Friday, April 9, 2010

My Trip (part four)

London (UK) - four weeks
Palace, borough market, tube

After a ridiculous trip from Amsterdam to London through Paris (the Eurostar broke down about a million times), I finally arrive in London. My tour is now over, and now begins the part of my trip where I really have to start looking after myself. I have to book all my own travel, organise all my own food, and pay for most of my own beer. With every other person in London being either a Kiwi or an Aussie, there was little here to make me feel unique. I end up staying at a good friend of mine (Morgan), who is actually in San Francisco for the first couple of weeks. So I end up hanging out with his flatmate Chris (another Kiwi), who I get on rather well with. My first day is my favourite; I end up visiting the Borough Market under London Bridge (and end up on TV - Market Kitchen). All my foodie dreams come true.

I saw Buckingham Palace, many of the touristy sites, and a few shows at the West End (Avenue Q and We Will Rock You being the highlights). I also managed to complete the 'Muffin Man' routine with a complete stranger, which was one of the highlights for my entire trip. I also took the chance to catch up with many of my Kiwi friends, UK friends, and friends/family living in London: Jen, Morgan, CRC, Vee, and Keira.

London also saw me starting to work again, so that I could continue to afford my trip. I bought a new suit, went to several meetings, and began the slow and arduous task of boring old policy work from abroad. Okay, some of the work was interesting. But much of it wasn't.

The tube (and the accompanying black snot effect), the Borough Market, getting on TV,
Avenue Q, the muffin man, Harrods, endless hands of 500, walking around London, getting incredibly lost, calling the police on my first night, Hyde Park, double decker buses, Oxford Circus, NZ butter cheaper than in NZ, and posing for a photo shoot.

Edinburgh (UK) - four days
Fringe Festival, ghosts, fortune tellers

If I was going to go all the way to London, I figured I should probably make the effort and head to Edinburgh, especially during Fringe Season. So I took the train and headed across the land to the kilted heath (not an official slang... okay, so I made it up) and stayed at a stray uncle's house while I took in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh. I quickly learned that (contrary to popular belief) you don't have to be good to get into the Fringe Festival - you just have to have a venue and pay the registration fee. I saw much in the way of average to lame while I was there, including work from the infamously bad "Oxford Drama Society". Yeesh! Princess Cabaret was good fun though (my friend's group), and I also enjoyed hanging out with an old WIT friend Clare. We boozed, and broke up several relationships that week, we did!

Also took a ghost tour of the city, and managed to capture some of the wee beasties on film. Or a ball of dust. The jury's still out on that one, I believe.

Ghosts, princesses, porridge, finally getting my fortune read, walking the whole city, getting lost in Edinburgh, taking the train across the country, falling in love with a particular bottle of whiskey, not buying that bottle of whiskey (only to find it again in London), and catching up with old friends.

My Trip (part three)

Berlin (Germany) - three days
Basterds, corner-babies, and a wall

Bus tour almost over now. By this part of the trip I've started to figure out what most of my tour group are like, and the people I got on with initially have turned out to be douchebags, and the people I thought were most likely douchebags are still douchebags. Still a few decent people remaining on the tour, but they remain to be couples. Thus they tend to keep to themselves for most of the trip, hanging out only at dinner or drinks afterwards. Saw the Wall, went to see Dirty Dancing - the Musical (in German), and took the subway everywhere.

Dirty Dancing, seeing Inglorious Basterds at the cinema, watching my room mate make out with the most annoying girl on the tour, falling asleep during the tour of the Wall (mainly due to the hangover - not the tour itself), the first proper meal with vegetables in over a week, and finding out that the Sony Centre was actually rather lame, and not a 'super shopping centre' as touted in the guide books.

Amsterdam (Holland) - two days
Clogs, dykes, sex shows

Last stop on the tour. Saw a live sex show which was quite possibly the least erotic experience of my life. Like any good tourist, I spent a chunk of time wandering around the infamous red light district - only to find that it was a lot more bizarre than I had imagined, while remaining a lot less risque; possibly due to my being desensitized thanks to television. Walked around the city and saw much more than my tour group as a result. I also watched a pair of clogs being made, and explored a cheese factory. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, especially when you get out of the red light district and just explore the area as much as you can. Just make sure you take a map.

Great chips and mayonnaise, watching one of the tour girl vomit all over herself as she tried to impress one of the tour boys, final group dinner, hilarious 'dyke' jokes (they never get old), the Contiki kids following us around and being picked on by the strippers at the live sex show, having to order a new drink from the bar at the live sex show because the curtain on stage brushed across the rim, and having my room mate swap rooms with his mate so that he could shag his cousin.