A hoagie by any other name

I recently worked near Philadelphia, in a place called Chuck-Norristown.  The guys I worked with were locally raised and had that excellently rough attitude and accent that you expect of Philly.  They showed me around and made me try some of their local delicacies like: – TastyKakes – Packaged, little angel cakes that are surprisingly … Continue reading

Vanderbilt’s big digs

I was working in North Carolina recently and went to take a gander at Biltmore Estate.  This was the forested grounds and private residence of Mr. Moneybags himself, George Washington Vanderbilt II. Built in 1895, Biltmore is still officially the largest private residence in the USA today.  It was designed as a French Chateaux and … Continue reading

The lost coffee bus

In Asheville, North Carolina, I stumbled onto this old London double decker that had been trapped, surrounded by angry pot plants and made to do terrible things.  Yes, they were using it to serve coffee.  Downstairs is for ordering and upstairs is where you sit and sip.  I don’t even like coffee but I had … Continue reading

Rise of the snowy surfer

I was back in Colorado for a 3rd visit in Jan/Feb, which is peak snow season in a very popular ski resorts region.  Despite owning zero of the necessary gear, I managed to rent everything and enjoy 2 separate weekends in Winter Park and Steamboat. It was glorious.  I rediscovered my childhood snowboarding skills quickly … Continue reading

The source of liquid courage

I went to the Budaberg distillery which is in … well … Bundaberg.  Bundy is Australia’s truly distinctive rum.  It’s iconic advertising hook is a large, friendly polar bear (who knows why, but it’s pretty catchy).  If we’re being honest, I don’t think anyone really loves Bundy Rum, but it’s a staple. I don’t like … Continue reading

Helmet diving with Kang & Kodos

Over the Christmas break, I went on a little road trip through Northern Queensland with my sister and niece.  We had a blast stopping for a beer in each new town, sleeping in crappy motels, and peeing on the side of the road. At Port Douglas, we went helmet diving and snorkelling, which was pretty … Continue reading

Round and round the bar we go

On my last night in New Orleans, recently, I heard about the Carousel Bar, which of course I had to try.  There were no zebras or pink elephants on this carousel, just a round bar with a wooden bartop and stools which revolved slowly around the 2 barmen in the center.  I waltzed over, took … Continue reading

Jersey Murals

I was working in Jersey City lately, in the Grove St area and I spotted numerous, intricate, pretty murals everywhere.  I’m not sure why so many people make the effort to create these large murals on different buildings but it really helped spruce up the ‘hood. This was only the 2nd time in 4 years … Continue reading

The Bowie package at Red Rocks

Just outside of Denver is a picturesque set of rock formations making large, slanted walls like a stegosaurus’ plates or a waddle of penguins leaning into a brisque wind.  It’s a stunning view from the city, looks even better up close, appears heavenly at dusk, and is mesmerising when accompanied by a giant projection of … Continue reading

Top Dogs of Mt Sanitas

I was working in Colorado recently, which is known for mountains, health, weed, and craft beer.  I spent a weekend in Boulder and got up at 6am to hike Mt Sanitas.  It was quite steep and full of stony steps, and even though I powered past an elderly woman near the start, she caught me … Continue reading

Annabel Lee

Continuing my Edgar Allan Poe craving of late, I made a journey to the Annabel Lee Tavern in Baltimore.  The tavern itself isn’t historic at all, but the owner is a huge Poe fan.  The decorations were ominously perfect for a spooky pint and a misgiving meatloaf. Poe’s Annabel Lee – http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/annabel-lee/ A neat short … Continue reading

The Twin Towers started here

Colonial Williamsburg (the one in Virginia, not the one with all the moustache wax, skinny jeans and bow ties) copped some flack recently when they streamed historic scenes of America in their Superbowl ad and included footage of the Twin Towers falling down.  People got offended because … well … hmmm … that’s what people like … Continue reading

A wise old owl

While in Baltimore, I visited a fantastic historical bar that used to be a speakeasy, named the Owl Bar.  The entrance was tucked away to the side of the Belvedere Hotel’s foyer, looking like a small coat room with velvet curtains.  Those concealing curtains led into a huge, beautiful room with ornate brickwork, stained glass … Continue reading

Master of Macabre

I’m no literary buff but when I realised that I was near the Edgar Allan Poe house in Richmond, Virginia, I figured I should have a sticky.  I read ‘The Raven’ to myself first to get into the mood of course, because it was the only one of his works that I actually knew (and … Continue reading

Dry as a dead dingo’s donger

Having been raised in tropical heat with a sea breeze, I never understood the concept of dry heat … until just recently.  Phoenix taught me, particularly when I went for my regular, weekend, outdoor run and I barely sweated.  The surrounding desert seems to suck the life out of everything.  I usually associate dry lips … Continue reading

Strangeways

My companion and I visited Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia – who knew?! Through some twist of legendary fortitude and fate, we managed to visit 5 breweries in one weekend. The most interesting was, by far, Strangeways Brewing, who brewed a wide body of ales and then proceeded to offer a dizzying … Continue reading

Cthulhu pizza

On New Year’s Eve, I visited old friends in a really old cottage in Biddenden, UK.  We walked the English countryside, played German board games, wore Star Wars onesies, drank Belgian beer, and generally mucked about aplenty.  We also took turns cooking, which gave me the chance to summon the meal that I’d practised once … Continue reading

Shake It, Shake It Baby

I went to Amsterdam near Christmas and I did my best to try everything, as I’m wont to do – Gouda cheese, stroopwafels, brown cafes, regional beer, Gezellig pubs and most of all the red light district.  I loved Amsterdam’s cheese shops because of their multiple, well-stocked tasting stations throughout their stores where you could … Continue reading

The French Gentleman

I visited my friend’s family for Christmas again last year, which is in Amiens, northern France.  Prior to one of our many large, mandatory, well-provisioned, family dinners, we were tasked with driving into town to pickup Grandma’s sort-of boyfriend (it’s complicated).  Marcel, the charming chap, invited us to come a little early to have a … Continue reading

Bourbon Street shuffle

My friend and I visited New Orleans recently with no expectations and no real plans other than to wander around and try whatever we found.  I tried a peanut butter and bacon burger.  She tried a deep fried Oreo and a chocolate coated Oreo.  What else do you need in life? Our best unexpected moment … Continue reading

Slots-A-Fun in Sin City

The Las Vegas strip sure is glitzy, but my companion and I were struck by how flat and empty most of the city looks.  It really does feel like a fake town built right in the middle of the desert.  You can see desert landscapes around every corner and there’s even large blocks of dusty … Continue reading

La House of Ron

When it comes to spirits, I enjoy a rum and coke as much as the next man. Rum is my preferred spirit but I’m far from a connoisseur and I don’t really even like it straight. I’m the kind of guy that probably doesn’t belong in Antigua’s famed House of Rum, but destiny had plans … Continue reading

The Shire has come to Guatemala

About an hour’s drive away from Guatemala’s old capital, Antigua, there is a modest, tranquil vegan bar on the top of a mountain. The views of neighbouring volcanoes are stunning, the drinks sound like Middle Earth, and the front door is round, in the style of little folk. This is Hobbitenango – the perfect place … Continue reading

If the lava don’t getcha the water will

After my folks visited NYC, we all went to Guatemala for a week to chillax by Lago de Atitlan.  You can’t get much more relaxing than a nature hotel on a central American lake that is surrounded by volcanoes. Most of the towns around the lake seemed to have no other way in or out … Continue reading

Ommegosh

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of Albany’s central location and planned a weekend trip around the wider New York state, instead of heading back to NYC for the weekend like normal.  I drove around the famous finger lakes but it was still the end of the crazy long winter, so it wasn’t really … Continue reading

The sprinkler incident

It all began so innocently.  I did some washing in my hotel and hung my clothes all around the room on armrests, lampshades and vertical surfaces.  When I got to my last pair of underpants, I had exhausted every available surface, so I had the clever idea of putting them on a hanger and hooking … Continue reading

To catch an emu

I took my twin’s kids to the local wildlife park, Currumbin Sanctuary, and we had a blast seeing all the natives.  We cuddled a koala and watched them sleepily eat eucalyptus for breakfast.  We fed plates of milky stuff to screeching, messy lorikeets.  We patted lounging kangaroos who were thoroughly uninterested in our affections or … Continue reading

Sunrise at the summit

I spent Xmas back home in Gold Coast, Australia, which was a nice time of catching up with my family and my home town.  I decided to attempt an old challenge and try my luck at Mt Warning, which is a 3100 ft high mountain that’s quite near our mainland’s most easterly point, Byron Bay.  … Continue reading

Golden Gai time

Some of my favourite moments in Tokyo were when I found myself sitting in small bar-restaurants soaking up the local beer, food and culture.  And just to confirm the stereotype, yes these places are full of men in business suits.  After sampling a few in the downtown area, I learned of a fabled little shanty-town … Continue reading

That kabuki moment

I was in Tokyo around Christmas time and I managed to make my way to the famous kabuki-za theatre in Tokyo, despite everyone’s best efforts to get me lost.  (Seriously, don’t trust directions from a Japanese local.)  The entrance was grand and illuminated but I entered through the plain side door where tourists, grannies and … Continue reading

A Turkish delight

I’ve always liked Turkey’s most popular foods – baklava, Turkish delight and kebabs – so it was natural that I would seek them out when I visited old Constantinople. While hunting down these tasty morsels, I saw all the most famous sites – the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofiya, the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Tower … Continue reading

Dead Diggers and long-haired Achaeans

My flight home for Xmas took me over Turkey so I opted to stop in and take a tour of Gallipoli and Troy.  Gallipoli is important to Aussies because the Turks buried a lot of our lads there in WWI.  Troy is important to me because Homer wrote a cool story about burying some Trojans … Continue reading

The 3rd best city

I was recently working in Chicago and it really felt like a smaller New York. It has everything NYC has: fancy bars, classy museums, impressive architecture, distinct accent, notorious pizza, unique hotdogs, an old baseball stadium, a bike share system, a lengthy subway and skyscrapers. It has all of this but without the teeming swarms … Continue reading

Backwards pizza

Having recently spent 2 weeks in Chicago, I feel somewhat entitled to comment more deeply on their deep dish pizza. It tried it all kinds of ways: meaty, saucy, veggie, with beer, and with a meat crust. Food fads come and go all over the world, but Chicago’s backwards pizza seems to be a fad … Continue reading

Cape Cod’s sand scam

Some Yankee friends of mine got married on the beach in Wellfleet, MA, which turned out to be a great place to lure a whole wedding party and let them frolic. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to check out Cape Cod, which I’d heard such nice things about. Indeed, it was very pretty … Continue reading

Magic, racist beer

On my recent drive home from Montreal, I made a slight detour so that I could check out the Magic Hat brewery in Vermont. Magic Hat is fairly popular in NYC but I’ve also noticed it on my travels around the country. It’s famous for being decidedly bright and crazy looking, with bold colours, swirly … Continue reading

Beavers and curds in my way

While in Montreal, I made a concerted effort to seek out the stuff that locals eat, which of course is poutine – it was invented in Quebec, after all. I came in thinking that poutine was simply chips and gravy, but this was a gross underestimation. For a start, poutine usually comes with squeaky cheese … Continue reading

Mount Royal Frenchiness

My recent work in Albany, NY, placed me fairly near the Canadian border, so I seized my moment and dashed over to Montreal in search of maples, meese, and French ‘Mericans. Montreal literally means “Mount Royal” and this became quite evident as I drove into the city and saw the large green mount/hill looming behind … Continue reading

Capital of the Empire

My last customer was located in the capital of New York State, which you probably thought was New York City. Wrong! It’s a small city 3 hours north of there called Albany. It’s actually pretty common here in the US that the state capital is not the biggest city and this is true for 33 … Continue reading

Eye of the Philly

Two weeks ago, I took a weekend trip to Philadelphia, the Pennsylvanian capital of cheesesteaks, hoagies and Rocky. As is my custom, I did my due diligence on the Friday night by watching Rocky so that I’d feel ready for the city on Saturday morning. I then timed my regular Saturday morning run to finish … Continue reading

The Witch City

Upon departing Boston recently, I took a half-day visit to Salem, to try and spot some witches. I didn’t see any, but apparently there is a high percentage of certified witches living there today, which must be making the previous Puritan residents turn in their graves. I loved seeing the pilgrim’s hat everywhere on road … Continue reading

Notes from the BSO

I’m not much of a classical music fan but I figured that I should check out the Boston Symphony Orchestra while I was in their home, given that’s it’s one of the best regarded orchestras in the world and one of the US’s “big five”. The programme had 3 pieces: William Vaughan’s Symphony #6 in … Continue reading

Sox & Smoots

I hit another bucket list item last weekend when I visited Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox (yes, noobs, it’s baseball). This is the oldest major league baseball park and a true icon of the sporting world. The teams were all doing pre-season training down in Florida, so I wasn’t able to catch … Continue reading

Hotel Surprise

After staying in hotels for more than a year, there’s no surprises anymore. Before I even slip my key into my door, I have a pretty good idea what colour the bed runner will be, what style of art will be on the wall, what flavour the hand lotion will be and what format the … Continue reading

The Frozen Island

It is said that if you get lost in the forest in Iceland, just stand up. I can confirm that this is true, for on my stopover I discovered that this island is small, snowy, composed mostly of volcanic rock and almost bereft of greenery. Native plants are only 1-meter high bushes, so anything taller … Continue reading

Blighty Surprise

Blighty Surprise Ever since I knew I’d be in France for Christmas, I’d been planning how to make a surprise visit to see my London gaming friends. As fortune would have it, most of them were spending New Years together in an English farmhouse, which posed a perfect opportunity for my scheme. I took the … Continue reading

Vive la food

For the Christmas break, I visited my friend’s family in Amiens, France, which is famous for almond paste macaroons (who knew?), leek cream tarts and the largest gothic cathedral. As an Australian, getting to spend a (potentially white) Christmas in Europe is always an exciting prospect for me. Plus, Christmas is a time for family, … Continue reading

Real big fish

I’ve seen aquariums before but the Georgia Aquarium had a particularly impressive array of animals presented with that special American style of flashy hype. The dolphin show had the usual exciting flips but these Georgian ones were able to moonwalk with just their tails left in the water. There was a pool of slimey coral/rock … Continue reading

L5P Halloween

I was back in Atlanta and, as luck would have it, the Little Five Points Halloween parade was on. It’s one of the country’s biggest so I had to check it out. There were some great costumes and floats but my favourite costume was actually the guy standing right next to me in the crowd. … Continue reading

Toronto, eh?

Last month, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by travelling internationally for work. This wasn’t quite as exotic as it sounds because I was only just up the road from New York state, in Canada. At least working in Toronto gave me the chance to observe another new city and a new type of people. Two … Continue reading

Natural wonder of wet

I was in Toronto for work, which conveniently put me just a few hours drive away from Niagara Falls. As I approached the falls, a continuous tower of white mist mushroomed into the air, looking just like a plume of white smoke. When I was around 200-300 metres away, I began to feel droplets of … Continue reading

Four Score and Seven

Ever since seeing the Battle of Hastings re-enactment in the UK a few years ago, I’ve had Gettysburg on my to-do list. I’d heard that Americans put a lot of effort into their Civil War re-enactments, and Gettysburg would surely be the biggest and best. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is only about 5 hours drive from NYC, … Continue reading

Mutton Bustin’

I was in Texas for June and we all know that Texas is made of 3 things: boots, hats and rodeos (sorry, Texas, but stereotyping is easier than real research). Yeehaw! Cowboy boots were too expensive but I got me a fine hat and wore it with pride to a small rodeo near San Antonio. … Continue reading

TXRD

Work brought me to Houston last week and San Antonio this week so I was near Austin and I absolutely had to see their famous roller derby, TXRD. Austin is one of the remaining bastions of banked track roller derby, from back when it was strongly inspired by WWF wrestling and more of a scripted … Continue reading

Reen, y’all

It was through casual feed surfing that I noticed that one of my best London friends had posted a photo on Facebook of a meal she had just had in Houston, TX.  “What the … is she here?”, I thought.  A few texts later confirmed that she was indeed here for a mere 2 nights … Continue reading

Nice Ride

If you ever had a beer with me in London, then you probably suffered my numerous exhortations to try out the Barclays “Boris” Bikes.  You probably also saw me ride away from you with a swerve in my gait, a grin on my face and carrying a supremely confident air in the knowledge that I … Continue reading

Sky Walker

Last week, I travelled to the USA’s 16th largest metro area – Minneapolis/St Paul.  As I walked through the city center to my hotel, it was like walking through a ghost town – a pleasant, dense, wealthy ghost town with tall buildings and concrete everywhere, but noticeably void of rubbish and people.  I wondered, was … Continue reading

Cheeburger Cheeburger Challenge

Lately, I’ve been staying in Long Island for work, so I’ve checked out a few of the local restaurants, always in pursuit of something new and interesting. Last week, I stumbled into Cheeburger Cheeburger, which offers a tremendous variety of burgers, toppings and shakes – enough to keep any American on the last notch of … Continue reading

Nice tan

I was home for nearly 3 weeks at Christmas.  It was great to see the family, play board games with them, cavort with my nieces and nephews, and swim at the beach nearly every day.  The flight was 30 hours long but the whole journey was worth it because the first thing that my housemate said … Continue reading

No pokusa in Poland

A week before leaving London, my old Polish housemates Marcin and Ola mentioned that they had a spare room in Gdansk.  I invited myself there for 3 days and we had a swell time catching up and playing a few games.  When they lived with me in London, I felt like we’d only just started … Continue reading

Farewell my dear London

It’s been just over 4 years and I had to leave because, under the new system, I didn’t have enough points for a new visa.  I really loved London (and many things about my life there) and potentially would have stayed long-term, if I’d been allowed.  I loved the city because it was full of … Continue reading