tales of travel, inspiration and adventure



Abbey Road

Yesterday we managed to outrun the wind and rain to make it safely to Whitby on the sunny Yorkshire coast. Today we are well rested and eager to head out and explore the iconic little town that serves as the backdrop for the latter part of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

It was in 1890 that Bram Stoker first came to stay at a cliff-top guesthouse, and his morning walks soon started to shape the latest project he was working on – a tale set in Austria about a man called Count Wampyr.

Continue reading “Abbey Road”

Forging a Dynasty

It’s our final day here in Vienna and we are heading slightly out of the city to visit Schönbrunn Palace. Referred to as ‘The Summer Palace’, it’s where the Habsburg’s spent the warmer six months of the year when they were not holding court at The Hofburg.

After a hearty breakfast, we take a cab past the industrial and more run-down outskirts, to what would once have been considered countryside and where it would have taken about three days to reach by horse and carriage. It takes us only 20 minutes by car, and as we round our final turn, suddenly there it is – lit up in all it’s glory by the mid-morning sun.
Continue reading “Forging a Dynasty”

A Viennese Whirl

It’s a beautiful, crisp cloudless morning and we opt for omelettes at breakfast time in a vain attempt to soak up some of last night’s alcohol, but everyone is still feeling pretty delicate as we head out into the early-afternoon sun.

We amble along just behind the town hall to a quiet little row of buildings where the Rueff Dance School is located. We head up a  stone spiral staircase and are welcomed into a lovely little studio with a colourfully decorated waiting room. There’s a waggy-tailed dog who comes to greet us and collect some belly rubs, her affectionate nuzzles helping a little with the hangovers.

There’s no-one else here save us, for our activity today is private Viennese Waltz lessons.  Continue reading “A Viennese Whirl”

Walking in a Wiener Wonderland

It’s a couple of degrees colder this morning and we’re all slightly shivery as we arrive at The Albertina to begin our walking tour. Our guide today is a lovely gentleman named Wolfgang (yes, like Mozart) and he begins by taking us up onto the roof of the gallery so we can look out across the city of Wien – what the Viennese call Vienna in their native German tongue. He points out the famous Vienna Opera House, which was built around 150 years ago and was the first major structure to be built on the now-busy Vienna Ringstraße, which also plays home to the Civic Hall and Parliament building. This boulevard was where the old city walls used to stand before being torn down by Emperor Franz Josef, Vienna’s longest reigning Emperor, and part of the Habsburg Dynasty that ruled over Austria for over 600 years. Continue reading “Walking in a Wiener Wonderland”

Oh, Vienna

Today we are up before it’s light, only slightly marred by the effects of last night’s wine consumption, to head to the airport and jet off to Vienna.

Austria’s capital is our chosen destination for celebrating the baby bro’s 30th birthday, and as none of us have even been before, we are all pretty excited (despite the hangovers).

It’s a short two hour flight and we take off as dawn is breaking and land mid-morning – the whole day still ahead of us. The airport is in the industrial outskirts of the city and so we hop a cab to our hotel which is central.

Once we leave the smoky chimneys behind we are greeted by strange trees whose leaves grow in little blobs, reminding me of a child’s painting, and apartment blocks in varying shades of cream and yellow, their windows framed by ornate stucco trims. keeping us company on our ride is the great Danube river, not so blue today, but rather a murky green.   Continue reading “Oh, Vienna”

A Lady Like THAT

It’s a balmy Wednesday evening here in Manchester and I’m heading to The Castle Hotel, an intimate live music venue hidden away on Oldham Street, to watch Ingrid Andress play.

The small back room is already filling up nicely with eager patrons, eerily lit by the hot blue lights coming from the stage where instruments await their players.

Suddenly there’s a rush of movement cutting through the chatter as a young woman weaves her way with purpose through the crowds to the front before hopping on the stage and grabbing a waiting guitar. Continue reading “A Lady Like THAT”

This must be the place.

When I woke up that Tuesday morning, it was, to all intents and purposes, an ordinary day. Except of course, It wasn’t. Continue reading “This must be the place.”

Wake me up when it’s all over

Today it’s our last full day here in Vegas and we have tickets to a pool party. I fully intend to spend the day soaking up the sun and, quite frankly, raving my ass off.

We get up early to arrive for the 11am start and wearing my party chic swimsuit (Thankyou Nordstrom!) hop the Deuce bus up the strip to Encore.

It’s a beach club part of the Wyn brand hotel and the queue is already busy when we arrive. After a stricter bag search than you get at the airport (was it really necessary to throw away my sealed mints??) we make our way in.

There’s a central pool surrounded by waterside cabanas, some set further back with private pools, then rooms behind those, and on a balcony above. The DJ stage is in front of the pool and the decks are already on the go.

There’s nowhere per-se to sit on general admission tickets and we certainly didn’t have the 3-10 grand (I know!!) spare it cost to afford a tiny lounging spot, so we pitch up poolside.

We jump in the water as it’s quite hot. Just 44 degrees, no big deal. We jam to the warm up DJ’s and it’s getting even hotter.

There’s no shade so we stay in the pool to ensure we keep cool as it’s a 7 hour party.

The beach club fills up quickly and pretty soon we are surrounded by a variety of guests.

It’s a little like high school cliques and people fall into the various categories: The jocks, The Abercrombie models, definitely The Plastics, and well, us.

Fortunately, we make friends with some fellow cool girls and a few guys with a cabana and chat and drink and dance together which is fun, our stuff stored handily on their poolside bed.

Water here costs a mere 11 bucks so we switch to beer as it makes more sense economically, however it goes against everything our parents taught us about not drinking and hanging out in the sun all day. Oh well.

The combination is getting us more laced than normal and we’re having a raucous time.

There’s about 4000 people here and most are posing and trying to get off with each other gypsy grabbing style-it’s something else.

People are dancing and splashing in the pool and climbing all over the cabanas.

The waitresses working the club are gorgeous Victoria’s Secret type babes who serve drinks and cavort around on trolleys spraying champagne on folks, taking turns dressed as sailors to wield birthday cakes for lucky birthday boys.
It’s truly crazy.

Hendrick B is on, and then Avicii takes the decks to cannons firing shiny gold and blue streamers.

The place erupts and we go wild. we all sing along and I’m jumping up and down poolside like a mental patient.

His set is great and I pop my finest dance moves, which are totally awesome, and I think I look the business (Not that my ability to judge this may have been impaired by the sunstroke in any way).

People are diving and splashing about and the cabanas basically get trashed, but it’s so much fun.

The set comes to an end and we wander dazed up the strip, doing some unnecessary shopping before grabbing food to soak up the sun and alcohol.

Back at the hotel we head to the arcades and the outdoor rollercoaster, which the bro says was pretty cool at night, not that I would know as I had my eyes closed screaming all the way round.

We gamble the last of our cash at a blackjack table with friendly fellow gamblers, and even when they take pity on me and throw me some chips, I still lose it all meaning I haven’t had to visit the cashier once this trip. Ahh, them’s the breaks.

When we go to bed I struggle to fall asleep. It’s been a great last day herein Vegas, but I can’t quite believe that tomorrow I will be leaving the USA and heading back to reality. Boy it’s been quite the ride.

For what it’s worth

I wake up this morning still thinking of cowboys. It’s glorious sunshine here in Fort Worth and the storms that plagued Nashville and Dallas have blown off into Oklahoma somewhere. Continue reading “For what it’s worth”

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