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    Tate Modern: Contemporary Art and an incredible London View

    Modern art tends to divide people. There are those that hate it, those that see deep meanings behind the canvases and those that aren’t bothered either way. The beauty of taking anyone to the Tate Modern, is that all camps are totally looked after. Confused? Follow me.

    Tate Modern Contemporary Art Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The building face only an architect could love…

    The Tate Modern is quite some edifice, rising up from the Thames riverbank. A former power station designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, it consisted of a stunning turbine hall, 35 metres high and 152 metres long, with the boiler house alongside it and a single central chimney. It was an imposing building along the London Southbank but apart from a remaining operational London Electricity sub-station, the site had been redundant since 1981. Herzog & De Meuron (Basel architects) were commissioned in 1994 to convert the building into the gallery that we know and love today.

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    Hotel Review: La Villa K, Saint Louis, France

    There aren’t many hotels that have pulled me away from exploring a town, but the four-star La Villa K Hotel and Spa managed that with aplomb. The night before I flew home from my city break in Basel, I spent an evening in the Alsace town of Saint Louis, 2 meals into my 3 country/3 meal sojourn.

    Hotel Review La Villa K Saint Louis Alsace France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: My trip was supported by the Alsace tourism board (thank you!) but all relaxation enjoyment is very much all my own!

    Slipping straight off the tram that darts between Basel, Switzerland and Saint-Louis, France (the number 3) I strolled through the Saint-Louis street fair, one my way to La Villa K Hotel & Spa.

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    The Secrets of Saint-Louis, France

    I’ve got a secret to tell you. Come close, come closer. Come even closer. Basel (or EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg to give its full name) airport isn’t in Switzerland. In fact it’s in Saint Louis, France, a town in the Alsace region – and a 20-minute bus ride takes visitors over the international border.

    Secrets of Saint-Louis France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: My trip was supported by the Alsace tourism board (thank you!) but all random art theories are very much all my own!

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    Travel Bucketlist Goals: 3 meals, 3 countries, 1 day

    For the longest of stretch of time, I’ve wanted to have 3 meals in 3 countries in a single day. There’s an air of romance about being able to slip between nations in search of delicious food, and the ability to pop between Switzerland, France and Germany was simply too hard to resist whilst exploring Basel.

    Basel Airport Hotel La Villa K Restaurant La Cave Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: My whole trip was supported by the Basel and Alsace tourism boards (thank you!) but this particular scheme was dreamed up all on my own…

    If I’m being super honest, it was also ridiculously easy. The joy of EU nations having visa waiver agreements meant that all I had to do was look up which modes of transport I’d need to use to hop across the border. Forget the Bonnie and Clyde shenanigans for once…

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    Every journey begins with a single step, or so the travel philosophers say…

    All the great Internet cheeseballs and philosophers say the journey is as important as the destination. Sitting on English tarmac recently, still belted in an hour and a half after we were meant to land at our destination, I actually decided that actually they were right.

    My journey began pretty routinely; I skipped onto the tube, my suitcase wheeling with delight, then settled into the short & cosy train ride out to the airport. Once through the fun of security (read: giggling at all the puzzled, annoyed people waiting until the head of the queue before emptying their pockets, removing their belts and looking confused at electronics being hauled our of their bags by bored looking officials. They clearly don’t read any of the billion signs despite a half a hour queue looking at a variety of them…)

    Glasgow sunsets Adventures of a London KiwiNot a Glasgow kiss, but a Glasgow sunset instead…

    Strolling though (my outfit chosen for the ease of getting through metal detectors and lack if pockets for stay coins to hide in) I
    decided a glass of champers, an hour of reading my book and a healthy session of people-watching was in order. Students in neon trainers sprawled poutily on the floor, pearl framed blue-rinsed Ladies complaining about the waste of salad leaves as garnish and elderly gentlemen corralled kids astride suitcases with a vengeance against ankles.

    Eventually we boarded, the scrum of people ecstatic to race onto the plane and then, er, wait as the rest of the scrum boarded (personally, I like to join the queue after the rush goes but before the stragglers run in). Once sat in our seats with a growing sense of anticipation we clicked our seat belts on, and waited. 

     

    And waited. 

     

    And waited.

     

    New Zealand shorelines Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The captain’s voice rang out after a pregnant delay, advising us that our flight was delayed due to civil action (the air
    controllers union striking) and we were hoping to get away in the next 40 minutes – the delays causing a change in staff.

    Half an hour or two later, and a chat with the lovely air stewardesses – both ladies who grew up in Northern England with
    childhood dreams of the glory of air hostessing but lacking in the height requirements that used to be levied, we ended up discussing Britan’s best fish & chips restaurants. Our shortlist ended up falling to Brighton (best with bubbly on the pier we decided) and upppp North (where the fish is so fresh it almost flips onto your plate).  

    It turned our we were among the lucky travellers – several other airlines were forced to cancel flights due to time restrictions or kick passengers off to ensure that hostess to passenger safety ratios were kept. By this point the kids on the flight deck were getting a little rowdy, and a few passengers donated pens and notebooks for scribbling (and perhaps a touch of dribbling on) much to the relief the frazzled parents.

    Airport waiting rooms Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A hour after we were meant to leave (and a hilarious chat with my seat mates about Turkish wine, New Zealand lamb and their plans to get hands-on aka feet-in harvesting and processing french grapes) our knight-in-shining armour Domingo, a cabin manager fresh from Basel, arrived to a cheer from the relieved passengers (not to mention a few cat calls…) all keen to land (and eat feta baguettes. Why so specific I’m not sure, but even her mates teased the girl about it.)

    It was at this point I realised my blog voice narrator had kicked in, so taking advantage of the forced downtime I rolled out the smartphone and begin dashing down the moments that kept me smiling. After a few more delays – we began to move then settled into a cruelly promising taxiing position, before eventually we began to move and then exalted at liftoff – definitely aided by my hilarious seat mates’ pretend flintstones foot pedal assistance. Finally we landed, all relieved to escape our lovely prison, and began queuing for the immigration.

    Who had to be flown in from another airport.  

    New Zealand sailing Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Christmas in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

    After another good 15 minutes of anxiously waiting tourists (needing to collect rental cars before the hire places closed), to another great cheer – and some excited hugging, the feta baguette girl striking again – we funnelled through the final barriers to freedom and our beds. My Kiwi passport got a surprise wink from the immigration officers and a victorious stamp, and there I was, again on foreign soil. A new adventure on the oft.

    Travel definitely has it’s downsides, it’s true…

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