June 25, 2003

No Turkey

Well it seems that I was going to be in Turkey for a week to hang around with Pete, Pete, Kirth plus some others on a boat. Alas I had it all set to go, but then the f%&@ing airlines sold out of all their cheap tickets. I'm not paying €600 for a flight to Istanbul. Bugger that.

Time to find somewhere else to go soon..

Posted by Ben at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2003

Naarden Photo Festival

I always enjoy a good photographic exhibition, and none have been more exciting to me than the Naarden Fotofestival which has been on over the last few weeks. I finally got to see it on Sunday, which was to my great dismay the last day that it was on.

This particular festival was put on in what must be one of the quaintest towns in the Netherlands. The town centre of Naarden is tiny, and was built in the 1500's as a fortress, complete with moat, drawbridge, cannons and bunkers. These features still exist today, maintained excellently. There were around twenty separate exhibitions around the town, situated in various buildings and even in several of the bunkers and powder magazines.

As well as inside locations, there were several dozen outdoor displays in various places around the town. Some were put up on footpaths, on walls, in shop windows, even clipped to a bridge. The largest photos were put up around the town walls over the moat.

The largest exhibition was in the church, with several hundred photographs on display. Subjects ranged from the surreal, to current events, with some extremely personal photography thrown in, right to stunning images of exotic places (eg the Bedouins of the Sahara). One of the best in town was the Autraliana enhibition, featuring (what else?) photographs taken by Australians, mostly in Australia. One photographer had his pictures setup in a mock-up teenagers bedroom, complete with Vegemite and Milo jars! I would never have ever expected to see a jar of Vegemite in a tiny Dutch town! Another memorable photo was one featuring a hearse with the slogan "Budget Burials - Cheaper and Deeper!". Typical Aussie humour. :)

To cap the day off, they had a band playing in the main square, and I took in some of the music and took a few photos of the performance. The crowd was about 15 metres back, hence the emptiness in front of the stage.

A thorougly good day, and I just wished that I had gone along earlier to be able to spend more time there.

Posted by Ben at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2003

Welcome to summer!

For pretty much every summer since I've been in Holland, the weather has been what can best be described as 'moderate'. Temperatures in the low twenties, often overcast (or to put it more accurately - sometimes sunny), and generally best described as brief.

However - it looks like this year is turning out to be pretty good - so far! The temperatures for the past few weeks have been superb, the rain is staying away, and my chilli (oops I mean chile!) and cactus plants are flourishing. Here's hoping I manage to get out and catch a lot of sun this summer. No point wasting it, and I've got to get a bit of colour into my pasty-white self...and look a bit more Australian!

Part of summer also involves getting out and seeing a bit more of this fine continent, so now's about the time I need to plan just where I want to go. Thanks to cheap airlines, just about anything is in reach...the hard part is finding someone who's willing to join me, as I'm not that keen on travelling by myself. Possible locations I'm considering are Barcelona Ireland and maybe somewhere in France. I really dont know yet - but I do need to get out of Holland at least in June. Time's running out and I've got no plans yet! I do wish Rox was here to go along with me, but she won't be here until September.

One of these days I've got to get around to trying out the local gliders club at Hilversum airport. That will keep me quite happy for a while, and with the summer looking like it is, there's probably going to be a lot of good days to get up in the air.

Well - the suns shining, it's time I went and got myself a little colour into me today.

Posted by Ben at 05:37 PM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2003

In memoriam - Alan

Last night I heard the news that Alan Sawyer passed away around June 3.

A terrible tragedy - it has left me in shock. Dispite a difficult separation from his wife, I never realised that it had affected him to that extent.

Rest in Peace, Alan.

Posted by Ben at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2003

Aaah Italy

What a great country! I've just spent a week there with Sacha, Bel and Frank and had a fantastic week.
We stayed near Bari and spent the week getting sun, driving around, and seeing touristy things. The place is just so picturesque, and we checked out a lot of towns, and I've got plenty of photos in the bag from the week.

One of the main thing that i noticed was that the Italians drive like total maniacs! They will drive and stop wherever they feel like - a tiny tight corner in an old part of town had someone stopped right on the fucking road just on one inner edge of the corner. Wouldnt move and we had to queue up wating for cars to come around the busy blind corner. Not to mention driving with foot assuming the brake and accelerator pedals are binary (either not on or stepped on hard).

Ok rant over...the towns built into the cliffs are absolutely amazing, so picturesque and very historical. It's so hard to believe that these structures can be built in the positions they were! We had dinner one night in a restaurant that was built into a cliff cave, which was totally unique and absolutely amazing. Bel and Sacha didnt have the better dishes unfortunately, but I had a great swordfish steak. It's a must-see if you're in Polignano.
We looked around the surroundings of Bari, saw some lovely little towns (Trani is very picturesque), and got some sunburn but lightly tanned! The people speak little English except the younger ones, but it's not a major tourist destination anyway.
A day trip took us to the Amalfi coast to check out some of the breathtaking scenery whilst driving along the coastal road. Dodging huge tour buses around the incredibly tiny and windy roads also leads to lots of "AAAH"s. But it's definitely worth it! Positano is quite an amazing little town in itself, built into the sides of a valley to the beach. Lots of touristy stuff there too though!
We stayed the night in Sorrento as it was late and we did not want to do the 3 hour drive back to Bari, so a cheap hotel later and we had another day there. With Bel in bed hurling up chunks, she missed out on the little tour of Pompeii that we did. The ruins there are quite breathtaking, seeing a city in such a preserved state after 2000 years!

One long drive back to Bari, a minor bout of foodpoising later, we the headed over to Rome the next day to fly out.

Posted by Ben at 02:13 PM | Comments (3)