Archive for December, 2008

More updates …

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Time for the final verdict on my 2008 resolution: I did it, kind of.

The short version is that I have now visited all 27 EU countries, but not really all of them in 2008. Germany and the Czech Republic only got a few hours each and in Ireland I only made it as far as standing outside Dublin airport. However I’d been to those three before and everywhere else got at a few days or so. I’m going to call that done, I’m not one for pedantry.

You might have noticed a new link on the right-hand side on the front page, the EU 2008 contains links to all the write-ups that are done and I’ll update it as I do more. It’s also got some other stuff that about my trips. The pictures tend to appear on my Flickr photostream before I get round to the write-up so keep an eye on that too.

So how was it?

Surprisingly stressful, two years would have been a far more reasonable time frame to do 27 countries and would have allowed me time to take longer trips and travel by train more. I also screwed up my early trips badly and left an odd set of countries later on, much more forward planning would have helped.

But I’m glad I did it, there are some places I’d never have discovered otherwise althought there were times when I was very glad that I was moving on after a few days.

In general there’s a whole set of cities where I now have a fair idea of my way around. Plus, if I hadn’t been doing this I’m not sure how seriously I’d have considered moving to Manila, in total I’ve spent a lot more time this year getting myself around the world than I ever have before.

I’m still stunned I’ve managed not to cock anything up and miss a flight, or lose something important, or get seriously lost, or worse. It’s a matter of time I guess.

There were a few highlights, go to:

Bruges, if you want proper European old-town style and great beer.
Barcelona, if you want somewhere to take a bunch of people safe in the knowledge that they will all find something to do.
Krakow, if you want another old city with some must-see stops just a few hours away.
Ljubjlana, if you want somewhere nice, friendly and well organised stuck in some spectacular countryside.
Luxembourg, if you just want to escape from everything for a few days on your own.
Vilnius, if you want the most un-touristed city I visited, go there before everyone else does.

and a couple of downsides, avoid:

Bratislava, unless you want somewhere grey, dull and populated by the most aggressive pickpockets I’ve met.
Bucharest, unless … actually just avoid it, it’s truly the worst city I visited. Sorry.

I’m actually fighting the temptation to just book a quick break somewhere for a weekend in January. It’s a pity the Bruges ferry has been cancelled or I could nip over to the Ice Festival, what’s worse is the replacement service in the spring doesn’t take foot passengers, boo!

Time for an update …

Monday, December 29th, 2008

First up, Merry Christmas everyone, I hope that your holidays haven’t been credit crunched too much. 

Second I notice that I’ve not posted anything further about my job situation, that’s because most people who read this site regularly already know. Still, that’s no real excuse.

The Edinburgh office looks to have some sort of a future until 2010 but with reduced numbers, sadly some people have already been ‘let go’ as they say, there will be more up until June when the office reaches it’s new target.

However this no longer directly affects me because I have a new job.

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In Manila.

Almost exactly three months I was sitting in a bar in Malta looking out over the sea and thinking, “You know, I’ve been in Edinburgh for years, maybe it’s time for a change.” And now, in around four months time, I’ll be moving to Manila.

Funny how things work.

It’s not really sunk in yet, there’s so much stuff to sort out here before I go that I’m not sure when the reality will hit me. And once I’m there there’ll be so much to do at work that I’m not sure when I’ll finally notice that I’m living in the Philippines.

Hopefully it’ll generate some more content for this site too but first I’m going to make an effort to tie up the 2008 stuff over the next few months. 


Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Please, please, please, somebody tell me this is a joke: 

Burger King releases new men’s body spray, Flame, with “a hint of flame-broiled meat”.

More here.

Menu For Hope

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Last January you may recall me mentioning: 

That’s not all, over the weekend I won a raffle, netting me both a hamper of Mexican goodies and tasting menu for two at Le Trois Garcons. Spot on.

Well that raffle is rolling around again this year, your starting point should be this page: Menu for Hope 

The idea is that (foodie) people from all over the world donate prizes and you can buy virtual raffle tickets for each prize. It’s a pretty neat idea, there’s already some cool prizes and more will be added. Last year there was also a list of the prizes which had fewest bids near the closing date so you could try and scoop up some last-minute goodies. 

There you go, you’ve been warned, go forth and win stuff (while also supporting charity).


Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I’m going to interupt this semi-regular lull in posting for a quick movie review.

In particular, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” the remake of the old 1950’s classic. 

I was expecting a train wreck, most of the normal crowd who join me at the cinema stayed home due to the same fear. But, you know what, it’s not half bad. 

Sure, the whole things a bit one-dimensional and a little shallow all round but I see what they were aiming for. It’s nice that they can do a aliens-on-earth film without going all Independance Day and it’s also nice to see an American film just develop at it’s own pace without having to resort to the Sledgehammer-Of-Plot where somebody needs to explain everything for the thickos in the audience. 

I particularly liked the ending, understated, open-ended and nicely abrupt. Very much not what I expected. 

Worth seeing, probably not worth going to the cinema to see but certainly a DVD rental if ever I saw one, I’m curious to see if they had other endings in mind/filmed. 

Expect some posting about what’s going on with my life, travel and career after I’ve aligned a few more ducks …