Category Archives: Uncategorized

Olympic Park from the air

Following on from last week’s post about my visit to The Orbit, I thought it’d be nice to post a couple of other views of the Olympic Park that I’ve taken recently.

First up is an aerial shot of the park that I took on a recent flight back into London. We flew in early on a sunday morning, and were lucky enough to have a fantastically clear view of the city, including flying right over the Olympic Park.

London Olympic Park from the air
(Click the image to see a larger version)

The Olympic Stadium itself is in the centre of the photo, and immediately to its left are the Orbit, Aquatic Centre and Water Polo Arena. Towards the bottom left of the photo is the Olympic Village. To the right of the village is a large, white box which is the Basketball Arena; to the right of that is the curved roof of the Velodrome, probably the most attractive of all the Olympic venues. To the far right of the picture you can just about see the Hockey pitches, right in front of the huge International Broadcast Centre.

You can get a clearer picture of the park’s layout from my second photo, which is a model of the Olympic Park, part of New London Architecture’s huge model of Central London (which is well worth a visit if you’ve never been). This photo is oriented with the southern end of the park (the Olympic Stadium) to the right, and the northern end (with the Velodrome) to the left.

London 2012 Olympic Park model

You can see the rest of my Olympic photos here.

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A New Year’s Resolution

Let’s face it, I’ve been a bit rubbish about keeping this blog updated since I got back from travelling – a lot of that has been because it’s been pretty knackering getting used to working again after 15 months of lovely unemployment – but now I’m settled in again, that’s a pretty lame excuse.

I must admit I’ve never found writing particularly easy, but it’s a good discipline to stick to, partly because I enjoy sharing my experiences of travelling with people, but also because it’s a nice record for myself, and keeping up with it is a way of capturing the memories of all the fantastic experiences I’ve had, and even just a year later, I really enjoy going back and reading about what I’ve been up to.

So in that spirit, and prompted by the folks at wordpress, I’m going to attempt to use their ‘post a week in 2011’ initiative to try and give me a reason to post more regularly. Last week I wrote about my four months of travelling through nine countries in 2010 and next up will be the first of my posts about my trip to Nicaragua in November. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

Playing catch-up

You’re probably assuming that since I’ve been back I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties in favour of copious drinking binges whilst catching up with old mates. You’d mostly be right on that one.

But I have started to catch up on the final month, so expect posts on my month in Burma and Cambodia coming your way soon (and I’m not giving too much away by saying the last month was possibly the best of the whole trip).

In the meantime, you can get a feel for what I’ve been up to by having a look at the final month’s photos over at flickr – Burma & Cambodia.

I’ve also updated my round the world map to show the final route and itinerary – you can see that here, as well as the final tally of how many countries I’ve visited, which you can see here – in the end I’ve still fallen short of 50 countries. Still, gives me something to aim for over the remainder of 2010!

Want to help Lonely Planet?

Do you like my shiny new badge? (It’s over there =>, in case you’ve missed it). My blog’s been featured on the Lonely Planet website for quite a while now, which I’m quite chuffed about, and has been quite a big boost to the number of readers I get here, so I’m very grateful to them for the extra publicity they’ve been able to give my little blog.

Anyway, they’ve now been in touch with me to ask for some help in publicising something on their behalf – their new Travellers’ Pulse Panel. Rather than describe it myself, here’s what the LP team have to say about it:

Calling all travellers!

Lonely Planet invites you to join our Travellers’ Pulse Panel!

Our panel is a discussion forum where we engage travellers and listen to what you have to say about travel – where to go, how to plan, and other creative travel ideas. We’ve always got interesting topics up for you to comment on, like our current survey on what you’re looking for when you take a trip to a theme park.

Joining the panel is free and if you’re accepted to be a panelist, we’ll send you a free Lonely Planet 2010 calendar as a gift to welcome you on board! Not only will you get to talk about travel, but we regularly run promotions exclusively for panelists where you can win prizes like Lonely Planet products and Amazon gift cards.

If you’d like to join this panel (numbers are limited) all you need to do is click the link below and take a short survey to register. We’ll look at your responses and depending on your age, travel experience and country of residence you might be one of the people we’re looking for! The type of people we need on the panel changes from time to time, so if you aren’t suitable for our panel this time we may contact you to participate in future.

https://www.travellerspulse.com/R.aspx?a=56&Source=BLOG

Thanks again!

Regards,

The Lonely Planet Travellers’ Pulse team

So there you have it. A chance to help pass your thoughts onto Lonely Planet, and the chance to win some prizes. If you do – do let me know what the calendar’s like.

Merry Christmas!

For a while I thought I was going to be stuck in East Timor for Chistmas (getting out of the country was surprisingly hard) but after a bit of effort I managed to escape and am now spending Christmas in Bali with a couple of friends from back home.

Anyway, I just wanted to say merry christmas to all my readers, thanks so much for all your comments throughout the year, it’s nice to know that someone out there is actually reading this!

Hope you all have a great day wherever you are and whatever you’re up (I’m planning to give surfing a go for the first time). A special hello too to all the other blogging travellers out there – and I’m looking forward to reading what you’ve all been up to

x Geoff

The Sound of Latin America

I’ve written lots of posts about what Latin America looks like, what it feels like and what it tastes like. But I don’t think I’ve really said that much about what it sounds like.

The answer to that one is simple. Latin America sounds like reggaeton. For those not in the know, reggateon is a easily the most popular form of pop music across the continent, essentially a Latin form of R&B and Hip-Hop. You hear it EVERYWHERE – on the street, in bars and clubs, in markets, blaring from people’s mobile phones, on the radio in buses, even in pharmacies – and at first I found it pretty annoying. But pretty quickly one tune began to stand out. It worked its way into my brain without me realising it, until one day I found myself singing along to a song I didn’t even know the name of.

I soon noticed the song was everywhere. I was hearing it literally dozens of times a day, a pattern that was to be repeated across the whole continent for the six months I was travelling there. And that song was ‘Llamada de Emergencia’ (Emergency Call) by Daddee Yankee. From Puerto Rico, he’s the biggest star of Reggaeton, and from what I can make out, his latest hit was number one pretty much everywhere. I reckon it earns its success by being a bit more melodic than your average reggaeton number, especially with its infuriatingly catchy chorus.

In the end, I grow to love it (and its similar sounding, and nearly as ubiquitous follow-up ‘Que Tengo Que Hacer’ (What I have to do)) – as did many of the other backpackers I met. On the other hand, there were quite a few who detested it even more. Have a listen (it takes about 45 seconds before the song starts properly in this video) and see which side you come down on…

I have a feeling this is one of those things that’s great while you’re abroad, but probably doesn’t travel home all that well.

What I learnt in North America

So. After nearly three months the first leg of my round the world trip is over, and I’m nearly a quarter of the way through. So what have I learnt so far?

Beautiful San Miguel de Allende from above

Beautiful San Miguel de Allende from above

I’ve learnt I don’t need to do stuff every day. Sure, there’s always something to see, something to do, but trying to cram too much in is just exhausting, plus it’s like stuffing yourself with sweets – it gets a bit much after a while and you stop appreciating it. When I start to feel like that, I just take a day or two off and do very little. Hang out on a beach, or enjoying cooling off by the fan in my room. Or just catching up with my blog.

The best way to enjoy a city is to wander around for hours, taking it all in, and discovering cool buildings, interesting shops, and the best street food. In fact, most museums have been a disappointment and I only visit now if they’re free or have been highly recommended.

Guanajuato, my favourite city so far.

Guanajuato, my favourite city so far.

Churches all start to look the same after a while.

So do Spanish colonial buildings. Best to break it up a little with some outdoor activities.

Kayaking across Lake Atitlan

Kayaking across Lake Atitlan

On that note, it’s the outdoor activities that are increasingly becoming my favourites – whether it’s hiking along canyons or up volcanoes, mountain biking around the countryside or learning to dive, most of my happiest memories so far have taken place away from towns and cities.

Learning Spanish has been incredibly worthwhile. It’s really helped with making the basics of travel a million times easier, but more than that it’s allowed me to have far more conversations with locals than I have ever had previously. It’s actually made me slightly worried that the Asian leg of my experience won’t be quite the same, as their languages are far harder to pick up. Although I’m considering learning a bit of Indonesian, as apparently it’s relatively easy to pick up the basics.

Never trust a local of one country to comment on the safety of another. Mexicans told me to avoid Guatemala like the plague. Guatemalans told me the same about Mexico. I felt completely safe the whole time in both.

I’ve become a bit of a Mexico bore. I loved the country so much I can’t stop talking about it. I need to cut down on this as I’m aware that when I hear other travellers doing the same (especially when comparing one country to another) it can be bloody annoying.

I’m not a budget traveller. I suppose it was too much to expect after living on a good salary in London for so long and treating myself all the time, and it’s turned out that more often than not, I’ll go for the first class bus over the local ones (I convince myself I’m doing it for security reasons but I know deep down it’s for comfort). I’m a rubbish bargainer (I need to spend more time with Israelis. By common consent they are the experts in this area). And I splash out on nice meals a bit too often (especially in the countries that don’t have a good street food tradition). Er, and I probably like my beer a little *too* much. But hey, I’m on holiday.

Despite being very relaxed I still walk too quickly. I don’t think that will ever change.

I’m not as good a photographer as I’d like to be. Hopefully that will come with practice (and to be fair to myself, I have improved a lot already I think).

Probably my personal favourite photo so far

Probably my personal favourite photo so far

I am addicted to chili. Countries without a good selection of spicy condiments will not be popular with me.

Most of all, I’ve been very happy to realise that this kind of travel suits me. I’m feeling ridiculously relaxed and happy, and moreso every day. One thing that has surprised me is that a few people have commented on how nice my smile is. Yes, that’s partly because I had my tooth fixed before I left so I’m less self-conscious about it, but I think it’s mostly because I spend a lot of time grinning from ear to ear. Some have commented on how cheesy my grin looks in photos but I don’t care. I’m loving it.

Hello!

This is just a little post to say hello to anyone who knows me from work and has popped in after receiving my goodbye email. Thanks for coming over, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to over the coming year I’ll be trying my best to make you all jealous here on this blog, you can subscribe to updates via RSS or via email via the links on the top right of this page.

Feel free to say hello in the comments box!

x Geoff