The doors of Brick Lane: London

I enjoyed a weekend in London recently and decided to take a trip to Brick Lane in East London. I’d seen a television programme that week that was all about the history of the East End. I wanted to see it for myself – so went along to explore.

There was street art everywhere I looked. I went snap-happy with my camera and loved every moment. Here are some of the amazing doors I found!

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Which bottle would you choose?

While walking along one of the arty streets in The Hague (Den Haag) my attention was grabbed by a rather interesting window display.

Lots of water bottles were placed randomly throughout the window space, each with a different label.

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Oh which one to drink?

Anyone fancy a swig of ‘sex’? How about some ‘chi’ to calm your inner self?

Which one would you like to try?

Another scary photo

It’s only a couple of days since I posted a scary picture. Here’s another chiller. If you haven’t seen the last then this is worse, so much worse. You’ll never visit Grandma’s house again.

You’ve been warned.

Look at the picture. Just keep looking closely and then you’ll see something you weren’t counting on.

Not one for the kids. That’s unless you never want them to sleep again.

Did you just look over your shoulder?

Here’s the other one – just in case you’re hardcore and love being scared.

Beautiful Bali: Where calm meets chaos.

When you arrive in Bali (at Denpasar airport) there is an immediate feeling that you have stepped back in time. The airport has a 1980s/1990s feel about it. Things just are not as modern here.

Once you have shown passports to security, who are seated by little wooden crates (bizarre I know), you collect your bags and head out. Next you are faced with a row of cubicles (all glassed in) with money exchange workers all frantically waving and smiling to get your attention. It feels as though you’re in a red-light district with ‘ladies-in-the-window’ and is somewhat unnerving. It’s difficult not to stare (or laugh) at the weirdness of it all and so you find yourself quickly dashing along. I managed to avoid being lured in to any of the stares. Phew!

Outside the airport there are streams of taxis everywhere. Luckily we had a pre-arranged minbus transfer arranged to take us from the airport to our villa, but it seemed easy enough for people to flag one down. The carpark is chaos and if that’s anything to judge Bali by…..it gets busier. The road from the airport to Seminyak (normally 20 minutes drive) was packed and the journey took over an hour.

Seminyak is one of Bali’s hotspots. Located on the south of the island, by Denpasar (the island’s capital), Seminyak boasts a huge number of private villas, restaurants and bars. It draws in tourists from all over the world, but in particular Australians (many of whom are enjoying their hen-weekends or stag-dos).

So many of Bali’s visitors stay in private villas. I can see why. Behind the doors, away from the chaos of traffic and tourists passing by is a tranquil and harmonius villa. Inside the villa, my eyes quickly did the dream-holiday-checklist. Pool. Open-space. Lounge. Kitchen (I don’t plan on using it, but still….). Bedroom one (huge). En-suite (love it). Bedroom two (also huge). Another en-suite. Decking around the pool. Water feature. My eyes at this stage are flashing from one place to another. I’m greedily taking it all in. Heaven.

Staying in a villa in Bali can be a dangerous move. It’s not life threatening. It’s culturally dangerous. You might become so relaxed and ‘chilled-out’ behind the closed doors that you end up spending your time there instead of exploring. Don’t be too chilled. You must explore.

The nightlife in Seminyak is mixed. It doesn’t have the feel of a stag-do and hen-do holiday destination. It’s not like Blackpool (UK) or Amsterdam (Holland)….. or anywhere else that you find pre-wedding groups drinking their last moments of freedom away. It all seems slightly more classy here in Bali. There are security guards EVERYWHERE. Do not panic. They stand at the road side by every villa, bar and restaurant. If anything you feel safe with them all around, but I did wonder whether they were security or hotel staff (the strict uniform can be quite deceiving). They all carry lightsabers which I found very amusing. Not quite up to the standard and length of Darth Vader, although they still light up red and look great fun at night.

A day trip is a must. Taking a taxi for the entire day is easy and innexpensive in Bali. The staff wherever you stay are more than likely to assist in the arrangement. Our three butlers were brilliant at helping to organise our days. The service is always at its best. The taxi ride is a mouth-opening, extreme sight-seeing and epic journey. The roads are crazy. Busy. Packed……

There are cars. Bicycles. Motorbikes. Mopeds…… For every car there are about 10 mopeds zooming beside you. Think mayhem. Controlled mayhem, although I wouldn’t dare get on a moped in Seminyak.

Next, you see what they are carrying. We’re talking full loads. Mopeds with 4 passengers (oh, plus the driver)…..and one of the passengers is carrying a adult-sized bike on the back. It’s crazy!

Along the road side there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of shops selling wooden carvings, stone work, mosaic bowls, kites and more….and more…..and more. The shops repeat and repeat and repeat themselves along the longest straightest road. My poor camera.

There are lots of hot spots to visit. We choose to visit Ubud with the rice fields. If you have never visited places like this (like me) then all expectations are blown out of the water. The rice fields were great! I wasn’t expecting the slopes to be quite so steep. The driver let us wander and explore. We sat by the edge of the rice fields and had something local to eat. Yum.

The journey back was just as interesting – more shops and sights to see.

In Bali, aside from the wonderful Ubud and the shops we also ventured along the coast. The sandy beaches are beautiful. Palm trees line the coast and add to the holiday feel.

Bali. Simply brilliant.

The John Lennon Wall: Prague

Visitors at the Lennon Wall.

One of the most surprising places to visit in Prague is the John Lennon Wall – sometimes known as the Lennon Wall or the John Lennon Peace Wall. If you ever get the chance to go to Prague, don’t miss the opportunity to spend a few minutes here. It’s very close to the Charles Bridge.

Here I am at the Lennon Wall.

It is a colourful, ever-changing, graffiti-covered wall that really captures the eye and the imagination. I was lucky enough to have read about the wall in my Everyman MapGuide prior to arriving in Prague – I was so glad that I did read about it.

A tribute to the Beatles.

Situated on Velkopřevoské Square, the wall stretches approximately 20 metres. The original portrait of Lennon is long gone now, lost under layers and layers of spray-paint. Over the years, visitors continue to add lyrics from Beatles tracks, message of love and peace and their own names. I spent quite some time reading the things written. I could have spent a lot longer there – every time I looked I noticed something else.

Lennon? Why John Lennon? He wasn’t from the Czech Republic, so you would be forgiven for being confused. I was confused too.

A new portrait of John Lennon (but for how long?)

Well, the answer to that is that Lennon was a symbol of peace and a hero to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe during the totalitarian era. Before 1989 there was a ban on western pop music, especially songs by Lennon, which praised freedom. After Lennon’s death his portrait was painted on the wall, defying the authorities. From that moment the wall became a symbol of peace and freedom. There are also claims that the wall helped inspire the non-violent Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of Communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

One of my favourite shots.

Peaceful poetry.

I want to know who these people are... Love it.

All You Need Is Love.

Captivating.

Prague: Czech it out.

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic is a stunner! A weekend trip there just is not enough. (My visit was #2 on my list of things for 2011). I checked my camera today and saw that I had taken 194 photographs in two days! I really couldn’t capture it enough. My camera is attached to my hand at all times.

Here is a snap-shot of picturesque Prague.

(Click on the picture to enlarge).

I stayed very close to the centre. Literally 5 minutes from our apartment and we were at the central Old Town Square. Prague is conveniently close to the airport. The transfer taxis are great value! It was also quite strange visiting a European country without the Euro (and that’s coming from a Brit).

I loved the Charles Bridge (in one of the photos). I came home and wanted to do a little research as to why people were touching the plaques. I found out that:

One statue receives a great deal of attention from both Czechs and foreigners; this is the statue of Jan Nepomucky (John of Nepomuk), who was thrown from the bridge in chains. The base of this statue has two bronze plaques, each well-polished by thousands of hands touching it. The belief is that touching the plaque portraying the martyrdom of John of Nepomuk is lucky, and that the person touching it will return to Prague. Many people make wishes when they touch the plaque. (Thanks to BlogKingWencelas for the info).

Now I wish that I’d touched it too – instead of taking so many pictures. Hey ho – who needs luck?

More to come about Prague. I had many more discoveries in that great city! I think I may need to revisit this summer.

The hills are alive with the sound of…..mincing.

Move over Julie Andrews. Anything you can do I am sure I can do better.

I was browsing through some old photos and found one of mine with a remarkable similarity to the infamous image of Julie Andrews spinning around in the mountains.

Look at those dance moves. It was impromptu…. However, I wasn’t expecting to look quite so camp in the shot, but hey… such is life.

I think I might challenge myself (and all you readers) to find or take a picture to match a famous image. Have a go!