Thursday, August 31, 2006

London - Hamstead on the top of London

Clambered onto the roof of Christain's (aka Justino/Sir!) house. What an amazing view off London. His house is very tasteful done as well, what we would expect of someone with such taste. References to Japan/Tokyo there for the knowing eye to register.

Lazy day today.

Walked around the area. Walked down to Camden Market. Quickly looked around then strolled back home.

Living in Tokyo, is like living in a bubble. Special if you do not understand the language. You can switch off so easily from immediate surroundings and be last in thought. No distraction from over head conversations. So you experience audio and visual over load being back in a English speaking country. Unbalances yourself, not used to be able to process what people are saying without having to tune in. Scrap book of conversations you hear as you walk down the road, still in you bubble but the skin no longer blocks the out the outside. The bubble acts as a receiver, amplifying everything around. Like the feeling we all have felt, that one going from a cool dark empty room, peaceful , no distractions and then into a busy street during the day , everything fades to white at first then the heat hits you and then confusion and distraction off it all. Trying to find your barings, your place, where are the steps.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

London - Hamstead Cafe rouge

Arrived at Hamstead bank card does not work and no answer from Sir! Anyway have a glass of red and no where to go.

Paris - Chez Papa

No not lunch with the president of Iran but with my good friend Regis from my Tokyo days. We talked about how things have changed in europe in the 10 years away. The feeling of being Am a outsider, the class system in France that no one talks about (so many upper class people in France), how France will implode and a 69th republic will be born. Now on the the Eurostar heading towards London.

Paris - Rainy day

In a hurry need to check out, dump my bags at Station Nord and then meet up with Regis, old friend from Tokyo. Then catch the Eurostart back to Blighty.

Yeserday was a wash out, heavy rain when I left the hotel, so grab a paper, and had some lunch. Rain had turned into drizzle by then so headed towards the the Eiifel tower. ON the way I sow a guy kite boarding in a park right next to a busy road. I wonder if he thought what would happen if a gust of wind had picked him up and dumped him on the road.

After standing under the Eiffel tower, walked back to the hotel. Around the Eiffel tower are all these soldiers with big guns.

Another good dinner. Bottle of wine was off. At forst I thought it was me, and it should taste that way but now it was off.

Nothing of interest, as it was a perssonel experience just walking around taking it all in. Cities are great for doing nothing in, and just for taking a random walk.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Paris - Hotel room of Crystal

So here I am in Paris. Sitting in a room that is not far removed from a bedsit not a hotel room, doing a blog. Hotel Crystal in Paris. I should be out drinking in the city, but I can do that anytime in the next 24 hours. Breakfast was a joke. Went down for breakfast, couple jammed right up against the table where the muesli was, no one else and nothing else. Is that all there is? Went back up to the front desk, told them that there was not much for breakfast. The place looked cleaned out, the special fridge for yogurts cleaned out and coffee pots emptied. He said someone should be down there. So I stomped down the stairs again. Out pops two women one large short middle aged woman and one tall and slim and beautiful young woman, both at different ends of the spectrum of femaleness. Looked like some comedy act from a black and white movie. Anyway I get my breakfast, croissant, un baguette , cafe noir. Oh yes Coffee is ok now, coffee does not dehydrate you. Seemingly just a food scare story, based on no facts. So drink your coffee and feel good about it. Just looked out the window (this minute), and its raining. Its been raining everyday now since I left Spain, which is two days. Bummer.
After my dinner last night which was very tasty, and I take back everything I said about French food just being about the sauce and losing the taste of meat or fish. The Mozzarella and tomato I had was just perfect. The cheese was not bitter, so it was fresh, and soft. No slight burning sensation on the tongue. They had blanched the tomato, to remove the skin, great idea. Actual I am sure I have seen or read that some where else, I Am talking about the tomato.

Makes up for not being able to go to Italy, Naples and taste the Mozzarella straight from the buffalo. Such a shame not being able to Nip across to Naples. After the meal I walked around the area, trying not to get lost. The hotel is just off St. Germain Bolavard, rive gauche (left bank). Passing woman says Bonsoir to me. Yes to Simon from the box. Must be those new glasses I bought in HK, gives me the aura of a thinker and do'er. Women in other cities never go around saying good evening to strangers in the street. No she was not one of 'those' women. Anyway this a city I must come back to again and again.
I am still having probelms with my Vodafone eMail account. San not login. Some server issue. Can not login on my phone or the web site. Such a pain, and so expensive.
Time to go out and say Bonjour to the rest of Paris.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Paris - Le Bilboquet 'jazz club st. Germain'

Right to the heart of the matter. Quite a step from Josef cafe to this place. Hotel crystal is far from crystal clear. 3 Star make that -3 Star. Anyway I Am not here to lounge at the hotel. Here to be part of it all. In St Germain you dine not on the street. Which I do. Other cities have just been large towns, this is a capital city, not France but a place of its own.

Hendaye - Rainy day in France

Arrived 5 hours early for the train. Police stosped me and asked for my passport. Nothing to do with the north African next to me. Few minutes later they came cal and asked to see my passport again. He wanted to show his fellow officer my passport. First time they had seen a biometric one. Went across from the station to the brasserie. Josef was his name who ran the bar. This was not your Aux Beauchanals, no play ground of the gods. I asked for ravoli, Josef said nune. Steak frites, qui. The charters of the town dropping by to keep Josef and myself entertained. Well that was 30 taken care off. Only another 2 to go.

Bilbao - bus station

Early morning start, up at 5:30. Catching the #1 bus to Hendaye where I get the 1408 TGV to Paris. Taking about over 5 hours. The train will travel along the track that the French brock the speed record on, Atlantic track.

Bilbao - Guggenheim

After all the port Gothic cities now a post industral city. The usual redevelopment along the dock lands. Open spaces to walk along, where the city can spend time together. In this area of renewel is the Guggenheim art gallery. Where audio guide introduces the building, asking you to stroke the sides, respond to the visual emotion the structure invokes. I like museums. Safe, nothing else to be lost taking it all in, the outside is outside and you are in. No distraction. Did not have time to check everything out. So I checked out the exhibition 'Russia!'. Art work from Icon art used in the Russian orthodox religion to present day modern art. Really thought provoking. if you have time check it out.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bilbao - Hotel Petit Palace Arana

First posting from my laptop (Sony Viao VGN-TX27GP, see now they have brought out TX37 with new intel cpu solo, oh hum). All other postings have been from SE k800i phone. Which I hate except for the camera. Buggy and slow, and vodafone price structure is day light robbery. Why can SE Japan AU make a better phone than SE World Vodafone, because they can.
A joke before I forget:

What do you call a black Pilot?
A pilot, you racist!

The journey from Savilla to Madrid was uneventful, as travel should be but not good for the blog. The same goes fro Sevilla to Bilbao. The talgo. Which a slow express train that chugs along and gets you there. Scenery out off the window reminded me of low land Scotland, except it was not raining. The rail system seems to have been rebuilt from scratch, nothing looks older that a couple of years. No delays, just a straight line to Bilbao. Stopping off at unannounced stations. When it comes to information the Spanish rail system likes to keep you guessing. Not as bad as the time 13 years ago when I got a train from Barcelona to the east coast. Nothing was said at each station, and the stations had no names. Felt very eerie, pulling into stations with no names, and most of the places had nothing but the station. Ima sure I could distant cow bells in the distance, and stampeding cattle. Anyway when I arrived in Bilbao it was party time. It was like all the spanish students usually roam the streets of Europe and all flown back to Spain for one grand meeting. All with their Don Simon vino tinto and 2 litre Coca Cola bottles, standard issue for any young person in Spain. No taxi's were available, the streets around the station were blocked off. I asked a policeman how to find my hotel ( booked through He gave me directions, simple enough walk down the road and across the bridge. People were walking in the same direction as me. The time I reached the bridge, it was blocked by people, then the fireworks started.

So there I am stuck on the wrong side of Bilbao with my heavy rucksack , and smaller ruck sack, sweating away. Great I thought, no way I am going to make it past these people. So waited for the fireworks to end, thank good they are not as rich as the Japanese, half an hour later.

Crowds cleared and I could pass. The hotel was in the centre off town, so was everyone from the Bilbao. The map I had was crap, as usual. I asked a couple of people they had no idea, one woman walking her dog could not read the map or my address and had no idea. So I phoned the hotel, why did I not do that earlier. I asked for directions, they said they could not give me directions. Just kept saying no. I aksed them how the hell they get to work then? and put the phone down.

Evetualy lady luck gave me a break. I asked a couple dressed in blue for help. They walked me to the street. They told me that today was a party for the people of Basque, part of 9 days of parties.

(Very genki couple, broken English but I understood them. As usual in this part of Spain very nationalistic. He was pissed off that they did not have a national team for football, like Scotland. He kept saying GB out when I was taking the photo, hence the gesture. I told them about my travels in Spain, they love Sevilla, special as the beer is cheaper. They will visit good friends in Sevilla for Christmas.)

Took me three hours to find the hotel. Crashed out on the bed straight away. I am off now to check out the rest of the city, I think I sow most off it last night as a tramped around in dispear swearing at the crow. Guggenheim Museum and the state of the art metro system, that is what the guide says I should check out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Madrid - Atocha station

Cheripaha one of the few words I know in Russian, turtles. Supply spelt wrong. In the huge green house at the station there is a pond full of relatives of terry and charly. Station are excuted better here than Japan.

AVE to Madrid - Preferente

Back to Madrid then catch the 16:05 Talgo to Bilbao. Feels so much like a plane that you look for a seat belt. No wireless or power point connection. Which sums up the whole internet infra-structure in this past of the world. On the train from Edinburgh those facilities were available on the 125, 30 year old train. The AVE does this trip in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Time includes stopping at one station for 15 mins. Coming to Sevilla it got in 15 mins early. Making it 2 hours. That is fast.

Sevilla - Iberian Jamon

I have eaten so much cured ham that my pecks are almost as big as Robo's. Due to all the protean rich food. The food has been pretty similar where ever I have been. Maybe it takes a bit longer to find the particular food for each region.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sevilla - Tako tapas

Checked out the Giraldillo cathedral. Biggest Gothic in the world. Inca gold bought a lot of church in those days. To think people were starving in the streets while they built this monster. Christopher Columbus was final put to rest here. Great view from the top of the bell tower. You would think that there would a tapas bar on every corner. Not so. I must have eaten a whole pig by now. Whole dinner plates of the stuff. Any way had gazpacho and Tako salad. Dump the salad into the gazpacho. Yummm! Now off to find a cafe solo.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sevilla - Las Casas de la Juderia

The above window ( 50x10) is the sole view I have from my room. What a shame not being able to gaze on such a beautiful city. The hotel is a complex of all old buildings joined by under ground tunnels, like catcombs. The place is a maze with on clear signs. This morning everyone was lost trying to find where breakfast was being served. If city is the same every corner there is someone with a map determind not to give up. No wonder petty crime is wide spread. Last night could not find that dynamic night life. Everyone else had good to bed and all that was left was the trust-afarains trying to name drop as many countries in 60 second. I left before the beast of the angry Scotsman woke up. Cartoon series soon to be brought out by DC. Basicaly the character goes around telling people how much a prick they are. Any way took a good part of an hour to find my cell. Jesus the reception area has 5 green doors none with a sign indicating which one leads to the mythical land of roomstan. Any way the night watchman got a good fright as I burst his door down, and then slammed it shut again swearing some ancient hebrew curse on the hotel management. Tonight the city can sleep in peace, I rest the blisters on my feet and retire early. Plan to do the historic sites and beat the Germans to the pool. They started it! That reminds me of a tv program concept I must tell you about when I have more than 12 keys to type with.

Sevilla - La Giralda

Felt a little fatigue yesterday. Getting on and off trains. Finding ones bearings, getting lost in a strange city. It was starting to get to me. Also there are on boats from Cadiz to Genoa. Need to go to north Africa to get to Genoa by boat. So I will head to Bilbao and then to Paris. I wanted to see Cadiz for the Moorish skyline. Walking around last night I was struck by that all religous buildings started life as either islamic or jewish places of worship. Then they were run out of town. Good book to read about this: city of lights. How all religous groups in Spain lived together in peace before the crusades. While the rest of Europe was in the dark ages the Moors had a life style just as good as today.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Madrid - Puerta de Atocha station

Next stop Sevilla. The station that is more like kew gardens. The trip from Lisbon just flew past. The wine helped. The old woman next to washed in some cheap perfume. Its making me feel sick. I never knew they made Brute 33 for women. Back to first class next time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lisbon - STA Apolonia

A city a country that only started breath again at the end of the last century. Decline happening when it lost out on the empire game. That is my guess. Anyone know the actual reason for the decline? One city I everyone should check out. The train slowly makes it way out of the station, the start of 16 hour journey for me. No sleep untill Savilla.

Lisbon - Solo

Walked around the settlements around the castle, then had lunch. Eating so well on this trip. Losing a bit of wait. Saki had to return to London for work. It was fun traveling with him. We laughed all the way. See you in London amigo.

Lisbon - sky line

To much grog on Saturday night. hoped on the tourist bus and sow the sights the easy way. You can tell that the city had been in decline for centuries. The singing of Fado catching the pain of the departed past.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Lisboa hostel had my details but no cooking. No room at the in. So we ended up in hotel Europa Turim. Slept until 6pm. Then walked around Rossio. What beautiful city, the best so far.


Slept ok. Will shortly arrive in Lisbon.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lisbon Hotel express

Our idea and spanish rails idea of first is different. No silver service. Lucky we come prepared for 8 hours of sitting.

Madrid - RENFE Chamartin

Waiting on the train. Have the vino, cheese, and grapes ready. Here we come Lisbon.

Madrid - vino blanco

Catch the sleeper to Lisbon tonight. Glasss of wine with a view of the city. Checked out the palace. Thank you for the emails.

Madrid - central cafe

Made it for the live music last night. Great night of music. Cuban folk jazz , laid back to a trot. large bill from vodafone. Things are not the same as in Japan.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Madrid - Art

Museo nacional centro de arte reina sofia. Picasso Gordon Matta-Clark

Madrid - football

Madrid - Rain

The rain has left the plane and is in Spain. So we have changed our plan of the tourist bus. Modern art and tour of Bernabeu instead. My plan after Seville is head to France, Marseille then Paris. Leaving Spain by ferry.

Madrid - Cafe Central

Live jazz from 10:30 to 12. We got here 12:15. Drinking Mojito at Bar Sol. Anyway the 3/4 Full glass of spirits makes up for it. Back tomorrow, on time. All that jazz Madrid.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Madrid - Summer dream in Madrid (Plaza Sol)

Strolling around taking it all in. Jazz club tonight, Cafe Central. If we can find it.

Madrid - Madrono

Made it to Madrid now. Center of Madrid , center of Spain. This is the Hachiko of Madrid , the meeting spot. Temperate weather. Lots of shoe shops.

Valencia - Good bye

Where are the people bed when do the shops open. Went for paella down to Malvarossa beach. One side 5 star hotel across the road crack houses. Thank you guide book. Also 12 is to late for dinner even for the Spanish. Traveling 1st class to Madrid now. 50 Euro's.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Valenica - Tapas Anchovies

We have been trying out the Tapas. Nothing has disapointed us, so far. The anchovies have been great. So much better fresh and in Spain. Eat your heart out Tucker! ( He loves Anchovies btw)
Valencia is the home of the paella. So Paella tonight.
Then tommorow we are back on the tracks to Madrid.

Valencia - Palau de les Arts

Yes its me!

La Ciutat has to be seen to be believed. With references to Guadi, moorish, Andalucia and looking into the future using modern materials. It is so massive, so futuristic, not off this time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Valencia - Johnny Marcas

Night out on the toon!

Valencia - Hotel Petit Bristol

went up a notch and staying at a hotel.Shave my head. Great view as you can see. So hot mid day. Some one leave a comment , its web 2 time!

Barcelona - Station

Waiting on the train for Valencia. See you again Barcelona in another 13 years. Now we catch the Euromed, the spanish Shinkansen. Journey will take 3 hours, arrive in Valencia @ 12pm.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Barcelona - Port Olimpic

After some more sites from bus turistic. To the beach for the sol. Feels like we have been away for a week, not 2 days.

Barcelona - Jaume i

Went for dinner @ Concordia. None tourist area. Men looking through wallets on street corners, mmm. Decided to get out the area before got lost and so did our wallets. Went back to the same area as yesterday. Great tapas.