Monday, December 31, 2012

The Never Ending Vacation Continues

I write this on New Years Eve from what has become a regular house sitting visit to Melbourne, Australia. This is the fourth house sit for the same owners in as many years, and I have begun looking forward to my stay in the city as I explore its numerous alleys and cultural institutions (and bookshops), more and more. Here in no particular order are my favorite Melbourne haunts - places I return to again and again on each visit.

The National Galley of Victoria
Each year I return to the National Galley of Victoria to take in the latest exhibition, and to reacquaint myself with the permanent works of art on display there. However, like all major museums and galleries, the NGV pulls works out of storage and returns some of the items currently on show back to their storage vaults, so visitors never see exactly the same artists or work on return visits.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image
I wrote about the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) after my first visit there in January 2010, so I won't repeat myself again. Suffice to say, that I always enjoy returning to the Centre, not least because there is an excellent cinema complex on site, showing an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary movies.

Federation Square
The heart of Melbourne's revitalized downtown area, Federation Square features live music and arts performances on a regular basis throughout the summer months, and the giant outdoor screen is used for a variety of live broadcasts including tennis, Australian Rules Football, the Grand Prix, and numerous other events. Oh, and both the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and the National Gallery of Victoria are part of this massive complex.

Melbourne Museum
Completed in 2001, and located in the Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, and "provides a place for education, history, culture and society to engage with each other in a contemporary setting". The museum has seven main galleries, including a Children's Gallery and temporary exhibit space. Along with a couple of theatres, the museum is also home of the city's IMAX Theatre.

Queen Victoria Market
The QVM is a Melbourne institution covering several city blocks. There are hundreds of stalls selling everything from tea to T-shirts, exotic soaps, faux aboriginal trinkets, CDs and DVDs, and so much more. A section of the market is devoted to fresh fruit and vegetables, and the indoor food and delicatessen departments are a gourmands delight.

Arts Centre Melbourne
While I have never been to the Arts Centre to catch a performance in any of its venues, I have made a point of visiting to see free exhibitions that take place over the summer inside the main building. Over the past couple of years I have seen the raucous AC/DC exhibition and the wonderful Reg Livermore Take A Bow exhibition which I wrote about in an earlier post. I don't know who or what the current free exhibits feature but I am looking forward to checking them out as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Top iPad Apps: Part 2


The story so far… In two previous posts, I wrote about travelling across America with my iPad 2, and listed my favourite apps in terms of their usefulness in part one of this series. Now read on…

Maps (the original Google app)
Ah, maps. I wrote recently about just one of the problems facing the new Apple Maps app, and I won’t repeat myself here. However, it is pretty much impossible to travel anywhere, let alone on an extended journey, and not refer to a map of some type. Thankfully, I was able to use Google Maps throughout my trip before the app was dropped from the latest iOS6 upgrade, a fact I am very grateful for.

Since I was travelling without a car, and by necessity had to make I use of public transport in the cities I visited, Google Maps was indispensable for pointing me in the right direction, and for working out which buses or subway routes would get me to my destination in the shortest possible time. And because I didn’t have a permanent WiFi connection, one of the iPad functions I made regular use of, was the ability to capture screen shots (when I was online), of street maps and any city neighbourhoods I wanted to explore. These were stored in folders for offline referral. Once I moved on from the city I was visiting, I would delete the maps to make space for new ones.

The TripAdvisor app provides access to more than 75 million reviews and opinions by travellers in every corner of the planet. TripAdvisor makes it easy to find and compare car hire and airfares, hotels and restaurants, and learn about galleries, museums, and other attractions wherever you might be visiting. I have added my own modest hotel reviews, and reviews for some of the places I visited, but there are many more I can – and should – add. The app is ideal for searching out last minute places to visit while on the road, but of course, one should have conducted this type of research well before arrival in some far-flung location.

Screenshot of the Choice Hotels iPad app.
I stayed in eight hotels during my last trip, but it wasn’t until I was at my third hotel that I remembered that on a previous round the world trip in 2010, I had signed up with the Choice Hotels group of companies to try and take advantage of their rewards program.

iPad in hand, I checked the apps store and found the Choice Hotels application which made searching for, and comparing the more than 6,000 hotels within the group very easy and convenient.

I spent almost five weeks in various Choice Hotels racking up more than 20,000 reward points – which I have yet to redeem – and for which I will eventually add reviews on this blog. I loved having the ability to filter and sort hotel search results by price and location (see screenshot); book hotels from within the app, and even cancel reservations if needed. You can also view hotel details, amenities and photo galleries, and find various points of interests in map view along with hotel search results

Facebook
I think it is fair to say that Facebook has become the de facto website for keeping in touch with friends and family members at home, or elsewhere in the world, whether or not you are travelling. The iPad app is constantly being improved and is easy to use. Uploading trip photographs and adding messages is a breeze, and as much as I have ongoing concerns about privacy issues with Facebook, it is still probably the best way (apart from mass emailings) to keep in touch with a large number of people with the least amount of effort.

Skype
Millions of people around the world have signed on to Skype, the company that has helped revolutionize the online phone business. The Skype iPad app allows users to make free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype – providing both callers have Skype accounts. Even calling family or friends via Skype’s pre-paid service is much cheaper than using your mobile/cell phone company’s global roaming service. Or global rorting, as I like to call it. Just add a few dollars of Skype Credit to your account and away you go.

World Clock
I stopped wearing a watch when I first bought my by now ancient iPhone 3GS. Since the phone was rarely out of my hands, I made regular use of the device’s Clock app, thereby allowing me to leave my watch unused. For some unexplainable reason, Apple chose not to include the Clock app on the new iPad’s (a mistake that has now been rectified), which of course gave app designers around the world a chance to fill the gap with clock apps of their own design. World Clock has become one of the most popular of these apps, and I found it to be perfect for keeping tabs on time shifts as I travelled across America, and for keeping in touch with family members in Greece and Australia. Now that I am back in Adelaide, the app is just as useful for checking the time in Tucson (Arizona,) New York City, Athens (Greece), and elsewhere.

And last, but by no means least. Since All work and no play, makes Jack (or Jim) a dull boy, my game of choice was, and still remains Backgammon. I have a love/hate relationship with this game: I love it when I win, and I hate it when I lose. Either way, it is endlessly challenging, and the version I have seems to be one of the better Backgammon apps around, although it does have its idiosyncrasies.


I also had a bunch of apps which many travel sites often recommend. These included TripIt, Evernote, Priceline, Urbanspoon and Yelp. However, I made no use at all of these apps during my travels.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Top iPad Apps: Part 1

Apple’s Pages app. Image courtesy of Apple.com

In a previous post, I wrote about my experiences travelling across America with my iPad 2. Today, I thought I would write about my top iPad apps. That is, the apps I used most during my trip.

Camera
What is a vacation without photographs to remember it by? I must say while I was quite happy with the quality of the video footage obtainable via the iPad’s built-in camera, as a stand alone device for taking photographs it is basic to the point of useless.

In the end I alternated between using my digital camera and the iPad for shooting video, but used my digital camera for photographs. While I agree that neither a digital camera or the iPad are ideal for shooting video, I had no intention of carrying yet more weight across America in the shape of a digital camcorder. After all, I am not a documentary film maker! I just wanted to be able to record some scenes and vistas that would complement my photographs and memory.

Pages/Numbers
Both Pages and Numbers are two more very useful Apple apps that enabled me to maintain a daily trip journal (on Pages), and spreadsheets (using Numbers) to keep track of my expenses and ongoing costs. This was essential since I was travelling on a limited budget of around AU$1,000 per week. Documents in Pages (see image at the top of this post) can include photographs, videos and many other elements. Of course, you can email, or export both Pages and Numbers files to any email address or online backup service for retrieval later. Both apps cost AU$10.49 each.

iPhoto/iMovie
Once I had taken my photographs and video footage, I wanted to edit and enhance both before uploading the finished work to either Facebook or YouTube. I downloaded both of Apple’s excellent iPhoto and iMovie apps (AU$5.49 each), and within minutes I was able to edit and put together several short films and upload them to YouTube. The following clip was filmed and edited using only the iPad and iMovie. The footage shows scenes from the National September 11 Memorial.
...


Goodreader
Goodreader, AU$5.49 in the app store, is described as a “…super-robust PDF reader for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.” Further; “With GoodReader on your iPad/iPhone, you can read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, maps, pictures.” And so it proved. I had a number of PDFs and Word docs on my laptop which I wanted to be able to make use of during my trip, and Goodreader imported them without issue and made them available with a couple of quick taps and swipes.

iBooks
An important factor in my decision to buy the iPad was the ability to download and read books on the device. Currently, I have over two hundred books available through the iBooks app (included with all iPads), most of which I have downloaded for free from that great repository of public domain books, Gutenberg.Org. I don’t know if I will ever get to read everything I have downloaded, but no matter, I love having these books, and those that I have bought via the Apple store at my fingertips.

Safari/Google
Where would we be without the modern web browser? Both these apps are indispensable. Safari is preinstalled on the iPad, and the Google app is available free from the Apple app store. ‘Nuff said.

That will do for now. In a follow up post I will write about a number of other apps (Maps, TripAdvisor, Choice Hotels, Facebook, Skype, and World Clock), which also proved to be invaluable during my trip.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Have iPad – Will Travel


Just before my last trip, I made a decision to leave my heavy 15 inch Toshiba laptop behind. I simply could not be bothered dragging along the extra weight and other bits and pieces, such as the power pack, cables, and back up drive, etc. I did that in 2010 with my small Sony VAIO laptop (which finally gave out while I was in Greece), and that was bad enough. So this time I thought I’d at least try travelling lighter, and bought myself a pre-trip gift – a 64 gigabyte iPad 2 for AU$578.00.

One major drawback I had with the iPad was the fact that it was not SIM card enabled. This meant I could only make use of free WiFi hotspots whenever I needed to go online for any reason, and of course, when you are travelling, there are always reasons to be going online. However, since I knew that I would have access to WiFi in the New York apartment I was staying in, and also access in the numerous hotels I would be staying in, I figured that with some forethought and planning, the lack of access to WiFi at other times would not be a major issue.

I also knew that many businesses and government departments in America, seem to have recognized that providing free Internet access is good public policy. This meant that with minimal inconvenience I could get online at any number of Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other such establishments, as well as public libraries, city squares and parks (Bryant Park in New York City, especially), and many other areas of Manhattan.

As time went on, one other aspect of the tablet turned into something of an annoyance – I am a reasonably good touch typist, but no matter how I tried, I just could not get used to the iPad’s virtual keyboard. Eventually, like many other iPad users, I got around this issue by buying a separate Bluetooth keyboard which made writing my trip journal much easier and quicker. I eventually chose a Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Removable Keyboard which comes in a case with a built-in iPad stand.

Apart from the Bluetooth keyboard, one other small piece of equipment became indispensable throughout the trip. This was the iPad Camera Connection Kit. The kit enabled me to transfer images from my camera’s SD Card on to the iPad. I had initially planned to use the iPad as a back up device, hence the need to transfer images and video from my camera to the tablet.

It has always been axiomatic, that when it comes to technology, one should always purchase the largest capacity hard drive, storage device, SD Card – or similar, because you can be sure you will eventually need that extra capacity. And so it proved early into my trip. Despite having bought the largest capacity iPad available, it soon became apparent that I would run out of space on the iPad if I transferred all my images and video clips to the unit.

In the end, I decided to purchase extra SD cards for my digital camera, and only transfer images and video to the iPad in order to work on them before uploading them to Facebook or YouTube. That way, if I had to delete files from the iPad, I still had the original untouched files on the SD cards, and ‘enhanced’ files online. Of course, I also used the iPad’s built in camera to shoot video as well as my other camera, which also ate into the free storage space on the device.

Let me tell you, dear reader, that despite those few drawbacks, my iPad turned out to be the best pre-trip gift I have ever given myself, and it continues to give me hours of pleasure now that I am back home. I purchased the device eight weeks before my departure for America, which gave me more than enough time to familiarize myself with its idiosyncrasies and secrets, and plenty of time to research and download a bunch of apps which I thought might prove useful during my three month trip. I will write about the apps I found most useful in a future post.

By the time I take my next overseas trip in 2014, I expect tablet devices will be pretty much everywhere. If you are planning a vacation and you are tossing up between taking a laptop or purchasing a tablet device, my recommendation is to leave the laptop and go with the tablet. The convenience and versatility of the new tablet devices can’t be beaten.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps


Oh, dear. How could Apple get it so wrong? The problems with Apple’s new Maps app just won’t go away. In fact they seem to just go from bad to worse. Just today, Australian police have warned travellers using the Apple Maps app to be very careful about relying on the app to get them safely across this vast, and often unforgiving country.

This latest warning came after a number of travellers got totally lost on cross-country road trips due to the poor directions provided by the Apple Maps application.

A case in point: anyone travelling to the regional Victorian city of Mildura could end up miles from their destination if they use Apple Maps, as the screenshot below indicates. For both this, and the following Google Maps image, I sought directions from my home in Adelaide to Mildura.

Click to view full size
Mildura is shown here as being located somewhere in the middle of either an unnamed National Park, or in the Pink Lakes Conservation Reserve. It isn’t. As it happens, Route 3 in the image above is at least heading in the right direction (for most of the way), as can be seen in this next Google Maps screenshot.

Click to view full size
As can be seen, Apple Maps puts unsuspecting travellers smack dab in the middle of the now correctly named, Murray Sunset National Park. Google Maps also provide a lot more information including numerous highways, the names of country towns, and physical features in the landscape. Of course, as one zooms in to Google Maps, more and more useful information is revealed.

Hopefully, in the above example, people getting lost using the Apple Maps app should be able to find their way out of the National Park without too much trouble – providing other problems (lack of fuel, vehicle breakdown, etc) doesn’t stop them in their tracks. But as I’ve already said, Australia is a vast country, and the landscape, climate, and other factors have combined to trap unsuspecting visitors and locals on isolated roads, bush tracks, and even highways far from help, often leading to the death of more than one lost traveller.

The message the police issued today was clear –travellers embarking on long road trips this summer, should not rely only on the Apple Maps application. They should use a good highway map or atlas, and pay attention to highway signage.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sidewalks Of New York


Last night (for the fifth or sixth time), I watched Sidewalks of New York, the delightful ensemble piece put together by the writer/actor/director, Edward Burns. Released in 2001, and written and directed by Ed Burns, the film is another take on the themes and subject matter covered so well in Sex And The City. However, in Sidewalks Burns is able to seamlessly weave the lives of a number of New York couples into a contemporary examination of the morés and beliefs surrounding sex and relationships in modern society.

The tag line for the film reads: In a city of 8 million people, what are the odds the perfect two will meet? And if the film is anything to go by, the odds are reasonably good.

The principle actors include Rosario Dawson, Heather Graham, David Krumholtz, Brittany Murphy, Stanley Tucci, and Ed Burns himself. Every actor gives a great performance, and even those actors in the more minor roles (Dennis Farina, Nadia Dajani, and Michael Leydon Campbell), play their parts wonderfully.

The plot (thanks to John Reeves and the Internet Movie DataBase) can be summarized thus:

Six New Yorkers have an interrelated series of relationships. TV producer Tommy [Ed Burns], who's just broken up with his girlfriend, has a short relationship with commitment-phobe Maria [Rosario Dawson], who he meets in a video store, and also hooks up with married real-estate agent Annie [Heather Graham], who he meets while apartment hunting. Annie is open to a relationship because her husband, Griffin [Stanley Tucci], is cheating on her, which she slowly comes to realize through talking to her friend/co-worker who's gone through the same thing. Griffin, a 39-year-old dentist, is cheating with 19-year-old waitress Ashley [Brittany Murphy], who he picked up in a park; she realizes she can do better when Ben [David Krumholtz], a hotel doorman and aspiring musician, tries to pick her up, in a belated attempt to recover from his divorce a year ago from schoolteacher Maria (the same Maria from the video store).

I love the naturalistic performances that each of the actors brings to the film, especially that of the late Brittany Murphy. She brings so much vulnerability to her role as the 19 year old Ashley, and this performance (and subsequent film roles), only highlight how much the film world lost with her death on December 20, 2009.

The other key ‘actor’ in this film is New York City itself. Having been to New York on several occasions, I loved being able to relive some of my visits by playing ‘spot the location’, as the film progressed.

Sidewalks of New York was filmed mostly around the Lower East Side and the East Village, with key scenes set in Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston Street; the Housing Works Bookstore Café on Crosby Street; the entrance to the Prince Street subway station; and the now long gone Stingy Lulu’s luncheonette. Another scene takes place in front of the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park. However, I have not been able to locate the video store (assuming it is still open) in which two important scenes are set. And then of course, there are the numerous faux interviews that take place on the sidewalks of New York City.

The film also offers a poignant reminder of what New York City lost on September 11, 2001, as we glimpse the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background of numerous scenes. Apparently, the original film poster, which showed the pre-9/11 New York skyline, was pulled after the terrorist attacks.

If have yet to see Sidewalks Of New York head down to your local video/DVD store, or download it from NetFlix or wherever, and take a look at it. I hope you love it as much as I do.

More Information:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

This Reading Life



Is it possible for me to motivate myself to start writing again for this blog? I seem to have lost all enthusiasm for the task, but have instead rediscovered my love of reading. Like most book lovers, I have more than one book under way at any one time.

As of this moment, I am part way through the eBook version of Rolling Stone Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. My current toilet reader (everyone has a toilet reader, don’t they?) is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And finally I am also reading Eric Moffatt’s 1983 collection of essays examining aspects of American culture: Blood On The Nash Ambassador.

In the past month or so since my return from travelling, I have completed the first two volumes of Robert Green Ingersoll’s Works of Robert G. Ingersoll (of which there are twelve volumes). These are available as free eBook downloads via the Gutenberg website. I have also read Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace; Jim Rasenberger’s High Steel; and Thunderstruck, by Eric Larson – all in their eBook versions. And finally, I finished reading The Alienist, by Caleb Carr, a book I started reading before I left for my trip at the end of July. Oh, that reminds me – I am also about half way through Edward Rutherford’s work of historical fiction, New York, another eBook begun back in July.

And they are just the books I have read or am currently reading. If I add to these a growing list of online sites I monitor on a daily basis: New York Magazine; The Huffington Post; Daytonian In Manhattan; amNY; and numerous others, then quite frankly, I really have not allowed myself time to write anything on a regular basis for this blog. And yet…

And yet, here I am, taking time out from all the reading to write this. So maybe the fire has not completely gone out. Something keeps drawing me back to the blog, but that has not been enough to get me to sit down and write. And yet…

To my amazement, the visitor numbers to The Compleat Traveller continue to rise, and despite my tardiness, those numbers have topped one hundred thousand visits, which leaves me gob smacked. I am left to assume that visitors are searching for information that continues to draw them to the site, and hopefully, the information and entries they find here continue to be relevant months after I have written them. Hopefully.

Anyway, enough of this pontificating and soul searching. I am still here. Still writing (if this post is any indication), and still waiting for the Muse to return from her extended break to inspire and motivate me again to write. In the mean time, I have a pile of books to attend to.

More Information:
Gutenberg.Org…
New York Magazine…
The Huffington Post…
Daytonian In Manhattan…
amNY…

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Joy of Travel

Now that I am slowly readjusting to life back in Adelaide, I am beginning to process the experiences and encounters I made during my latest three month American trip (July 30-October 22, 2012). Generally, it is only after some time and distance has inserted itself between the travel and the homecoming that I am really able to fully appreciate and reflect on the events, encounters and experiences I had while on the road.

While family members and friends are becoming used to my long absences, some are still amazed by my extended solo journeys, and what appears to be my ability to pass through ‘alien’ territory without harm or hindrance. I hasten to add, that America is hardly alien territory for me, since it has always been a part of my life in some way through the medium of television, movies, books, music, and other forms of popular culture. However, there is a big difference between absorbing American culture from the comfort and safety of a home in Australia, and experiencing it first hand.

I am delighted to report that once again I can honestly say that I did not encounter one threat or dangerous situation during this or my two previous visits to the United States. And this, despite a seemingly endless series of media headlines that trumpet the latest mass shootings, hurricane, tornado, or other major disaster – man made or otherwise that seems to infect America. On the contrary, I met people from many walks of life, and all have been friendly, interested in my journey, and very welcoming, even to the point of offering to host me in their homes if my path took me to the city or town they resided in.

My latest trip took me by road and rail from New York City to Lancaster and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and thence to Washington, DC., Savannah, Georgia, New Orleans, Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona, and finally to Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to enjoy extended stays of three weeks each in New York City and Tucson, and shorter stays of ten days in Savannah, and around five days each in New Orleans, Washington, DC., and Lancaster/Harrisburg.

Once again I travelled by Greyhound Bus, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the relative luxury of long distance train travel via the Amtrak Rail network. I say ‘relative luxury’ because my budget did not stretch to the full luxury of a sleeper compartment. Never the less, compared to bus and air travel, I very quickly came to appreciate the luxury of extra leg room, restaurant cars, observation decks, and the ability to walk pretty much unhindered up and down the length of the train.

I will have more to say about all the above in due course, but for now – it’s good to be home again. While I hope to be house sitting again in Melbourne early in the new year, I suspect I will be staying close to home for the next twelve to eighteen months before heading off again for yet another extended journey to… well, I won’t get ahead of myself. A lot can happen between now and then, but whatever happens, I hope I never lose the joy of travel. See you down the road.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jetlagged and Muddleheaded

Click image to view larger size


So here I am, still jetlagged and feeling muddleheaded, adjusting once again to being back in Adelaide, Australia after my latest three month extended travels through America.

The route map above, plots out my trip from New York City to Los Angeles, California, although the map doesn’t show my day trips out of Flagstaff, Arizona, from where I headed out each day in my hire car to the Grand Canyon (twice), Sedona and environs, and up to Monument Valley, Utah.

This completes my third visit to the United States in six years, and I’m delighted to say that once again, I had a great trip, during which I met many friendly locals, and spent more time in hotels than I have ever had the dubious pleasure of doing so before now. However, just to be clear, I did not drive myself across America. The route outlined above was shared between several Greyhound Bus rides, and what is left of the great Amtrak rail network, as well as the afore mentioned car hire.

Over the coming weeks and months I will begin to process the encounters, the highlights (and low-lights), and the hotel stays, and try to encapsulate my experiences via this blog. I have thousands of photographs to sort through, discard or enhance and utilise here, and more hours of video footage than I can ever hope to examine, edit, shape and put to good use in some way, shape or form. But what’s a traveller to do? The answer I guess, is to take each story as it comes and try to extract the heart out of each experience, and write about it in a way that will be of interest and use to readers who stumble on this blog.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Bitter End, Again



I have written about the famous New York music venue, The Bitter End before, and somehow I think I will write about it again and again. I visited the venue on the night of Sunday, August 12, 2012 during my third visit to New York City.

The club has become a firm favourite of mine, and I know I will continue to visit on any future trips to New York. My top Bitter End night continues to be the fortnightly Sunday night Bitter End All Star Jams. Mark Greenberg, the drummer for the house band, and co-ordinator of the night manages to pull together a great mixed gig featuring some of the best musicians you are likely to see anywhere.

While my favourite house band line up (consisting of Mark on drums, Brett Bass on bass, and Dave Fields on lead guitar and vocals) were not present - apart from Mark of course, an equally great line up consisted of Bat-Or Kalo on lead guitar/vocals, and Tony Tino on bass.

I had never heard of Bat-Or Kalo before Sunday night, but I was mightily impressed by her guitar playing skills and with the passion and enthusiasm she put into her performance. Talking with her at the end of the night, I was delighted to learn that she currently has a Kickstarter campaign underway to raise money for her second album. I have also written about Kickstarter before, so I won't repeat myself here. Suffice to say that I have jumped onboard the project by pledging financial support, and I am confident she will reach her target and I will have the pleasure of receiving her album in the not too distant future.

As always, I took my camera along and recorded Kalo, Mark Greenberg and Tony Tino during the night. Below you can see the trio performing the song, Dear John.

Enjoy.



More Information 
The Bitter End...
Bat-or Kalo...  
Mark Greenberg...
Kickstarter...

More Videos 
Bitter End Jam...  
You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)... 
A Winner Never Quits...
Money... 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back in the USA

5:00am: Arrived as scheduled at JFK after an overnight flight from Los Angeles. By the time I got out of the plane and the terminal and onto an 'A' train, it was almost 6am. Just over an hour later the train pulled into the 181st Street station, and I was walking 'home' like I had never left. It was a great feeling, and it was all I could do to suppress an open smile. Let me tell you though, smiling openly on a 6am 'A' train full of sleepy New Yorkers heading into Manhattan for the start of the working day is probably not a good idea.


Yes, dear reader, I am finally back on the road and again visiting New York City during August, before taking an extended jaunt across other parts of the country.

After making sure I could log on to the wifi service, and checking emails, and Facebook messages, I headed out for breakfast at the little Greek owned diner around the corner in 187th Street. From there I went for a walk into Fort Tryon Park for an hour or so, which seemed like an appropriate thing to do on my first day back in New York. After all, my last activity on my final night in New York City back in 2010, was an evening walk in the same park.

I have prebooked a number of activities already, including a Hidden Harbor tour of the North River, a Roller Derby double-header at Coney Island, a major league baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers, and booked a visit to the National September 11 Memorial. I will be in New York for just over three weeks, and want to make the most of my time here.

It is good to be traveling again (what an understatement!), and it's good to be writing again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Horoscopes and Travel


~ I’ve never been one to pay much attention to horoscopes, or the alignment of the planets and stars, and their supposed influence on daily life. Having said that, for the past couple of months I have been downloading to my iPad, issues of amNewYork, the free week day New York paper. Since I tend to read each issue from cover to cover, I have also been reading the regular horoscope that pertains to my star sign (LIBRA: Sept.23–Oct.22). To my surprise, a large number of the ‘readings’ seem to be indicating that my forthcoming trip to New York City will be taking place under good auspices.

Here is one from last Monday (the 23rd): “Take advantage of this high-energy cycle. Your confidence grows and so does your luck. You can pretty much accomplish anything. Don’t forget to sleep.”

I just love the ‘Don’t forget to sleep’ comment. Actually, that won’t be a big problem for me. At almost 64 years of age, I have long ago learned to forgo the late night raging party for a good night’s sleep - although I have been known to kick on until one or two in the morning if the party is a really good one!

And since I am writing about horoscopes, here is part of Tuesday’s amNewYork horoscope for Librans: “The spotlight is on you. Stick to your fiscal guidelines. Listen and be respectful. Check carefully for plan changes.”

Yes, the spotlight is on me as I get ready to head to New York City once more. I know some members of my family are excited by my trip, and others are concerned for me. Concerned, because once again I am departing for up to three months, on a solo journey that will hopefully take me across America, and maybe even into Canada.

As for ‘stick to fiscal guidelines’, you can be sure I will be doing that. I am on a tight budget, and I will need to monitor my expenses very closely throughout my travels. In fact, I am restricted to a budget of around $1000 per week – or $142/day. That is not a lot of money. There will be times when that money will have to pay for accommodation, food, transport, entertainment and activities, and other daily needs. The only way I can do this is because I am spending three weeks rent free in a New York apartment, and also because I will be visiting and staying with extended family members during my trip.

Then there is the advice to ‘Check carefully for plan changes,’. So far so good though, and I certainly don’t anticipate any major changes to affect my plans at least during for the first few weeks of my trip. Having said that, I have now booked and paid for six or seven events, and any number of things could mess up my plans to attend them. The biggest one being the fickle New York weather. Most of the events I have booked require me to be outdoors. Either on the water (two cruises); two baseball games, and one visit to the National September 11 Memorial.

As all New Yorkers know, the only way to really experience the city is on foot – at street level, and I intend to do a lot of walking around the city. I have mapped out several days for exploratory excursions at Coney Island, Staten Island, Queens, and numerous Manhattan neighbourhoods, all of which could be postponed or even cancelled if the weather demands it. But then that possibility is all part of the joy of travel. I have allowed plenty of ‘free’ time so that I can reschedule some of my plans if needed, but mostly I will just press on regardless and make the most of my time, in arguably the most exciting city on the planet.

I can hardly wait.

Finally, Tuesday’s horoscope also advised Librans to, ‘Listen and be respectful.’

Amen to that. I firmly believe that when I travel, I do so as a guest of the people and country I am visiting. As such, I always try to listen and be respectful whenever I meet and talk to the locals. I am there to listen and learn. To observe and appreciate. And to share in their customs and traditions.

No, I don’t normally pay much attention to horoscopes, but just out of interest, I will keep a watching brief on them over the next few days and weeks, and see how their predictive messages play out in real life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The eBook Revolution


In a previous post, Coming Up For Air, I wrote about my purchase of an iPad 2, and how I was adjusting my book reading habits to reading eBooks via this amazing tablet device. In my Travelling Bookworm entry, I listed all the physical books I had read over a three month period (January-March, 2012), and I've decided to return to the theme here.

Apple iPad and iPhone readers will be familiar with the iBooks app (see image). Although I also have Google's Play Books app, my eBook reader of choice at the moment is iBooks.

As you can see from the lists below, my reading of physical books continued apace during April and May. But following the purchase of my iPad, and the downloading of more than 100 free eBooks (in the ePub format) from the Gutenberg.Org website, my book reading has changed overnight from physical books to eBooks.

Books Read in April
20. Where The Buffalo Roam, by Anne Matthews
21. Dubliners, by James Joyce
22. Oliver Stone: The Making of His Movies, by Chris Salewicz
23. Before The Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730 
24. The End of America, by Naomi Wolf
25. Isaac’s Storm, by Eric Larson
26. The Devil in The White City, by Eric Larson
27. God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens
28 A Genius for Failure: The Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, by Paul O’Keeffe

Books Read in May
29. Shakespeare Never Did This, by Charles Bukowski
30. Provinces of Night, by William Gay
31. The Captain is Out to Lunch…, Charles Bukowski
32. Pulp, Charles Bukowski
33. Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski, by Neeli Cherkovski
34. Ask The Dust, by John Fante
35. Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Charles Bukowski
36. George Lucas: The Making of His Movies, by Chris Salewicz
37. The Dig Tree, by Sarah Murgatroyd
38 Tilt: A Skewed History of The Tower of Pisa, Nicholas Shrady
39 Selected Poems, T.S. Elliot

Books Read in June
40. Report From Engine Co.82, by Dennis Smith

eBooks Read in June
1. Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Washington Irving
2. Greenwich Village, Anne Alice Chapin
3. Henry Hudson, Thomas A. Janvier
4. Botticelli: Masterpieces in Colour, Henry Bryan Binns
5. The Training Of A Forester, Gifford Pinchot 
6. The Story Of Manhattan, Charles Hemstreet
7. Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Osama Bin Laden, Peter Bergen
8. Literary New York, Charles Hemstreet
9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
10. Davy and The Goblin, Charles E. Carryl
11. The Admiral’s Caravan, Charles E. Carryl
12. Nooks and Corners of New York, Charles Hemstreet
13. Journals & Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, 1773-1774

Of the thirteen eBooks listed above, only Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Osama Bin Laden, is a modern publication. All the others were originally published between 80-200 years ago! Since purchasing Manhunt, I have bought three other modern eBook titles, but continue to discover and download other public domain works via Gutenberg.Org.

So how have I found this transition from physical paper-based books to eBooks?

I must say I have surprised myself by how quickly I have taken to reading via the iPad. I love the convenience of having potentially hundreds of books stored on this device. I love too, the ability to highlight interesting passages of text, make notes, search for definitions of words I am unfamiliar with, and enlarge or reduce the size of text as it suits me. I can also do a general online search for individual words or phrases, or search Wikipedia specifically. I can also email notes and highlights to myself - or anyone else - or print them off if I want 'hard copies' of my notes.

The transition was made easier when I realised that it wasn't so much the physical books I was interested in so much as the information contained in the books themselves. Since I am first and foremost interested in the information, it makes sense to have this information close at hand - literally at my fingertips.

The main drawback I am faced with at this time is the sheer volume of eBooks available online - both public domain and commercial releases. As noted, I already have well over a hundred eBooks on my iPad, and keep discovering more that I would love to read, but finding the time to read them is my greatest problem. However, I figure it is a nice problem to have, and I am already learning to curb my initial enthusiasm for collecting a mass of esoteric titles I may never get to read. Mind you, the beauty of discovering public domain eBooks is that they are always available online, and I can always return to download them as the mood takes me.

What do you think of eBooks? Are you a convert? A passionate advocate or a traditional book reader? Feel free to add your thoughts to this topic via the comments box below. Personally, I believe the wave of the future has arrived, and even though I know I will still buy the occasional traditional book, I am firmly committed to 'book' reading via my iPad.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Explore New York City's Newtown Creek

I've written before about the wonderful tours of New York harbor and the environs along the Brooklyn and New Jersey waterfronts: tours organised and run by the New York's, Working Harbor Committee (WHC).

On July 22, the WHC is organising a tour of Brooklyn's Newtown Creek, a body of water that was once the busiest waterway in North America! Not that you would think that today, given the present state of the creek.

The heart of industrial New York, Newtown Creek was home port to hundreds of tugboats (one of which is the historic WO Decker). It was also an international destination for oceangoing ships and a vast intermodal shipping and manufacturing hub that employed hundreds of thousands of people. Forming the border of Brooklyn and Queens for nearly three miles, five great cities grew rich along the Newtown Creek's bulkheads -- Greenpoint, Willamsburg, Bushwick, Long Island City and Manhattan itself. The waterway is still a vital part of the harbor and the Working Harbor Committee (WHC) is presenting this tour as part of the celebration of their tenth anniversary year.

Mitch Waxman, a member of WHC's steering committee and the group's official photographer, also serves with the Newtown Creek Alliance as its group Historian. In addition to working on WHC's boat tours of the Creek, Mitch offers a regular lineup of popular walking tours, and presents a series of well-attended slideshows for political, governmental, antiquarian, historical and school groups. His website chronicles his adventures along the Newtown Creek and in the greater Working Harbor.

Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration

On 22 July, Mitch will share his unique point of view and deep understanding of the past, present and future conditions of the Newtown Creek as the narrator and expedition leader for the Newtown Creek Exploration. Other scheduled speakers are Captain John Doswell of the WHC and special guest speakers from the towing industry and industrial users of the creek.

The tour departs by New York Water Taxi from Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport at 11 a.m. (sharp) for a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek. From the East River the tour will move into the Newtown Creek where participants will explore vast amounts of maritime infrastructure, see many movable bridges and discover the very heart of the Hidden Harbor.

Limited seating is available, and tickets cost $50. New York Water Taxi's have indoor and outdoor seating, and tours run rain or shine.

Unfortunately, I will miss the tour by barely a week since I won't arrive in New York until August 1st. It's a great shame. Having been on other Hidden Harbor tours I know how interesting they are, and for visitors and locals alike, they offer a unique look at aspects of the city that most people never see or experience.

Click here to purchase tickets...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Coming Up For Air

Hard to believe, I suppose, but there it is… my last entry was posted on April 1 (All Fools Day), and despite my best efforts to ignore my blog and devote myself to reading, people have kept visiting this site, and to my amazement (and confusion), I’ve even gained a couple of followers during my self-imposed exile.
I also discovered recently that a blog called Eleni’s Blog in Ikaria recently featured The Compleat Traveller as her blog of the month. In keeping with the focus of her own blog, Eleni has specifically chosen to feature my numerous entries about the Greek island of Ikaria, my ancestral home in the Aegean Sea.
I had hoped to return to Ikaria this year, but I have decided instead to make my third trip to America, so Greece and my island ‘home’ will have to wait for another twelve months or so. Meanwhile, thank you Eleni for the honor, and I commend my readers to Eleni’s Blog in Ikaria and hope you enjoy her writing and mine.

Apple iPad 2
Apart from continuing my reading streak, I bought a 64Gb iPad 2 at the start of June, and I have been discovering its many joys and features ever since. In fact, I am rarely away from it, and amongst other things, I have been testing its potential as an eBook reader. To that end I have downloaded over a hundred free eBooks from that wonderful repository of public domain books at Gutenberg.Org, and already read a dozen of them. I have also bought and read one other book, Peter Bergen’s Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Osama Bin Laden.
I finally made the move to iPad and eBooks after my bookshelf began to fill to capacity, and I realised that I just had to make the transition from physical books to digital reading before my passion for books got totally out of control.
It seems to have worked.
Since purchasing the iPad, I have only bought a couple of physical books and the more I use the device to read, the less I feel the need to buy ‘hard copies’ of the printed word.
Of course, the iPad has many other functions and uses, and I am planning to make it my main digital companion on my forthcoming trip to America. On previous trips I have lugged a heavy laptop around with me, but I am going to see how I can get by with my new purchase. I am hopeful that I can do pretty much everything I will need to do while on the road, and where it does not suffice, I will use internet cafés.
Anyway, I’m alive and well, and looking forward to travelling again, and making the occasional blog post here. Oh, and it’s good to be back. I think.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Travelling Bookworm


I have been consuming books at a great rate over the last three months, which accounts for the lack of entries on this ‘travel’ blog. It also reflects the fact that I haven’t been travelling much over the past year – although I did spend five weeks house sitting in Melbourne during January and February. In fact, my Melbourne stay has been responsible in part for my return to reading. The city has some great second hand bookshops, and on my return to Adelaide, I carried with me a carton of 22 books that I just could not ignore as I trawled through my favourite stores.

I used to have a collection of several thousand books, but five or six years ago I sold my house and have been living in a series of rented accommodations ever since. As a result, I got rid of the bulk of my collection, with the rest packed in boxes, which are in turn stacked in my niece’s shed.

The previous collection of books covered everything from folk music to folk tales, history to fantasy, fiction and non-fiction, politics and art, and much more. Sadly, I never seemed to have time to read most of the books I bought. They just took up space on the bookshelves waiting patiently for the day when I would finally find the time to devote to them. Unfortunately, that time never came.

However, now that I am pretty much retired, I have plenty of time to read, and that is what I have been doing. Most of my new, small, but growing collection of books deals with 17th and 18th century history as it relates to the United States and Europe. I have also become interested (in a very general way) with architecture, art, and philosophy. To lighten my reading list, I try to mix non fiction titles in amongst the serious tomes, and I must say, I have found my renewed enthusiasm for reading quite addictive and of course stimulating and educational.

I can’t imagine why you would be interested, but here for the record is a list of the books I have read to date in 2012:

Books Read in January

1.      At The Edge of a Dream: The Story of Jewish Immigration on New York’s Lower East Side 1880–1920
  1. Imperial City: The Rise and Rise of New York, Geoffrey Moorhouse
  2. The French and Indian War, Walter R. Borneman
  3. Will Rogers, by Ben Yogoda
  4. Winter’s Bone, Daniel Woodrell
  5. To Reach The Clouds, by Phillipe Petit
  6. Bird Cloud: A Memoir, by Annie Proulx

Books Read in February

  1. City Life, by Witold Rybczynski
  2. Architectural Details, by Marcia Reiss
  3. Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy’s Guide, By Joseph Epstein
  4. Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
  5. How The Industrial Revolution Changed The World, by Thomas Crump
  6. All That Follows, by Jim Crace

Books Read in March

  1. The Way West, by A.B. Guthrie
  2. History of Pirates, by Charlotte Montague
  3. Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
  4. Red Silk: The Life of Elliott Johnston QC, by Penelope Debelle
  5. The Potomac, by Frederick Gutheim
  6. An Australian in America, David Dale

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roosevelt Dime


“In these troubled times, everyone needs a Roosevelt Dime”

One of the great things about travel is the chance to discover new music and exciting venues in the cities and countries you pass through. I don’t much go for hanging out in bars and clubs, but music venues, yes.

Friday 13, August 2010 turned out to be a lucky day for me. On that day I was wandering through Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park during my New York City stay when my attention was caught by some of the happiest, liveliest music I had heard in more years than I care to recall. It seemed to be a mix of jazz, old timey music, folk, and that modern musical marketing segment known as Americana.

The group turned out to be Roosevelt Dime, an outfit I had never heard of, but which I immediately fell in love with and became a big fan of. They were in fact, indulging in some good old fashioned audience building. That is, they were out where the people were, playing for them live and for free. They were also promoting that evening’s gig at one of my favourite New York venues, The Bitter End.

Of course, I had to see catch their show. As it happens, I already had a ticket to see another one of my favourite American singer-songwriters, Steve Forbert, who was performing at Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Avenue that same night. However, as soon as that show finished I raced around to the Bitter End, and was delighted to find that Roosevelt Dime had only just taken to the stage.

The band is building its support base, one fan at a time. It is slow, hard work, but Roosevelt Dime seem to in it for the long haul, and know that there are no easy fixes on the road to bigger and more appreciative audiences.


If like me, you like what you hear, buy their music, and support their gigs – especially if you live in New York City and near abouts. Their website lists upcoming gigs in the New York area. Foot tapping fun for everyone is pretty much guaranteed.

"A perpetual crowd-pleaser, Roosevelt Dime often has commuters soulfully stomping their feet in the subway and passersby lindy-hopping in the park."
Tze Chun - The New York Times (June 7, 2010)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Movies - High Steel and Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man

High Steel, by Don Owen, 1965, 13 min 47 sec

High Steel is a short documentary offering a dizzying view of the Mohawk Indians of Kahnawake (pron: Gun-na-wa-ga) who work in Manhattan erecting the steel frames of skyscrapers. Famed for their skill in working with steel, the Mohawks demonstrate their nimble abilities in the sky. As a counterbalance, the viewer is also allowed a peek at their quieter community life on the Kahnawake Reserve, in Quebec.

One of the first construction projects the Kahnawake helped build was the Saint Lawrence Bridge (1886-87) linking Kahnawake to Montreal Island. As Kahnawake men employed as ironworkers and bridgemen worked hundreds of feet above the water and ground, a legend began that the Kahnawake men had no fear of heights.

Over the years, Kahnawake men have continued to be employed as ironworkers in Canada, with many also moving to New York City to work on the city’s skyscrapers. Kahnawake men participated in building the Empire State Building, the World Trade Centre, and other major skyscrapers in New York City, as well as many bridges. This short film examines some of the work and lifestyle of these workers. 

Spudwrench - Kahnawake Man

By Alanis Obomsawin, 1997, 58 min

This documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin introduces us to Randy Horne, another high steel worker from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, near Montreal. As a defender of his people's culture and traditions, he was known as "Spudwrench" during the 1990 Oka crisis (a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Quebec, Canada).

The hour long film presents a unique look behind the barricades at one man's impassioned defence of sacred territory, and is both a portrait of Horne and the generations of daring Mohawk construction workers that have preceded him.


Both films are amongst the hundreds of films available via the National Film Board of Canada website. Another wonderful online resource for all to enjoy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s a Small World After All



How true that heading is. On my way back to Adelaide from Melbourne yesterday, I got talking to a man who was also travelling on his own. We chatted about travel – as one seems to do when one is travelling – and he mentioned visiting Philadelphia some time ago with his wife.

It seems that the bus they were travelling on was delayed on its way to Philly. When they got to the main bus station much later than anticipated, they found that the hotel they had booked to stay in was some “50 miles” out of town, and that the only way to get there was with an expensive taxi ride. Of course, they cancelled that booking, and asked the agent at the bus terminal in Philadelphia if he could recommend a local hotel.

The agent recommended the Comfort Inn. In fact, said he, “they have a courtesy bus which can come and pick you up”. So the bus was called for and away went this couple to the Hotel. The man and his wife were delighted to find they were placed in a room overlooking the Delaware River, with a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

What a coincidence.

This is the same Comfort Inn hotel I stayed in during my Philadelphia visit in 2010, during which I too had a room overlooking the river and the bridge. Of course, I mentioned this to my fellow passenger, and marvelled at the serendipitous nature of travel encounters.

At a subsequent stop (we were not sitting together), we started chatting again. This time we began talking about the bus ride up to that point, and agreed that next time either of us were making the same trip, we would look at catching the train instead of a bus. He mentioned that the train cost only a few dollars more anyway, and had the advantage of letting passengers walk through the carriages, giving them a chance to stretch their legs and move around more freely.

As we were chatting, the thought suddenly occurred to me that the train would pass through Mitcham station on its way into Mile End. Mitcham station is literally a couple of hundred metres from my current address, and I told him this, mentioning that I lived at Mitcham. Well, you could knock me down with a feather. Not only did this man and his wife also live in Mitcham many years ago, but he said, they “used to live in some flats opposite the Mitcham shops.”

“In Wemyss Avenue?” ask I.

“Yes,” says he.

Go ahead. Knock me down with a feather. Because my current address just happens to be one of those apartments in Wemyss Avenue.

I couldn’t believe it, and I’m not sure that he believed me, either. But there you have it. Two complete strangers swapping travel stories during a long bus trip between Melbourne and Adelaide, and we had both stayed in the same hotel in Philadelphia, and in the same apartment complex in Adelaide.

Of course, the dates and apartment/room numbers were different, but just the same – what are the odds of this happening?

It is indeed, a small world.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Movies – Manhattan to Tokyo


A couple of movies combining motion and time lapse footage of Manhattan, and that other great metropolis, Tokyo. These are both from the Blue Eden page on Vimeo.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the people or person behind Blue Eden. The YouTube page was only set up at the beginning of December 2011, and the first Twitter post only went ‘live’ on January 4, 2012, so Blue Eden is definitely the new kid on the block . However, the quality of the three films produced so far, leave no doubt that the ‘kid’ may be new, but s/he certainly knows how to make a good first impression.

The information below is taken from that provided on Blue Eden’s Vimeo page.

Manhattan
A city that glows long after the light has faded. It seems people are always moving in and out of New York in pursuit of dreams. The city comes alive at night, as if unsatisfied to simply sleep. Many of us will leave one day, perhaps when we finally awaken, but those blurry lights continue to inspire long after.

I filmed this over one week in the winter. Scenes include Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central, Wall Street, Met Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and the 9/11 Memorial.

Music: "Circuits" by The American Dollar.

Kyoto
I first visited Tokyo nearly 10 years ago and was swept away by its futuristic society steeped in ancient culture. The beautiful mix of new and old still entrance me today. We hoped to capture that beauty and filmed for 2 weeks in Tokyo and its surrounding areas. As we visited during the New Year, we were lucky to attend the "dezuiri" sumo ring-entering ceremony, which you'll see in the opening shot. We also captured "yumi hajime" (first archery practice of the year) as well as "hatsumode" (first shrine visit of the year) at Asakusa.

Other shots include Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi Hills, Meiji Shrine, Rainbow Bridge at Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Tsukiji fish market, Yokohama, Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, and Nikko world-heritage shrines. Music by Stephen Anderson.



More Information
Blue Eden on Vimeo… 
Blue Eden on Facebook… 
Blue Eden on Twitter…

Also check out Blue Eden’s other Japan film, Kyoto HD "Rising Dawn" Technical information about the making of each video is available on Blue Eden’s Vimeo page. Finally, thanks to Blog Top Sites for bringing this to our attention.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Fotos – Melbourne Images

 

Commit No Nuisance
Now where is the fun in that? I spotted this sign as I wandered through Melbourne’s Chinatown area, and couldn’t resist taking a photo. One has to wonder at just how much of a nuisance visitors have caused to force some authority to feel the need to paint this directly onto the wall. I have no idea if it is successful, or why it appears on this wall and on no another. I have yet to see similar signs elsewhere in Chinatown, or anywhere else around the Melbourne CBD for that matter.



Fireworks Underfoot

On January 29, I headed into the Chinatown section of Melbourne to catch some of the festivities taking place there as part of the Year of The Dragon celebrations. I watched two ceremonies take place at which long strings of fireworks were set off in front of Chinese restaurants, in an age old tradition meant to bring the owners good fortune and much luck throughout the coming year. The carpet of red that you see in this image has been created by the remains of hundreds of exploded fireworks.



Can This Be The Wall…?

Just down the road from the house I am staying in, locals have painted this sign on their house wall. While the sentiments may be admirable, it seems to me that the targets, the ‘coal barons’, are pretty much long gone, although there are probably some still around. Now a days, I suspect the coal barons have moved on to much richer pastures and are busy exploiting other natural resources like coal seam gas, uranium, iron ore and such like.
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