Blue Lagoon

WOW!

Firstly, the budget airline that flies to Iceland is called Wow, but I meant the Blue Lagoon was just amazing.  I came to the lagoon straight from the airport, as the lagoon is closer to the airport than Reykjavik, so it’s worth doing it at the beginning or the end of the journey.  I’d planned this component of my holiday carefully, setting up a coach transfer from the airport, booking in the Blue Lagoon, as it seems it can get very busy.  Overall, it was rather seamless, save for the ‘where’s my coach’ moments…

As a matter of fact, I am!

Arriving in Reykjavik (which is taking a lot of brain power to spell without using autocorrect) it was rainy and super windy.  Thankfully we had the aerobridge, unlike boarding in Amsterdam, where I got a bit rained on lining up to board.  Wow is a super low cost carrier which means they checked and checked again one’s luggage.  I paid for a checked bag, even though my suitcase would fit in overhead bins.  I carry my swiss army knife, so it has to be this way.  Otherwise, I had a backpack, and sick of carry my winter coat, I also had a light bag with the coat and some snacks in it.  Of course, that did not pass the watchful eye at the gate, so I held the snacks and draped the coat over my arm, and suddenly all was right in the world!?

Like personalised plates of plane

The in flight magazine and the branding on the planes clearly show that the airline has a sense of humour! I wonder if all of Iceland will be like this!

Now that’s suck humour

On arrival at about 14:00hrs  I was an hour and a half early for the bus shuttle I’d booked.  There is a competing company, which was heavily advertised in the in flight magazine, and it seems they to depart at the same time.  I suspect the coaches are aligned better with departures than arrivals, but who knows.  In any case, I found a quiet location to eat some snacks and reorder my possessions, and get those gloves and second coat ready – it was blustery and rainy outside.

Rain, rocky landscape and water

At around 15:00hrs I went looking for the bus I was meant to take – braving the cold.  My oh my did the wind cut through me!  I saw the brand of buses I needed, but not to the right location, so I asked and was advised to proceed to the carpark.  I waited out there, getting increasingly cold (and struggling to turn the pages of my novel in polar fleece gloves) and decided it was 15.15hrs and I didn’t want to miss the bus, I would return to the terminal to confirm the pickup location, as the bus was due to leave at 15.30.  They reconfirmed the location (in the carpark) and advised I could wait til the last minute to head back out there again.  When I did return, I went over to the bus (which had been there for all the time I’d been in the carpark, but without a driver).  I went to the driver, and he loaded my bag.  And then we left.  Yep… I was the SOLE passenger!  Lucky I wasn’t waiting for ‘my people’ or the crowd to congregate with!!

Me and my coach #rockstarstyle

The bus trip showed just how different the landscape is – there’s definitely as sense of lunar.  It is very rocky and then a light moss.  I was interested to see a sign at the Blue Lagoon that advised not to smoke near the moss as it’s flammable!  It was rainy, but I attempted to get some initial photos.

Volcanic rock on the road leading to the Blue Lagoon

Arriving at the Blue Lagoon, I placed my suitcase in the little luggage area out house, and took a ticket which was to reconcile my bill later.  When I entered the change rooms i discovered the lockers were certainly large enough for my suitcase, and I felt cheated!  I quickly peeled off the layers, down to a bikini – which felt so strange given the cold ‘feeling like’ 1C!  I put on my flip flops and took my BYO towel (both items can be packaged for a further sum, but it didn’t seem worth it to me).  Of course, there’s little use for either item for long… as the main aim is GETTING IN THE WATER!  There’s hooks everywhere to hang the robes they provide or your towels.

Baggage drop off and walkway to the Blue Lagoon

Before entering the lagoon, you have to shower, without your swim suit.  There’s a great graphic, as languages vary!  There’s provided conditioner, which you’re advised to put in your hair to protect it from the damaging silica.  There’s also body wash.

This is the pavilion you enter the water from

I wasn’t game enough to take my phone into the lagoon – many were, and undoubtedly got some great photos.  The great advantage of me waiting was that the weather cleared, resulting in blue skies which were just delightful!

In addition to the little coves in the lagoon, there’s some steam rooms, a water fall, and a ‘bar’ where you go to get a silica mask (or if you paid extra, a second algar mask… all this is policed through a coloured wrist band system, which can be used to buy drinks in water too).  Early on, I went to the steam cave, and overhead Australian accents.  I said hello, ad befriended 22 year old Paris and her mother Tanya who are in Iceland for a wedding!  From then on, we circulated to the extremities of the lagoon, they showed me where to get a mask.  The mask is white and feels so soft and smooth going on.  You leave it for 10-15 minutes and then wash it off.

Blue skies at the blue lagoon

After about an hour in the water, our finger and toes were like prune, and Tanya was ready to leave the water, and so was I!  Then you back track – returning to the showers. I felt a bit… over warm water by this stage, so just rinsed briefly. Then I found my towel I’d left rolled in the interior racks, and proceeded to dry off.  This is the Turkish towel I bought last year and have pretty much never used!  I kept eyeing off the provided towels, as the fluffiness seems to equal drying in my mind.  I also used some of the provided moisturiser.

Amenities for hair drying and preening

Returning to the locker area, there’s bays of hair drying facilities, and a sink, and cotton buds and cotton rounds.  It’s all very chic and stylish.  Once I was dressed I wanted to head back to the outdoor cafe/bar area I’d come through to get into the water… however this isn’t allowed.  There some clear segregation of clothed/unclothed! Thankfully there’s another area where you can get photos.

Look at that sky

I foolishly didn’t prepare to coordinate all this ‘dressing’ with the bus timetable, and when I did look, it was 7 minutes past the hour, and the bus was due to leave on the hour, every hour.  Thankfully, like almost everywhere I’ve been this trip, the cafe in the Blue Lagoon has free wifi.  So I drafted this post!  My face feels super smooth, but my hair feels dry – and perhaps the edge of my face and hair are still not 100% clean of the mask…  But I feel much warmer after the windblown airport carpark and bus hunting missions.  And it’s been so nice to see the clouds clear and see blue skies!

Tulip gardens – bucket list achieved

I can almost recall the conversation I had in the car with a boyfriend in 2005, about how I didn’t just want to ‘see’ places, but that I wanted to make sure I did that ‘thing’ that the place was known for.  Many would say The Netherlands is known for legalisation of marijuana.  Or prostitution.  Neither are of any interest to me!  What does spring to mind for me, with respects to Holland, is tulips.

Tulips – photo 1 of 200!

Tulip’s didn’t originate in Netherlands, but they have a long and strong history since the first bulb was gifted from a Turkish man to a traveller who gave it to a famous Dutch man.  I’m aware that they had a stock market event named ‘Tulip Mania’ which google informs me was 1636 – 1637.

The origins of the tulip’s name

Today, visiting Keukenhof, I learnt why the Dutch have become so famed for tulips.  The sandy soil mixed with clay, combined with the mild winters are ideal.  And it’s not just tulips – any bulbs really.  The tulip gardens were filled with many daffodils and jonquils, and the pavilions also features lilies heavily too.  I’m ashamed to say, I’d not ever realised lilies were also bulbous. It’s interesting what my years learning and working in floristry have taught me, but also what I’ve totally missed!

Flower factoid

Based on advice I’d read, I aimed to get to the tulip gardens at opening, 8am.  Given my AirBnB is only a 5 minutes walk, it seemed ideal.  Though, eight am did come around rather quickly, and I was still on the internet and updating life – having fallen asleep at my usual 9.30pm Europe Time, which was 4am Sydney time, so I was certainly due for a good lay down!  In the end, I arrived closer to 8.30am and I wondered why all the fuss about buying tickets online (which frustratingly wouldn’t work for me without my phone on roaming to get the confirmation code for using a credit card online). I left the park around noon, and took some photos to demonstrate why the advice is applicable!

12pm: People EVERYWHERE
8:30am: My arrival – not another person in site

My first hour, the place was largely devoid of people.  There was still a cool crisp air, and dew on the grass and birdsong the most overwhelming sound.  The light made it challenging to take photos as much was still in shade, or overexposed with sunlight.  By the time I came to leave, the sounds were various languages and accents!

Early sunshine

The gardens are beautifully laid out, and despite Holland being a flat country, significant work has likely been done to have hills and knolls and variety in the landscape.  There are many little canals as well as bubbling little water falls and mini lakes.  For children, there’s a play park, a hedge maze and a permanent petting zoo with RABBITS! (I’m not sure if my blog has ever expressed how much I like bunny rabbits and flirted with having one as a pet!).

Rabbits and tulips

There are a collection of pavilions at different extremities of the park, which include a museum with some background on tulips and their history in The Netherlands.  There is also a pavilion with avant garde arrangements, and from time to time, floristry presentations.  When I wandered by, she was making a simple arrangement, decorated with small potatoes threaded on wire! Funnily, potatoes are something I associate with the Dutch after a friend I studied with in 206 said her Dutch parents ate potatoes every night with dinner.  This pavilion seemed to focus strongly on chrysanthemums, which were otherwise not in the gardens or anywhere else.  Another pavilion was far larger and rather than being as focused on arrangements and artistry, was more coloured islands interspersed with home wares, or baskets or similar.  It was quite interesting.

Potatoes with celosia

I took a novel with me, and from time to time, sat amongst the beauty and read a few chapters. I had no where to be in any hurry, and figured a short rest wouldn’t hurt.

Travelling makes me relise how inherently lucky I am – by where I was born, to the parents that could afford the education they had as much as mine. Sure, there are countless nations where their population is growing in wealth, and you’re seeing more diverse ranges of ethnicities travelling – it’s no longer a handful of wealthy nations, but people from all over the sub-continent (old fashioned way of trying to capture India and it’s neighbours); Asia; Europe…

I love the ruffles

Of course, it’s luck as much as the career I studied for and work in. I realise I earn a significant sum of money, enough to manage a family on. I am one person, with this salary. And until I am supporting a family, I am saving some, paying off a mortgage, and doing the things on my bucket list whilst I have the time, money and mobility to allow me to.

Blue and white

It’s an absolute pleasure to return to cities and places I’ve been to once before – to recognise Amsterdam Schiponl airport! To arrive at Den Hague (The Hague)’s Central station and think… I know where I am. The familiarity, it’s reassuring and head spinning too! And with that comfort has me going to a Starbucks, where I know what to expect! I expect an overpriced coffee, comfy chairs, the ability to linger and hopefully some wifi. Add the Dutch spin of some Stroopwafels and I’m doing it with a cultural tilt 😉

Water in the tulip forest

The tulip gardens were just amazing – beautiful. So well maintained. A pleasure to visit and walk amongst God’s creations, so expertly arranged and planted. To realise this hope, this long ago item jotted onto a list, to see the ‘tulip farms’. I did! Meanwhile, the gardens are more than than a farm, but my short 5 minute walk to the ‘entrance’ there is quite literally a farm of tulips, still in bloom. They have largely passed the seasonal ‘heights’, so it’s not verdant colour everywhere, but enough to realise what was. The gardens are manipulated so that there are late blooming varieties, so whilst some gardens lay green, having been deadheaded, largely, it felt full and colourful.

The view from the windmill to the tulip field
Dutch flag and windmill – 1892 Windmill brought to Keukenhof in 1957

I have almost 200 photos, and they are stunning (in my humble opinion!).

Humming Puppy Yoga

So a very dear friend and blog reader gave me a great birthday gift – she named it an Advent calendar and the concept is to do different ‘bucket list experiences’ each month together.  We started with my birthday dinner at Momofuku, and then things slowed down!  Of course, I have things I want to see and do that didn’t feature on her 12 months of birthday fun Advent calendar, and I got busy in March doing all sorts of fun things.

The light ruins what is a lush waiting area

One thing she’d earmarked us doing was Humming Puppy Yoga – funny name right? It’s a yoga studio that has a resonant frequency going at all times, as well as being constantly at 27 C.  Warm, but just right.  This weekend, I went along to try it.

Sneaky snap – bit blurry sorry

I selected the class based on timing – 2.30pm would work well around church (as it was a long Palm Sunday service).  The class at that time was called Mellow Yoga which sounded like just what I’d feel like on a Sunday afternoon!

I almost need instagram for this!

This place is next level on chic, hipster, boutique exercise.  It’s like first class style.  The waiting area and bathrooms were stunning.  I’d settle just to ‘wait’ for someone and never do a class and die happy!  They are upstairs from a tea store, so there’s two teas to sip, or coconut water or filtered water.  Luxury right?

A photo of their flyer

The studio is the third or top level of the building. The room was wonderfully dark for the session with only muted lighting and a lit candle.  The session was an hour long, and it was blissfully relaxed and over before you knew it.  My friend S said it was an expensive place for a nap, but cheap for therapy – and it really is a hybrid of the two!!

Yellow is so happy

Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete visit without dropping in on the tea lounge.  Again, jaw droppingly gorgeous in style.  We had Ginger lattes and some fancy snacks (you know, all goey and power foods but nothing like conventional food!)

The counter top is also broken tile – wonder how cleaning goes?
I’m coming back til I’ve had every mocktail!
Every inch is stylish!

I’m not sure if I’ll do expensive yoga again, but I want more of those drinks!!

March summary

A lot has happened in March, so in the style of others, I’m doing a month’s round up.

Culture:

I went to the ArtExpress featuring the graduating class of 2016’s artworks, which I shared a photo heavy post on.

Mum and daughter selfie – her new dress too

I had a weekend in Melbourne with my mother.  It was spectacularly sunny and warm the whole weekend – Melbourne’s not known for having consistent weather at all! We ventured to a new suburb to try a Barre Tone class with an instructor who I used to have teach me in Sydney. I’d forgotten what an intense work out she provided, and my mother enjoyed her first ever class.  We scoured op shops, first out of necessity for Mum to buy some work out pants, but then for fun.  She brought a great black and white dress and a multi colour rain coat.  I settled for a polyster top for work (I’d NEVER buy polyester new, but for cheap and second hand, I’ll bend the rules).  The main reason for the trip, however, was to see Book of Morman.  Neither of us are musical fans, but we both loved it.  It’s incredibly quick, punchy and completely irreverent.  We went to a Saturday matinee which was blissful (we’re both sleepy heads). On Sunday, we met Fiona from Declutterer for breakfast at St Kilda.  All three of us talked our heads off, helped that Mum is also a teacher.

Bloggers meet – another wow breakfast
Melbourne’s H&M showing what an amazing refurb of a new building to the mecca of commerce

The following week was no slower for first times and fun times.  On Thursday evening, I braved a lot of traffic to see my very first drive in film, Beauty and the Beast.  Having a car is a certain prerequisite I didn’t fulfill previously!  On the Saturday night, I went with my brother to see some Aussie Hip Hop. The main act was Urthboy, but I’d almost saw I enjoyed the support act more, Joyride.  Joyride just seemed to have a smoother sound and strong convinctions in his thoughts, and I couldn’t help but be a little starstruck.

The drive in went full retro with the diner too!

Yes, tall people = stand at the back!

Following all this, on Sunday, Lucinda met a less than shiny and bright me – yep, in a week, I met two long time blog readers and writers.  We ate lunch at a cafe (as Lucinda thinks breakfast out is ridiculous, which I’d agree if I settled for avo on toast, but I clearly do not!) before heading to see a French film at the festival.  It was a harrowing (true) story of Polish nuns, pregnant through rape, and the help of a younger French doctor.

Romance:

As with past months, I continued dating in March.  I saw one guy three times – first for a drink. Due to wet weather, I decided to hail a cab rather than walk the relatively short walk to our meeting point.  The same time a water main failed in a main city street.  In the end, I escaped my sky rocketing taxi fare for a different pub, and he came and found me!  I was quite impressed by his efforts, so we met for another drink the following week.  He kindly drove me from the date to Newtown, where I met my parents and my brother and his girlfriend for her farewell dinner (she’s returning to the US).  It was a fun night, my family were in great spirits for a weeknight!  I was going planning to go to the drive in with the same fella but he got cold feet waiting for me to pick him up (due to heavy traffic – an emerging theme!)  We ended up catching up the next evening, but things didn’t gel and have silently fizzled out since then!

Date brunch – panna cotta

Technically the 1st of April, I went on a first date at a very hip and local cafe (it’s closed when I drive by for work, but I read it’s tasty menu one evening walking)  They churned us in and out quickly but it was tasty!

And earlier in the month I met for a post work drink in what ended up being a very smokey outdoor area.  We’ve remained in contact and somewhat as friends, he’s a lawyer, so good at chatty banter!

Work:

Work has been revolutionary in the past week – they announced some rather unexpected and hard to stomach changes to my management line.  Both my direct boss and his boss (also my mentor) are in a perilous position.   My boss is told to await Easter, and they may find him a role.  My mentor is finished and leaving the company at Easter.  The last week of March was consumed with finding this out, then disseminating the information, and attending roadshows and talks from management.  Right now, it doesn’t mean my job is in jeopardy, but blind freedy can see it will mean my role and those similar to mine will need to be rationalised evenutally, having see such a huge reduction in front line staff in the two years I’ve been in this role.

Buying

  • Black with white patten polyster work shirt – second hand – Melbourne
  • White knit dress – second hand – Oxford brand
  • Grey cable knit pullover – second hand – Cotton On <- cheap brand, cheap fabric, but comfy
  • Navy top with sequin detail collar – second hand – David Lawrence
  • Silver cross necklace
  • Blue and white zig zag patterned glass studs
  • Bamboo straw
Second hand white cotton dress

Read

I’m on GooodReads, but for a quick summary

currently reading

How was your March?  Which was the best thing you watched or read?

Culture & 2017 – starting with ArtExpress

Entering the new year, the only brainwave I had was to attempt to get more cultural experiences.  Things like concerts, art shows and sculpture walks.  Many of these things, I’ve been to some years, and not others.  Like 2016 – I hardly managed to do any of these, so by listing them and calling them out, I hope I’ll get to them!

To help do 12 this year, I wrote a list of what could be done in what months, and this is what I came up with:

Anytime: book talks/launches

Feb to April:
ArtExpress – graduating student art from the past year

March: (here’s my post on the below three)

✔ Book of Morman stage show, here’s a review if you’ve not heard of it. Going to Melb with mum to see it

✔ French Film Festival – Lucinda and I will FINALLY meet and see this

✔ urthboy concert – Aussie hip hop, here’s a youtube link (there’s talk explaining the lyrics, I learnt something!) to them doing it live, with another great Aussie singer Bertie Blackman

✔April: Vera Blue concert at the Factory Theatre

May – Jun: Vivid festival

✔July: Vera Blue concert (again!)

✔July – Oct: Archibald Prize – portraiture prize, amongst others that are shown at the same time.

Sept: Beams Festival – a local light and art festival in Chippendale, the link it to my post when I attended in 2013

Oct: Good Food Month – OK, hardly THAT cultural, but it’s an annual tradition for Dad and I to try somewhere fancy at less fancy prices

Nov: Sculptures by the Sea <- when I went in 2015

Dec: SIA concert

And today, I made it to ArtExpress, after cancelling (on myself) on other weekends when the weather or my inclination weren’t quite right.

 

To my non Aussie readers – you CANNOT fault the location of the Gallery of NSW, traditional sandstone entry nestled in parklands which you can walk on the grass! Lie on it even! Don’t tell the Europeans who forbid this!
How’s that for art – even in the entry flooring!
It’s clear that the Gallery of NSW attempted to have some more traditional elements of it’s European cousins. But this is just some parts of the building.

If you’re done with me selling the architecture, I’ll start on the art…

This piece was about the pressures on young people – housing affordability for example. I found this work got your attention from a distance
The artist was dejected about the ulginess of the medium density housing everywhere, but then took time to look at the key features. I loved how this art reminded me of the style of Jeffrey Smart

I’m starting to notice I have a weakness for very well done hard drawing, and there were a few fantastic examples

These four animals are endangered, which explains the numbers in the top corners
Close up to show detail
Precipice explanation – the art was lovely, but this gave it further dimension
Theres something erry – like they arent QUITE realistic, something similar to dolls
Something about this guy…

The following was a progression, but it was hard to show you the skill, so here’s the leftmost panel:

This felt very Germanic to me
The interconnected panels
I loved how the panels played with different challenges with drawing – perspective. I liked the use of shape and repetition of shapes
This sculptural piece was incredible given it was likely a 17 year old who did this!? I mean, I can see this in a foyer tomoorw, its that mature and commerically ready

Back to hand drawn – this was an AMAZING technique.  The colour and subject meant I looked at this as an after thought, but was astounded and impressed once I did look at it in more detail

Dutch technique
This shows the overall image
Look at that detail – lines! And colour. I just cannot imagine how long you would need to work on this technique. No wonder they were granted a scholarship

The other scholarship winning work wasn’t immediately attractive to me.  But the more I looked, the more I saw the incredible juxtaposition. There was a number of pieces painted/drawn of the artists close people in vunerable positions.  Then these pieces were photographed in public spaces, exploring the idea of street art.

The overall installation
One subject close up
Another subject
In the wild

There were a few features of artworks that, to me, scream ‘STUDENT’ and perhaps on the days I didn’t come, I might have been thinking too much of these more amateur treamtments. For example, the use of thread, loose thread and sewing:

Some trimming needed!
Agh my OCD can’t handle this!

The other treatment I came to dislike, was that of tearing.  I’m sure I saw more than these two, but even still… I just don’t find this a technique you see in much of the traditional and highly priced art:

The last photo also used flowers, in a way I found a bit… blah? Wasn’t the only piece with some flower add ins:

More flowers… hmmm

Lastly, there was an artwork I wasn’t meant to photograph, and even still, it’s impossible to show the technique – then are like lunar landscapes made by various sized pin pricks.  It was mesmerising

I havve some further shots to show how amazing an art gallery can be, in this beautiful city:

What’s your favourite?

2017 Bucket List – getting leaner

My original post from 2013 has seen me really work through getting the things I want to do, DONE! So I’ve also updated my ‘completed Bucket list post‘ So I have decided to republish and deleted some things that no longer seemed like things I wanted to do or buy or achieve.

Fancy! via

I ended up with eight big things, 22 travel related things, and 11 ‘experiences’ – 41 in total. It’s a shorter list than I expected if I’m honest – perhaps I need to find more things to add.

And I did – I updated this post to add another 22 items, a few of which I just did on my recent trip to Europe.   As always, I’d welcome suggestions!

The BIG stuff (8)

Live in NYC
Get married (before the children)
Have children (thinking 3)
A home with a passionfruit vine, a frangipani tree, a magnolia grandiflora… and a vegie patch.
Pay off my mortgage (currently about $250k $125k to go)
Fully fund my retirement
Write my will
Prepay and plan my funeral

Travel (22)

Visit every continent (Completed: Australia, Asia, Europe, Middle East – need South America & Antarctica)

countries (8 6 4)

Visit Cambodia – Jan 2018
Visit The Maldives – Dec 2018 Was going to be family trip, but we changed to Sri Lanka
Visit Mauritius
Visit Croatia – 2019
Visit Iceland – 2017 – 8 posts!
Visit Sweden
Visit Norway – does a day trip from Copenhagen count (2018)?
Visit Finland

2018 update: I’m not sure what appealed about Sweden and Norway, both have been sidelined, and I made my way to Copenhagen!

travel experiences (19 15 13)
1. Go to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (could do it with the bro in 2014, but alas, I realise I don’t love crowds and big parties, so maybe another time)
2. See Machu Picchu (to think my brother just did this Jan 2014!)

Pretty tulip fields via

3. See Aurora Borealis
4. Visit tulip fields | The Netherlands (April) – 2017
5. Stay in Igloo Village & maybe tick off #3
6. Stay in a tree house (in Europe)
7Visit Oradour-sur-Glane, France – a town annihilated by Germans by torching – 2017

8. Go to the super bowl (early Feb)
9. Go to Burning Man, Black Rock desert, Nevada USA (late Aug/early Sept)
10. Go to (the original) Mardi Gras | New Orleans (mid Feb)
11. Spend Christmas or Thanksgiving | US
12. Fly FIRST class – maybe Emirates where I can shower?

13. Go on a ‘big boat’ style cruise (maybe in retirement, perhaps Caribbean)
14. Walk on a Glacier – 2017
15. Marvel at Plitvice Lakes | Croatia – 2019
16. Watch the Sunset in Santorini | Greece – 2019
17Soak in the Blue Lagoon | Iceland
18. Let Go of a Floating Lantern | Thailand
19. Soak in Pamukkale Hot Springs | Turkey

Activities (24 20.5 15.5)

1. Learn the name and location of all the countries in Africa – 2017 *I’m getting there!
2. Get my palm read/fortune told – 2018
3Watch a movie at a drive in (if they still exist!) – 2017

So quaint – this one no longer exists, but… aww
via

4. Swim with dolphins in NATURE (not in Dubai…:s)
5. Go to a silent retreat – 2018 (a singular day)
6. Get body painted for an event
7. Go caving – 2017 and second time in Iceland
8. Be part of a flash mob (thanks Moonwave for the tip!)
9. Build a bonfire and make S’mores – 2018
10. Try kite surfing
11. Try a pottery wheel – 2018
12. Attend a masquerade ball

13. Pick fruit from a tree & make a pie – 2018
14. Stomp grapes
15. Start a fire without matches
16. Use a paddle to bid at an auction
17. Waterski – barefoot and normally!
18. Go snowshoeing
19. Mud wrestle
20. Take a SoulCycle Class
21. Fly in a blimp – not sure this is even possible Dune surfing
22. Ride a unicycle
23. Toboggan – likely with the Northern Lights
24Sleep in a Capsule Hotel – 2017

So to recap, I did the following in 2017

And there’s at least seven ten I’m targeting to achieve in 2017, and  achieved 8.5 !

What’s on your bucket list?

A new car…

I’ve never owned a car outright, as long time readers might recall from this post. That’s all about to change!

I have decided at the ripe old age of 31, that it’s time to buy my very own car.  It due to some frustrations by the limitations of work’s car – I can only drive it to and from work, and for work.  So it limited the flexibility to do things ‘on the way home’.  And playing and training for water polo is a little tricky! I used to have a team mate live locally, but no longer.  So car pooling is out.

I started with a budget, of course.  Then I knew I wanted some convenient features – being reversing sensors and steerin gcontrols for the radio, and hopefully Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phone calls.  OH, and I realised I forgot to say – I was only going to buy a used car.

Initially I thought about a hatchback.  They are very adaptable to large bootloads of Ikea furniture – I know from all my years sharing a Hyundai Accent.  Dad and I went to, coincidently a home I’d inspected when it was for sale, to inspect a BMW 118i.  It was priced high for what it offered in terms of kms and age.  I offered a fair price, but the sellers were successful in getting their asking price.  I can’t fault them on that!

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However, after looking at the profile of many of the possible hatchback options, I didn’t like the profile.  I didn’t love the car I inspected.  I just felt… ho hum.  It’s pathetic, but then, there’s so much choice in the car market, I figured I would be better to buy something I loved!  I’d always liked the rear profile of an Audi A4.

So this past weekend, I planned to inspect a few A4s, and encouraged by my parents, I put in an offer.  There was some back and forth, but I’ve now put down a holding deposit on a silvery blue 2009 Audi A4, which is coincidentally diesel.  The car I drive currently, the Hyundai i30, is a diesel, and I have no issues or concerns with it.  I have paid a holding deposit, and the coming weekend will be an independent inspection.  Part of me is steeling myself for ‘bad’ news, given the car is 110,000km under it’s belt.  But better to know what I’m putting my money into, now and into the future.

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I’ll be the first to admit – I’m mildly terrified.  It’s a HUGE lump sum payment.  It’s like buying property.  It’s ultimately easier to damage badly, at least I think so! Although, I keep recalling, it’s JUST a car – I can just as easily sell it if it doesn’t work how I’d hoped.  And if I realise I went too big, or it’s too hard to park, or uses too much petrol, I’ll at least have tried and failed at the car I’ve long admired.  You can only learn through failure.  I much prefer that idea to the idea of always wishing I’d got what I ‘really wanted’

It’s hard to imagine the flexibility and freedom a car will provide me.  At any time, I can go anywhere.  In any weather.  I look forward to having the open road, and suburbs, and choices open in front of me!

St Petersburg first day

We had a 9am ish breakfast buffet in the hotel – awesome little cheesecakes! Tomorrow Rory plans to try herring. The coffee is tasty too – and we see Cafes every where and vans with coffee machines in the back. So far only seen one Starbucks.
Hermitage, and the lines!
Hermitage, and the lines!
We started the day with a long walk – past the Hermitage with huge lines of tourists, the walked along the Neva to a bridge with very ornate lamp posts, which was a contrast to another more post revolution bridge with sheafs of wheat and stars. The first bridge led us to see an ornate mosque and then a little island which was a tomb for royalty.
It’s hard to feel aware as it seems Russia has had a long history and a lot of stuff in the 1700-1800s which is almost an unfathomable time! We ended up near the admiralty and the bronze horseman statue and took a low boat tour along the NEva and canals. The boat turned just before our hotel so it really feels like we’re quite centrally located. Thankfully our boat didn’t have the continuous Russian we often hear in boats that pass our hotel!
The bronze horseman
The bronze horseman
We had another microwave meal for lunch – a comedic point and pick situation! So for dinner I found us an Italian restaurant which seemed rather upmarket for the guy in his colour run t shirt and shorts! Overall Te Russians seems a bit more dressed up than your average American. You see people out walking in high heels and skirts that’d be ok in the office. Actually we saw a ton of weddings and in some cases it seems like all the guests traipse with the bride and groom past monuments for photos. Bridesmaids are less common but large paper medallions were badges on some guests and sashes also seem popular for parents of the couple.
A private moment whilst the photographer gets the best man and woman
A private moment whilst the photographer gets the best man and woman
And the ornate chariots
And the ornate chariots
Lovely italian resturant
Lovely italian resturant
I had an epic nap between about 4-9pm, rest assured Rory didn’t starve (see the photo). I had one! Dad would have called dinner fancy but it was comparable prices to Sydney – I had a octopus dish which was pretty tasty with chickpea purée. Overall restaurants are pretty hard to find – bars seem far more common.
almost seeing inside
almost seeing inside
Such beuty
Such beauty
After dinner I took Rory to the spilled blood church which awed me yesterday evening and took another bazillion photos. The dark meant we could see inside the church and it was just as ornate inside.

Resin jewellery making course

Horribly, my parents home was robbed, and Mum lost most of her jewellery.  With every thunder cloud, there’s silver linings, and one of them was that I booked us both into a class to make resin jewellery, one rainy day.

Work in progress
Work in progress

Yes, I’m sad about plastic cups.  You use those to divide up Part A and Part B, then you add colour to one part, then mix them together, mix til they heat up, and then pour in the moulds.

All in the moulds, setting
All in the moulds, setting
Mum's mould's - she shocked me with lime green!
Mum’s mould’s – she shocked me with lime green!
These were someone else's
These were someone else’s
Exhibit A: Some people mixed four different colours.  Me, I used bangle overflow and made rings... matchy!
Exhibit A: Some people mixed four different colours. Me, I used bangle overflow and made rings… matchy!
Had hoped for a deeper colour
Had hoped for a deeper colour
The class pile
The class pile
More of the class pile bottom centre is mums!)
More of the class pile bottom centre is mum’s!)

Sadly, the moulds by the time Mum and I got there were a bit big for my fingers.  The bangles obstruct typing (ah, Mum’s a teacher, so she wears them more).  So I took all my newly made stuff to a water polo team dinner and left three behind (had to leave early), so I hope others have rehomed them.

Gliding (fixed wing…)

So like a plane, except, extra long wings so that you can cut the engine and glide.  The BF got this as a Christmas gift, so it made my 2016 Goals, and struck something off the bucket list.

2016 Gliding 063

That’s my pilot tinkering

 

I was pretty darn excited:

Excitable clapping also occured
Excitable clapping also occured

Here’s the inside:

Instrument collagae

Let me show you some ‘up in the air’ pictures

2016 Gliding 032
The church my pilot, Bill, was married in.
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Coming in to land, with no engine on Far off on that horizon line is the Blue Mountains, and snow!
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My bread and butter – substations (this is outside my company’s area tho)
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A valley/flood plain

Here’s some shots of the sexy beast I flew in

2016 Gliding 010 2016 Gliding 005

In the airfield, there was gliders from another ‘club’ which don’t have engines (they get towed up).  Seems the embedded engine is preferable – less manpower needed, and less ‘vehicles’:

These gliders can't 'self propel'
These gliders can’t ‘self propel’

I loved it! My pilot was super helpful, let me ‘fly’ and took right back over when the nerves got the better of me.  He also told the BF I squealed (true).  I have a real fear with steering a glider, or a jet ski.  But then no fear/freak out with hang gliding or parasailing (both of which I did ‘pre blog’).  I think it’s to do with being able to imagine a sudden, horrible outcome with the former two, and less so with the latter?

The BF also signed his life away and went up too:

2016 Gliding 012

It was a pretty awesome way to spend Saturday morning.  We were really lucky to only book this date in, many people have been repeatedly rescheduled – the airfield was under water a month ago!

The pilots are all part of a club, and volunteer to take us city folk up (DINKs and the like who buy RedBallon vouchers).  The ‘profits’ for this are ploughed into the club, which owns to gliders and a little trailer/office/hut thingie.  There’s air traffic control at the air field, as there’s private planes and other dinky planes, but we also saw some super fighter jet take off too, as there’s an air force or cadets group that train there.  Anyhow, it’s a pretty ‘cheap’ hobby for the club members with the offsetting of once off flyers.  The other pilot there on the day had taken his grand daughter ‘up’ before us, and planned to take her again.  Nothing like the indoor sky diving costs (did I blog about that?)