Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Another day on holiday

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Today I went out cycling with a group from the local bike shop. The rest of the group all looked a whole lot more professional than me, and it turned out they were. But not quite all of them. I ended up third from last most of the time, which I was happy enough with. Just happy not to be last! In my defence, myself and second last were the only ones riding the shop’s cheaper alloy road bikes, while all the others were riding flashy carbon jobs.

But unfortunately I forgot to start runkeeper, so I have no track of it. And the bike computer was set for the wrong wheel size, so I didn’t even have that. But from the other guys, we did 52 miles, in 3 and a quarter hours.

I then took some advice, and had a dip in the hotel pool.

And then ignored the rest of the advice, and spent the afternoon lying on a sun bed and reading Stieg Larsson’s “The girl who played with fire”, the sequel to the famous “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. It’s quite a read, as I finished it in 2 days. I’m not sure it’s just as good as the first one mind you. My major disappointment is the character of Ronald Niemann, who seems like a James Bond villain unexpectedly dropped into the wrong book. Maybe I am being picky, but I thought that this character kind of cheapened the book. But having said that, I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I suppose that’s the best sign of a good book. 

Still on Holiday

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m still on holiday in Majorca. Here are some more holiday thoughts.

  • There are lots of nice cycle paths along the roads here. But only on one side, so you’ve got a mini-road for cyclists going both directions alongside the road for cars. This works very well, except for when I reached a roundabout and the cycle path just suddenly ended at a kerb as the road builder didn’t know quite how to deal with the roundabout, since we were on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately that only happened once, as at other roundabouts the bikes had their own roundabout around the main one, effectively crossing the road approaches to the car roundabout. It seems to work. But it does put quite a lot of faith in drivers. But I guess we always do when we’re cycling. 
  • Bikes are cool. The road bike I hired is comfortable, and quite nippy.
  • Peter F Hamilton’s “The Reality Disjunction” is quite unlike any of his other books that I have read. It has a very unexpected plot, and at times is a little horrible. But he is definitely a really good writer – that much is certain. 
  • Ants really are persistent blighters. Gangs of them keep breaking into the wardrobe where I have my pringles and drinks stashed. They can’t get into the pringles tube or bottles, but they just keep coming. Fortunately, so does the cleaner with her ant spray.
  • I’m off cycling tomorrow morning with a group from the bike rental shop. I hope it goes well. I’m not used to cycling with a group, and it’s entirely possible that I’m not up to it. I guess I’ll soon find out.

An unexpected night out

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I’m still on holiday, in Majorca. One day, as I aimlessly wandered around exploring the resort, I came upon a poster advertising the Pollensa Music Festival. And unexpectedly, I recognised one of the groups performing – the Swingle Singers. 

Although you may not know the name, their work is heard in many an odd place, for example in Glee. singing all the a capella bits. They’ve also been heard in the odd advert and pop tune. Their sound is quite distinctive – a capella means they use no musical instruments at all, and even their drum sounds are done by beatboxing. I think it’s a great sound.

So I managed to get myself a ticket, and then managed to get myself to the venue (no thanks to the local bus company). And what a great night!

The concert was in the Convert of Santa Domingo, in an open courtyard – a splendid venue on a warm summer night. And the group were, as expected, brilliant. I’ll admit that sometimes the harmonies go from being beautiful to complicated, or even just very interesting, but nonetheless it’s the best use of 8 voices that I’ve ever heard. Some of it just made the hairs stand on the back of my neck. And other parts just left me grinning. (Their “Flight of the Bumblebee” is just amazing).

If you don’t believe me, check them out on YouTube or google them.

An unexpected, but very splendid night out!

On Holiday!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

So here I am, travelling again. The difference this time is that I chose the destination, and there is no work involved. I’ve done a lot of travelling this year, but this is the first actual holiday, and I have to say I’ve been looking forward to it for a while.

So, I’m in Puerto Pollensa, in the north of Majorca. It’s dark right now, but my balcony faces the sea, which is beautiful and blue. I’m also surrounded on most sides by mountains, which are cool, and the sky has been that amazing deep shade of blue you only get when you are wearing sunglasses on a lovely day.
Things to note so far

  • rum and raisin ice cream is very nice, but I have no idea why rum and raisin is such a well-known combination.
  • tutti frutti is also very good.
  • Radio 4’s Bleak Expectations is a work of comic genius.
  • Motion-X GPS software for the iPhone is very helpful, as it allows you to store a map for offline use. I used it hiking today, and it rocked.
  • I haven’t any sun burn yet, which is excellent news.
  • I finished my first book today, and Alistair Reynolds is a really good writer.
  • The iPhone isn’t ideally suited to this blogging site. It does work, just not quite as intended. But I’ll just be happy it works.
  • It’s really, really, really good to be away from work.

Holiday Stuff – Cycling

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I had a good holiday for cycling. One of the local bike hire shops was doing basic mountain bikes for 3 days for 25 Euros, which seemed like a good deal to me.

So on my first day with my bike, I cycled along the coastal path down to Papagayo, the beach at the left end of the resort. It was trickier than I expected, since I ran out of path, and then ran out of road and had to go cross-country. Then that got decidedly steep, so I ended up back-tracking my way back onto the road again, to make a longer but safer way down to the beach.

Once I got to the beach, I realised I didn’t actually have any beach stuff with me admired the view, then turning around and cycling off.

The next day, I cycled the coastal path in the opposite direction, to the other end of the resort, where the lighthouse was. My poor bike is almost invisible beside the lighthouse, but it is there, chained to the gate. That day I also cycled to the bottom of the local volcano, locked the bike to a gate, and then climbed the volcano. Maybe more on that some other day. It was a quite awesome volcano. Though I was quite surprised to find that my resort was equipped with a  volcano.

On the third and final day of my hire, I decided to push the boat out, and go for a proper cycle. I think it was probably about 30 or 40 kms, out of town, then along the coast, finishing up at El Golfo. Lanzarote is a volanic island, and it’s an amazing place to cycle through – parts of it are just so desolate – nothing but lifeless looking black rock for miles. I know that probably sounds quite dull, but it’s so unusual that it’s very interesting. Especially at the sea, where the black of the rock contrasts with the blue of the sea.

So, having enjoyed that cycle, I went back to the bike shop a few days later, and hired a road bike, to  do a bit more cycling. This is where the troubles began, naturally. The picture shows the nice Bianchi road bike just outside Puerto Del Carmen, which is a couple of resorts along from where I was staying. What you can’t tell from this picture is that the chain had come off twice by this point. It came off again before I stopped to look at it, and found that one of the links was coming apart. Fortunately, I found another bike place in Puerto Del Carmen, and he tried to fix the link so it looked less like it would come apart. But that didn’t work, and although I nearly made it home, the chain fell apart on me. Fortunately, I was only about 7 km from home by that point. Even better, when I rung the bike shop, they said they would come and pick me up. By pushing the seat down, I was able to Fred-Flinstone the bike another km or two (mostly downhill) by the time he picked me up. He said he’d never had anyone break a chain before. Worse still, he said he’d only put a new chain on the bike 2 weeks before. But it couldn’t possibly have been my fault!!

But anyway, I enjoyed my holiday cycling!

Holiday Dilemmas

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I’ve been packing to go on holiday. Fabulous! But of course it always brings with it its own set of small problems. Like what to bring and what not to bring. I remember a debate between two male friends over whether they could really get by sharing a single hairdryer while away for a weekend. I like to think I’m not just as bad as that, but I have my own problems.

I did some book shopping in preparation for going, and can’t bring myself to leave any of my new books behind, since the last thing I want is to run out of books on holiday, and I don’t know which ones I’ll like most, as it’s a whole set of new authors. So I’ve got my books, some clothes (including ones suitable for eating in the hotel, which specifies long trousers for gentlemen), lots of power supplies and cables for laptop, ipod, camera, blah blah blah.

All of which pretty much fills my travelling rucksack.

But should I bring my cycling gloves and padded shorts? Currently, neither are in, because I don’t think I need them. I can cycle in ordinary shorts, and with bare hands. But I can’t help wondering…

I’ll let y’all know what I decide, and whether I regret it.

Holiday Report #2 – The view

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

So I went to Las Vegas on holiday. Las Vegas has amazing casinos. Really beautiful buildings. And at night there is an unbelievable amount of lights – flashing neon, big TV screens, the works.

All that’s part of the reason I wanted to go there, because I think it’s worth seeing. But equally, I hoped to see a little more of Vegas than the tinsel.

Which is why the view from the top of the Stratosphere tower was so cool. I went up towards dusk, so I would see the daytime view and the nighttime view. And it rocked. Because from up there, the casinos looked cool, but the mountains in the distance (some still with snow on them) were cooler. And all the flashing neon lights rocked, but the moon rising over the mountains was way more impressive. So was the light show of the mountains on the opposite side as they were given a golden halo by the sun setting behind them, while the sky above graduated from blue to black. My cheap camera just couldn’t capture it, so there’s no pictures, but I’m sure your imagination will give you a good view.

So the casinos are impressive, but nature is awesome.

Holiday report #1 – Seize the day!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Las Vegas is widely acknowledged to be a place that’s sore on the legs, as the main strip is pretty long, so there’s a lot of walking about. I wasn’t even staying on the strip, but I like walking, so I was quite happy to walk down to the strip from my hotel. Until the day I passed the pawn shop and saw a nice bike for sale for $80. It was red and shiny. The next day, it was still there, so I called in to find out more. The bike would cost $80 to buy, and the pawn shop would take it back for half of that, which would mean I could have my very own bike for $40, for as long as I wanted it. The pawn shop even had a lock and a few helmets for sale.

But I’ve never bought anything from a pawn shop in Las Vegas before (not unexpectedly), and didn’t know how much a conventional bike rental would cost. So I wanted to check it out a bit. It turns out that bike rental is fairly expensive in Las Vegas, so it looked like a good deal after all. And I decided that the shop was probably honest enough.

So the very next day I decided to go buy a bike. And it was gone. It had been sold earlier that morning. I was unimpressed. The other two bikes that they had for sale were both more expensive, but they were unridable – better bikes, but with really, really badly worn tires. I checked out another pawn shop, but they only had even more expensive bikes.

So I had a cycling-free holiday. The moral of the story – seize the day! If I hadn’t hesitated, I’d probably have had a great cycling adventure in a faraway land. But instead, I took a day to think about it, and didn’t.

But having said that, if I had got the bike, I probably would have pootled around a fairly small area, especially since it was pretty warm to cycle in. And I suppose there is a reasonable chance that I would have ended up as a human hood ornament on a big American car. Instead, I hired a big American car myself, and I was able to travel to the mountains on either side of the city, and really enjoyed it.

So the other moral of the story is that things usually work out okay, even if it’s not what you planned.