Thursday, April 27, 2006

ANZAC Day, a new arrival and going crazy in the Koko

I haven't written a while - apologies to my fans :) Been very busy, and we have a new arrival! A lovely bubbly addition to our happy Aussie expat crew in London - Simone brought some Anzac spirit when her and her Cherry Ripe- and Vegemite-laden luggage landed at Heathrow on Tuesday. Although I never did end up making the ANZAC biscuits I intended to, we had a lovely little reunion since I haven't seen her in nine months, and she is now settling into London life (well, as much as you can in three days). Of course we wasted no time showing her the sights, and set out to the 'kingdom of cool' Camden on Thursday night for my first unforgettable visit to the Camden Koko - the BEST venue I have ever been to. I never thought anything could surpass my beloved Enmore Theatre in Newtown, Sydney, but this place (where a little gal called Madonna made her debut, and where the likes of the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Prince, Boy George and Wham have performed) was amazing. We saw Wolfmother - the latest big thing to come out of Sydney - and they were brilliant. The place was packed with Aussies so it was a nice taste of home.
I realised I haven't updated lately with news on the job searches of our two other favourite working travellers, Shell and Ray. I've told about Ray's great celebrity personal training job (going by three degrees of separation, I'm now best friends with Julia Roberts) but Shell will soon be starting her new job as Editor on a new kids magazine. Simone will soon be looking for a job in print or television so stay tuned for more job-hunting success stories.

In the meantime - today I booked £50 flights to Paris and £70 filghts to Germany for some weekend getaways - this is all before my much-anticipated trip to Croatia on Tuesday! love it, love it, love it...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why is it that five days at work seems like an eternity but tempt us with a little time off and it will fly by in a second. Going back to work today was not fun, but I've only got a couple of days left in the office so I suppose I can survive. The UK also seems to have a billion public holidays coming up, so I think it works out that I don't have a full week at work for six months (ok, maybe not six months, but it's still a while).

OK, am conscious of the fact I am rambling...

What's been happening in London recently..well, there was Easter. I did notice that the UK went nowhere near as mad for Easter as Australia does. There were no Coles/Woolworths style Easter specials or bad TV ads with the Easter bunny, no shutdown of every single public service on Good Friday... Maybe I was just walking around in a haze, but I kind of forgot what the whole weekend was for (slap my little Catholic wrist).

I also experienced my first football match (i say it smoothly now, hardly even tempted to say soccer which freaks me out a bit). It was ok, but I have to say, I could take it or leave it. I think I'm just overdosed with football - this whole country is - and I especially suffer living with two English blokes who live, breathe and would die for the game (as we speak Paul is screaming at some yellow team playing on the TV). Anyways, I was at the football game and since I was still pretty ill and all rugged up in Paul's coat since it was cold and rainy (gotta love Spring) I was caught having a bit of a doze in the middle of the match by a horrified Michelle. Don't ask me how I managed it, but I guess I just wasn't that in to the game. In my defense, I was sick! I was sick ok!

Commemorations: The Anzac and Freedom Day spirit in London
Next week there are a couple of important days for Australians, Kiwis and South African travellers in the UK when we will be remembering where we come all come from. Wednesday 25 April is ANZAC Day and 27 April is South Africa Freedom Day. ANZAC day is the rememberance day for Australian and New Zealand servicemen, and Freedom Day is the commemoration of the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994.

Both days will be celebrated and respected whole heartedly by the UK's backpacking/working traveller population. Here's some info about events going on for ANZAC Day and for South Africa travellers in the UK, try this South African newspaper for events celebrating Freedom Day.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Going to the theatre, dahling

Of course 0ne of the best things about London is all the shows and musicals you can go to see - it really is amazing how many theatres there are all over town. On Thursday night we went to see The Producers for Ben's birthday and it was great! I didn't really know what to expect as I hadn't seen the film, didn't know the story, and the only thing I'd ever heard about it was when my Nan went to see the show in Sydney and was upset because she got an understudy instead of Bert Newton (ripped off!).

Anyways, we picked up a cheap deal on Last and got a lovely dinner and theatre package for under 20 quid! Perfect for travellers who want to see the big shows but don't have a lot of cash. Although the seats weren't brilliant (so high up in the balcony you'd be in big trouble if you had a stumble) - for some shows I think that's fine. The show is so entertaining, you barely notice that you're quite far away!

So we kicked off the Easter long weekend with a bang. For all you that have put two and two together and noticed that I took the day off work then went out at night, yes i did, but i was coughing and spluttering throughout the whole performances (having to wait until the grand finale of each song to let loose). I'm still a bit ill, but it's criminal to waste public holidays.

Today we're off to see our first premier league football match: Fulham Vs Charlton (or something like that). I'm currently upset as I just found out that (gasp!) you're not allowed to drink beer while you watch the game! Damn British hooligans! I had warm cheery thoughts about getting a pie and sauce, some chips and a beer, and watching the footy a la my AFL days in Sydney, but I just don't think it's going to happen. So I'll have to wait and see exactly what the British football experience involves (maybe I'll have to start a riot at my local pub.....)

Happy Easter everyone - hoping you all the enjoy the spirit and copious confectionery products the Easter weekend brings..

Thursday, April 13, 2006

So here I am in sunny Plovdiv

I forgot to mention the other day that the funniest thing about Bulgaria is that when you nod your head it means no and when you shake your head it means yes. Since I only found this out on the last day you can imagine the confusion I caused while trying to communicate with all the Bulgarian students at the fair who couldn't speak English. Together with my size, shape, accent and pale skin and blonde hair, I think all the Bulgarians thought I was a little bit strange.

I also think I was the first Australian a lot of the students had ever spoken to. I was plugging Australian universities (as well as UK and US) so UTS might soon get an influx of Bulgarian students!

So anyways, this photo is me in the park in the centre of town. And here are the rest of my photos

I'm actually at home today cause I'm a little bit ill - am currently soaking up the intellectual capital spewed forth by UK daytime TV. It's quite dangerous really - I've just spent the last half hour mesmerised by 'Models' - a show solely showing clips of models on Fashion TV - how depressing. Now I'm being delighted by a 'Nancy Drew' series on the Disney Channel - hmmmm.

More Antipodeans:
Found this blog linking to mine - a Kiwi Adventurer planning his OE . It's got some stuff for people planning their upcoming overseas trips. He also links to some other traveller sites all you people back in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada etc might like to check out for inspiration.

Got a question about moving to the UK?

Visit the Workgateways forum, and one of the expert team (or me!) will do their best to help you out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Back from Bulgaria

What could be better - coming to live in London as a lowly working traveller, and finding a job where they pay you to travel and put you up in a five star hotel. I'm living the working traveller dream! I just got back from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, which although wasn't my first choice travel destination, definitely has given me five days which I will never forget! (and completely charged to the company I work for.....I get a little twinge of glee every time I think about it :)

I arrived in Bulgaria on Thursday - a little disgruntled at the appearance of Sofia, the biggest town in Bulgaria. Although snow-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the town, at first glance everything looks, well, shabby. We got on a bus where I promptly fell asleep and missed all the scenery on the way to Plovdiv, the second biggest city in Bulgaria (apparently a couple of million people) and my home for the next four days. We were put up at the Novotel in Plovdiv - five stars, and absolute bliss (so not really a backpackers experience I suppose!). We were sharing a floor with the Cypriot David Cup tennis team - and the cute guy with the hair who played in the Australian Open final this year against Federer. Check out some of the photos of the hotel - it was so nice! (I should be focusing on the town here, but I still can't get over how nice this hotel was...)
Anyways, we were there to work (unfortunately) at a student recruitment fair, but I still got to see a lot of the city. Although most of the city is quite desolate, crowded and poor, the middle of the city is really nice and there is an Old Town which is apparently about six and a half thousand years old with an old Roman ampitheatre and ancient ruins. The weather was beautiful and warm for most of the time, which was a nice change from London's grey skies. I'm no great travel writer - so i found this article about Sofia and Plovdiv from a writer who will say it all better than me!: "How I lost my heart to Sofia"

I wish i had longer to explore the hidden, secret passages around town but we really only had time to graze the surface. We had a few great nights out with some crazy Bulgarian dancers and at a tourist restaurant where they supply you with free packets of cigarettes all night (?), and I had a blast meeting people from all over the world who were also at the education fair. It was really my first Eastern European experience and I really would like to explore more of that part of the world (although, I don't think I'll be able to do it in five-star style again - damn!)I also realised when I was away, that for the first time I was referring to London as 'home'. Not to say I've forgotten my Aussie roots, but it's nice when you start to feel like you actually belong somewhere again rather than in some kind of weird traveller limbo.

Stay tuned for Plovdiv photos....

Oh, and if you ever come across it, stay away from Bulgarian wine at ALL costs!

Pru xxxx

Sunday, April 09, 2006

you,re probably all wondering where i am! Just a short note because Im in the worlds dodgiest Internet cafe in Plovdiv and dont have much time! Where? you ask! Plovdiv is in Bulgaria and I came here for work for a few days...lots of stories to tell but it will have to be later! Have had such a bizarre weekend!

Updates to come soon, promise!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Boat race bonanza in Putney

Boat race, what boat race? We were too busy enjoying our prime position on our balcony, indulging in sangria and homemade pizzas to notice there was a boat race going on outside!OK, so maybe the THOUSANDS of people outside our flat hinted that something was going on... I'm sure at some stage of the afternoon we stopped to watch some posh boys from Cambridge and Oxford battle it out on the river.

This is the view from my balcony and as she you can see, it was a lovely sunny day! OK, so maybe after this shot was taken it started to pour down, but in true London style (sunny, then runny, back to sunny) it poured down with rain and we had a good laugh at all the people below (maybe a little bit guiltily).

We were going for Cambridge because they had an Aussie rowing with them, but sadly, they didn't make it (although there were no Sally Bowman-style give ups). Oxford won by a mile- no-one ever wins when I go for them! Putney was heaving, and I was so glad we could recline on our couch while everyone else battled to get back home. Unfortunately I was also sufferring the after-effects of Shelley's Special Sangria (apparently made with the cheapest nastiest sherry ever) and had to retire to the couch with an awful splitting headache.

So obviously the Boat race was a success and is a massive London (in fact, English, British even) tradition - and coming to London has meant that i could watch it all happening from the comfort of my own home; pretty cool hey?