A day out in London doing the touristy sights

Jo W decided it was time to see some London sights for the first time after being here for nearly 18 months :)

Jo and the guards

Jo and the guards
Buckinham Palace

Buckinham Palace

We went and saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. There were heaps of people around as clearly it’s a popular thing to do. It was the first time I’d seen the palace or the men with the red coats and big tall fluffy hats.

The great thing about London is every thing is really close. We walked from Buckingham Palace to the Westminster Church, to Big Ben, to the London Eye and then on to Trafalgar Square. It’s all so close to each other.

Big Ben is very cool. My bus goes passed it and the London eye each day and I still look at the big clock each time. It’s got a lot of detail and looks great in day, as the gold plated parts shine and it also looks great at night too with all the lights on.

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I love NY

New York is unreal. It’s easily one of the best cities so far for sure. It really felt like we were in an American TV show or movie because we kept seeing so many things that are so American, like their yellow traffic lights, the yellow taxis, the fire escape stairs that you always see the villains get chased down in the movies, the sidewalk pretzel / hotdog stands, the steam coming out of the street man holes, the FedEx trucks and so many other recognisable things.

Wall St Stock Exchange

Wall St Stock
Exchange

I really loved all the huge towering skyscrapers that were everywhere in lower Manhattan. So many buildings looked so modern and neatly designed. My favourite of them all is easily the Chrysler building. With its art deco design at the top, it really looks great when light up at night. Unfortunately the Chrysler Building is not open to the public but we got a good look at it from near by and at the top of the Empire State building.

Times Square was amazing. There is always a buzz in the air with heaps of people around. The brightly light signs look great at night and even in the day.

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Ultimate Lamborghini Driving Experience day

Murcielago & Gallardo

Murcielago & Gallardo

Look what I got as a present from Rach! Isn’t she the best :)

Rach bought me an Ultimate Lamborghini Driving Experience day. I get to race around a track in a Lamborghini Gallardo and then jump into a Lamborghini Murcielago, one of my all time favourites cars. I have two die cast models of this beast as well as a large poster back home. In short I get:

– Familiarisation laps in performance Subaru or Mini Cooper ‘S’
– Drive of Lamborghini Gallardo 3-5 laps depending on the circuit
– Session of Karting
– Drive of Lamborghini Murcielago 3-5 laps depending on the circuit
– High speed passenger ride by race instructor in a performance vehicle

The Murcielago does 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds and costs about AU$600,000
The Gallardo does 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds and costs about AU$430,000

This is the best present ever! I will never be able to repay her for this. All of you know how much I love my cars :) Thanks heaps Rach!

Copenhagen

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Copenhagen got off to a bad start. British Airways lost my sister’s bag. My sister is good at chucking tantrums so I thought there was going to be a nuclear melt down at the airport when she went to the baggage services desk. Her bag didn’t make it on the plane and they couldn’t tell her when it would arrive. She wasn’t impressed about that.

Damien

Damien

We headed for the hotel by train and on the train, this weird kid was seated in front of us with his Dad. My sister assumed he was a bit possessed and said he was a Damien (unless you’ve see the movie Omen , it won’t make sense). We couldn’t stop laughing and giggling. His faced didn’t change once and he just kept looking at us. My sister pretended she was playing with the camera and managed to snap a photo of him. I’m sure he was a nice kid.
We stayed at this designer hotel called the Fox where each room is designed by a well known designer. Our room was pretty cool. The bed stretched all the way from one side to the other. The bed was more than a metre high. The room was painted as a blue sky with clouds painted around. There was a flat screen LCD TV too. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before in a hotel. It would have been nice to see the other rooms. Check out there site to see what I mean http://www.hotelfox.dk/rooms.html

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Wild night out on a Thursday

We love free drinks

We love free drinks

My recruitment agency GCS put on a meet up for all of the GCS contractors from my work. As you expect, they make a lot of money from us contractors for doing didley squat. So myself and every one else were keen as get some of my money back. I’d heard that GCS put on a good party.

This party was wild and out of control. We started of with beers and not long after we got there, on the bar were fifteen c-s-cowboy shots. Then my main drink of the night is crushed lime, Vodka, ice and that’s it. I know it sounds horrible cause you can clean stuff with Vodka but the lime does an excellent job of masking the metho like flavour. Adding a cube of sugar makes it even sweeter. More rounds of c-s-cowboy shots fifteen at a time kept coming. In no time at all every one was well over the limit then some one brought down boxes of cigars. These were ₤20 – ₤30 pounds per cigar which is about $50 – $75! Every one was getting into them. There horrible and a good way to make your clothes smell. Mum, if you’re reading no, I don’t smoke. I was just posing for the photos. But yes I still don’t mind a drink or two :)

Stevie & Adrian

Stevie & Adrian

An unreal night was had and by the end of it every one was well over the limit, it was quite funny. Every one had a great time. It’s always good when a group of people hit a party all with the same objective. That is to get legless :)

I turned up to work as per norm and I was he only one there. Two people didn’t turn up for work. One citing “stomach bug” issues. The others trickled in slowly up until 11am. Some were looking pretty bad but it made for good conversation at lunch time.

For more photos of the night check out:
http://www.gabnation.com/albums/2006/gcsnightout

South West Four

Lanyard

Lanyard

SW4 was bound to be a hit. It’s a day musical festival which had a massive line up and of course it’s right in our back yard. It’s only a ten minute bus away and even shorter for Jo and Pat. I guess you could compare it to Field Day but with a much bigger line up. The line up for the day included big names such as Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, Steve Lawler, Pete Tong, Judge Jules, John Digweed, James Zabeila, Seb Fontaine, Sander K, Shape Shifters and many more. The event is hosted in the well known, massive green Clapham Common Park.

The weather was predicted to be cloudy, with sunny intervals and rain. Who knows what that really means? To our surprise we had clouds and sunny patches all day until the last hour when it started pouring down.

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Rally Germany and Finland

Jump

Jump

Germany – We all know about the bad parts of my Germany story so I won’t go over that again. Of the German Rally that I saw it was unreal. They let you get so close to the cars, it’s great. I guess it’s because they don’t have stupid public liability issues like they do in oz. On one stage I was about a metre at with cars absolutely hammering by. It’s great for photo opportunities.

It’s a tarmac rally so the cars have huge brakes rotors, huge rims and they’re low as. The cars hold the road like they are on train rails. It’s a amazing how quickly and sharp these cars can turn without budging and inch. On some corners you would see the brake rotors glowing red hot.

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Rally…. Disaster

This is a long one so you’ll have to bear with me. Trust me, you might find it amusing.

Hire Car

Hire Car

I landed in Luxembourg on time at 10am. I got into the hire car, a brand new Renault Clio. Only issue of course being the steering wheel is on the left hand side but I knew this would be the case. Gees it is weird. I went to open the car door on the wrong side and I went to grab the seat belt on my right hand side. It’s not there of course. I’ve done both of these several times. Taking off was scary and I had feared driving on the right hand side a few nights before. I circled the airport car park to have a short go.

I only really had text directions to get to Trier, Germany from Luxembourg airport. It’s only 40kms (30mins) away and the directions look easy. I first turned the wrong way and had to do a bit of a loop but I quickly found the exit ramp to get on to the autobahn. Phew I thought that was easy. I took the turn off to Trier but it seemed to keep going and going so being on the motorway it took forever to do a u-turn. I exited out back on to the autobahn and saw the same Trier sign and the same exit but I drove on expecting another. I ended up going on for ages and found a sign that had Trier on it again. I took the exit ramp and drove for ages again. I kept thinking to myself “I have no idea where I am. I have no map”, “I honestly don’t think I’m gonna be able to get this car back to Luxembourg”, “I am completely lost”. I really don’t know how I didn’t have a break down and a couple times I dead set thought I wouldn’t be able to get the car back. Also I had been up since 03:40am! I’d also been in a line for 2hrs at the airport due to the baggage restrictions.

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British International Motor Show

Pagani Zonda

Pagani Zonda

I was pretty excited about this as I was interested to see a large international motor show and to compare it to Sydney’s. The complex was massive. There were two massive buildings with hundreds of exhibitors and hundreds of cars. There was an outdoor mini racing track where they were testing out the Mazda RX-8 and MX-5 to see who would get the quickest time. There was also a massive four wheel drive park set up to show what the new generation four wheel drives can do.

I was most interested the super car paddock. In the photos you’ll be able to see that I pretty much went straight there first, to snap up some good photos before the crowds got too large.

Caparo T1

Caparo T1

As you’d expect there were some unreal cars on display such as the amazing Pagani Zonda (1 of less than 100), the Ferrari Enzo (1 of only 400), the ultra rare papaya orange coloured Mclaren F1 (1 of only 5) and many more.

I was stoked to see the Japanese GT winner Xanavi wide bodied Nissan 350Z. It seemed out of place amongst the super cars but I’m glad I got the opportunity to see this beast. I’ve always wanted to see a Jap GT race. It’s rumoured a round might come to Perth. Continue reading

Farnborough International Airshow

The air show is only on every two years so I was keen to take advantage of the situation. It was only by accident I found out it was on. As I was walking by down in the underground I just caught a poster in the corner of my eye.

AirBus A380

AirBus A380

Why did I go to an air show you ask? When I was younger I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I loved seeing fighter jets in movies and for years one of my favourite movies was Iron Eagle. It’s a movie full of fighter jets. I also constructed model fighter jets and had heaps of them hanging from my roof. I never became a fighter pilot because of my eyes or more that you couldn’t pull me off the computer from the age of thirteen.

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One year rolls on…

For those of you who are not in the know, Rach and I have been together for a year today. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I love her lots and to say thanks to Rachel for all of the fantastic times that we’ve had together and for the absolutely amazing things we’ve both seen and done together.

My Rachie 

My Rachie

How many people do you know that can say that with their significant other, in the last year, they have seen the Eiffel tower, the Colosseum, leaning tower of Pisa and crossed through ten countries? Not many.

A year is only a small amount of time but as I see it, it’s a small step to a big plan.

To celebrate, tomorrow night we’re going on a mini cruise down the river Thames, followed by a visit to the London Eye. We’re then heading to dinner before going to the theatre to see Chicago.

It’s going to be great.

Farewell Faro

Vilamoura 

Vilamoura

On our fifth day we went to a popular area name Vilamoura. It’s a nice area but to our disappointment it has become very infected with tourists. I hadn’t heard a single word of English in the Algarve region and all of sudden we were surrounded by loads of English tourists and shops that all spoke English. I bought a drink and the guy even said to me that’ll be eighty pence assuming I was British. Apparently flights are very cheap to Faro from the UK and the UK being on pounds everything is even cheaper. Faro is the gateway to the Algarve, being the major airport in the south of Portugal.

On our last day we got to see our other two cousins Anna and Ines (Daughter’s of my mum’s sister Cidialia that we met with in Lisbon). Just like everyone else I had not seen them in more than 15 years. They both speak excellent English so it was good that we could easily communicate. We laughed lots and had a great time catching up. I wish I had got to spend more time with them, it was a shame that the first time I saw them was the last time we’d see them, as we were flying out the next day. In the photo, are all of my cousins in Portugal. At the back are Ines, Nat and Joao. In the front is Anna, Patricia and I. As you can see from the photo, my cousins must spend a bit of time in the sun :)

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Faro

Faro is a town in the Algarve region, which is in the south of Portugal. It has a population of about 50,000 which means they only have three taxis and a minibus service that does three different loops around the town. When I say minibus I mean mini too. Generally speaking all of the minibus drivers were so rude! One day Nat was querying the destination of the bus, the driver grunted, didn’t answer her question and then started to drive off while Nat was still on the bus halfway stepping off the bus. How rude!

Faro was a fantastic place to relax though. Rach, my sis Nat and I all stayed at our grandma’s place. Our grandma was so good to us. She is the nicest person and not only gave us a free roof over our heads, she always made sure we were fed full to the brim with food. We had the best breakfast, lunch and dinners. Except with one exception when we found a chicken foot, neck and liver in a stew!!! All of us definitely miss the delicious Portuguese bread, soft yummy cheese and fantastically smelling chorizo salami.

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Lisbon – Part 3

Santa Justa Lift 

Santa Justa
Lift
Carmelite Convent 

Carmelite
Convent

On our fourth day in Lisbon we started the day with the Santa Justa lift. It’s this really old tall lift made out of iron that gives an impressive 360 degree view over Lisbon. It’s about 30 metres high and is not for the faint hearted up the top. I especially loved the one way tight spiral stairs when some lovely persons attempted to go down the stairs in the wrong direction when you and others were half way up :) There was one set of spiral stairs to go up and a different set to go down. The stairs provided a see through view to the ground below and at that height Rach and I preferred to look up than down.

The lift leads to the Carmelite Convent which is the ruins of an old gothic church that has now become a Museum. The old look of the arches and old brickwork that make up the building looked pretty cool.

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London

We arrived unwillingly in London after a great time in Portugal and of course great weather. We were in for a rude surprise to hear the weather in London would be 18 degrees, windy and cloudy. I guess we’d better get used to this, as there’s much more of this to come.

We spent our first three nights in a budget hotel, which was definitely budget. It looked like an old hospital or mental home. The price was expensive too.

We spent the first few days looking for a temporary shelter over our head for the next few weeks so we could just relax and get on with doing the important things e.g. looking for work and a more permanent place to stay without the worry of not having a place to stay.

Our Room

Our Room
The View

The View

We ended up being recommended to a place that specializes in people like us. People who are looking for a place to stay with no commitment and for short to medium lengths of stay.

I’m not going say how much the room is per week but let’s just say when it’s converted to Australian dollars that it’s probably more per week than any one you know paying rent in Australia and that would be for a house too :( The room has what we need and will do for the short term. It has a great view out on to the major park in the area. It’s close by to a tube / metro stop. It’s close to the high street (the street with all the good shops) and last but not least it’s close to Johanna’s home.

Any way, I better get back to looking for work.

Ps. Keep checking back for the rest of Lisbon and Portugal.

Lisbon – Part 2

On our third day we had arranged to meet with my aunty Cidalia who lives in Portugal. She was going to take us around to a few of Lisbon’s sights. We were supposed to have my sister there to translate for us, but she bailed on us and left Lisbon the day before. My aunty only knows a tiny bit of English and I knew even less Portuguese. My sister said that we’d have a real difficult time communicating with her. I had also sent my aunty an SMS in Portuguese and received an English reply that was in an interesting form of English. Rach and I were both heaps worried about meeting up and to tell you the truth I was trying to get out of it.

jeronimos-monastery

Jeronimo’s
Monastery

I was having a shave before our meeting time and just before I started there was a knock on the door and to my utmost surprise it was my aunty. Our first encounter was a bit shaky but we managed to understand that she’d be waiting down stairs. My aunty was armed with an English to Portuguese dictionary and a Portuguese to English dictionary. I had my thin Portuguese phrase book and a few words up my sleeve. We headed off for lunch close by and between us we could ask basic things like how old are you, where do you live, how old are you kids etc. Often we’d both be looking in our books to try communicating further. Most of the time we spoke in English and overall it was OK, enough to understand. We got very good at sign language, reusing simple words in both languages and we had lots of laughs trying to understand each other, getting across what we were trying to say. As the day progressed we got better and better at talking to each other.

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Lisbon – Part 1

Lisbon has been great. There are so many things to do here. The surroundings are very different in that lots of the buildings are very old and nearly all the paths and streets are cobble stones, all laid one by one.

Rach wasn’t feeling that well on our first day so we didn’t do any major sightseeing. We just had dinner and went for a walk around a few parts of the city and of course had a delicious serve of ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

Water Park 

Water Park

On our second day we headed to Oriente. Oriente literally meaning “east”. We went there for the oceanarium. Along the way we passed the largest casino in Europe and as you can imagine it’s quite large :) We also walked through the water garden that had these volcanic like water fountains that were quite pretty and impressive when they let off a burst of water, just like a volcano.

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Ibiza, the magic white isle

Airplane

Jet Over Apartment

Woo hoo! We finally made it to Ibiza. Flying in over and around Ibiza is a magnificent sight all by itself. The water is so blue and you get a good view of all the huge resorts and areas that make up the island.

On Friday we stayed in the area known as Ibiza town. This area is known for its many cafes, bars, restaurants and fashion stores on every street corner. Of course it’s also known for its night life. We were still a little tired from our night in Barcelona so we didn’t do much on our first day. We weren’t worried cause we knew what was ahead of us over the next couple days. We went for a short walk around Ibiza town at lunch and it seemed very quiet and not exactly what I expected. I assume this is because we didn’t walk around enough. We went for another walk around after dinner and this freezing wind came in quickly and knocked any motivation out of us. So unfortunately we didn’t get to experience what Ibiza town had to offer.

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Valencia

Valencia was always really going to be a stop over on route to Ibiza. We never planned on any sight seeing. We didn’t have much time either. On arrival into Valencia on our first night, we were hung over and tired from the previous night out in Barcelona with my sister and boyfriend. We didn’t get home till after 3 am then our alarm went off at 6 am to get ready for the bus. Neither of us were feeling too great so as soon as we got to Valencia we just slept. We had dinner slept again and before you know it we were off to sunny Ibiza the next morning.

So that’s it for our first night in Valencia. Valencia seems like a nice place to live. It has about 700,000 people living there and is famous for it’s Valencia oranges. Yes that’s where the name Valencia orange juice comes from. Next time you see a bottle with it written on the label, then it should of come from Valencia, Spain.

Valencia is also famous for its annual tomato throwing festival. Approximately 30,000 people come to the tomato fight, and 110,000 kilos of tomatoes are used.