Wednesday, May 29, 2013

3 days in Amsterdam

After 3 hours in Amsterdam, we were sold.  Definitely one of the cooler cities of the trip so far.  The fact that everyone rides their bike everywhere, along fairly flat streets, over the canals, is one of the best parts of the city.  Definitely one of the best ways to travel around a city, and as the locals say, within 15 minutes you are anywhere you want to be.  A 20 minute bike ride is a long journey for them.  And that is in the largest, best city in The Netherlands.  Very impressive.

We had 3 days in the city, exploring the city streets, searching for the windmills (all out of the city center now), trying on wooden shoes, seeing some of the best art from the country and enjoying the city view from a canal boat with the locals.  It was great to see old friends in the city.  From my Dutch mates, Martijn and Joren, to American friends Alex and Jon, it was great to catch up and hear their stories from their travels and life in Holland.  Good times!

France Photos

More pictures from one amazing week in France where I had my first helicopter ride (to an old monastery turned chateau for a 3 course lunch, and along the coast for free), watched the Monaco Gran Prix, walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Fest, biked through vineyards in the French countryside and lived the good life.  All that on top of the usual walking through old European towns, exploring the architecture, cobblestone streets and enjoying local food (baguettes at every meal).

It's true, the croissants taste better in France.  The perfect mixture of butter and air, along with a good price made them a daily meal. 

The wealth of the Cote D'Azur is astounding.  From the cars, to the yachts, to perfectly designed houses on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, you can smell the money.  Of course it was heightened by the Gran Prix and film festival, but you could tell that the cars would still be there any time of year.  Some of the models were limited editions for the whole world, and there they were, being parked in front of the casinos.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Rembrandt's Square

Canals everywhere

Bikes, outdoor cafes and the good life in Amsterdam

One hell of a happy guy

Slamming it home


Checking out the art at the Rijksmueum.  Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer and more

That's myself and Allen on top of the E and R

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cote D'Azur = Amazing

Strolling through old town Antibes with my Shaq jersey

Gran Prix!
Monaco and their cars

Cannes Film Festival 2013

Working it with the paparazzi

Cathal, Allen and I relaxing on the Cannes boardwalk

Night movie on the beach at the Film Fest

Who got on the red carpet?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Grand Prix and Cannes Film Fest

At the Nice airport now about to fly up to Amsterdam.  Been some more amazing days in the south of France with the Monaco Gran Prix going on, and the Cannes Film Fest.  Got to partake in both and keep living with the rich and famous in the Cote D'Azur.

The sound of the F1 cars was crazy.  Flying around hairpin curves and racing through a tunnel along the sea in one of the most classic and shortest courses out there.  After the F1 cars, some supped up Porches had a go.  Loads of sweet cars around the Monte Carlo area.  Limited editions all around, from Bentley to Maybach to Lamborghini, it was mighty impressive.  As was the beach.  Definitely a fan of the Mediterranean.

Cannes has a sweet promenade boardwalk plus loads of wanna-be stars.  Didn't get to see anyone major on the red carpet for the premiere of The Immigrant.  Tons of people all dressed to the nines trying to get tickets.  Tuxes all over the place, including the middle school kids trying to score a ticket.  Watched an old Jerry Lewis film on the beach afterwards to get some film viewing.  Solid time out.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


So far, the trip to the south of France has been unbelievable.  Perfect weather, the Mediterranean, amazing people, a free helicopter ride, amazing foods and wines, biking along the coast, and more.  And all that in just over 2 days.  Doing it right in France!

In Marseille, we stayed with Julita and explored the town, hiked the mountain to the Notre Dame church on top, and then watched the sunset over the Mediterranean.  The next day, we took the bus out to the airport to be picked up by Philipe, a French guy who along with Febrece, owns a airplane maintenance company.  They said they had a special day for us, and wow, were they right.

We were taken by their helicopter on an unforgettable ride around the Cote D'Azur. First we flew up to an old monastery that is now a boutique hotel.  Landing on top of a mountain, with one of the coolest buildings wasn't even the start.  Lunch was taken care for, a 72 euro 3 course meal starting with Sweetbreads, working it's way through fish and local produce from the daily market and followed by a kiwi ice cream.  Yes!  Life is good!

From the monastery, we flew over along the coast for a while taking in the view, with the pilots having fun flying super low and claiming they were testing the helicopter.  A few tricks and then back to get dropped off at the train station.  Living it up in France!

We're staying in the very south, in a small town called La Londe Les Mares and have spent the day biking around, through vineyards, orchards, chateaus and more, out to the sea and back.  Total relaxing day in the sun, in Provence!  Amazing!

Here are a few pictures of the good times in France.
What's that? Flying around France in a helicopter?

Living the good life at 20m off the ocean
Appetizer of sweetbreads.  If you don't know what these are, don't look them up.

Amazing fresh fish dish served up by an award winning chef

Yeah, we flew here in a helicopter for a 3 course lunch

mmmm, Mediterranean sun so tasty!

Cruising through vineyards in Provence


Made it to the beach!

How bout the royal summer home out on the coast?  Definitely worth a bike ride there

Provence beach town

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Barcelona Pictures


Wednesday, May 15, 2013


It has been amazing in Barcelona so far.  We have some of the best Couch Surfing hosts out there, getting the best treatment and definitely feeling like a local.  We got in early afternoon after flying British Airways from London.  Tricky figuring out the subway system, but then we were there, staying right in the city centre with a main park out the balcony.  We went on a walk all over town, down by the beach, before going to one of the original tapas bars in town.  The refrigerators are old wooden boxes, there is an open kitchen with 4 people working it and the food was amazing.  Fresh fish, octopus, calamari, fried potatoes and more.  Lots more exploring afterwards.  This city is amazing!  So much going on.

Day two was exploring Gaudi and what else the city had to offer.  Ana and her friend Celia drove us all over the city, with panoramic views from every direction.  Pretty much saw everything there is to see.  We had a front row parking spot for the huge cathedral, which of course, is still under construction.  Such a long line to get in, and a pricey entrance fee, so we skipped that and walked around enjoying the view.  The older part of the cathedral is definitely the best.

Up in the mountains, the views were incredible, overlooking everything.  They say this is the best city with the metropolitan area, the beach, the close mountains, and nearby larger mountains to go skiing in.  I definitely agree.

We saw several other Gaudi buildings in the city, as well as his park up on a hill overlooking the city.  Parc Guell was my favorite spot of the day.  So eclectic up there, making you want to just walk all over exploring the park and enjoying it for hours.  Super cool atmosphere up there.

Our hosts took us to one of the best places in town (Michelin mentioned this place) for an amazing lunch, and later on got some local horchata and churros.  Always trying good food from local recommendations.  Tis the life!

Ana and I at Gaudi's Sagrada Familia
In Gaudi's amazing park, Parc Guell
Gaudi's Casa Batilo!
Gaudi, the architect of Barcelona

Up at the castle in Montjuic

Parc Guell

Monday, May 13, 2013

a wee town called London

Just spent 3 days exploring London, meeting up with some old mates and attempting to eat a healthy British meal.  It was a great experience, full of walking, adventures, some sun, some rain, fun accents, Irish mates, big towers, modern art and more.  Here are a few pictures:

Mighty impressive behind me

Checking out some Picasso culture at Tate Modern

Abbey Road

Chinatown nearby Leicester Square
Allen and I jumping it up at Buckingham Palace

Friday, May 10, 2013


First off, check out these Scotland photos:

Now on to Liverpool:

On the bus down from Liverpool to London now, catching up with emails and such.  Been a grand time out here with old friends, Amy and Stu, two of my flatmates in New Zealand.  They've got a sweet flat just north of the city in the countryside.  Made for a nice run through the English countryside.  Must be the good English weather, but I hung with Stu and Allen and powered those legs through, checking out the British houses in the area and the fields.

Liverpool, where the Beatles got started, is a pretty sweet town.  Lots going on, with some great buildings.  The Liver building is definitely one of the cooler buildings in Europe, with the Liver Bird on top, crowning the city with it's name.  Two main cathedrals in town, one called the Metropolitan which is definitely that.  The other is the Anglican which is more medieval and yet has been turned into more of an event space. 

Cobble stones all over, plenty of proper pubs and old buildings around.  Fun times!  Even took the ferry across the River Mersey for the view of the skyline.  The Beatles are all over town, with loads of statues of places named after them.  We checked out the bar where they first started playing at, and popped into the Beatles Story gift shop for some fun photos of the lads when they were younger.

Here are a few pictures from the time in Liverpool.

Anglican Cathedral

The Titanic right beside the Yellow Submarine

Hats off with The Beatles

The Liver Building

Me and Johnny Boy

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More Iceland Photos!

Here are some pictures from Allen's camera.  A whole different perspective on Iceland! 

Our Reykjavik family hiking to the hot pools in 4 degree Celsius weather

Anja from Germany, Julien from France, me and Katrin from Germany

wee bit cold out

Petting Icelandic horses
In the hot tub right before going into the North Atlantic Sea

The North Atlantic Sea, 4.7 degrees Celsius

Doesn't matter how cold it is, still going to have fun after swimming 40m out and back

Leaving at 4am with our bags to take the bus to the airport