Saturday, 27 June 2009

Weekend 26 - 28 June 2009

On Friday night I meet up with Nikki, a girl I met on my Budapest tour, after work. I had just received a text message saying that there was a moonwalk planned at 6pm at Liverpool Street. We didn't really have much else on so decided to head down and check it out. It was ok, but really pretty much a huge bunch of people blocking off Liverpool Street dancing to three of MJ's popular hits and then a little bit of a moonwalking by some people. There were photographers and video cameras everywhere but not sure where all that footage ended up ...

On Saturday we went to Toast - Toast is a festival put on by ... someone... It has three different days, Fri for Saffa's, Sat for Kiwi's and Sun for Aussies. We (Louisa) managed to score us free tickets for Saturday's show so Tim, Louisa, Richard and myself headed down.

This year toast was held at Clapham Common and London sure put the weather on for it. It was a beautiful day and I managed to work on my tan quite nicely. After looking around all the stalls at the yummy New Zealand food and drink we found a suitable spot and hankered down ready for the acts to start.

Richard, Tim and Louisa found that NZ wine was quite tasty and after asking me every three minutes if I liked wine yet, gave up and just drank themselves a bit silly!! :) And apparently I am not as fun sober as I might have been drunk!!

<----- Winos

The starting act was by New Zealand singer-songwriter Jayson Norris. Jayson is really cool and I actually quite like his music. Its really nice to chill out to. He must live in London because on every (most?) Sunday afternoons he can be found with his acoustic guitar playing at the Ves Bar (where you can also find twisties, kbars and peanut slabs!)

Once Jayson had finished it was time for the main act and the real reason we were here. It was Dave Dobbyn!! Dave was really good and amazing live. The crowd really got into it and it was deafening when he started to sing Slice of Heaven. After Dave finished his set we were ushered out of the common and just in time as well as it looked like the heavens were about to open up and drench us!

After Toast we had a quick dinner and went our separate ways, some of us having a wee bit too much wine!

As Richard was staying with me, we made the long trek (yes you guessed it, tube was down) home and had a shower and got changed and suggested to my flatmates if they wanted to come down to the Walkie for a few drinks. They didn't need much persuading and after a 40 minute rail replacement we were down at the Finchley Road. I felt I was a little behind (having not drinken all day) so I quickly downed a few vodka and redbulls and started dancing the night away. The night gets a little fuzzy from here but I know the drinks kept coming.

A movie (which I can't upload but check out my facebook or the new video's page I am starting) fills in some of the blank spots and for a girl who never gets hangovers, I had a MASSIVE one on Sunday.

These keys are now lost!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot was on again this year and a couple of months in advance we decided to go. We got a bargain price at just £13.00 for our tickets in the silver enclosure.

A couple of weeks before the event, Louisa and myself went to the Camden Markets for some party frocks, we spent the next couple of weeks looking at (totally overpriced) fascinators (they ranged from like £12 to probably £100) in the end Donna made an original for Louisa and I borrowed Debra Briggs' one from last year.

On the morning of the event I high tailed it over to the Northern Line, because yes again, you might be noticing a trend here, the Jubilee Line was down. I meet Tim and Louisa at their tube station and we made the journey down to Waterloo.
Waterloo station was maniac with people dressed in fancy dresses, suits and fascinators in all different shapes and sizes. We waited FOREVER (about 30 minutes) to get our tickets to Ascot (in hindsight prebuying tickets would of been a good idea) and scrambled into the train to secure our seat for the hour journey. We passed many stations where people tried to cram into the overpacked train lucky we had seats and lucky for us you are allowed to drink on the trains which made a scalf in your face more bearable. So we opened up a bottle and started soaking up the atmosphere. On the train I meet a boy who said his parents raced and he gave me some tips on who I should bet for.

One we got off at Ascot I heard my name, I turned around and bumped into Tracey Smith (a girl from Gisborne I went to high school with, I also randomly bumped into Natalie Jones a couple of weeks back another girl from Gisborne I went to high school with), what a coincidence. I knew she was in London but out of all the people here managed to bump into her, surprising enough it happens all the time in London.

We walked the short walk to the stadium and secured a good spot. For a couple of hours we guarded our spot whilst waiting for other friends who were late!!!!! to turn up. We did a good job though and there was room for everyone.

The day was spent, drinking, chatting, waiting in toilet lines, watching races and even putting some bets on. My hot tip was good and the horse I bet on won so I was £19.00 richer at the end of the day.

The racing finished at 5.30 but Debra said last year they waited at the platform 3 hours for their train so we decided to hold back and left (read: got kicked off the field) at 7.30 and jumped on the train and went to Clapham. After a few hours in Clapham I decided to make the trek (tube, train and bus) back to my house for some much needed sleep after our big day at the races.

Unfortunately (this seems to be quite common around me these days - don't bring your camera near me!!) Tim and Louisa lost their camera and all our photos. I am trying to get some photos of a friend but these are the only ones I have at the moment (sometime during the day I borrowed Debra's camera and took some self portraits, lucky aye).

At the beginning of the day I had fancy pants GHD curls but after an hour or so they fell out. Where is Debra Fish when you need her! :)

Friday, 19 June 2009

London Tourist

One of the girls I meet on my Budapest tour was going on the London Eye and becasue all my friends had been on it and I hadn't I decided to go with her to get that one ticked off my list. So after work I walked from St Pauls to the London Eye a nice brisk walk in the London Summer Sunshine and meet up with Aneeta.

I had pre-booked the tickets online to save 10% because to be quite frank they are really expensive. Something like £18 to go on the eye for half an hour, totally overpriced and, I am not sure, worth it in the end... We boarded the capsule and got comfy ready for the take off.

The London Eye - (also known as the Millennium Wheel), at a height of 135 metres (443 ft), is the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe, and has become the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over three million people in one year (suckers if you ask me!).
We had our ride and got nice views over London, but all and all I think its a bit overrated!

And for all of you wondering what my hair is like naturally, I am wearing it naturally (with a little hair product) in these pictures. After five or so years of hair straightners my natural curls have turned into bland waves!


Me and my curls (and longer hair) in 2005

Friday, 12 June 2009

Debra's Visit

Debra was over in London for a couple of days in order to get her Mongolian visa for her big Trans-Mongolian railway trip in August.

We decided to head to the seaside for the weekend and Brighton was the place. Brighton is about an hour away on the train and if you are lucky you can get £3.00 fares one way, bargain!

Debra had hooked us up with a fancy pants hotel, that .... was a little different. Apparently there was an option for bondage (which we declined)! It was really funky and everything was pink including the shower door (which I might add was see through!)

On Friday night we headed out to the Pier for some fish 'n' chips on the beach, just like at home!

Saturday was spent looking around Brighton Pier and through The Royal Pavilion - which is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in the early 19th Century as a seaside retreat for the then Prince Regent.

The Pavilion's outside architecture is based on Indian designs (its the picture at the top) and the inside decorations are based on Chinese designs. The inside is magnificent, there are so many beautiful designs, statues, etc they are just amazing. It was said that the prince had never even been to China or India but designed them from pictures that he had seen.

As you weren't allowed to take any photos inside the palace I have found some, but they don't really give justice as to how amazing it was, but if you are ever over this way I would totally recommend going to the pavilion as it was one of my favourites.

That night we dressed up in fancy dresses to hit the Brighton party scene. After a tip off from ... not sure, Debra spoke to someone ... we headed down to the Pier. As we were walking along the Pier we got to a chatting with some boys who were going to the same place as us and they were on the door (VIP entry) and invited us to join in the line so we didn't have to wait for ages or pay as much for the cover charge. We partied like it was 1999 to some crap arse dance music, made bearable by the copious amounts of alcohol (and jager bombs) and decided to head home when Debra's feet were so sore she walked in stockings all the way home.

The next day after a well needed sleep in we checked out late and went for a walk down to the Marina where we sat in the sun and soaked up the sun in the ... what felt like, Mount, vibe. We then collected our things and jumped on an early train (had a heart attack thinking we were going to get caught when a warden walked by) and made the journey home (of course, as per usual, the Jubliee line wasn't working!)
All in all had a fantastic time in Brighton and for £6 return (or £4 with rail card a total bargain and breeze to get to for the day). Unfortunately, my computer seemed to delete or something most of the photos on Debra's camera we don't have many from our trip.

Debra was here until Wednesday to ensure her visa would be ready, so on Tuesday night we gathered all the girlies up and headed down to China Town for dinner. Some tourists asked us to take this photo for them so we decided to ask them to return the favour!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Hungary - Budapest

5 June 2009 – 7 June 2009

Friday 5 June 2009
As I wasn’t working on Friday I decided to use it as an opportunity for a long weekend away and with a bargain Budapest tour going I decided to jump on board. So at 3.30am I got up grabbed my bags and headed to the bus stop to catch my two night buses to Baker Street (normally 20 mins on the tube – but too early for that) by 5am.

The bus came and picked us up and we were on our way to Luton Airport. The tour should have had about 40 people but, I am assuming, due to the economic crisis there were only 19 of us.

Once at the airport I meet my roomie and another single girl who were both really nice and who I spent the weekend with, which was excellent. The tour group was quite diverse we had various nationalities, sexes, ages and races. It worked well, I managed to find another two single girls who I spent most of my time with.

At 8am we boarded our budget Wizz Air flight for the journey to Budapest - Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is considered an important hub in Central Europe. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with a unification on 17 November 1873 of right-bank Buda with left-bank Pest. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in Europe. Other highlights include a total of 80 geothermal springs, the world's largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city ranked 3rd (out of 65 cities) on Mastercard's Emerging Markets Index and ranked as the most livable Central/Eastern European city on EIU's quality of life index (2009). . As soon as my head hit the seat I fell asleep and only woke on landing where I saw this ... hmmm.

Once in Budapest the company had organised a driving tour of the city which was really nice as it meant you didn’t have to walk around to all the places but could see them on the bus. We stopped at the top of the hill to get some great pictures of Budapest. Now, I can tell you one thing from that driving tour and thats the Hungarians are not afraid of PDA, there were people snogging everywhere!

After the tour we headed back to our room for a quick rest before heading into town for dinner. We went to this amazing place for dinner the meals were huge and delicious and I love throwing round 1,000’s . £1 = approx 300 Hungarian huff.

After dinner we had organised a boat ride on the river and then a pub crawl. The boat ride was really nice and showed us the beautiful city in lights. After the pub crawl we headed to a bar in Budapest. What I really liked about this pub crawl (if you can call 2 pubs a crawl) is that it took you to places that you probably wouldn’t really go too. At about midnight we headed out to the next pub which was up like 4 flights of stair, phew.
This bar was really cool as well. It had various seating places, and room and even had a roof top bar. We spent most of our night there, drinking, doing jager bombs – three in a row – what were we thinking! – mixing with the group, managed to find another couple of Aussies and dancing the night away.
At 4am (yes because Budapest is open till then, unlike English and American pubs) I got dragged off the dance floor by people more sensible than myself had a kebab and then passed out.
Saturday 6 June 2009
At 8am I dragged my tired (but not hungover) ass out of bed and jumped in the shower for a day of sightseeing around Budapest. You know we were the latest ones out and the first ones to rise – I am proud of this effort!

The morning was spent with me navigating, yes I can do it quite well, to a little market street where I stocked up on tacky souvenirs and the like. After that we decided to head over to the Thermal Baths were we spent a couple of hours laxing about. Once out of the baths one of the girls found a food fair were we spent the afternoon looking around, eating and having a lax before the highlight of my trip...THE CIRCUS.
In that pot is giant horse stew --->

The Circus was right across the road from the baths and once I heard about it knew I had to go and fortunately I found fun friends who agreed to come with me. Even though we looked like shite (no sleep does that) the circus was great. They had everything, a clown who threw spaghetti, type rope walkers – with no harnesses I was more worried and could hardly enjoy it!, lions, huskies, acrobats, 4 Chinese girls we think (the announcement was in Hungarian) who were amazing from Cirque du Soleil, and other way cool acts. If you go to Hungary I would totally recommend it! After the circus we headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

The next morning we got up early again and headed to
Margaret Island for an exploration. Hungary has eight various islands that you can go to explore. The day started out in the beautiful sunshine and we enjoyed watching some cute as boys break dancing and then hired a bike thing and went for a bike ride round the island. After the bike ride we had a rest and I indulged in some of the biggest candy floss I have ever seen and then it when the heavens opened up and sent a down pour our way. We got absolutely soaked (my umbrella somehow missed getting into my suitcase) lucky our hotel wasn’t too far away. Once dried off and changed it was time to get back on the bus and head back to the airport for our Wizz Air flight home. I had a really good time in Hungary and would totally recommend it!