesterday (Thursday) I did get some energy and did part of a walk from Muswell Hill to Hampstead Heath via Highgate Village. All very interesting - loved it actually especially Highgate Village and peering into the very spooky Highgate cemetery. Lots of gorgeous old houses.

Oliver! was wonderful. Rowan Atkinson was very good as Fagan - he was hilarious in parts and even pulled out a teddy bear - aka Mr. Bean. It was a fantastic production and had me wanting to belt out 'Consider Yourself' nonstop on the tube ride home.

Seems to be warming up here...yay! By Monday should be back to normal temperatures. Good. Yesterday in Hampstead Heath I had to tell a couple of fellows not to go on the ice - told them there's no way it would hold their weight. It seems everyone is so excited to see ice as it's so rare here and they have no clue how long it takes to get thick enough to hold a human or dog's body. (a dog has drowned and several have had to be rescued) I am just grateful that there is no snow.

Hopefully I still have a place to stay as I think I snored the house down last night - everytime I woke up (lots) I had been snoring and with my cold it is always worse.

Back to the B & B in a bit to watch a double episode of Coronation Street - woo hoo.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Restless Prairie Girl feels like shit

Yep, I am sick of all the rotten luck. Not really really ill but enough to feel crappy and not have much energy. I had all these walks planned and now no energy to even think about doing them. I have a bit of a cough except when I talk - traveling on my own I don't talk a lot - just to the girl from Germany at breakfast in the morning and the odd bit. Well I called my friend Judi last night and I finally had to hang up as I was coughing so much. What a pain in the ass.

Yesterday I visited the Museum of London only to find they are doing a massive renovation and it only goes up to 1666 until the present. Rats! I have seen it before but I love it so was looking forward to seeing it again. So I went to Costa Coffee and sat and worked on my trip diary - caught up now finally. Then picked up some bits at Tesco's (grocery store) and back to the room at 4 p.m. to rest.

Now I am thinking what I should do today...had planned to do a 10 km walk from Highgate to Hampstead up in this end of London but no in the meantime am checking emails and surfing for ideas - in London the possibilities are endless. I may end up just hopping a few busses and exploring some new areas. We will see.

It seems a bit warmer today at least.

Tonight I have a ticket to see Oliver! so want to be fit to see that.

How come nobody is commenting or at least emailing me. C'mon people!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Traipsing along the Thames

Well decided to do a walk in the Docklands today. It was enjoyable even though I got lost a few times - thank goodness for bin men and bar maids! Stopped for a coffee (came with cookies too) and then a wine at another pub - man four pounds for a glass of wine. As it turned out she gave me a small bottle so drank half and the other half is in my backpack for a night in. :) I was in the true east end so lots of cockneys. It was great - a new part of London I haven't seen. I was on the Thames Path a lot and got some great views of the river as well as saw some unique sculptures. The docklands were run down and heavily bombed during the war and were derelict for years but they have now revitalized the area with housing, walking paths., etc. It was nice to be in an area with few tourists and go into local pubs.

I only did half the walk as I was running out of time as I had to get to the Geffrye museum for their "Farewell to Christmas" thingie - it was fun. We all got a glass of mulled wine and a piece of Xmas cake and sang Xmas carols and watched them burn the Xmas decorations. I took the bus back to Golders Green via Oxford St. and a mushroom pizza - and another glass of wine. What can I say - I was in a whiney mood. :)

Still cold - wish I had my winter coat but oh well. They are going on and on as it got to -10C overnight - gasp! They actually said stay inside unless you have to go out last night on the TV and I laughed out loud. I was moving most of the day so stayed warm. However must admit I am looking forward to a long hot bath. It's nice to have a bathtub and normal shower after the hovel.

Guess I will have to wait for Egypt to have a warm toilet to rest my butt on though - they are all COLD here!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Laundry day in London

Well I am sitting here sipping my cappucino - there is a super new internet cafe near my B & B for a pound an hour and it's WARM. Yay. I just spent nearly $20 on two loads of laundry - yikes - so will be handwashing anything that can be handwashed from now on and do another load just before I head to Egypt on the 18th of January.

Snow this morning - it has stopped now and melted almost immediately. This could be the coldest winter in decades - oh goodie. Oh well, beats -45 in Regina!!! I can't wait to get back and change into my (clean) long underwear!! Due to going to a warmer climate I did not bring a winter jacket with me so am coping with my goretex jacket, a light fleece jacket underneath and various tops piled on one another! I did invest in a long sleeved top for 7 pounds but the price of fleeces here is beyond my budget.

The fireworks on New Years Eve were fantastic - we watched them from Waterloo Bridge and had a view through the London Eye (huge ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames). Framed in the middle was Big Ben. Classic!!!! The down side was drunks and broken glass all over. We had to walk back to our hovel (yes, hovel) and on the bridge we stopped to talk to some guy and before I knew it I was on the ground - some drunk ran/danced into me without stopping and I didn't even see him/her. I am just grateful that I did not fall on any of the glass but by the end of the walk back home I was limping as my knees were not happy with the fall. It was a fantastic experience as it was in 99/00 but that will be it for me. Before that we did a pub walk which was fun - we visited three pubs and went down all the little nooks and crannies you never notice on your own. The most exciting bit was seeing the alley where Hugh Grant and Colin Firth had their "fight" in Bridget Jones Diary. Oh my, makes me go all hot thinking about it. :) We sat outside at the last pub and had a mulled wine - yeah it was cold but I had six layers of clothes on and we were warm from the wine at the last place!!!

On New Years Day we saw the parade which is the largest in the world - or should I say the longest. I kept wanting it to end as I only had five layers of clothes on and was FREEZING. Finally I had to run to Starbucks for a wee but guess I only missed the last band and the last float. Highlights were donkeys (I am a donkey fantatic) from a sanctuary, lots of American marching bands, pearly Cockney kings and queens and some uniquely dressed characters. Afterwards we went to China town for a buffet. We wore Happy New Year crowns on our heads and got some strange looks but mostly waves and smiles. From there we went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park (lots of amusement park rides, lights & food vendors) and walked around and had another mulled wine.

Friday the 2nd of January we did a tour of the Cotswolds and Oxford with London walks. Fabulous and well worth 39 pounds which included the return train journey to Oxford and a chartered bus which took us out to Minster Lowell a gorgeous village with "houses out of a chocolate box" as the guide said and Burford which was so pretty. We then walked around a bit of Oxford before getting the train home. I am going back to Oxford to do the BWF walk there - I booked a ticket with Megabus for a pound each way for Feb. 5th. Could not resist that price!

Saturday the 3rd we went on a walk in Chiswick which was so interesting - it is a part of London on the Thames with some beautiful old houses and a real treasure. - Pat headed off to Oliver! (I am going Thursday night - can't wait - "Mr. Bean" plays Fagan) as she was able to snag a ticket - it has just opened so hard to find seats. I had a delicious pub lunch and looked in the shops on Kensington High Street then Covent Garden.

Yesterday I went to St. Paul's and then on to the Tower of London. Did not go in as been there done that but walked around the area and over Tower Bridge into Bermondsey and walked a bit of the Thames Path. I hung around the Thames most of the afternoon until it was time to go to my B & B.

It's good to be back - Simon & Rosiem the hosts are so friendly and I love my room. Spent the evening organizing myself and watching telly.

Not sure what's up next - not really in the mood to go back into Central London. Had planned to do a walk in Hampstead but not sure in this weather what I want to do. Having a bit of a "chill" day.

Have to think of something to do tomorrow night as it's not a Corrie night. :)

Bopping around Budapest - The Old Town of Buda

F riends had raved about Budapest and having read quite a bit about it I knew it was on my "to visit" list. And I knew it was goi...