Posts Tagged ‘Food’

St Gallen

September 15th, 2010 No comments

Our first Swiuss tunnel!

Still no working laptop, but that may be more to do with stupid Swiss plug sockets than anything else. I mean who uses hexagonal plugs?

For those that have had their head in the sand for the last few days, today is my birthday. I spent 5 hours of it driving and 6 hours of it as a passenger. I had a curry and a beer and I got a mug off Chris.

The rest of this post is going to consist of me trying to do some sort of justice to the breathtaking scenery we experienced today.

We left Verona around 9am to drop Chris off in Milan before the rest of us headed for Switzerland. The drive to Milan was pretty enough, mostly Italian farms and villages. However, I will never forget the experience of driving into Milan and then out of it. In fact it hardly counts as driving. It is 90 per cent stuck in total gridlock followed by 10 per cent total chaos. If any rules of the road are observed I have been completely unable to detect it. Also, there is nothing more terrifying as a driver as being able to hear mopeds and motorcycles around you but being unable to see them as they swarm around the sides of your car! It was absolute mayhem.

The Swiss Alps as we clibed over them looked so dramatic.

Once Chris was safely deposited at his hotel we turned north and headed for the Swiss border via Lake Como and St Moritz.

Lake Como is beautiful, tranquil and full of famous people. Unfortunately, we were too busy negotiating tunnels, bridges and berserk lorry drivers to experience it. The vistas were amazing though.

We then started our ascent of the Italian Alps towards St Moritz where we climbed a few hundred metres in no time at all and saw the temperature drop over 15 degrees centigrade.

We headed over the Juliper-pass from St Moritz to Bovio, which peaks at over 2200m above sea level (that’s about 6600 feet). The views on the pass were out of this world.

Basically half the roads on Switzerland were under construction it seemed. This one is on the highest mountain pass in Switzerland!

The sat nav was set to avoid motorways in Switzerland as the tolls and charges are pretty high, so we were heading north when we suddenly found ourselves passing through a military camp. At first we thought that we had taken a wrong turn, but apparently the A13 happens to go through one of the old border stations on the Swiss border. It wasn’t long after this that we noticed another strange marker on the sat nav. We had driven over the border into Liechenstein. This is apparently the optimum route to St Gallen from Milan!

We eventually arrived in St Gallen at about 8.30pm after 11hrs of solid driving. We were so tired we just wanted to eat and head to bed. This, however, turned out to be an issue. It seems that no where is open in St Gallen after about 6pm so it took us ages to find a restaurant. We eventually stumbled on a little Indian place so we plumped for a nice birthday curry. We also realised just how expensive everything is in Switzerland (so thanks Mum).

One of many pictures I tool whilst Kieran was driving.

This post originally had no pics as it was written on my Blackberry. I have now added some pics to it [edited 26/09/2010]. I am going to post a load on Twitter right now, so get over there to check them out.

Tomorrow we head to Montreux and Lake Geneva for some R&R before our last day on the road in Monte Carlo.

Last few days to follow our real time progress on Kieran’s website.

Please keep the comments coming in as I love to hear from you. You can also SMS me if you have my number (it’s free from a UK mobile), email me or leave me a message here.


September 14th, 2010 No comments

Well my laptop is dead. So rest of posts will be made from my Blackberry, which means no pics. What I will do I’d try and upload some pics as separate posts when we have wifi connectivity. I’m not going to post them on 3g.

Back on topic, we have spent a 2nd day in Italy today. The first time on the trip we have spent consecutive nights sleeping within the same national borders!

Crazy Italians put aeroplanes on their buildings!

We left Venice for Verona at around 1pm having spent the morning walking through the narrow streets and soaking in as much of the history and magic of the city as possible.

It is impossible to describe how completely bewildered yet enchanted Venice has left me. If it were possible to form a romantic attachment to a city, Venice and I would be starting some some of affair right now.

Anyway, enough of the hyperbole and cliche. We decided to shun the motorways and highways of Italy for some country roads on our hop from Venice to Verona. We experienced some great rural scenery and some colourful Italian driving! I could (and maybe will) dedicate a whole post to the crazy and apparent random nature of Italian driving. I haven’t had the pleasure of driving in Italy yet, but part of me is looking forward to the experience and the other half is saying it would rather climb a mountain in 2nd gear behind a coach!

One of the many ornate monuments and churches in Verona, Italy

We arrived in Verona in the early evening and headed straight out into town. We wandered the old town streets, taking photos of old churches and marvelling at the architecture and culture of this Shakespearean corner of Italy until we decided to get down to the serious business of eating and drinking some of Italy’s finest exports. Namely lasagne and wine. I was responsible for lasagne and Chris for wine, and I think we handled our tasks well, even if our waiter interpreted a glass of sweet white wine as a glass of rich red.

A few beers later we headed off to finish our odyssey by visiting the Casa da Giuletta. Unfortunately, the courtyard was closed for what looked like a private photo shoot, but we could see enough to make out the fact that most people thought that touching the bosom of Juliet’s statue would bless their relationship.

Tomorrow is my birthday, which will be spent crossing the Alps into St. Gallen, Switzerland. Apparently the town’s university has one of the most ornate libraries in Europe.

As always, please keep up to date by visiting my homepage or on Twitter. You can follow our real time progress on Kieran’s page here.


September 12th, 2010 No comments

Taking a break from the glorious architecture of Salzburg, Austria

Today was a stunning day. The drive from Munich to Salzburg via the back roads and country lanes was by far the most glorious so far. We had fantastic weather, amazing sunshine the entire route, as well as some cracking German roads which meant we made fairly good time after a minor delay in Munich.

Following a proper continental breakfast in the hotel, we headed South from Munich towards the Austrian border. The road was flanked by corn fields and houses that would not have looked out of place on the set of The Sound of Music. The roads were nice and twisty, without feeling too dangerous and virtually no ravines for us to fall into.

First, and only, serious injury of the trip. George managed to cut his finger on his razor blade!

The last hour of the drive was dominated by the looming Alps and I have decided that I would really love to spend some time living in the part of the world.

We arrived in Salzburg at around 4pm and pulled up to our Gasthof which is truly fantastic. It is so traditionally Alpine that I half expect to see Heidi walk round the corner at any second.

Salzburg is a beautiful city, the Aldstadt (old town) in particular. Very classical in its architecture, there is a stunning building everywhere you look from the domineering Schloss overlooking the main squares, the prince’s residence that stands in the main square to the many statues that are dotted about the various platzes and passage ways.

Yummy. Pint of Dublin's finest.

I was intially concerned about our visit here as everywhere we encountered seemed very closed. It appears that the Austrians take the sabbath very seriously. Once we made it to the very centre of the old town we found a few nice cafes and bars open for us to wander around.

We stopped at a little cafe for some home made lasagne before hitting the local Irish bar for a well earned pint of Dublin’s finest. For a beer that travelled such a long way, it tasted pretty damned good!

Tomorrow is going to be a fantastic day, we have a drive through the Alps to Venice in Italy. The weather forecast is not great, but I’m hoping it won’t spoil the views.

As always, you can follow my updates on my blog, via Twitter or live on Kieran’s website.

Residenzplatz in Salzburg, Austria


September 10th, 2010 4 comments

Rack of ribs I ate in Amsterdam, Holland

Following the relative peace and calm of day one of our trip to Europe, where I had time to blog about my day, have a nap and change my shirt before going out for dinner, today has been rather more busy. After consuming a rather charming full English breakfast for a modest fee, we left the sights and sounds of Amsterdam behind us and hit the road for day two of out trip.

It is probably worth mentioning here that I was the designated driver to kick start today’s proceedings, which meant navigating us through the streets of inner city Amsterdam and getting us safe and sound onto the motorway heading for Eindhoven. I have never driven in Europe in my life, never mind city centre driving, so it was all a bit of an experience. Luckily, Kieran has a VW Golf which is very similar to my old polo so I picked up the driving mechanics pretty quickly. The difficult bit wasn’t the driving on the right, or the fact the car was pretty much dead weight with all the gear we had packed in, but the fact I just couldn’t get my lane positioning right due to the driving position relative to the other road users. It took me the few kilometres of Amsterdam’s arterial routes to really get to grips with and then perhaps the next twenty or so kilometres of the motorway to put that into practice. However, after a little over an hour after setting off, I reckon I have the hang of this whole driving thing again. Although, we won’t mention the few near misses we encountered when negotiating a roundabout in Luxembourg!

Bar Cat, found on a bar on a coffee shop in Amsterdam, Holland

The drive to Eindhoven was pretty unremarkable in all fairness, although we knew that from the outset as we had consciously decided to try and make it pretty much to Belgium on the motorway then head off the beaten track for the rest of the day.

My driving stint ended a few kilometres north of Eindhoven when I swapped with Chris after filling the tank. Chris then took us into Belgium (where we posed for the obligatory photo) and through the Flemish region, again fairly uneventfully, until we hit the French region around Huy. We lunched at a Belgian supermarket before setting off again towards Luxembourg.

Arty picture I took in Luxembourg, Luxembourg

It was my turn again to drive when we set the sat-nav to Bastogne and headed for the national park. We had a few navigational hiccups involving filter lanes, 4-leaf clover junctions and an off piste search for a bathroom, but we made it to the Belgian/Luxembourg border pretty much unscathed. t was here that I decided to not see the car coming from our left when I pulled out onto a mini-roundabout. Luckily nothing happened apart from maybe turning a few of all our hairs grey and we could chalk it down to a experience and a few tweets at my expense.

The last stage of the journey was through mountainous north Luxembourg, which Kieran piloted without incident, where we took one of the most scenic routes I have had the pleasure of driving along. Definitely one of the high points of the trip so far.

We made it into Luxembourg a little after seven and by the time we were all checked in and had quaffed a beer or two the city was starting to be cloaked in darkness. I managed to get aa couple of snaps in of Notre Dame Cathedral and of the road leading up to the cathedral from our hotel, but the light was pretty bad by then and my Blackberry’s camera isn’t that great at night anyway.

The part of the city that overlooks the canal and leads down the rather steep cliff faces towards the canal itself is really rather something. Irt was beautifully eerie and romantic. The atmosphere, architecture and road layouts really made it something to behold. Definitely somewhere I would visit again with a special some one. Very, very romantic indeed! Pity I had to share the moment with Chris, George and Kieran!

Chris, George anf Kieran all trying to take a photo of a dark bridge at night. Luxembourg, Luxembourg

By 9pm we were all starving so started to look for somewhere to eat. it seems that Luxembourg is not a weekend city as almost every restaurant was shut or shutting. We eventually found a nice little Chinese place still serving where we ate heartily before heading back to the hotel.

Driving is tiring work, so we are all pretty shattered right now. It is after midnight local time at the moment and everyone else hit the sack a while ago. I am determined to try and get a post up every night of the trip, so please read and comment as it means I am more motivated to burn the candles at both ends to bring you my thoughts and experiences from the trip.

Tomorrow we are making the 500km trip to Munich via the Black Forest and we are planning to have left Luxembourg by around 9am, so not long for me to sleep now!

As always you can follow my thought and progress via my homepage or Twitter account, or the live tracking of our trip at Kieran’s site.

AHS Launch is hotting up

January 26th, 2009 No comments

The AHS’s national launch is taking place in a couple of weeks on 19th February and the preparations for it are really hotting up.

We have our speakers booked – Richard Dawkins, Polly Toynbee and A.C. Grayling, along with a stand up comedian, stalls and catering are all in the pipeline.

This is going to be such a great event.

If there are any fellow free-thinkers in the London area on the day then they should come along and see what all the fuss is about.

For more information contact me.

She got treated like the whore she is!

January 1st, 2009 No comments

So, yeah, last night was our New Year’s Eve party in Leeds. A well attended event considering that most people are home with their family and “real” friends that was dominated by a couple of events. Firstly, our living room flooded, a direct result of the second event – our first ever communal shower! Eight of us decided that alcohol and partying had progressed as far as it could and the next logical step was a semi-naked (and mostly naked in Michelle’s case) communal shower. Keep your eyes peeled for the exclusive pay-per-view site containing the pictures and videos!

It was definitely a good night all round and I now definitely feel closer to my house mates than ever before! It was also the first A-Soc event of 2009, seeing as the majority of the guests sit or have sat on the committee. We atheists really do have it larger.

Although, having said all that we all know that parties are just an excuse for recovery steak the morning after and as such we all headed to the Deer Park for our steak. Even the 45 minute wait on food didn’t dampen the excitement and meaty goodness of a well cooked bit of steak. Mmmm, steak, drool.

V Fest

August 19th, 2008 No comments

I’ve never been to one of the mainstream festivals before – Leeds/Reading, V Fest, Glastonbury etc. This is for several reasons, firstly the cost – £150 for a festival is too expensive, secondly there is the fact that they are massively ovwercrowded – 30000 people is just too many, finally there is the stigma. I usually don’t see myself as a music snob, but it seems that the sort of music fans that attend the mainstream festivals are the sort of music fan that pisses people off.

Having said all that, Muse were playing V Fest this year and, for those of you that don’t know, my girlfriend Liz is obsessed with them. The moment she heard they were playing she booked two tickets for the day they were headlining at the Staffordshire version of the festival. This mean attending one of the festivals I never thought I would, especially since the escapades of last summer!

We got up early on the Sunday, leaving about 9am to drive the 130 miles from Leeds to Weston Park, near Cannock, Staffordshire. The drive was pretty uneventful and there were no jams getting into the venue. The queueing wasn’t too bad to get into the actual arena either – maybe 20 minutes. Once in the arena we headed over to the main stage area to try and camp out for the headliners so we would be near(ish) the front. We managed to get to the first few rows right in the middle for the first few acts – The Futureheads, Alannis Morrisette, Lostprophets and Maximo Park. Unfortuantely, as mentioned above the sort of music fans that attend these festivals are prats, so after about 5 hours of getting squashed, beaten, crushed, kicked and being generally uncomfortable (and the fact that I had managed to lose my mobile telephone for the first time in nearly 10 years) we abandoned our position and fled the main stage area. We rustled ourselves up ome food – which considering the fact we were at a festival was not too over priced. We managed to find a place that did a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausage, mash, onions and gravy for a fiver! We also managed to find somewhere to sit amongst all the mud.

After queueing for a while to use the “toilets” and having missed The Kooks’ set. We headed back for the headliners. We didn’t go so deep into the crowd, but found ourselves a nice little spot not too far back where we could enjoy the music and see the stage without fear for our lives. The first headline act were the Stereophonics. They were absolutely awesome live. Kelly Jones really knows how to work the crowd and their back catelogue is impressive. I know it’s a festival and bands play their singles but I really had hoped they would play a few of the album tracks! Muse were the second headline act and they know how to put ona show. I am not the world’s biggest Muse fan – most of it is just noise – but they are good live, if only for their light and special effects show! Six giant satellites mounted with lasers and spotlights aodrned or surrounded the stage!! All in all a fun day, except for the hour or so queue in the mud to get out of the car park – but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Pleasently surprised is probably the right phrase. I wouldn’t pay to go back again, but if the chance arose to attend for the day again for free then I would probably think about and it would depend on who was playing.

Keep an eye out for more detailed reviews of the sets people played.

Wendy ’08

January 20th, 2008 2 comments

It has been so long since I last went out clubbing in Leeds and so I jumped at the chance to go to this month’s Wendy House. My housemate, Chris, had thrown together a pre-Wendy party at ours – mainly so he had an excuse to play the new Cascade album, but also to ensure a decent Wendy turnout from the circle. In the end we had about six or seven attendees which is a pretty good effort to be honest.

The evening was quite a success really, we left pretty much at the end – missing only 30-40 minutes or so of the night – as most people drank sensibly and didn’t get into too much trouble! Takeaway was grabbed on the way home and apart from a minor incident involving Michelle, prawn crackers and some waterworks we made it through the night virtually unscathed.

Chris also managed to lose his virginity!


January 16th, 2008 4 comments

I have eaten a couple of times in Mine now and I am still unsure as to how I would rate the experience as a whole. Mine is Leeds University Union’s ‘upmarket’ eating establishment and bar – offering table service, a la carte menu and at night an intimate, atmospheric venue used mainly for the smaller club nights and live music.

First, my main criticisms. I think that the food menu is too small and lacks any real variety, the food is of so-so atandard and is somewhat overpriced in my honest opinion. Today was a bad experience in terms of drinks – the lager I ordered was flat!

On a positive note, the service and atmosphere are pretty good. Relaxed enough to enjoy a quick bite with friends yet formal enough that you could entertain there too. As usual with the union establishments the staff are friendly and approachable and are very quick to deal with any issues.

I will probably eat there again, but mainly due to the fact there is no viable alternative within walking distance of the university with the decline of the Llama and Eldon. The Library too far away and The Faversham too expensive. I hope that the union is quick to look at the potential of Mine and realises that it could be so much more!

The Wizard of Oz

December 16th, 2007 No comments

I was having a really rubbsih day yesterday. Liz and I had had a minor fight, the WoW marathon had taken its toll and my poor diet over the past few days had really made me feel unwell. Coupled with some festive blues, I was having a depression day.

The cure came form the most unliekly of sources, the Wizard of Oz. Michelle and Sarann managed to perusade me to watch the DVD and be sociable. I did. It worked.

The film just has an innocence and naivety that you just don’t come across these days. That type of film just doesn’t exist on modern day life. Even kid’s films are laced with adult humour and context, there is just no innocence left. Dorothey et al showed that glorious trait – the pursuit of fun and happiness devoid of any negativity. No payoff, no compromise. Just plain old, traditional fun.