New York 2013

January 12, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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NYC 2013:

This was at the end of a month of travel so was a chance to relax and wind down before returning to work so not much happened but that was great.

  • Highline park – walked along the former rail line that’s now a park to get an above ground view of New York, the only problem is that it is narrow so it can get cramped at times, but it was very cool
  • Brooklyn Smorgasburg – made it over to Brooklyn to check out an open air market, I bought a pie shake from Butter & Scotch. It’s literally a piece of (sweet) pie blended with ice cream that you can then drink. Very heavy but good. On a fine day it’s very pleasant to walk around and look over at the Manhattan skyline.
  • Kinky Boots – watched this Tony award winning musical and enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away. Possibly because the happiness of the musical was soured by already knowing the reality of what happened to the people involved. Similarly none of the numbers made me want to go home and buy them. If you can get a decent price on a ticket do give it a go.

I enjoyed my brief time here catching up with various friends, trying faux cronut cronuts (ie I don’t remember the retailer and what they called it) and going from massive buildings like central station to the relaxation of central park.

Photos on Flickr.


January 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment
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Philadelphia 2013:

  • Eastern Penitentiary – take a few hours to listen to the audio guide and check out this abandoned prison, plenty of nooks, crannies and anecdotes to immerse yourself with
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Rocky steps) – the iconic “Rocky” steps were still getting plenty of use and photos by people (most of whom probably weren’t around when that came out). By the time I got to the museum it was quite late in the day and having already gone to a few galleries I gave the museum a miss (especially as I didn’t want to pay too!). Unfortunately I didn’t realise that on Wednesday’s it was open later and after 5 you can pay what you like. D’oh!
  • Liberty Bell – Not a lot of information but does cover its creation, how it became iconic and its general history. The bell itself is smaller than I expected too! It may be hard to see it if there are many tourists or tourist groups in the way.
  • Independence Hall – make sure you pick up a ticket first at the visitor centre on the far side of the park (hopefully there are some available), the tour is good and worth it and doesn’t take too long. You can also check out some of the other displays in the area or some other presentations. I didn’t though.
  • National Constitution Center – large building, check out the live action presentation and then the displays about the constitution, its development, current status and implementation. I thought it might be quite kiddy focused but was pretty interesting and well presented.
  • Reading Terminal Market – Large indoor food market with lots of lunch options, had my first hoagie and also an Amish doughnut
  • Mutter Museum – relatively expensive compared to most other places I’d been to but at this medical museum you can find a number of oddities like slices of Einstein’s brain or books made with human skin. It and Magic Gardens were recommended by a local so something off the usual tourism path.
  • Magic Gardens – I walked past at night so didn’t get the full effect, however a number of buildings in this district have colourful mosaics, a bit weird but neat to check out
  • Jim’s – another local recommendations for one of the famous Philly cheeseteaks. Give it a go and walk around the area there are quite a few cool shops around South Street.
  • 30th Street Station – wonderful interior for a station

There’s quite a bit to do in Philadelphia with things across the city and there’s even more than on this list. It’s great to walk around and explore.

Photos on Flickr.


January 11, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment
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Wilmington 2013:

On my way to Philadelphia from Baltimore I took a slight detour with a few hours in Wilmington, Delaware. Probably the only time I’ll make it to Delaware. There doesn’t seem to be a lot going on here, it was quiet!

Walked the riverfront – it’s narrow and meandering and I imagine on some nights the pathway along it which has the odd eatery could be quite active but mid morning on a weekday not so much and there wasn’t a whole lot to keep your attention

Delaware History Museum – very interesting museum charting the history of Delaware and Wilmington

Overall there didn’t seem to be many things going on or things to do although I did wander past a lunch time market that looked nice.

Photos on Flickr.


January 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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Baltimore 2013:

  • Star Spangled Banner House – place where the flag which inspired the US national anthem was made, relatively small museum but quite interesting (for example the amount paid for the flag was a huge sum but they think the woman who made it actually lost out when you factor in the price of materials)
  • Baltimore Civil War Museum – small museum covering the civil war period in Baltimore, interesting as Maryland would likely have split from the Union had the military not intervened and the federal government suspended habeas corpus
  • Historic Ships – you can look through all of the ships or just a selection. I went through one of the subs, the lighthouse and the “lightship”, they were neat and I was happy with it but probably would have swapped the lightship for a tall ship. That or just pay extra and walk through the other ships (all depending on what your level of interest is).
  • Federal Hill Park – park overlooking the main city skyline and quite relaxing
  • Fort McHenry – unfortunately I didn’t make it here but if you get the chance it looks like it would be very interesting

Overall I was only here for a day but it was pleasant, particularly as I hadn’t scheduled a lot to do and it was also the first day in the US that wasn’t hot (possibly benefiting from the air coming off the harbor).

Photos on Flickr.

Washington D.C.

January 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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Washington DC 2013:

  • The WhiteHouse – if you want to limit the number of randoms in your photos of the WhiteHouse do try and get there early, it’s as iconic in person as you’d expect
  • American History Museum – Lots of useful American history pieces from technology and pop culture to the original star spangled banner.
  • Natural History Museum – A great natural history museum with animals and human ancestors from various time periods
  • National Archives – find the declaration of independence, constitution and bill of rights here, which is all very powerful. There are other exhibits here from the archives as well.
  • National Gallery of Art – art and more art with quite a cool atrium on the upper level as well.
  • National Portrait Gallery – very interesting and offers personal stories which provides a more personal view of the US that is very engaging. Do take the time to read through as much of the civil war section as you can as there’ll be less text in later areas.
  • GeorgeTown – Lots of small shops and red brick buildings provide a more laid back atmosphere (unless you’re queueing at that cupcake shop that’s on TV)
  • Congress – I booked a ticket online to get a tour of congress, it was interesting but if you didn’t pre-book and had to wait in line I might not consider it as you only go to some areas and not the high profile ones like the Chambers. Nonetheless you’re still in one of the most important buildings in the world!
  • Native American Museum – Several people recommended the museum specifically for the food in the canteen and indeed it was good. The museum for the most part talks about the general experience of Native Americans as well as providing information on each grouping. Unfortunately because there are so many groups it can be difficult to read even the high level sections when you’re pressed for time. Still for someone with limited knowledge this was a useful museum.
  • Air and Space Museum – if I hadn’t gone to the California Science Center I would have spent many more hours here exploring but luckily from a time perspective I could be more efficient and just wander through and pick and choose, still lots of cool exhibits.

A trip to DC would be incomplete without taking in some of its monuments:

  • WW1 Memorial
  • Korean Memorial
  • Lincoln Monument
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Reflecting Pool
  • WW2 memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • Jefferson Monument

The Jefferson and Lincoln monuments in particular are great to walk through. When I visited the Washington Monument was still closed to the public but it’s still quite visible from around the city.

Overall, there’s lots to do which means you might need to be efficient with your scheduling or limit your selection of museums. It was also great to catch up with friends too.

Photos on Flickr.

Los Angeles

January 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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Los Angeles in 2013:

  • Page Museum and tar pits – I’d always imagined the tar pits as being massive but they’re relatively small with main section. Although Variety’s building overlooks it. The museum which covers the items found in the pits is pretty interesting and doesn’t take too long to go through.
  • LACMA – LA’s museum of art is a complex of several buildings and has an array of art crossing time periods and geography, feel free to take a wander
  • California Science Center – A science museum with exhibits covering space, exploration, nature, the body and a host of other topics. It also has one of the shuttles, the Endeavour, it was truly remarkable to stand by this feat of engineering. The imax experience was pretty cool too.
  • Griffith Observatory – we didn’t go to any of the exhibits inside the observatory it was nonetheless very cool to stand by the observatory and look out over the city and also back towards the mountains and the Hollywood sign
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame – we weren’t able to find a parking spot so just drove by the walk of fame and the other sights along the strip, did see a few of the pavement stones as we drove past, that was enough for me given the odds of actually finding a star for an actor I may know
  • Paley Center for Media – when I went they had a display from various television shows including set pieces and props, which was quite cool
  • Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach – quite a bit of a walk but the weather was good and it was great to walk in the water on the other side of the Pacific as well. The people watching was excellent too.

Overall I liked LA and it had a decent variety of tourism options. I enjoyed catching up with my friend and was very lucky that they were able to take me around some places as well (public transport is ok in some places but not most).

Photos on Flickr.


January 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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While back in Brisbane I took the chance to catch up with friends in the city, on the Gold Coast and swim in the Pacific at Noosa. All very relaxing so there wasn’t much tourist activity taking place, except for:

Mana Bar – Video game themed bar in Brisbane ’nuff said.

Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary – The sanctuary looks after injured Koalas, there aren’t many and it doesn’t take too long to go through the exhibits but it’s pleasant to walk around the sanctuary and if you wanted to, for several more hours around the large bush area that surrounds it.

Photos on Flickr.


January 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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In 2013 I went back to Australia for the first time in three years for a wedding and took the opportunity to visit Melbourne for the first time. Long haul flights are not my friend so inevitably I was incredibly jet lagged, which may colour my opinions.

As for Melbourne I went to:

  • The Queen Victoria Market – Lots of stalls when I got there quite early most of the outdoor ones hadn’t opened yet but inside there was a lot of activity and I wish I was hungry enough to buy all the food
  • National Gallery of Victoria – it’s a decent representation but sorry to say nothing here blew me away (spoilt from London I guess)
  • Shrine of Remembrance – monumental structure to remember those who died in war with a museum underneath it. From the top you can go outside and get some great view.
  • Botanical Gardens – get your fill of nature and greenery here
  • St Kilda and the Esplanade – it was a very windy day as I walked to St Kilda and along the esplanade but I imagine on a sunny day it would be very relaxing
  • Federation Square: Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Ian Potter Centre – ACMI had some interesting exhibits on changing media in Australia and the world from radio, TV, film and new digital forms like the internet. The IPC is an Australian art gallery that was interesting but nothing made me want to go and buy a print from the shop.

Overall I thought Melbourne was ok and the winding laneways offer lots of opportunites but the river didn’t offer the same impact as Sydney Harbour. Having said that I only saw a small portion of it and was quite tired so I could have just missed the spot that really sells the city.

Photos on Flickr.


January 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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A couple of times over the last few years I’ve been to Belgium, here’s a quick overview:


  • Het Steen Castle – picturesque castle on the waterfront no museum associated with it but a great landmark
  • Cathedral of our lady– the usual impressive cathedral interiors
  • Town hall / city square – walk around and enjoy the ambience (not to mention the wall of flags on the town hall)
  • MAS – Skyscraper of art, go through the various levels and end up on the rooftop for some great views (note there is an English guide that you use to scan QR codes and in 2012 some of them wouldn’t work because of positioning and shadow but on the most part good)
  • Prints room – how did manuscripts get printed before modern printers? Come here to find out!
  • Sounds of the city – Museum looking at musical instruments. Very little in English but for someone not that fussed about music just taking a walk around and listening to various samples was enough.
  • Rubens House – Not sure if I came here or not, either way looks like you might want to!


  • Royal army and military history museum – located next to the art museum on a spacious park, not a lot of English but plenty of items like tanks and planes to check out. Quite a lot of floor space to walk through.
  • Art and history museum – fascinating and large museum with plenty of artefacts so be prepared to take some time to go through it
  • Palace – During set periods you can check out the palace and its array of opulent rooms
  • BELVUE – learn about the history of Belgium in this short but informative museum
  • Belgian Comic Book Centre – like comic books? Then this is the place to go for Tintin, Asterix and so many more.
  • Parlamentarium – Want to learn about how democracy and the legislative process in Europe then come here. It’s very modern with some great interactive exhibits, which took longer than I anticipated to go through.
  • Pis statues – Mannekin is the city’s famous statue, I honestly don’t know what I was expecting but at the end of the day it’s literally a small statue peeing. That’s it. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Meanwhile the more recent Jeanneke (the female version) is behind bars. Lastly, apparently there’s also Zinneke (a dog) somewhere but I didn’t know about it.
  • Christmas market – spread throughout the city but lots of stalls and options to get food and drink


  • Basilica of the Holy Blood – small church with a relic that allegedly has some of Jesus’ blood
  • Friet Museum – Fries, fries and more fries (and the history of them)
  • Choco Story Museum – learn about the history of chocolate. Not as fancy as the one in Cologne but by the same token it’s smaller so faster to go through
  • Grote Markt and Belfry – go up the famous belfry and look out over the city. The security mesh at the windows at the top does diminish the view a bit though.
  • City Hall – has a historic meeting hall that you can look at and a small museum beside it, there’s another museum your ticket gets you into that’s tiny and doesn’t have any English
  • Walk around the historic and charming city centre and buy chocolate!


  • Belfry – another belfry with a great view over the city, I preferred this over Bruges because it was less crowded and offered open air views without security mesh (and an elevator if you don’t want to take the stairs)
  • Castle of the Counts – cool castle complex, take the opportunity to walk around and explore
  • The house of Alijn – a former almshouse and it now showcases the everyday lives of people over the 20th century
  • St Nicolas’ Church – large interior but nothing amazing inside
  • Most importantly walk around, see the old city and buildings (including numerous churches) and don’t forget to walk over the bridges on the river. The station is further away so you may need other transport and it’s larger than Bruges with things more spread out but I think I prefer it to Bruges.

Food wise on my latest trip these three places stood out:

As with so many other places I may have forgotten things but let’s hope not.

Photos at Flickr (2012; Antwerp and Brussels) and (2013).


January 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment
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Went to Amsterdam in 2012.

Some but not all of the things I did are below, make sure to take the time to walk around the city, canals and the parks as well:

  • Anne Frank House – Famous but too famous as you end up trudging along in one long line throughout unable to appreciate it and in my case potentially near people who’d had too much pot. There is an app that let’s you explore Anne’s Amsterdam. I only used it briefly but may be a more engaging overall experience.
  • Rijksmuseum – Still undergoing its renovation when I was there so there was not as much to see (although that was advantageous in not having to spend as long there)
  • Amsterdam Museum – Find out about the city, its history and people. Definitely worth it.
  • Van Gogh Museum – Well known and very popular and I didn’t go as the queue was massive
  • Dutch Resistance Museum – Interesting and a museum devoted to resistance during WW2 was a topic I hadn’t seen explored in other places
  • Rembrandt House – About Rembrandt, enough said right?
  • Royal Palace Amsterdam – Very cool building to explore, it’s city centre and you should check it out

Probably did a few other things but may have forgotten! There are plenty of other things to see and do in Amsterdam as well.

Photos at Flickr.

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