Sunday, December 30, 2007

London-Stockholm: Brussels

London to Stockholm by Train Leg 1: London - Brussels

After saying goodbye to my family on the Isle of Man, we took a short flight across to Liverpool and stayed with my family there. Another great family gathering and our last of the season.
Unfortunately track works meant we had to get the coach from Liverpool down to London, but the 5 hours did pass very quickly.

Later in the day we boarded the Eurostar at the brand newly reopened St. Pancras International station in London for the trip underneath the English channel to Brussels in 2 hours.

In Brussels we stayed a couple of nights and had a look around the city, below are a few photos, I will try and label where they are once I look the places up.

From the top of the ferris wheel at the Christmas markets (see video)
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Isle of Man

A very Merry Christmas to all from the Isle of Man... and it was a very close call to be here.
Fog covered Gatwick airport on the 23rd meaning many many flights including ours were canceled. We were very lucky that an extra flight was put on the next day and after spending a night in the Hilton at Gatwick we got on an early flight to the island.

It is my second Christmas on the Isle of Man with my Uncle, Auntie, cousin and his girlfriend. This time though, I am joined with Kylie which is something really special

Here we are on Christmas Eve in Laxey.
and some great weather for Christmas day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

London & Kent

Our journey continued with a train trip from Carlisle down to the London. It was great to catch up with some of Kylie's family and see some friends. We did manage to squeeze in some sightseeing at the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. It became fairly foggy so this time there wasn't much point on going on the "Eye" which you can see in the photo below.

It just wouldn't be right to not visit Oxford Street during Christmas.
After London we headed down to Kent to visit some of Kylie's and my family. We both have a Great-Aunt Joan, and they live about 30 minutes drive away from each other in this region of the country! Here is the very historic town of Rye with its Tudor style buildings.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scotland & The Lakes

From Stockholm my girlfriend and I caught a flight over to Glasgow for the start of our trip around the UK and Europe.
We caught up with one of my cousins in Glasgow before heading across to Edinburgh to see my Uncle as well as some of the sights. Below is a photo of some of the Christmas festivities against the Edinburgh skyline.

From Edinburgh we headed down through the border country visiting Roslin Chapel along the way. A really interesting place with lots of history and if you believe can use your imagination after reading the book or film.

Below a mirror-like lake in the border country.
We stayed in Cockermouth and visited my grandmother as well as a couple of days sightseeing around the lakes and the pencil museum (where they make Derwent Pencils).
Below is a photo of us at Derwent Water.

After this I "attempted" to drive over one of the passes but after the car went for a bit of a slide down the hill with the brakes as useless as tits on a bull I chickened out, did a 7 point turn and headed back, nearly not making it up the hill we just slid down. An experience I would rather not repeat.

Friday, December 14, 2007

God Jul

The Christmas season in Sweden has been a great experience. My girlfriend has joined me after several months apart. Here are the few things that I/we got up to.

Work Christmas Party -
Was fortunate? enough to attend the work Christmas party, along with about 2000 others from various companies in a show with song and dance - think ABBA and Eurovision...

Glögg and Pepparkakor - a Swedish mulled wine with thin gingerbread biscuits. Here we are having some at one of the Christmas markets.

Handel's Messiah in Storkyrkan - we attended the playing of this oratorio in the oldest church in Gamla Stan on a Sunday afternoon.

Christmas Market in Gamla Stan - This one is in the middle of Gamla Stan, plenty of food, toys and products in these red boxes.

Saint Lucia's Day - is celebrated in Sweden on the 13th of December. An evening was organised for those of us on assignment in Sweden. We were treated to a traditional smörgåsbord and a choir singing Christmas carols. View video of the choir.

God Jul!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

To Do: Liverpool to Stockholm by land - no planes, no boats

Hej Hej! It's been just over 3 months in Sweden now. Originally I was to stay here until December but it will now be significantly longer, at the moment I've committed to March but it is looking more likely I will extend my stay beyond that.

In two days time, my girlfriend arrives. After more than 4 months apart from each other, I am very much looking forward to spending some time with her again. We are both headed over to the UK in 2 weeks time to spend the time before and around Christmas seeing both our families.

The challenge from there is to make our way from Liverpool back to Stockholm by land - no planes, no boats! Something that has only been possible in modern times in the last 7 years. The rail link under the English Channel opened in 1994 and the Oresund Bridge/Tunnel breached the Oresund Straight between Denmark and Sweden in 2000. Seemed like a novel idea until I read this - Sweden to Australia by land - maybe next year :-P

Before anyone else asks again, yes I do miss home - friends, family BBQs and the beach. However I have always wanted to spend some time working overseas. For me this is an amazing opportunity, more of a challenge than an English speaking city like London, which is really a mini-Australia anyway, and whilst it now gets dark at 3pm and regularly drops below zero, Stockholm is a great city to work and play in.

If you haven't got much to do, view my favorite ads on Swedish TV (ad 1) (ad 2) - so me...