I've found a new blog site that I like a lot better so I will be continuing my travel tales there (eventually...)
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My trip to England
I've found a new blog site that I like a lot better so I will be continuing my travel tales there (eventually...)
you'll need to sign up to vox see it
Sorry to upset the chronological order of things, but as its obviously going to take me a little while to get through my Europe trip I think I’ll just post an update of my last few weeks in Leeds while its still all fresh in my mind.
I got back into Leeds around the 4th of January, and although it was sad to be saying goodbye to all my new friends from Contiki, I was exhausted and ready to be going home. The thought of my own bed and no bus to catch ridiculously early in the morning was heaven.
I didn’t manage to get a lot of rest though. This is mostly thanks to James (there you go, 3rd mention) and the other boys in flat 1.1 who I went out with the night I got back to Leeds. They should feel privileged that I’d barely been home a few hours and I was already around visiting them.
And then caught up with more people who had also just arrived back in Leeds after going home for Christmas over the rest of the weekend.
Then over the next three weeks I spent most of my time with the boys in the flat downstairs, and James and Don fast became my favourite people in Leeds.
It was really a short but sweet time as Don (who is from the US) and I were both leaving within a few days of each other.
Don’s flatmates got a goodbye t-shirt made for him, and although I didn’t contribute to this I did go with James on a trek around an Industrial Park to find the shop to pick them up from, so was granted the honour of standing in for an absent flatmate to present the t-shirts to a teary eyed Don.
On the Saturday night before I left I had a goodbye party, which consisted of an overpacked kitchen, pizza then Halo – a nightclub inside an old church in Leeds where I had a booked a private VIP area for the night. It was a great night, and I bawled my eyes out saying goodbye to everyone at the end of the night
Then I was packing Sunday and Monday. Had dinner with Bjorn sunday night, and then with James at the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday night, my last night.
Packing on Sunday and Monday... I wanted to take EVERYTHING....
At the bus station just before I left – just before I cried...
Then it was hours and hours of travelling. I didn't even bother trying to count it this time or work out when I should be sleeping and eating and waking on Adelaide time like I did on the way over. I just slept whenever I could, which wasn't often. The transfer in Amsterdam airport to my Amsterdam - Kuala Lumpur flight was fine. I pretty much just walked off one plane, to the next gate, sat for a bit then got on the next plane. But then I got to Kuala Lumpur and realised I had a 5 hour wait, and no malaysian currency to buy food. They wouldn't take a card so I had to pay with a British 20 pound note - this meant about 120 ringgit in change. Then I found a bench, set my alarm on my phone and slept for 2 hours. It was the best sleep I had gotten in about 20 hours. Then back on the plane to Adelaide, through customs and back to Charles St.
It was weird coming home - the weirdest part, stragely enough, was walking into the flat and finding it looking exactly like I'd left it. For some reason coming back to everything being the same as when I left made it harder to come back, not easier.
I've been feeling a bit homesick since I got back, readjusting to life here, and dealing with leaving behind what had become my home over in England. While I'm glad to be back and seeing everyone here, I made some really good friends there and I miss them a lot. And though everything is familiar here, I do feel a little foreign in my own country, whereas I had come to feel really at home in England. I'm sure I'll feel better when I've readjusted.
I think I'm getting over jet lag now - after days falling asleep between 3 -6pm and waking up between 1-3am I finally slept in til 5am this morning! yay me! I don't mind waking up early though so I hope I don't go back to sleeping in late.
Anyway, coming up for me is a few weeks of holidays - not quite sure what I'm going to do! I've already done too much shopping, and my bank account won't hold up to much more. Big Day Out this Friday.
Not long til uni starts again though, and I'm really looking forward to it because its all teaching this year.
And I'm hoping to be able to afford to go back and visit people in England for about 5 weeks in their summer, June/July, finances permitting.
Thats all for now.
Germany, Switzerland and Austria
aaah, I’m only just past Amsterdam.... I really should have got onto this sooner. Oh well, I’ll go through the photos and see how much I can still remember! First a reminder that if you want to see more than the limited photos put up here go to http://picasaweb.google.com/a1120631/Contiki
Leaving Amsterdam we drove to Germany, and through Cologne on our way to St. Goar and a little family run hotel in Urbar. We stopped for a couple of hours in Cologne to go and drink Gluhwein and eat gingerbread in the Christmas markets. Jen and I got used as demonstration models for this hair stick thing, a bit like a chopstick with decoration on one end. Good marketing strategy as we both ended up buying two...
The Rhine Valley in Germany is pretty to drive through, and there are castles everywhere. We stopped in St. Goar for wine tasting, a look at the world record holding cuckoo clock (forgive me, but surely this wouldn’t be hard record to beat?!), and a supermarket stop to stock up on supplies for our two night stay in the alps in Switzerland. (That makes it sound like we were going to be roughing it, but its just because to reach the hotel we had to take cable cars which ended at about 3.30pm so restricted access to shops.)
The hotel in Urbar was cute and family run, with just a little bar, but probably one of the best nights since we were all there together (since we had no choice). I spent part of the night watching a group of local guys playing some dice game, which they patiently tried to explain to me in English, but I think eventually gave up and just wanted to play and me to leave them alone!
Apart from that it was too much german beer and wine, and a few random sing-a-longs in the bar – led by the Australians of course....
Sign on the back of the room doors:
I think the other guests 'honourated' our noise levels and we 'leafed' our rooms as they 'were was'. :P
The next day we were up bright and early as usual and driving into Switzerland. Switzerland, although the most perpetually neutral country in the world it seems, is also the most paranoid and armed for defence! They have missiles aimed everywhere, even at themselves if it should ever be best to blow themselves up rather than be attacked, and fake bits of mountains built to house this stuff. I wouldn’t have believed it but I saw the fake bits of mountains myself. And every male in Switzerland does military training and owns a machine gun! The Swiss also seem elitist when it comes to who can become a Swiss citizen – you must speak French, German, English and Italian and a whole lot of other criteria – even if you marry a Swiss person.
Anyway, when we got to Lucerne we got out overnight bags and boarded the cable cars to get to the top of Mt Pilatus to the hotel which is the highest in the Alps. My excitement at going up a mountain and getting to see snow outweighed any fear I might have had about being dangled in a little red box high above the ground.
First glimpse of snow
At this point we were all thinking this was going to be it, just a sprinkling of snow about the place. And I thought, Oh well at least I got to see some even if I can’t really make snow angels in it. In a way the slight disappointment was good as it lowered my expectations for the sights that were actually waiting for us up the mountain.
first time touching snow!
The coldest I’ve ever been in my life, right on top of the mountain. (At this point I was very glad I’d decided to spend perhaps a bit more than I could afford on a ski jacket – I thought at the time, will I really need this?... but yes, yes I did!)
That night we had our own private disco, or Swissco – which still now, even as I remember it, causes me to sing in my head our own take on Who Da Funk’s ‘Shiny Disco Balls’....’late night booty calls, Shiny Swissco balls’... which somehow ended up ‘Chinese Swissco Balls’ – I would say you had to be there, but I was and I still don’t get it!
The next day was sightseeing and fondue lunch in Lucerne. At first we were soaking our bits of bread in the cheese mix and deciding that we didn’t very much like cheese fondue – it had a really strong wine after taste – who knew cheese fondue had wine it? Or were we just ingnorant. But then we decided to just dip it in a little bit it actually tasted good then. Some people bought Swiss Watches and stuff while we were in Lucerne, but that was a little out of my price range. I did buy a white Swiss Army Knife though, white being traditionally the colour that you could only get in Switzerland, Black for Europe and Red for the rest of the world. (Now of course you can get them in any colour, or pattern, anywhere.) And of course I also bought plenty of Swiss Chocolate!
Then on our way back up the mountain we stopped about 2/3rd of the way up to play in the snow! I of course had to try making a snow angel even though I’d been told, quite truthfully, that it just makes you cold.
And then we had lots of fun running, tripping, sliding and falling down the hill through the snow (the only way to stop once you started running was to fall over). Jen at one point was running down the hill and her shoe came off. Of course the snow had immediately caved back in over it and it was a fairly inconspicuous beige colour to begin with. Fortunately after only about 10 minutes of everyone being careful to make no new footprints, someone happened across it and it all ended happily. Lucky, otherwise she would have had to spend the rest of her time in the alps shoeless, least of all having to walk back up the hill with only a sock on.
On my way back up the hill I came across and icy spot that was too slippery for me to get up so I asked for a push from behind, but my friend decided she would be funny, get her camera ready, push me over and take a photo... it was pretty funny, if a little evil :p
Switzerland and the snow was probably my favourite part of the whole trip. It was beautiful and amazing!! The pictures don't do the views justice - it would take your breath away every time.
The next day it was out of Switzerland, through Lichtenstein (“ke-bab, ke-bab, ke-bab”... another inside joke, sorry - you can ask me for an explanation if you like because it has to be heard to be understood), and into Austria. This was Christmas eve, and even through we went to Christmas Markets (which were luckily open an hour longer than they were supposed to be so we got to see them) it didn’t feel like Christmas at all to me. Not really in a sad way – I was still having the time of my life, it just wasn’t anything like Christmas.)
That night we tried the apparently famous Farmer’s Schnapps or something – I think its just famous for being totally horrible and making you feel like you should stay away from naked flames for a while or you might be combustible. The favourite of the night was the Sperm shots of some milky schnapps stuff in giant sperm.
Jade, me and Barbara and some of our sperm collection.
And that’s up to day 6 – just 10 more to go!
I managed to get up at about 5.30am (somehow, after going to bed at 1am!) and get ready, checked out and at the Contiki meeting point before 6.45 on the 19th. I spent about 10 minutes worrying I was in the wrong place or something, like I always worry about everything for a bit. But I was in the right place, and started talking to a couple of people I had met the night before at the pre-departure meeting. (So the meeting was good for something I guess!) These people were Jen, Brett (both Aussies) and Adam (a Kiwi) and we all of course proceeded to make cheesy nationality jokes.
Getting on the bus, we lost no time in taking over the back of the bus, along with Al, Mikey and Duane, three more Aussies. Being loud and Australian (and New Zealander sorry Adam), we bonded right away and this is the central group we formed for the rest of the trip. (And maintained our control of the back of the bus too... really Contiki is like long school camp in a lot of ways!)
We drove for a couple of hours until we got to the White (or really not so white) Cliffs of Dover to take the ferry to France. And I got another stamp in my passport. (I plan to collect them now :p) The ferry trip was fairly uneventful and the sea was calm so no sea sickness issues thankfully. We just ate breakfast and browsed duty free. Then most of this day was spent driving through France, Belgium and Holland. There wasn’t even much scenery since it was really foggy most of the way. We got to know our tour manager, Lucky, a bit and he gave us a bit of a history of the Netherlands as we drove to Amsterdam. He also warned us about standards in Europe and made us think we were going to be spending our time in Europe staying in dumps, with smelly toilets without S-bends, eating bread and water for breakfast. Fortunately he was just lowering our expectations so that (apart from a few minor exceptions) we were always presently surprised by our hotels.
Arrived at the Ibis Hotel in Amsterdam at about 4pm and, already tired out from a day of driving, Jen, Sonia (aka ‘Charlie’) and I lay around in a room getting to know each other. We were put together as room mates in triple share room for the trip. And they’re both cool Aussie girls and we got along pretty well so that was good. Then we had dinner at the hotel (this dinner met the low expectations we had been warned about unfortunately!) then were driven in on the bus to central Amsterdam for a canal cruise. This was great, and we also got free wine and Heineken. Always welcome. Then the night was free to explore Amsterdam. Let’s just say, everything you’ve heard about Amsterdam... it’s true. Weird, fascinating, bizarre...and a little saddening.
The next day we visited the Anne Frank house. I got a shock when I came up the little stairs and there was the bookcase covering the entrance to their hiding place. It actually caught my breath for second to see it, and it felt surreal to be going through it.
Then we went to the Van Gogh gallery, took photos with the big I AMsterdam letters, nearly got run over by a tram (this was Jen and I still not used to traffic coming from the wrong direction!), nearly got run over by one of the innumerable bicycles numerous times! and headed off for the Heineken museum.
Along the way we saw a man outside a building holding a rope, and over a pulley at the end of that rope was a bed hanging up in the air. This guy called out to us, asked if we spoke English, and then got Duane (the guy who was with Jen, Sonia and I) to hold the rope while he ran up the stairs (remarkably quickly for an old man and 4 flights of steep stairs) so he could pull the bed into his house. All of the houses in this style have hooks on the front at the top for this purpose and when you see the houses and the stairs you understand why. When the guy was coming back down he saw us taking photos of his colourful stairs and invited us up to have a look at the flat he is renovating at the top.
After our little sojourn with the locals, we continued on to the Heineken factory, which is a really good exhibition. (Great advertising strategy on their part!) I have a funny karaoke video of us that I’ll put on YouTube soon. The picture below is of these little pods you lie in and watch Heineken commercials. When I looked into the room everyone was just lying silently in these weird pods in a eerie green light, hence my label for them of Heineken Brainwashing Pods.
Then we were supposed to be meeting the group and the bus to go to dinner in a sea-side town just outside of Amsterdam. Unfortunately we hadn’t left quite enough time to make our way back, and delayed and crowded trams meant we ended up missing the bus! Fortunately a taxi between four of us wasn’t too expensive and we managed to meet the group at the restaurant. This dinner was much more appetising than the night before. And more free Heineken. Then we went back on the bus into Amsterdam and... well as a group we went to a sex show... when in Amsterdam, I guess. But I have no interest in doing it again. It was weird and sad.
But I would want to spend some more time in Holland. It has more to offer than that.
Well that’s part two. This is turning into a monster blog – it will be at least 8 parts if I continue at this rate. Just a reminder all this detail is primarily for my own records so you can skim over the bits that start to get boring!
Part three coming soon...
WARNING: This is going to be long! It’s as much to record the whole thing for myself as it is for everyone else to read so I’m going to include lots of detail that may or may not be interesting to you all. So read the parts you want, skim the rest, just look at the pictures, whatever. I don’t mind. Just don’t think I’m putting this up here just to torture you all with a long winded recount of my trip. There won’t be a test afterwards... :p (Pictures will come later as there is an error in the system currently - you can always go to http://picasaweb.google.com/a1120631/Contiki
In the week after uni ended most people had gone home, so I was leading a pretty solitary life for a few days. The most human contact I had for a while came in the form of the shop assistants at the supermarket and the man selling me Euros at the post office! I had no idea who, if anyone, was still in my building until the night of the 16th when I happened to run into two of my downstairs flatmates (the aforementioned James and Don – see guys you get two mentions now!) During the week I had a fleeting thought of knocking on their door in case someone was there, but then didn’t do it! Oh well.
That night I went out with them, bonding over our mutual isolation in a deserted Leeds. So I guess I have to thank them that the following day, the 17th when I had to catch my coach to London, I was so tired I slept all the way and drive wasn’t as boring as normal.
That night I went to Trafalgar Square to look at the fountains, which weren’t on last time I was in London, and the Christmas tree.
I was also chatted up by an old French guy, who I politely declined to spend more time with, and headed back towards my hostel with a detour to Oxford Street along the way. All the shops were closing up since it was night, but I couldn't afford to shop there anyway! Then I went back to the hostel and I think I was asleep by 9pm!
The next day was my museum day, as I didn’t have the time to go to any last time I was in London. My hostel was across the road from the British Museum, so I went there first. I spent quite a few hours there and didn’t even see everything. There are great collections of Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, art and artefacts, including the Rosetta stone. Took me back to my first year Classics courses... and I couldn’t remember much at all from them... anyway... At precisely 12 noon, purely by chance, I happened to come across the clock room, so was able to get the full effect of their chiming. They weren’t all completely synchronised so it wasn’t all at once, which is probably a blessing.
Then I had lunch and headed to the Victoria & Albert museum. This houses a lot of art, sculpture and design stuff. I didn’t even see half of this museum, as time was running away from me. I did see some great sculptures, fashion and an interactive light/sound art piece. They had some reconstructions of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions on display too, like the wings and the parachute. They had DaVinci exhibition somewhere in the building, but by the time I got to that and spent some time being confused about whether I needed a ticket or not, and where you could actually get one from it was too late in the day. If I have any regrets, its that I didn’t get to see that.
In my last hour or so before things closed and I had to get to my Contiki pre-departure meeting, I did a speed tour of the Natural History Museum, which is next door to the V&A.
I managed to get in the dinosaur exhibition and one about human biology. It was all interesting and I wish I could have spent more time there. Oh well, just means I’ll have to come back to London sometime. What a pity.
Then I had my Contiki pre-departure meeting. This was a bit of a waste of time anyway, since they only really told us stuff I already knew and then people checked in with their passports and contiki documents – but since I was running late I didn’t have these with me so I just had to do it in the morning.
Then I went back to my hostel planning to go on the internet, have dinner and go to bed early since I had to be up and at the Contiki bus by 6.45am the next morning. While I was in the lounge on the internet I met an Aussie guy and a South African guy and ended up watching ‘The Shining’ with them. Weird movie. Then we went to get some kebabs for dinner together. When we got back to the hostel we watched the end of ‘Moulin Rouge’ in the lounge with other hostel guests. And though I had planned an early night, I was up until 1am talking to the South African guy, Michael. It’s funny how quickly you can connect with random people you meet when you’re travelling. And sad that you do connect with these people and then have to move on again so soon.
Well that’s part one... and I haven’t even left London yet! Told you it was going to be long! Stay tuned...
and all that jazz...
Sorry to disappoint, but this is just a quick update to let you all know I haven't forgotten, but its just going to take me a while to get my Europe Trip up here! I have 1050 photos to sort through, and they'll be up on the google album soon, and when I find a significant enough block of time I will sit down and write up my travels. Don't hold your breath - I'm in the middle of exams (plus everything else I have to get organised before I leave - I have so much extra baggage now I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to ship some of it...) so it could be a while. I'll just say it was amazing and unforgettable. I saw all the things I've always seen in pictures, but now I was actually there. It was surreal! It was so fast it was a blur, and we kept asking each other - what day is it? where are we today? what did we do yesterday? I met some great people too, and it was a good taste tester of Europe that has just confirmed my conviction to come back as soon as I can and spend more significant time here. And I saw snow and stayed at the top of the Swiss Alps!! That has to be one of the biggest highlights of my trip!
I'll be back to tell you all about it in 2 weeks anyway!! (Back on the 25th - I plan to go straight to the beach!)
And last but not least, I promised an honourable mention to the two best downstairs flatmates ever - James and Don! Two great guys I went out with the night before I left for my Contiki trip. (I have them to thank for the early start to my sleep deprivation! :P) Love you guys!
And love all you people reading this too! I promise I'll update you properly soon.
hey everyone - please excuse my typing errors im on a weid computer. just wanted to lmet u all know im hacving and amzing time!! in switzerland in a hotel at the top of the alps - snow everywhere!!!!!!! its awesome.
will write more when i find a better computer, otherwise when i get home.
Merry Christmas!!! and haoppy new year!! hope evertyone is well!!!
all mt love
18.12.2006 10 °C
In London at the moment, before leaving on my Contiki tour. Have to be up bright and early tomorrow morning to meet for the tour at 6.45am!!
Last night I went out to do a bit of looking around at London in Christmas lights. Went to Trafalgar square where the fountains were on this time, and it is decorated with a big Christmas tree. Very pretty.
Today I went around to some of the museums I didn't get to go to last time I was here - the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. (Though I spent progressively shorter times at each one as the day went on as I was running out of time!) But what I saw at each one was good. At the British Museum I happened to come across the clock room at precisely 12 noon, so was able to get the most out of a room full of chiming clocks! Saw some great sculptures, history of fashion, and an interactive light/sound display at the V&A. And dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.
Then I ran out of time and had to go to my pre-departure meeting for Contiki. Which only took about 5 minutes and all they told us was they are strict on the 20kg luggage limit - I don't know how much mine weighs but its nowhere near what my suitcase weighed coming over here so I'm sure it's fine. And also to meet at 6.45am. Yuk.
Anyway, I have taken a few pretty pictures of London but you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for them, along with all the other pictures I take in Europe.
I'm so tired right now that I don't really have the energy to be excited about leaving for my trip tomorrow! But I know I'm actually dying with excitement on the inside, and I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow!
11.12.2006 - 11.12.2006 8 °C
Went to Manchester by train on Monday. I don't know what I expected of the trains here, but it certainly wasn't what I found. There are seats, and if you pay extra (a lot) I think you can reserve them. Otherwise its first come, first served, and everyone else has to stand. And stand we did, like sardines most of the way. (By the way, 'we' refers to one of my French friends, Lydia, and me.)
I was thinking of catching a train to Manchester Airport when I leave since its quicker and not that much more expensive than the coach. But if it was packed like it was on Monday I'd never get my luggage on.
I have a friend who caught a train to London on Friday to catch a plane home, and he said he didn't get a seat the whole way!
Fortunately, the trip to Manchester took under an hour so standing wasn't too bad.
Manchester is a pretty cool city. It has quite a bit of old architecture, but also a lot of new so the overall impression you get of the city centre is modern, metal and glass. (But in a good way.) Even Manchester's oldest building, pictured below, has a modern clock built into it. They obviously can't resist.
One of the first things we saw was the Royal Exchange Theatre. This is another example of ultra modern juxtaposed with old.
This picture makes it look a bit like a space shuttle about to launch through the dome above, but it actually looks better than this. (Though still a little bizarre.) Its a circular theatre with 3 levels of seats around a central circular stage so wherver you sat you would never be more than 35 feet from the stage I think. (Correct me if I'm wrong, since I have no idea what feet is in metres.) It's constructed on the inside of the building with all the pipes and beams you can see in the picture, and looks like you could just about take it down and never know it was ever there.
Then we went on the big wheel they had set up to get a good view over the city. (Just a note, don't be fooled by the blue sky in the picture. It was sunny and fortunately didn't rain at all that day, but it was by no means warm!)
The capsules were all enclosed and the whole thing looked very safe and well maintained, but I couldn't help feeling a bit of a rising panic simultaneously with the rising capsule as we first started to move. But it was ok. After the first rotation I was fine as the capsule didn't swing or move too much.
Then we did a bit of general sightseeing, as you do, looking at the buildings and churches. (Manchester Cathedral in the picture below.)
Manchester also has a lot of Christmas Markets. In Leeds there is a German Christmas market, but Manchester has German, European and world markets. So we spent a good part of the day perusing these. They are a mixture of arts and crafts and food stalls. There were so many things I could have bought but most would have been too expensive, delicate, perishable or heavy to take home which is a shame. I will by some souvenirs and gifts like this at some point I think, but I'll wait til I'm actually in Europe. One of the food stalls had a whole pig on the spit, with the head and everything. Needless to say I didn't try that one, but I did buy a bit of chocolate and gingerbread, and some yummy dutch cheese (after going around and trying every one of the tasters). We also stopped to try some Irish Coffee and hot donuts. (I've also tried gluhwein which is yummy and nice and warming, but that was a different day). And my slightly dopey look in the picture below is a result of me beginning to blink as the photo was taken, not the whisky in the coffee, honestly!
Then we spent the rest of the day just wandering the shops, the town hall, a small ruin of whats left of an old Roman Fort, and watched some people slipping and wobbling around an outdoor ice rink until about 6pm. Then we caught the train home again. This time it wasn't crowded and we got a seat which was a relief as we were exhausted!
Most people have gone home now. Oliver left Friday, Blandine and Quentin left Saturday, Maisie left Saturday or Sunday, others left Sunday and Monday, Bjorn left this morning...so I feel a bit alone now. Even the people from my flat seem to have dissappeared or died (more likely went home while I was out) as the flat has been weirdly silent all day. I haven't heard so much as a door open, which feels strange coz the doors are noisy here.
But its ok. Everyone will be back in January and until then I will have my trip to Europe to keep me occuppied!!
I haven't writtena anything for quite a while, so thought you might like to know I'm still alive over here.
Just a quick update, since I don't have anything particular to tell you about. Its just been getting in assignments and finishing off the semester for the last few weeks.
I had my last ever history and english seminars last week. Thats the last EVER...for the rest of my life!!! Once exams are done in January, that will be the end of my Arts degree, with just teaching left next year. Scary, but exciting!! And honestly a relief.
Apart from that there have been quite a few christmas parties and a couple of birthdays being celebrated before everyone goes home. (Or went home, since most people have gone now or will be going in the next few days.)
Lupton/Henry Price Residences Christmas party (Both residences had their Christmas parties on the same night at the same club so I went with the people from Henry Price, since somehow I know more people in that residence than I do in my own!)(L to R: Emily, Me and Bella):
I also went to the MedSoc (Medical students society) Christmas party, even though I'm not a medical student. Of the 5 of us who went together, only 2 (Faye and Oliver) were actually medical students:
(Faye, Me and Sarah)
(Oliver, Me and Joe)
And then there was two girls birthdays being celebrated on Friday, since they won't be here for their actual birthdays. And then for the same reason we decided to also celebrate Christmas and have a count down to New Years on the same night, so it turned into a big multi-purpose celebration! And have a look at this amazing birtthday cake one girl made:
Then there is the present we (Me, Bjorn, and two of his housemates went in together) bought for one of the girls, Faye. The only thing she had said she wanted for her birthday when asked was a horse. Obviously we could get her that but then as we were walking around the city trying to think of presents, we came across a horse that we could get her - it was a toy rockinghorse that makes sounds and comes with accessories and everything! :p It was so funny, and she loved it! His name is Herbert:
Fortunately there are still a few people staying for most of this week, so I won't be totally alone.
Then on the 17th I go to London for a couple of days (to see a few of the things I didn't have time for the first time) and then my tour of Europe starts on the 19th!!
And tomorrow I'm going with a few people who haven't gone home yet on a day trip to visit Manchester. (Technically I've been in Manchester before, but only the airport.)
Funnily in the last couple of weeks I've become closer friends with some people I met in the beginning through Bjorn as they live in his residence, but didn't really get to know until now. And it makes me sad; they are all such great people and now I've just got to know them and everyone is going home for the break, then I'll be going home not long after they all get back in January. It really breaks my heart to be leaving all the people I've met here actually. I'm trying not to think about it too much because I feel so sad
But anyway, thats all I've got to report for now - more soon from Manchester tomorrow, and then I'm sure I'll have a lot once I've been to Europe!!
Hope everyone is well!
11.09.2006 - 23.01.2007
Had my Aussie party last night. In the couple of days leading up I was wondering what had possessed me to suggest this party. Apart from it being the most expensive party I have ever thrown, I was afraid it was going to be a failure... and I was stressed out from going shopping and searching for beef sausages (which I couldn't find) and beetroot that wasn't pickled!
But I was worrying for nothing as it actually turned out to be a great success. And my pavlova even worked! It was a hit in fact!
Craig, a fellow Adelaidian, who worked as a chef for 8 years, came in handy with his ingenuity and makeshift bbq cooking skills for the (pork) sausages and meat patties, on a baking tray on the stove top with two forks as tongs. He was great - did all the cooking for me! Thankyou Craig!!
I think about 20 people came in total, which was a challenge to fit into a five person kitchen, but we did it! (This photo shows most of the people, but it was taken later in the night when a couple of people had had to go already)
Rougly L to R: Craig (red shirt), me, Gen (green shirt) (the three adelaide people), Rodrigo (spain), and Olive (england) hiding behind him, Sophie (england) behind them, forgotten the name of the blonde haired guy (I just met him that night), Maisie, (the red haired girl in front of him) the American me, Mat (england) next to her, Felicity (england) behind them, Blandine (france - black top), Lydia (france - red top), Bjorn behind her, Mat (france - blue shirt), Tom poking his head up behind them (Chinese but has lived in England for many years), Laurence (france - pink top), and in the front another guy I just met and have forgotten his name too, sorry!
I put up the list of Aussie Facts I posted on here earlier on the wall, as well as a few pages of aussie terms and phrases translated
Beat around the bush: to not get to the point
Buckley's chance: no chance at all
Happy Little Vegemite: a happy and contented person (from the old advertising slogan)
Mate's rates: cheaper than usual for a "friend"
She’ll be Right: it'll be all right
Shonky: dubious, underhanded
Stubby holder : polystyrene insulated holder for a stubby
Zebra crossing : broad striped white paint lines across a road as a pedestrian crossing
re: the zebra crossing - we (Gen and I) almost had a couple of people convinced that there were zebras in Australia. This started from the zebra crossing thing and also telling them that there are in fact camels in Australia. They didn't believe that at first either, but then came to see it was plausible, but that didn't quite stretch to zebras.
I also put up a blank map of Australia that just had the state borders drawn in and dots where the capital cities are, then made labels of the states and cities, sticking them on with blue tack. So I gave them a little australian geography test. Hmm, some people went alright, but many couldn't get past the ones you can work out by logic (ie Western Australia is probably that big part that is the entire west of australia). But with a collaborative effort they got there in the end. (But to be fair, if they gave me a geography test of England or France I probably wouldn't be much better!)
The pavlova was a favourite and now everyone wants the recipe. Too bad I made it from a packet and don't know the recipe. (I wasn't game to make it from scratch on my first ever attempt at making pavlova.) So if anyone has a good pavlova recipe, please send it to me so I can pass it on.
My "Welcome to Australia" sign on the flat door - I asked them to show there passports :p
Gen, me and Craig - the Adelaidians
10.11.2006 - 12.11.2006 5 °C
Two panoramic views of Edinburgh. I'm afraid the photos don't do these veiws justice as it was a lot more beautiful than it looks in these pictures. And of course the pictures are small to fit on the screen, so if you want to see them bigger look in my picassa gallery or I can send them to you.
Veiw from Edinburgh castle, looking out to the sea:
View from the top of the hill:
...and so many languages, so little time!
10.11.2006 - 12.11.2006 5 °C
I'm back from Edinburgh, so I'm going to attempt to write a blog now while its all fresh in my memory. This could be interesting because I'm a absolutely exhausted and my brain is functioning at about 2% I think, but I'll give it a go...
Firstly, I received my Contiki pack the other day, hehe
Anyway, back to Edinburgh. First thing I noticed - it was absolutely FREEZING. Everything was quite grey for much of the weekend, grey skies, grey buildings. But in its own way, it was really beautiful like that. And I loved how there were so many contrasts. There is a lot of tradition, old buildings, people in kilts, old pubs, contrasted with some modern buildings like Scottish Parliament building and all the modern shops. We were in a large city, but then right by the sea, and by green hills and rocky cliffs, and castle in the centre of the city.
It took about 5 hours to get there, with only a short stop in Newcastle on the way. When we finally arrived we were all thoroughly ready to get off the bus and find some food. But first we had to check in to our hostel. Sounds simple, but add a dose of disorganisation and about 100 tired hungry people and you don't get a quick check-in. I think it took 2 or 3 hours for everyone to get their rooms. Fortunately we were one of the first groups, but it was still 9.30 by the time we got to eat.
When all the meals came, I noticed Lydia had ordered the fried Gnocchi. I didn't tell her while she was eating, coz I didn't want to put her off, but I had noticed on the menu it had a Haggis sauce... :s She didn't mind when she found out though, since she had liked the meal, and actually ordered Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for dinner the next night.
Other people tried some Scottish sort of meals over the weekend, but as neither internal organs nor fish nor game meats are really my thing I'm afraid I didn't. I did try a Scottish dessert, which contained whisky, so thats good enough for me!
The first night, after we finally ate, we went for a bit of a walk around Edinburgh city centre just generally acting like fools, taking photos and looking at the sights. It is really beautiful at night. We found a tiny Scottish pub where there were two guys playing music on a guitar and a violin, and went in there to get out of the cold for a little while. (Did I mention that Edinburgh is absolutely FREEZING!) Then we went back to our 12 person dorm to get some sleep, so we could get up early the next day.
None of us slept particularly well, but we did get up fairly early and made the most of our free breakfast by eating lots of toast.
Then, although intially horrified by the 10 pound entry price (thats over $20), we went to Edinburgh castle, which is at the top of a hill in the middle of the city and is connected to Holyrood Palace (the Queen's official Scottish residence) by the Royal Mile, a series of streets between the two. (And the main tourist centre probably too). The castle was interesting, and gave great views over Edinburgh so we weren't too unhappy about having to part with so much money.
A view of Edinburgh castle in the rain:
We spent the rest of the day exploring the streets of Edinburgh - well I say the rest of the day but in reality, by 4pm we were exhausted and it was already dark so we sat in a coffee shop for a few hours, then went back to the hostel to lie down for a while! For dinner we found a pub called the Office that served the cheapest and largest meals we had found all weekend which was good. There was Karaoke here too, but I managed to avoid getting up to sing until the last song, and that was with the whole group anyway.
Then we went back to the hostel, and the others went to bed, but I stayed up and played pool in the hostel's bar with two other Australian's (also from Adelaide), a german guy and an Italian guy, also from Leeds Uni, and a Polish guy who is working in Scotland and we just happened to meet as he was staying in the hostel.
The next day, after only 4 hours sleep, I for some reason decided to climb the big hill you can see in photos below. The path was really steep at first, but then leveled out and it really wasn't as difficult and didn't take as long as we first thought it might. But after that, and a bit more wandering the streets, the cold and the lack of energy was getting to everyone and ended up sitting in a coffee shop again for a while.
So I didn't see a lot of things from the inside since everything was too expensive for us, but I did walk past most of the main attractions and see them from the outside. And the places we did go gave great views. Even being freezing cold, and having damp shoes from the rain on the Saturday was all part of the experience.
Some more photos:
One of our many breaks indoors to get out of the rain at Edinburgh castle. It was cold and windy and our shoes were wet! (But then a few minutes later it would be blue skies.)
The hill I climbed (once I've stitched it together I'll have panoramic photo of the view from the top to put up here):
The Edinburgh Botanical Gardens (I didn't actually go here as I was climbing the hill, but its a pretty photo taken by the french girls so thought I'd put it up.):
Apparently I resemble a psycho penguin:
At a Scottish pub:
L to R: Blandine, Mai, Me, Mat, Laurence, Lydia, and Rodrigo is behind.
And what trip to Scotland is complete without a kilted bagpiper?
Many more photos, but no space here so go to my Picasa/Google web album to see them. (There will probably be more coming too, once I get all the photos off others.)
And re: the subtitle "So many languages, so little time" - after I meeting so many different nationalities on this trip and realising I know none of their languages, I feel like I should be learning them. I think its a pity that in English speaking countries there is not much importance placed on learning languages, not like there is in other countries on learning English. And I guess thats understandable since there isn't the same need, but I still wish it wasn't like that.
I guess there is still plenty of time for me to learn, but I have to make the effort. And which language to I learn? The majority of my new friends are French, so it might make sense to learn French. But I have the best basis for learning German, since I did it in high school and would have the most opportunities to practice it home, since I know other people learning it. But I also like Italian and Spanish. Perhaps I can start with German, since that will be the easiest for me. Then I can move on to French, and then from there pick up some Italian and Spanish, as there are similarities between French and Italian and Spanish that might make it easier to learn one after learning another.
Hmmm, somebody hold me to this so I actually learn at least one language in my lifetime!!
Hope everyone is going well in Australia, and enjoying the warm weather and long daylight hours. (By 5pm here I feel like I should be going to be soon already!)
09.11.2006 8 °C
I think last time I forgot to mention Guy Fawkes Day which was on the 5th of Nov. It wasn't as exciting as I thought it might be. Mainly because the fireworks were on Friday night (the 3rd) for some reason and I was in a film when they happened. Oh well. Its not like I haven't seen fireworks before.
3 more films to report on:
- 'Colour Me Kubrick', based on the true story of a man who went around pretending he was the director Stanley Kubrick, and managed to avoid prosecution for everything he did. This starred John Malkovich. It was slightly weird, but because this guy was more than slightly weird himself, and funny. I'm pretty sure its coming out generally soon, so I'd recommend going to see it.
- 'Like Minds' - this was filmed in Leeds and Australia (apparently though I don't know which shots were in Australia since it all looked very English) and starred Toni Collette. It was the UK premier so two of the main actors were there, but no Toni Collette unfortunately. That would have been cool! It was an OK film, entertaining, but nothing that really grabs you about it. I'd still say see it, but wait for it to be on DVD, rather than pay for it at the cinema.
- A third film, which I wasn't planning to see but ended up going to - 'The Penalty King' based in Leeds and about a footbal club and a guy who loves football but went blind through a sporting accident. It was the World Premier which was cool, but not a great film. A few laughs but the cast and crew were in the audience and they were doing most of the laughing and cheering for themselves! (May have meant more if I knew more about English football/soccer teams)
And the final film I'm going to for the festival is 'Requiem' tonight. Soon actually, so better go in a minute.
First some more news - turns out the trip I've booked myself into with Contiki is 16 days not 12. Not quite sure how that happened but I'm glad it did now because that means more time in each place and it takes me through Christmas and New Years, so I have very little time to be lonely :p
So the revised Itinerary will be:
Tue 19th Dec - London - Amsterdam
20th - Amsterdam
21st - Amsterdam - Rhine Valley
22nd - Rhine Valley - Lucerne (staying in the highest hotel in the Alps and you take a cable car to get there. (Weather permitting though.)
23rd - Lucerne
24th - Lucerne - Innsbruck
25th - Innsbruck - Venice
26th - Venice - Rome
27th - Rome (originally I was going to be here Christmas day, so hopefully now things will be open, but still a bit doubtful.)
28th - Rome - Florence
29th - Florence - Nice, French Riviera
30th - Nice/French Riviera
31st - Nice - Lyon
1st - Lyon - Paris
2nd - Paris
3rd - Paris - London
Still soooooo excited!!
And going to Edinburgh tomorrow! (Which is today in Australia)
Lastly, answers to emails and comments: (its easier to write it here than email because I have use the Uni email online to send and it keeps timing out and other annoying things like that.)
I'll definitely try to get to see the Camera Obscura while I'm in Edinburgh. There seems to be so much to see, I wish I was there for longer than two nights, but I'll try and cram as much as I can into the day and a half I have.
I'm afraid I have no idea where I found that list of Aussie facts now! I came across searching for Australian food and recipes I think, but can't remember. If I find it again I'll let you know.
And answers to Mum's emails:
yes the video worked when I clicked it. How cute :p And also, I did order a Kath and Kim DVD to show people here, but it was out of stock so I didn't get it. Which is probably just as well actually, because UK dvd's have a different channel or something and don't work on my computer anyway.
Anyway, thats all for now. More when I get back from Scotland!!
Oh PS: the weather is getting colder and colder :s Last week, we had 3 of the clearest days, not a cloud in the sky, but they were some of the most absolutely freezing days also! I've really had to start layering up my clothing now. And its only going to get worse...