Showing posts from October, 2006

Climbing in the Alps

I had a fantastic weekend out in the hills of the Aosta Valley in the north of Italy. The valley leads up to the tunnel under Mt Blanc (through to the swiss side of the alps) and has wonderful castles dotting the country side along the way. The weather was not the best but we still got out and up into the mountains to stay at my first European refugio for a somewhat cold night.

The next day started wet but eventually dried out enough for Rory and I to get in a four pitch rock climb up some wonderful slabs. It was fully bolted and wonderful climbing with fantastic views from sun warmed granite. Just great.

On my way heading back up to Paris via Geneva I'm hoping to get some more time in the hills around Chamonix, fingers crossed I can get it all to happen.

Visiting Milan

My good friends and ex flatmates Jane and Rory happened to be in Milan, Italy, and so a visit was certainly in order. I bused through the famous Mt Blanc tunnel and down the highway through the Italian side of the European alps. Great views of castles, mountains and amazing roading feats of engineering.

Milano is a big city with the associated pollution and traffic, but it does have some amazing sights including the 'Durmo' which is a huge cathedral in the centre of town. It is covered with the most amazing statues of all shapes and sizes in brilliantly white marble. There is also a huge castle in the centre of town which provided light climbing relief.

Milan was also in striking distance of Venice and so we all went on a day trip to one of the tourist centers of Italy. There certainly were a lot of people, but the city itself still lived up to expectations with lots of little alleyways and waterways to see and explore.

Geneva, International City

The international city, home of the old League of Nations, and now the european seat of the United Nations and headquarters for the Red Cross, WHO, WTO, UNHCR etc etc. There are a number of beautiful old buildings which is not surprising for a city with such a history, and plenty of museums. The real bonus though is the lake around which the city is built, complete with the highest fountain in the world, sending a column of water well over 100m high.

I'm staying with my friend Fiona just around the corner from the lake in a typical Geneva apartment, quite small and simple but with everything from the railway station, post office or supermarket right on the doorstep. All the advantages and disadvantages of high population density at once.

I've explored the city a bit, visiting the Red Cross museum and got myself a card for the UN library for the internet access. Fiona's friend here Jean Micheal has been very kind, with two rides into the Fench alps and a sailing outing on the…

Return to London

My first view of London after emerging from the train ride through the chunnel and finding my way through some back streets was really quite something. The London Eye, the Houses of Parliment, the River Thames, the dome of St Paul's Cathredral. A little dull and grey granted, but for a first visit back since being born here and moving to New Zealand aged two, not bad at all.
I stayed with friend Vanessa and Andrew and had a fantastic time exploring the sights and visiting the wonderful museums, mostly in search of historic aircraft. This meant that RAF Hendon, the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum all got a good portion of my time. I also managed to catch an airshow down near Brighton with a good range of spitfires and a display from the BBMF Lancaster bomber. I worked on a Lancaster bomber restoration project in Auckland and so had a particular interest in catching one flying.

I guess second reflections on London would be that it was more dense than expected, a little more…