Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr

In the relative blandness of Atlanta I found inspiration today. I left the office early and went the Martin Luther King Jr Center. What an amazing man he was, a totally inspirational and a speaker of the most powerful kind. Just listening to him in the old footage was enough to make my eyes water.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Au revoir Geneva, Hello Atlanta

The bit about traveling I don’t like is never the being in a foreign city, that part I always love, but the leaving part. The longer I spend in anyone place the more I enjoy it! So, I have a confession, by my final days in Geneva I was really enjoying it and was almost disappointed to leave! This has to be our little secret, but I actually decided Geneva is a lovely place where one could have a very nice and pleasant life! Shhhh, don’t tell my boss! I had my annual performance appraisal with my boss on Friday and you know you have to come up with two personal development objectives for the year. He cheekily suggested that mine should be 1) to learn French and 2) learn to love Geneva. I have always been adamant I had no desire to ever live in Geneva, but I can see that it would be very nice. With the fun friends I was hanging out with I just kept finding lots of wonderful little sides to Geneva, like the hippy bar near my hotel, the grungy Saturday night street party celebrating a 30 year old squatter movement, the little canteen out in the middle of the lake with cheap dinners and carafes of wine, and the street fair where I spent a Saturday morning wandering among all sorts of people, selling all manner of junk, with a different kind of music playing on every corner. Geneva is not all zhi zhi UN workers and fondue after all, although admittedly there is plenty of that too. And I just love the lake, it’s nice and blue and has a lot of life happening on it and around it.

Anyway, despite all that it was however time to move on, and so at 5am this morning I schlepped my suitcase out to the airport and began the journey to Atlanta. Geneva, London, Chicago, Atlanta arriving 20 hours later. I arrived but alas my suitcase didn’t. My turn around in London was so tight I had to run the whole way from one plane to the other to make the flight, but they unfortunately didn’t do the same with my bag! Passed through Chicago very briefly. Having read at least 10 VI Warshawski novels which are all set in Chicago I wouldn’t mind one day visiting Chicago, but for today had to be satisfied with looking out the train window while changing terminals and imagining Warshawski driving around on those big roads and down to the lake. I tell you from the plane window that is one very big lake indeed, more like the ocean with the other shore nowhere in sight even from the plane window.

Finally touched down in Atlanta this evening while it was still hot and sunny, so could check the view on the way here. Strange place Atlanta, I’m really not sure what the main attraction is, I don’t actually think there is one. It kinda has the character of downtown Belconnen on a grander scale, but without the nice lake. Lots of large concrete buildings, a baseball stadium with lots of coca cola neons lights (Atlanta of course being coke headquarters), and some trees which ring the main city. When I checked into the hotel they asked if I’d like a lower down floor or a higher up one. When I said higher she gave me the 25th floor! The view from my window is a strange but nice enough. Directly outside is a big modern black glass building which appears to be the Georgia Power company, but other than that it is just a wide, flat expanse of land with lots of green trees and low buildings scattered among the greenery. Totally flat. The hotel breakfast menu offers Georgia Mountain Grits, though I’m not sure where the mountains are! On the other side of the building, the view is the complete opposite, just a concrete jungle of very tall skyscrapers, but not very glamorous ones, just tall, identical concrete. Anyway, they’re my quick observations of arrival in Atlanta. Time to sleep now and get a bit organised for my last couple of days of work meetings. 3 more days to get through!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Son in Oslo and Lake Geneva

Bonjour, ca va? merci, au revoir!

I’m more likely to start speaking Arabic fluently than ever speak French (ie highly unlikely) but there is something fun about bouncing around saying bonjour! Ca va? Merci, au revoir! which is what one needs to do in Geneva. Thankfully beyond that you can always revert to the universal language of hand signals which I find always work for me. There is far less English spoken in Geneva that you would think for such an international centre.

I am here for a couple of weeks this time, which is longer than I have ever stayed before. On previous visits I have come just in time for my meetings and left as soon as they are over, so never even spent a weekend here, but this time I even have two weekends hanging out here. I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing!! But so far I had a very nice weekend.

I left home last Saturday, went straight to London. When I got to London I was completely shattered. My body is obviously out of traveling practice, because I never used to get so affected by jet lag! Anyway as a result of my jet lag, plane being delayed by about 5 hours and having work preparation to do I was unfortunately unable to do as much socializing I normally do and had to be satisfied with a phone conversation with Clayton and Bridie instead the normal beer, and apologies to Rachel, Dave and Danny for not even calling! I did however manage to have a lovely brunch in the sunshine with Vic and Sue which will be our last London rendezvous as they are both packing up and leaving London in the next couple of months. My visit to London was brief, and I have to confess that yet again I left London with the conclusion that it’s a nice place to visit but I have no desire to ever live there!

From London I went to Oslo. The only other time I have been in Oslo was in 1996 and I absolutely loved it, so as soon as I got off the plane I felt immediately cheered up. Only two days there, but I did get a chance to catch up with Son for a beer, and to go to Vigeland park which is the most beautiful sculpture garden. I’ve wanted to go back there for 10 years! As Ann Lehmann, who first took me there, says, Vigeland perfectly captures and powerfully all of the good, bad and the ugly of human emotion and relationships.

Then to Geneva Wednesday night. I’m staying right near the lake, there are quite a few of my team mates in town and the weather has been absolutely gorgeous so have been doing very enjoyable things like running round the lake through the parks, drinking gin and tonics at the lake side bar, going to the Ferney farmers market over the French border and buying raspberries, nougat, cheese and tapenades and today taking the boat across the lake to a little medieval village. All so very European! They do live well here. Mum, you would love it!

Anyway, that’s my travels so far, though of course I should mention in between there is non stop boring workshops and meetings! Tomorrow I have my most important meeting of the whole trip which I’m actually not looking forward to! It’s a workshop where about 20 people get to rip to shreds my entire years work… what fun that will be, not! Will definitely be in need of a soothing lakeside gin and tonic tomorrow!

Friday, August 31, 2007

More Samoa photos

Hello, back in Canberra, the weather is lovely and as always its good to be home.

Here are more photos from Samoa which more or less capture everything done during the holiday...
first one is Andy and Zoe at sliding rock pools- you basically sit at the top of this waterfall and go down it like a waterslide
This is where I stayed from Tues-Fri last week, sleeping in this beach fale and lying on the beach and snorkelling every day. Its a pretty social place too so met lots of fun people.

Lalomanu sunset after the afternoon rain.

The fire dancers at Lalomanu in all their shiny-ness...
Kayaking with Manda out to Namua island

Manda and I sitting on the tomb of Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island) after climbing Mt Vaea

More Samoa

The opening ceremony of the South Pacific Games at Apia Park. Very exciting, just like being at the Olympics :)

Jimmy and Zoe discover sand at Aganoa Black Sand beach

Sunday at Aganoa black sand beach

On Carolyn's recommendation Manda and I spent my last day in Samoa at the Sinalei day spa with all the pampering, plunge pool, massage, facial etcs. This is us in the plunge pool
Last night dinner to thank Andy for all his lovely cooking at Andy's favourite Apia restaurant Bistro Tatau

Monday, August 20, 2007


ok, I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything here and thank you to those of you who took the time to complain about my silence! Over the last 6 months I've basically been hanging out in Canberra and surrounds, a good few weekends in Sydney, one in Melbourne and a couple at the coast. Life has been great! but seeing I wasn't spending much time in airports as I used to I thought I would let the blog go for a while. Anyway, here I am finally updating the blog from Samoa where I am visiting the poolberts (aka Amanda, Andy and Zoe). Given they are good bloggers themselves I thought I better get my standards back up.

So I arrived in Samoa last tuesday and followed the Amy Wells rule of holidaying which is to spend at least the first day entirely asleep/ in bed. Got up at 5pm just as Amanda got home from work and cracked the first gin and tonic. There have been a few daily gin and tonics since then, after all it is the tropics, one needs a bit of quinine dont they? On Wednesday ventured down to visit cousin family Adam, Carolyn and Eliza who just happened to be here holidaying and spent a nice afternoon at the beach lying around, having a swim, and shared my first Vailima (local beer) with Adam and Cal. Since then, well, have been spending more time lying on the beach, swimming and drinking gin and tonics. I'd like to tell you more but that's about it! ok thats not entirely true, poolberts have taken me to see some lovely water falls, ocean trenches and a traditional dancing evening, but the best thing so far was just spending a long weekend in some little cabins (kind of like the shack) on the most beatiful beach and yep, like I said, doing nothing but lie on the beach, swim and drink gin and tonics.

Anyways, here are the photos to prove it, and a couple of Manda, Andy and Zoe. Zoe by the way is a complete delight, very happy and fun, always smiling and squealing with joy at whatever takes her fancy, usually my glass of gin.