Assorted: Royal Institution of Great Britain, Proms, Zoroastrianism & Olympics

December 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel | 1 Comment
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More assortments:

Royal Institution of Great Britain – They have a small exhibit space covering scientific discovery, particularly the work conducted at the Institution. It’s in central London and relatively fast to get through. Apparently no photos of this 😦

Proms – Went to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time and for my first Proms. This was #5 Lachenmann / Mahler. The Hall was smaller inside than I expected but it’s a beautiful venue with predictably great acoustics. The Lachennmann piece was a premiere and seemed to divide the audience (at least those near me), although got a rousing applause. Perhaps it because it had ended? From what I gather it was a piece highlighting the sounds that you normally don’t hear. I get the premise but ultimately it didn’t work for me (though all the people near me who were unimpressed made it more challenging to get into). The Mahler piece was much more accessible and crowd friendly and so a great way to end the night. Would definitely try and see more proms next year. Can’t seem to find the photos 😦

SOAS Zoroastrian exhibit – The SOAS gallery has an exhibit on Zoroastrianism, which for the uninitiated offered a good starting point to learn more about it. No photos of this either.

The 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics – I was very lucky and got the chance to go to a number of events at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics: Men’s football (including a match with GB), Women’s Gold final football, BMX riding, Judo, a sampling of paralympian events at the Excel Centre like powerlifting, judo, ping pong, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball. One of the best times was definitely being at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony. Very cool. Generally speaking all of the events had an awesome attitude that made it incredibly fun and I was happy to be part of it. Photos.

Athletes parade. After the Olympics ended there was a celebratory athletes parade through London. We walked down to Fleet Street to watch some of it. It was a fun afternoon seeing all of the athletes and the medals. Photos.

Assorted: Marathon, St Paul’s music, Thatcher funeral & St Patrick’s day parade

December 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism | 1 Comment
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More assorted activities:

London marathon – On the day of the London marathon I walked down to Westminster and took some photos. It was only a brief wander but the weather and atmosphere were great. Everyone was cheering on the runners and giving them plenty of support. I don’t think I could ever run that long and am impressed by those who did. Photos.

Music at St Paul’s – On 23 May 2013 I went with some friends to St Paul’s for a Beethoven concert. It didn’t touch my soul but sitting in this epic cathedral listening to music is definitely an experience and one I’d like to do again. Photos.

Thatcher’s funeral – when former Prime Minister and Baroness Margaret Thatcher died, her funeral procession came along Fleet Street on its way to St Paul’s for the ceremony. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go down to the street for the procession (BBC footage certainly showed a lot of people). I did manage to take a walk at lunch to see what was left over. Photos.

St Patrick’s day parade – Went and watched this year’s parade for the first time. It was fun, there were a variety of floats and they moved past at a reasonable rate. Probably better to watch with friends and then head off to a pub for a pint. Photos.


Assorted: AFL, Rugby, Jewel Tower and Oktoberfest

December 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Posted in London, Tourism, UK | 1 Comment
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Assorted bits and pieces:

AFL – By random chance I was walking near Oval and saw a bunch of Australians sporting AFL team colours. A quick google later and and it turned out there was an exhibition game. Called a mate who knew about AFL, we bought tickets and I went to see my first AFL match. It wasn’t a great first time, even my mate who’s a fan thought it was lack lustre. According to wikipedia there were 10,000 people but it definitely feel like it. Pretty sparse. Still wouldn’t mind seeing another match sometime, maybe back in Australia one day.

Rugby – Continuing the sporting them I went to see another first, my first live rugby game at Twickenham on 29/12/12. The Quinns vs the London Irish. It seemed like everyone was still suffering from post-Christmas sluggishness and my rugby mates were less then impressed so my own lack of attention was well placed. Happy with the company though! Would like to get the chance to see another match too.

Jewel Tower – An English Heritage property opposite Parliament. It doesn’t take too long to walk around and gives a quick snap shot of the democratic process in the UK.

Oktoberfest – Another 2012 item. Went to the Oktoberfest in Kennington with some friends and it was random but good fun.

Photos at flickr.

V&A: Hollywood Costume

December 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Posted in London, Tourism | 1 Comment
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Last year we went to the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibit. Again this was a super popular exhibit which meant trying to see items and importantly read the information was particularly challenging.

The collection covered an array of movies so while Dorothy’s red shoes might not be your thing then Indiana Jones may be more to your liking.

If you’re a movie buff then this exhibit was certainly worthwhile. It was also good to see that it had travelled onto Melbourne when I was there (and possibly more cities as well).

British Library: Propaganda: Power and Persuasion

December 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Posted in London, Tourism | 1 Comment
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This year I went to the British Library’s exhibit – Propaganda: Power and Persuasion. It was definitely a popular one which meant trying to navigate the space and read the materials was a challenge that limited the enjoyment of the exhibit.

Nonetheless, it was very interesting to see the different ways that propaganda has been used through modern history and the impact that has had through multiple mediums like posters, video and social media. If it comes back again try and see it.

Natural History Museum: Sebastião Salgado

December 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Posted in London, Tourism | 1 Comment
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I visited the Natural History Museum earlier in the year to see the Sebastião Salgado photography exhibit.

It covers an array of topics from natural physical beauty, animals and hidden tribal communities and their ways of life. The variety means that while one element may not inspire you another piece is around the corner that might do so.

For this exhibit I went with two friends and each of us had, as you’d expect, different favourites but is indicative that there’s something for everyone (hopefully!).

Royal Academy: Australia

December 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Posted in London, Tourism | 1 Comment
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Recently went to the Australia exhibit at the Royal Academy. Going to an art exhibit is always an iffy proposition for me as my knowledge of art is pretty much relegated to whether I like the look of it. In that context while I recognised some of the pieces at the end of the day nothing blew me away and had me racing to the gift shop to buy a print.

Nonetheless the exhibit was useful in showing the development of the Australian art scene and it’s likely future development as it continues to absorb cultural elements from across the globe as well as its own domestic voice.

New Year’s Day Parade 2012(?)

December 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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As 2013 draws to a close it’s time to remember the new year’s day parade from 1 Jan 2012 (at least I think that’s the one). Yes it’s been a while.

So was getting up and heading into central London on a public holiday worth it to see the parade (and limiting the new year’s eve frivolity)? No.

For starters it rained. Which is not the parade’s fault but didn’t help matters. The parade was a combination of small London floats (or people on bikes/walking etc) and American marching bands. The latter were great and even with the rain and dwindling crowds kept their energy up.

Sadly the London one’s just didn’t have anything to keep the attention but the biggest problem was the timing. There were large portions where the group in front of us had finished and gone past and the next one was no where in sight. Not really a parade in my humble opinion.

Thanks to the random who let me shelter under his umbrella too.

As I didn’t go last year it may have improved and 2014 might be super so if you’re free give it a go and let me know but I doubt I’ll be back any time soon.

Sadly it seems a change of phone and a bit of a delay in writing this has meant I can’t find the photos. Guess I shouldn’t procrastinate so much…

Hyderabad 2013

December 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Posted in Tourism, Travel | 1 Comment
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Earlier this year I visited Hyderabad in India and got the chance to do some touristy things, like:

Golconda Fort – very cool complex, I’d assumed it was going to be a quick few minutes but even without knowing the history it was still an impressive experience with great views and some monumental construction.

Charminar – from photos it had appeared to be massive space (like Arc d’Triomphe) but the footprint and surround roads is much smaller. Nonetheless the views from the top and the walk around was a cool time.

Birla Mandir – My favourite part of Hyderabad this white marble complex (that bans shoes, phones and cameras) was a pleasure to walk around in the early morning as my bare feet made their way up the marble steps with the blue sky framing it all.

Salar Jung Museum – it’s a very large museum complex with a very large collection but as museums go it felt weak (though I am spoiled by the world class museums in London).

Hussain Sagar Lake – we drove around early in the morning so didn’t get the full experience. Apparently at night there are markets and light which can be charming. There’s also a giant Buddha statue in the lake.

There are quite a few other things to see in the city so make sure to do some research to find the right thing for you.

It was a quick visit and I only saw very small fragments of the city so can’t give an overall comment.

You can check some photos at flickr.

Cologne / Koln

July 13, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Back in 2011 while some friends went to the massive GamesCom in Cologne (Koln in German) I busied myself with being a tourist. I didn’t get to everything on my list but I am happy with those that I did. While the hotel (the excellent Radisson) was a bit far out, luckily it was less than a twenty minute walk, with most things close together.
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Without further ado:

Cologne Cathedral – you can take a look inside the cathedral, it’s impressive treasury and climb to the top for a view of the city. I did it with a backpack which on some of the tighter turns up the stair well was a little problematic. The cathedral is right near the station and remarkably survived the bombings of the war so make sure to check it out.
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Hohenzollern Bridge – do you have a lover, a boyfriend or girlfriend? Perhaps you want to seal that love with a lock on the side of this pedestrian and rail bridge. There are thousands covering the entire length of all varieties, some with messages too.
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Chocolate museum – A chocolate museum (sponsored by Lindt) sounds like an excellent thing. For the most part finding out about the chocolate cultivation, logistics and consumption was alright but the number of people there made it less than enjoyable. Also I was rather disappointed that the restaurant that had a great chocolate cake didn’t have the option for mochas. While they did have an excellent hot chocolate the lack of mochas boggles this chocolate lover. Side note a German friend derided this establishment as having less than great chocolate. I only wish I could remember those!
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Museum of city of Cologne – Offers a good history of the city from ancient to modern times, make sure you stop by for a visit.
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National Socialist Documentation Centre – One of the most impressive and minimalistic museums, in this nondescript building the museum recounts NAZI activity in the lead up to, during and after World War Two. The documentation centre was a prison, detention and execution centre with scrawled messages in the cells providing poignant reminders. I would definitely recommend getting the audio tour as there is limited signage (whether in German or in English). Start from the first floor which provides all the context before heading down to the cells.
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Museum Ludwig – modern art, modern art and more modern art. Again pick up the audio tour. I didn’t get it all (ok most of it) but a lot of it was very cool with some nice views from the outside patio
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Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Koln and enjoyed it a lot. Not least due to the company I was with at the time which allowed for a few drinks and schnitzels!
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Pictures at Flickr

Map at Google

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