To infinity and beyond….

Watching Hellen on her travels brings back memories….

pj on bridge

HGJ on bridge

You could say a sense of deja vu…..

My trip was March 2010, Hellen’s a few days ago.

She is now going to places far beyond I got to in Australia. I am however looking forward to meeting her in Sydney airport next month for our joint adventure to New Zealand…maybe not infinity…. but certainly beyond (Australia)

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Same place…. a different time.

Tonight I am in the German city of Dusseldorf. This is my 3rd visit probably in as many months.  I quite like the vibe of the city, there is a pleasant mixture of old and new buildings and a real sense of its inhabitants wanting to have some fun and enjoy life.

My first visit was in the summer, the days long and warm. Natives of the city enjoying socialising outside in pavement cafes and bars. My last visit was in September, this year a warm and dry month,  and again people were on the streets, drinking, chatting and laughing with each other – enjoying the good fortune of being able to be outside at the start of Autumn.

Now this Monday evening darkness has raced upon us against the clock with which we measure time and the wind delivers a bite there are a lot less people brave enough to embrace the terraces of quiet restaurants. But some there are, wrapped up with woollen hats and scarves, determined to squeeze to the very last every vestige of opportunity not to retreat into the burrows of buildings and winter’s hibernation.

I am sat in a hotel bar, the music is pacy and whilst not loud enough to prevent a conversation is far from soothing for this time of the evening. The back wall of the long bar illuminates the many sentries of bottles.

Lights elsewhere in the bar are low, creating washes of colour across the tables. This is a place for winter. The outside world of no consequence to the huddles of people drinking brandies and whiskies to warm them through.

Next month I will return. The days will fade oh so quickly, and the people will have fully retreated into a world of artificial light and warmth. The place will be the same but very much in a different time….

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I want to go to sleep….

I started this trip last Sunday needing to stay awake, now exactly one week later I am in exactly in the same situation, in the same location but for different reasons. It has been a long week, some amazing experiences, awesome food (I am in North America I feel empowered to be able to use the word ‘awesome’) and met some pretty cool people (for use of the word cool see comment re awesome…).

Tomorrow I go home, but not until the evening, I want to go to sleep but need to stay up to check in a little later, but sleep is not really any option. The same problem arises just last week – sleep early,  wake early…

Had a good wander around Gas Town and Yale Town yesterday,  Granville Island today, walked a good few miles and developed a much better understanding of the geography moving around on my own. Spent the afternoon trying to write up my notes, observations and developing some recommendations for a viable solution. About two hours ago the brain started to turn to mush so I quit turned on the TV and started to watch baseball. The crowd is making quite a racket, KC appear to be beating LAA 8 to 2 and they are going into the 7th…. what ever that means…

I have stuff to do, but not now, now is wrong. I should have time tomorrow – an experience to try and a last night party to see and then I have some time before needing to go to the airport.

I want to go to sleep, but not quite yet!






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The sun shines on the North Shore

Without doubt Vancouver is a city set in a stunning location, encircled by what are currently green covered mountains and water. The regular hum of floatplanes going about their daily business and a people who are secure in who they are and carry themselves in quite, non aggressive confidence that they know they live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Today the sun has lit up the North Shore, fluffy white clouds are drifting across of the mountains opposite, only the workman like passage of floatplanes are disturbing the water.

Fresh coffee, excellent pastries….. homemade mango jam…. this is the way to start the day.

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I need to stay awake

By my calculation I have been awake around twenty two and half hours, but I still need to stay awake. It is nearly 10pm local. Local being Vancouver time and I have flown in from London, England.

Writing this is a part of the strategy to remain awake, sat in the lobby bar of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, with a beer, a note book and my laptop.  The flight over consisted of two movies, a read of the Sunday Times and over the nine hours of the flight 4 small bottles of wine and a G&T. There was also a small doze somewhere Greenland and one of Canada’s northern islands. A doze not a sleep so I maintain the twenty two and half hours claim for wakefulness.

The general rule I follow when travelling across time zones is always, always go to local time. So I need to stay awake, otherwise I will be up even earlier tomorrow than I am already going to be.

There is nothing worse than waking up at stupid o’clock in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep. All you do is end up waiting. Waiting until it is respectable, or near respectable to be around the public areas of the hotel, for the cleaners to have finished their work and for the overnight staff to be thinking of going home.

A few years ago in New Orleans, pre Katrina, I was up early and went for a walk down to the Mississippi and found what turned out to be a reasonably famous cafe for a coffee and cake and some very early hour. I remember rising sun breathing warmth in the day and people enjoying the freshness of the morning before the stickiness of the Louisiana summer started to bite.

My stand out memory of that morning was the reaction of the cafe customers to a troop of men in fatigues out an early morning run in formation and doing that american thing of singing responses to the sergeants refrain. To a man, and women, the coffee drinking cafe customers stood and applauded the men who were serving the flag. They stood again twenty or so minutes later when the men returned.

As a Brit it is a little hard to fathom this overt display of patriotism. It seems too far over the top. The apparent sincerity of their display confusing. If a bunch of Brits stood up and applauded soldiers running past the first instinct would be that they were taking the Michael. I guess that display that morning was a good example that despite sharing our language Americans are indeed foreign.

It was an interesting morning, that day in New Orleans alongside the Mississippi.

The time is now 10.35pm, I no long need to stay awake. I can finish my beer, sign my check, publish this drivel and take myself off to hopefully a long a peaceful sleep.

Bye bye for now.


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There is a plan……

Spent an hour with my daughter Helen to start the process of trying to work out what we have time for when we are in the US in August. Three cities – New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Last night I think we nailed the basic outline for New York City – a bit of water based sight seeing, a stroll down Wall Street and around Washington Square – paying our respects at the 9/11 memorial to regular tourist stuff  in Mid-Town with visits to Macey’s, Times Sq, Broadway by way of the Empire State, Grand Central Station with a side salad of cocktails at the Plaza and a stroll around Central Park.

There are a few other things on our list to try and fit in but seasoned travellers will recognise that the words ‘New York City’, ‘Visit’ and ‘August’ and not often seen in close proximity……

So New York sorted now on to San Francisco… so lets see Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, China…..

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Thinking about the summer

We have a bit of a Cooks tour planned for the Summer, New York, San Francisco and Seattle . Three different cities – it will be interesting to see as a Brit how different they really are. We are also staying in three quite different accommodation. In New York at Morgans Hotel the original boutique designer hotel on Madison Avenue. In San Francisco a three star property popular with tourists close to Union Square and in Seattle at a 8 room Bed & Breakfast where breakfast is taken around a communal table. We think choosing these three quite different places to stay will automatically provide a different feel to each of these cities.

We will add some further thoughts about this adventure another time

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