For a much needed break from work and the cold British winter, we took a 10 day break to Cuba. We hadn’t really done any research, so having booked the flights, hotels and transfers as a package, we arrived in Havana not quite sure of what to do with ourselves. So tired from the journey, we had dinner on the roof of our hotel enjoying the view of the Parque Centrale, the opera house and El Capitolio.
The next morning we awoke to grey skies, so headed to the Museo de la Revolucion to learn some of Cuba’s more recent history. We also managed a short walk around the old town, trying to avoid the rain. Thankfully the next day was warm and sunny, so we spent a much more pleasant day wandering around the old town marvelling at the contrast of modern art and run down buildings amongst stunning architecture.
We then headed to Varadero for 6 nights to soak up the sun and relax. Varadero is a spit of land around 20km long and only 1.5km wide at its widest, our hotel was almost at the furthermost point. Nicola averaged a book a day as well as a day of diving, and we took a bus into the town though mainly just enjoyed the time to relax in the sun enjoying a Ron Collins from the all inclusive bar.
Some photos here
Up, up and up… At 10m/s we swiftly scale the side of Aiguille du Midi. The needle is sharp and man-made walkways of a variety of materials take you between and around the Mount. Not really Robbie’s cup of tea but I think even he appreciated it.
The views are outstanding, 3 countries, not yet a white out for the winter with only Mont Blanc looking like a white marshmallow. Given the steep climb down, a task for the brave, unsurprisingly the view was only sparsely populated with skiers. But I could understand the attraction of doing so, to reach the powdery snow, in the peace with no one around, surrounded by stunning scenery, – not quite, but almost literally, on top of the world.
In the museum, the videos of climbers and extreme skiers looked stunning but while the thrill is obvious, for me I couldn’t quite see the attraction of something that would consume so much time to train and perfect before risking your life. There’s simply too many other things to consume our time.
We didn’t manage skiing this time, so instead enjoyed the views, copious amounts of cheese and time away remembering the joy of something new.
Some photos here
In September, we spent a week Carol, Dave, Steph and the kids, plus Tara and a friend in Anaheim, Los Angeles. The week flew by with early starts to get a head start on the queues in the parks. We managed a good proportion of the rides and average 25km a day, even on the days when the temperature hit 41 degrees centigrade.
In addition to two days at the Disney parks, despite LA traffic, we ventured downturn one day for an open bus hop on hop off tour with stops at Hollywood walk of fame and rodeo drive. We also spent a day at Universal Studios – trying butterbeer in its Hogsmeade replica, and to round it off Nicola took the girls to Knott’s Scary Farm one evening to brave the Halloween mazes and a few more rollercoasters.
After a week with family, we had a couple of days to ourselves. We hired a convertible and drove to Monterey, then back to LA along the pacific highway with its stunning view and a wealth of wildlife, (Nicola even spotted whales).
We spent almost 3 weeks in NZ in July to spend time with John and Carol. We were working part time, which meant more of a routine than our typical trip back, and maybe thats why the trip brought back memories of what seems a different life.
Most of our time was spent at John and Carol’s; enjoying the views, working in the morning, playing cards and eating – whether it was Robbie’s childhood favourite of weiner schnitzel from the Karori butcher, roti chennai from Paratha 2 Go (a favourite from our time living in Glenmore Street) or the occasional cookie time or various NZ lollies.
We did venture out for a night away in Martinborough with lunch at Coney Wines, where food was fabulous as always and we managed to sit outside in the sunshine (though Nicola did have a blanket over her legs) and a winter christmas family dinner at Waikane.
It wasn’t all reminising though. As the kids are getting older, (and possibly noisier), its nice to spend time making new memories with them. Laser quest was a highlight with Harry just walking behind Nicola shooting at her.
We broke the trip back to London with a night in Hong Kong. It was 34 degrees in the day and a cool 28 at night, so we didn’t do much except walk off the plane trip, then sit in the shade by the pool – with its ovehang looking 28 floors down to the road. We also managed to stumble into the michelin starred Qi, House of Szechuan for dinner to have an impressive Mala Crispy Beef.
Here’s a link to some photos: http://www.rajank.com/?page_id=1164
Back in November I remember enthusiastically writing that I need to cycle 1,011km over the next 11 months to complete one of the 40 things to do while I am 40. Here we are 5 months later and i can, rather sheepishly, report that I am only 187km through and this is mainly because I rode 62km of them last weekend.
In my defence I have been waiting for the temperature to get above 5 degrees as this was supposed to be a fun thing to do, rather than something that involved me slogging through the cold and rain of an English winter. So this weekend I went out on the bike on a… cold (hey it was 6 degrees, not 5!)… rainy day (truth to be told it wasn’t only raining, it hailed for a while too)… riding through the most heavily industrial part of the loop; the London docks. Well that was my expectation going in, but you can imagine my surprise 12km in to be riding (my road bike) through 7km of farm land, climbing over gates and dodging herds of cows. That said the next 20km were heavily industrial and did not disappoint.
The second half of the ride was actually quite pretty, riding through the Thames-Medway canal system and through proper Kent countryside. However, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I could have as while I could happily ride 60km without an issue last September that was certainly not the case this April, 5 months since I last did a long ride….
Finally one bizarre fact
– right before Dartford bridge is the main sewerage plant for London, 300 hundred meters further downstream is a fishing club…