tvordlj: (Camera Neon)
Am nearly through organizing all my photos. As usual, i upload many to Kodakgallery, less than that to Flickr and make a highlight set on Flickr. i won't be insulted if nobody bothers with the large sets because i do them mainly for me anyway. But if there's a destination you want to see more of, that's where you should go. I've grouped them by fours, Slideshow one is the four "Europe" albums (Amsterdam, Openair Museum, Brussels, Bruges). Slideshow two is the four UK ones (London and Manchester, Lyme Hall, Martin Mere Wetlands, Eyam the Plague village). I think you can pull just one section out or jump to the album of your choice.

The more digestible sets are in this collection on Flickr. That includes one set that is Highlights of Everything We Did.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
We are back from "The continent"! Amsterdam was great but missed prime tulip season by a few weeks. Actually saw more tulips in London! Brussels very impressive with great huge buildings on a grand scale. Brugges was really pretty but very full of tourists. Took canal tours of Amsterdam and Brugges, Saw real Rembrandts and musical instrument museum. The Henry VIII exhibit in London was really good. Astonishing that so many documents and books survived 500 years!

I've worn out my feet walking, and the cobbles in the city center of Brussels made our legs and ankles ache. Was so tired Friday night that i refused to walk anywhere and insisted we order room service! I took many many photos (no surprise there!). Went to Regent's Park in London yesterday afternoon for a picnic organized by [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos which was probably the first relaxing thing we did all week and it was really nice to see people from my flist and meet new people and meet baby Catherine who brought her mum [livejournal.com profile] sparklielizard.

Observations: Amsterdam on a Sunday night is unbelievably full of rubbish and litter.
Amsterdam bicyclists are mad!!!
Belgian hand made chocolates really are that good!
Brugges looks like a picture book but heaving with people.
Brussels (according to Graham,) looks like something out of an old WW2 movie with big grand buildings and squares and he said it looked like he might expect to see Ingrid Bergman darting out around a corner running away from the Gestapo or something!
Rembrandt was probably why they coined the term "Master". He knocks the spots off everyone else when it comes to portraits!
Seeing some of the documents from Henry VIII's comings and goings, like the Act of Supremacy and the divorce papers for his marraige to Katherine of Aragon, *original* documents with signatures and seals, can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

We're staying in tonight, relaxing with our feet up.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
There was a bake sale in one of the boardrooms today. The usual suspects, cookies, chocolate cake, slices of loaf etc. But they also had a pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing and walnuts on top. Nom nom!!! I bought a piece to have after lunch with my tea. :) 

Three weeks from today i'll be on UK-terra firma!!! W00t! I'm determined not to overdo it when we go to Amsterdam and Belgium like i did with Paris. I don't want to suffer with blisters and sore feet like i did there. Poor [profile] gramie_dee said he though he was going to have to prop me up in the Louvre and leave me there as one of the exhibitions. I pretty much hit the meltdown point that evening and in retrospect we did do too much that day. Walking all over Montmartre, Dali museum, walking some more, and then the Louvre. We didn't see a lot of that! I did find the energy to go on the night Seine cruise because we only had to sit down so it was restful. Looking back we should have not bothered with the Louvre and just did the cruise. So this time around, i'm going to be less ambitious and if we only see a couple of sights, that's fine. We can always go back. We do have a few priorities - we want to do a canal cruise and we want to see the Masters in the Rijkesmuseum. Those are definites. I'd like to see the floating flower market too. Everything else we fit in as we can. Really looking forward to the Henry VIII exhibit in the British Library too and seeing some of you at the tentative picnic in the park (

tvordlj: (Iceman Cometh)
Winter in Nova Scotia... Yes technically it's spring but even though people start looking towards the nicer weather in March, we *always* have one more snowstorm (at least) before the winter is done with us. We're having it now. Well not a storm really, but it's been coming down steadily for about 4 hours and is predicted to go on all night. Better this week, though, with our Corrie star coming next week in time for our event on Tuesday night. We're all but sold out too which is great! I've been struggling with a cold which also sucks but i think the worst is over. I still have some congestion and a bit of a cough but it's not as bad as it was in January. Yet. I think i may escape that awfulness this time around. It feels different anyway.

Am checking into the hotel on Monday and will have the two nights there. Much easier for late nights. I don't have to worry about trying to get home in the wee hours. I booked Wednesday off so i'll have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel and then i've got a hair appointment booked for mid-morning. Got a massage booked for this Wednesday. My shoulders and upper back are really getting tight again. God... they beat the hell out of you but it feels so good afterwards even though it hurts. This gal digs her elbows right in to get the deep tissue. I had a hot stone massage a few months ago and that was amazing too.

I'm actually starting to make a pile of little things to remember to pack, like maps, notebook etc. I've also ordered a couple of nice laminated foldy maps and i've been printing off bus route maps. Disgustingly organized, i know. Have also discovered that at 8 p.m. on May 4, the whole Netherlands stops for a 2 minutes silence in commemoration of war veterans, like we do for Rememberence Day. They have little ceremonies at war memorials all over the country and we'll be in Amsterdam when they do it at their National Monument, and i believe their Queen does the honours. That might be nice to see.

Have you seen the new Google map feature that can put you right on the street and you can see it as if you were standing right there. You can pan around and look up and down too. I think they only have the "anchors" on main streets or transit stops because I haven't always been able to drag the little yellow man where i want to but it's pretty cool just the same. Very good for traveling because you can get a look at what the hotel looks like and the street and neighbourhood. It doesn't seem to be available on Canadian maps but it is in London, Manchester and Amsterdam that i've checked so far.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
Airlines can suck sometimes, can't they? Got notice the other day that British Midland has canceled the flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam. It's a Sunday afternoon flight. There were two others available, one where we'd have a 6 hour wait or so in T1 Heathrow and the other would change the Manchester to Heathrow flight but we'd then not get into Amsterdam until after 10 at night. I told the TA i'd get back to her. I did a search on Expedia just for the heck of it to see what other airlines and prices came up and a couple of flights from British Airways did included a nice late morning flight to Heathrow, a two hour wait and a mid afternoon to Amsterdam. Will cost more but not as much as the direct flight from Manchester to Amsterdam was going to be which is still a shocking $569 per person one way. BA is about 200 per person one way. The bmi flights were about 100 so it's double but not as bad as KLM wants. I emailed the TA and gave her the flight numbers and she's booking them today. Let's hope this one sticks. I'd had to swim.

Really hoping the spring weather is nice when we're over there. It sucks to be walking around in the rain. Really looking forward to it and to seeing Bruges as well.

We're at the 56 sleep countdown until the flight to the UK.
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
Spent my lunch hour at the travel agent. I don't mind booking some stuff online but when i have to go to a half dozen or more sites, i figure it increases the chances of stuff ups and problems. and if an agent does it, it's one point of contact. I've got my main UK flight booked and i have her working on the flight to Schipol. She already managed to save me a big chunk of change. I had been planning to fly one way direct with KLM and she said that by doing that, without the return part, KLM would charge about $500 per person. If i used British Midland, and changed planes in Heathrow, the cost nosedives to about $100 per person. No argument from me on that. Only, because we're doing that, it takes up most of the day to get to Amsterdam so i though it best to fly out on Sunday instead of Monday. What we've saved more than pays for the hotel the extra night. She's going to book the Tulip Inn Amsterdam Centre for us and probably one of the Ibis hotels in Brussels. She's going to book the Eurostar second class to London. If we had more time and money, i'd love to spend extra days in Belgium. Maybe some other time. I've one friend that has been there several times. I at least want a taste of the city and hopefully, a side trip to Brugges.

I used Londontown.com and booked the Hilton Islington for 68 pounds a night, buffet breakfast included. Oh and it's not the first weekend of May, it's May 9/10 that we'll be there. Since we're staying in Islington, perhaps it'll work out better for a pub up that way. Londoners, we'll talk closer to the time.

I did discover a voucher from Air Canada that would have given me 40 dollars off this booking and i didn't realize i had it until after i booked. Crap. I also had to call AC to get my seat assignment as the website wouldn't let me do it, either when i booked or afterwards. That's sorted, too.

Excited!
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
First day back to work after 2 weeks off. Oh *god* it was hard getting up at 6 and staying up!
To add insult to injury i couldn't remember my network password, that's a first. I tried several and ended up locking my account. Got that sorted by the help desk without too much bother.
Installed my new calendar and desk calendar. I brought my Judoon mug to work. I'm getting quite a collection of mugs here! This one has a little battery compartment underneath it to power the talking stuff. I would guess i should not put the mug in the microwave to reheat it if i want the batteries to survive and there is probably metal bits in the battery compartment too.

So now a new year, and start planning for my trip to see Graham in May. Am now thinking of adding on a couple of nights in Brussels as well as Amsterdam. Hotel prices seem a bit cheaper there and if we go there, we can hop on Eurostar to London for an overnight or so there. I got thinking this morning, One idea might be to go to Amsterdam early on the first day and stay there two nights. The third day, we can still do more of Amsterdam or do a day trip since most things are not very far away anyway. Haarlem or Delft perhaps. We can then take the train around 4 or 5 to Brussels and stay two nights there. We'd have that night, all the next day and most of the day after that, taking the Eurostar to London around the same time of day. We'd then have the evening and another full day in London, going back to Manchester the morning of the last day.

I think that might work quite well, taking a late afternoon/early evening train to the next place on. By May it will still be light well into the evening and we can walk around, find a nice place to have our meal, see the city lit up. So, does anyone have any previous experience with hotels in central Brussels? I shall have to check the travel agents for brochures as well. I already checked the Eurostar site and one way tickets are only about 50 pounds for regular class tickets. It takes less time to get to London from Brussels than it does to get from London to Manchester! I"ve also ordered a Rick Steves book covering Amsterdam, Brussels and the area. I have some Amsterdam books but this one will have Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp too. I really want to go to Bruges which i'm sure we can do for part of the second day as it's not far.

The way things look now, we'll be in London on a Friday and Saturday night so a pub meet will definitely be in order, yes? Looking at the first weekend in May. I think since we will be arriving at St. Pancras and leaving from Euston, i'll get a hotel in that area. It'll be the most useful. Hopefully, the exchange rate will stay really low like it is now and i can get a nicer hotel for the same or cheaper than usual. A £60 hotel used to cost me over $150 CAD and now a £75 one will be in the vicinity of $130 at today's rates. Can't beat that with a stick! The Euro is about $1.65 CAD at the moment which is a little bit better than when we went to Paris. Onward and upward!
tvordlj: (Amsterdam)
Nicking this idea from [livejournal.com profile] ephemera and just because i haven't posted in a couple of days....
What are you wearing today? I am dressed low key as usual, black stretchy trousers, long med. blue tshirt, glasses, watch, black socks, brown trainers. Jewellry: silver earrings Haida Native design which need polishing,engagement ring, claddagh ring (silver), silver ring with fimo stone and medeival style band ring. Office security swipe card on lanyard with rolling stones logos on it. Hair needs trimming, I look a bit gym-ish, but i'll do.

I have booked a massage and an eyebrow wax for Monday. Not all at the same time. The receptionist at the salon reminded me that i could not use the tanning booth on the same day as a waxing. Um. Do i look that white? or do i look like i'm a regular user? My guess is the first, not the second. Was surprised i could get in with the massage therapist so soon, they're usually booked up a bit further ahead and i figured i wouldn't get one until this time next week. I prefer to go at lunch or after work so my time window is restricted.

I've been checking out hotels in Amsterdam for something somewhat reasonable with rooms that are en suite and that the hotel has an elevator. Have seriously thought about this one, the Rho hotel. I think we'll do three nights possibly four but if we do four, one will definitely be a day trip type of day, either Delft or Haarlem which actually might be more interesting from what i've been told. Not decided on weekday or weekend. Weekend might be fun if we can try to get a group of people to go with us. Did this a few years ago in Dublin and 10 of us had a great time, doing our own thing mostly in the daytime and meeting up for dinner and drinks and nightlife. This won't be until next spring sometime. I'd want to go when the tulips are out so probably Easter, early - mid April might be a tad early. End of April or early May would be better, I think. Anyway, just thinking out loud, as it were. I think we'll definitely be going no matter what.

Books!!

May. 14th, 2008 08:28 am
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
While killing time before i met a friend for dinner last night, i poked my nose into John Doull's bookshop, a wonderful second hand bookstore in downtown Halifax. The shop is full of shelves, along the walls and in the aisles and books are piled on stacks on the floor and lined up on the floor in front of the shelves. This is a little peek hole they've made by gluing some books together and cutting out the tops and bottoms to add to the circle. I had a rummage through the travel section and then picked up an old paperback copy of The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. I'm ashamed to admit i'm not a big fan of Canadian literature though have read some good ones over the years but i read this years ago and seemed to recall that i liked it. There's a movie of it coming out soon so i want to reread it. Ellen Burstyn is in the movie and Ellen Page has a small part in it.



Dinner was nice. We went to the Old Triangle which was very busy, more than i expected for a Tuesday night. We got the last table available in a corner and ended up sitting next to a table where two of my coworkers were! *wave* My friend is from the Netherlands so we chatted about Amsterdam a bit and got some good ideas where there were some nice areas to explore. I got home about 9 o'clock just as it was getting dark and i realized how late the sun was staying up these days. You'd think it was almost summer. Except you wouldn't think it going by the temperatures in the mornings. Still down in the low single digits and it's been quite windy lately. I think it's going to warm up in the daytime though. Maybe. I'm getting so tired of it being cold most of the time.

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