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Design museum July 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Architecture/Design, Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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I forgot to mention yesterday that we went to the Design Museum near London Bridge.

It had a wide variety of exhibits including Formula One cars that were just like the toy cars that belonged to Dad. My favourite was the British designed chairs that went back to the BA chair “made of resmelted aluminium alloy from wartime aircraft scrap”, through to 2005 chair designs. I have to say though that the other thing I really enjoyed was beating Chris at the PONG game in the exhibit of the history of computer game design.

The museum was small but totally inspiring.


Connections July 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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Fil and El are staying with us tonight at Julie’s. They are here from Oxford and we are going to head to Spitalfields market tomorrow. Just looking, not buying … well not unless it falls into the “I luurrrve it” category. Speaking of which I went to the op shops in Hammersmith today. I had forgotten how great Traid is. It has great stuff but I managed to control myself as now that I am spending AUD$ and not £ , it is not quite as tempting. I did get a fab disco era scarf though.

That scarf may come in handy next week when Chris and I go to see Rick (AKA Deep Child) play in Berlin next week. It’s great timing that he is there when we are and he says that it is at an outdoor club that is quite fab.

We only realised today that our flight to Berlin is on Tuesday and not Monday. At least that gives us some more time to chill here in London and enjoy the break from hostel beds and eating out. We are going to stay at Innes’ parents place in Essex on Monday night before our flight so we appreciate that too.

Chris caught up with some guys from the various bike shops he has worked at this week. He has been torturing himself (and me) with dreams of cycling across Europe so he went and chatted to Corey (ex Richmond Cycles) and Ben (ex Wooly’s Wheels) about that and what an unsympathetic wife he has!

I haven’t seen anyone from the BBC yet and might leave that until we come back to London.

Arrrrrrrgos July 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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I had that uniquely British  (at least I haven’t  seen it elsewhere) experience of going to Argos today. For those of you who don’t know, Argos is where you buy things like kettles and toasters and hair dryers- anything that Australians would buy at Kmart or Myer really. However, because of space restrictions, instead of going into a store where all the goods are displayed, at Argos you have to look through a catalogue and find what you want and this starts the torturous process of attempting to buy what you want. You have to line up with the catalogue number and pay for your as yet unseen goods. Then you wait and wait for your purchase to be delivered from the warehouse. Then you usually have to line up again to pick it up. YAWN! However if you want to actually compare products before you buy them, you have to go through all of this twice. What a great way to spend an hour on a sunny Saturday. I did manage to get my hairdryer eventually. I am ashamed that I have sold out to that vanity while travelling but I couldn’t stand it anymore.


Food July 29, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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Sonia’s latest entry has inspired me: http://sonael.wordpress.com/2006/07/28/whinge-about-food/

<>I also wish we could fulfil out need for food in an easier way. Because we are travelling, almost every meal has involved eating out or take away. It is getting to the stage where I am sick of looking at menus and the wait for the bill at the end is interminable. Don’t think I can’t hear how spoilt this sounds! Poor me.

This week has been good though. We have been staying at Julie and Mark’s in London and it means that we have been cooking for ourselves (or being cooked for tonight- thanks Mark!). It has been a relief- and we were able to have Cumberland sausages, our UK favourite. I have also been feasting on Cadbury trifle desserts, another treat you can’t get in Australia.


Sleep, heat and smells July 28, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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The jet lag is really killing us this time. I don’t remember it ever being this bad. Today both of us slept until midday- very unusual for Chris.  We finally dragged ourselves out of the house  and walked to Greenwich.

The sleeping problem has not been helped by the fact that it is HOT! The heat wave seems to be following us. Today we retreated into the National Maritime Museum to get cool. Yesterday was even worse. We went to Hammersmith to see the bike shop where Chris used to work. When we got there, the heat was relieved by the fact that a water main had burst in the main street and everything was knee deep in water. This of course led to traffic chaos.

<>The tube line we needed was closed because of a fire so it took us two hours to get back to Deptford on very crowded, overheated trains. People were actually shouting at each other with the frustration of the probably 40 degree heat underground. But thankfully, we are still able to put this all down as another travelling experience without too much bitterness.

One thing we have noticed all over the place is the smell of the cities. I don’t think we realise in Australia generally how clean it is. We must have become used to it when we lived here but the smells of garbage and the habits of public urination are everywhere. Of course this is also enhanced by the heat. Each city has its own distintive aroma though. Given enough time, you could probably distinguish one from the other.

Buskers July 26, 2006

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It is amazing how buskers reflect the city you are in. I remember the first time we rode the Metro in Paris and there was a busker playing a piano accordian. It was like a scene from a movie.

In New York, the buskers were just as fitting. The first ones we saw were a barber shop quartet. But the really impressive one was a man who looked homeless but had a fabulous jazz voice and was captivating.

Week three July 24, 2006

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New York is a great even when it is raining. Some cities are not too exciting when it is raining but NY has been fabulous anyway.

We have been all around the place with the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side (LES) one of our favourites. In fact we loved the LES altogether.

We went to the Guggenheim but to my immense disappointment, the outside was covered in scaffolding. The inside was worth it though. I loved being able to watch everyone on the other levels looking at the art.

I also went shopping (yes again). We went to Century 21 which is a department store near Wall Street. I know I have said it before but “THE SHOES!!!!!” This place had Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Armani, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and soo many others for under $150US! It is enough to convert a flat shoe girl like me to stilettos. Some were just so beautiful I had to touch them!

New York is a dog city- they are everywhere. Big, small, furry and hairless- you trip over them all whereever you are. We were in Washington Square on Sunday afternoon and even more amazing than the crazy buskers was the small dog enclosure where every manner of pampered pooch was playing. There was even a dog with little shoes on! I will upload the pictures on to flickr.

The Hotel Chelsea was interesting. I think most of the people in the rooms actually live there. The lobby was filled with lots of artists and musicians sitting around. This was the hotel where Arthur C Clarke wrote ‘2001- A Space Odyssey’. It was a bit of a strange place but a good experience.

We are in London now and have slept all day. Will update later.

Yesterday July 21, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary, Uncategorized.
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Some days, travelling is a joy. The day we spent at Arches National Park was one of those. Truly spectacular scenery, great weather, nice place to stay- it had it all.

Then there are days like yesterday.

We got up at 5am to return the rental car and get to the airport for a 7am flight. when we arrived, the flight was delayed until 10.40am. So we spent 4 hours in the airport. Not too bad, just a small hassle. When we finally arrived in New york, we went straight to the Jazz on the Town hostel we booked two months ago. It is right in the East Village, which is where I wanted to stay to soak up the atmosphere. Our booking was recorded on their computer as having been cancelled, so we had nowhere to stay, and despite the fact that we did not cancel the reservation, they wouldn’t give us our deposit back. 

The middle of summer in New York is not the easiest time to find somewhere to stay on a budget. After a couple of hours of looking we found a room at the Chelsea Hostel. What I haven’t mentioned is that NYC is in the middle of a heatwave. The temperature in our room, which was right under the roof, was about 40C. So we had to go and buy our own fan. Grrr.

Individually, these are not big things, but by 10pm when we were still looking for a fan to buy, we were not that happy.

Good things yesterday were that we saw “The Devil wears Prada” which is a perfect movie to see in New York. We both loved it. Chelsea is also quite a cool place to stay. We can only stay at the hostel for three nights so on the last two nights we are going to stay at the Chelsea Hotel which featured in Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls and was where Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen in 1978. Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas and lots of artists have stayed or lived there as well. I am not sure how good the rooms will be but it will be an experience!

Frank Lloyd Wright July 19, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Architecture/Design, Uncategorized.
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Yesterday we went to Fallingwater and the day before to Kentuck Knob, both houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Western Pennsylvania.

For those of you who don’t know, FLW has become a favourite of mine over the last few years and it was great to see some of his work. We missed out on the places in Arizona and LA because of time constraints.

We went to Kentuck Knob first. This was a smaller house built for the Hagen family in the 1950’s. It was an example of his philosophy that no matter how small the house, it can be beautiful. It is now owned by Lord Palumbo and also contained some great art pieces. It was built right into the side of the hill and belnds with its surroundings which was one of Wrights main aims. It felt great inside with different amounts of light used in each room for effect.

Fallingwater was on a much grander scale with three levels, servants quarters and a guest house. It was incredible with all the cantilevers reaching out over the waterfall on which the house is built. The furnishings were mostly by Wright as well and it was fantastic to see it all. The setting is amazing and the house uses what they called Wright’s conceal and reveal technique by which you go through a small dark passageway to reveal a larger lighter room.

Now we are looking forward to the Guggenheim this week! 

New York Shopping July 19, 2006

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Oh dear. It really is as bad as they say. It is impossible not to shop in New York! Mum and I went shopping the other day and spent five hours just in Macys! It was amazing. I am not really a shoe person but oh the shoes, the shoes, the shoes!! I fully understand why Carrie spent the equivalent of a house deposit on shoes. There have been so many that I could have bought. But I only bought a pair of Mephisto sandals in LA (just off Rodeo drive no less).

My downfall was when I found H&M, my favourite shop from London just near Macy’s. I couldn’t resist and bought a few things but they were all quite cheap.

My other desire was the earrings in the shop where Dad bought Mum a ring for her birthday. $1000 US for amazing diamond earrings with six princess cuts in each. But I resisted. I did get two pairs of gold earrings in KMart of all places for 70% off! They worked out to be about $20 each pair! 

I really have to be more careful when we go back to New York today or the trip will be considerably shorter than 6 months.