Monday, August 27, 2007

Instant house?

If I had a block of land, I would put one of these nifty little things on it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Photos - Brugge part 2

The amazing Kamermuziekzaal in the Brugge Concertgebouw. The seats around the outside are all on a ramp that spirals around the room three times.

Just a normal street in Brugge!

Me on a boat.

A swan!

No prizes for guessing this one :)

Photos - Brugge part 1

Now that I'm safely back in Oz, and the jet lag is finally passing (why is it so much harder coming East than going West?) I can post some photos of my trip! The first installment - Brugge and the Harpsichord Competition...

Sunrise somewhere over Eastern Europe

The day I arrived in Brugge - a lovely Belgian summer's day!

The sign outside...

... the Provincial Hof - where the first and second rounds of the competition were. This is probably the biggest and most fancy building in town - right on the main square.

Some of the amazing harpsichords in the instrument expo.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I'm standing at a free internet terminal at Singapore airport, having just arrived on a Turkish Airlines flight from Vienna via Istanbul.

I arrived in Vienna late on Wednesday night, after a 10 hour train journey through the Alps, which was amazing, but long. Before Vienna I stayed one night in Friedrichshaven, a small town in the very south of Germany, on the Bodensee (Lake Constance). I was visiting my friend Kathy, another mate from Melbourne. It was really great to hang out with Kathy and Thomas, her German boyfriend (and the reason she moved to Germany), and chat, drink beer and play pool. The evening was only marred by a rather angry young local, who for no reason at all tried to pick a fight with Thomas, who then ended up with a bloody nose, but no real harm.

My internet is about to run out here - I'm going to see if I can connect with my pda wireless... stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Space - Europe vs. Australia

Another thing I really like about what I have seen of Europe so far is the positive benefits of living in small, high density spaces. For an Australian travelling here for the first time this is perhaps one of the most striking things - used as we are to sprawling cities, more space than we know what to do with, and the mythological ideal of the quarter-acre-block. Some of my thoughts, in no particular order, are:

~ Having so much space has made Australians lazy when it comes to urban and residental design. We don't need to come up with interesting solutions to space issues, so we simply spread out.

~ There is such a thing as having too much private space, which is to the detriment of public space. Australians on the whole live more of their life in thier private space than Europeans, and I think we're missing out on something.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I am sitting in the 'Bordbistro' dining car on the train from Köln to Friedrichshafen, drinking a cup of rather mediocre Geman coffee. I flew back to Amsterdam from Sevilla with Georg on Sunday evening, and yesterday caught the train to Köln, where I stayed the night with Gus, an old mate from Melbourne.

Gus and one of his housemates invited me to one of their friend's places for dinner. I borrowed a bike from another housemate and the three of us set off on a half-hour ride across the city. The preponderance of bicycles and the casuallness and freedom that they give to the life in the cities has been one of my favourite things about Europe. In Amsterdam I rode on the back of Georg's bike, sitting on the luggage rack as we sped along the Amstel. Last night I enjoyed a bike all to myself, riding through the streets and parks, the latter filled with locals barbequeing and picnicing in the evening sunshine.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Portugal... hot!

And sunny... and the food is very cheap and quite yummy.

I´m sitting in a little internet cafe in a small town on the south coast somewhere near Lagos. We´ve been travelling through the hilly countryside of Algarve for the past few days - countryside which is surprisingly similar to Australia, actually. It is very dry, rocky, red-brown earth, with orange and olive orchards in amongst the scrub. There aren´t really any big trees, and the few sizeable trees around are eucalypts, which all the Europeans think are very exotic, but for me is quite normal! Everything else about the place is very different from anywhere I have ever been, though...

Last night we stayed in a little town called Silves. Like most of the towns in the area, it has a moorish heritage, little winding cobbled streets, different coloured houses with shuttered windows and thick walls, old churches and lots of British tourists. After securing accomodation for the night in a little guesthouse run by a local Portugese equivalent of an Italian nonna (with whom we had to communicate via a mixture of sign language, random English and Spanish words and a lot of nodding and saying of ´si, si´) we discovered that this was the week of the Silves medival fair. I was quite entertained by the little stalls run by people in assorted styles of medieval garb, which ran the gamut from belly-dancing attire, through biblical shepherd costume, to a very convincingly made up ´leper´ outside the castle gates.

Oh yes, there was also a castle in Silves. A red castle! Unfortunately the buildings which once stood inside the castle walls were long gone, but I enjoyed walking around the ramparts and peering out at the surrounding countryside through the battlements...

Must finish up now before I run out of time, but before I go I just want to set the record straight... sorry to disappoint you, Becky, but no, the reason I haven´t been posting is because of a distinct shortage of internet facilities in this little corner of the world, not because of anything else more exciting!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Free internet in Brussels

I am sitting in the cafe Mort Subite (sudden death) in Brussels using some lovely fast free wifi.

Brussels is completely different to Bruges - for starters it is much bigger, more modern (yet still old in the centre, but a different type of old), and less obviously charming, although I think probably ultimately more satisfying. Many of the streets run in straight lines, which is much easier to navigate than Bruges' constantly curving and taking you in a completely different direction to the one gou wanted to go in streets!

I am waiting at this cafe to meet Georg, with whom l will travel to Amsterdam this afternoon. So this is my last day in Belgium, where I have eaten delicious waffles and way too much bread (bread seems to be an indispensible part of every meal), drunk cherry-flavoured kriek beer, and meandered along medieval cobbled streets.