The leaning tower

Pisa - Rach

Pisa – Rach

On the way from Florence to Nice we stopped at Pisa. Of course to see one of the countries most famous monuments and to see all the other tourists doing the holding up the tower photo :)

According to our tour guide Pisa is a hole and he thought that of the hour and thirty minutes we were there that it was an hour and twenty too long. Even our Lonely Planet travel guide noted that there was no reason for an extended stay. If they say this about Pisa, I wonder what they´d say about Canberra :)

Adrian & Rach

Adrian & Rach

Of course we had to get some holding or pushing the tower photos :) I felt like the biggest cheeser doing it but I had some comfort knowing that a hundred other people were doing it.

The tower is really on a lean. It used to lean even further every year but in the 1990s they worked on fixing the unstable ground below it (which caused the tower to continually keep leaning further. The tower was not built leaning. It was once straight).

Pisa - Adrian

Pisa – Adrian

Apparently the works down have also correct the lean to an angle back to what it was some time ago so it´s not as far leaning as it once was.

It was hard to work along the main strip without getting asked to buy a watch or an “original” Louis Vitton bag :)

All in all the tower was impressive and a must see and the grounds and grass area around it are kept in top condition.

Florence – Our last day

At our last city in Italy there was no way I was going to leave with out seeing something of Leonardo Da Vinci. If you didn’t already know then shame on you, but this guy was a genius.

Models

Models
Da Vinci Expo

Da Vinci Expo

In fact if you look up genius in the dictionary you will find a picture of him. Anyway, so on our second day we went to an exhibition on Leonardo Da Vinci. It was a display of real life models of his inventions and other works. A lot of the models were interactive so we could have a go and see what they did. A lot of things he invented and concepts he created works for are things we use every day and take for granted. It was a small exhibition but I’m glad we went. (Click the link to the right –>) Continue reading

Florence

We originally had only booked our last nights accommodation in Florence because we were just going to wait till we got there to book something in the city but decided the night before we left that we’d just book the other 2 nights at the busabout drop off point. Anyways we got there and said we have a booking for 3 nights and the lady said no its only for 1 night and we’re like no we booked the extra 2 nights last night if you let us get onto the internet we can show you the confirmation number etc, she said that they didn’t have the internet available for us to use. Adrian was getting quite cranky by this stage :) We then said we booked it on gomio.com or hostelworld.com and she said we’ll you couldn’t have cos we don’t use those websites! Then it occurred to us that we’d booked the wrong place!! Luckily they had space there cos we couldn’t be bothered carrying our bags around looking for the other place. That’s our first stuff up for the trip! Wasn’t too bad it the scheme of things :)

Oh yeah and the accommodation is in cabins not tents thank god. But the cabins don’t have water hooked up them so you can’t use the toilet or shower in them you have to walk about 200m which a pain when you really need to go to the toilet at 3am! (Click the link to the right –>) Continue reading

Rome’ing around

Yeah like Rach said yesterday we seriously walked for well over six hours with only a lunch break for a stop. We covered a lot of things and a large area in one day with no public transport except for on the way back. We walked from the Vatican city in the north west of Rome right down to the Colosseum in the south east. I’d love to know how many kilometres we walked in total.

The one thing about Italy is all of their monuments are just huge, very tall and very detailed. It must have taken ages for them to be built. So much effort and attention to detail went into them.

Today was a much light day. Both of us were keen to retire earlier than the other days. We first headed for the Sistine Chapel but the line was massive. I’d say close to a kilometre. So we headed back to the Colosseum for another quick look. As well as another look at the Roman ruins on the way back from the Colosseum. We then began our walk to the Piazza Navona (a piazza is a square or public place). It’s home to the Fontana del Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers).

Roman Ruins 

Roman Ruins

After that we headed back towards the Sistine Chapel to have another go at the line and this time around there was none, which was great. The path to the Sistine Chapel goes through many other corridors, rooms and large halls. I’d say we walked at least a kilometre on our little trip. So many of them had fantastically detailed walls and roofs with paintings of all sorts of the things. A lot of sculptures around the place and the one thing we noticed was that a lot of the male statues had their private bit broken off them :) But the ones with leaves instead did not. After a good half hour of winding corridors, rooms and large halls we finally got into the Sistine Chapel. Well Michelangelo was really an artist. The paintings are so detailed and cover a massive amount of space. There are lots of separate large paintings that apparently tell stories from the bible. Again like all the other Italian monuments, it’s huge, very tall and very detailed. Unfortunately they won’t allow photos (like in Paris with the Mona Lisa, hence the post card shot :) ).

We ended the day at that as we’re both still a little worn out from the day before. We headed back to our place for a swim and spa. Relaxing….

Tomorrow I think we are headed for our worst accomodation. Tents! This’ll be character building :)

Hanging with the Pope

The Pope

The Pope

Well today was the hugest day ever! We must of walked for seriously over 7 hours. We left at 11am and didn’t get home till almost 7:30pm and only sat down for lunch for about half an hour.

St Peters Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica

Our first stop was Vatican City. The were literally thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square and after a while we wondered why they were all faced one way and then we realised that the Pope must of been making an appearance and sure enough he did! At 12 o’clock he appeared in his little window. It was a pretty cool moment but not being able to understand what he was saying and not being religious people, we quickly got over it and shortly left to go into St Peter’s Basilica itself. That place is huge and very beautiful another amazing building to add to my list that I’ve seen so far :)

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
Pantheon

Pantheon

We then went to the Spanish Steps. They are just like the name says a set of steps nothing that great about them really. I’m sure they have some great history behind them but just to look at they weren’t that spectacular.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain. I was expecting this little fountain but again it was quite big and very pretty also just way too many people around which was quite annoying cause there was limited space to stand or sit around and just look.

Colosseum

Colosseum
Colosseum - Inside

Colosseum – Inside

We then checked out the Pantheon and you guessed it, it was huge! We’ve discovered the Italians love building big stuff!

Our last stop for the day was the Colosseum. We did a tour of the inside, the guide thought he was pretty funny but I didn’t think he was! He did give us lots of interesting history though, like the floor was built of wood and they just covered it in sand. I thought that was a bit strange, it no longer has a floor because of the numerous fires you just look down at this maze made of stone. Our ticket lasts until 1:30pm tomorrow so we’ll probably go check it out again.

Vatican Guards

Vatican Guards

Tomorrow I’m keen to take it a bit easy, there’s still a lot to look at but I think we’ll catch trains around instead of walking :) The Sistine Chapel was closed today so I want to go check that out tomorrow hopefully there won’t be as many people around either because its a Monday.

Buon giorno

So I’m finally in the fatherland :) Our propellor plane in here was quite scary. At one point Rach and I looked forward at my hand gripping the chair in front and saw perspiration from the nerves in droplets on my fingers. We spent the first day here at the camping resort. This place is heaven compared to a hostel. Lots of nice trees everywhere and a pool, restaurant, shops and bar. We spent a fair bit of the afternoon in the spa just relaxing getting ready for the foot pounding over the next two days.

Carnevale

Carnevale

Anyway, we headed into Venice (the locals call it Venezia) and took a vaporetto (water bus) all the way from the top to the bottom down the grand canal, the main canal that seperates the main area of Venice. Well what can I say other than wow. It’s a spectacular ride and goes under the famous Rialto bridge. This is one of few places we’ve been too where I could just sit back and watch. The place is really quite amazing and looks stunning in many places. Seeing all of the buildings end and drop straight down into the water everywhere is just very different to every where else. I’ve taken so many photos over the last two days. More than at the Star Wars exhibition :)

Gondolas

Gondolas

One thing I wish we could see is the Venice Carnevale. The masks and costumes that go with it fascinate me so much. They look unreal. Unfortunately the carnival is in February. I would love to come back and see it. For some photos of what I mean check out:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=venezia+carnevale&m=tags

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

All in all, we didn’t do much sightseeing at all but it felt like we did heaps. We did loads of walking around and weaving in and out of the hundreds of alley ways. On our way home to day we managed to walk from the bottom to the top of the main area of Venice and walked through areas where there was not a single tourist in sight. Today the vaporettos went on strike, luckily we caught the last one to the bottom of Venice, San Marco. This was good because the St Marco Piazza square which on our first day was full of people meant that today it was much quieter. It was also bad because we didn’t get to go to the glass art making island of Murano, where they make lots of stunning glass pieces.

Venice

Well what can I say Venice is such a beauitful city :) You could sail up and down the grand canal all day and not get bored.

The first thing we did on our second day was catch a water bus to San Marco, there were hundreds of people there and even more pigeons! We pretty much spent the whole day walking around San Marco looking at all the little stores and yes Jo the jewellery was pretty impressive! And I liked all the Murano glass stuff too. I must of went into 50 stores even though they were all selling almost the same thing, I could look at it for hours.

Pigeons

Pigeons

We thought it looked like fun to buy some corn kernals and feed the pigeons and oh my god they love it! It was kind of strange at first having all these birds all over you but you get used to it. We got lots of cool photos of that.

We then caught the water bus to an island called Lido but as soon as we got there we realised we had to be back in an hour to catch our shuttle bus back to the place we’re staying at so we pretty much had to leave as soon as we got there but it is still nice to ride on the water bus and look at everything.

Basilica

Basilica

Today we went back to San Marco and went into St Mark’s Basilica. It is such a beautiful cathedral. I still find it hard to believe that all these amazing churches, buildings, castles etc we are seeing were built hundreds of years ago without machinery. They are so huge and have so much detail, every one we see I’m just amazed by.

Oh and today when we went to catch a water bus and realised that they were on strike! But luckily Venice isn’t that big so we were able to walk to nearly everywhere we wanted to go. Except we weren’t able to go to Murano to see the glass making :(

We had lunch at a restuarant in San Marco, it was 15€ for a 3 course meal but it was pretty crap I thought. I must say the food I’ve experieced in Venice is pretty average, I’m hoping Rome and Florence will be better.

Small Canal

Small Canal

The place we are staying at is great. Its about 15 minutes out of Venice but its really spaceous which is great cause we’re used to being confined to a hostel room. They also have a pool which Adrian managed to get me into yesterday!! I’m sure he’ll mention his disatisfaction about the time the pool closes :)

We fly out to Rome tomorrow, our shuttle bus leaves at 6am which I’m not very happy about! That means we have to get up at 5.15 noooo!!!!

Praha… As the locals call it.

As Rach said, we stopped at a concentration camp used by the Nazis.

Terezin Court Yard

Terezin Court Yard

It’s called Terezin and is about an hour and a half away from Prague. It was mainly used for Prisoners on route to other destinations. It was not like the other larger camps where mass gassings occurred. Prisoners were sent to other camps for this. The people mainly died from the appalling conditions. The picture of the court yard shows a sign which means “Work makes you free”. Apparently this slogan was used throughout the majority of concentration camps.

Solitary Confinement

Solitary
Confinement

Only three people escaped from Terezin. They used a ledge which wrapped around the outside of the building. After the escape, part of the ledge was removed to prevent further escapes. We got to see where they escaped and where the ledge was removed. For more info on Terezin check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_camp_Theresienstadt

A few things on Prague, the beer here is dirt cheap. Too bad I’m not a big beer fan. And when I mean cheap I mean cheap. For top quality beer you can get half a litre for anywhere from just over $1 – $2 aussie dollars.

I must say it’s about time that I walk into a public place and find the Ice Hockey on TV! And not the stupid football! The Czechs are big on their hockey. There is a big arena and hockey shop right next to our place. The first night we were here, we walked into an Italian restaurant and what do you know? There was a Czech vs Canada game on the big screen :) A couple of the staff sat around an watched it instead of work. Today we went to a net cafe and on the wall was a widescreen plasma and the guy turned it on and what do you know? Czech vs USA was on. Currently the world championships are being played Latvia and the teams are stacked with NHL players.

Continue reading

Prague

The bus trip to Prague seemed extra long for some reason so we were happy to finally arrive. We stopped on the way at a concentration camp called Terezin.

Prague Castle 

Prague Castle

It was a bonus stop that we didn’t know about so Adrian was pretty happy cause we missed the one the day before. We’re staying in our first dorm room here, it hasn’t been too bad actually I thought it was going to be a lot worse. It’s just a bit annoying when people come home after you and when they get up in the morning before you. There was also a guy on our first night that snored so loudly, luckily both Adrian and I had ear plugs!

Prague Castle 

Prague Castle

Yesterday we visited Prague Castle, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea for us to walk there and it took us nearly 2 hours! The castle was very pretty and there were markets that were selling all different locals crafts, I thought they were pretty cool Adrian didn’t look too impressed though :)

On Charles Bridge 

On Charles Bridge

Our next stop was Charles Bridge, there were again heaps of stalls selling various souvenirs and crafty stuff. We then went to Town Square where the Astronomical Clock is. We were told that we must visit that because every hour on the hour it does some kind of display. So we waited around for about 45 minutes to see it and there were hundreds of people crowded around waiting too. We were very disappointed with the display let me tell you in wasn’t much at all it just made some noise and something moved and that was about it! But apparently this clock was built in the 1300’s so I’m not sure what we were expecting.

Overall Prague hasn’t been what I imagined, I think it was talked up too much by a lot of people. Don’t get me wrong I still have enjoyed our time here its been great.

Guten Tag

History wise, Berlin is easily the most interesting place I have come across. So many huge events have occurred here over the last century. Our bike guard said he was having a coffee with a 90 year old woman who has lived here her whole life and has never left. Gees she has been through some interesting times.

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

The holocaust memorial fascinated me. It looks unreal from so many angles. I took heaps of pictures. Rach just said behind the Star Wars exhibition this memorial is the most I’ve taken pictures of. It has just over 2,700 stone blocks making up the memorial. It has been quite controversial for a few reasons. It only commemorates Jews. Hitler killed many other people including disabled, homosexuals and generally any one that didn’t follow his thinking. Also the company contracted to apply the anti graffiti coating to the rocks was the same company Hitler used to manufacture the gas he used in his gas chambers. There was a massive public uproar and as a sign of trying to mend the past, the company supplied the coating all free of charge. For pictures of the memorial click here.

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

We were over the top of where Hitler’s bunker hid metres below, where he committed suicide. At first, surprisingly there was not a single marking or note of the massively historical site that laid beneath us. But the more I’ve been here the more I hear about how the Germans are really trying to distance themselves from what happen, as well as they don’t like talking about their dark history. Apparently Hitler was not even liked by the majority of Germans when he was in power. It’s a shame that you can’t go underground to see it but I respect why there is nothing mentioned any where about the site.

Victory Tower

Victory Tower

There is this really funny huge tower named the Victory tower. It symbolises some Victory over the French. It really is a big “Ha Ha We Won!” to the French. It is metal is made entirely of melted down guns captured from the French. It has canons around it that were all captured from the French. It has gold plated bits that yes again, were captured from the French. It also has a statue of someone pointing in the direction of France too :) Apparently the French don’t like it. I can’t see why? 😉

At any Jewish religious site there are policemen 24 hours a day. Not because there is a high chance of being vandalised but more that on the very unlikely chance that vandalism were to occur. It’s there to prevent any bad publicity as you can imagine the media would make a frenzy of it world wide.

I highly recommend seeing the DVD titled “Downfall”. I saw it just before we left. It was a new release from VideoEzy. It’s in German with English subtitles. It’s about the last week or so of Hitler’s life. After hearing from the guide, the movie is very factually correct. I thought the movie was very interesting. Hitler was really insane. Towards the end he never listened to any of his top Generals that they were to crumple. One woman was so passionate about Hitler that she could not think of a world without Hitler in power. So in Hitler’s bunker she killed five of her six children and then herself. Even after top raking Generals urged her that there was still time to escape before the Russians arrived. She just though life without Hitler was not worth living. One word that comes to mind is “fanaticism”.

Berlin

Berlin has been really good, it is so interesting because there is so much history behind everything that we have seen.  The weather has been great which is always a bonus! We went on another bike tour yesterday (yes we love our bike tours!) it was really good the tour guide was so knowledgable he knew absolutely everything.  There is so much to do in Berlin we haven’t even touched the surface of things to do and see.

Last night we went on a pub crawl with some other busabout people it was a lot of fun we visited 4 clubs and at every place we got a free shot as you can imagine Adrian was pretty happy with that!  We had the walk to each club so in between the clubs the guides poured yagameister and apple snapps into our mouths!   The last club we went to was pretty big it had 3 different rooms but the music was pretty crap in all 3. We got home at about 3:30 so today has been a bit of struggle to get motivated to do stuff. 

This afternoon we were going to a concentration camp about 40 minutes out of Berlin so we went to the train station to catch a train and sat there for about 30 minutes waiting for it and then realised that the announcement over the loud speaker in German that had been repeated several times was saying that our train had been cancelled!  Adrian was most upset because it was something he really wanted to see but apparently we stop at a concentration camp on our way to Prague tomorrow. 

I’ve got 2 minutes left so I better go.

Byeeee

XXXX

 

Bikes, coffee shops and red lights…

Amsterdam is an interesting place. The Netherlands was once all water and no land. They pumped out bucket loads of water to make it all dry. Apparently all of the Netherlands is under sea level and Amsterdam itself is built on top of a river. All of the quirky things about Amsterdam all have a perfectly legitimate reason behind it that always dates back centuries ago e.g. Cannabis was decriminilised because some guy back centuries ago didn’t think it was fair to jail all of the young kids because they were smoking cannabis.

Some other things to note about Amsterdam:

– There are more bicycles here than there are people. Seriously, there are 1.2 million bikes and only 700,000 people. Bikes have right of way and they are everywhere. They even have car parks but for bikes, I guess you could call them bike parks? Even dominos pizza is delivered on pushbikes.

– Every one knows about the red light district but have you heard of the blue light district? Well if you walk down the blue light district area the small difference is that all the pretty girls aren’t girls! Did some body say she-male?

– The red light district is actually heavily funded by the government. Apparently all of the girls work items are fully tax deductible e.g. implants, other types of plastic surgery, lube, toys etc… Apparently if any one takes a photo of one of the girls, you should expect to see some heavies come out and jump on their camera and then on top of them :)

– Amsterdam is nowhere near as picturesque as Paris, but I guess that’s to be expected. It’s just so varied and random with no consistency e.g. you’ll be walking through a block of buildings / homes and they will be all different styles and colours and everything.

Big Clogs

Big Clogs

– There are coffee shops and cafes. Coffee shops specialise in cannabis. Cafes specialise in coffee :) Both types of shops have wide varieties of their respective products.

Yesterday we went on a bike tour. Not as good as Paris but still worth the money. The highlights were seeing and old style windmill and visiting a clog factory and cheese farm. Rach and I bought some cheese from there. It’s great. It’s made the old style way too.

Windmill

Windmill

Later that night we headed to the red light district. Nothing special really. I was expecting a lot more from what everyone described. It was really just woman in Windows with underwear on.

Today we went to the house that Anne Frank hid in. She was a jew hiding from the Germans. She wrote a diary of her encounters and that has been published in many different countries. If you’re interested check out the below link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_frank

Paris – Day 3

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

Today we went to the Louvre. This is one of Paris’ most famous museum and is home to the Mona Lisa. We managed to get a photo holding the Mona Lisa :) The Louvre is huge. To cover all of it you would need a full day or more.

After that we headed to Notre Dame to get a closer look and to walk around inside. It is huge. I really don’t know how they built this building in their times. It’s very tall and you can walk around the top to see Paris.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

We then headed to the Sacre Coeur which is a huge church but the main attraction is that it is on a hill which looks over a large part of Paris. Paris is quite flat so the view is great. It’s right near our place, so we’re gonna head back tonight to go have a look at Paris at night. It should be a great view, just as it is in the day.

So tommorrow we are off to Amsterdam. My mum told me I should go check out the “coffee shops” and she said the red light district is worth a visit :) hehhehehhe just kidding. Hi mum if you’re reading!

Bonsoir (Good evening in French)

In our hotel lobby I found a brochure for a Star Wars exhibition:

http://www.cite-sciences.fr/english/ala_cite/expositions/starwars/

Pod Racer

Pod Racer

So of course I had to go, you gotta see all of the famous Paris sites :) They had two full size pod racers (see pic below) and heaps of other full size objects used from all six movies, including costumes (see storm trooper pic), light sabers and other bits and pieces. They had loads of sections where you could read up on the history, how they did things and so forth. Any way it was well worth the ten euro (16 skippy dollars).

Storm Trooper

Storm Trooper

Further to what Rach has wrote. On the way into France there were so many massively large fields that were so lushiously green. Better than lush golf greens. It looked really clean and fresh. They’re definately not in drought over here.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

All of the cars here are Renaults and Peugeots. It’s funny to see Mercedes Benz taxis :)

When we went on the hour long cruise as a part of the bike tour, we got to see lots of paris at night time. It’s a lovely place and is well lit up. Along the river we were on every now and again we’d see these tents. The guide informed us that once a year the Parisiens (The people of Paris) doing something nice for the poor. Apparently this year they bought the homeless tents. So heaps of the homeless have got tents! Any way, every hour on the hour the Eiffel tower sparkles like crazy just like a sparkler. That’s what that photo is.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The metro (short for metropolitan rail way) is just as easy to use as the tube, except for that it’s in French. It’s quite interesting trying to buy a ticket from some one who only knows French. The first time I just pointed at the place on the map and held up two fingers meaning two people.

The bike tour was so funny, there we were a group of 15 taking over the streets of Paris stopping traffic all in bright fluro vests. The tour was 24 euro and well worth it for 5 hours, some good excercise, a one hour ride on a river boat and some wine to go with it.

The Eiffel tower is an interesting sight, especially when you’ve always just seen it on post cards. It put a big grin on my face to see it as popped out of the metro and starting walking towards it and then it appeared. Rach and I were a little alarmed at the French military walking around with big machine guns. I guess we’re just not used to seeing guns. But I guess they think they need it since September 11th. These guys looked so bored and mean that I bet they’d be keen as to let a few shots go.

Guard

Guard

It poored down today in the afternoon about 6. Lucky I had Ness’ emergency poncho to save the day. We had dinner made up of items from the local supermarket (sandwhich, dips, cruskits, ice cream with cookie dough. Nothing special). The super market makes you pack your own bags and their trolleys are really little carts that hold the normal hand baskets. It only gets dark here about 10pm which is really usefull. Any way gotta get to sleep got a big day of free museums.

PS. I hate the French keyboards. The letters A, M,W and Z are in a completely different place to ours and you have to hold shift to get numbers.

Bonjour

Well where do I start? Today is our second day in Paris and it has been great so far! Paris is absolutely beautiful I had no idea how amazing it was.

Tube Stairs

Rach – Bike Tour

We went on a 5 hour bike tour last night which was so much fun. It was so crazy we were riding on the road weaving in and out of traffic I thought one of us was going to get hit for sure! We saw the eiffel tower, notre dame, louvre plus lots more other stuff and went on a cruise down the seine river.

Today we went back to the eiffel tower, we were going to go up but the weather was pretty average so we’re going to wait until tomorrow. We also went to the Arc de Triomphe. It is situated in the middle of a roundabout that has at least 12 streets going off it and its absolutely crazy theres cars going in every direction and theres seems to be no rules everyone just goes anywhere. Apparently there is an accident every 6 minutes but we didn’t see one today.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The first sunday of every month musuems have free entry so we are going tomorrow to visit as many as we can.

One thing I’ve noticed is theres such cute dogs everywhere! On the bike tour lastnight I saw a dog that looked like Harvey crossed with a sausage dog it was so cute!

Ok thats all from me now I’m sure Adrian will write some more about Paris.

Hmmmmmm

Tube Stairs

Tube Stairs

Dinner last night for Jo’s birthday was good fun. We went to this unsual restaurant that served thai buffet with the usual stuff, prawns in stir fry, beef meals and what not. But the only catch is that it was all tofu shaped and coloured to look like real meat, even the prawns had the orange lines painted on to them so they’d look like real prawns. What the! Any way it was great to catch up with Adam, Jen and Kate. I also met this girl Belinda, who I knew of and after talking for a while we both know heaps of the same people and we just started drawing connections left right and centre. She also went to my high school too and knows friends from several different circles. Small world.

Any way, just quickly a few other things about london:

– You have to have a paid licence to watch TV!!!!!!!!! And you have to pay for it to watch free to air!!!! Did i mention paid? What the!!!! Check this out: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/. Apparently they hunt you down too and knock on your door and demand payment. People pay on a monthly basis too. 25 pound a month. Rip off!

– The pciture above is of the largest tube escalator. The photo doesn’t do it justice as I’m already a fair way down, but these things are so steep. According to the injury prevention signs around the place, people get injured a fair bit. When I say steep I mean steep, like you can see down the top of the person in fron of you :) Just kidding but I guess you know what I mean?

– Apparently getting cash out at the same time is only a new thing here and half of the staff don’t know how to do it…

Any way, today we’re looking for secure storage to go store all our stuff in while we go for our big journey.

Ness wanted to know what we ate for dinner on our first night, well we went to a pub, Jo warned us of the some times lame standard of pub food. I ordered a chicken breast with bacon on top with melted cheese, chips and salad. It sounded good. Well what came out was different it had bbq sauce squirted all over the top like as if they had 3 year olds adding the sauce. The salad (if you could call it that) had the basics but nothing to write home about. The chips looked like they had been cooked for an hour :) Overall the meal didn’t look pretty 2 out of 10 for presentation but it got a 7 out of 10 for overall taste so I guess you can’t complain. Rach had a rissotto which she said was great.

Any way gotta run. It’s great seeing the comments. Keep them coming. Nadia, kindly informed me that the castle is London Tower. I also put the photo up as well.

London

Rach & Jo

Rach & Jo
Adrian & Rach

Adrian & Rach

Today we caught up for lunch with Jo and sat right next to the river Thames where we could see the gherkin building that Jo had talked about as well as the apparently famous Tower bridge and some castle and the city hall.

A few quick points about London so far:

-At an early glance, things here don’t seem that expensive even after conversion from pounds to dollars. We went to an equivalent of Rebel sports where brand name clothes and shoes were cheap as compared to Australia.

Some Castle

Tower of London

Food prices don’t seem that bad either, sometimes the same or a little bit more, nothing that I would call “expensive”. No doubt we’ll see the expensive side before too long.

– There one dollar coins are the same size as our two dollar coins. I first thought I’d been given back extra change i.e. 2 x 2 pound coins but sadly it was only 2 x 1 pound coins.

London Bridge

Tower Bridge
City Hall

City Hall

– The car selections here are so much better here than back home. Lots of different brands, versions, diesels and station wagons that we don’t have home. Holdens are called Vauxhauls here too.
– The police drive BMWs not Holdens or Fords.
– It took us a while to see our first traditional style phone booth :)

Later tonight we’re going out for Jo’s birthday dinner. It’ll be good cause Rach and I will catch up with all of our other friends here in London.

Ps. The blog time is now in London time.

Touchdown

We touched down in Heathrow airport at close to 6am and it was fresh 5 degrees outside. Customs was easy as, I thought it would be harder along with a few more grueling questions. Signage around the place was useful and in no time at all we were on the underground tube. It felt like it was the afternoon because we’d been up for 3 or so hours but really it was 7 am and London was all going to work and school. The closer we got to central London the more packed the tube got. It was busy enough that at some stops people couldn’t get on to the train. We thought we were going to have a hard time getting off the train with our already difficult to carry luggage (I had to carry Rach’s big back pack as she was struggling with it). Teri met us at the station and we went back to her place from there.

The tube is easy as to use. There are helpful maps and signs every where in the stations and on the trains. I hope that we pick a place to live that is close to the tube as it’s so easy to get to places on it. Rach and I have been back and forth and via different routes a fair bit so far with no probs. I read it once before and totally agree, the tube map is something you will become very familiar with. Being on the tube makes you feel like you’re in Sydney because the maps of the tub network look like the same maps of the Sydney rail network. As well as London being very multicultural just like Sydney, you’d never know you were in London just by looking at the crowd.

We went to our 1st contact orientation day. We caught the tub in to some where and grabbed some lunch from Subway. Subway here don’t have chicken fillet. What is going on? At our orientation, they spoke to us and about 30 other people all from home, NZ or South Africa. At the session we signed up for our bank account and got our UK sim card and a phone call card.

Later in the day we caught up with Jo. After to speaking to her for a little while it felt like we’d seen her just last week, even though it was really almost a year.