tor

S&S World tour

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It's usually the way it goes sadly. Pressure comes off and the run down body collapses.

I am off on a 6 week holiday and came down with my first sickness in a couple of years the night before last :)

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Well deserved holiday tor. Have you worked out where to go?

+1

Where you off to?

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I am off on a 6 week holiday and came down with my first sickness in a couple of years the night before last :)

As you relax from the stress, I have a theory, that suggests your body becomes more vulnerable.

I don't know whether it has any validity, but it seems to happen to me every first week of holidays.

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Off to Isle of Islay for a week of smokey malty goodness, then to sweden for 3 weeks of training after that probably head down to paris / lyon for food :)

Might stop in at a few client sites as well, completely not working would send me mental :)

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Off to Isle of Islay for a week of smokey malty goodness, then to sweden for 3 weeks of training after that probably head down to paris / lyon for food :)

Might stop in at a few client sites as well, completely not working would send me mental :)

brilliant. have a great trip,you've earned. drink a gallon or two for me :P (imperial gallons, mind you)

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brilliant. have a great trip,you've earned. drink a gallon or two for me :P (imperial gallons, mind you)

Night 1. After some 26 hrs of travelling I got bored with it and we stopped in glasgow to stay overnight. Went wandering around looking for scottish food at bars. Found a few okay places all of which had live music from midday on. Then wandered (only slightly drunk) into a bar on Jamaica St in Glasgow city. Had that place in my head because they did "stovies" which I had seen on their menu when we left the hotel.

I had no idea what stovies were and no data connection on phone meant I couldn't find out from Dr Google.

At one of the first bars we went to we almost started a war by asking what stovies were and everyone had an opinion on what they were and an opinion that everyone else was wrong. Effectively left over meat and veges boiled up together but they are apparently awesome. Many people were claiming that the roast (from whence the left overs came) was somewhat irrelevant in the process.

So the basic plan was wander til a bit tired then go try these stovies. Partly because the bar is next door to the hotel.

We wandered in and a bunch of guys had tried to find all the home made speakers in the world and play old reggae vinyl through them which was fun to listen to whilst the desired stovies were prepared.

The stovies came out and were pretty much left over meat boiled up with veges in a maybe 2 meat to 1 veges ratio with some gravy on top.

Oh and huge massive bloody chunks of bone marrow in there. Al was saying "they look like potatoes but they aren't" is how big they are. Over the top richness.

While eating that a bunch of skinny white nerd boys wandered in and started up a ska band (early style like two tone) which over the course of a couple of hours apparently almost everyone else in the bar joined to play some instrument or another. And they were actually quite good.

We got a bit nervous when we decided that probably they were just walking up to people in the bar and saying "hey you do a solo on this instrument now" and it would be our time soon :)

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Night 1. After some 26 hrs of travelling I got bored with it and we stopped in glasgow to stay overnight. Went wandering around looking for scottish food at bars. Found a few okay places all of which had live music from midday on. Then wandered (only slightly drunk) into a bar on Jamaica St in Glasgow city. Had that place in my head because they did "stovies" which I had seen on their menu when we left the hotel.

I had no idea what stovies were and no data connection on phone meant I couldn't find out from Dr Google.

At one of the first bars we went to we almost started a war by asking what stovies were and everyone had an opinion on what they were and an opinion that everyone else was wrong. Effectively left over meat and veges boiled up together but they are apparently awesome. Many people were claiming that the roast (from whence the left overs came) was somewhat irrelevant in the process.

So the basic plan was wander til a bit tired then go try these stovies. Partly because the bar is next door to the hotel.

We wandered in and a bunch of guys had tried to find all the home made speakers in the world and play old reggae vinyl through them which was fun to listen to whilst the desired stovies were prepared.

The stovies came out and were pretty much left over meat boiled up with veges in a maybe 2 meat to 1 veges ratio with some gravy on top.

Oh and huge massive bloody chunks of bone marrow in there. Al was saying "they look like potatoes but they aren't" is how big they are. Over the top richness.

While eating that a bunch of skinny white nerd boys wandered in and started up a ska band (early style like two tone) which over the course of a couple of hours apparently almost everyone else in the bar joined to play some instrument or another. And they were actually quite good.

We got a bit nervous when we decided that probably they were just walking up to people in the bar and saying "hey you do a solo on this instrument now" and it would be our time soon :)

Sounds like a cracker of a night. :) Nerdy white boys a la Irvine Welsh and ye got tae try stovies. Glasgow is the home of the deep fried mars bar you know. The food the in Scotland has improved. Thanks largely to Nick Nairn I suspect.

You're from NZ and so probably know this already but scottish cuisine needs to be appreciated in the context of sitting in a black house with the north atlantic wind howling outside. The landlord is contemplating replacing you with sheep. You don't get the prime cuts. You get subsistence and you eat the food closest to medieval peasant food for longer than the rest of europe. (except for some remote scandinavian islands - like where anders is from.) The only relief is the whisky.

Man I am envious. :) Try some clooty dumpling with a nice malt. Truth is it's traditional christmas pudding (hung in a bag) In actuality it's super high calorie cold climate food.

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Sounds like a cracker of a night. :) Nerdy white boys a la Irvine Welsh and ye got tae try stovies. Glasgow is the home of the deep fried mars bar you know. The food the in Scotland has improved. Thanks largely to Nick Nairn I suspect.

You're from NZ and so probably know this already but scottish cuisine needs to be appreciated in the context of sitting in a black house with the north atlantic wind howling outside. The landlord is contemplating replacing you with sheep. You don't get the prime cuts. You get subsistence and you eat the food closest to medieval peasant food for longer than the rest of europe. (except for some remote scandinavian islands - like where anders is from.) The only relief is the whisky.

Man I am envious. :) Try some clooty dumpling with a nice malt. Truth is it's traditional christmas pudding (hung in a bag) In actuality it's super high calorie cold climate food.

Day 2: Flew from Glasgow to Isle of Islay. During this process I learned I have been pronouncing "Islay" wrong all along. This may be because, according to these people, I pronounce everything wrong however.

Coming in to land I didn't really know which island we were headed for then Al saw a building with Laphroiag written on it and I almost let a little bit of wee out :)

Whilst in glasgow waiting for the plane haggis was consumed at The Drum & Monkey (http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thedrumandmonkeystvincentstreetglasgow/). Much better than the stovies and also much better than what I remember it being like. Nicely spiced, good graviness. Mashed tatties were okay, I prefer more butter but the haggis was fatty enough to cover that up mostly.

They also did pork ribs. meh. Tasted pre boiled, no real pork sweetness. Supposedly a ginger beer glaze but no ginger beer flavours were kicking me in the head.

In fact no one in Glasgow kicked me in the head. And I was out on the street at about 0300 due to my personal sleep behaviour combined with jetlag. The hotel we were at was about 4km from Gorbals. When I found that out I wanted to go down just as a bit of a tribute to A Clockwork Orange ("a right kick to the gorbals"). We didn't have time apparently.

Got to Islay Hotel, Islay. This place is great, very surprising quality renovations. Have finally had a taste of Port Ellen scotch (distillery closed in the eighties from memory, can see it from the window as I type). To be honest much more like a talisker style than something made only 5 km from laphroiag, lagavulin & ardbeg. Ardbeg Alligator (one of the 8 or so expressions of Ardbeg) is pretty damn awesome though. I thought it had a dry fruitiness with a sherry finish but stil held the smokiness and peat.

Interestingly the bar has scotch from all over, maybe 150 or so) but the scotch menu only mentions Islay stuff. hehehehe.

Port Ellen appears to have 4 places to eat out, one place that closes at 1900, 2 hotels and an indian place.

Wikipedia informed me that Chicken Tikka Marsala is a traditional scottish food and I figured they'd have a vindaloo to clear my sinuses from the tradition "get sick on holidays".

Came through nicely.

A good day.

Tomorrow the plan is to go find my plot of land at Laphroaig.

Edited by tor

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Have finally had a taste of Port Ellen scotch (distillery closed in the eighties from memory, can see it from the window as I type). To be honest much more like a talisker style than something made only 5 km from laphroiag, lagavulin & ardbeg. Ardbeg Alligator (one of the 8 or so expressions of Ardbeg) is pretty damn awesome though. I thought it had a dry fruitiness with a sherry finish but stil held the smokiness and peat.

Was that mixed with coke or dry? lol.

look forward to the next report.

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Day 3: In whych there bee lyes and punnes

I am a half arsed traveller. I usually have a rough idea what country I will go to. That is usually about as detailed as I like to get more than a day or two before being there. This is quite deliberate because I have found the best fun I have had is when I can follow anything shiny that catches my eye. It does have certain logistic issues however. Normally a slight behavioural change makes these simple to solve, for example I always buy transferable / refundable flights unless I am literally at the airport buying the ticket.

Yesterday I arrived in Islay with accommodation for the first night only as the place was booked out after that.

So this morning I called pretty much every single hotel and B&B on the island. This has the nice side effect of reading the web sites of almost every place on the island and gave me some shiny things to follow. The intended direct effect of resulting in accommodation was not achieved.

Then I saw that the B&B round the corner from the hotel from last night is called "gaelic SITH gaelic". I used the force and reservations were made.

Well I found it funny.

So achievement for the day:

Laphroaig "Water to Whiskey" tour. 4.5 hrs. + walk to and from Distillery from Port Ellen (half hour each way). 70 pounds.

Starts with a wander up into the hills to see the water source. Picnic lunch and a wee snack with a wee dram or two - quarter cask, if you haven't tried it you probably aren't on this tour :). We get given little commemorative tasting glasses at this point and I resolutely decide not to break mine as it looks like we will be using it again. Hooray.

Actually that is a lie. The trip starts with the group (strictly limited to 8 people - we were 6) assembling in a somewhat adhoc way and attempting to find gumboots that fit. This is hilarious. A German man struggling with gumboots whilst a dutch one makes helpful comments is one of my Sights Of The Day.

After strolling the hills for a bit a quick drive across the island to the peat fields to have a bash at cutting some peat and another wee dram - triple wood, very nice, strong sherry overtones still peaty though, used to be duty free only, now mass market, uses the blended years style like the quarter cask

Back to the distillery and a walk through the entire process from grain arrival to malting to distillation to aging. The wives of the german and the dutch guys did not look suicidally bored. I already know the distillation process pretty well and still picked up a few useful tips should I ever need to start a distillery (pffft "need", of course I "need" to). Plus there are lots of interesting semi industrial semi archaic bits and pieces which the camera happy people seem to enjoy a lot.

Finally to a small room with 3 casks in it. One thing I have learned with these tours is "as soon as a volunteer is asked for jump at the chance". Everyone else will be afraid of looking stupid so if I jump in and make a half arsed job of it then they are all comfortable joining in which is more fun than everyone standing around and the tour guide doing all the participatory bits. So shortly after seeing the casks I am bashing away trying to get the bung out of one then dribbling scotch all over the shop with the big brass tasting tube thing.

Basically the tasting tube is a copper pipette like tube with a hole at the top which, if you seal it with your thumb, lets the principles of vacuums and pressure and stuff work to get scotch out of the barrel and into the looking and tasting jar.

Unfortunately the principles of vacuums and pressure and stuff only work if you can get a good seal with your thumb, I did not achieve this, neither did the dutch guy or either of the germans. Then Al showed that his pudgy, girly, never done a hard days work in my life qualify him uniquely for a job in a distillery. Bastard.

So we get to try these three scotches ('99, 03', '05) then fill a 250ml bottle (which is registered and everything) with the one you prefer (the preference may take a few extra tastings to be sure). Some lucky dutch gentlemen get to have 2 bottles because their wives don't drink. At this point in the day we were all gentlemen, splendid ones at that!

I asked for a couple extra of the special commemorative tasting glasses because I like to have two of any glass (for sharing) and a spare for when I break one. They happily gave me them which was nice.

As a friend of laphroiag I also collected my rent - a small bottle of scotch and went and found my square foot of land and planted a kiwi flag in it.

A brilliant day.

Where are the lies you ask? Oh you are so observant noticing I used the plural but only 'fessed up to one. Curse you and your sherlock like eyes!

The weather was maybe 25 degrees and sunny and bright and shiny. Up in the hills with the barest hint of wind coming off the sea with smells of iodine and the coast of Northern Ireland was clear in the distance. On the peat fields you could see for miles and make out the lighthouse at the far end of the island. Walking around the distillery was pungent with malted grain and the sea right out the open windows.

I have left these out of the above entry because no one will ever believe me and anyone that visits on a normal day when apparently the weather is so bad they can't go to the peat fields and have the picnic in the van looking at the hill behind which the water supply is will hunt me down and kill me for a misleading review.

I completely expect that there will be a picture of our fearless little team for future tours to be shown to buck their spirits up.

So a lie by omission.

Oh yeah and I couldn't get the GPS working on my phone so I found where my bit of land is to a range of ten feet or so and then planted my flag on the highest bit just to annoy the norwegian guy that had his flag down the way a bit.

Definitely a lie by commission :)

Tomorrow: Lagavulin? Yes I should think so. Maybe go to one of the pubs I saw whilst hunting for accommodation. Lots of cask ale and some mention of michelin something or other. I was paying attention properly.

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Then I saw that the B&B round the corner from the hotel from last night is called "gaelic SITH gaelic". I used the force and reservations were made.

Well I found it funny.

Hehe.

It sounds like you are having a lot of fun. I went on a similar-ish trip recently to Europe (similar in that it involved drunkenly stomping around islands, I didn't visit any breweries. I don't think I missed any pubs though...)

I'm just a bit concerned that I gave myself liver damage because I'm getting drunk much faster than I did before my trip!

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Day 4: Science (I will do it)

Hypothesis: Bicycles are fun

Known Data: Have not ridden bicycle in decades

Experiment: Ride bicycle, drink scotch, ride bicycle, drink scotch, ride bicycle

Results: Bicycles are FUN

Hypothesis: Some scotch is nicer than other scotch

Known Data: Many scotches are nice

Experiment: Find knowledgeable person, drink scotch and chat with them about the scotch

Results: Some scotch is nicer than other scotch (but they are mostly great)

A quick (seriously like some kind of tubby tour de france fellow I was) ride to the Ardbeg distillery where we were greated with hoots of scottish laughter. Replying to a remark we "obviously hadn't come straight from the velodrome" with "nope port ellen" only increased the hooting as Port Ellen is only 5km away. I pointed out that they were always proclaiming the rugged and harsh aspects of their island. They pointed out the road is paved and a wee barn could do it.

Stalemate! Logic on my side, Facts on theirs!

So I did a tour + tasting. Ardbeg really focuses around their 10yr old as kind of their master stock. Very very smoky. Quite a bit less oily than Laphroaig and Lagavulin and there is a distinct sweetness about it which I quite like. The cask strength stuff really needs a drop of water for me to notice the sweetness though. A comparatively light mouthfeel making it a nice afternoon scotch I feel.

Interestingly Ardbeg appears to be making a similar commercial decision to the one made at Laphroaig which is to create scotches blended from various years and aged in quarter casks (at laphroaig anyway) to reduce time til ready (which means it cannot be sold with an "## Yr Old" label).

I had always assumed Ardbeg didn't do any aged stuff because they haven't really been reopened long enough to do it.

Looks like it is a sensible solution to "how on earth do you forecast demand 10+ years into the future?"

Leaving Ardbeg tasting rooms a guy sitting at a table with his mate asked me what my favourite scotch was. Being a humorous fellow I said "At what time of the day?". Oh how he laughed! We chatted a wee bit and the topic moved very quickly into a dissertation on database theory and reporting techniques as he had a weird interest in that. One of his friends came over and said "we're off" and he said "no sit down this will be useful". The newcomer introduced himself which made us all realise we hadn't introduced ourselves. So the general manager, head tasty guy and head distilling guy from laphroaig introduced themselves to me.

I played it cool and only mentioned that they were some of my biggest heros 4 or 5 times. I don't think they noticed that I cried a little bit.

So looks like I might get some work with them - pretty unlikely but a boy can have dreams!

Lagavulin distillery was the next step, basically because it was downhill. Had done 2 distillery tours at this point and figured I wasn't going to learn super much from what is (at my level of understanding) the same process. So did a guided tasting. A lovely tasting room. Truly awesome. It is a library with 4 wingback leather chairs in front of a fire. A table in the middle of the room has 5 glasses of scotch assembled per person and one of the tasty people comes and talks you through what you are drinking, things to notice and so on. Brilliant experience. Highly recommended.

Lagavulin. For my money the best of the Islay malts. They use casks which have already been used by other scotch makers and so the wood is a lot slower to fight the peat smoke. That is why their 16yr old (kind of the standard you see around) has so much peat compared to Laphroaig / Ardbeg at much younger ages despite having a lower smoke content on day 1. Their distillers edition is still my favourite expression of all time with a small caveat. They made a special edition which was only ever available at the distillery. It was a version of the distillers edition using Ximenez sherry casks. We had a taste. Christmas in a scotch glass! Man I wish I had hated it as there is none left and never will be any again.

Lessons Learned for The Day:

Australians that come to Scotland and get a tan deserve the ridicule that _will_ be heaped upon them

Bikes are fun, add Scotch and downhill and they are more fun

Objectives for Tomorrow

Stop fantasising about business trips to Islay to meet clients.

Point nose in the general direction of Sweden.

Watch Liverpool play a game of kick the ball with some people.

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Day 4: Science (I will do it)

Hypothesis: Bicycles are fun

Known Data: Have not ridden bicycle in decades

Experiment: Ride bicycle, drink scotch, ride bicycle, drink scotch, ride bicycle

Results: Bicycles are FUN

Hypothesis: Some scotch is nicer than other scotch

Known Data: Many scotches are nice

Experiment: Find knowledgeable person, drink scotch and chat with them about the scotch

Results: Some scotch is nicer than other scotch (but they are mostly great)

A quick (seriously like some kind of tubby tour de france fellow I was) ride to the Ardbeg distillery where we were greated with hoots of scottish laughter. Replying to a remark we "obviously hadn't come straight from the velodrome" with "nope port ellen" only increased the hooting as Port Ellen is only 5km away. I pointed out that they were always proclaiming the rugged and harsh aspects of their island. They pointed out the road is paved and a wee barn could do it.

Stalemate! Logic on my side, Facts on theirs!

So I did a tour + tasting. Ardbeg really focuses around their 10yr old as kind of their master stock. Very very smoky. Quite a bit less oily than Laphroaig and Lagavulin and there is a distinct sweetness about it which I quite like. The cask strength stuff really needs a drop of water for me to notice the sweetness though. A comparatively light mouthfeel making it a nice afternoon scotch I feel.

Interestingly Ardbeg appears to be making a similar commercial decision to the one made at Laphroaig which is to create scotches blended from various years and aged in quarter casks (at laphroaig anyway) to reduce time til ready (which means it cannot be sold with an "## Yr Old" label).

I had always assumed Ardbeg didn't do any aged stuff because they haven't really been reopened long enough to do it.

Looks like it is a sensible solution to "how on earth do you forecast demand 10+ years into the future?"

Leaving Ardbeg tasting rooms a guy sitting at a table with his mate asked me what my favourite scotch was. Being a humorous fellow I said "At what time of the day?". Oh how he laughed! We chatted a wee bit and the topic moved very quickly into a dissertation on database theory and reporting techniques as he had a weird interest in that. One of his friends came over and said "we're off" and he said "no sit down this will be useful". The newcomer introduced himself which made us all realise we hadn't introduced ourselves. So the general manager, head tasty guy and head distilling guy from laphroaig introduced themselves to me.

I played it cool and only mentioned that they were some of my biggest heros 4 or 5 times. I don't think they noticed that I cried a little bit.

So looks like I might get some work with them - pretty unlikely but a boy can have dreams!

Lagavulin distillery was the next step, basically because it was downhill. Had done 2 distillery tours at this point and figured I wasn't going to learn super much from what is (at my level of understanding) the same process. So did a guided tasting. A lovely tasting room. Truly awesome. It is a library with 4 wingback leather chairs in front of a fire. A table in the middle of the room has 5 glasses of scotch assembled per person and one of the tasty people comes and talks you through what you are drinking, things to notice and so on. Brilliant experience. Highly recommended.

Lagavulin. For my money the best of the Islay malts. They use casks which have already been used by other scotch makers and so the wood is a lot slower to fight the peat smoke. That is why their 16yr old (kind of the standard you see around) has so much peat compared to Laphroaig / Ardbeg at much younger ages despite having a lower smoke content on day 1. Their distillers edition is still my favourite expression of all time with a small caveat. They made a special edition which was only ever available at the distillery. It was a version of the distillers edition using Ximenez sherry casks. We had a taste. Christmas in a scotch glass! Man I wish I had hated it as there is none left and never will be any again.

Lessons Learned for The Day:

Australians that come to Scotland and get a tan deserve the ridicule that _will_ be heaped upon them

Bikes are fun, add Scotch and downhill and they are more fun

Objectives for Tomorrow

Stop fantasising about business trips to Islay to meet clients.

Point nose in the general direction of Sweden.

Watch Liverpool play a game of kick the ball with some people.

Well, I for one can't wait for vicarious stories from Sweden!

I'm enjoying the Scottish exploits. You write a mean journal. It's like reading the experiences of the grand tour without all that italian art and design nonsense. :) Just malty, smoky goodness. I am supping a wee dram of Ardbeg 10YO in honour of your posts. :thumbsup:

My only distillery visit was Glenfiddich. I was young and didn't know any better back then.

I dispute the scotch and cycling hypothesis on the basis of repeatability. I think you got an outlier result. My own experience is that attempting to jump a gutter after even moderate scotch consumption for example yields catastrophic failure more often than not.

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Off to Isle of Islay for a week of smokey malty goodness, then to sweden for 3 weeks of training after that probably head down to paris / lyon for food :)

Might stop in at a few client sites as well, completely not working would send me mental :)

Hehe... I'm in Sweden now visiting friends and relatives and heading off to Paris next week. Perhaps there was an opportunity for a S&S get-together in Europe this year?

Your trip reports are great - keep it up!

I don't have much to report myself since most of it is just treading familiar ground for me. Here are some pretty pictures from Simrishamn, though. It is a fairytale looking fishing village in the south-east corner of Sweden. Very pretty, and it is full of tourists (mainly Swedish) this time of year.

mids200706242.jpg

Simrishamn.jpg

88cce3be2cc53db94e00e99e90fe5337.jpg

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Hehe... I'm in Sweden now visiting friends and relatives and heading off to Paris next week. Perhaps there was an opportunity for a S&S get-together in Europe this year?

Guys - I am exuding jealousy. I still daydream of my time in Sweden last year...

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Hehe... I'm in Sweden now visiting friends and relatives and heading off to Paris next week. Perhaps there was an opportunity for a S&S get-together in Europe this year?

Your trip reports are great - keep it up!

I don't have much to report myself since most of it is just treading familiar ground for me. Here are some pretty pictures from Simrishamn, though. It is a fairytale looking fishing village in the south-east corner of Sweden. Very pretty, and it is full of tourists (mainly Swedish) this time of year.

mids200706242.jpg

Simrishamn.jpg

88cce3be2cc53db94e00e99e90fe5337.jpg

Damn I need a holiday. Looks like a nice place. But where are all the people?

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Damn I need a holiday. Looks like a nice place. But where are all the people?

All the action seemed to be around the main street and down the harbour / marina. It was a bit overcast on the day we were there, so I've pinched some photos on the net.

The place has only around 6,500 inhabitants, so you won't find non-stop nightclub action. But if you want to enjoy a genuine sleepy seaside village with cobblestone lanes, old picturesque quarters and cute shops, then Simrishamn has a lot to offer.

P1040932.JPG

kamskogs-krog.jpg

Edited by AndersB

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If you want more action there is my old university town Lund, which is 50 minutes drive west of Simrishamn. It is a fun old place with 80,000 inhabitants or so, of which 1/4 would be students. This gives a very young vibrant feel to the city with a lot of partying going on amidst a beautiful old environment.

The University of Lund is almost 350 years old, so there is a fair bit of tradition and history around all the institutions and establishments in Lund.

Just beware, cars are discriminated against pretty severely! Bicycles rule in this town.

Lund.jpg

lund.jpg

Stadsbild-Lund.jpg

lund%20009.jpg

cyklar-lund.jpg

Nya-styrelsen-Lund-2010.jpg

Edited by AndersB

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... my old university town Lund, which is 50 minutes drive west of Simrishamn. It is a fun old place with 80,000 inhabitants or so, of which 1/4 would be students. This gives a very young vibrant feel to the city with a lot of partying going on amidst a beautiful old environment.

lund.jpg

Want!!

How can one country have so much beauty?

You must have had a very enjoyable time at university, my friend... :)

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You must have had a very enjoyable time at university, my friend... :)

Alcohol consumption per capita per unit of time is pretty high in Lund. Cobblestone streets are pretty but you swear at those darned things when you stagger home early in the mornings.

All those old buildings were just old buildings back in those younger days. As an engineering student it was much more interesting to explore new frontiers. And new frontiers are still being explored. Coming back now I am awestruck at how beautiful the town is.

During the time I have lived in Australia (24 years) the Berlin Wall came down, the European Union started, low cost airlines proliferated, and a bridge to Denmark was built between Malmö and Copenhagen. Although the economy is struggling in many parts of Europe, it is impressive how the economic integration has progressed between the Scandinavian countries and Europe as a whole.

Actually, it is very, very tempting to move back. Perhaps it is a case of this:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding"

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Damn I need a holiday. Looks like a nice place. But where are all the people?

Heh, I was thinking something along the lines of a Swedish version of the Wicker Man.

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Day 5: Wanton Scottish Hussy

Last day on the island. I went out for my morning stroll at about 0500 just to watch the fishermen doing their fishing things and the swans do their swan things. Oh plus to have a smoke and a coffee. Came back in to tell the land lady that we would be leaving early as we had a flight to catch. She was standing in the kitchen in her nighty and being, quite frankly, brazen about it. Hussy. Probably a good thing Al and I shared a room last night or I would have undoubtedly had a nocturnal visitor l'amour. At her, estimated, 150kg combined with the, apocryphal, lustiness of the scottish lasses I am not sure the bed would have survived.

In fact I am not sure I would have either.

I am still surprised I survived their breakfasts. A "wee small" scottish breakfast seems to mean "not a whole black pudding on your plate". You only get 6 slices of toast because the larger toast racks don't fit on the table.

Al is a Liverpool fan and I am famous for my love of sports at any cost and for any reason (ahahahaha). Liverpool were playing at home against some other guys in the euro something or other cup. We went to watch them play. We did the "Dinner in the clubrooms then watch the game" thing. Apparently last time the two teams played Liverpool fielded a sub par team and almost lost to some obscure minnows and so Al was in high hopes of there being a full strength squad. This occurred.

The clubroom has these enormous room long glass cabinets for their trophies and such. Obviously some years have been a little slim as there are the occasional tacky dolphin or "woman with child" bits of porcelain in there. I guess you have to fill the space somehow.

During the match there was a guy with his kid right behind me and the guy was explaining the game and what was happening to the kid so I actually understood roughly what was going on too. Sometimes the kid was a bit advanced for me to follow however. I refrained from asking for clarification.

In the past whenever I have asked Al about something to do with sports he has taken to asking me to name a single person that plays the sport as a form of ritualistic humiliation. I completely outsmarted him this time as the kid behind me obviously liked a fellow by the name of Agger. Pronunciation issues aside I ran with that one. Seems to have worked.

Food Knowledge Added: Chips with curry sauce. Apparently a local classic. Usually sold from a shop emblazoned with "Chips and Chinese".

Linguistic Knowledge Added: None. I am not sure how these people communicate but it cannot possible be via the verbal noises they make.

Football Chants Added: See linguistic knowledge added. I clapped at roughly the right points in time I believe.

Tomorrow: To Frankfurt for a few days with an IT friend. Beer and Sausages quake with fear!

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Day 2: Flew from Glasgow to Isle of Islay. During this process I learned I have been pronouncing "Islay" wrong all along. This may be because, according to these people, I pronounce everything wrong however.

I pronounce it 'eye-la'. What's the correct way?

Amazing experiences, great journalling. Exceedingly jealous :)

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I pronounce it 'eye-la'. What's the correct way?

Amazing experiences, great journalling. Exceedingly jealous :)

That is probably as close as I will ever understand it :)

I had been told it was 'eee-la'

I _think_ the pronunciation actually has a hint of an R in there though. 'eye' 'touch of r' 'la' but it is almost like they think about saying the bit of r and don't actually do it.

I am not very good at languages :)

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Day 6: Invited back to England (with Accommodation)

Part of "heading to Sweden" (Day 4 goals) is being achieved! Granted in a slower fashion than most might do it but don't be fooled into missing the gradual achievements on that front. The next step in the, some would say glacial, achievement of the goal is Manchester to Frankfurt. I am carrying all my sticks and armour - the nominal reason for this trip is a chunk of training in Sweden after all.

At Manchester airport the check-in lady was asking if I could tie my sticks to my big bag. They have a preference for number of bags rather than weight in general it seems (although I have yet to be charged excess baggage). I said I had done it once and that a baggage guy got all pissy at me but that I would happily do it if she wanted. She said "well we can't go annoying those boys can we" and I said "I just do whatever the nearest person in uniform says to do". The guy behind the next check-in desk said "Reaaaaallllllly? Anything? and would you like a place to stay when you return?".

Such an open, friendly and welcoming culture in Manchester!

ahahahaha

So after seducing check in staff we zipped off to frankfurt and I got a room looking out over one of those blue Euro statues. The thrifty germans turn the floodlights off it during the night. This may be the practicality which has seen them through the EU crisis. Someone let Gillard know.

Supermarket shopping for hotel room supplies reiterated just how nasty the punishment taxes are in Australia.

20 x 500ml bottles of SchofferHoffer beer $22 here, 12 bottles are $80 at Dan Murphy.

1 x 750ml of Linje akvavit $15 here, $85 in Sydney

Well what supplies do you buy for your hotel room?

Gastronomic Time:

A selection of regional specialities. I selected the "3 bits" and from the selection of some 8 or so items picked

"Egg with frankfurt green sauce"

"Smoked sausage with mustard"

"Marinated cheese with onion"

The egg had the most golden yolk I have seen in ages. I suspect dye or something - Krafty Krauts. Boiled halved and served in a mayonnaise sauce which has been overloaded with herbs, maybe tarragon and chives dominant. Sausages were sausages, they had been smoked. The marinated cheese might have been a hand cheese which had raw onion chopped and heavily laid over the top and then an oil based marinade, surprisingly good. All served with the first decent bread we have had on this trip and an apfelwein (slightly sour cider - another regional thing - fruitier than a dry cider and fairly flat - decent appertif, suspect the offer of mixing it with fanta would be quite awful but is apparently popular).

The food is delivered in ~250ml jars with the rubber seal and clip on lid thing. Kind of like a german version of tapas. Someone should remind Lowenbrau of their roots, this beats the crap out of the stuff they usually have and would be great on a sunny spring / autumn afternoon in Sydney.

My german is not very good and I missed the bit where it said "zu teilen".

My English is not very good and I missed the bit where it said "to share"

So Al got another three selections and James (old coworker we came to visit) another couple. Food for an army. Hoorah.

We were very proud when we made a creditable effort to eat the lot and not look like people that can't read a menu.

Then the schnitzels came out and all sanity was lost in an orgy of crumbed and fried meat, dark beer sauce with fried potatoes and onions. And another golden egg on top.

"We rode a bike the other day". Suitable justification I believe. The waiter was not amused, I suspect his english needs work.

Musical Notes

For days I have been singing "Jaws was never my scene and I don't like star wars" Just worked out that this is from Queens "Bicycle Races". My mind works in awesome ways!

A group of Blonde German teenagers singing in a park at twilight are much less fearsome provided the song is an acoustic version of Wonderwall and not the Horst Wessel Song.

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