So - I'm currently on the plane on the way home for 8 nights, and I can honestly say that there is no way that it feels like it has been 3 months since I last left Australian soil… I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone, but at the same time can't believe how quickly this time has gone…
THINGS I LEARNED IN:
·Paris - the Eiffel Tower is like the horizon - it might look close but it's forever away
·Barcelona - King's Cup is fun but DANGEROUS
·Rome - always ask how much the drinks are AFTER happy hour - you might not be getting the deal you think you are!
·Zurich - everyone speaks Spanish or English!
·Munich - shepherd and chippie sound really similar in a Kiwi accent!
·Prague - built like a massive maze, you're going to get lost. Enjoy it.
·Berlin - always check the dates of ALL your bookings - hostels and planes - you never know when you might end up homeless (or very close to it!!)
·Amsterdam - liberal with drugs - strict with store closing times…
·London - cider, champagne and vodka cocktails, white wine and more vodka mix really well with Thai food. :D
Alright, first things first: Amsterdam… it's been almost a week since we were therenow, but to be honest I don't really have HEAPS to say about it, so didn't really feel a pressing need to write straight away! So, after an early departure from Berlin (a day later than we thought it was going to be…) we made it into Amsterdam and commenced the journey to our hostel - the Flying Pig Uptown. The directions on the site, for some reason, wasn't the route which involved the least walking, so by the time we got to the hostel I wanted to dump my pack IMMEDIATELY… coming to think of it now though, there hasn't really been a time where I haven't felt like that as soon as I've gotten somewhere, but I digress! Lol
So, we were all checked in, and managed to maneuver our bags through the tiny door way, and dumped everything. Then it was off on another walking tour… but not of course before stopping for lunch of kebabs… kebabs is a habit we got into in Berlin, (to be honest we've had them in a few cities before that too) as a cheap, easy way to get really full, really quickly. The one I got in Amsterdam was filled SAGANAKI instead of meat!!!! YUMMMMM!!! So, we ate, and waddled up to our walking tour, and spent a few hours walking through the streets of Amsterdam with our guide… which has now led me to believe, not only is Amsterdam tiny, but there's not a hell of a lot there… lol. Most of the stories were around the stories of drug use and abuse, the recapture of Amsterdam from the sea, and the seedier side of Amsterdam. Many of the 'coffee shops' where you can buy marijuana (but where it is illegal for THEM to buy marijuana to sell to you… Hahaha) have a cat who lives with them - a stoner cat, who chills out in the windows all day lapping up the sunshine - and the second hand smoke… lol. Interesting fact we learned is that contrary to popular belief, marijuana isn't actually legal in Amsterdam - it's just not illegal…
We also made a detour through the red light district, where we learned that any business after the morning was tourists - apparently the time for the locals to stop by is on their way to work… And the oldest still working lady is 75 - and has to be booked days in advance… apparently she knows what she's doing… Hahaha. Right by the red light district is a church, which is where we learned about how the sailors reconciled their sins after months at sea… at first the church would just fine them to absolve them of sins, but then - being the clever folk that they were - they started to sell cards so people could be absolved BEFORE they commit the sins… apparently everyone was happy with that solution… lol.
After the tour, we headed off with the guide (Avril) to have a few drinks at a nearby bar, before I dragged Nick shopping… luckily for him it was a really quick expedition as everything closes at 6pm… and I do mean everything. We're talking at 6pm they turn the lights off and tell you, you have to leave type of closed… it's just bizarre after the rest of Europe with late night shopping all the time…
We slowly wandered back to the hostel, walking through the streets randomly, and ended up having c really healthy dinner of hot chips! Hahaha. VERY tasty though… that night ended up being accidentally early, as Nick was fat asleep by 10pm, and I was soon after around 11 or so… it was THE COLDEST night we've had in Europe so far. I was going to say on the whole trip, but the Salt Flats in Bolivia gets that guernsey… anyways, so I slept in all the clothes I'd had on, under the blanket, with my laptop charger on under the sheets to keep me warm - thinking about it now, probably a potential fire hazard, but it worked out ok!!! Lol
So, an early start the next morning, as we repacked and got our stuff ready to check out. A trip to the supermarket later, saw us laden with snacks, and food to last through the day, where we ended up staying in the hostel til we had to go to the airport where I became even more addicted to MTV! Hahaha. We made it to the plane, and into London ok, and then had the EPIC journey out of Stanstead and back into Islington… almost 2 HOURS LATER we finally made it, and Stretch and Josh met us, and helped carry the RIDICULOUS amount of things we'd managed to accumulate! That night we just caught up with the house mates (minus Brenno who was back in Aus supporting the Saints in the grand final… Sorry Brenno!) and gave them our gifts of chocolate, more chocolate, and vodka! Somehow after Nick's really nutritious lunch of Burger King he was really hungry, so we ordered him some late night Chinese, and then it was off to bed. Brenno VERY generously said I could sleep in his room in his absence, which was so nice… after 3 months of no doonah it was INCREDIBLE to crawl under such a warm, thick, fluffy, amazing piece of wonderful… it truly is the small things that you miss and appreciate! Hahaha
Our first full day in London was also MY BIRTHDAY! :) I'd like to say that I slept in really late and had an amazing rest, but after a late night, I got SMS and calls from 4:30am… All I can say is - TIME DIFFERENCE PEOPLE!!! Lol. I crawled out from under my new best friend the doonah, and called Mum and Dad to reply to their SMS and calls, and to touch base about when we were coming home. Once Nick had arisen from his MASSIVE slumber, we got up and dragged Dan back to the Camden market with us! It seriously has to be one of my favourite places in London. It's cool, and it's grungy, and it's dirty, and the people are all so eclectic. It's like Brunswick St on steroids. Actually, to be more accurate, I guess Brunswick St would be like a tiny scrape of Camden, that's started to grow into its own free cell…
Anyways, the main purpose of the visit was to pick up The Dress for Mandy's wedding… which is where we hit a hurdle when the dress didn't fit… REALLY not part of my plan… After going through EVERY SINGLE dress in the store, I finally found another one I was happy with, and we were back on Happy Street! It ended up being a VERY successful day, as I managed to get the entire outfit that I was going to wear to dinner that night (a second dress, pearl earrings and necklace, and a headband) AND Nick paid for it all for my birthday! SWEET!!! When we finally made it home (after a yummy lunch of calzones!) I got a present from Cat from home, and we tucked into some Jacques cider. YUMMO!!!
Stretch had very kindly organized dinner at a Thai café for us all, but unfortunately Kel and Craig couldn't make it so we arranged to meet up for some drinks and a catch up! We met up in Angel and had some DELICIOUS cocktails, and chatted for so long, that I was running to make it back to the house to make dinner on time! Nick had invited one of the girls he met in LA to dinner, so it wasn't probably the best idea to leave her waiting for too long… the combination of wine, vodka and Thai food over dinner was AMAZING! I had a great time chatting to everyone, and the food was just lovely… everyone kindly put in for my dinner too, so it was even better!!! Hahaha. Somehow we all made it home, and somehow we managed to lose Nick on the way, so it's a good thing Anna was there so he had a place to stay!
Needless to say the next morning was NOT an early start… poor Stretch had to listen to me nattering away when we got home (I blame the wine which was £5 for 2 bottles!!!) and I finally let him get some sleep a bit after midnight. When I woke up at 6:30am and realized I was still somewhat intoxicated, I went back to sleep for another few hours, and gingerly got up around the 9:30 mark… Nick eventually made his way back to the mansion, where Dan and I had very productively picked a cake to make (my only involvement ended up being suggesting the cake, and then eating some of it! Hahaha), and we all headed out for some fish and chips in Angel. We ate them chilling out in the little park, then headed to Tesco for some bits and pieces for dinner. It was only as we were paying that Dan realized that her house keys weren't attached to her wallet like normal… Oh dear… lol
On the way to collect keys from Krizzo, we took Nick right up to the Gherkin building and then made plans for how the rest of the day was going to work… Dan took the all of the shopping home, while Nick and I hightailed it the rest of the way to the city via Regent St. Nick had gotten the idea into his head that he wanted to get the Megatron toy which turns into a gun, which you can't get in Australia, so on Dan's suggestion we headed to the MASSIVE 5 story toy store on Regent… which didn't have it! Hahaha. From there we continued into town and Nick did the express tour of the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. As a small thanks for organizing dinner for my birthday, and all the other help Stretch has given me throughout my travels, I decided to make a dinner for him that night - which would have been a great gesture had he not had the Day From Hell and not make it home til 3am… at which point the last thing you want to do is eat I'm sure… ah well, it's the thought that counts right? Lol. Nick had caught up with Anna again, and as the cab was arriving at 8:30am to take us to the airport he said he was going to be back by 7:30am at the latest…
I was up at 6:30, stressing and thinking of all the things I had to sort out and get together… I was packed and ready by 8am, but Nick was nowhere to be seen… at 7:30am I'd sent him a text asking where he was but had gotten no reply, so figured he was on the tube which has no reception. 8:05, 8:10, 8:15, 8:20 and even 8:25 went past with no sign or word from Nick… at 8:25am the driver showed up though… I slowly started to pack the car, and when it got to 8:30am started to panic… The car would not really be able to wait as they are prebooked cabs, and if they're late to their next job, it's no good for them. Redialing his number from 8:25-8:35 got me nowhere but REALLY frustrated, and Dan and I began to formulate a plan… it was 8:40 now, and Nick was still nowhere in sight, and the cab couldn't wait any longer. After sending one FINAL message saying that the cab couldn't wait any longer, that we would try going past Angel station to see if he was there, or else I would meet him at the airport, where I would be checking in, and would have his passport and all of his things, it was time to depart - minus Nick.
After taking a lot of stick from Nick this trip about me being too organized, and stressing too much, and making him get up and be places on time - it was ironic, that the ONE TIME that he had to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING, ON HIS OWN - he stuffed it all up… I'd say let's take votes on how everyone thinks this is going to work out, but it'd be way too hard to collect all the money that I won. As I was saying goodbye to Dan, Nick walked in the door panting his lungs out… Allegedly he'd been at the station since 8am, with one dead phone, and no credit on his oyster card… Now I say allegedly as at the MOST it is a 30 min walk from Angel to the house - if you are dawdling and walking a snails pace… regardless, with no thanks to Nick what so ever we made it to Heathrow and into the MASSIVE checkout line on time.
We're now only 56 minutes away from Melbourne airport - I've slept most of the way through this second flight, as we got off the first flight I felt a migraine coming on, so took so much medication I was asleep on this plane before they'd even done the safety demonstration!
I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone. Tomorrow is Mandy and Luke's wedding and then Sat is Cat's and my joint party. It's going to be a really hectic week, and I'm going to be exhausted when I get back to London, but it will be worth it to catch up with everyone and see them before I head back and commence the job hunt.
A big thank you to everyone that has helped me through the last 3 months. The people I've met along the way, the people I've travelled with, those who have sent me messages of encouragement, and those who listened to my frustrations or to the now ENDLESS "when I was in…" stories! Hahaha. I've had the most amazing time of my life, and have learned so much about different cultures, and so many different places. Thinking about it now, it's really overwhelming to think how much I've seen and experienced over such a short time.
Next step now is to make it through the Aus trip with as few tears as possible, then off to London to try and make it back to reality. I'm only just beginning to comprehend exactly what it is that I'm going to be trying to do, but I have high hopes it will all work out ok, and the way it is supposed to.
Once again a VERY big thank you to Stretch, Jay, Dan, Lin, Krizzo and Brenno for letting me shatter your serenity in the house and bring through some pandemonium. I appreciate it more than you can know, and am so grateful for your kindness, hospitality and friendship.
Alright, it's time to turn this off as we begin our descent back home!!! Love you all lots, and will be seeing some of you before you even read this blog post!!