Newsletter Number Twelve - May, 2005
So what does The Pope, Switzerland and large gatherings have in common? Not much apart from a large crowd gathering in St Peter's Square to witness the death of a Pope surrounded by the Swiss Guards; and the fact that all three play a part in this months newsletter.
A Roman Holiday
(now for the astute this will make more sense as you read on)
it comes to a good holiday, timing can be so important; making sure the
weather is kind to you, high season prices have not yet kicked in and
the Pope does not die whilst there. Luckily I had two of the three. On
spec I decided to take off to another not yet visited city - Rome.
Whilst realising the Pope was not well, I had not anticipated that he
would die whilst I was in the ancient city. Fortunately for me I was
leaving as the millions of pilgrims arrived. The worlds media had
descended on the city camping outside the Vatican as had thousands of
Catholics praying for the Pope and in a macabre way waiting for him to
die. Fortunately I was able to make my way through St Peters, but the
museums were closed thus requiring me to now make another trip to Rome
sometime in the next couple of months.
A big thank you to Sue and Alex who visited the city prior and had written some great notes in the guide book the left me. You can see the usual holiday snaps in the gallery section under Rome....
Saturday 30 April was the much celebrated Queens Day in Amsterdam. This is the day when the country converges on Amsterdam wearing as much orange as possible to celebrate the Queen's birthday. In reality it is the birthday of the Queen's mother (Juliana) as her own falls in the middle of winter at the end of February, not conducive to the street festivities. The day is also the one day of the year when people are able to sell all the clutter that they have amassed during the year and not require a permit. Imagine the biggest flea market in the world...and there certainly is some rubbish that people try and sell, however look hard enough and you can find a great bargain.
Even a bicycle left chained to one of the bridges becomes a make shift clothes rack
Royalty abounds on Queens Day
Notice my token effort to blend in wearing Orange. More of an effort than Adam and Alex..
One of the smaller street
The day s also one big street and canal party. Almost every
restaurant sets up an outdoor stand selling food and drinks to all that
pass by. In an effort to attract peoples attention they also seem to
each have their own would-be dj playing trying to out blast everyone
else. All in all it is one of the best days in Amsterdam, if you can
live with the crowds, noise and don't have an aversion to orange.
The weekend after Queens Day was a four day weekend in Holland. I thus made the most of the opportunity and on a whim headed Switzerland to spend some time with a friend whom I had met when he was in Amsterdam. Unfortunately the weather was not too kind, and with both Geneva and Zurich having lakes as their focal point, this really put a dampener on the weekend. However, with a local at hand who knew where to head when the rain set in we had a great time. I will certainly head back when the weather is warmer to spend some time on the lake and really enjoy the city.
The lovely Laurent who I had met in Amsterdam a few weeks earlier. Below with one of his best mates in Geneva Patrice. If you are after a designer watch then visit his web site.
Lake Geneva in the background on a miserable day
skyline of Zurich including the clock with the worlds largest clock
face in the world (below)
When in Zurich I also caught up with Patrick and Daniel who I met in one of Amsterdam's bars about 2 months ago.
Just one of those signs you have to take a photo of
|Now one of the
stranger sites in Switzerland you
can visit is the grave of Audrey Hepburn. The cemetery where she is
buried is close to where friends of Larent live. We visited them
lunch, however I think it was an excuse to pay a pilgrimage to grave.
It has been known for tour buses to detour off the road between Geneva
and Zurich to allow for the photo opportunity....
On the right is my attempt to be a little arty - the picture was actually taken through a glass of red bull....
I don't usually promote products or services on my web site, but here is one which I think is quite useful. Skype is a voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service. Basically this means that you can use your computer as a telephone. The benefit is that if two people both have Skype, calls between the PC's is free. Better still you can use Skype to call any normal phone or mobile for much cheaper rates than usual international calls. As an example, to call from pc in Holland to a land phone in Australia is €0.017 per minute. If you have Skype or download it you can find me in the directory, I am sure that it will lower your phone bill and now you have no excuse to keep in touch..
Towards the end of June I will be traveling
to New York and Washington with friends. I am sure that there will be a
few tales to tell and pictures to share. Till then I hope all are well
and enjoying life, hey you only get once chance at it!
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