Friday, December 26, 2008

The Last Christmas

Ok, it's not the last one EVER, but its my last one in Glasgow. Well, probably not my last one as I'm sure I'll come back again to hang out with friends but it will be my last one as a resident.

I moved house to Edinburgh last weekend. I tell ya, I'm getting too old to be lugging heavy boxes up 3 flights of stairs. I'm at the age when I should have a husband and a teenager to do it for me. But in lieu I lined up some friends,one of which was a strong and energetic University student. He worked for cheap, a mince pie. Many thanks to Claire, Maggs, Isobel, Mark and my folks. Without their help it would have been a very expensive task as I'd have had to hire movers.

So yes, Edinburgh is home now except not quite as I'm back in Glasgow until the 31st when I finish work. Another Christmas finds me living out of a suitcase. Perhaps this is my Christmas tradition 'cause when I think about it this has been the third Christmas in a row that I've moved. Bizarre.

Christmas eve was a familiar scene with my Dad. Hitting the mall last minute to assist him with finish his shopping. He pointed out the men walking around the shops with that dazed look of desperation.

After doing the appropriate amount of comparison shopping the decision was made on the final purchase and then it was to the grocery store to get the last few items. It's a bit difficult planning any meals let alone a proper Christmas dinner when you're not in your own kitchen. My friend Claire has graciously offered her flat for us to stay in over the holidays but a kitchen is such a personal thing. When going through cupboards you're having to think 'if I was Claire, where would I put the cutting board, or where would the sugar be?' Everyone has their perfect culinary set up, and it's always different. But that's half the fun.

By the time I got home, my stomach pointed out to me that all I'd had all day was about 4 cups of tea, one danish, a tiny chocolate and a glass of red wine (at the office). It was now 4:30, I really needed to eat something. You know it's been a long busy day when you don't have time to eat.

After zapping some leftovers I then decided to have a nice long nap as the plan was to go to the Christmas Eve service at St Silas. This has been a new tradition for me as back in Vancouver the Christmas Eve service was normally at around 6:30, perhaps a little later if Christmas Eve fell on a work day. But here, the service is 11:15PM and there are lots of candles, carols, communion, it's all good.

Getting home after midnight I am completely knackered. Looking in my room at the bags of stuff still needing to be wrapped that I just don't have the energy to do. I can hear my bed calling to me.

Christmas morning I allowed myself a nice long lie in. Since returning from my holiday at the end of November, then promptly getting the worst flu bug ever, my folks arriving, packing, moving to Edinburgh, unpacking and organizing a new flat, packing again to come back to Glasgow... I realize this is probably the first lazy morning I've had in a while. Still groggy and without any caffeine I set about wrapping the presents. I manage to accomplish this without any injury.

Christmas has always been just a quiet affair for us as we are a small family of three. After the gifts its usually always a nice lazy day, watching some TV, a nap or three, coffee, wine, cheese, cookies. Even though it's just the three of us Mom insists on cooking a proper Christmas dinner, Turkey and all the trimmings. I must admit her stuffing is the best I've ever had and the turkey (and I'm not a big turkey fan) is always nice and moist, good gravy too!

Its been a great relaxing, lazy day. Tomorrow if I am to believe the weather forecast it should be cool but sunny with no wind. So a good day to get out for a walk about and take some photos.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Las Palmas de Gran Caneria, Spain

The day started off not looking all that great but one never knows.

Walking along the pier we received a nice map from a lady trying to convince us to go shopping at the large El Cortez shopping mall (no-thanks). Its the old town I want to find. The funny things about these tourist maps is they never seem to have a scale. So you look at where you are and where you want to go and think, hmmmm that looks far. But then it takes you 10 minutes to walk there. Or you think, hey that's not too bad, and it takes you 2 hours. Today fell into the 2 hour category.

Initially we walked along the water front but the motor way paralleled it which was very noisy and the car exhaust got to be a bit much after a while so we moved in a few blocks.

When walking along the non-sanctioned tourist route you see the city as the locals do. You come along the hospital, clinic zone, pass a school, the fitness centre or my Mom's favourite - the grocery store. Remember Dino from The Flintstones? He has his own chain of grocery stores in Spain.

Other things seen enroute, the new Police Headquarters in a very nice pink and blue office tower.

Eventually we come to our destination of the Old Town and find the large cathedral there. It's not overly ornate which is nice for a change. But it does have its own dead person :)

The ceiling is very nice too.

All that walking to get there meant our feet were tired and our stomachs were grumbling. Time to eat! Found a lovely little cafe down a side street where we ordered a plate of cured hams and some cheese, bread and some wine.

With the wine came tapas of anchovies on toast (it's on the bottom right corner). You know, it wasn't half bad (the anchovy) everything else was lovely. Met a nice couple at the table next to us visiting from Sweden. They ordered the same thing on my recommendation :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We interrupt this program for an important announcement

I am sick.

That is all, thank you.

Now back to your regular scheduled programming already in progress

The Winter Holiday - Arrecife

My walking buddy C was stricken with a horrible migraine this day so I wandered off the ship on my own. As previously mentioned the maps we're given the night before aren't really all that helpful. And when stepping off the shuttle bus you have no idea where you actually are. I love this!

But wait, I'm jumping ahead of myself.

The shuttle journey in itself. While still travelling through the port itself off to the side there was a ship wreck. Sorry the photo is crap but hey, it's through a moving bus window so I think its not half bad

Next thing that appeared through the window was this...

I mean this is just a sleepy little village with a population of just over 50,000 Who knew that would be enough to support an IKEA (the best store in the whole wide world btw).

And no, I didn't go inside.

Arrecife is a nice sleepy little town. As it's a Sunday most of the shops are closed which is fine by me. I wander around the streets, found a cute little church.

Some oh so picturesque boats.

And this...

Its a fort with 2 cannons. This spot gave me a good solid hour of entertainment value. You should have seen the chaos. A ship of 2700 passengers heading towards something that looks kind of historical/interesting and everyone wants their photo taken in front of it.

You've got the husbands with their expensive DSLR's and no sense of artistry or composition commanding their wives which way to look, where to place their hands and then click, click, click, click, click etc etc etc... Then there are the other tourists not understanding the concept of waiting their turn as they walk in front of someone else's shot and then blankly look back at the person with the camera and give a glazed look.

There was this one couple, I swear he blew off over 100 shots. I mean come on people. Its a cannon. Its NOT THAT INTERESTING!!!

This is my favorite shot of the day

But then I see things a bit differently.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Winter Holiday - Agadir, Morocco

BTW - I got back last Monday but I'm still behind in updating this thing. What else is new eh?

So on to Agadir...

Not much to report for this port. Agadir was decimated in 1960 thanks to a horrific earthquake that lasted 15 minutes. As a result of this the town was completely rebuilt. It is a planned city and looks like something out of a post modernist architectural text book rather than a Moroccan town.

It's also a resort town with a lovely beach, so everything is more geared towards tourism with hotels and condos. There is a central market but again it's aimed at attracting tourists rather than catering to the locals. There is a nice Mosque that I took a few shots of but that's about it.

However, I did purchase a rug. I found something rare, a fixed price rug shop so no haggling needed and no high pressure sales over tea either. The shop owner was very nice and friendly. Looking at pretty much all of his wares in the size I was interested in I finally found the rug I wanted. He packed it up good and tight with plastic bags, tape and rope. Some how, C was able to fit it into her suitcase and between all our bags we were able to shuffle all our belongings that everything fit and we didn't incur any oversize baggage fees on the journey home.

Oh and go figure, it never occurred to me to take a photo of the rug before it got packed up so you'll all just have to wait until I'm settled into my new flat in a few weeks and I'll take a shot then. But in the mean time here's a very blurry photo of the rug shop itself.