Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 4 - Amsterdam via White Cliffs of Dover, Calais and Belgium

Left this morning from the Royal National Hotel at 6.45am. George kindly dropped us off. Our tour manager Meche (Mecca) gave us our intro talk on the way to Dover. Saw the white cliffs of Dover on the ferry to Calais. Met some American girls who are on our tour, they are from Sacramento. I heard a girl behind me on the bus mention Albury and it turns out we went to the same high school and she graduated the year after me.

Got to Amsterdam and checked into our dingy looking hotel. For the man and I it was actually pretty decent, big enough room, nice comfy double bed, plasma tv and an ensuite. Apparently everyone else's rooms were very average*. We didn't even know until we were raving about how surprisingly good our room was. After dinner at the hotel (also average) we headed out into town. Meche explained the difference between coffee shops and regular cafes. For those who don't know, in Amsterdam coffee shops sell special cakes.

We stopped off at the Grasshopper - a coffee shop and went in and had a look. The smell of pot was very strong. But unfamiliar to me. Some people bought some joints and cakes and stuff but you had to smoke them at the place. Then went for a walk through the red light district which was interesting to say the least. After that we went to a bar but I was wrecked, I could hardly keep my eyes open so when Meche and Rocket (our driver) said they were heading back we went too (along with most of the group). We caught a tram back and it was a terrifying trip, about double the speed of our trams and they don't slow down - they just stop.

Our comfy bed was great! Got up had average breckie and headed out to Edam for our relaxing bike ride around the canals. The bikes were crazy as was our hilarious dutch guide Claudia. She called the bikes granny bikes because of the massive handlebars. The bikes were back pedal brakes and she told us about some groups ending up in the canal. I could see that happening what with 40 people on these bikes and cars all over the place. After the ride we drove down to a cheese and clogs place where they had a demonstration about how gouda cheese and clogs were made. Bought some awesome cheese.

After we came back we were dropped off for a free afternoon in Amsterdam. We went and checked out Anne Frank's house which was cool to see. Lots of steep staircases. There was a long queue to get in and we got talking to Taryn from Albs and Erin & Mel who have all moved over to the UK and are doing this tour before settling down to find work in London. We were commenting on the number of crazy dutch people on bikes when a big bearded guy on a bike came roaring up singing at the top of his lungs in dutch. When he got to the queue everyone scattered and was trying to move out of his way but there were too many people so mid-song he screamed 'SHIT' and hit the brakes. He pedalled off singing again while everyone else just cacked themselves. Funny stuff.

After Anne Frank we messaged the man's friend Muz who was in Amsterdam at the moment as well. We knew that because he'd called us a few days before in a rather giggly state. So we met up with him which was great - its awesome seeing a familiar face! We went and had a beer and some chips and mayonnaise which is a choice food in Amsterdam. See that 'choice' - we have been hanging out with too many New Zealanders. Everything is 'choice' and 'hey'..and if they are making fun of themselves -'cuz'. Muz took us for a walk around to find another drinking spot. Basically you pick a laneway and end up in a pub. He took us through a museum on the way and also a little courtyard thing with all these little picture blocks that used to be used like an address to identify a house. They were pretty cool. Also amazing are the way houses lean! Some forward and back and sideways.

We ended up sinking witbiers in a square, good beer. By the time we looked at our watch we realised we had 12 minutes to get to the boat for our canal cruise - on the other side of the CBD. In a mad panic we left at a quick walk, power walk, slow trot, run and then sprint. We left Muz for the last part of our sprint. We arrived to see everyone sitting around and not even Meche had arrived yet. It took me a long time to get my breath back. The cruise was really good and we started hanging out with Kara and Paul from NZ. After we went to the Chinese Sea Palace for a banquet dinner which was pretty good. Or the Chin Sea Palace as the sign says. Its a floating Chinese style palace. After dinner we went to a bar with other tour groups. A weird bar where the bartenders didn't know how to make nice shots. The man bought sambuca shots. Bad the man! We then walked around the city for about two hours before getting a taxi back to the hotel.

The driver said he knew where our hotel was which was good, but then five minutes later he goes 'we go to Rotterdam yes' and we all shouted 'NO!' we freaked out and then the guy literally cackled and Paul worked out he was taking the piss. While we were stopped traffic I glanced down the road to see a very white male arse next to a taxi a bit further up the road. We were giggling at that until the guy turned around and we all stopped and go ' that Meche'. The guy then took off down the street and then came back after the run. When he got back to the taxi the man got out and yelled 'MECHE....MECHE!!!!' - who then froze like a deer in the headlights. His taxi took off and our driver started chasing it! He only just beat us back to the hotel where we gave him heaps.

Went to bed, woke up. Had very average brecky then jumped on the bus to Berlin. Meche got 'dick of the day' for his nudie run. People can nominate you for saying or doing stupid things. Means you have to wear a jesters hat all day. On another tour a girl got DOD because she didn't know Mozart was dead. Everyone thought that was hilarious. Then I heard a girl on our bus go 'oh is he!' Far out.

- Jen

* Very average in my posts means really..REALLY bad.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day 3 - The Catch Up

Okay, so we were going to go to the Tower of London but after our breakfast we felt too exhausted so we decided just to spend the day chilling out with Bridge and Rell. Unfortuantely Bridge was too sick to go to work. So we went back and put a movie on (flushed away if you are interested) and then instantly Rell, the man and I all passed out.

I woke up to Bridge doing some very stealthy commando rolls on and off the air mattress so she wouldn't wake Rell up. While Bridge was reading our Contiki docs she kindly pointed out that we actually had to be there that night for a pre-departure meeting. George-ous came home from work early so he and Bridge could go and buy a new air mattress as their one had a bad habit of 'dis-inflating'. The man tagged along leaving Rell and I to have a D&M and a catch up.

After George came back he kindly drove us in for our meeting, it was pretty cool seeing even more of London, we saw Australia House etc. After we got back Bridge and Rell had cooked a three course meal for us which was awesome. Bed early ready for Contiki the next day....

- Jen

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 2 - 'We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm'

This morning we got up, in London. We walked down to Sainsburys past Clapham Common and bought some fruit. Awesome fruit! Australia is missing out on good fruit! I had a peach which was the nicest peach I've ever had. Blueberries are ₤1!!

The man being such a nice guy asked the checkout girl how she was going and she said 'not good, I have a boil under my arm'. A lovely first encounter with an English person.

We caught a double decker into Trafalgar Square and walked around for a bit, saw the changing of the horse guards. Then we wandered down to Buckingham Palace but it was a bit crowded and not all that interesting. We walked (lots of walking..) back through Parliament and went to the war cabinets and Churchhill Museum which was really interesting (hence the title of this post).

The war rooms have been left exactly as they were the day the war ended and are reinforced with 6ft thick steel and concrete. Really cool.

After that we were starving, actually I was wobbling I was so hungry and we stumbled across a van that sells pancakes which you hold in a styrofoam cone. They were unreal! We walked over to the London Eye and had a look, then crossed back over the river and walked down...back to the pancakes.

We decided to go and find Gordon Brown but didn't realise you can't actually walk down Downing Street, there were a few too many police officers with machine guns for us.

After that we headed back and ended up spending the night at the pub where we had some nice english food. I had a steak pie and mash which was really nice. Lots of nice beers too!! We asked George and Bridget if they would be in our bridal party which made them really happy - well there was a few tears from George...

The most amazing thing happened while we were having tea. Rell our friend who is also overseas rang Bridge and said she had just flown into Heathrow and ended up coming over. So we asked her and Ben if they would be in the bridal party too! So everyone is now very excited about the wedding...

Right now we are in a cafe having bacon and eggs, and beans and then the man and I are off to the Tower of London.

Until later

- Jen

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 1 - Stuck in Bangkok with the Suduko King

So here we are. Overseas finally. You know whats great about overseas??...They have the internets!

We are in Bangkok for 6 hours, and we still have a good four of them left. But 300 baht buys you an hour on the internet. I don't know if that is a lot of money or not and frankly I don't really care. While I blog, the man is looking up The Age online, or pretending to. He is probably googling how to be a Suduko Sorcerer. Just before he did a whole suduko in about ten minutes. It was an incredibly long ten minutes because while he was doing it I had to listen to an arab guy snore on the seat next to me and it was driving me nuts.

Next stop is London and we arrive at six pm tonight (25/8).

I had this trip all planned out in my head to be a short trip. See we left at 11:30 pm last night (24/8) and were due to arrive in Bangkok at 6am. In Jen's head thats pretty much just six hours. Then we were going to chill here in the airport for six hours, then fly out from here at midday arriving at Heathrow at six pm. Just chunks of tiny six hour trips.

Since then the hostess on our flight kindly pointed that our trip from Melbourne to Bangkok was actually nine hours long. That was when I twigged that this wasn't looking so good. But it gets worse. Our trip from here to London is actually TWELVE hours long. TWELVE. HOURS. LONG.

Not six. I blame it on my poor maths skills and my powerful ability to block out anything that might make me less excited about this trip.

The food on the plane was average. Luckily we had dinner before we left because the main on our flight was fish balls. Literally BALLS of fish. But they were sitting in a very nice green curry which I had a poke at. Breakfast was inedible. A cheese omelette for the man with a extremely dodgy looking chicken snag. It looked like grey and yellow goo. I ordered the noodles which were also extremely unappetising. So we ate two grapes and some warm melon.

One other funny thing that happened was the man and I watching the 'olympians' walking around the airport. They were dressed in blue and white tracksuit outfits with numbers on the back so we figured they must be on their way home from Beijing. Until I went to the toilet and number 793 was going through the bin in the bathrooom. Cleaners...

That's about it for now. We're going to go and investigate the coffee situation here, there is a black canyon coffee around which wasn't too bad last time I was here.

Until next time I make it on here..

- Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Testing - linked to facebook