Monday, September 10, 2007

Back from the USSR...

Well, here i sit in bonny olde England, in the northeast but south of Newcastle, and north of Durham - at a place called Chester - Le - Street - an olde Roman fort town from the early AD's... don't know the exact history but i am sure i can look it up here in the library.

Counting down the days now til home time - leave here on Sunday next week and arrive Monday night in Sydney. However, the office won't be open again until 24th September. In the mean time i am flying to Ireland tomorrow to stay over night with relations, and then coming back to Newcastle for a Visual Planning and Urbanism Conference, which has a full day field trip on Saturday to the Keilder Forest area along the Northumberland / Scottish border to see the Forestry Commission villages! We will see what i learn from all of that!

My trip home is via Amstedam and Helsinki with an overnight in Helsinki and then on to Hong Kong and Sydney. Helsinki hasn't been all that good to me so far as every time i go there i lose my luggage - twice in one trip has to be some sort of record, let's see if i can make it three for three... We left St Petersburg last Thursday and i booked my luggage through to Newcastle UK but it only got as far as Helsinki... just as well i purchased a little suitcase as an extra for on board luggage!

The Study Tour was interesting - my illness at the beginning of the trip didn't help things and i didn't get to see one of the best developments in Stockholm due to spending the day in bed asleep recovering from excess travel. The make biofuel from the poo and other domestic waste from that particular development for the buses and cars in the city! Something for the Shoalhaven to consider maybe.

In Helsinki, one of the developments there had solar collectors on all the apartment block roofs for dwelling heating and water heating. All very sustainable with veggie gardens and fruit trees for the street plantings.

I am sure you aren't going to be interested in the 1000 terrible photos i have taken, so i will not bore you with anymore at this time, but maybe i will have a slide night around football grand final weekend or on that day, at half time! I will have to tee up a big screen and projector for the back yard for the footy! (What do you reckon Tim??? can it be organised???)

See you anon fellow travellers, stay well and cheery!
Signed Planner Kez

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Town Planner Travels continued...

Peterhof Palace, decadant to the extreme, more gold gilding than i can cope with, and rebuilt after WWII by the State, as it was almost completely destroyed by the war, rebuilding by state, and UNESCO and tourist admission funding! Gardens to rival Versailles - that place in France.

Church of the Spilled Blood - built on the site of the assassination of Nicholas the something, in the 1800's in the Russian Baroque style!

Swan Lake at the Hermitage Theatre in St Peterburg... signets everywhere!

OK, here we are in St Peterburg, hating the place completely...neyt!!! We aren't doing any planning here, just tourist stuff, so there is plenty of wandering and photographing taking place!
Happy Planning boys & girls, be good, stay safe and stay away from gypsies! ... see you in a few more days when i get to the UK.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Photos at last

Hello from St Petersburg, today we are off to Catherine's Palace and then tonight to the Ballet to see Swan Lake - that is all about town planning I believe, so it should be riveting... don't know what we are up to tomorrow as our itinerary has changed slightly, due to the palace addition. Well, it is time to get ready to meet the bus, so catch you later... but i will leave you with these few images. (3rd September 2007)

Another church, but this one is an Orthodox one in St Petersburg...

Cool statues too - i wonder who the model was???

A rainy Sunday afternoon in St Petersburg - as many citizens as Sydney and more than half of them had to have been in town on a wet Sunday afternoon - wouldn't happen in Sydney!

A church at Stockholm where someone was about to get married...

This one is in Gamla Stad - The old town of Stockholm... Sweden...

Nyhaven in Copenhagen, the old dock area where you now take canal boat rides and eat lots of food...

We have a picture of Kerry at a fountain in Copenhagen, but unfortunately the photographer cut out the fountain, so that will have to be photoshoped when i get home... there is a traditional Finnish house in Helsinki, too, however it is located on an island that is essentially an open air museum, not many of the original houses left as they have been lost over the years to wildfire!

Signed Planner Kez!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

From Inauspicious Beginnings Come... (Great Things???)

Hey (Finnish), or Gutday (Danish), Hi from foreign climes etc!

Well, I write today from Copenhagen, where we have had three of the four seasons in the one day - it hailed this morning the size of peas when we were at the office of Architect Jan Gehl, and his staff were amazed - we (meaning I) told them that it is like that all the time at home (Bad Kerry!).

So... Inauspicious Beginnings... yes QANTAS - just as well that wasn't my choice - the automated refueling system failed, there were 20 aircraft waiting to go and all had to be filled by a single tanker in order of who had connections where and when! So, we left Sydney 2 hours late and got into Melbourne 5 minutes after our flight was due to leave, nobody on the plane looked happy Jan... we then waited for almost an hour before we took off, where the excuse was contaminated fuel, which was apparently why they were had waited so long on the tarmac - there had been no mention of our delay to those waiting at all!

So off we go to Hong Kong - and get in there at least two hours late, which cut our 4 hour layover down to 2, but we needn't be concerned, as we were met off the plane by a lovely Chinese attendant who told us that our FINNAIR flight to Helsinki was not leaving until 2.35 as it was late leaving Helsinki (thus we were advised at 8am!) So FINNAIR put us up in the Airport Regal Hotel, at least it gave us the opportunity for a kip and shower etc. Fine, breakfast and lunch were also included in the deal, but the 1.5 hour wait in the tin can with wings on the tarmac in 35 degree heat was NOT! We almost melted, the air conditioning wasn't working and we had missed our slot in the departure queue due to the incoming flights serious delay... We didn't get any cooler air until we hit 5000 metres, then the air conditioning seemed to kick in.

While the FINNAIR flight was 10 hours (QANTAS was only 8), it was a much better flight, roomier and more comfortable too.

So, we finally arrived in Helsinki, 5 or 6 hours behind schedule, and guess what happened next... oh, you cheaters, you know don't you... Yes, those of us who flew from Sydney with Qantas (bar one strangely enough) had no luggage to collect! BLOODY QANTAS - it was left in Melbourne. No choice but to wash out all clothes being worn at the time (i have no one to blame but myself, as Kathryn Sarris had warned me to put a set of clothes in my carry on luggage, but i didn't have room)... Drying jeans with a hair dryer and iron really doesn't work.

Anyhoo, our luggage arrived not long before we left Helsinki, via Singapore and Frankfurt - more travelled that I that luggage... we had a nice day or so there to get into the rythm of things, and get to know each other, and it is a really lovely city, it is friendly, low crime and a comfortable place to be for a few days. Everyone seemed happy enough to converse in English, and I was lead to believe that it is because we aren't American (some Canadians we met today weren't quite so lucky!) We left Helsinki yesterday and travelled to Copenhagen with no attendant dramas!

Today we met Architect Jan Gehl who has won numerous awards for work done on people and City Spaces, and he is largely responsible (in a good way) for Melbourne's pedestrian nature. After that it was a walking tour of the city with one of his students, then this afternoon another tour of a completely different kind with an other architect to the developing areas. I tried to upload photos but the hotel's computer won't left me access them to upload, so hopefully next time.

Last night though, we went to check out the Tivoli Gardens, highly recommended, if you love roller coaster rides or hate them as I do. It is fantastic, and built in the late 1800's by a King who felt the people needed something to make them happy! And it was full moon which certainly didn't diminish the atmosphere in anyway - and i didn't have my camera on me at all!!! RATS, i will have to get some photos off the others... you can look it up on the net - probably or with a .dk instead of the com!

Tomorrow it is train rides on the Metro, and i will tell you the story of our train ticket fiasco to get to the Tivoli another day, but let us just ask one question - how many planner's does it take to by a Copenhagen subway ticket???

For the answer to that and many other questions, check again on September 1st when we are in Stockholm!!! Be good possums, and play nice with the other children!

Hey Hey (that is Bye in Finnish funnily enough!)

Signed - Planner Kez

PS Carlsberg Special here is really good for your health!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Planning begins in ernest!

Well the tickets are finally here - it is becoming real now, the anticipation and stress (or distress) are building rapidly - the work that has to be done. Two and a half weeks to departure (still no spending money but i am sure that breakfast is included for all hotels - so don't expect presents!) The GPS is working well so that will be packed with its maps to get me back to Hotels if I go for an afternoon walk. Weather is hopefully going to be similar to here - up to 18 / 21 degree days, down to 12 at night. I don't know what time sunset is but I do not doubt that there is a website somewhere that can tell me... (and there is - 30 August Stockholm 7.59pm - well it is coming into thier Autumn).

Departure date is August 24th at 8pm. First stop Melbourne - now that should be exciting!!! Change planes and fly onto Hong Kong - go Qantas. From there it is change to Finnair to Helsinki arriving at 2.55pm H time. There we are staying at the Hotel Simonkenta (they have a website of their own if you want to see what it looks like).

We leave H on Monday 27th for Copenhagen, where we are staying at the Copenhagen Island Hotel until Thursday 30th when we drive across the water to Malmo in Sweden.

After spending part of the day in Malmo it is off to Lund and Jakriborg (a new replica Hanseatic township - wonderful Planner stuff) then on to the high speed train to Stockholm.

So Stockholm it is (First Hotel Reisen) until departure for St Petersburg on Sunday 2nd September, where we bunk at the Novotel St Peterburg until Thursday 6th September, when we fly back to Helsinki. That is where the PIA Tour ends, and I am sure we are going to be all planned out by that time but wait, there is more...

On 6th I head to Newcastle UK via Amsterdam (no i am not stopping for drugs or diamonds!!!) for a few family days with a flit over to Ireland on 11th / 12th to see what the Euro has done to the country development wise (of course), then back to Newcastle for a Planning Conference at the Uni there for 3 days.

Departure from the UK is 16th, back to Helsinki (staying at the Klaus K Hotel, now that is a website to check out - it is way to cool for me!) before tripping home via HK - changing from Finnair to Qantas again on 17th arriving late in Sydney before curfew on 18th September.

So, the idea of this blog is to give you an update on my progress (once I leave of course) and how much I am missing you all and not liking it OS at all, and hopefully posting some of my sure to be wonderful shots to make you all jealous (hehehe!). Lets wait and see on that score shall we - may not have anything worth showing if I forget to pack the battery charger and power socket thingo!

Well, that is all from me for now, so see you in Helsinki... I won't bore you will all the gory detail on the planning things we are doing yet but there is a high possibility we are going to do a planners tour of one of the world's best art galleries, and also a Russian ballet (I am sure there are planner things in Swan Lake and I have never been to a ballet, so why not one in Russia!). I will try and up date every few days or when something exciting happens.
Cheers and Beers

Kez (next post after 24 August - don't hold your breath)