Saturday, 28 July 2012

Bilbao Day Two

Hey everyone,

On day two in Bilbao I had a big sleep in and only woke up as the Hobart boys were leaving at around 11am. After the boys left I showered and decided to go and explore the streets of Bilbao. As I walked around I loved the old Spanish town and I felt like I was in a movie as an old Spanish man was playing music on an accordion and it was echoing through the cobbled streets. There were lots of very well dressed people walking through the streets and I felt very safe alone in the daytime. I hadn't had breakfast so I grabbed some cheesy chips and lollies, which I know is not nutritious at all and continued walking around Bilbao. I walked over a beautiful bridge and into the more central Bilbao which was alot busier and not as pretty as the old town I was staying in. I really can't use a map to save my life so I enjoyed walking around and finding my way back to the old town by remembering familiar buildings and shopfronts. 

After walking around for quite awhile I found my way back to the old town and decided to get something for lunch. At this stage I had no idea what 'pinxos' was so I was walking around trying to find some tapas which I had been craving. Everything was on bread sticks and was grouped together with toothpicks and I had no idea what much of the food was besides salami lol I decided to walk in and try and choose anything to eat as most of the restaurants had similar foods. I walked into a restaurant and the Spanish man immediately starting speaking fluent Spanish to me which I couldn't understand. I could only say hello and I pointed to the food I wanted to eat as my way of communicating. I ended up eating some food that didn't leave me overly impressed as I wanted tapas and walked back to the hostel. A few people were wondering around the hostel when I returned and there were many people on their laptops and iphones searching the web. I decided as it was siesta time that it was a good time to catch up on some of my smaller blogs about my London adventures. I am way to anal to fall behind with my blogs while I have time to write them so I wrote about three that day.

It was getting quite late and some of the travellers started cooking their dinners in the hostel communal kitchen. I decided I would go out alone and grab something to eat as I'd spoken to some people that day but hadn't met anyone I was willing to go to dinner with. I wondered around the old town and remember hearing lots of voices and music coming from one of the town squares which intrigued me to go and find out where it was coming from. It ended up being a group of break dancers who were performing for a large crowd of Spanish people so I decided to stick around and watch. It was very entertaining and I stayed and watched for ages before again ordering from a bar where I couldn't communicate to the lady what I wanted to order. Thank god Spanish people know what pointing refers to because I would have gone hungry that night lol That day I wished I could speak Spanish that's for sure!

I walked around the streets and back to the hostel and felt a little uneasy as I was alone, it was dark and loads of people where drinking outside small little bars. After returning to the hostel I had my first night of annoying hostel living as many of the people who were staying there were so loud and playing drinking games in the common room. The common room happened to be right beside my room. I found it really hard to get to sleep that night because of all the shouting and laughing which was frustrating especially because I knew I was leaving for San Sebastian the next day, but I guess that's hostel life for you :( I woke up that night to someone banging on the door, after the door was opened it ended up being this Spanish man who worked at the hostel. He was trying to communicate to the guy who was staying in my room that his friend had been kicked out of the building due to pissing the bed and smashing a light. The Spanish man seemed pretty angry and had apparently already kicked loads of people out of the hostel for good that night because everyone had got way to rowdy. The poor boy in my room was half asleep and had no idea what was going on  but wasn't going to let his friend sleep alone on the street, so he packed up all of his bags and left for good as well. I found it hard to get to sleep after that as I was worried about my roommate and even though I didn't know him that well sleeping on the streets in a foreign country is messed up.
Pintxos Food
Love The Pintxos Eating Backpacker

Bilbao Day One

Hey Everyone,
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

I'm back in London and I've already started writing blogs about the last three weeks of my travels now that I'm back at Holly's house and am ready to fill all of you in on my latest adventures.

On this day I left Holly's house with plenty of time to spare for an easy check in and flight back into beautiful Spain. I caught the tube from Ladbroke Grove to Hammersmith where I had to change onto the Piccadilly line to continue through to Heathrow airport. I got there checked in my bags with plenty of time and had a chance to look around at the duty free and airport shops as well as read my book which was nice. As I boarded and got my seat on the plane I knew I was off to Spain because I couldn't understand a word of Spanish that was coming from the overhead PA system on the plane. Before take off I was asleep as I usually am as circling around the tail mack makes me feel sleepy and woke up just as we were landing in Bilbao.

Bilbao is in Basque country at the very north of Spain. It is best known for it's famous and magnificent Guggenheim Museum. Many people come to spend time exploring Bilbao's Casco Viejo (old quarter) which is a grid of elegant streets dotted with shops, cafes, pinxos bars and several small but worthy museums.  

I was again travelling alone and was a little nervous about getting to my accommodation/hostel without any hassles. I always take screen grab photos of my hostel addresses as most of the taxi drivers speak no English and without the exact address it would be very difficult to communicate how to get there. I got out and collected my backpack from the bag terminal and then headed straight for the taxi rank. I said 'Hola', showed the taxi driver the address and was headed off into the mountains of Bilbao to my hostel. As I drove in the taxi I loved the look of Bilbao and loved the feeling of being in another country again. I saw many brown,pink and cream houses which is very Spanish and the drive was very mountainous until we came into Bilbao.I listened to Spanish music on my way and after around 20 mins was at the front of my hostel. It looked really modern and I was stoked I had booked accommodation all alone over the Internet that was actually good. I checked into my room which had lockers and had bunk beds and met an Aussie guy as soon as I walked in who was also staying there. Minutes later I met his two other friends and I realised I was in a room with three other Aussie guys from Hobart lol They were all around my age and older and were all really nice. We chatted for ages and then decided to go out, walk around and get some dinner together. 

It is the strangest thing meeting people whilst travelling and hanging out straight away. In Australia I have my sisters and my close friends to eat dinner with and party but when travelling at times you are by yourself which makes you immediately cling to the first people you meet. I love meeting new and different people though so I was glad we were all heading out to dinner for my first night in Spain. As we walked around the streets of Bilbao I loved the chilled out feel of this small town and the cobbled streets were beautiful and very clean. Bilbao isn't very  touristy and it was very apparent as the shop keepers and waiters did not speak English. All of the menus were written in Spanish and one of the Hobart boys decided on a restaurant and we sat down to eat. We ended up having a very tasty meal and chatted about what we all did for work and where we were planning to travel to next etc After dinner we came back and I looked at the boys photos of Ibiza and places they had already been to which were pretty funny. I was tired from my flight and the boys were leaving the next day so we all got to sleep reasonably early that night whilst listening to people getting drunk outside our room. 

Love The Backpacker

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sarah Sly and Shoreditch

Hey everyone,

We decided to have drinks with Sarah (Holly's housemate) who was leaving to go to Ghana in Africa for 6 months. Sarah had lived in London for two years and worked as a nurse all over many hospitals in the time she was there. She loved working with children and decided to go and work as a volunteer nurse in Africa before heading back to Australia which is such a brave and selfless thing to do. Sarah is originally from Forbes, NSW and is so lovely and she really made me feel at home at Holly's. She has the most contagious laugh and you can not help but laugh at her hilarious stories! She is a beautiful girl and I wish her all the best in Africa I know the people there will love her as much as we do.

Georgie, Holly, Sarah and I had breakfast at their local favourite cafe before heading over to east London on the overground train to Shoreditch, Hackney. I'd never been to the east before and I'd heard it was pretty trendy so was excited to see what it was like. We caught the bus from the end of Barlby Road before getting on the train which was about a 45 minute ride. We were all excited for drinks and the weather was nice and sunny which was great! When we arrived I noticed there were heaps of young people dressed very 80's but very trendy, apparently lots of 'Hipsters' hang out in the east. I got the vibe that whatever crazy outfit you wanted to wear was accepted in this area and no one cared what anyone thought. There are lots of vintage clothing stores and markets in Shoreditch and when we got there Georgie and I decided we would have a look at a pop up vintage store that was close to the bar were were heading to. There were so many cool old clothes that were actually quite cheap, Georgie and I didn't buy anything but enjoyed just having a look.

We then walked to the bar that we were drinking at that day called 'Big Chill Bar' which had a great beer garden out the front. The bar looked pretty alternative and had lots of trendy people inside, it also had funky decorated walls. We got our drinks and sat at a table out in the beer garden, I started with a bottle of Sav Blanc and the girls started on the ciders. Later on we ended up moving inside to have our own table and lounged section which ended up being a good idea because the place ended up packed later that night. Rachel and her from Haylee ended up coming to join us for drinks along with Sarah's friend Batty and Holly's friend Dave. We had such a good day and I ended up pretty drunk after drinking a bottle of wine, a jug of Pimms and 4 double vodkas lol Wow just call me Frank The Tank! I ended up getting up to dance right at the end of the night with a Kanye West look alike who had a huge ass that the girls were grabbing when they were walking past him that night ha  We ended up getting a cab back to Barlby Road at about 11.30pm which was a funny drunken ride. I know that Georgie and Holly are going to miss you like crazy and I am definitely going to miss you Sarah! I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet you and hang out with you while I was in London, you are a great girl and I hope you have the most amazing time in Africa and I'll catch up with you back in Australia!
Dave, Holly and Georgie at Big Chill Bar

Holly, Sarah, Georgie and I at Big Chill Bar

Holly, Sarah and Georgie at Big Chill Bar

Haylee and Rachel

Me and the beautiful Sarah Sly

Batty, Sarah and I at Big Chill Bar

I'm going to miss you Sarah!
Love The East London Loving Backpacker

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The West End

Hey everyone,
One man, two guvnors theatre show
One of my friends Jarren who I had met on my Paddywagon tour of Ireland was back from travelling around Scotland and we decided we wanted to go to a theatre performance together in the West End. I had been dying to see something at the theatre ever since I got to London as I'd heard it was something not to be missed. There is nothing else like the West End theatre wise in the world besides Broadway in New York so I felt very lucky to be going along to a show with Jarren and Rachael.

Taylor my good friend from Contiki had recommended I go and see a show called One man, Two Guvnors at the theatre as it was only shown at the West End in London. There are so many shows that travel around the world but this one is based in London and has an all English cast which was pretty cool. The show had rave reviews and Jarren got us pretty good tickets so I was very excited!

The show went for around 2hours and 40minutes including time for an interval and I thought the show was amazing and so funny!The main actor was so witty and there was lots of audience participation which made the show very fun. The backdrops were amazing and they made the actors look like they were actually in another location. We had great seats and the actors looked like they were so close to us during the show. I didn't expect the stage to look small but apparently we were in a very old theatre. The actors were so talented and lots had them had been in loads of other theatre shows at the West End and had even acted on British TV and movies. I had tears in my eyes when we were cheering for the actors at the end of the show because it was that good! I recommend anyone wanting to go and see a show at the theatre to go and see this one! I feel so lucky to have the world of theatre at my fingertips and knowing that I can go and see a show any day of the week makes me excited to go and see another show very soon.

After the show we went and grabbed a coffee at a cafe and chatted about what we had been up to since we last saw each other. Jarren had ended up in a car accident in Scotland after his tour bus slammed into a cliff wall which was pretty crazy. He had ended up going to hospital to get checked out and hurt his ankle but nothing major which was lucky! I feel so lucky to have met so many beautiful friends along my travels and it was great to see Jarren again and experience the theatre for the first time with him and Rachael.

Here is a little bit of information about the show so you can get an idea of what it was about:

BEST NEW PLAY Critics’ Circle Award, Evening Standard Award

Richard Bean’s award-winning play is a glorious celebration of British comedy – a unique, laugh-out-loud mix of satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners.

Fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother – who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a job with one Stanley Stubbers – but to prevent discovery, he must keep his two guvnors apart. Simple.
5 STARS Daily Express, Daily Mail, Guardian, Independent, Sunday Express, Sunday Times, The Sun
‘An evening of riotous delight... I found myself physically incapable with laughter.' Daily Telegraph
‘A triumph of visual and verbal comedy. One of the funniest productions in the National's history.' Guardian
‘Slapstick, satire and gags galore: a classic comedy hilariously updated.' The Times
One Man, Two Guvnors, one massive hit.' Independent
‘An instant National Theatre hit. Terrifically bouncy and often howlingly funny.' Independent on Sunday
‘Packed with brilliantly original lines. ‘A surefire hit.' Evening Standard
‘Sheer, joyous pandemonium. The moments of slapstick are so perfect, they're choreographically beautiful as well as funny.' Sunday Times
‘The single funniest production I've ever seen.'  Mark Lawson, BBC Radio 4

Me all ready for the theatre

Jarren and I having coffee after the theatre
Love The Theatre Loving Backpacker

My first meeting with ANZUK-teaching agency

Hey everyone,

My introduction to the teaching world in London began when I met a guy named Stuart who was a secondary teacher living with Rachael in Essex Park. We got chatting and he asked me what kind of work I was looking for and when I mentioned I was a primary teacher he was quick to recommend me and pass my details onto a couple of teaching agencies for me.  

A couple of days later I received a call from a girl from ANZUK who was keen to get my resume and help me get set up to teach in the UK. Almost everyone that teaches in the UK gets set up with an agency as it's the easiest way to get work and they set everything up for you. ANZUK specialises in getting teachers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada set up and ready to work in the UK. I arranged a meeting with ANZUK for two days after I received the call from them and I saved the address and organised how I was going to get there that night. 

I used the tube and google maps to find my way to the ANZUK main office through the rain and terrible weather. I got there with plenty of time to spare so I decided to have some lunch before my scheduled meeting time. I walked into the office and a lady showed me through to an interview room where so asked me loads of questions about my visa and where I was living in the UK. She got me to sign lots of contracts that day and she said it was her job to get all of my official documents and criminal records checks completed so I could start work immediately. I signed a contract which gave her permission to get in contact with the University of New England so ANZUK could get a copy of my transcript. I also signed other documents which allowed her to use my details so she could get both of my CRB-British criminal records check and Australian criminal record checked and cleared.  She got my to sign more contracts with a company who was in charge of my pay and tax and also set my National insurance number up for me. She photocopied my passport, proof of address and got my bank details from me this day as well. I felt a little overwhelmed but glad she was doing all of the organisation of the contracts for me as I would have not a had a clue on where to begin.

The lady in charge of all the administration left the room and told me that she was going to bring in one of the agents that would be responsible for finding me work and calling me on a regular basis into the room. I had to wait in the room for a long time alone waiting for him but I was able to read through some of the contracts and brochures they had given me while I waited. A young guy called Simon entered the room and was really nice but a little frantic as I'm sure he deals with loads of teachers each day. He had a sheet which had lots of questions he was going to ask me on it and spaces for my responses. He asked me questions like where I wanted to work in London, how far I was willing to travel, what areas I specialised and was trained in and what areas I felt most comfortable in teaching. He also asked me what my best assets where which was a tough question as I find it hard to talk myself up in interviews but he said that most people did which made me feel better.

He ran me through some of the expectations that ANZUK had in regards to uniform, punctuality etc and then gave me a nice shoulder bag which had an umbrella, tube map, pens and time sheets in it. They were all labelled with ANZUK which made me feel like I was definitely part of the agency now. It all happened quite suddenly and Simon and the administration lady informed me that they would be calling me early the next week for work which was exciting but also very scary. I left the ANZUK offices feeling excited but a little overwhelmed as I headed back to Holly's house on the tube. I couldn't believe I was about to start working in London and I was a little anxious as I had no idea what it was going to be like in comparison to teaching in Australia..... 

Love The ANZUK Backpacker

Portobello Markets

Hey Everyone,

Ever since I had arrived in London I had heard about the famous Portobello markets and knew it was something I definitely wanted to go to before I left England. Holly's house in Ladbrove Grove is really close to the market which was so convenient and we decided we wanted to go together along with Sarah a couple of weekends ago.

Portobello Road is a street in the Notting Hill district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London, England. It runs almost the length of Notting Hill from south to north, roughly parallel with Ladbroke Grove. On Saturdays and Sundays it is home to Portobello Road Market, one of London's notable street markets, known for its second-hand clothes and antiques. Every August since 1996 the Portobello Film Festival has also been held in locations around Portobello Road.

It was a really nice day the weekend we went to the markets and we had breakfast at a small cafe not far from Holly's house. Sarah and Holly are quite the coffee drinkers and convinced me to try a mocha with them as a change. I only ever drink tea and am not a coffee drinker at all but the mocha that I had was actually quite nice. As we sat and ate a delicious breakfast we laughed and chatted before heading off to the markets.

We walked through the entrance near Ladbroke Station and into Portobello Markets. It had so many stalls and lots of antique items which varied in price and were very unique. I picked up a fur vest for 12 pounds at the second stall I visited which was an awesome bargain! There were lots of clothing and jewelry stalls all over Portobello Market as well as art, music and food stalls. There was something for everyone and there was so much to look at I didn't know where to begin. There were thousands of tourists walking the street the day we went as apparently Saturday tends to have better stalls then on the Sunday. As we walked along we could hear lots of really good local buskers playing instruments which added to the great feel of the market. There were loads of fresh fruit and vegetable stalls and we decided to buy our fresh produce at the markets to take home for the baked dinner we were cooking back at Holly's that night. I really enjoyed Portobello markets and picked up two cool rings for 5 pounds as well as my fur vest so I walked out feeling happy and glad I visited.

Before heading back to Holly's house we stopped in at Sainbury's which is like a Coles or Woolworths back home to pick up a few bottles of wine and extra things we needed for the baked dinner. When we got home we relaxed around the house before starting to prepare dinner. We had invited Rachel and Rachael over for dinner as well so we were quite excited to be throwing a dinner party for the girls. Georgie was still in Italy loving the sun and pizza so unfortunately she wasn't able to make it. I prepared and cooked all of the vegetables which I steamed and I cooked the potatoes in an oven bag which had Mediterranean flavours mixed through it. Holly helped prepare the vegetables and made our cheese platter for the night as well as assisted Sarah in preparing the chicken for baking. Sarah stuffed the chicken with garlic and sprinkled sea salt and seasoning over the chicken before placing it into the oven for roasting. Everything was looking and smelling fantastic and we were all pretty proud of ourselves while we were washing up the utensils we had used in making our roast dinner. We sat around the table and ate cheese and sipped on wine before dinner with the girls and it felt like home in a way which was so nice. I hadn't had a good home cooked meal since I started my travels and missed mums amazing weekly baked dinners which was why I suggested to the girls that we cook our own that night. So there we were five Aussie girls sitting around a table in London eating a home cooked baked dinner.

We all had a great night sharing each others company and the baked chicken, vegetables and potatoes tasted amazing. Rachael ended up staying on the couch while I slept in Holly's bed that night. I even cooked her bacon and eggs in the morning to make her feel welcome and special in our house which she enjoyed.
Me at Portobello Markets

Holly having a coffee at the cafe down the road

Holly looking at jewelry at Portobello Market

The beautiful Barlby Road girls at Portobello Market

Portobello Market

Portobello Market

Sarah sipping on coffee at the cafe down the road from Holly's house

The girls walking around Portobello Market

Deciding which rings to buy at Portobello Market

Barlby Road baked dinner night!
Rachael enjoying a wine before dinner
Delicious smelling paella at the Portobello Market

Holly enjoying a wine before our baked dinner

Our baked dinner we cooked mmmm

Sarah mixing up the gravy
Sarah cutting up the baked chicken to be served for dinner
Love The Domestic Backpacker Goddess

Drinks, Macedonian and Shishas...

Hey everyone,

So Steven was back in London after travelling around and attending huge festivals in France and Germany and was staying in Shepherd's bush which was really close to Rachael's house. We all wanted to catch up and I suggested the pub just around the corner from Rachael as I had walked past it many times after visiting her and I said she should make it her local! We all walked in and realised that the pub was quite small and must have been split up into different sections. We ordered some drinks and sat amongst some locals who were watching the football (Soccer) and caught up on what had been happening on our travels. We decided to move next door as we thought that was where we could here live music coming from and realised that the building which we thought was a pub was actually split into three separate sections 1.British Pub 2. Macedonian Restaurant and 3. Iranian Restaurant/Shisha bar which was so cool!  

We decided to have dinner at the Macedonian Restaurant as we had never tried it before and the menu was quite cheap. The had a Macedonian singer who was really, really good singing to the restaurant and then he was joined by two other men that played the keyboard and a clarinet. The music kind of reminded me of a snake charmer and I loved listening to this music for the first time while we were eating. I ordered a mixed grill which was lots of different types of meat which were coated and mixed with a variety of herbs and spices along with chips coated with feta. Mine was delicious and Rachael and Steven really enjoyed their meals too! We were so full and after drinking another bottle of wine we decided we wanted to go into the last section of the building which was the Iranian Shisha Bar.

We walked in and where surprised to find a really nice beer garden style area where lots of people were smoking shishas and relaxing. We felt a little out of place as we were the only non Iranian people in the establishment but that's what kind of made it fun. We ordered a shisha each as they were quite cheap and we wanted to try lots of different flavours. I had coconut, Rachael had watermelon and Steven had an apple shisha. If you have never had a shisha/hookah here is a little information as many people think it is like smoking a bong and is illegal which is not the case at all lol-

A hookah also known as a waterpipe, narghile, or Qalyān (Gujarati હૂકાહ),(Persian قلیان), is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking flavoured tobacco called Mu‘assel (also known as Shisha شیشه) in which the smoke is passed through a water basin (often glass based) before inhalation. The origin of the hookah is India and Persia, or at a transition point between the two.  

They all tasted so nice and we had heaps of fun trying to inhale as much as we could before blowing the smoke out. It doesn't taste like normal tobacco at all and kind of feels like you are breathing in air more than anything with a hint of flavour at the end. Steven was trying to teach us how to smoke like Snoop Dog which was quite funny and we ended up feeling really relaxed after smoking them for an hour or so. The staff were lovely to us and even gave us some Iranian desserts and flavoured tea to try while we sat and smoked our shishas. There were two levels to the Shisha bar and as we sat we noticed there were lots of really well dressed Persian women and men walking upstairs. It must have been a well known place for them and they all seemed quite wealthy because when we walked out of the restaurant there were Mercedes, BMW and Audi cars parked everywhere.

Steven, Rachael and I all had a great night hanging out and experiencing new food and culture with each other. We said goodnight to Steven and Rachael and I went back to her house where I stayed for the night. Rachael and I stayed up and chatted and laughed for ages before we feel asleep for the night.  
Steven and I smoking shishas

At the Iranian Shisha Bar

Iranian sweets

Smoking shishas
Steven and I

Love The Shisha Smoking Backpacker

Monday, 2 July 2012

Shepherds Bush Walkabout for State of Origin Game Two

Hey everyone,
Me out the front of the Walkabout Aussie Pub
I invited Rachael to come and watch the State of Origin game two with me at Shepherds Bush Walkabout pub about 2 weeks ago now. The Walkabout is an Aussie Pub which serves Aussie beers and had all Aussie staff which is kind of refreshing after hearing so many foreign languages and going to pubs where you have no idea what drink to order. The time difference meant that the kick off started at 11am in London at the pub that day which felt so kind of weird. Rach and I called a cab and had a very fun ride to the pub with a Jamaican man who played loud R & B songs the whole way there. When we got there the pub was already pretty packed and we decided to go to the bar and get a bottle a wine to get us started. They were playing the game on this huge projector screen as well as on small plasma TV’s around the pub. The volume was really loud and they had the lights dimmed so it felt just like we were watching the game at a pub at night in Australia which was great! As we were sitting there waiting for kick off I found out that Rachael wasn't actually into football and had never even watched a game of Origin in her life!lol I couldn't believe it and I started explaining some of the rules of football to her while we waited and she was starting to get excited. I always get shivers when I watch State of Origin just before kick off as I'm so excited and love hearing the crowd cheering and Ray Warren's voice commentating. The first hit up is always the most exciting and on the first tackle we started cheering with all of the other Aussies. We ended up drinking about 3 bottles of wine between us that day as well as eating nachos and fatty chips. NSW also won 18-8 which made the day even better for us and I'm sure many NSW supporters back home. We met some nice people at the bar and Rachael almost picked up twice due to her leg being in a cast. Who said people with broken legs couldn't pick up?lol

After we had loads of wine we decided it would be a good idea to go shopping for a few things we needed at the Shepherds Bush Westfield. It is apparently one of only two Westfields in London which is so weird considering they are everywhere back home. Rachael wanted to try and get her iphone fixed so she could get back in contact with the world and buy a few things she needed while she had my help. She wasn't used to using her Canadian crutches and having so much weight put on her shoulders again so the trek to the Westfield proved problematic and very tiring for her ha We decided to get a motorised scooter to travel around in while we shopped which was hilarious to watch at first!After we shopped around we had some delicious GBK burgers and decided it was time to head home. To save Rachael from getting exhausted I walked with her so she was as close to the footpath as we could get and then I rode the scooter back through the shopping centre, down the elevator to where we originally collected the scooter from on the ground floor. As I was by myself on the scooter I couldn't help but laugh at how stupid I looked and I also got some weird glances from people who were obviously wondering why a fully able girl was riding around the shopping centre on a scooter ha Overall our day was great and we loved watching the State of Origin together for the first time in London!
Big screen at the Walkabout

Rachaels first time watching Origin

My cripple out the front of the Walkabout :)

Wines for the Origin

Shopping wheels :) lol
Love The NSW Cheering Aussie Backpacker

Sunday, 1 July 2012

What I have been up to post Contiki/Paddywagon.....

Hey everyone,
Me waiting for a bus in London :)
so you've probably been wondering what I have been up to since I completed my Contiki and Paddywagon tours so this blog is a bit of a mixture of things I have been doing whilst staying at Holly's house over the past month.

After touring around Europe and Ireland I was looking forward to relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep. I have been sleeping on the couch at Holly's house which is actually really comfortable and soft for the past month. In this time I have been relaxing and trying to save money as I didn't budget too well at all whist travelling and came back to London almost broke. I knew that Holly and her flat mates all worked extremely hard and often didn't get home until late each night. I decided as a favour to them that I would make it my job to be the little in house cleaner as the house needed a little bit of a women's touch as the saying goes. For the first week or so in between sleeping and relaxing I started cleaning different areas of the house. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love cleaning and tidying and am often anal with making things neat. I started with the kitchen throwing away out of of date food, I washed the fridge draws and tidied cupboards and the spice rack. I disinfected the sinks and benches, swept the floors and tidied the cleaning cupboards. The girls were very thankful each time they got home after I had been on a cleaning spree and couldn't believe I actually wanted to clean their house. I explained to them that while I had time and they were nice enough to have me stay here with them I was more than willing to help out and do my part to make the house look nice and clean.

Over my weeks here I have since cleaned the lounge room, toilet and bathroom. I have also tidied little things like the book shelf, dining table and I have also vacuumed the bedrooms. I buy the necessary food staples like bread, milk, peanut butter, vegemite, butter, toliet paper, cleaning products and have even bought them new toilet and bath mats. I was doing the washing up for them each day and have even done Holly's washing and hung it out to dry one day as she works so late at night and I wanted to help her out. I have loved staying with the girls here at Barlby road and have actually enjoyed making the house look neat and tidy for the girls as my thank you to them.

Besides being the live in 'Sadie the cleaning lady' or as Georgie calls me 'Big Kev's wife' I have been writing lots of blogs whilst staying at Holly's house!I have written over 40 new new blogs to keep you all updated about my travels and happenings over the past 3 months and must say thank you to Georgie for letting me use her laptop as without it I wouldn't have been able to write any of them. I have loved reminiscing about all of the things I got up to on Contiki, Paddywagon and in London and it made me realise how lucky I was to see and do so many amazing things whilst I have been overseas. It has become like an enjoyable job but has proved to be time consuming as it sometimes takes me over 3 hours to write my blogs by the time I proof read, save and attach photos to add to them. I have now completed all of my Contiki and Paddywagon blogs as well as including a few random ones from my days in London in between each trip. I have spent hours and hours either on the lounge or in Holly's bed writing them over the past month in between cleaning, watching British TV and reading books. It felt so weird not working while all of the girls got up and ready for work in the mornings but I made it my job to write my blogs throughout the days they weren't in the house.

Whist staying at Holly's I have made really good friends with her house mates Georgie, Sarah and Anna! I have loved seeing them after work and hanging out with them at the house on the weekend. They have made me laugh endlessly with their crazy stories and they each have amazing personalities. Without these girls my time in London would not have felt like home and would not have been nearly as fun. They have been so good to me and I cannot express how thankful I am to these girls for having me stay with them. They all don't want me to leave which is lovely!

My bestie from Contiki Rachael broke her leg whilst I was in Ireland after a drunken night out in high heels so I was visiting her in Euston University College Hospital within the first few weeks back in London. The poor girl broke it really bad and now has a permanent plate and screws in her leg and can never wear high heels again. She was in hospital for 2 weeks and in this time I went and spent a few hours every couple of days talking to her, bringing her coffee and treats and keeping her company. I felt helpless and couldn't believe this had happened to her especially when she had just started a new job working in a bar. Steven and I along with her friends Lucy and Laura where there for her when she was in hospital and her parents felt terrible they couldn't fly over to see her so we made it our job to become her London family and look after her. I have since been back to the hospital with Rachael to watch her get her cast cut opened, her stitches cut out and a new fiber glass cast put on which was gross but a first time experience for me. I have still got her out of the house to go to the pub, out for dinner/lunches and shopping which has kept us amused and I can't wait until her leg gets better the poor thing! 

In my time back in London I have also been to Portobello Markets, Shepherd's Bush walkabout to watch the State of Origin, The West End to watch 'One man, two guvnors' at the theatre, been out to many restaurants where I have tried amazingly different foods, visited the trendy and hipster area of Shore Ditch, got set up with a teaching agency and started teaching at a variety of schools all over London. I will include details of these things in blogs which follow this one to keep you up to date.

To finish I just want to say I have been overwhelmed at the response to my blogs and love hearing your feedback on them through your texts, inboxes and wall posts so keep them coming. I love filling you all in on what I have been up to and giving you an insight into my travels around Europe and the UK. My blog has been viewed over 4 500 times already which is fantastic and keeps me motivated to keep writing them for all of you to read.

Love The Couch Surfing Backpacker

Day 7 in Ireland: Dublin

Hey everyone,
Me at the Leprechaun museum
Welcome to my last blog about Ireland! I woke up exhausted and thought it would be a great idea to sleep in as I hadn't over the past 6 days. The weather in Dublin on this day was quite wet and cold and it felt so good to relax. Anna had already left really early in the morning to catch her ferry back to London. She was trying to avoid immigration as she had already been deported out of England and escorted all the way back to New Zealand with two police guards by her side once before!lol She had overstayed her Visa as I said in one of my previous blogs and she was a little nervous she wouldn't be able to spend a few more weeks in London before heading back to NZ. She did however end up making it back into London were she visited the family she used to nanny for.

Skype session with the fam bam:
That morning I skyped my family as I was really missing them and wanted to hear all about what they had been up to and talk to Ashleigh about her baby shower. I talked to Sally for ages and she always makes me laugh with her silly faces on the camera and she even flashed her boobs at me for some entertainment lol Ashleigh showed me her baby bump which was growing more and more every day and said she loved her beautifully decorated baby shower! I also got to talk to my beautiful brothers in-law Addy and Nathan and talked to them about my trip around Ireland. Nathan makes me laugh when he gets on to talk because he's always so enthusiastic but he must bring bad luck because every time I speak to him Skype seems to freeze and we have to disconnect ha

Dad had just got back from 'church' code for the Wellington RSL where he drinks at religiously with his lifelong best friends Cumber and Timmy each Sunday. He seemed a little drunk as his eyes were pretty squinty while he was talking to me ha I wanted to know if they had liked some of the presents I'd got them and if they liked the hats. While we were talking dad put on the Italian chef hat I wore in Rome and mum put on my Amsterdam beanie and we were all laughing which was funny. I decided to join in and put my shamrock glasses and leprechaun hat on which I had bought along the trip and they thought was hilarious lol I always love talking to my family on Skype!

This morning it came time to say goodbye to Luke and Justine who were continuing on their travels to Italy, Croatia and Africa!!Exciting times for them! I had the worst shower of my life this day as you had to press a button which made the water run for 10 seconds and then turned off, the water was so hot you couldn't bare to stand under it for any longer anyway and there was no temperature gauge!! After my shower I got dressed and ready to go explore Dublin as this was my last day in Ireland.

Dublin in is on the list of Europe’s top 10 most visited cities and visitors swarm here each year. Dublin is home to historic museums, top class attractions and Georgian architecture. Dublin is rich in culture, hard partying and constantly changing. Dublin is neatly divided by the Liffey River into the more affluent 'south side' and the less prosperous 'north side'.

I waited at the starting point bus stop for the hop on hop off bus tour of Dublin and while I was waiting there got stuck with talking to two drunk Irish men. They were so gross and after waiting for awhile I looked at the sign that said 'this stop is currently out of service' grrrr lol Anyway I knew I wanted to explore Dublin so I continued to walk along the streets and see where they took me. When I got into the centre of the city  I was surprised at how noisy it was how many crazy fans there were lining the streets. I quickly found out that there was a Formula One racing car event that day. The Formula One cars were so loud and the streets were so packed I could hardly see anything but when I did the cars were going so fast I barely saw them anyway. I did end up seeing a couple of the Formula One cars which were driving very slowly behind a pace car which was cool. I also found a really cool Irish souvenir shop in the very 'happening' area of Temple Bar where I bought a Dublin, Ireland jumper, Celtic earrings and umbrella.

Errection at the intersection as Lee says ha

Formula One race day in Dublin



Cobbled streets of Temple Bar


Liffey River
After my ears had enough of listening to the racing I jumped on the hop on hop off bus which was actually running, just from a different stop. I stayed on at every stop as I wanted to travel around the whole city. I heard many things along the way about the history of Dublin and got to see loads of sites. I chose one site I wanted to visit the most as it was raining and I knew I couldn't do everything in one afternoon. I decided I wanted to visit the 'National Leprechaun Museum' as it sounded cool and I wanted to learn more about Irish mythology.

National Leprechaun Museum:
The National leprechaun museum opened in 2010 and allowed you to explore Irish folklore, mythology and storytelling through a unique and interactive experience. I felt a little weird walking in by myself as I was so used to visiting places with friends now but I absolutely loved the museum and was so glad I went. The tour guide was around my age and from the moment she spoke she had my attention. She made the tour so interesting as she told us enchanting stories about leprechauns and fairies. I was surprised how much of the tour was actually about fairies and she told us Irish fairies were quite evil and scary unlike other fairy tales we have all heard before. She said that fairies live in forests, woodlands and trees and can actually change themselves and look like real humans to trick people. If a person did something bad to the fairies or their home they would come and steal their children and legend says, if you walk into a fairy forest you are likely never to come out the same and therfore this is where the saying 'off with the fairies' come from which I found really interesting! We got to walk through lots of cool exhibits and we listened to the guide tell us lots of stories and Irish myths. The guide was so engaging whilst telling her last story which was so interesting but kind of scary as she told us about a princess who had disappeared from her castle never to return again. She ended up being trapped in the lake as a strange white fish that used to live in the castles pond and pine for her prince etc long story but it was so interesting and she acted it out so well that I couldn't take my eyes off her. There were so many cool stories that I want to read to my kids back at school and I already have so many ideas for a HSIE unit on Ireland to teach when I get back home!lol
Me in a giants living room at the Leprechaun museum

National Leprechaun Museum

Me at the Leprechaun museum

Storytelling at the Leprechaun museum

Spooky stories at the Leprechaun museum
Last night in Dublin:
That night after sightseeing in Dublin I returned to the hostel and meet a lovely Australian girl called Bonnie. She was only 19 and was starting the same tour I had just gone on, the following day. She worked in a boarding school outside of London and was on holidays and thought she would do some travelling. We started talking and decided to go to dinner together at an Irish pub called 'O'Sheas' which was down the road. I had a piece of beautiful Atlantic salmon with mash and veggies which were so yummy. When we got back from dinner there were another 6 Australian girls who were all travelling together staying in our room as well. That night I found it so hard to sleep as I had so much running through my mind and was stressed out I'd miss my bus transfer and flight back to London the next day. I didn't get to sleep until around 1am after tossing and turning and I had to wake up at 4.30am to catch my transfer to the airport.

Flying back to London:
The next morning I woke up and quickly got ready for my 5am transfer to the airport. As I was walking down the stairs I missed the last two and fell down to the foot of the stairs like a bag of shit with my backpack making the weight of the fall even worse. My shoes had no grip and it actually really hurt my shoulder and ankle at the time but is so funny looking back on it now lol We had to pick up so many people along the way and it took forever. When I went to check my bag in at the airport it was too heavy and the lady suggested I take some things out otherwise I'd have to pay 20 pounds per kilo that I was over (3 kilos in total). I was at the check in counter ripping things out of my bag and the easiest things to grab were my toiletries. Ryan Air is really strict with carryon luggage and if you don't have it all in the one bag they make you pay extra for that as well. Of course my toiletries bag didn't fit into my carry on so I was stressing about having to pay for excess baggage when I got to the boarding lounge. I went and had a McDonald’s breakfast which was just what I felt like before heading through customs to board my flight. On the way through customs the man took one look at my toiletries bag and threw everything that weighed more than 100mL out right in front of me. He threw out my most expensive things, creams, fake tan, deodorant, body wash etc There was nothing I could say or do besides watch him do it :( When I was getting ready to board the plane I walked through and hid my handbag underneath my jacket and put my scarf around my toiletries bag and snuck through thank god! When I got back into London I ended up getting the Gatwick Express and the tube back to Holly's house for a much needed sleep and few weeks of relaxation.

Love The Leprechaun Loving Backpacker