Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me! (or, a Weekend in Amsterdam)

So this year marked a first for me, my first birthday spent away from home. Thank god Chris was around, or I think I would have been a bit depressed about the whole situation otherwise. But how could I be depressed when my gift from Chris was two nights away in Amsterdam? Score! After leaving work at midday on the Friday, and hauling myself as quickly as I could to Gatwick, I was up and on my way to Holland.

After navigating my way from the airport to Amsterdam Central, I caught the boat over to our boatel where Chris was waiting for me. After assuring me that I still looked young (what a good friend!), we checked out our spacious, slightly rocky accommodation and then did what we do best – we ate. Satisfied, and slightly drunk, we headed back to plan what the next two days would look like.

Waking up on Saturday morning, we headed into the city and went off to Keukenhof, a huge flower festival in Holland (when in Rome, right?). It was pretty cool but after about an hour and half, we’d had enough flowers and headed back. We roamed around the city, checked out some different things, ate and ended up heading into the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, which was pretty cool, but funnily enough, missing some of his most notable works. Oh well. We went back to our hotel for a bit to get ready for our night exploring the nightlife of Amsterdam. We scoured the Red Light District checking out the ladies and ‘ladies’ of the night, dodging vomit, laughing at drunks and generally being amazed at the sleaziness of the whole thing.

Now thinking back on the Sunday I can’t actually recall what we did… this is a lesson learnt for everyone – don’t take more than two months to write your blog posts. Dingbat.

Anyway, I had a great time in Amsterdam, but it was bittersweet. Saying goodbye to Chris and knowing it would be months before I saw him again stung a little. I really am lucky to have such a good friend xo

Best Attraction – I dug the prettiness of Keukenhof.
Nicest Food – Larynx – am I right, Chris? Haha
Most Killer Purchase – Miffy products as far as the eye could see!
Funniest moment – Larynx/Saturday night.
What I'll take from the trip – Never assume that a black coloured sweet is blackcurrant. More than likely, it’s not.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oui, Oui Paris!

Over the Easter weekend, Chris and I travelled by Eurostar to Paris to have a very cultured (Us? Ha! Not really…) Parisian adventure. It all started with an early morning tube ride to Kings Cross and me in my naivety believing that we could just walk on to the train, so why leave early? Yeah, probably that small thing called customs. No harm, no foul – we boarded eventually (with a small lesson learnt for me!). Separated the whole way, I got to listen to a tour leader of a 70years+ group garble about some old people crap. Still not sure if I would have preferred Chris though… (joking…). We made our way to Paris de nu Gord and then it was off to navigate the Metro system, which luckily proved to be quite easy! Something, something Pablo Picasso and we were on our way.

In true Chris and I style, the first thing we did after arriving was eat. After that, we ventured in to the city to have a look around. It really is a beautiful city. Everything is so grand and magnificent – just gorgeous. We spent our afternoon/night checking out the sights and oohing and aaahing over most things (probably eating too – my memory is fuzzy but that’s a pretty sure bet). Deciding that the next day we would wake up and get to the Eiffel Tower early to avoid the Easter Sunday rush, it was off to bed with us.

... the Eiffel bloody Tower, hey. What to say. Up early(ish) we were dressed in our best Parisian garb (grey coat for me, black jacket for Monsieur Baker) and made our way to the Metro armed with croissants (to fulfill our fantasy of eating one atop the tower!). From the moment we arrived it became pretty clear that every other person in Paris had decided to do the same thing. Five excruciating hours later (mostly spent playing ‘Who would you do?’ and asking hypotheticals – in one of which Chris said he would choose me to be killed – I love you too, CB) we had our tickets and were on the way up. The view from the top truly was breathtaking. Would I wait 5 hours again? Probably not. Am I glad I did it? For sure. By the time we got down from the tower, our dreams of visiting the Louvre that day had been dashed, so a stroll around Paris – eating at patisseries before heading back to hostel had to suffice. All in all, not a bad compromise.

If you were in a city steeped with history and culture, how would you choose to spend one of your days there? EuroDisney, you say? Us too! Catching the train out to Paris’ Penrith equivalent was hrm, interesting and just a bit disconcerting with the men controlling the station with rifles – is the EuroDisney train line that dangerous? Really? Anyway, once there we got ourselves a pass for both the parks and headed off inside. We went on many a ride, waited in many a line, got rained on and generally had a good time. The Paris Disneyland was very European (strange that) and smaller and less crowded than the other two I’ve been to. As the rain started to really set in, we made our way back into Paris and back to the hostel to prepare ourselves for the next day.

I must be getting old because my memory is becoming fuzzy (probably shouldn’t leave my blog posts to 8 weeks after the event, but I digress). I do remember waiting in a line at the Catacombs for about 2 and half hours and thinking that seemed reasonable after previous experiences. Eating at a patisserie, shopping a little and looking at some more cultural stuff.

On our last day, we had a good 2 hours before we had to catch the train back to London. Just the right amount of time to look at the Louvre, right? I honestly believe Chris and I did the most whirlwind tour that anyone has ever done. We were basically running through the halls, beckoning the culture to absorb itself into us. After about 7 near fatal falls on the slippery marble, and checking out all the big artworks (but being more impressed by the lesser known ones), we made our way back to Paris Du Nord to catch the train back into London.

So, Paris – what can I say? I will always remember you as the city where I had to line up for EVERYTHING, the city with the BEST cakes, the city that always slightly smelled like urine and the city where I got to spend 4 days with one of my best friends in the whole world. Loved every minute of it.

Best Attraction – The Louvre – I really regret not being able to spend a whole lot more time there. Next time, I guess. 
Nicest Food – Pistachio ├ęclair. O.M.G. 
Most Killer Purchase – Ring from the Louvre. 
Funniest moment – Oooo, tough one. Chris dropping the croissant. Or, Paris by Dido. Actually, definitely Paris by Dido.
What I'll take from the trip – That I am so lucky to have a friend like Chris. Love you to bits buddy. 

Next stop - Amsterdam! Until then, enjoy the pictures!
Bec xo

 Full of beautiful buildings!

I think delirious by this point. 

  Cool, but creepy in the Catacombs.

Uhh, someone has already painted that same picture, love. 

 Ancient Egypt, down by the Nile...

Eating a croissant at the Eiffel Tower... okay, okay - in the line at the Eiffel Tower but you would have been hungry too!


 A cool photo that Chris took of the Arc De Triumph. 

Miss you buddy. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Couple of Days in Copenhagen!

Okay, okay. I went to Copenhagen on February 14th. I'll be the first to admit that I've been a little slack updating this blog, but it's better late than never - right?

This was my first European trip since arriving in the UK and to be honest with you, I don't know why I chose Denmark. I think maybe it appealed to me considering my heritage from way back is Danish - either way, there I was.

I flew into Copenhagen on an icy, cold Valentines night. I had to laugh at the air steward who on the message said "Wishing all you romantics a very happy Valentines Day... and to all you singles on board - just try to have a nice Tuesday, ok?" Thanks dude, I'll try my darndest! As I got off the plane I was met with snow and freezing point temperatures. The cab driver was in amazement as to why I would visit at such a cold time of the year, assuring me that Denmark in Summer was it's most beautiful. Two thumbs up for the reassurance! After the informative trip where I was questioned about my family heritage even after I clearly said "Dude, I don't really know anything", I arrived at my hostel. I stepped out of the cab and slipped on the ice whilst simultaneously almost getting run over by the cab I had just paid a (soon to be found out) ridiculous amount of Euros for. Not a great start! By this time it was almost 9.30pm so I checked in, checked out the hostel, grabbed something from close by to eat and tried to sort out my plans for the next day.

Not being the greatest with plans, I woke up the next day and thought that I'd just walk around and see where the city took me. I did know though, that high on my list of priorities was acquiring a Danish pastry, and visiting the world's largest LEGO store (both totally valid choices if you ask me!). I walked around through the cobbled streets and checked out things here and there, admiring the buildings along the way as much as I could in the freezing weather. I spotted one of those hop on, hop off buses and thought that it might be a good way for me to check out what's in the city, plus learn a bit more about it as well. So on I got to admire Copenhagen (and stay warm). I hopped off at the Little Mermaid, which was sitting in a basically frozen lake. I'd met a girl at my hostel who was just about having an aneurysm about the fact that she was going to see it - I really didn't get that, but it was nice all the same. I got off at the Amalienborg Royal Palace and had a walk around, checking out the ornate buildings and the beautiful interiors. I looked out for that Australian Princess, but couldn't see her anywhere - what a shame. After that, I walked down to the colourful houses of Nyhavn and saw the frozen canals, checking out things that interested me along the way. As I made my way back for the day, I had my first pastry - oh yeah. I met some interesting (and weird) people that night in the hostel, and chatted about random things with them before heading off to sleep.

The next day I woke up early to go down to watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. Now I've seen this in London too, and maybe it's just me, but I don't really get it. It's cool for a bit, but god - hurry it up guys! After I had a look at that, and admired the Opera House from afar, I decided to partake in one of my favourite things - shopping. I headed back into Stroget and went directly to Copenhagen's largest department store 'Magasin Du Nord'. Inside was filled with the most beautiful things. If I had the money, I could have gone mental. I started with handbags and clothes and made my way floor by floor up to the home wares. Woah. I ummed and ahhed over spending the equivalent of 100 pounds on a wooden hippo that was actually a decoration for a child's room (ridiculous, but so adorable!) and wished that I owned a house that I could decorate with Danish design. It was just so gorgeous and interesting. Having already decided that in every place I visit that I get to buy one really nice thing was proving difficult here. In Copenhagen, I chose a new winter hat by the Danish designer Mads Norgaard. It seemed fitting considering that my one lasting memory of Copenhagen will probably be how cold it was - hah. After my purchase from Magasin Du Nord (and one pretty tasty lunch!) I found what I'd been looking for - the world's largest LEGO store. Okay, I'm a nerd for stuff like this, but I could have stayed there for ages (... I kinda did). All throughout the store were huge displays of Copenhagen landmarks (made from LEGO of course) and awesome LEGO sculptures of people riding bikes (very apt considering that bike was THE mode of transport around town). I ooohed and ahhhed and wished I was 9 again for awhile, before making my own LEGO people, buying some superfluous things and then heading out. I walked the streets, played around with my camera and got disappointed that the Tivoli was closed (boo!). I found some nice bakeries and had some delicious pastry - oh yeah. I sat and people watched and just took in what Copenhagen was like. As lame as it sounds, my favourite thing to do was to listen to my music (The Hextalls - Get Smashed! was my record of choice in case anyone was wondering...) and walk around soaking it all in. I was a bit worried about how I'd go travelling alone, but I actually really enjoyed doing my own thing and taking my time - it was actually really relaxing!

The next morning I caught the train to the airport (for about a 10th of the price of the cab - grr) and caught a flight home (well, sorta home). I was feeling a little emotional on the phone looking at some photos of friends and family when the man next to me I think sensed it and proceeded to show me his pictures of camels and their babies. It was a bit random, but weirdly, it did make me feel better, hah.

For each trip I'm going to answer a few simple questions, so here are my first responses:

Best Attraction - hmm, Nyhaven.
Nicest Food - pastries and sandwiches - oh yeah.
Most Killer Purchase - Unique LEGO people.
Funniest moment - The random guy who was screeching in a McDonalds after his friend threw mayo all over his face whilst another of his friends tried to film the reaction of the people around without them knowing. Random, but hilarious - even more so because nobody batted an eyelid!
What I'll take from the trip - That I can travel by myself AND enjoy it!

Enjoy the pictures! Until next time!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

London Calling!

Well, it has been 6 weeks since I've touched down in London. Woah, that has gone quickly! In that time, I've settled into my new house, seen snow fall for the first time, started a full time job, gone to Denmark (more on that soon), bought too much, seen some interesting things and made some cool new friends.

Must say, it's been interesting, but I have missed home. This feeling materialised once the realisation that some type of normal life would have to happen. Will do it to you every time.

London itself is such a cool city. So many things going on and really vibrant. I love that about it. Now I'm actually earning money it should become even better. Doesn't feel like home yet, and don't think it ever will, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In 4 weeks, my friend Chris arrives for a visit and I can't wait! We're going to go to Paris together, explore London, visit Amsterdam and whatever else we decide. Should be epic.

In between that, some of my favourite bands will be touring throughout Europe and the UK in the next two months, so lots of punk shows to go and check out - including a fly by visit to Belgium at the end of April.

Lots to do, lots to see. I'll try to keep this better updated.
Until next time,
Bec xo

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Making the Move

So, I’ve told people I’m leaving, I’ve taken a years leave from my job, I’ve applied for a visa but today marked a pretty big step in the whole process – I bought my one way ticket. As soon as I paid for it, I won’t lie, I felt like vomiting. Will I like it? Is this the right choice? Will some angry hooligan kid shank me in my classroom? Am I mentally deranged? I’m hoping the answer is yes to two of those questions (I’ll leave you to guess which two).

The prospect of doing something different, travelling to new places and I guess ultimately being out of my own comfort zone is what has pushed me to do this. My life in Sydney is by no means bad. I live in a great house with awesome flatmates, I have killer friends and most of the time I like my job, but I’m getting bored. So is moving to London the answer? Time will tell I guess, but for the moment at least it’s something different and that’s enough for me.

So I guess the purpose of this blog is to chronicle my travels. It’s also a way for me to relay information on a larger scale, because let’s face it, I’ve never been great with emails. As for the blog title, that’s taken from a Copyrights song (playing in London in May! Yes!), and it’s a song that has been resonating with me lately …

‘I want to die with a worn out passport

In a pocket of stolen jeans

On a beach somewhere I’ve never been before

Full of people I’ve never seen.’

Ain’t that the truth.

Bec xo