Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Less than an hour to go until it's 2011 here in Kathmandu. We went to a place called Kilroy's run by an Irish chef. Had a drink called no rickshaw, no problem....made from liquer and different juices. Very good. Had chicken and then bread pudding for dessert which they are known for - pretty good. We walked there and back as only a ten minute walk if that but insane....crossing a busy street to get there was scary scary but Su led the way. Coming back the road wasn't as bad but the sidewalks were nuts with guys on motorcycles, etc. What a horrid city it is.....I love cities but not this one. I can't see any charm to it at all....

Up at 6 a.m. for our Everest flight at 7:30...apparently we can't take extra camera batteries in our hand luggage...have you ever heard of anything so insane? No prob tomorrow as the ones in my cameras are fully charged but still...weird....it's the airport policy and won't be able to have them in my hand luggage to fly to London either. Qatar better not lose my suitcase!!

Nice to have the mod cons here although the generator keeps going off and I lose my internet connection....they do power shredding here due to not having enough power for the country. I think it's 9 pm to midnight but it changes. Larger hotels and businesses have their own generator. I better find my flashlight - didn't think I'd need it after the jungle....wrong wrong!!

Happy New Year

Back from the jungle

Well we just arrived back in Kathmandu about a half hour ago. The rest of the group are doing a walking tour but I've already done it so am relaxing until we go out for dinner at 7 tonight. A nice hot (I hope) shower is next on the agenda after I've used up my hour of surfing time.

We had a great time in Chitwan - we got to go on three elephant rides which were so much fun. They ranged from an hour and a half to two and a half hours. The one yesterday aft. was the longest as the driver wanted to find us a bear but no luck. We dove through dense jungle - vines were ripping through my shoes but when you are on an elephant you win! At one point we went almost straight down into a creek vertically - I felt like I was going to fall forwards off the elephant!! I nearly crossed myself when I saw what we were going to do...and you know how I feel about THAT!!! We got to see a rhino with her baby and it stood there for a few minutes - amazing. Also barking deer (yes they bark just like a dog - heard them in the night which probably means a tiger/leopard was around) as well as others, monkeys and more...lots of birds. Had a canoe trip, a nature walk, a jeep ride and a jungle walk. I must confess I found the walking a bit hard as it was on rocks and up and down and my left leg is bad right now. Limp, limp. Oh well, all worth it.

We stayed in four plex units but no electricity as it was right in the park and they don't allow it. We had a generator a few hours a day which lit up a small light in the bathroom and that was it., But could handle that for three nights...longer...well...I do like my creature comforts....

It was so amazing to be in the jungle again ....no wandering out of your room after 11 pm or before 6 am as there were critters wandering around that could eat you. On our walk we found tiger tracks just a few yards from our lodge. But all amazing.

We did a canoe trip with a walk back but there were kids along so we had to hurry as it was too dangerous. Why the hell would anyone take small children (as in two years old) on something like that....luckily they were on another canoe as the one kid was singing Frosty the Snowman....um...you are supposed to be quiet as not to frighten the animals off. We were all glad to see the back of them.

Our tour leader is wonderful - so knowledgeable and he was a guide in Chitwan way back so knows his stuff. He has a degree in geology so not sure how he got into this field. He has the most amazing smile I've ever seen in my life....it just makes your skip a beat it does....:)

Lots of traffic coming back...the trucks are something else...they have stuff painted on them like "too busy for love" "hi girls, do you love me" & "drive slow, live long". Traffic is crazy but we had a wonderful driver.

Tomorrow morning it's Mt Everest flight and then I am going to take the Stupa and Cremation tour again - I just have to pay my admissions but it was so interesting....and what else would I do....oh yeah shop...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

High in the clouds...

In Pokhara now - beautiful lake surrounded by the Annapurna Range. Amazing! These mountains make the Rockies look like babies! Wewalked up to the Peace pagoda yesterday which had a good view - unfortunately it was cloudy so some of the mountains were hidden. We are talking blue sky and fluffy clouds but when the mountaisn are so high you need a cloudless day!!! We won't talk about the walk up and back but I had lots of help.

Free day today and the others are walking on another ridge but I am going to do some postcards hopefully and then walk around the lake when the light is better for photography.

We took a boat over to a temple in the middle of the lake which was nice and peaceful...our "driver" had been into the booze I discovered but oh well he got us back safe and sound. For a while there we were wondering as we were barely moving - Anna thought he was going to rob us and I thought he was too damn drunk to row properly!! :) But all turned out well in the end.

We have had trouble finding a nice place to eat here though - the food ranges from so so to disgusting. We were spoiled by the nice lodge food. Oh well back to it for a few days tomorrow....off to the jungle for three nights so no electricity and no wifi but no probs. Hopefully we will get t osee an elephant race on the way...how cool is that?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Namaste from Kurintar

I am listening to the rushing Trisuli river as I write this. Wifi here..woo hoo and cheaper than Kathmandu. I am having a relaxing day. The rest of the group....yes there is a group if you can call four of us a group....14 cancelled and two were apparently on the manifest from London to Delhi but nothing from there and cannot be tracked down.....anyway as I was saying the rest of the group went to Gorkha today. I opted after much soul searching to take a day off...there are 1000 stone steps to negotiate and my knees are still recovering from a hike the other day. Sometimes you just have to be sensible. And it's no hardship - this is a simple resort but lovely. I had hoped to use the palatial swimming pool but unless it warms up.....I want to go down to the river and take photographs but only plan to do that once due to all the steps so hanging in for the sun. It isn't 10 a,m, yet so lots of time.

It's been a great few days. Our little resort in Nagarkot was lovely and we watched the sun rise over the himalaya along with a very playful puppy. After breakfast we hiked up to a ridge for a gorgeous view - I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine due to the altitude and alas...not being in shape. I am so glad I did not do a trek. We were accompanied on the way back by a dog., Our leader was telling us that they cannot feed the stray dogs on a trek as they will follow the whole way which can be bad at higher levels. Yaks do not like dogs and will attack; the dogs run and hide behind the humans and the humans get attacked instead. One group leader was attacked this way and was airlifted out., Sue (our leader who is a guy but we call him Sue for short...yeah I know a boy named Sue) told us he had one fellow turn up for a trek in a suit and dress shoes and insisted that is what he would wear despite being told not to!!! Needless to say he dropped out after two days.

Anyway we also walked to a local village which was interesting., Nepal has 30 million people - about 43% are literate. Attending school is the law but in small villages it is not followed and children are kept home to care for younger siblings. Birth control is being promoted and in cities people have one or two children but again in the villages five or six children are normal...

Yesterday we visited the medieval city of Bhakapur which was beautiful and like being in another world. Beautiful temples with intricate carvings. Then we had a four hour drive here.

If the rest of the group are up to it later this afternooon we will walk across a suspension bridge (all very modern) to a nearby village. I somehow doubt they will be so we will do that tomorrow morning and then hopefully do the cable car trip to the Manakamana Temple. Only down side...Saturday is a big animal sacrifice day. Ick. I didn't realize Hindus were such a blood thirsty lot - never heard about animal sacrifices in India but I am sure it's the same. Up in Gorkha today animal sacrifices as well - yeah I am going to walk up all those steps to see that....yep where do I sign up.

After that we will head to Pokhara for three nights so looking forward to that. I will get some laundry done at the hotel...I've been washing out my smalls but need some t-shirts and trousers done.

They have a Christmas tree up here...actually two...but it sure doesn't seem like Christmas which isn't a bad thing. I loved having all the Christmas stuff in London but it's nice to be away.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goddesses and Cremations



Wow what a day! I am still so excited from everything I saw today. Anchie came to get me at 9:30 and off we walked to the old part of Kathmandu. We saw a famous temple - the Annapurna which is the goddess of grain....being from Saskatchewan I thought that was kind of cool. Of course that is the name of my hotel and the very famous mountain range here. Traffic was absolutely chaotic there as well but Anchie yanked me out of the way. She told me to just stand still and vehicles will go around you. These were narrow streets - well lanes really - but didn't stop motorbikes and vehicles careening down full tilt.

Then we got to Durbar Square...wow wow wow. I can't even remember all the names of the temples but I do have my guide book so will update this when I get home. Fabulous!! I had my picture taken with a Sadhu - cost me 100 rupees (about 1.25) but was well worth it. This was a bit quieter at least and was able to get so many wonderful photographs....took photos of some school girls (about 12 years old max) who posed for me and then one wanted her picture taken with me and gave her friend her cell phone to take a picture! They are everywhere!!! And I got to see a living goddess. (as in the world's only) No photos allowed but she came to the window of her temple. A young girl is chosen who must have 32 conditions - 16 physical and 16 mental. She must belong to the caste of Buddha (she must be Buddhist but is a Hindu goddess...go figure..) and is about 3 years old. She is a goddess until she has her first period then goes back to her family and normal life...crazy or what. She only leaves her compound 13 times a year and is carried either on someone's shoulder or in a chariot - her feet do not touch the earth. That is the only time photographs can be taken. At one time they were never allowed to marry but that has now been changed - I can't even imagine what life must be like for her. She is five years old now. She was heavily made up with of course the kohl on the eyes which prevents evil spirits. Even if I think it's a load of old bollocks how many people can say they've seen a living goddess?

Our next stop was the Temple of Pashupatinath which is the holiest hindu shrine in Nepal. It is the equivalent of Varanassi in India but much less touristy. Like Varanassi people come here to die and/or have their bodies cremated and their ashes put in the river. We saw the end of one cremation and the beginning of another. It was not gruesome at all and I had tears in my eyes when I watched the family say goodbye to their loved one and the oldest son light the funeral pyre. We in the west are so squeamish when it comes to death but it is just a part of life. I asked Anchie if people minded us taking photos and looking (from across the Bagmati River...if you can call it a river...way worse than the Ganges and that's saying something) and she said no. They are too involved in their own ritual and grief. It seems such a personal thing but she has experience with it and says you are not aware of people watching. And people were respectful. The Bagmati is said to flow into the Ganges which of course is India's holy river.

Then we went on to Bodnarth which has Nepal's largest stupa (Buddhist shrine). It was absolutely amazing - white with eyes painted on (which represents Buddha keeping an eye on everyone's actions good and bad..) and huge. We walked around it in a clockwise direction and spun the prayer wheels. It is in Little Tibet as that is where the refugees from Tibet live.

Anchie and I then went for lunch and I had pokharas and she had Nepalese noodles -we shared our food. We had it on a roof top restaurant overlooking the stupa. Afterwards she took me to a shop where I got myself a beautiful wall hanging for my hallway.

And then we came back to the hotel through the crazy traffic. I will be going out with her again tomorrow to Swayambunath but called the "Monkey temple" because of all the...you guess it...monkeys. Time for the cheap drugs tomorrow as there are 106 steps!!! Then to Patan to see their Durbar Square which is even better than the one here apparently. Can't even imagine. Blew through 200 photos today.

After the tour and lunch we are off to Nagarkot - we are picking a fellow up at the airport and carrying on. There are still 14 people signed up for the tour so who knows whether they will get over here or not but the tour is still on.

I am booked to fly to see Mt Everest on January 1st....so fingers crossed...what an awesome way of starting 2011!!!

I will be off line for a while I suspect - we are going to a quiet lodge on a hill for the next couple of nights so am just going to enjoy and not worry about internet access. I probably won't post until Pokhara which is in a week I think.

So Merry Christmas to everyone who is reading this!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Monday morning

Just had a go at the buffet breakfast here...it's pretty good. This morning had a cheese and mushroom omelette with fresh pineapple and papaya. And some pastries....yesterday I was more adventurous and tried the local food. But decided to give my tummy a break this morning as it doesn't feel up to it. Not sick, just a bit burning which is normal as I adjust to the spices.

Excited about the walk this morning. Nervous about what is happening with the tour...from comments on Facebook it looks like some are cancelling out of the tour - can't say I blame them but doesn't look good for me. There is another tour one day later so maybe I can hook onto that one..it is late too of course so we shall see.....getting back here for my flight could be a problem. I just hope that tomorrow is my last day in Kathmandu - I want to get out and see the real Nepal.

Not much else to report - hopefully lots more this evening!

Still just me...

The tour leader told me the rest of the group won't be arriving tomorrow...not until Tuesday at least now. Anyway for now I am going on a walking tour of Durbar Square in the morning that was scheduled so get a one on one tour. He also mentioned something in the afternoon but I could not really understand what he meant. Guess I will find out!!! I feel for the people who are stranded at Heathrow...well not being able to fly out - I'd rather be here than at the airport that's for sure. They will lose some of the tour - hopefully they don't end up cancelling the tour but it doesn't sound like it. I wonder if some will cancel out though...it must be so frustrating. They will all be exhausted when they get here and I will be wanting to talk their ears off as must admit I am starting to get a bit lonely. Kathmandu isn't the easiest city and I must look into getting a face mask as my throat is burning...I don't want to end up getting sick. Quite a few of the locals here wear face masks due to the pollution. Time for another go at the puffer I think.

I walked out again but did not go far....just too crazy and there is a blackout so can only imagine what it will be like later - only those with generators like this hotel have power. This happens about ten hours a day here due to not having enough energy resources for the amount of people,

I guess I will go back to Thamel on Tuesday and buy what I want as there won't be time when I get back here...not sure what is available in other places. I will ask the tour leader tomorrow.

Not sure if I mentioned the street children - very sad, They come here due to poverty or abuse at home thinking they will get a job (some are promised one and end up being abused again) and live on the streets. I have seen two groups - the last one right by the hotel and one was sniffing glue. Their eyes....they are so high....so so sad. Think I will look up a charity that helps them when I get home no sense giving them money and they don't even ask.

Anyway this place has to be seen to be believed...I am hoping that the walking tour tomorrow will change my mind on Kathmandu and I will see the beautiful side of it because right now my opinion is not too positive!!! Once I get out of the city it will be totally different and I can't wait for that!!!

Sitting here waiting...

I met with the tour leader...I am the only one here. He is going out to the airport to check on things. It looks like we will have our Kathmandu tour on Tuesday and no extra day at the end in best case scenario. However unless their flight was one of the few going out they will not arrive until Tuesday sometime... I asked to be booked on some kind of tour tomorrow. May have to explore Durbar Square myself as don't want to miss out on that. Sigh....oh well at least I am here and not stuck at Heathrow. I am meeting him again tonight at 8 so will know more then.

Crazy place

Well I read Kathmandu (drop the h to pronounce it) was a crazy place and it surely is. By the way I am typing this by the pool..yeah it's a tough life. I am struggling to read the screen though so excuse any typos - that damn sun - well what can shine through the pollution. Although not too bad today as the sky is fairly blue

I walked into Thamel this moring and walking around for about an hour....WOW. I am still adjusting to the third world country thing....culture shock. Yeah I've been places like this before but it always takes me aback at first. Thamel is the shopping/tourist hub with narrow roads crammed with shops on either side and motocycles, cars and bikes racing down the street. Luckily mostly one way...lots of horns blaring which I can hear from here now. I kept track of where I was as didn't want to get lost. checkedf out on shop and said I'd be back (uh huh..) but did not buy anything as too early and too overwhelming but I did get an idea of what I want. Definitely a wall hanging.

Came to a square where people were selling vegetables and it had a temple in the middle - no clue where. At that point I turned around and made my way back - two little girls wanted to pose for a picture for me to see it on the screen and no money changed hands - how refreshing. I have heard the Nepalese have more pride than the Indians although I did some one beggar. it breaks my heart to see that - also saw a little dog obviously dying on the side of the road. I said I am sorry sweetheart but of course could not touch.... Coming back I used the other side of the street so woudl not see the dog and big mistake - had to cross over the street which was a nightmare and probably took a year off my life. Hopefully the year where I am in the dementia unit at the nursing home!

Well this is a crazy place for sure and I have already used my puffer once and will do it again as I find the fumes do bother me.

I feel like I should be out there exploring and my friends who think I am so brave...ha ha. Wel I do't think it's fear at all but the noise and having to have eyes in the back of your head...I will be braving Thamel again to do some shopping but hopefully not on my own. I hope there are some friendly people on this tour - there usually are. Just hope there are some single people or at least couples who aren't tied at the hip - that is such a drag.

Once I get into the country it will be much calmer and can't wait to see the mountains. You can see them from here thrugh the haze but not the same as Iwill see them...she says hopefully. I have gotten internet access for a day so will be one again later.

The sun is really bright and hard to read my screen on the netbook - yeah I know everyone realy feelks sorry for me...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barbeque by the pool

Decided on that - they had a special barbeque buffet with drinks included. It was okay - was really careful on what I ate and hopefully.....this is a good hotel so should be fine but you never know....every kind of meat going and salads (careful on those) with rice that was good and desserts were the best - warm carrot and nut pudding, warm chocolate pudding and those little honey balls in sweet sauce...yum..and a glass of white wine....nothing in the Indian restaurant grabbed me but they did have entertainment. but just could not resist sitting out by the pool with fires going....

Anyway going to relax and read my Nepal books for a bit and have an early night so can get up tomorrow and start exploring.

Hope everyone makes it here in time for the tour.....

Namaste from Nepal

I'm here...the flights were great. Qatar was wonderful - would go with them again. We even got our choices put on the screen - I had lamb korma. I guess I will start baaing soon as had a lamb and mint little pocket thing as a snack and then on the Doha to Kathmandu flight we had breakfast.

Got my visa and a prepaid taxi here to the hotel. Okay....flashback to India big time....no seatbelts in the car of course and traffic NUTSO with motor bikes all over the place...well it has to be seen to be believed. Anyway once I just sat and accepted whatever life threw my way I enjoyed the sights. I saw my first monkey of the trip already - saw this brown animal spring across the road and it looked too bouncy for a dog and sure enough, a monkey. People everywhere....a young child being soaped down right along the road (no sidewalks), shops and colourful clothes, mass confusion....can't wait to explore!

I am staying at the Annapurna Hotel on Durbar Marg - I am on the main floor and look out to the pool. Think it will be too cool to swim unfortunately - there was some kind of gathering going on there this afternoon. It is a nice place. I was sensible and had a nap - the only problem is getting up after the nap. Anyway I am showered and changed and going to the Indian restaurant in the hotel for dinner tonight. Wifi costs here but it's fairly reasonable so will take advantage while I can.

Getting together with the tour group at 4 p.m. tomorrow - am wondering if the group from England will make it as the weather is bad over there I gather. It was snowing while I was going out to Heathrow and had my fingers crossed but it stopped.

Warm and sunny here.

I already saw Mt Everest from the air craft so that was fun.

Tomorrow morning I will have breakfast and then explore the grounds of the hotel -it is in a quiet area but will walk a little further in. However I will be doing walking tour with the group on Monday morning. Then Tuesday morning we take off which is just as well as it is very polluted here (like big cities in India) and tourist are prone to chest infections from the air here.

Cheerio for now

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last post from London for now...I think

Unless the wifi at Simon's decides to work...anyhoo I ended up going to the Museum of London this afternoon which was enjoyable as always. And FREE. Particularly enjoyed the exhibition of "photographs" of what London would look like with the extremes of Global Warming.... I had wanted to try the Camel pub in Bethnal Green as it's known for it's good pies. (as in meat pies) I finally locate it and lo and behold it doesn't open until 4 p.m. At this point I am starving as I haven't had a bite to eat since 8 a.m. when I had toast and cereal and it's 2:30. So I decided to try a fish and chip place I'd heard about called The Fryers Delight in Holborn - it was good except they left some fish skin on...yuck yuck. The chips were fat and mushy - just how I like them. I'd go back for the chips but the fish....don't think so. Just seeing that gray skin makes me want to hurl...ugh. Other than that the fish was delicious.

A yucky wet day - it's snowing now - melting as soon as it touches the ground and the forecast for tomorrow here is sunny. However on Heathrow's website they are warning to check with your airline due to severe weather in the next few days. Fingers crossed it's okay until Saturday - of course that doesn't help the people traveling on Saturday. But I will be in Nepal so I won't give a rat's!!! (insert evil laugh)

You get all kinds in here - one lady just bawled out the girl at the counter for playing the music too loud - well it is loud but I just put the head phones on.

Anyway I guess I will use up my hour here and then carry on back to the B & B and start packing up. Not sure when I will leave tomorrow - if the weather is sunny I just may go for a walk and then head out - if not I will just head out once the rush hour is over with. I would rather be out at the airport and putting in time then get stuck on the underground somewhere panicking about missing my flight.

Hopefully I will be able to post from Kathmandu...we shall see.....

Laundry day

Yes my laundry is churning as we speak - 5.00 later...pounds that is. Then when it's time to dry it will be 20p for each two minutes or so. Oh yes, not cheap. Luckily I was able to get it into one big dryer for five pounds rather than four pounds for each load. when I get back from Nepal it will probably be two of them. Oh well, I want to start out the trip to Nepal with clean clothes so what can you do?

Not too bad out- was expecting it to be worse. However tonight we enter the deep freeze with arctic temperatures of...are you ready....are you really ready?.....-2C!!!!!! Gasp, how will we all survive..I am not sure. I must say though it is damn cold as it's a damp cold and as I dress in layers rather than haul my winter jacket over (which I hate by the way..) it is not that great - being a tourist that is and being outside a lot. The British cold is horrid...in Saskatchewan we are in and out as fast as possible - although I must say I am not missing the current cold weather over there...NOT AT ALL....Anyway I will be heading for slightly warmly climes (looks to be 16C in Kathmandu on Saturday) so what do I care?

And I am in London....what other city can you be sitting on a bus and look out and see royal horsemen in their red serge and funny hats on their horsies trotting along the street. Love it. There is just everything here....I fell in love with this place in 1975 and it just keeps getting better and better. I love it more than ever and while there is the old there is the very very new as well. I don't miss the old days of my earlier trips when you walked funny due to the waxy toilet paper in public toilets, your only option for a quick meal was Wimpy.(BARF) ..well I could go on...modern London I love you! Like all loves it isn't perfect...the crowds get to me, I refuse to pay to use the loo unless I am desparate, the people can be snooty at times (no one does snooty like the English can - it's an art form - I am not talking all English - just a snooty few), hmmm...can't think of anything else that bugs me....

Am very excited about heading off to Nepal tomorrow afternoon...not sure if I will do anything in the morning - I am having a cooked breakfast and will probably walk around this area for an hour or so and then start heading to Heathrow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brrrrr!!

Cold out there tonight although not as cold as home!!! I had briefly considered a ghost walk tonight then reconsidered and thought "nah!". I popped into the internet cafe before my dinner which I plan to have at Charlie's Pizza here in Golders Green. I researched on the web and it gets good reviews (how about double checking that for me Dena?) and I am in the mood for Italian so here goes. I plan to take my time and relax with a glass of vino as well. No Corrie tonight although Inspector Frost is on at 8 p.m.....I try to balance nights out with at least one night in. I love this area and my B & B but once I'm up here I really don't want to be bothered going back down to central London again. So I try to plan ahead.

Tomorrow evening I may go to a Christmas concert (free) at St. Paul's cathedral. Depends on how things go.

The Nutcracker last night was wonderful - as always. I think Waltz of the Flowers is the most beautiful piece of music ever created...it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. I never get tired of that ballet. I will have a few ballets under my belt by the time my time in London is finished next month.

My friend Judi came up to London yesterday and stayed overnight so we went around looking at Christmas lights yesterday & checked out Harrods, Covent Garden and Fortnum and Mason today. Last night we had dinner at Mildreds, a vegetarian restaurant. I had an excellent meal which was the daily special - mushroom wellington with spicy red cabbage and roasted root vegetables. I would have it again in a heartbeat.

Tomorrow is laundry day..unless I get ambitious tonight. Somehow I doubt it....if you hear screeching coming from the east it's just me freaking out over the cost. It was ten pounds to do two loads two years ago so probably up to at least twelve now.

I have to double check the weather forecast - I think snow is predicted...boo hiss!!! I don't care as much about the snow as the disruption it will cause here. They are just not prepared for any kind of snowfall - everything comes to a standstill. It's Friday that concerns me as that is the day I fly to Nepal. (I still can't believe I am going!!!)

Wifi at Simon's is still erratic but have been using my netbook to upload pictures and then also put them on a flash memory. I have tried putting pictures on my blog but the wifi is either too slow or crashes on me. Very frustrating. Rest assured there will be pictures eventually. Now that my friend Pat told me how to put them throughout the blog I can now make it a bit nicer looking - I hope!!!

Tomorrow is my last day to catch any of the Christmas action here in London although I think I've done pretty well. After reading the "must do" list I have pretty well covered what I want to see.

Ciao!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I did it again

Well didn't get kicked out of a bank but nearly walked out of the ladies toilet in the Royal Albert Hall last night with toilet paper sticking out of my behind. A nice lady told me "ma'am, you have paper sticking out of your jacket". My first thought was what paper? And then "oh shit"...Not the first time trust me... sad to say it's the third and probably not the last....thank goodness she told me.. can you imagine walking to my seat with toilet paper hanging out of my butt with everyone seeing. Oh my....bad enough about six ladies saw me (max). Oh well. And I actually got all my kitt off this time - in those cold public bathrooms it's leave the jacket, backpack on and get it over with..now that I could see trailing paper behind...ah well. Wonder what I will do tomorrow?

Anyway...the Messiah was good. I really enjoyed it - I was in the first row in the highest balcony but got a good view of everything. I mean it wasn't Paul so I didn't need to ogle..:) Now I'm good for another three years - that's about how often I can handle it. Otherwise it is a bit much.

As far as yesterday goes..(man it seems so long ago..just yesterday?) I ended up going back to the market in Brick Lane (well one of them) and buying four coasters - they are really unique and hand made by the artist. I also had a meal there as I wandered around different markets in the area - it was a mish mash of different curries and noodles. Probably combining them all didn't do too much for the flavour as it looked better than it tasted - but it was still good. Enjoyed my day out in the East end very much.

Today I took a tour of Westminster Abbey - hadn't been there since 1975 - my first time to London. So decided it was time to go back as I had forgotten a lot of it (been a lot of water under the bridge since then!). I went with London Walks and the guide was so fun and informative. I love the London Walks company and have done a lot of walks with them. Afterwards I walked over to St. Martins in the Fields to their cafe in the crypt and had their turkey lunch but very disappointing - pressed turkey - or it seemed like it and those hideous sausages they have with bacon on - the veggies and potatoes were good at least but that was about it. So left there dissatisfied as I did not finish my meal - which is why there is prawn and mayonnaise sandwich from M & S in my backpack waiting to be devoured when I get back to the B & B....

This afternoon I went to Hyde Park to see Winter Wonderland...tacky but oh well. I had a cup of mulled wine and wandered around. Then on to Marks & Sparks on Oxford St to buy my goodies.

Corrie night tonight..double episode. Goodie goodie. I am in the internet cafe as the internet at the B & B is too unreliable. There is no way I could consider writing a post even this short without it crashing - or worrying about it crashing anyway. Hopefully he gets it looked at. Very disappointing although am using the netbook (and a flash drive) to back up my photographs. And I will probably do an online journal for my use only...somehow my little book from the dollar store hasn't been cracked open yet.

Tomorrow my friend Judi is coming up to London and we are going to the Nutcracker - I picked up the tickets today. So that will be fun - no doubt we will terrorize Oxford St., Regent St. and Carnaby St. - oh well as long as the toilet paper goes down the toilet life is good!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

East End

Yes I am in an Internet cafe - didn't realize it was one but needed a warm coffee and a loo so get 30 minutes free with the coffee.

It is market day today so have checked out Petticoat Lane (first time in 22 trips - didn't miss much but it was fun...however am going out tonight so can't be buying much) and on to Brick Lane markets which were awesome - heading back there now. I did get a pair of Beatles earrings that are too cute. I do love my funky earrings! I have my eye on a t-shirt and some coasters with beautiful original photographs of London and everything really that I will be back for in January.

Then on to the Columbia Flower market which was crowded (as everywhere is) but did get some shots - everyone is buying Christmas trees of course. I walked back through a housing estate so that was interesting.

It's a clear day today but cold...so coming in here to warm up was a good idea. I had a bagel and cream cheese (had a small brekky at Simon's) at the Beigel Bake on Brick Lane which was good.

I will wander around a bit more and hopefully work up an appetite for one of the delicious meals on offer at the market. Otherwise will time my next visit for the afternoon as I guess the market is open until 6. I will definitely be back!!!

Tonight it's off to the Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall so am dressed in my finest which ain't much believe me - but it looks like I packed right and will be wearing everything I brought.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chocolate galore


It's been a busy day. Didn't have the big breakfast this morning as knew I'd be 'grazing' all day long - and I did!!!

By the way I am in the internet cafe with a normal computer - the wi fi at the B & B is just too undependable - Simon just changed service providers so is looking into it. I love this internet cafe anyway - it's nice and warm and clean and new and can get whatever I want to eat. (not that I've ever done that but nice to know the option is there) I hung out here two years ago...but hopefully can use my netbook as it's more convenient. However this is much more relaxing as I don't have to worry about the Internet crashing - trust me yesterday's post was much longer and more descriptive but it went down on me and had to retype everything.

Anyway took the tube to Tower Hill and started walking from there across Tower Bridge. (Today was a dull day with a bit of blue sky at one point but by 4 p.m. it was nearly pitch black outside!) I walked along the Thames Path and stopped at Borough Market - I love that place. It is a food market that is on Thursday to Saturday and is by London Bridge. I got a brownie - it is THE BEST BROWNIE I HAVE EVER TASTED - awesome! I had one last time so finally found the stand - also got a portugese tart. Half the brownie is history and the other half will be too when I get back to my room and brew up a cup of tea. I also got a bit of some wonderful cheese that should be just fine by my window which is a fairly cold area. I will definitely go back before I go back home...they had some awesome spices I'd love to get but depends on what I buy in Nepal...

I carried on along the South bank of the Thames for about an hour and came to the German market but it was absolutely packed. It was all right but not something I'd search out next time - I've been to a REAL one and there is no comparison. I finally found the chocolate festival. Luckily I had resisted other temptations so was able to have a belgian milk chocolate and banana crepe - oh my....thank goodness I had some wet wipes with me as I think I was wearing as much chocolate on my face as I got inside my gob. Oh yummy!!! And yes Dena, I took a photo. People must think I am a whack job as I've taken a picture of everything I've eaten...even the "to die for" brownie.

On I walked, across the river from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben...as far as Vauxhall Bridge then over and back on the other side of the Thames. The area by Westminster is a mess thanks to those yobs. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the students protesting - that rate increase is ridiculous but the violence was crazy. I took the tube and was going to stop on Oxford St. - did get off the tube, saw the mob and got back on going the other way and back here. Just too tired to handle the crowds. One thing I DON'T like about London...all the damn tourists!!! :)

Back here to Golders Green and just had a mushroom and cheese Jacket (baked) potato with salad in a "mom and pop" type place just down the road from here. Best baked potato I've had in my life I must say....was just in the mood for something like that.

I am bummed out that I am not up to doing the Hampstead Pub walk tonight but my feet are not in good shape so I think a quiet evening in is in order. I hope there is something decent on TV tonight - I should work on my trip journal anyway. (haven't touched it since Regina aiport) There are things I don't share on here!!! :)

Tomorrow night is the Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall but before that...who knows...but it won't be a 10km walk. I think I need a break from those!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I got kicked out of Coutts bank today

Yep, got escorted out. I saw five beautiful Xmas trees in a window and saw it was Coutts bank but it was just a lobby with escalators and a security guard.Not like the actual bank was right there. So walked in about two feet and went to take a picture and a "suit" asked me what I was doing and I said taking a picture and got told no I couldn't this was a private bank. He was really snooty - stupid toff!! At first I was embarassed then upset now I think it's funny. Hey never been kicked out of a bank before - guess they don't want the riff raff in there when the richies come in.

Had a great rest of the day anyway - enjoyed a Xmas concert tonight at St Martins and one by the tree in Trafalgar Square as well. Did a 10km walk from Big Ben to the Tower of London and had a wonderful beef and guiness stew outside at St. Catherines Dock - it was not bad out at all. I took the bus home down Regent and Oxford Sts but was too tired to get off and take pictures. Maybe tomorrow!!!

Me thinks I will type my blogs onto Word and just dump them in here as the wifi here is absolute crap, I am kneeling with my computer on a table. No chair in this room....my knees are killing me so I am a bit crabby But it was a wonderful day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hello from London town

I made it! The flights over were good - I had both seats to myself from Minneapolis to London as the plane wasn't near full. Meal was good and all was well. NO CHILDREN ON THE FLIGHT AT ALL - YAHOO!!!!!! I treated myself to Southwestern eggrolls at Chilis at the Minneapolis airport and got a chardonnay. What a big honker - wow I was feeling no pain wandering around the airport. Not a good thing to be drunk when you are traveling...but I still have to do it now and again.

Line up at passport control at Heathrow but it was going okay until all but two of the officers on each side disappeared on lunch or whatever we barely moved for half an hour. Was not impressed - finally a fellow yelled out "we haven't moved in half an hour" to a supervisor looking chap and soon we were back to five. I got through ten minutes later and needless to say my luggage was waiting for me. Took the tube here and stopped off at a sandwich shop at the tube station and got my prawn sandwich. And just had a cup of tea and a Galaxy bar - waiting for the live version of Corrie to come on. Ah, life is good! It is so nice to be back in my little room at Simon's. I just hope the damn wifi holds out - it's been sporadic. Minneapolis airport doesn't even have free Wifi - guess thet are getting it though which is about time. Even Regina airport has it!

Hope to do a walk from Westminster to Tower of London tomorrow - we shall see. No snow here in London so I can walk without fear of falling in ice - I've been walking like an old lady for the past month or so.

Am fighting to stay awake until Coronation Street is over and then I will zonk...so no sparkling conversation from me tonight.

Nice English brekky tomorrow morning. So thrilled to be back in my favourite place in the world...and I fly to Nepal a week from tomorrow. Screech!!!

Toodle oo!! (how DO you spell that?)