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Introducing Corky and Toodles,  brother and sister,  who I adopted last Sunday. They are 18 months old and really,  I mean REALLY like climbing on things.

Time to do a bit of catching up.

 Right. The Poss Grand Tour, day 10, and I have some gaps to fill in.

When last we spoke, I was in Amsterdam and had visited the Van Gogh Museum.  And had been blown away by the art. As with the Musee D'Orsay in Paris,  you can get within a foot of the actual painting,  which means you can see every brush stroke. There are a couple of self portraights that are most intetesting - his head and upper body are complete,  but the back ground is just random dashes of paint. It's as though he was unable to make sense of the outside world.

20.9. I have no recollection of what I did,  and Facebook/G+ are no help. I did the hop on/off bus,  I think. 

21.9 Caught the train to Haarlem,  a lovely town about 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Walked around the ancient architecture,  had coffee and Dutch apple pie and tried not to get run over by the entrants in the marathon race that left from Amsterdam central station. 

22.9 was a pretty touristy day. I had found a laundromat near by, so I spent a nice hour in the warm. I then took a cruise of the canals and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, where I got chatting to the waitress, who comes from Brisbane and had a brother in Oslo. 

23.9 was a fairly early start as I had to be at the airport for my 10.45am flight. As usual, I was in plenty of time. I was given seat 15D, which was half way down the plane. According to the SAS website, the plane holds 99 passengers and I could have had my choice of 60 other seats. My row was completely empty, which meant I could move over and take photos out of the window.  Mostly of the wing.

I arrived in Oslo around 12.30 and was most disappointed that nobody checked my passport.  This means no stamps! Arrival into Norway means waiting for your luggage, walking through the Nothing to Declare door and out. I asked the Information man if that was right. Apparently it is. But....no stamp!

I went to buy an airport express train ticket and was told that it was cheaper to swipe my card at the barrier. Shuttle trains are such a civilised way of getting from the airport to the city.

The next part of the journey to the hotel was somewhat more fraught as I had misread advice on Tripadvisor on how to get to the Best Western Hotel Kampen.  I had to go to Tøyen, so I bought a 24 hour travel pass and caught the train from near where the Express came in. Got off at Troyen and started walking. And walking, and asking random strangers if they knew where the hotel was. Fortunately, the young man in a cafe did. I had walked past the intersection and missed the sign.

Turns out, I should have caught the metro or T line and not the overhead line. Lesson learned.

When I booked the hotel, I asked if there was a lift and was assured there was. The day i arrived, it was being repaired, so they put me in one of the motel type units out the back. Despite facing the road, it was remarkably quiet. And it had a kitchen. 

Travelling, day 3.

 Amsterdam,  day 2.

When I checked into the hotel yesterday,  I was asked if I wanted breakfast vouchers for €9.50 per day.  I wasn't expecting much for the price but was really surprised to discover it was all you can eat and lots of coffee.  Bargain!

I walked to the nearest hop on / off bus stop, about 5 minutes away, and bought a two day ticket,  plus discounted tickets to Artis Zoo and the Van Gogh Museum. I rode around on the bus for a circuit before getting off at Artis Zoo.  I was very disheartened at the state of the place; I would have expected an institution that has an office of EAZA (the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), to be better. 

The animals appeared stressed and most exhibited stereotypic behaviours. 

There was a white-cheeked gibbon pair with a baby that sat on the top of poles and constantly looked around nervously. The free raing red ruffed lemurs screamed  non stop and one of them was focussed on the undergrowth. 

I probably saw less than half of the Zoo before I had to leave. It was just too depressing. 

Last night,  however,  was spent at the Van Gogh ( pron Van Khockh ).  On Friday it remains open until 10PM and is much less crowded.

Four floors floors of stunning artwork. There was one entitled Head of a Man  that was fairly dark except for the bowl of his pipe which looked like it had a glowing ember in it. The largest crowd was gathered before this: www.vggallery.com/painting/f_0671.jpg. It's amazingly beautiful. 

I forced myself to buy stuff from the Museum shop (s).

In t'North

(ern) hemisphere, that is. The flight from Perth left 50 minutes late, which caused a bit of concern for those of us with only a 70 minute connection in Kuala Lumpur. I was stopped by KL security after my backpack went through the x-ray machine and the travel CPAP machine's battery showed up. They looked a little bemused at the hosing and face mask but accepted it was a medical device.

No waiting in the departure lounge, straight onto the plane. I had bought a comfort economy seat right up the front of cattle class, no-one in front of me and lots of leg room. And we got fed first.

I didn't sleep much, just dozed on and off. But I was surprisingly chipper when we landed, despite being mostly awake for 30 hours.

I had booked a hotel shuttle bus to take me to the Piet Hein in the museum district. I had noticed a lot of smoke or smog over the city as we flew in. The sun rose during the bus ride, huge and red. Stunning, pity I didn't have my camera to hand.

Got to the hotel around 8.30 and was pleasantly surprised to find my room was ready. An Australian couple trying to check in weren't so lucky. I hadca shower, felt 100% better and headed off to find coffee and an ATM. The ATM was right next to a bakers, so, cash, coffee and rye roll with some kind of wurst achieved, I headed back to the park I can see from my window. Many, many cyclists, a red kelpie dog and birdies.

I managed to get lost (happens every time), which is fine. Headed back to the hotel, did a bit of research re local supermarkets and then went for another walk. There is an organic, Fair Trade store a couple of streets over where I bought some apples (delicious!), bananas, egg and salad sarnie and orange and raspberry juice. They also have a huge cheese counter and I was so tempted, but as I don't have a fridge ( or tea and coffee making facilities), it would have been a waste.

Also went back to the bakery and brought some mini macrons (yum!) And citreoncake, which I haven't tried yet.

I managed to last until about 7.30pm, then flaked. Woke up about midnight, went back to sleep and have been up since 5ish. Had a shower, waiting for breakfast at 7.30.

Today I plan to stroll to the hop on/hop off bus stop at the end of the road and tour the city and possibly the Zoo. Tonight - the Van Gogh museum. It stays open late on a Friday.

The Itinerary

It's nearly the end of August. Which means it's nearly September. Which means it's nearly time for me to chuff off.

The itinerary as it stands today:
17th Fly out, Perth to KL, KL to Amsterdam
18th Arrive Amsterdam at sparrow's (i.e. 5.55am!).  Work out what to do until I can book into the Piet Hein Hotel in the arvo.  The Hotel is around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum, which is exciting.
19th - 22nd, Amsterdam. I have been advised by a friend who has just returned that I should take a day trip on the train to Harlem as it's very lovely.
22nd Fly to Oslo
22nd - 25th  Best Western Kampen Hotel, Olso.
25th  Norway in a Nutshell to Bergen on the west coast
25th - 28th Bergen, Citybox Hotel.  I did want to go back to Oslo on the 27th but the trains aren't running that day, so it's an extra day in Bergen.  Which is no hardship as it looks to be a beautiful place.
28th Train back to Oslo, BW Kampen Hotel
29th Oslo to Trondheim by train. Arrive in Trondheim at 18:00, catch the sleeper to Fauske at 23:30ish
30th Arrive Fauske 8:25, catch the bus to Narvik at 8:50. I posted a very naive comment on the Lonely Planet Scandiwegian forum asking if it was possible to make the connection from train to bus in 25 minutes.  The response was, why ever not??  This is Scandinavia, where the trains run on time and the buses are right next to the train.
30th - 1st Narvik. I booked a cheap room in the Narvik Budget Rooms hotel, then discovered that the place is actually up a steep hill, and while the bus station may be short in distance, it's long in time. A taxi may be in order.
2nd. Narvik to Kiruna in Sweden via the Arctic Circle railway. Forgot to mention that Narvik and Kiruna are above the Arctic Circle. Woot.
2nd Kiruna, the Bishops Arms Hotel.
3rd Kiruna to Stockholm via SAS. I was going to get the sleeper train (17.5 hours) but couldn't work out how to buy a bed, so I gave up and had a look at flights. Loads cheaper and only 1.5 hours.
3rd - 5th Stockholm, Omana Hotel, which is part of a chain as I've also booked an Omana in Turku.
5th Stockholm to Turku on the MS Amorella. Leaves at 20:00 and arrives in Turku at 7:35.
5th to ....some time.  I had wanted to book the Convent again but no beds! So I'm in the Omana, which is near the railway station and has a microwave.
Finland, Finland, Finland to Helsinki
12th Helsinki. Hmm, haven't booked accommodation yet.
13th Helsinki to London, via Stockholm with SAS, arriving terminal 2 at 12:50.
13th Luna and Simone Hotel, Pimlico
14th Train to Stratford upon Avon to pick up the hire car.
UK, UK, UK - definitely heading to Glencoe and the Pencil Museum in Keswick (it's a tradition), hopefully Bletchley, tempted to go to the updated Who Experience in Cardiff.
20th Stratford
21st Drop off the car and back to London. L and S Hotel, must remember to book
22nd London
23rd London to Amsterdam with BA. Amsterdam to Singapore
24th Singapore to Perth, arriving home at 2355.

And there you mostly have it.

April? Really? Already??

It's been a busy week. Tuesday night we went to Reading Cinemas in Belmont and watched the Lego Movie in Glod Lounge. Lovely! Great food (fish and chips and ice cream sundae), funny film and very comfy surroundings.

On Thursday we went to a panto at UWA. Apparently they have a panto society - we did not know this! Keeping our eyes out for future productions.

And last night we went to the drives to see Captain America and Thor. A full house, by the look of it. I got there at 5.25ish and was fifth in line.

Plans for travel in September are slowly coming together. I've booked my hotel in Amsterdam and Oslo and the return flight from London to Amsterdam. The bit in the middle is still a bit of a mystery.

March already

It's been a while and the first third of the year is nearly over.

When I first booked by flights in Sept/Oct, the final leg from Asia was with Qantas from Singapore; however, now that they will no longer be flying to Singers, this has changed. I've been in touch with KLM who followed up for me and advised that the final leg will be with Singapore Airlines. Yay. The other carrier flying on that date, albeit three hours later, is Jetstar, who I didn't fancy flying with. Nor did I want to hang around the airport for a further 3 hours (6 hours is too short to do anything but long to be boring and risk falling asleep). Singapore Airlines will be leaving Singers and landing in Perth at the same time as the Qantas flight.

And speaking of travel, my passport expired in January and I finally got around to renewing it last week. Bloody awful photo taken at the chemist's, though the lass in Aust Post reassured me that it wasn't too bad and she had seen some shockers.  I've missed out on the flight I wanted from Amsterdam to Oslo because I don't have a passport number to quote on the booking page. I was told it would take about two weeks to get the new passport so I'll just have to be patient.

Today we're off to Astrofest at Curtin Uni. The temp today will be 26 C, which is a damn sight cooler than we're been having, and cloudy. Not so good for the telescopes but much nicer for walking around and looking at stuff.

Another weekend

Not a long one, sadly.

Still cleaning, tidying, throwing things out.

I did get to see the Desolation of Smaug last Monday and enjoyed it immensely. Wasn't struck on the first film, thought it dragged a bit thanks to the padding; this, however, was much better, despite the unnecessary, IMHO, elf/dwarf love triangle (Tauriel and Kili, and Legolas with himself).  Leece, who knows these things, was very taken with the depiction of Smaug.

Last night I usheretted at the New Fortune for GRADS' latest production of Hamlet. I think I may have been suckered into rejoining the committee... Almost got the gig of secretary but told them I'll be away for a couple of months this year. Whew!

Off to Leece and Rob's for dins tonight. I have made gingerbread from scratch. Ok, from a packet. Coles do a very nice gluten free model that I've added cinnamon sugar, nutmeg and mixed spice to.

And it's nearly the end of January 2014.

Christmas and New Year have been and gone and I'm on the downward slide to my 57th birthday.

The weather has been bloody horrible, though today is rather nice. I have the front and back doors of the flat open and a lovely cross breeze is coming through. Top of 27 C forecast, with a min tonight of only 15. Hopefully this means I won't have to leave the fan on all night.

Chrimbo was lovely. Brother, Sister in law and I went to a restaurant in Roleystone and had a 3 course meal. Delicious and so filling that I didn't eat dinner that nigh.

| had a couple of weeks off during the Xmas/New Year break. As the weather was so horrid, I didn't get up to much; though I did catch the train with friends to Mandurah and had a great day out. Got a bit sunburnt as I forgot to take my hat.

And we saw Day of the Doctor in 3D at the cinema in Leederville. It was fabulous being surround by so many Doctor geeks - sonic screwdrivers galore. I bought a new t shirt for the occasion. I'm not usually a huge fan of 3D and would probably prefer the 2D version of most movies; however, this time it really worked. The Gallifreyan 3D art was gorgeous. The couple of shorts before the film were very funny - Strax's guide to cinema etiquette was a hoot.

The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is also very, very funny.

Work  is quite frantic at the moment at it's reporting time for the Ethics Committee.

I have another rent inspection coming up but am taking time out from cleaning to (probably) see the Hobbit this arvo.

Two thirds the way through December

And I'm on leave for a couple of weeks. It's been a long time since I've had time off over Xmas - other than the actual public hols, that is. I'm hoping to have a day trip to Mandurah on the train.

I hope I get some calendars for Chrimbo, otherwise I'll have to wait until the new year to buy myself some on sale. Love calendars. I have Sherlock in the loo, Doctor Who in the lounge room (both bought in Forbidden  Planet,  London last year), and Bambrough Castle art work and Lyme Regis in the kitchen, also bought in the UK.

Brother, sis in law and I are off to a restaurant for lunch on Xmas Day - they've been before and say that it's lovely. I'm looking forward to it.

Off to the doctor again on Monday to see how the latest lot of blood pressure pills are doing. I thought they were working but the last couple of days I have had the pulsing in my ears again. I'm hoping for diuretics as my feet keep swelling up.

Another BBQ for dinner. I've made some spicy kebabs - lemon, olive oil, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, chili,  coriander - and bought a kebab holder thingie for the kettle. To be eaten with a very simple salad made from spinach leaves, peas and fetta with a lemon and olive oil dressing.



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