TBT: The Great Sphinx & Giza Plateau, Egypt

TBT to that awesome time I was in Egypt! TAKE ME BACK!!! I think people often consider The Sphinx as a bit of an afterthought to the pyramids, but, while it’s certainly smaller, it’s every bit as impressive! The Giza Plateau in general is a really beautiful area, and (if you can manage to block out the roaming salesmen) can be surprisingly peaceful if you have the time to just sit down and take it all in…

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Through my eyes: Quintessential Paris – The Moulin Rouge & The Eiffel Tower

Happy Bastille Day!

To the French, it’s their version of the American 4th of July, the day they proudly commemorate their troops storming the Bastille (which was a prison) and starting the French Revolution off.

To a lot of us who aren’t French, it’s an excuse to eat good French dishes that head the specials boards on so many restaurants and indulge in a little more wine than usual. In the spirit of all things French, I thought I’d re-cap two of my most quintessentially French experiences from my trip to Paris in 2013 – the Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower.

 

The Moulin Rouge I expected to be fairly tacky and ridiculous; I actually had a really fun night there (may have been helped along by the complimentary champagne)! The show, Feerie, was fantastic, the service was on point, as you’d expect, and it wasn’t all naked ladies – the intermission acts, for the most part, were better than the cabaret itself! Very pleasantly surprised!

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And then there’s this guy.

Built in 1889.
Standing at 324 metres (1063 feet) tall.
Weighing approximately 10, 000 tones.
2010 saw it receive it’s 250 millionth visitor.
It’s a cultural icon recognised around the world.
I didn’t think it’d be THAT impressive.

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Boy, was I wrong.

Oh, and the view from the top?
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Through my eyes: Flatiron Building, New York, USA

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This building is beyond bizarre… but I absolutely loved it! The Flatiron Building in New York City, completed way back in 1902, is the ultimate “don’t waste any space” piece of architecture. Instead of letting the oddly shaped piece of land sit there being useless (which is not really a legitimate possibility in a city like New York where every piece of space is prime real estate), a clever architect from Chicago designed the building to fit snuggly into the area available. It’s not one of the city’s most iconic buildings and draws a ridiculous number of tourists who, like me, really do need to see it to believe it!

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Through my eyes: Sacré-Cœur, Paris, France

It was a decent, cold, rainy walk to the top, but goodness was it worth it… what an absolutely stunning church…

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An interesting encounter at the Temple of Karnak, Egypt

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We arrived at the Karnak Temple complex after a quick visit to the Colossi of Memnon, and bang in the middle of a sandstorm. It was one of those things you see in movies or travel documentaries that looks kinda cool, but is actually just crap in real life. The sandstorm, not the temple.

An absolutely stunning, staggeringly enormous open air museum of sorts, it’s the second largest temple complex of it’s type in the world (Angkor Wat takes the title). While it’s hard to pick favourite parts, some of the more impressive sections, in my eyes, included the great Hypostyle hall of columns, the rows of ram-headed sphinxes lining the entrance to the complex, and the few obelisks scattered around.

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It was a really amazing complex, quite large and diverse compared to a lot of other sites we visited. It stood out for another reason though; I had quite a confronting experience there.

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Our tour group was comprised of myself, husband, another young lady and two other guys, all of us being around the same age. Us two girls hadn’t had too much trouble during the trip, which we were very thankful for, but what happened here certainly tested our nerves. While we were looking around the lake, we became quite conscious of the fact that we were being circled by a few young Egyptian men. They’d have been somewhere between 18 and 25 years old, if I had to warrant a guess. Anyway, I guess the cockiest one, with the oiled, slicked back hair, tight fitting singlet and gold neck chains got a little bored of staring from a distance – I hadn’t really registered that he’d disappeared from my sight until I turned around to look back at the lake to find him only a few inches in front of me and my fellow female travel companion, camera pointed in our faces, clicking away like a possessed paparazzo.

Needless to say, we were pretty freaked out! We turned to face each other as closely as we could, so that he could only see our backs, and our amazing local guide, Medo, stepped in pretty quickly to get rid of him (thank goodness!). Once he was gone and we’d gotten over our initial shock, we asked what the hell it was all about. Medo explained that the big temple complexes attracted a lot of young guys coming from the “country side” (remoter areas) where they don’t get Western tourists. They come to the big tourist spots with their cameras to capture the foreign women they see, so that they can take the pictures back home to their friends and brag and exaggerate about what they’d seen and their holiday conquests. Because I wasn’t already feeling like enough of a zoo animal, being porcelain doll-white, auburn-haired and freckled.

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While it freaked me out, it was also a really interesting experience; I think I’d kind of expected to encounter this sort of thing the whole time we were in Egypt. But this was the seventh day of our eight day trip, and it was the first confrontation of that type we had. I think I was also so taken aback because us Melbournians aren’t really all that surprised or intrigued by different cultures to that extent. Melbourne is a stomping ground for any and every culture under the sun – Fijians, Chinese, Americans, Italians, Vietnamese, Indians, Brits, Greeks, Jews, Muslims, Catholic nuns, Buddhist monks… They all coexist in our city without any of the outlandish curiosity we were shown in Egypt. Hell, I’ve seen a mature-aged gentleman of what seemed to be eastern European descent standing in the middle of the CBD dressed in a skirt and heels, holding rosary beads, and no one blinked an eye at him as they walked past. It made for a very interesting social experiment, and really made me wander about my own upbringing and how much I’ve completely taken for granted exposure to other cultures from such an early age. Even as a kid, with friends who looked so clearly physically different to me, I don’t think I ever really wandered (or cared) why, yet here were these young adults making special trips from their quiet, secluded home towns to see what foreigners looked like and take home proof that they’d seen these fantastical creatures…

Anyone else ever experienced something like this on their travels?

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Open House Melbourne 2014

Open House Melbourne
http://www.openhousemelbourne.org/

I was super excited for my first Open House Melbourne attendance this year! I’d heard of it before but never really given it much thought; now that I actually work in Melbourne’s CBD and come face to face with the city’s stunning buildings every day, I was a lot more interested in the event.

Open House Melbourne is essentially a rare (and free!) opportunity for people to take a look in and around some of Melbourne’s more popular spaces. You can read a little more about it on their website, but suffice to say it’s a great opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Melbourne joins a list of beautiful cities around the world such as New York, London, Barcelona, Chicago, Rome, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv who are opening the doors to their spaces, too.

If you’d like to find out more about the events, please visit the website; I’d rather show you some of what I saw. Here’s some of the shots from my peek inside some of Melbourne’s more fascinating buildings…

Stop 1: State Library of Victoria: La Trobe Reading Room
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Stop 2: Russell Place Substation
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Stop 3: Melbourne Town Hall
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Stop 4: The Melbourne Athenaeum
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Stop 5: Scot’s Church and Assembly Hall

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Through my eyes: perfect old buildings of High St, Preston/Northcote

I’ve been sick with the flu for a week and a half. Second case of the flu in a month. It’s kicking my ass. I’ve also not really exercised in this time. This is ridiculous for the girl who usually works out 6 – 7 days a week, including an hour before work every morning at 5.45am. In my defense, I was also a personal trainer for 8 years, a martial artist for around 15 years, and once you get into those habits, its hard to get out of them!

Husband and I usually go for a pretty long walk (around 12km on average) most Sundays to and from a breakfast or brunch spot. Last weekend was the first time in over a week I’d had the energy to actually do anything, and also the first time it hasn’t really been raining in a while, so we decided to head out for a walk and a feed. That review is coming up soon.

In the mean time, I quite enjoyed my time being let lose for a 10km walk in the fresh air, and noticed for the first time that there are some really beautiful old buildings along High Street, spanning the Preston and Northcote suburbs. A lot of them now have shiny new signage for new businesses that have popped up, but there are still hints of the good old days to be seen. More still have that retro, vintage, gorgeously run down and dilapidated look to them. They’re all little bits of history, though. Here are some snaps I took and played around with on the VSCOcam last weekend…

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