Monthly Archives: August 2009

3 Week Europe Trip – Rome > Barcelona

Barcelona was nuts.

Not in a good way either. It was like Kings Cross X 1000. Fine by day but at night fall it got super seedy. It didn’t help either that we were staying in the sex district half of La Rambla, the busiest street in town. Sketchy guys were either trying to sell you something, or they were trying to rob you. Even the pubs were selling “I got robbed in Barcelona” T-Shirts which only added to our paranoia. Any guy holding a 6-pack of cheap beer was a drug dealer whispering “coke, hash” as they went past you and prostitutes latched onto bystanders, grabbing their nuts.

Mum has an Indonesian passport which caused a lot of hassles with visas so she had to stay back in Rome for 3 more nights. My sister Jamie stayed back with her and in some ways we (Suga, Richie and I) were really glad that they did as we didn’t think they’d really dig Barcelona.

A bonus for Richie was that 2 of his brothers were hooking up with him and we got to hang out for a few nights which made Barcelona more fun.

We got to check out a bit of Gaudi and Dali’s work, which was great, we got to see and hear so many amazing street musicians (blew me away actually, makes me feel nothing but hate towards the untalented pop stars who “make it”), we also hit the beaches where women of all ages being topless was the norm (yes we all had a great perv), but I still can’t shake off just how freaky the area we stayed in was, not to mention the smell of urine and sewerage up and down every street. It just didn’t feel safe, Suga especially hated the vibe at night.

I can’t say I’d recommend visiting Barcelona, maybe if you had a big group of mates and all you wanted to do was get hammered? Even then I can’t quite see the attraction of potentially getting robbed every night.

Bicycle rental on our street. Crazy traffic and people but cyclists persisted and were seen absolutely all over the place.

Pic of our backyard. We got to our front door and the guy with the keys wasn’t there. Richie managed to get into the building but he found our flat occupied by 9 guys. Our key guy finally came, he spoke no English at all. The airconditioner was faulty and leaked all over the kitchen, the apartment smelt like bad cabbage and the guys downstairs were party animals which cranked up the music late at night every night.

We finally got out of the apartment (the key guy held us back for hours). We were starving so we headed down the road and found this place where you can make your own falafel roll, was damn good actually!

We then found this cool pub, sat at the bar and got a little trashed. The 2 bartenders were awesome and we met a few guys from the States and England too. We crawled out of there at 2am to hunt down a foose table (bartenders tip!).

We found one but it was broken. Shame!

Richard Murphy boozed up.

The next morning we waited for an aircon guy to come fix the leaking unit, we learnt that when they say 11am it means 12. Half of our day was lost and the aircon guy turned out to be the damn key guy again, who did absolutely nothing but waste more of our time trying to fix the aircon himself (he didn’t fix it either). Hung over, tired and angry we set out to get lost in the many side streets off La Rambla, this knife shop was the first shop that caught our eyes.

Every street was packed and Barcelona had almost a festival vibe about it, like everyone from everywhere was here.

Skull coverd with Swarovski crystals.

Bong shop.

That afternoon we caught up with Richie’s brothers. Richie left, Chris in the middle and John on the right. Both Chris and John are musicians and awesome company. Chris doesn’t drink booze (he’s a smoker) but has over 10 coffees a day, John downs a beer (or any alcoholic beverage he can get a hold of) at any opportunity he gets which made for a hazey few days of drinking!

We were all starving so we hit up our 1st Paella (was semi decent) and Suga managed to polish off this entire jug of Sangria all by herself which got her nice and tipsy.

We stumbled on the Dali museum and it was surprisingly awesome. None of his paintings, which was a shame, but hundreds of early sketches and many sculptures too.

The venue itself was intersting with many little rooms and you had to walk through red curtains to get to new sections of the exhibit.

Dali was into bikes?!

A skull made of type. His signature on one of the works.

La Rambla, a steady flowing stream of people day and night.

By day La Rambla is lined with some crazy human sculptures.

In trying not to make eye contact with sketchy people I often had my eyes on the ground.

These demon guys were awesome.

There was also a crazy pet market on La Rambla by day.

Nom nom nom.


That night we checked out the pier, which was again very similar to our Darling Harbour. We found a restaurant that served up one of the best steaks I’ve ever had (I actually ordered fish but had a good taste of Suga’s). Was up there for Richie and Suga too.

No matter which country you visit, you can’t escape the digeridoo. These guys were cool though, the guy on the left played that crazy UFO looking dish thing on the floor on the left side. It was insane.

The Murphys.

Suga and I.

Our 2nd paella was yummy and we found it in a beautiful restaurant that we stumbled upon in a tigh side street.

Suga nom nom. I couldn’t stop admiring the cute little french girl on the table behind, she was soooo cute. Me getting maternal? Noooo?!

Dead bikes on our street.

Yes the city has a bicycle service too, again, why the hell don’t we have this?!

On La Rambla I found this genuine Miro you can actually walk on!

He even signed a tile.

Cool 3 wheel rentacars.

Christina and I checked out the Erotic Art museum which was pretty lame.

There was a huge food market on La Rambla which had some crazy produce on sale. This was an animated table full of crawling stuff.

MMM! Inners!

Huge eggs.

We also checked out the Wax Museum which was pretty good. This guy was so real, he freaked me out hard. The more I looked at him the more spooked I got.

Mum and Jamie joined us on the 3rd day and we started to check out the Gaudi stuff which was out of the seedy area we were living in so that suited us all just nicely.

Our last dinner with Richie’s brothers was in this lovely little restaurant but getting there was hardcore as we had to go through one of the dodgiest little streets we encountered. Drug dealers and prostitue which was well fended off by John.

Mojito’s was where it was at for Suga.

Goodbye drinkies.

The boys a little burnt from the topless perving session on the beach.

The following images are of Gaudi’s amazing work. First the Gaudi Park, then the amazing Sagrada Família church which is still unfinished, then Casa Milà and lastly his amazing Casa Batlló apartments.

Gaudi Park. Was a super hot day which made it a bit uncomfy, but there was an amazing musician at every turn which made it awesome.

Sagrada Família, insane organic goodness.

Ceilings are taller than you think too, gob smacking in real life.

Casa Milà was lovely on the outside but a little bit of a let down inside.

Interesting forms on the roof.

You can see the Sagrada Família in the distance in this shot.

Casa Batlló

Paris tomorrow! I’ve got some videos of the musicians to upload to YouTube too at some point.

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3 Week Europe Trip – Singapore > Rome

Rome was awesome. We had perfect weather (it was super bitey under the sun, but at least it was sunny!) and we stayed in the perfect location in a beautiful old apartment right next door to the Vatican City which made exploring the cobble stoned city on foot a treat.

Rome has no modern/high-rise buildings (we heard that nothing can be taller than the highest church, which isn’t very high), this makes for a place that looks like it has never ever changed with the times. The traffic is insane and no-one seems to follow any sort of road lines which makes the entire city feel like a huge bumpy (due to the cobble stones) race track where the aggressive driver wins every time as they undercut anyone and everyone in the corners.

Parking is just as insane and it explains why nearly everyone owns a tiny Smart car (they’re allowed to park them 90 degrees to the curb too). We saw so many cars just hit the car in front or behind in order to get into our out of a park, scratched and dented bumpers are the norm.

The language barrier was tough as most people we spoke to couldn’t speak any English. We tried our best to speak some Italian, that combined with some finger pointing and hand gesturing worked AOK.

What I took away the most from Rome was how ancient and historically significant everything was. Just standing in, and being allowed to touch the columns of the Pantheon (originally built in 27 BC) made me feel completely insignificant and the visit to the Vatican City had more of an impact on me than I expected. It seems like each and every little back street leads you to a site or building of huge significance.

Rome’s airport also had a train to take us from the gate to the main terminal (albeit a lot less modern that Singapore’s one!).

Our apartment was on Via Giulia, which turns out to be a famous little street in the historic centre of Rome.

When we got to the apartment the guy with the key wasn’t there yet (same with Barcelona but that’s another story!), so we walked down the road (with luggage!) to a little cafe.

As expected, it was great coffee. Turns out the locals don’t often sit down for coffee, instead they choose to stand at the bar and have their coffee with a pastry. If you sit down and have it, it costs you twice the price!

It wasn’t long before our guy rocked up with the keys, to our surprise it was a lovely little fully furnished apartment. The artwork on the walls were insane, especially a huge monoprint of Ancient Rome above the dinner table.

When walking around the block on the first day we found an open door on the street which lead to a very dark space inside, we weren’t sure what was in there but it was somehow very strangely inviting, turns out it was an amazing church which had a lot of skulls on display (unusual for a church right?). Every church we went to on the trip Mum lit up a candle and made some prayers for us which was nice.

The Castel Sant’Angelo was just around the corner from our apartment. The building was used as a fortress where the Pope of the Vatican City could retreat to during war (which happened a few times apparently when the Vatican was taken over by various forces). It’s now a museum which displays work which were nowhere near as fascinating as the building itself and the view to be had from the very top of the castle was amazing.

Smart car parking 90 degrees to curb.

The Piazza Navona was close to our place too. We had our 1st Pizza in this square, pizza was good of-course!

Fountain of the Neptune at the Piazza Navona.

The Pantheon, perhaps my fave building in the whole of Rome.

The huge dome above which has a huge circle opening at the top which allows the light to flood in, very beautiful. The hole at the top of the dome let’s the rain in too and apparently it’s an amazing sight to see a column of rain splash in from the top and hit the floor.

Inside the Pantheon.

Tiny little cars EVERYWHERE.

Another tiny little car.

Public bicycle service, why don’t we have this already in Sydney?!

Amazing little restaurant we found in a little side street at the end of our street. They have a web site!

A shot I took from our balcony of a guy below replacing some cobble stones.

We bought fresh foods from a local street market and deli and we feasted hard every morning on cooked meals and take away coffees.

The Spanish steps and fashion district where the girls (well… Mum) was tempted to spend up on Italian labels such as Gucci, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.

Ferrari engine in the Ferrari shop.

Colnago bike for Ferrari and F1 car in the background.

Another Colnago + Segway.

Killer 3 wheeler!

Crazy random cafe filled with huge sculptures.

Eating is a gamble and we chose right with this kooky little cafe near the Spanish Steps. It had a ‘horn’ theme happening with many interesting sculptures on display.

One of the many beers we consumed that we’ve never had before.

One of many killer pasta dishes (at the end of our Rome trip we were totally pasta’d and pizza’d out!).

Trevi Fountain. Standing 85 feet high and 65 feet wide, it’s the largest Baroque fountain in the city.

Richie and Jamie throwing a donation into the fountain. It’s said that if you do this you will one day return to Rome.

Tight parking is the norm.

This new M3 outside our apartment (you can just make out Richie entering the apartment after another night of great food and booze) had a lot of parking bumper damage all over (so sad).

Suga and I outside of the ancient Roman Forum (now mostly rubble).


The Colosseum. We had a very American tour guide booked for the day, she annoyed me a little but some of the stuff she had to say was amazing. It’s been estimated that about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals died in the Colosseum games. Amazing stuff and yes it was hard to delete the imagery that Gladiator the movie had burnt into my brain.


The Colosseum and to the right you can make out the Arch of Constantine.

Cheese! Our meal near the Colosseum.

Fresh pasta FTMFW.

Outside the Vatican City. BMU RPRSNT! The Vatican City is it’s own country (it’s the world’s smallest country, fascinating huh?!). Our tour guide was a young American guy, he was awesome and made the entire visit a lot more understandable to me personally.

Richie and Jamie.

Me, mum and my sister Jamie.

There’s an amazing collection of insane artwork in the Vatican galleries (arguably of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance in the world), most of it behind locked doors but what is on display is truly inspiring. Here are 3 Raphael paintings, the real deal and absolutely beautiful to see in real life.

Dead green Jesus.

Halls and halls of sculptures.


Lady men were well documented and apparently a treat for couples on wedding nights.

Huge hall of Tapestries was impressive not that tapestry is my thing but I appreciate the insane amount of work that went into these celing high artworks.

Hall of maps.

One of many decorated ceilings, unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the famous Sistine Chapel which Michelangelo painted.

One of many amazing paintings by Michelangelo.

Detail of the above painting, stolen by Guns’n’Roses album cover art below.

Guns’n’Roses album cover art.

St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people.

Suga + God’s rays.


The font size on the above ledge is apparently 3 times bigger than the one on the bottom ledge to give it visually the same size when viewed from the ground floor.

Dome detail.

We were lucky enough to catch a service too, which was kinda uncomfortable for me, but still interesting.

Michelangelo’s Pieta. The real deal. It’s an insane sculpture which has a great Michelangelo twist to it. He’s depicted Mary holding a dead Jesus, but Mary’s massive in size which suggests her holding a newborn Jesus.

Rome (and Paris too, we’ll get to that later in the week!) had a lot of Egyptian Obelisks which were gifts from Egypt (hey great way to mark new land, just give every country a huge gift from your culture!). This one marks the square in the middle of the Vatican City entrance and had it’s iconography shaved off and the Sun God Ra statue at the top was replaced with a cross.

The Vatican City tour made us thirsty, we had so many beer stops. My brother-in-law Richie’s fun to drink with for sure!

At night all the touristy places come alive with artists in the streets and tables from cafe’s sprawling out onto the footpaths.

I waited a while to watch this thing move, but it never did.

The castle at night, alive with a lot of great stalls selling food, beer, old records, gifts, you name it.

We got to check out a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit too. How awesome is his Canon drawing?

He also created this machine designed to get you close to your enemies (ie: an army tank).

And check this invention, the modern day ballbearing bicycle headset!!!

And perhaps the biggest shock of all, he had plans for a bicycle!!!!!!!

Detail. I’ve read elsewhere since that this might have been a hoax?

Another church we found just wondering the streets.

This one had a dead dude in it (like some others). A real body, preserved and on display.

We tried to have McDonalds in every country (as we wanted to do the Pulp Fiction “Royale with Cheese” and “Mayo on Fries” thing in Paris see). Mc Tasty this one was called, the oil on top of the burger bun was enough to make me feel sick.

New Alfa Mito, 1st one I’ve seen in the flesh, in Italy nonetheless!

Cool little shop in the Jewish ghetto.

“Water is life” as the Romans used to say, the entire city has water fountains (of all different shapes and sizes) which supply safe drinking water to the people.

Random graff.

Random graff. This building was plastered with eggs.

Beers at the Castel Sant’Angelo.


Suga has a foose team at work and she’s been crazy into it lately, turns out Richie is super into fooseball too and they both went crazy when they realised there were tables at the fair going on outside the Castel Sant’Angelo.

Baked goodness.


Italian for your little stallion.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pics of 2 more amazing places we visited, one was the catacombs and the other was the Capuchin Crypt beneath the Capuchin Church (1645). The bones of 4,000 Capuchin friars, who died between 1528 and 1870 in this crypt were nailed to the wall and arranged in patterns: cross, floral, arch, triangle and circle, as well as forming objects. A large clock is composed of vertebrae, foot bones and finger bones. The single hour hand represents the idea that time has no beginning or end.

Barcelona tomorrow and Paris still to come!!!

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3 Week Europe Trip – Sydney > Singapore

I’ve got so many images, this is going to take some time so I’ll break up the 3 week trip into bits!

Sydney > Singapore

We caught the new A380 plane to Singapore which we were a bit excited about but the funny thing is that we didn’t even get to see the plane as there were no windows at the terminal gate, or on the coridoors boarding the plane.

We were only in Singapore for one night to break up the long flight to Europe. We did hit Orchard Rd. but we were no mood at all to shop as we were all too excited to get to Rome. The insane heat and traditional Singapore muginess didn’t help either.

The A380’s personal TV screen. I watched a shitload of films on the flights where I just couldn’t sleep, here are a few I could remember (I’m sure I watched more!):

Star Trek (cheesy but I didn’t mind it).
Death Note 1 & 2 (Japanese cheese is so good).
Watchmen (Just as good the 2nd time around).
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Just as crap the 2nd time around).
The Soloist (Could have been great but it wasn’t).
Push (no comment).
Obsessed (no comment).
17 again (I’ll admit that it did make me laugh in bits).

Kuwahara’s on display in a Crumpler bag shop.

Ice Lemon Tea, with extra syrup please. Always at the top of my list on a Singapore visit.

Spotted on Orchard Rd.

We went down to Clarke Quay hoping it would be a little cooler there, but it wasn’t. Clarke Quay looks and feels a lot like our Darling Harbour but more focussed on food, none of which was busy except for the Hooters so we gave it a go (it was horrible).

The toilets were plastered with Hooters girls from all over the world, and this squashed roach.

Unfortunate penis like forms line the Quay.

Christina and I found some temples in some back streets. Here’s a pic of some locals rubbing the Buddahs belly.

We also took the opportunity to eat some street food. $2 laksa was great, not the best I’ve had, but it was good.

We hit Raffles for dinner (read: super posh hotel). Raffles are the creators of the “Singapore Sling” which was created on the turn-of-the-century.

They’re also famous for their Hainan Chicken Rice (once of my fave dishes).

Watching the chefs from above in the Raffles outdoor kitchen was a treat.

The new Changi airport was looking great, our gate was so far away we caught the internal train to get there.

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MX5 Clubman for sale (again)

I’ve just found my old MX5 on carsales. I always miss this car, a lot. It’s still got all the performance mods I made on it, he’s added new mirrors to it, blinkers, that’s about it. Amazing that it’s still holding it’s value but I’m far from tempted to buy it back at his asking price. Link

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I’m home!

I’ve never had jetlag up until now, it feels a lot like coming down after a huge night out! I’ve got gigs of photos, and stuff. Updates tomorrow!

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Last night we hit Wagaya again (I heart Wagaya), this time with Suga’s friends. I didn’t have to drive so I got hammered, here are some trashy shots I managed to rattle off.

Suga’s boots.

Bad shot of Suga, actually these are all bad shots.

Asahi, no longer made in Japan but I still drink it. :(

Gen WTF are you wearing?!

Nat and Stan.


Kay got the wasabi hit in our little game of sushi roullette.

PS: I’m off to Europe in a few hours from now, whoo hoo!

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Japanese pranks

Old, but it still makes me lol.

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Last night’s JDMST EOMM was a hit with over 110 cars present. One particular satin black S15 stole the show for me. More pictures and discussion here.

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Unas = win

I’ve been haunting Unas for years, the servings have gotten a LOT smaller but it’s just as awesome as ever. I actually finished that meal above, usually I have that same amount to take away because I can’t finish it all.

I strongly suggest going there if you never have. You must order:
Chicken Jaeger Schnitzel
+ Schofferhofer (on tap!)

UNAS – 340 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst 2010, ph: 9360 6885

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