England! I made it whohooooooo! I easily navigated Heathrow airport and made my way down underground to the tube.A nice tube man chatted to me while I was waiting for the next train, told me which way to go and how long it would take, and chatted to me about my travels until he announced my chariot had arrived and on I hopped. At the other end I rang Tracy to get the directions to her place and she met me half way to walk me back. How nice it was to see a friendly face after 5 months of not knowing anyone or being able to speak the language! 1st on the agenda was a beer and a catch up at the local pub which was awesome!
The next week was a mix of taking it very easy, getting very sloshed meeting up with people and seeing the sights. I didn't realise just how many must see sights there are in London, but I managed to knock off a fair few of them and left the rest for when I come back from my tour. So far I have seen: National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Big Ben, Westminister Abby, No 10 Downing St, Design Museum, Tate Modern and Tate Britain. I also met up with Clark, my old flattie from the 1st year uni hostels, James my old Earthwork colleague and went out to see George, last year's flattie, at his mums birthday party and saw my other old flattie Adam there too.
I also managed to find time to get my yellow fever shot for when I go off to Africa and to get an application all filled out and returned for a new NZ passport, since I annihilated mine back in the Mekong river.
So all in all what a productive 1st week in London, it was so nice to catch up with all the peeps and just relax at Tracy's flat which she let me borrow while she was away on holiday, you couldn't get much better than that!
So just as I recovered from all that lot it was time to set off on my UK Contiki trip. I was really looking forward to hanging out with some people for longer than one or two days like in the hostels! Off we set early in the morning, a whole bus load of us, and for the first time around the UK they actually had two busses running at the same time, so all and all there were about 120 of us all ready to raise hell at every turn! Although it wasn't too chaotic as we often stayed at different hotels as we were a bit too much for one place to manage, but where we did stay was usually well above my expectations with nice rooms and a huge buffet breakfasts each morning, we really felt we were travelling in style!
The first part was a trip around London where we took in some sights and got some history about the place then it was off to stonehenge! It was so cool to see it for real, but it sucked how you could no longer get up close and personal with it, and for some reason it seemed smaller that what I imagined, but still all in all it was awesome to see, just realising how incredibly long those stones have lasted in that spot and the history that has unfurled in its wake, fascinating! Next it was off to Bath and to see the baths at bath. Once again the history of how long they have been there is hard to grasp, and the complex system of hot, warm and cool pools and the ancient plumbing, and all the old bits and bobs they have fished out of there were pretty impressive.
After Bristol we then headed to Liverpool and took in all thing Beatles, we even found there old hang out at the Cavern Club and saw the real Penny Lane. Next we weaved our way to York to wander around the tangle of old city streets and at night take a ghost tour hearing about the gruesome history of this pretty little town.
Next we made our way to Bowness-on-Windemere and took a scenic ride around Lake Windermere, then a wee stroll around the bustling and pretty little town. Then we were off to the Lakes district to get a little physical with a high ropes course. I have to admit that I was a bit perturbed about this one, but thought I would give it a go anyway and it turned out to be so much fun! The photos don't do it justice as the course was actually pretty damn high up, and we had to jump to a couple platforms and negotiate down a rope tunnel and try not to fall off wiggly bridges, all the time without tour manager Dave there to give us a push or try and edge us off anything he could. At times like this he regressed into a mischievous 12 year old, well to be honest he was like that most of the trip, but also proved to be great value!
The next day we kept cruising through the beautiful countryside to Hadrian's Wall, which is so impressive due to the fact that it stretches from one side of the country to the other, I am sure it was quite a defensive wall in its time, but today it was just like a large farm wall, but really neat none the less. Just in case you haven't guessed by now - I love the old stuff!
A that was all in just over three days, phew! and then next it was on to Scotland!