Monday, January 16, 2012

The BIG move

L O N D O N. T O W N
So when I first thought of moving to London I thought pfffft this will be easy as cottage pie! Ohhh how I was about to get knocked off my High horse!  The first week we moved here we were still in holiday mode. Dining out, catching cabs everywhere, not knowing how expensive everything was and forgetting that we’ll probably have to live off the money that we had for the whole rest of the month. It was (excuse my French) FUCKING HARD!  We hardly knew anyone when we moved over, we had no support system, no family, no house and no job. Justine and I by that point had been travelling, sleeping and eating together for two months already and the only place that we had found to temporarily live for a month we had to share a small double bed between the two of us. I was over her snoring and she was over my late shifts at work.  
Finding a house: This was my least favourite part of moving over here in the first place! Both Justine and I were temporarily living in a small flat sharing with two very over opinionated Pommy men.  We were also working at different times of the day/night. So to organise to look at flats was hard enough! We didn’t have a high budget and we also had no past living references in London as we just moved there. The price you would pay to live in a shit hole surprised me big time! All I wanted was that cute little Carrie apartment off Sex and the City, was that too much to ask for?  Anyway we finally found a place in Clapham Junction for £545.00 each. 

Finding work: My initial thought of work was ‘it’s going to be so easy; I’ll just get work in a bar’. I’d love to meet the person who can live off £5.00 an hour! When I first arrived I started working at HIX oyster and chophouse, a restaurant owned by famous English chef Mark Hix. It was an exciting experience and first job to have. But by the end of the month it was starting to wear me down emotionally and physically. Working split shifts and getting paid peanuts. Having to serve banker wankers with bad attitudes every day and having them openly stare at my ass.  Missing the last tube and having to catch 3 night busses home at 13:00 in the morning and working with a bunch of Romanians that would constantly speak in Romanian.  All of these were the factors that made me storm out in tears in the middle of the shift and call my mum back home.  It was like one of those scenes on a movie, when she dramatically storms out in a big huff onto the street. If this had happened back in Australia I would have never reacted in the same way. But after a month of putting up with shit it was more like a release of all of my emotions.  After printing out a large amount of resumes I started my hunt for a job all over again. This time though I knew that I had to have higher expectations of pay! After all of my walking around the city, hundreds of lattés at star bucks and hours spent on gum tree I had landed myself a job at a reception management company. Now working on reception was not my ideal job because it’s an uninteresting monotonous occupation but to help set myself up a normal routine it’s was the best decision I had made since I had arrived in London!

The weather: Mostly overcast with no chance/low change of sun/snow L
A few life saving tips:
·         Bring your flats everywhere! I have never done the amount of walking as I have in London! With all of your time spent running for tubes make sure your bring comfy flat shoes!
·         You have to be pushy! When I first arrived I was too nice, letting everyone push in front of me to get onto the tube. By the time I got on the tube to go to work I had waiting for three other trains.
·         DO NOT STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET- also one of my many mistakes I had made when I got here. I always thought how rude people were when they would huff and puff when I would stop to look at a building or to ask someone for directions. But now I understand how annoying it is when someone does the same to me. You spend so many hours out of your home travelling to and from work so when you finish all you want to do is get home. It seems as if  I’ve turned into a cynical bitch. But I’m actually just saying look up while you’re walking, it’s a much better view and you’ll avoid agro Poms having a go at you!

Soon to come- Finding a man!

Greece- Kriopigi-Halkidiki

Greece is one of those holiday destinations that you always dream of visiting, well it was my turn and I was on my way to Kriopigi-Halkidiki (56 mls SE of Thessaloniki). We had gone to stay with my good friend George; he was very passionate about his home country and couldn’t have been more excited to show his Australian friends off.  We had arrived from Eastern Europe after a series of unfortunate events, we were ready for a holiday from a holiday and this was exactly the place for it!  George showed us around Halkidiki a beautiful beach town were the sun is hot and the cocktails served icy! He treated us to a welcome lunch a feast of fresh seafood and cold deli food which is exactly what you felt like in the heat. He then took us to his favourite beach bars for the afternoon. The beach bars were my favourite, I loved the fact that you could sit around all day sipping on freshly made cocktails and listen to corny European dance music with heavy base.
The people: Greek people are lovely warm and inviting. Georges friend was nice enough to invite us to stay at his family run resort for a week. He didn’t know us at all but treated us as though we were his sisters. He would go out with us and keep a close eye on us to make sure we weren’t getting into any trouble(he caught us out a few times!).  This is why I love the people of Greece; you don’t have to know them for years as they will meet you once and make a decision if they like you or not on the spot.
The people of Greece!

The food: WAS AMASING! Greek cooking is one of my favourites because they don’t over marinate/complicate the food. They know that the seafood is fresh and flavoursome and they know how to serve it not using too many flavours and utilizing key ingredients to bring out the flavour (lemon, sea salt & Oregano) . I had cooked only once for George the whole two weeks of my stay. I cooked my famous cottage pie, that went down fabulously with a nice bottle of Greek red!
My favorite Restaurant

My cottage pie

A single serving of scotch on the rocks greek styles!

The parking: I had to mention this because it’s just too funny and shows how laid back the people of Greece are. We were walking home after a night out and came across typical Greek parking, a car parking smack bang in the middle of the road!  I don’t know if this is actually as funny as I thought it was at the time, or if I had one to many cocktails but I thought I’d share never the less!
Greek parking!

We stayed in Greece for about two weeks, by the end of it we were sun soaked and coming down off a month and a half of nonstop partying. We danced every night, drunk all day and shopped till we dropped!  I would have like to do more sightseeing but I was happy with the food and the wine and the weather!
Greece was our last stop before heading over to move to London for two years and probably the last chance to have a holiday for a while. We were really sad to leave the beautiful Greek Island but so excited/nervous about our big move. I know that Greece is defiantly one of those places that you want to go back to, even for a weekend escape.
So for now Greece αντίο Ελλάδα –Goodbye
George and I

Justine and I soaking up the sun


Trip advisor:
A link to my favorite Greek restaurant back in Aus:
I have never wished to cater for the crowds:
for what I know they do not approve,
and for what they approve I do not know.
Greek philosopher, (341-270 BC)

My travel map!

Night train- To Sofia with love

Sofia was not exactly on the list of places that I really required to visit but in order to get to Greece we had to catch a night train from Croatia. This train trip had turned out to be a nightmare and a realisation that both Justine and I are both very young and very vulnerable to be travelling alone with no male accompaniment on a scary night train. It was time to say goodbye to Croatia and move on to the next destination, so ready to start our onward journey we travel to Zagreb to catch the train. Not looking our freshest we jump on the unclearly marked train and try to communicate with some of the non English speaking passengers to see if we are on the correct train. We automatically had a bad feeling about this train and it had nothing to do with the pee stained floors or the stench that was lingering in the corridors. We stuck out like a sore thumb, they knew that we were foreigners; they knew that we were alone and they certainly knew they could take us for a ride!
By the time we find our carriage after several men trying to push us into their compartment we settle for a carriage with a less crazy looking man who was muttering Slavic jargon under his breath. If you saw this man on the street you would most likely hold onto your bag, but compared to the other passengers he was our best pick! We take our seat and try to get some rest. I for one wasn’t feeling safe enough to fall into a deep slumber but nature took its course and soon enough the both of us were snoozing. I woke several times throughout the night to check if my bags were safe and to check if Justine was ok. The last time I awoke there was a man standing over Justine trying to get to her bag, I screamed and Justine jumped up and automatically started to chase the young man. Luckily enough he didn’t take anything, but the frustration we both felt when we were trying to explain what had happened to the train staff. They were looking at us like we were the ones making all the trouble! To top it off we had some gypsy looking man trying to offer us a ‘happy cigarette’ as he dubbed it (a joint). We probably should have taken him up on his offer as from the bag snatching incident we didn’t get a wink of sleep for the next 6 hours!
Anyway with that bad experience behind us we were positively ready to make our way to Greece!

(No photos for this post..... there was nothing that really caught my eye!)

H U N G A R Y- Budapest

So we had arrived in the overcast Hungary-Budapest straight from our sunny sail Croatia. To be completely honest I was surprised in how beautiful and pristine Hungary was as I hadn’t really heard much about the Country. The one thing that I can’t seem to stop thinking about is the deliciously hung cured meats in the busy Great Market hall. I was in paradise, surrounded by exotic spices, herbs and busy crowds of people bartering for a good price for their weekly groceries.  The nightlife wasn’t spectacular, from the very few things I have heard about Budapest it was that the nightlife was amazing. Don’t get me wrong we did end up having an all nighter and Justine ended up losing her shoes on the way home but it was lacking the wow factor!
Besides from the clubbing/partying scene we did get some great sightseeing in. We travelled up to the Buda Castles-Matthias Church. It was so romantic Justine and I couldn’t help but laugh and tell each other how much we wished we were with boyfriends! We were in awe by the spectacular architecture and spirit of the place. To top off a great day we heading to the restaurant situated at the top of the mountain to grab a quick glass of vino. Little did we know we had walked into a scene of a movie where there are waiters wearing a two piece suit and three violinist were serenading the crowd, what a great end to our beautiful day!
(or so we thought!)
The way home was not so great, so we heading towards the bus stop catch the bus back to our hostel. Sitting there was a little old woman who reminded me of my Grandma; she smiled at us as if she was inviting us in. We sat down and waited for the bus, finally it pulls up and I walk in to buy my ticket. The old lady started to shove me; I thought it was because she was having trouble getting into the bus so I ignored it. But when I looked closer she had her hand in my bag! I couldn’t believe it, how was this sweet little lady trying to hustle me! It was just one of the events that had shown me that I wasn’t on the safe little Gold Coast anymore!  On the way home we were hustled yet again by a two criminal looking people. We weren’t familiar with the transport systems and we must have had a big sign on our heads that stated take our money, because that’s exactly what they did. They pretended to be ticket inspectors to fine us for not buying the correct tickets for our journey. We knew they were taking us for a ride but it was easier to just pay them then to keep listening to their bullshit.
By the end of Budapest we were ready to move on, a week is plenty of time to see everything and get a good feel of what the country has to offer. Any longer and it would have been a bore!

Buda night life!

The Buda Castles

The Great Hall market

Thursday, January 12, 2012

C R O A T I A -Split,Omis,Markarska, Korcula, Pucisca, Hvar, Mljet & Dubrovnik

It was one of the places that I never really thought about travelling to and it actually turned out to be one of my favourite destinations. We had booked an 8 day Island sailing trip that stopped at 8 different islands through the Dalmatian coast. The sun was invited for the whole trip to my delight I was able to work on my tan. The people were beautiful! It felt like the whole country had adopted me over the two weeks of my visit.
I thought it was the best start to our trip because it showed me how different other parts of the world are from home. Justine and I were in Hvar walking past all of the different restaurants when we came across stunningly beautiful older women who kindly invited us into her home to give us pedicures. Now back at home if someone had asked the exact same question I would have told them where to go, but I thought when in Rome/Croatia! She had told us what it was like to live in one of the most luxurious destinations in Europe and how she had come to have been divorced, owned a restaurant and remarried a much younger man. I had met my Sophia Loren! She was such an inspiring women to have met, her interpretation of life was if your so unhappy with your life change it. It seemed such a simple solution but It must work because she was living the life!

The only thing I really didn’t love about Croatia was the lack of local food. It to me seemed a bit westernised for my liking, I went there looking to try a piece of their local cuisine and instead all I ate was pizza, Gelato and kebabs.

The Boat
I don’t know what Justine and I were thinking that we were going to get, maybe a Croatian version of Titanic. But our little boat was far from! We had rushed down to see what our room was like.... let me show a picture:

Enough said!
Moving on, What we had soon come to realise it obviously wasn’t the boat that made our trip but the crew that had come along for the ride. The first few days all we could do was complain about pretty much everything about the boat, by the end of the trip we were sad to leave. The crew were made up of 9 Australian guys, two Australian girls and two Canadian girls (it was a bit of a sausage fest). Ever night consisted of pub crawls, messy nights and unbearable mornings. It was just what I needed to get out of me, it felt like there was 21 years of partying saved up for a massive week of nonstop festivities. It was hard to stay sober when there was Kovlakos shoved at you every minute of the day and ridiculous outdoor super clubs with fountains to dance in.
The boat

The crew!
The streets

The veiw

Dining out

Busabout link:

Malaysia- Kuala Lumpur

I will never forget the feeling of stepping off the plane and thinking this is actually the beginning of our trip. This is the stop over before our big Euro trip! I’m not so sure if it was a good idea to make this our first stop as by the end of the three days we were ready to be on our way. It was a funny picture, Justine and I trekking through the busy streets knocking people out of the way with our over packed backpacks. People shouting out at us trying to sell anything and everything and I wanted to buy it all! Checking into the hotel was also a funny picture as it looked nothing like the picture on the booking website. It was by far the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in! I don’t know why they advertised a concierge service as all the men at the desk did was stair (sorry drool) at me and Justine. By this point we were over the sleazy men of Malaysia all we wanted was a nice air-conditioned room with clean bed. We finally got allocated a room(sorry a jail cell) and to our surprise it was far from what we had expected. Let me put it this way: it would have been comfortable and most likely more hygienic to sleep in a tent!
So the first night we decide to go explore the markets of Petaling Street and try some of the famous street food. We stumbled across this street cafe that served chili mud crab for the equivalent of $5.00.  This was my favourite part of my Malaysian stop over as I wasn’t expecting the food to be as flavoursome as it was. So after our crab feast we decided to hit the night life!  Even though our flight was the next day we decide to try every cocktail on the menu. And with alcohol prices so low and the temperature being so high I felt not at all guilty, until the next day when I was feeling very sorry for myself.  
One thing I can honestly say about Kuala Lumpur is after Malaysia we needed a holiday from a holiday!
 The Muggy Streets of KL
 The tasty chilli crab from Petaling Street
 A night out