Flashback Friday: 2012 London Olympics ~ Men’s Hockey Semi-Final, Germany VS Australia

It was on my bucket list to go to the 2012 London Olympics and I managed to get tickets to the Men’s Hockey Semi-Final: Germany VS Australia. The other semi-final featured Team GB and the Netherlands, which I tried to switch my ticket for on the day as others tried to switch their own but in the end I watched this match – What a thrilling match it was!

Just in case you’re curious… I supported Australia.

Enjoy the photos!

 

Flashback Friday: 2012 London Olympics ~ Triathlon

Pall Mall, London

It was on my bucket list to go to the 2012 London Olympics and I managed to get tickets! However, the Triatlon was an unticketed event which meant that anyone could turn up to watch and I discovered this when I was going to see the Changing of the Guard – Very lucky to see both experiences!

Flashback Friday: 2012 London Olympics ~ The Mascots

With the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics summer games starting today, I thought this would be a good time to have a couple of flashback posts to the London 2012 summer games, which I was very fortunate to attend and live in the country that was hosting this magical, sporting event.

The Mascots

The mascots Wenlock and Mandeville represented the Olympic and Paralympic games respectively, their names and design based in British history and culture.

Wenlock’s name is inspired by Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England, where in 1850 the Wenlock Olympian Society held its first Olympian Games, regarded as an inspiration for the modern Olympic games.

Mandeville is named after the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. In 1948, Stoke Mandeville organised the first Stoke Mandeville Games, considered to be the precursor to the Paralympics. The three spikes on Mandeville’s helmet represent the Paralympic Agitos. He also represents friendship.

Extract from ‘Wikipedia’

 

The Wenlock & Madeville Discovery Trail

During the summer, London placed 83 figures all over the city to promote the games and to encourages locals and tourists alike to explore the city on foot. Each figure was designed to represent the area that it had been placed, as you can see from the images below.

Out of the 83, I only spotted 6 on my travels across the city or maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough!

My Travel Map – Update

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I have finally taken my travel map off the wall and updated the European section, the map last updated in January 2015. As a scratch-a-map,  you have to scratch off the countries you have visited but this means that sometimes, you accidentally scratch out tiny countries you haven’t been to, through no fault of your own.

The countries I scratched off this time, are:

  1. Germany (2015 & 2016)
  2. Austria (2015)
  3. Hungary (2015/16)
  4. The Netherlands (2016)
  5. Belguim (2016)

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Countries I need to visit to make my travel map completely accurate (aka Scratched off by accident):

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Monacco
  3. Andorra

 

Budapest, Hungary: New Years!

Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new!

Like any major city across the world, New Years is a big celebration and most capital cities have big, organised firework displays at midnight – However, Budapest is the exception to the rule.

Before we headed to Budapest and even during, my friend and I searched the internet for any information for firework-related events presuming they would most likely held in the Chain Bridge area, but as we discovered on New Years eve is that people sell fireworks freely on the streets to anyone whom is interested. Coming from the UK where Fireworks are highly regulated, only sold at certain times of year, certain shops etc it was a shock to see such freedom with the release of fireworks not much different…. people go to  an area, light them and up they go. Busy areas included but most people do go to a quiet area within these to release their fireworks.

Due to this freedom, Fireworks start filling the area over the course of the night from as early as 6pm to as late at 4am, maybe even later. Happening across the city, you are bound to see fireworks from the city center outwards. Expect central areas to be very busy, getting more crowded as time draws nearer to midnight, people by the river, at the Christmas market, looking for places to drink and eat.

If you want to eat, get there early – We entered a small restaurant at around 6.35pm and the place was busy but we managed to get a table, but as we eat our meal (3 course meal, 1 litre of Hungarian beer and an after dinner drink – £15!) over the course of a 3 hour period, the place was turning more and more people away.

Venturing out into Vörösmarty Square to the Christmas after our meal heading towards the Christmas Market, we claimed our free mug of hot mulled wine courtesy of our Budapest card, sat on the benches watching fireworks quite literally above our heads, taking in the calm yet also spirited atmosphere. Heading to Heroes Square near midnight, the place abuzz with people and of course, fireworks – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Budapest, Hungary: Gypsy Orchestra

Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra is a Hungariansymphony orchestra of Romani (Gypsy) musicians. It emphasizes works by composers inspired by Hungarian folk music including Johannes Brahms, Vittorio Monti, Piotr Tchaïkovski, Johann Strauss and Johann Strauss II. The orchestra has been performing for 30 years as a classical symphony orchestra.

Extract from ‘Wikipedia’

On a bucket list but not my own – This was an unexpected treat from my travel companion before we descended on Budapest informing me that seeing the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra was on her bucket list and since she was in Budapest at the same time as one of their performances, she HAD to go. Naturally, it was on her bucket list. Unfamiliar with this type of music I said I would like to come too sans appropriate dress (Black and White tie – Tourists like ourselves were easy to spot due to this).

I wasn’t expecting anything and I was nothing like the bouncy up and down excitement that was my friend but I was blown away. Check out the video above to see and hear for yourselves – I heard this piece!

It was a magical evening which still leaves an impression on me many months later.

Budapest, Hungary: Cat Cafe

Discovering this just around the corner from our accommodation we just had to go as neither my friend or I had been one before and we just had too!

Checking out the website before we ventured inside (much recommended to get an idea for price, rules etc), as you enter you are met by someone working in the cafe whom guides you to your table, making sure that you have read the rules before you are sat down. What hits you instantly upon entering is the smell – I have grown up with cats, only one at a time and whilst I am immune to that smell, many cats at once is an entirely new level and intensity of smell. Therefore, if you are even slightly sensitive to cat smell or allergy, make your judgements. However, whether it is my previous experience of living with cats or something else, I quickly ‘forgot’ about the smell and got down to business.

The business of coffee and cake!

The all you can drink package at 1590 Ft per person (£4 / 5.10 Euros) is incredible for the price considering that the cups are a very generous size with a fantastic choice of hot and cold drinks, you get one generous helping of cake (cake of the day, which your server will notify you what it is) as well as a selection of other food and you can stay there for as long as you want. How can you NOT visit?

The cats could be sleeping anywhere and everywhere so before you sit down – Check your chair! Cats do love to sleep but that doesn’t mean that’s what they will do for your entire visit as they may just try and seek you (and your food) out. One of the rules is not to feed the cats and my experience was that all the cats were very friendly, happy to be stroked whether at rest or play and if you annoy cats, they will let you know any how. Whilst there, one jumped onto our table to have a nosey at our card game as my friend and I were playing a very fast game with cards moving between hands and the pile on the table that it obviously piqued its interest to see what all the fuss was about. The cat stayed for a few minutes before jumping off and onto another table.

We didn’t bring our own pack of cards, no… the cafe has a selection of board games for the young and old catering for a variety of interests. Chess, Uno, Jenga, Dominoes, Ludo and many others I hd never heard of but discovered! You can discover them to and the cafe is always looking out for more to add to their selection.

Our visit was a highlight of our trip, the atmosphere was calm, relaxed with a great service from the staff and as a cat owner myself… My cat would have loved it! It was an enjoyable experience and it was a little disappointing that we couldn’t squeee in another trip before we had to leave but oh well, we still got to experience a Cat Cafe! Please visit one wherever it is in the world, but this little Cat Cafe will always be dear to me as it will always be the first and what a great first it was!

 

 

Happy New Year!

nye

Happy New Year to you all!!

It’s been an interesting year, a lot of challenges and learning curves in many areas of my life that I hope I will settle into properly as the New Year progresses.

Travel has been another feature of 2015, entering the year in Portugal, visiting Germany and Austria as well as a short summer in Ireland, revisiting old haunts, catching up with friends and creating even more memories. As I teased in my earlier post, I am spending my New Year abroad in Europe, the where? Budapest, Hungary! I’m going to update that travel map ASAP!

Upon my return, I aim to start typing up my time and experiences in this European city, as well as my previous New Year exploits in Lisbon, Portugal. Keep those eyes peeled!

 

I didn’t get as much online learning done as I hoped, but it is something I am going to work on in 2016 and might even apply to University to complete some credits.
 

As for my book challenge and bucklet list, I will update on all that upon my return! I also have a few more London posts for you to keep an eye out for – Busy, busy!