Tuesday 23 August 2011

Move, Eat, Learn

Have you lately felt like the effects of a travel bug bite might be wearing off? I haven't, but if you have, you should relax for a moment, take a deep breath, make yourself comfortable and watch this short film (part one of a series of three).

I am pretty sure, when you are done, you will feel the urge to pack your bags and go somewhere... and I don't mean the toilet!

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

A few words about this project from the authors:

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films.....

= a trip of a lifetime.

move, eat, learn

These films were commissioned by STA Travel Australia and all music is composed and performed by Kelsey James. The Soundtrack is available on iTunes.
I am pretty sure the author can expect a bunch of downloads!


Wednesday 17 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday: London Tower Bridge at Dusk


Monday 15 August 2011

Prize trip to Corfu

Even though it was one of the top picks for our summer holiday destination last year, I definitely did not plan to visit Greece this summer. As lady luck would have it, I am going there anyway...

One of my friends won a free apartment on the Greek island of Corfu and since this did not comply with her plans, me and M. were more then glad to jump in. An additional surprise was, that it was actually a 6 person prize apartment. After some consultation we are going as a group of friends, simply hoping to have a great time there.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch... As we found out we will have to cover transport expenses by ourselves. The whole thing still seems quite cheap, so this is not a problem.

We have been looking at Greece as our potential vacation destination for some time now. Other islands seemed more suited for us (for instance Kefalonia or Zakynthos), but we just could not afford to skip this chance.

The island of Corfu is one of the most popular European student destinations and partying and clubbing are main events on this island during the summer months.

Greek party destinations of choice are islands of Crete, Mykonos, Corfu and Ios. There are also many travel agencies offering really affordable deals for Greece. The one we are going with is definitely one of them, but is targeting only Slovenian customers.

The last time I was on such a trip it was a trip to Crete. It was a while ago, but we had a great time. I am really curious how it will work out this time. If nothing else now we are a decade older.

Despite everything I am sure we will enjoy the trip to the fullest. You can hope for a bunch of photos and an interesting story or two. Let's get the party started!


Friday 12 August 2011

Will UK riots affect tourism?

I have watched latest UK events in shock. My primary information sources have been: the riots incident map, live blog from The Guardian and a number of independent bloggers and tweeters (like The West Londoner and a Bristol tweeting cyclist).
Events like these seemed unthinkable during my visit to London a couple of months ago. But it has happened anyway and now we will have to deal with it.

Fortunately things seem to be calming down but a strange feeling of something lurking in the dark may still stick around for a while. The question is will this affect tourism and the upcoming London Olympics?
There will definitely be some effect - a number of cancellations have already been noted, but experts do not see a large-scale drop of tourist visits as a likely consequence. The UK's tourism body VisitBritain stressed that London's violence was taking place away from key visitor attractions, and that transport links were running as normal.
Also "British people won’t be put off from visiting the Olympics in Stratford because a year earlier shop windows were broken in Hackney," said Tom Jenkins, executive director of the ETOA (The European Tour Operators Association). I guess this also applies to foreign visitors - people tend to forget quickly (sometimes even too quickly).

Some UK government responses during these days seemed necessary and other are dangerously close to usual Chinese and Middle Eastern leaders' decisions. I believe David Cameron's latest statement also falls into that category:
"We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," said the UK prime minister.

What is your opinion on this? Do you think the government should have the right to decide about who can use Facebook and Tweeter? Can current circumstances be an excuse to pass something similar to the well known USA Patriot act also in the UK?

I've been thinking lately about the journalist terminology used during latest events in different parts of the World... Can anyone please explain the difference between a Libyan rebel, Syrian protester and a British rioter?

I hope this didn't turn out like another political post. I meant to simply address the link between tourism and latest UK events, but got astray somewhere on the way.
Please forgive me for this... I promise this won't happen... too often.


Thursday 11 August 2011

Visiting London Hyde Park

One of the most popular parks in London is Hyde park. It is one of eight Royal Parks of London.

There are also other things one can do besides walking around and relaxing in the green environment of Hyde park. Many frequent joggers use it as their training grounds. Spread on 142 hectares (350 acres) it offers plenty of space even for the fittest.
There are many organized running events organized within the park with participants coming from all over the world. For instance there was a triathlon (with no entrance fee) held there on 6th and 7th August.

If you are not a sports type of person, you can also use the park to simply enjoy the sun. Whether you do it on a deck chair or on a chosen patch of well kept green grass, is up to you.

For those who enjoy great views there is a chance to do it from a 60 metre Giant Observation Wheel at the Bandstand in Serpentine Road. It offers great views of Hyde park and nearby city areas.

If you feel like debating with strangers about topics that interest you or just want to scream at the whole wide world, you should probably stop at the Speakers Corner (located in the north-east corner of the park - on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate, opposite Marble Arch tube).

If you walk north of the park there is a popular area of Notting Hill worth checking out. It was made even more popular by the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
An upcoming event definitely worth visiting in this area is also an annual event called the Notting Hill Carnival, this year taking place on August 28th and 29th.

For those looking for different kinds of challenges, there is also a chance to take part in some casino games nearby. The Grosvenor Victoria Casino (also known as Vic Casino) is located on Edgware Road just north of Hyde Park.
This casino is literary a historical landmark for poker players. Almost every top poker professional in the UK has found their way there.

To us the park served as a meeting point with some old friends living nearby. We entered the park on the exact opposite side of our meeting point on purpose. This allowed us to enjoy a walk through the entire park, relax, take some photos and watch people walk by. It was fun and would strongly recommend it as a convenient getaway from the city's hustle and bustle.
We will definitely visit it again - if possible we will try to adjust our visit to one of the frequent sports events held there. Can hardly wait to do it.

I just hope these recent horrible events in London do not last much longer. It is frightening to watch the devastation on the news every day.


Monday 8 August 2011

London Parks

According to Wikipedia The Greater London Urban Area is the second largest in the EU with a population of over 8 million, while London's metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 and 14 million.
For a city of this size, London has a surprisingly large amount of green areas. Most of them belong to many parks.

The largest group of London parks is The Royal Parks, this year celebrating 160 years of existence.
There are 8 parks included in this largest group, together covering almost 2,000 hectares of ground. The Royal Parks of London are lands originally owned by the UK monarchy. They used them for recreation (mostly hunting) of the royal family. There are public rights of way across the land but public access still depends on the grace and favour of the Crown. A typical British concept, if you ask me.

Royal Parks of London include the following 8 parks:

  • Bushy Park,

  • Green Park,

  • Greenwich Park,

  • Hyde Park,

  • Kensington Gardens,

  • Regent's Park,

  • Richmond Park,

  • St. James's Park.

Each one of the listed parks has something special to offer. Let me mention just a few highlights:
  • Hyde Park seems to be the most popular due to its location and many events taking place there,

  • Green Park can also get pretty crowded due to the vicinity of Buckingham Palace,

  • the north side of Regent's Park is where the London Zoo is located,

  • Richmond Park is so huge there are deer roaming around free.

Apart from those mentioned above there are also many other parks and green spaces located in the London area. Many are well worth visiting, so I suggest you do your research while planning your trip to London.

During a recent visit to London I had time to visit a few of the mentioned parks. Additional information regarding the most prominent and famous of London parks - London Hyde Park and its surroundings will be introduced in one of my upcoming posts.


Thursday 4 August 2011

Google+ invites available

I have recently tried out a new communication channel provided by Google. It also provides support for mobile devices, allowing you to stay in touch with your social circles at all times. It is quite a useful tool for travellers like me, being on the road a lot.
You have probably heard at least something about it - everybody is talking about this new social network. Google+ is Google's latest attempt to face-off Facebook. Company's other recent tries in this field have been only partially successful.
gTalk was widely accepted as a part of Gmail, but has never grown into a serious competition for Skype.
Google Buzz (and Google Wave before it) was also announced as a revolutionary communication platform, but has never really picked up.

With Google+ Google is trying to finally make a breakthrough in the field of social networks. It is still too early to predict their success but the introduction phase of the product was done brilliantly. In just under 3 weeks Google+ adopted over 10 million users - at the moment there are already more then 20 million. That definitely is something worth bragging about, but it is still not all that much compared to Facebook's 750 million current users.

However stunning this might be, it is still just the first battle won in a long war against Facebook.
Will this prove to be the Facebook killer Google is looking for? I think it is still early in the game to say something like that... in my opinion Facebook is not leaving anytime soon.

If you haven't tried it out yet, all this hype should be a reason for at least some curiosity. If you are looking for an invite for Google+ it is your lucky day!

Invites are reserved for my readers only. If you haven't done it already, you should join other followers of Travel Photo Blogging through Google Friend Connect (slide to the bottom of page) or follow us using your favourite social network (top right).
After you have done that, you simply leave a comment to this post and I will send you an invite as soon as possible.

A free bonus after receiving an invite from me is that you can also add me to one of your social circles and we can test this thing together.


Monday 1 August 2011

British Museum eyeOpener Tours

British museum is one of many London museums with free admission. It would be worth visiting it even if it wasn't free of charge.

It houses artefacts from all periods and from all over the world. Even if you think of its collection as a heap of stolen goods by the British empire, it is still worth taking a peek.

The museum holds a total of around 6,000,000 artefacts. This is a number hard to imagine, but when you spend a day or two in this institution and fruitlessly try to see everything on display you begin to understand the scale of things... there are less then one percent of artefacts on display at any given moment!

If this is not enough to convince you into visiting, there is more free stuff to make you change your mind.
There are short eyeOpener tours introducing different areas of the Museum's collection, led by volunteer guides. No booking is required. You can read more about it here.
I took advantage of this and really enjoyed seeing a couple of sections with a super nice and knowledgeable guide. I highly recommend you take advantage of this.

In addition to all that you can also take part in Hands on sessions, where you can take a close look and even touch some of the ancient artefacts. This was a first time for me to actually hold a real stone arrowhead in my hand.
Things presented were not just some copies but real stuff! How cool is that? I guess you have to be a bit of a history buff to really appreciate this, but along with great explanation from the staff this was a really great experience.

So do yourself a favour and reserve at least an afternoon within your London trip for a visit to this gem of a museum.

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