Sunday, 22 January 2012

6 Months Can You Believe it?

Tower Bridge

Can hardly believe it myself, I have been calling this big city home for 6 months now. I still remember like yesterday sitting at the airport with friends and family, eating pop corn chicken, nervously waiting to be called for our flight. Giving and receiving tearful hugs, walking through the gates and bawling, not from and fear of what lay ahead, but simply of what was being left behind.

Thankfully 1p per minute phone calls to NZ landlines and Skype have been my saviour in staying in contact, and of course daily Gmails.

Lucy and I lapping up the sunshine in Clapham Common

Well you Kiwis sure did have a lot of fun while I've been gone, snow in Auckland, the RWC and the Big Day Out finale! Don't worry I have been having a lot of fun of my own and I only consider the last 6 months settling in! I am so excited for what is ahead of me.

Celebrating a WIN at The Church

Three very patriotic Ladies

Two very stoked Men

When we arrived in London it was a bit hard to get my head around that every 'house' was joined to the neighbour, which looked exactly like its two neighbours on either side. And that a street name and number meant nothing without a postcode.

Just like Corrie

The weather was amazing and it didn't get dark till 10 at night only for the sun to rise again at 4am. I wondered where London got its rep for rain and grey skies. Six months later I can see now what they are talking about.

A picnic in in Hyde Park with friends in summer


Our first weekend we spent in Brighton and again I felt shocked to find mid summer the sea was cold and the beach was covered in rocks, not too impressed. Brighton itself was a lovely town though!

The Palace in Brighton


I ain't no New Chums

After a week or two of exploring London I headed to stay with Lucy's family and experienced small town England, castles and all, nothing like the hustle and bustle of London. I'm very thankful to be able to see more than one side of the UK and look forward to seeing more.


Lucy and I in Bewdly

Stopped for a photo opportunity on the way to Bewdly



King of the castle


My first trip abroad was a wonderful week in Croatia as I previously spoke of here so I'll spare the details. Returning to London was I must say an anti climax, I woke up sick, and stayed sick for 5 weeks, a real class act at job interviews! I didn't think it would be easy to sign up to a Dr so I procrastinated and just rode the bugs out. That and tearing ligaments made for a couple of woeful months to be honest, but no one ever said it would easy....

After two weeks of job hunting I accepted a position at Encore Tickets Ltd. I must say I think I took the first thing that came along but it does have its perks, top price seats for free... I am definitely making up for the less glamorous parts of the job.

Kelly and I moved into a flat together in Tooting, into a room together which was cheap and only a little nasty but a great location. This place served us well for the three months we spent together, just like sharing a room with your sister, but no fighting of whos side of the room was whos!

Dressed up for Halloween
We decided we needed a trip away come September so a few of us took a short plane ride to Sweden, you can read about it here. This was the first time I really thought, 'yeah, this is what I came for, to travel!' even if it was a weekend taster.

Spending xmas with friends not family and NY in Amsterdam not Coro Gold sure was a big change, but change is good, exciting and most of all change is learning.

I spend a lot of time on weekends exploring markets and parks around London, there are so many! From the Borough food markets, yum! To the quirky Camden markets with the most delicious donuts IN THE WORLD. London is huge with endless amounts of site seeing to be done! There is always something to do any night of the week which is great, but tempting when you are trying to save for more travel!

Winter so far has been intentionally quiet, not as cold as I was expecting but I am hear it is yet to come.

Hampstead Heath

Barclays Bikes, awesome way to explore the city
So many times I have found myself comparing The UK to NZ, but there comes a point where you have to tell yourself, get over it you aren't in NZ and you can't use your eftpos card everywhere!

I miss most of all my family and my friends, The Coromandel, I miss walking up Mt Eden every day and having a 360 view from the Waitaks to the Coromandel. I miss my car, I miss the spare time I had.

Here I love that everything is open late, you can drink pretty much anywhere in the city (spent many a 1pound on cans of beer at the Offie when I first arrived, just because I could!), I love stopping every now and then and thinking 'I am in one of the greatest cities in the world'.
Whatever your mood there is something for you in London! Yes this is a big hint for everyone to come visit. You are on Europe's door step. There are so many people from all over the world here that I don't think I am only learning about London but about Eastern Europe and Western Europe as well.

Buckingham Palace. I am almost as tall as the gate!

Fancy hedges at Regents Park

Uncle Dave at Shephards Bush O2

Lucy and I front row for Katchafire

It sure has a been six months of learning and experiencing new things, lots of highs and yes some lows. I feel settled in this place now and am embracing what it has to give me. Looking forward to St Paddy's day in Dublin, a girls trip to Berlin & Salzburg, ANZAC day in Turkey and many many more trips not yet booked.



Apologies the photos in the last two blogs have been a bit all over the show #stupidblogspot. Also apologies this blog went on a bit longer than I intended. With Love.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

New Years in Amsterdam, The Nederlands

We planned to go to Amsterdam for NY after we got the idea from a tour we saw advertised at a travel expo. All I had heard about this city before visiting was that you can smoke weed without getting arrested, and they had a red light district where girls stood in the windows like manicans waiting to service the needs of drunk tourists. Well Amsterdam you proved me wrong. Not only can you sit in bar & smoke a joint, and pick a girl of a window to suit your desires BUT there is an endless list of attractions many of which we managed to tick off the list, but still a few left for my next visit.

We decided to fly to Amsterdam the morning of the 31st at 6.20am to ensure we got 3 full days in the city. This meant getting up at half 3 to catch a taxi to drive to the train station, to catch a train to the airport! Well, I don't think I will be doing that again, I did not cheer up till at least 8.30am when we touched down in Amsterdam! Very quick flight though!

Upon arrival the weather was dismal, but I got the usual rush of, new place, new sites, new experiences to be had and didn't seem to mind so much.



We checked into our hotel and made our way via tram to the Heineken Brewery, which ins't actually where Heineken is brewed anymore and is quite touristy but it was still a great thing to do. Plus you get free beer so you can never complain!


After such an excursion it only seemed appropriate to head to a pub where we enjoyed some banter and pub food... And more beers.

An interesting Tram ride halfway back to the Hotel. When the tram came to a halt we hear over the loud speaker, 'you Tourists drinking the beers, get off my tram, you are on camera I can see you'... We didn't mind the walk from there anyway were all in good spirits.



We headed into the city, in the Red Light District area and found a bar where you can smoke and drink, apparently you can easily find bars to smoke or drink but ones with both licenses are a bit harder to come by to so we stuck with the one we found till it was time to head to Dam Square for the non existent count down and fire works that made you think you were in a terrorist attack in Syria.



Absolute Carnage, it was amazing. You would never be allowed to have this sort of thing in London or even NZ, the rules are to strict, with good reason, if you didn't keep an eye on what was going on around you you'd soon find yourself in a garden of live fireworks and broken wine bottles.


After such an early morning, early drinking and long day I was ready to call it Pizza then quits by 2am!

A slow start on the 1st, the crew gather for breakfast then we headed to the Sex Museum, if you ever get the chance to go through it, don't sit in the middle seat...

It was again a dismal day for a canal ride. Although I personally thought it would have been a bit better if the boats went a bit faster and trip only took 40 minutes instead of an hour (granted patience is not one of my virtues and I can't sit still for long), it was great to see the city from a different angle and learn about the city... And see a mooner and experience a minor boat crash.





We went to China Town (yes Amsterdam has it ALL) for one of the best Chinese meals I have ever had.



The next bar we found was quite the score, we were treated like VIP's upstairs in our own room where we enjoyed drinks and smoked some shesha. When in.... Amsterdam..



Up birght and early to get in line for Anne Franks House. I had never read the book or known much about her other than that she wrote a diary and fell victim to the tragedy that was World War 2, but came out appreciating the masses of freedom I've got.


One of the things I was looking forward to most was the Van Gogh Museum. Man, it is one thing to see your favorite artists beautiful art work in books, prints and on the net.. But to see them in real life, brushstorkes, cracks of the paint and all is something else. A life time of work, seeing how it changed over time, that was a highlight of this trip. I must say though, was quite disappointed to learn the yanks own my favorite piece, will have to pay New York, NY a visit sometime soon me thinks!

Dominic and I left the others to pay Chinatown a second visited and opted to stroll the city and canals a bit more, came across a Chinese dragon and more fireworks, lots of boutiquey shops and thousands of bikes.

A short and sweet visit, was quite sad to leave.. Until the plane was delayed a little bit, then I couldn't wait. Personally thought it was colder in London than Amsterdam. Over all although the city is very busy I found it quite relaxed, very easy to get around with the trams and if you have the time you can just stroll to your destination.



I think Jessica Rice can pick my next trip...Berlin? Salzburg?