Thursday, 31 December 2009

Bye bye 2009

I have a lot of thoughts about 2009, but I'm going to refrain from boring everyone.

Instead, I'm going to wish all my friends and family a happy new year. I'm planning on making 2010 the best year ever, so keep an eye out - this blog will be back to its regular schedule soon.

Until then, I must go and celebrate the new year in the only way I know how...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Stockholm Syndrome?

Following a pretty successful housewarming party on Saturday night, on Tuesday afternoon I boarded a plane to Sweden for a much needed break from the London grind. Last Christmas, Kylie gave me a gift certificate for RyanAir and I had to take some days off before the end of March, so I took a look at the destinations I could fly to - hoping Prague would be one of them - and eventually settled on Stockholm.

Arrival was fairly uneventful, finding the hostel in no time at all. Just as I left my room to go brush my teeth and take my lenses out I was invited to join a group of fellow travelers for a chat... and stayed up until 3am with them. Among the discussion, one guy mentioned he was going on a boat tour of the city in the morning and accepted my offer to tag along.

Arranging to meet at 10am, I did manage to get up and shower in time, at which point I took my first daytime steps along the Stockholm streets. First impressions were good: it's hard not to argue with the cold, it smacks you square in the face - but, oddly enough, I enjoyed it. Possibly because of the gorgeous blue sky, something I've not had much acquaintance with of late.

Stockholm is an easily walkable city, so we opted against catching public transport to the bus. It only took around 15 minutes to find the place and buy a ticket, and soon we were making our way across the water.

Now, when I mentioned the cold earlier, just imagine what it's like when you're on water that's below 0 degrees, with a nice wind blowing in your face. That's right, the temperature changes from pleasant to almost unbearable - try as I might, I had to pop downstairs a couple of times for a warm drink and thaw out. Aside from this, it was a lovely cruise that gave me a good starting point of what to explore next.

With my erstwhile travel companion now running off to catch a flight back home, I took a wander up past the Royal Palace and into the old city.

Now hungry, I stopped off at a little shop to buy something quick (and cheap!) to nibble on while I wandered - and this is where my troubles began. As I've already mentioned in my last post, this is where I managed to badly aggravate my existing foot problem due to a misplaced step. Rather than continue on, I stopped inside the shop to eat instead and wait for the throbbing in my foot to calm down. After roughly 30 minutes I judged it was okay to walk on, but rather than take my chances with the city I thought it wiser to head back to the hostel for some rest.

As it turns out, it was a three hour rest - as soon as I lay on the bed, I immediately zonked out. Now, a bit of backstory here: I've been having a lot of sleep problems lately, so it was truly lovely to just crash out for a little while without a care in the world. By the time I woke up, my foot was still telling me not to push it too hard, so rather than head out to inspect more of the world I found somewhere to eat, then came back to the hostel - and found out about a club up the road that sounded promising.

Having met up with the same group I'd been chatting with the night before, I managed to convince four of them to join me - so we braved the cold night air once again to find the place. After a few wrong turns (and eventually deferring to a kind passerby sending us in the right direction) we found the place, found a seat and proceeded to order drinks.

Now, I'd been warned that Sweden was a somewhat expensive country - but, come on, it's almost £5 for a half pint here! This didn't deter me from having a good time as the place I'd picked was a good one - it turned out to be indie/BritPop night! We grooved away (okay, it was just me grooving) until closing at 1am, at which point we headed back to the hostel.

One lovely, refreshing sleep later I got up... and was stunned to realise it was almost midday! On one hand I was pleased as this is the best sleep I've had in weeks, but also slightly annoyed as I'd slept half a day of sightseeing away. I was up and ready in record time, heading toward the city for my first port of call.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

How to ruin a good holiday in one easy 'step'

Well, not ruin, but put a serious dampener on it.

First, a bit of background: I've been having this problem with my right foot for about a year or so. I know, I know, I should've gone to see someone about it long ago but I didn't, okay? It only occurs with certain pairs of shoes I wear, so the simple solution has been to not wear those shoes.

Well, today I'm in Stockholm - I'll get to that bit later - and I went to get some lunch. Stepping on to what I thought was a step, it was in fact a ramp - a very slippery one. Consequently, I slid half way down it and hit the bottom with an extremely painful CRUNCH. After 30 minutes of sitting down until I felt I could walk again, I've realised it's now far worse than it's ever been.

At the very least, it's going to make me walk slower and appreciate the city even more. Which, it must be said, is very easy to do. Stockholm is really beautiful, smaller than I expected - and very, very clean. It's weird, having lived in London for two years you really notice when another city isn't covered in grime and dirt.

For now, though, I'm going to find something to do!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

More Milestones

I completely forgot to mention the passing of another March 8 - I've now been living in London for two years now. It's weird, it really has flown by.

Of course, that also means another anniversary is about to pass me by... in 80 minutes my age officially ticks over again, making me the grand old age of 32. Wisdom must surely be around the corner any minute now.

There are plans afoot to mark this one, although it turned out to be a happy accident: Lee and Margaret mentioned to me last year they were going to Amsterdam for a weekend in March and I was asked if I wanted to join in. I probably would've said yes anyway, but the date just happened to coincide with my birthday - so now I'm making a return visit to celebrate!

More travel plans to come, too: going to Stockholm at the end of March. Can't wait, I've not been away properly since I was in Italy!

I should probably make mention of the tiny trip I took in January with my friends Alex and Bron at some point too...

Monday, 2 February 2009

It Must've Been the Terrorists

Today, London was brought to an almost complete standstill. What caused this catastrophic catastrophe? Some sort of terrorist organisation such Al Qaeda, the Taliban or Scientology?

Unfortunately, no.

It was this:

So we went to the park during lunch and did this:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Separation of Concerns

I've decided to create a second blog to keep my non-travel related posts in. Don't know (and don't really care, to be honest) whether anyone who reads this actually cares about my thoughts on politics, music or other such nonsense, but from now on you can read about them at

Back to the regularly scheduled travel commentaries... of which, at the moment, there are none.