Friday, September 29, 2006

Trip Plan Complete!

It's midnight and pouring with rain outside. Moments ago I pulled back the curtain and watched a black cab drive through our cobbled mews, lit by the single streetlight against the brickwork of the ENO. The scene appeared to be a prelude to a movie, and I can well imagine the camera panning back to reveal an actor sitting in a cafe staring glumly out of the window. I love London!

Speaking off, regarding Russia.. yes St. Petersburg is a beautiful city, but at the moment I would have to say it's hard work for independent tourists. If you are determined, then go, but otherwise leave it till you're a retired couple, then let some expensive agency organise everything for you, like 95% of the tourists there. The visa stuff is a pain, and clearly needs reform. The airport is grim. Transport from the airport is either expensive taxis or ageing mini-buses where one has to cram in with luggage and negotiate a price with the driver. Then everywhere.. cyrillic alphabet! Not unreasonable, but for all major tourist sites there should be English signs too. The Hermitage in particular suffers from this.. amazing exhibits but without an explanation, that flint tool from 150k years ago is just a piece of rock!

Anyway, today I punted email off to BA in Mauritius to try to get my flights ticketed. Here's my plan:
First fly out to Mauritius somehow. Then buy OneWorld Explorer ticket there, first class, five continents, with following routing:

Mauritius -> LHR -> AMM (Jordan) ->land-> CAIro -> LHR -> EZE (Buenos Aires) -> LIMa

Then I'm leaving the following sectors open dated:
Lima -> Rio -> Santiago -> Easter Island -> Papeete -> Auckland -> Melbourne -> Sydney -> Tokyo -> Hong Kong -> Karachi -> Bangkok -> Hong Kong -> Johannesburg -> Cape Town -> Finish!!

By the way, if you need to buy Memory Cards etc, get 'em from Memory Card Zoo, a fantastic site run by my friends Mike Sowa and Pete Derbyshire.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

St. Petersburg

Am in St. Petersburg at the moment. Survived the nightmare process of getting visa and journey here (via Prague for some beers with George). Just heading off to the marvellous Hermitage Art Museum. Apparently they have 3 million exhibits! Of which, thankfully, only 5-10% are on show at any one time. Still, that's a whole lotta art. They have 30,000 coins and medals on display. I can't wait. On the other hand, they do have lots of French 19-20C stuff that they nicked from the Nazis during the war, which was first displayed about 10 years ago in a "Hidden Treasures" exhibition, now part of the general collection.

This is the Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood:

Central St. Peterburg is beautiful, I have to say. There was clearly an extremely opulent age here, I believe mainly during the reign of Catherine the Great (okay, I'll read the history bit in my LP sooner or later!). Hotel is strange, seems to be run exclusively by women, so it's very clean but the internet connection is a bit dodgy (hehe)! More updates later..

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Planning Continued

Am currently working out my South American schedule. It's complicated! Will be coming out of winter when I get down there, so it's fairly early to attempt Patagonia - particularly slightly harder treks like the Round Paine Circuit. On the other hand, the books seem to imply that Central Andes (Peru/Bolivia) is best visited May through September, with it getting increasingly rainy from October onwards. Feb - April are supposed to be horribly waterlogged and best avoided! So do I go to Central first? Here's my vague central schedule:


Huaraz (gateway town for next two treks)
Santa Cruz Trek - 4days
Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit - 12days

Huacachina 1-2day(these three suggested by Ralf)
Nazca/desert 1days
Arequipa 1day

Train to Pisco
Lake Titicaca
Cusco (Q says this is for those who like Crowded House!)
Inca Trail - 4days (or maybe Mollepata to Macchu Picchu Trek - 7days - to avoid forced guide Inca Trail tourist stuff)
Copacabana to Isla del Sol Trek - 3days

La Paz

Still working on Patagonia, but I think it's gonna involve Round Paine Circuit and Fitz Roy. More later...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Post from Gmail

Since I get an enormous disclaimer slapped on my emails out of COLT, I thought I'd try posting from Gmail instead.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Am at VMware's first conference in UK. And of course I'm bored! It's basically a sales event, which is strange as everyone here is either a partner or customer - preaching to the converted etc. I remember first seeing VMware on a friend's pc at Imperial (Tony W running linux on Windows on linux, yucks!) in 97 or 98! Crikey, at this rate I'll be a veteran, like all those around me who hark back to the 3.51 and Novell days, or worse! Anyway, this event should be focussing more on the latest clever additions to the product, and the 'appliance' movement. I presume that the hypervisors will be moved into hardware very soon, and Infiniband provide the eGenera scale-out capabilities. So when is the next coffee break? :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hop Festival in Faversham

Spent the weekend down in Kent, having cycled down early Saturday morning. Started at about 8am (having planned a 7am departure), and whizzed out to SE London via my route into work. Then things became messy! Faced with the choice of the M2 or zig-zagging along backstreets, the latter was obviously preferable, and it was TomTom on my phone that saved the day by allowing us to whizz along through narrow lanes and neighbourhoods until we hit the familiar territory of the A2 through Medway Towns. Obviously it rained all the way down, and was generally completely miserable weather. In terms of a ride, it wasn't especially challenging, a shade under 60miles all told, fairly hilly, but none of the roads were especially quiet, and I wouldn't commend the route to anyone as one to repeat!
DSC06008DSC06008 Hosted on Zooomr

The hop festival itself was also not the most impressive. Basically it consisted of morris dancers all over town, a punch and judy show, a couple of bad bands, and every pub in town being packed, thereby making it impossible to get to the bar. Particularly bad marks awarded to the Sun Inn, where the young ladies behind the bar managed to serve FOUR people in preference to me, and it was only by waving in their face that I prevented the fifth person from being attended to. Is there no reward for being polite and waiting one's turn these days? Apparently not. But like the Murphys...