Brighton Pier

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Brighton Pier can only be described as a little tacky. It has huge potential, but I get the feeling that there is no great effort put into it.

It is filled with ice-cream shops and penny slot machines, as well as a few restaurants that don’t look particularity exciting.

It is the kind of place that you visit and cross off your list of places to go to.

Having said all that, Brighton itself is a wonderful place and well worth visiting, I will be posting some pics of the village shortly.

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One of the many seagulls found in Brighton. These are the beach version of a rooster, waking you up really early in the morning,

France, New York and Shopping

Usa_aug_2007_072_2Today we went up the Eiffel Tower in the Paris Hotel. The tower is a 1/4 side scale model, but almost as impressive as the real thing. You get a great view of the strip from the top – it is about 20 stories or so high.

The Paris Hotel is really impressive – filled with little sidewalk cafe’s and Parisian architecture and landmarks and architecture.

We had a drama in the lift when a woman collapsed, but the hotel handled it quickly and I did not have to practise my first aid skills, but it was still a scary experience. My first thought was ‘what about liability?’. If I get involved – not how can I help her? It was quite a panicky situation, but it all ended well.

Usa_aug_2007_064We went to the M&M shop, which is three floors of M&M (smarties) merchandise, everything from shirts & caps to cushions, games (they had a M&M monopoly set), and an entire floor of just M&M’s. This is where we bought most of our gifts.The shop is a scary combination – kids and candy!

We had a Mexican supper at the Treasure Island Hotel – great restaurant – first restaurant to serve reasonable sized meals. Most places serve HUGE portions, but here they were perfect. They served a free plate of home made plain nachos with three dipping sauces for free (note: many restaurants in Nevada and Arizona seem to do this). They were home made and very yummy. We asked for an extra hot chilli sauce, and we found one that was scary – but we made a good dent in it none the less!

BTW: at most fast food joints you can buy 4oz cokes, which is over 1 litre, and people do.

Usa_aug_2007_039Finally, just got back from New York New York hotel, listening to live rock (ok no surprises there) – heard a great band. It was them or the country band, so on arguments there. We have now heard two country bands which both do both kinds of music – country and western! The hotel is an authentic representation of the New York skyline – complete with Status of Liberty and Empire State Building. All in all we got to hear about 7 bands on our trip.

All of the hotels are next to each other – but the distances are deceptively far, so I have sore legs, and Lois has sore feet!

Bye for now!

Vegas – land of excess

Usa_aug_2007_030 Usa_aug_2007_007What can I say? Yesterday we saw lions in our hotel (in their den), saw a live rock band, a fake volcano erupt 100 feet into the air, gambled, and even got some sleep. We missed the pirate battle, but maybe tonight!

Usa_aug_2007_018 Vegas is the land of excess – complete sensory overload. Light and sounds everywhere – even slots at the airport. We are staying at the MGM Grand hotel – with over 5000 rooms, and a casino area of 151000 sq ft, and a 17000 seat arena.

Usa_aug_2007_062David Copperfield is playing at the hotel and near by are the Beach Boys, ZZ Top, Tom Jones, Toni Braxton, Jay Leno and get this – Barry Manilow!

So we are off to see the New York Skyline, then going to Luxor to see a full size replica of King Tut’s tomb. Oh, we are going to go past Camelot

You can come here and visit the world!

ps Fear and loathing in Las Vegas now has a new meaning to me!

Trip from Cape Town to George

As you gathered from my last post, last week I went to George to visit a Toastmasters club. The trip is about 450km, so it is about a four hour drive. Because my meeting was in the evening, I had the whole day to get there, so I took a slow drive.

001002 One of the most spectacular views of the trip is at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass  just outside Somerset West. You have a spectacular view over the Helderberg mountains, towards False Bay on the left, and the Stellenbosch wine farms on the right. To use a cliche, it really is quite a breath-taking view.

Soon after the pass you go through the Engen/Grabouw region, which used to be mainly a fruit-growing region, but more and more of the fruit farms are being converted into wine farms, producing some wonderful wines.

005It is a good thing that I was not in any rush, because soon after as I passed through Caledon, I hit the first of a series of road works, which were being operated as stop-go systems. Although it was painful, I must be honest and say that the delay’s were not really that long. In total, I was not delayed by more than 1/2 hour or so.

006When I was very young and we used to go on family holidays, we would get bundled into the car early in the morning, and then stop at the restaurant at the garage at Riviersonderend (lit: river without and end). I have not driven through there for years, so I had quite a nostalgic moment to discover that the same restaurant is still there. I could swear that they even have the same tables and chairs. but alas, I had already eaten so I did not stop over for breakfast

Shortly after Riviersonderend, I passed through what used to be the farming town of Swellendam. Now, I have also not been through there for many years. We used to have friends that owned farms in the area, so I used to stay there from time to time when I was younger.

009014But like many of our small towns, it has become a haven for artist, potters and B&B’s. Almost all of the shops down the main road were some sort of art studio, followed by rows of B&B’s.  It looks like a very pretty town to spend a few days in, but it is certainly no longer the farming community that it used to be. However, the area is very typical of the South African sheep and wheat farm landscape.

The next town is Riversdale, and you can see my thoughts in my last post.

019The Alcare Aloe Vera factory is close to Albertinia, about 100km from George. I was quite interested that almost all of the parts of the Aloe leaf is used, including the outer leaf, flesh and juice. They all have medicinal properties. They have a huge range of skin-care products, so I bought Lois and myself a few goodies.

What was also good is that they support sustainable farming, and fair practises for the workers etc.

023My final thoughts are on the Gouritz River, where you can go bungee jumping or bridge swinging. The jump is a total  of 64m, with a freefall of 45m. Even though they were offering the bridge swing for a special of R100, no way! There is just no way that you are ever going to get my to jump off a bridge!