27 October 2007

Roman ampitheatre at Carthage

One of the main reasons for picking Tunisia for our late summer holiday was the Roman settlement at Carthage, which is now a northern suburb of Tunis. 

It takes around 20 minutes to get there by train from Tunis Marine station and costs less that £1 for a return first class ticket (not that everybody in the first class compartment would appear to have a first class ticket).

There are several Roman sites in Carthage and one ticket covers them all for less than £3. The amphitheater is the furthest from the town center, being about 1km north of the railway station (Carthage Hannibal - there are several stations in Carthage). 

The other sites are clustered around the station and include a theater, museum (on the site of the forum), villas and baths. All this makes a full day out and we went there twice to see everything at leisure (cynics would also say that the first trip was shortened by the unexpected rain!).

The train journey back is an adventure in itself. It does not seem to matter when you travel but the train is always full and mostly with students aged around 16. 

A common sport for the lads is to hold the train doors open while the train is moving and to lean out of the door while hanging onto the outside of the roof of the train. This is of no concern to the other travelers who are obviously used to this behavior and normally the doors are opened before the train stops and are closed after it moves off with the train being stationery for only a brief moment, which makes getting on and off interesting!

22 October 2007

Exploring Tunis Medina

The old town of Tunis, the Medina, is fascinating.

There is a warren of narrow paths that contain a mix of shops, workshops, houses, mosques, former palaces and probably all sorts of other things all masked by the plain facades.

It varies from the Medina in Casablanca in that the paths are narrower (no motorcycles here!) and the shops are more concentrated in the few main streets, and it differs from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in that it has more than just shops.

The place it reminds me of the most is Venice which has much the same mix of uses and the same confusing maze of paths.

And it also has the hidden gems that you come across unexpectedly, like the courtyard shown here.

19 October 2007

I want a holiday in the sun

The holiday started with a taxi to the airport at 4:30am which was a bit brutal but which has proved to be worth it as it meant that we were at our hotel in Tunis around 11am and so were able to start enjoying our holiday on the first day.

The hotel is in the heart of the new town with its heavy French influence that includes a wide boulevard that has lots of cafes and restaurants.

At one end there is an impressive clock tower that is surrounded by fountains that keep changing their shape.

We did little other than walk up and down the boulevard and have a few drinks and a couple of meals but that was plenty to reassure us that we had picked a good place for our vacation. We also think that we have sorted out which train to catch for Carthage and we plan to go there tomorrow.

18 October 2007

What a waste of money by Kingston Council!!

Kingston Council is proposing to make most of North Kingston a 20mph zone and is planning lots of signs and road humps to enforce the scheme. Sounds reasonable in principle but in most of the roads that they plan to introduce the new lower limit, speeds of 20mph are impossible anyway so this is all a waste of money.

I made this point, and other similar ones, to one of my local (Conservative) councillors and he agreed with me! Apparently (Lib Dem) Kingston Council would rather waste the money being given by TfL for road improvements than not spend it at all.

But it is all tax payers' money at the end of the day so Kingston Council is wasting my money and I am not at all happy about it.

16 October 2007

Am I really?!

I am not a great fan of self-asessment, particularly against somebody else's framework, but I am happy to share this one in the interest of honesty etc.!

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

11 October 2007

Running a Communications Workshop

I am in Dallas to run a Communications Workshop for my current client. My objective for the day is to show them how to produce a Comms Kit (messages) and Comms Plan (delivery) for one of the projects I am responsible for and to enable them to produce them for the other eight projects in this region.

I was asked to lead the workshop because it is closely based on the Guide to Change Management and Communications that I wrote for the program. The process we will follow is fairly simple, which is a strength, and has a logical sequence. As it is not specific to these projects, i.e. it is a general approach, I thought that I would share it.

The process consists of these steps:
  • Identify all the changes being made by the project
  • Identify the stakeholder who are impacted by, or who can influence, these changes
  • Document all the messages that need to be delivered to these stakeholders in the Comms Kit
  • Determine how best to deliver each set of messages to each group of stakeholders, taking account of the complexity of the message and the degree of commitment required from the stakeholders
  • Summarize the communications activities in a Comms Plan
  • Deliver the Comms Plan
Simple but effective.

Back in Dallas

This blog was never meant to be all about travel, but then I was not traveling very much when I started it a year ago and now I seem to be doing rather a lot of it!

This week I am back in Dallas for just a few days, mainly for a communications workshop on Friday but it is also a good opportunity to catch up with people who I last met in August. Some are coming up to me with hard questions which is not part of the plan!

This is the hotel that I am staying in and is, depressingly, the most interesting photo that I have managed to take so far. Still, it has free beer and snacks in the evening, which is all I need for my evening meal, and free wi-fi access in all areas.

6 October 2007

My Prague

I do believe the maxim "you can never go back" but, just this once, it worked!

My plan for my one full day in Prague was to walk around all the places that I liked best from the time that I worked there (1992 to 94) and to take lots and lots of photos.

Of course I have photos from the time but these were the dark days of analogue photography so I only have a relatively small number of photos compared to the places that I have travelled to in recent years.

My hotel was just to the east of the town centre and during an early breakfast I decided that the best way to see everything would be to walk clockwise around the edge of the city to the west side and then walk back through the centre.

My route took me to Zizkov, Jiriho z Podehrad, Namesti Miru, Vysehrad, Smichov, Mala Strana and Hradcany, before I walked across the Charles Bridge to explore the old and new towns.

Along the way I walked across the rather scary footpath alongside the railway bridge at Vysehrad, took the funicular railway up the hill in Mala Strana, climbed to the first observation deck of the small Eiffel Tower copy at the top of the hill, and climbed the towers at both ends of Charles Bridge.

The afternoon was a less organised ramble through the old and new towns that took in the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and various shops that mean something to me such as Maj (I refuse to call it Tesco) and Kotva.

Along the way I bought some more crystal tumblers as they get used a lot at home and are gradually getting broken.

I took a few trams too, including a short trip back to the hotel to recharge batteries (mine and my camera's).

And tram journeys in Prague always remind me of this R.E.M. video. There is even a glimpse of Kotva about four minutes in.

There have been many changes in Prague since I first went there but the place is still largely unspoilt.

The beer has doubled in price, it is now around 50p a pint, and the food has got a lot better so eating out is an easy and cheap pleasure.

I am looking forward to my next trip there!

4 October 2007

Prague in a day

I took advantage of a business trip to Kiev to break the journey home with a stop-over in Prague.

There I managed to spend a day revisiting many of the places that I know well from time working in Prague for the Czech Savings Bank (Ceska Sporitelna).

For me, this is where is all started.

The tower on the left was the Forum Hotel and I stayed there for the first few months before moving out to a flat in Malesice in the eastern suburbs.

The houses in the middle of the picture are in Vysherad, which is one of the many pretty parts of the city, as you can see. The concrete bridge that stalks above them carries the main road south and the "C" line metro. It is also quite a scary walk for those of us who are not very good at heights!