Thursday, March 11, 2010

January Canberra Trip

Back in the middle of January I spent a weekend in Canberra. Not having been there since I was about 11 I had no idea what to expect. In the end I think I liked it. I ended up hiring a car to get around after discovering that the weekend buses weren't so good, and I ended up staying at more expensive accommodation than I normally would after leaving booking too late.

My gigantic hotel room, I'm sure they put me in a better room than the one I paid for.

I found driving in some ways easier than I thought it would be, the roundabouts and circles aren't as bad as I remembered. Parking was a pain in Civic, but was free at all the "attractions" I went too. Forgot to ask for a Street Directory at the airport so I bought one for $10 from Big W instead. Food wise Canberra has a quite a range of foods, which I guess is owing to all the embassies and consulates. Although that didn't really help me, travelling alone I don't feel comfortable sitting in a "real" restaurant on my own so ended up getting take away for most meals. Food also seems more expensive in Canberra.

My car for the weekend, a Toyota Corolla, almost
identical to mine. I ordered a hatch when I booked
beacuse it was cheaper but got a sedan instead.

My impression of the city of a whole is that it feels strange, especially in the more government oriented areas. The parts of the suburbs I did venture into seemed like any other city in Australia though.

This water jet in Lake Burley Griffin was screaming.
I know I read some impresive stats about it somewhere.
People in Canoes and paddle boats were going through it

The main things I wanted to do were:
-Parliament House
-Old Parliament House
-National Gallery of Australia- Masterpieces from Paris Exhibition

In addition I had a bit of a look around the National Library, drove past Mrs Bryce's house at Yarralumla, went to the top of both Mount Ainslie (during a thunder storm!) and the Black Mountain Telstra Tower, and a few other bits and pieces. All in all it was a good weekend.

Black Mountain in the distance

The Telstra tower on top of Black Mountain. There was a sign in
the carpark stating something along the lines of "remote locking
systems for cars wont work due to strong radio interference". They
weren't kidding I had to lock and unlock my car using the key.

By far Old Parliament House was my favourite place. It has recently been turned into the Museum of Australian Democracy, and as well as the building itself has information on how government works and the history of government in Australia. What I found most interesting were the various offices in the building which have been left as they were back in the 80's, particularly the Prime ministers and senate leaders offices as well as the press gallery which is situated on the roof of the building.

Famous steps on the wedding cake. Aka Old Parliament House.
Aka Provisional Parliament House.

View from Commonwealth Place across Lake Burley Griffin
to The Australian War Memorial and Mount Ainslie.

The weather was fine, and high 20's most of the time apart from a thunder storm on the Saturday afternoon. Monday was cold and windy, as was Melbourne when I got home later that day.

The Australian Governor General's Residence at Yarralumla.
Originally a homestead for one of the farms in the area.

High Court Building

Flights were with Qantas and I can't complain about either leg. Although we had a gate change/aircraft swap on the way back to Melbourne which delayed the flight leaving, and yet we managed to land in Melbourne on time (once again at gate 9, I always arrive into Melbourne at gate 9!).

My plane home, Qantas 737 400 vh-TJR "Cockatiel".
I became quite familar with this plane as I also rode on it
only a bit over a week later coming back from Sydney.

Crossing over the Sunbury Road while landing at Melbourne Airport.
(This is a screen grab from a video I shot which can be seen here.)

I have included a few photos here but I have more on my Picasa and Flickr accounts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

London City Airport

Many people may not realise that there is an airport in the heart of London. Well not quite in Piccadilly, but close by in East London, North Woolwich to be exact. It is of course London City Airport. The airport website claims it is only 22 minutes from London City by the Docklands Light Railway from Bank station. It is certainly much closer than Heathrow and Gatwick.

London City Airport caters mainly to the business market and flights go to many cities throughout North/Western Europe and Britain. Having only a 1508 metre runway generally only small regional and business aircraft are allowed in out. The one exception is Brittish Airways service to JFK (as in John F Kennedy airport in New York) using specially configured Airbus A318s. The flight reaches JFK via a stop for fuel and US Customs pre clearance in Shannon Ireland. The most common aircraft using the airport include the Fokker 50, Bombardier Dash 8 and Avro RJ/BAe 146 series.

The video above shows the spectacular approach Following the Thames over the West End, London City and Docklands. This video is a time lapse showing a typical period of 90 minutes at the airport.