Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Diary: Weekend 18-20 July 08

Absolutely terrible week at work, so there was never much chance of a big weekend...

Fri 18 July
  • TV, guitar and sleep. Forget about anything else.
Sat 19 July
  • Toured the Battersea Power Station site, which is open for just a few weekends. You've got to love that building, so it was nice to see it up close. However, the display office of the redevelopment left me feeling sick. So much bullsh!t in one place is too much for me to handle. Perfect example:
                    Travelled out to East London, to finally visit the Vietnamese strip. Went to the best-rated place of the bunch (Song Que) and was completely sated. Pho was excellent, and even found a new dish (Crispy Pancake with Chicken, Bean Sprouts and Herbs - delicious!)
                  • Stopped in a couple of bars around too-cool-for-school Hoxton Sq for some quiet ones before heading home

                  Sun 20 July

                  • Nothing. What a relief...

                  Monday, July 21, 2008

                  Diary: Weekend 11-13 July 08


                  Fri 11 July
                  • I was in town for work, but didn't manage to log-off until about 21:00, which wasn't so bad compared to J's 1-hour-delayed train that also took an additional 1/2-hour longer. Poor thing didn't arrive until 22:00, just enough time for a panini and drink in the lobby of our hotel (great hotel, by the way!)

                  Sat 12 July

                  • We needed some sleep, so didn't step out until about midday. Took the tram to Salford Quays to visit the Imperial War Museum North. Interesting, but wouldn't say it was thrilling. Those Year 11 History classes covering Germany in the 30's taught me too much so none of it new anymore!
                  • Not many inspiring options for lunch, so Cafe Rouge will do.
                  • J and I split up; me to Old Trafford and her to the Lowry. Dissapointing for us both unfortch (mine was booked out, her's was just plain depressing).
                  • Dinner was surprisingly good. We tried to go to a cool place in the Northern Quarter but it was booked out. So, walked back to Chinatown, wandered the streets (spotted the least-convincing transvestites since Emily Howard, and the world tour of the Bangkok Lady Boys!), and eventually ended up at a Chinese restaurant. Expectations were low, but this was great. Spare ribs were brilliant, and it got better from there.

                  Sun 13 July

                  • Checked out and went through the Millenium Shopping District. Very flash. Lunch at Yo! Sushi in Selfridges food hall. First time in ages - and totally enjoyable. Finished off with baklava from the patisserie.
                  • Back on the train at 15:00, and back at Hardwicks about 19:00. Nice weekend, but either we went to wrong places or had too high expectations

                  Diary: Weekend 04-06 July 08

                  Valencia! See pics

                  Fri 04 July
                  • 14:20 flight from Gatwick to Valencia. Arrived and walked into the foyer to feel proper warmth for the first time in ages

                  • Checked into Hotel Vincci Palace, quite a sight with flowing drapes, dark wood and wallpaper, minimal lighting. Dropped the bags, put on shorts and thongs and headed straight outside.

                  • "Early" meal at tapas joint across from Mercado Central. Cold (and I mean, Oz-cold) beer went down a treat in 32 deg heat. Topped up with Pulpo Gallegas and meatballs.

                  • Wandered around the old town, went back to the room to get changed and back to the old town for dinner.

                  • Couldn't get an alfresco table at El Rall, but soon forgot about that once the Jamon came out. Ordered a shellfish Paella, which was fantastic (except for the nice looking but painfully difficult Langoustines). Lovely Pinot to boot.

                  Sat 05 July

                  • Morning coffee nextdoor and a wander to the Cathedral. From there, walked to the Art Gallery. Possibly below expectations (the literature mentioned Goyas, but there was really only 1 worth seeing), but on Perth-ratings it was still a pleasure

                  • Took the tram to the beach. How long had it been since I'd seen that! Weighed up the possibility of buying bathers and a towel from the shysters on the beach, but eventually settled for beers at a quite dodgy looking place. The "waitress" had the look of a heroin addict and strange cans to match. As a result, we relocated to a (quite pretentious) beachside bar for a couple more beers.

                  • Took that tram back to the hotel, as the sun went down, got changed and headed to the busy part of town. Was a nice relief to see some crowds (the area where the hotel was far too quiet for this city-boy).

                  • After much deliberation, we went to a ham specialist restaurant (Palacio de la Bellota), knowing we were having Paella - but what an inspired decision. Possibly the best meal we've had in about a year!

                  • Took another late night wander around town, before retiring.

                  Sun 06 July

                  • Checked out a little late, but managed to get to the Mercado Central. I love these places - not just the exotic food, but the "real" food which you don't see anymore around our way (like proper, big, greenish tomatoes).

                  • Headed down to the beach, this time with full intent. Bought a cr@p towel for about €5, rented a sunlounge for about €2, and finally swam. Water was so warm, I could have stayed there all day. Even managed to convince J to have a dip.

                  • Dried off, dusted off and walked up the beach to the same strip of restaurants as yesterday, but for tapas at a respectable joint. Last meal of Pulpo Gallegas, Jamon Serrano and Gambas Ajillo.

                  • 17:10 flight back to arrive back at Hardwicks around 20:00 local time

                  • Fantastic short break...