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  • Day365

    2015 : the end

    December 31, 2015 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    (Side note, I've written this post many, many, many months after coming home. The reality of life has altered my view and I’ve forgotten some of the great words I would’ve used if I’d written this on Dec 31st, but here goes my attempt anyway)

    It’s almost midnight and the most incredible year of my life and most incredible two years will officially draw to a close. I am beyond saddened to say goodbye to 2015. What a year! I visited 15 countries, spent 6 months travelling, did 2 Help exchangers, met some of the most wonderful people in hostels and found myself (haha).

    I had one of those years that you find in travel brochures and aside from having my phone stole in Paris and 2 bouts of bed bugs I couldn’t have faulted a thing.

    The end of 2015 almost means the end of my 2-year visa in the UK and my return home, saying goodbye to wonderful friends who have been my family and waiting with mixed excitement at what lies ahead.

    But first up, what I have learnt, who I’ve become and the things I know now:

    - Not happy, change:
    If you’re not happy, just make a change. Maybe it’s buying a different camera, or going a new way home. Maybe it’s a big change like moving houses cause your housemates suck. But why stay unhappy? If you’ve tried, then change, there’s no rule book saying you have to stick it out

    - No rule book:
    That’s a big one, there is no rule book! Most of the time it feels like society tries to tell you how you have to be and how things are. I’m not sure who made this up, but its 2016 people be who you want to be and do what you want do to. There is no wrong answer, just go for it!

    - Spending:
    As someone who likes saving and can be very economically with money it was an eye opening experience to spend two years just spending the dollars. Everything I had saved before I left home, everything I earned in London was spent. In a calculated manner of course! But that was great too. Sometimes you just need to go and buy stuff. If you want a massage go for it and pay for a good one. If you want a new camera buy one. This also fits in well with the above note about if you’re not happy change. It’s good to save, but it’s also good to spend.

    - Be yourself:
    Perhaps it was the people I was with but I left London feeling supremely confident in who I was. Be who you want to be! Who are others to tell you what you do is wrong, what you like sucks, how you want to dress and behave it not right.

    - Accepting where you are:
    A lot of quotes I’d read started to make sense whilst overseas. I put on weight while I was there and even though I tried to get in exercise, most days I had to learn to accept that when you travel you put your body on the line and although you might not be happy right now, you need to accept that it’s ok to be here and when you get an opportunity to change you will. I also found that with my job. At times I found it very frustrating to be in a role that I knew was below my skill level. But I also knew that I had accepted that position in order to enjoy the London nightlife and travel around and the role gave me the financial freedom to do that. I still had great fun and great memories, but on low days when I felt like perhaps I’d taken a step back in my career, I needed to remember it was only temporary and to see point 2 and 4

    - You have strengths:
    One of the best things a big company taught me, and perhaps it was the people I worked with was that it's ok not to be the best of everything, that's why you employ people with a diverse skills set. It was refreshing and awesome to say actually I'm not good at that, or I don't like doing that and that was a-ok!

    - Travel friends:
    At the start of my journey I didn’t like that I had no one with me who was from home. I thought about all of these experiences that you have with strangers that you’ll never see again and you won’t be able to reminisce many years later about that time we camped on the beaches of Gallipoli to wake for the 99th ANZAC Day. But as time went on I realised that it was all of these momentary friendships that made travelling. They probably aren’t the people you will be friends with for life, but for those few days they change who you are, create moments in time that can never be altered and give you stories for a lifetime that will make you smile every time you think of them.

    - Army life:
    Having up rooted my life and moved I have a new appreciation for what it must be life in defence families. On one hand it would be great knowing that every 2 years you’re in for a new adventure, on the other hand it means every 2 years you have (for the partners) to find a new job, new house, make new friends and learn a new custom, even if it’s all in the same country.

    - Choices:
    I read a quote that goes something like; 'life is a series of choices’. There’s no right or wrong answer, you make a choice that gives you some options, and then you make another choice. It took me a while to understand that one, but while I’ve been at home this year it’s made a lot of sense

    - Religion:
    I've returned questioning religion's place in the world, it's ramifications on history and the good it really provides.

    - What is the meaning of life:
    In the end, I came back questioning the meaning of life and wondering what it was all about. What is the point of learning that new skill, or practicing to not let that person get under your skin? In the end we’re all going to die, maybe now, maybe in 50 years time, but why worry. What is it all about? I still don’t have an answer here, so feel free to in put haha

    - Life is long (I hope):
    On some days it was good to remember that life was long. That in 40 years time I will look back and this will feel like a life time ago, I’m sure I’ll be so proud of the giant leap of faith I took and hopefully I’ll still be travelling and exploring and breaking new ground and this won’t seem like such a stretch of time.

    - History:
    Having seen so much history that ranged from ancient to modern times, I do feel sad that all I get in a measly 80 years (I hope) of this life. I get a small snapshot of what the human race is up to and then I’m gone. What will the world look like in 200 years? We (I feel) have an in a period of time were war is not the answer and you cannot decide to invade another country and take it over. That is unlike everything else in history! I attended a showing in Brisbane when at home and they said that many years ago the Brisbane River was blue. That the council was putting in measures to help the river run blue once more. However, the 2011 flooding put the progress back 100 years. 100 years!! That means I will never see the Brisbane River be blue in my lifetime! What else am I going to miss out on. Life is so exciting – the world is exciting.

    Essentially I feel live I’ve returned from travel very comfortable with who I am. I feel like I’ve got good batting back technique for the negatives of life and hope to be able to hold on to all of that when the reality of life returns.

    The next chapter

    Some days the reality of being an adult with experience scares me about doing that again. I would like to travel and live in Canada. The opportunity to life in another country, understand their customs, the way they chose to live life, do taxes and health, cook food is an experience so rare that it’s surely not one to pass up. I hope that I have the courage to do so. The idea of putting on my life resume that I lived in worked in 2 countries outside of Oz excites me!

    But I can see the bonuses of staying in the same job and building strong and long relationships, being able to build on a job, outcomes, and workloads and put in the lessons learnt from the previous year sounds exciting. But for now, I still live by the saying that your 20s is for learning and 30s for earning.

    For as long as I can remember my path was to always go to uni, get a degree, get some experience and money and then move to London to travel Europe. I cannot believe that those 2 incredible years has now all come to an end. It was everything beyond my wildest imagination. And I would do it all again in an instant.

    But for now the next chapter awaits and I don’t want to spend too long looking back. I only 60 year more years to go and I need to make the most of them! Hahaha
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  • Day343

    My final trip to London

    December 9, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    Well my final few days in London has been spent with those who made a great impact and whom I'll miss greatly when I return down under.

    In true style I have managed to cram in as much as possible. I spent the weeks before trying to think of that final spot or thing to see or do that would encompass the journey, but in the end the four days covered everything of my two years.

    I flew in on Sunday lunchtime thinking I'd have plenty of time to make it to my late bottomless brunch breakfast at 1:30pm. But alas I got grilled one final time about my visa and passport and reasons for being here!

    Jumping on the train I rushed to Flesh & Buns, which was located in Covent Garden. I was meeting Nicky, Nat and Chloe for a glorious bottomless brunch! It takes place over 2 hours in which you are served copious amounts of alcohol and food.

    We began our brunch with a cocktail Bellini on arrival and Japanese nibbles on the table like Edamame beans. We then chose between Prosecco, Red or White wine for our drink of the day and proceed to select as many of the small dishes as we liked. We chose a main each – buns, and when we had had our fill they brought out dessert - one of which was a berry crème Brule, it was amazing!

    Covent garden is one of my favourite places and was my first place I explored when I arrived in London. It was where I saw my very first play, Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse and had my first meal, which was at the Earlham Street Clubhouse, a pizza and cocktail bar. I have always enjoyed walking through Covent Garden, especially in the early morning (like 9am) on the weekend when the shops were just starting to open and the tourists had yet to make it out of bed. I had spent many a day and night adventuring around here. As it was the first place I visited, it was appropriate that it be the first place for my last time.

    As our waiter advised that we had now gone past our allocated 2 hours and we needed to vacate the table, the girls and I took one last selfie out the front of the restaurant before waving goodbye – the first of many this week.

    Chloe and I swagged towards Holborn where we caught the central line home, ready to watch the next episode of First Dates. Day 1 was over.

    Monday

    Today I took a walk along Oxford Circus, ducking into all of the little streets, reminiscing over all of the places I'd temped, cafes I'd hid in on days I was low, lunch places I’d explored and adventures I’d had. The amount of times I had traipsed through Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, up Seven Dials and across to Covent Garden seemed endless.

    After cruising past the 1 pound café one last time I headed towards Mile End to meet Louise for lunch. She took me to her favourite Chinese restaurant that was cheap and good. We were the only ones in here and it was all decked out in Christmas celebrations including Christmas crackers. Louise had never had a cracker before and I basked in the glory if grinch about yo skis her how it worked, inducted her into the paper hat and interesting joke haha

    We had a great afternoon discussing our past year. From here we headed back to mile end and into a cafe she liked. It was cosy and warm with giant pots of tea and dry cake lol. I was helping Louise with her final assignment for the term and proofing her report. As the cafe closed around us we headed back to her apartment to finish reading and say goodbye!

    I didn't have time to be too sad as I was off to the next goodbye! I rushed home showered & changed and headed to Waterloo station to meet Marian. We were going to try and find the hidden bar behind a bookshelf in the BFI Southbank.

    After roaming around and asking several attendants who told us it was closed we found the entrance to the bar, which was sadly closed. So off we headed across the bridge to a boat to see if any has drinks happening tonight.

    We did find one, which allowed us to buy prosecco and cheese, a staple of our past two years, and sit up on the deck overlooking the London eye and Big Ben. When everything was drunk and eaten we walked back to the Southbank BFI for red wine and chicken wings and a final fiesta.

    Tuesday

    I decided today that I need to pack up the apartment today. Tonight I was going out for final drinks with the TMP crew, so figured packing hungover wasn't an option. I also was waiting for dad's present to arrive, it was due at 1pm.

    So after a lazy morning I pulled all of my belongings into our living rooms and began the process and deciding what would stay and what would go. I weighed the bag and panicked when it said it was over 30kgs, but I think that was a misread.

    By the time I was due to leave my parcel still hadn't arrived and worryingly I received an email saying it had only just been dispatched!

    But off I went taking one last swing through Carnaby street before heading to Hudson's for a final drink with the team. They came down in waves, all overworked and sick. They even brought me my final ascent calendar that was left in my desk!! Which James insisted that we eat before the night ended.

    Eventually they all headed home, it was a Tuesday night after all. Left standing was Sarah, RLR and myself. We finished with a meal deal from hungry jack's, a final hug and into black taxis we went! Thanks TMP and grad team, you've been wonderful! I'll miss our nights in Hudson's.

    Wednesday

    I of course woke up with a hangover on Wednesday morning - signs of a great night had! Chloe was on a late start so we had breakfast together before saying see you later. Hopefully I see her in oz one day. A great Roomie!

    After doing one final pack and wash I headed into the city to shit down my accounts with Barclays - present still not in sight.

    I went through the new Tottenham court rias station which was snazzy! For whole of my two years this station has been under development and only on Monday had it re-opened! It was beautiful.

    Barclays was not as easy as I thought it would be. I had used my card the day before and the payments hadn't yet transferred, which meant that the everyday account has to stay open. I could withdraw all the money and shit the savings one down, but the other would remain open until the final payment went through. Right, not ideal but I had a Harry Potter exhibition to see!!

    Off I headed up to Godge street and into a small gallery. The two graphic designers who were responsible for all 8 movies had curated a collection of their finest pieces, it was fantastic! Everything from the Hogwarts letter, the maurader's map, text books, the tri wizard tournament and newspaper, just to name a few. Perfect! Harry Potter to say farewell.

    I walked back past all of the cafes and restaurants I'd stopped in for lunch or taken the team in outings. Then up Tottenham court road and past the office one last time, waving up at the team just in case they saw.

    It was then back on the central line and home to deal with the parcel. After seeing that the post had tried to deliver it while I was out I tried to ring the post office and find the can - you can't ring the post office in London - go figure!

    I tried calling the supplier and in the end I can Not on the high street, the place I bought it. Explained that is bought this mug, paid additional to have it delivered yesterday, they tried delivering it today while I was out, my bank accounts were closing and I was flying out of the country! Oh the drama! Haha

    She apologised and said to leave the parcel, if it wasn't collected it would return to thrust warehouse and they'll give me a refund. I give up explaining that my account was closing. The refund was there by the time I reached Dubai and my bank account remained open.

    Mum rang and I took in the moment, in 24 hours I'll be home. I packed my bag and suited up. Thanks to the winter I was able to watch the sun set over the London skyline one last time. It was perfect!

    I left a card for Chloe and boots I couldn't through them away, we'd been through too much and I didn't want to press end on the journey.

    I walked through the gardens one last time, up the high street and into the central line. I changed at Oxford circus for the Victoria line and out to Victoria station where I changed one last time on to the Gatwick express, with no return ticket.

    I checked in and sat up in Jamie Oliver's bar, toasting a prosecco and wine final hurrah. Goodbye London you've been a blast! I'll miss you xx
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  • Day339

    Copenhagen

    December 5, 2015 in Denmark ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    I've spent the past two days cramming in as much of Copenhagen as possible. Unusual for me but I only have a few days here to see what I want. So on Friday morning I started with a good Ol fashion walking tour!

    This 3 hour Grand Tour of Copenhagen was great. Our guide was fab and very funny. The places we visited included:
    - The City Hall
    · Christiansborg palace
    · The old City Centre
    · Picturesque harbour Nyhavn
    · Royal Palace Amalienborg
    · Strøget shopping street
    · The round tower
    · Admiral Hotel
    · Royal Opera House
    · The Bishop Absalon Horse Statue
    - Royal Danish Play House
    - Theatre

    Things I learnt and saw:
    - The Latin Quarter is great for food.

    - During WWII the Danish put up defence for two hours before being occupied by the Nazis… Although they were occupied the Danes were able to keep a lot of their own customs and arrangements, but upon learning of the Nazis final solution they secretly shipped out their Jewish population to Sweden saving almost 90%!

    - How Carlsberg got its name…
    Once upon a time a bloke worked at the Royal brewery. He noticed that they couldn't always get the same tasting beer due to the water quality not always being the same. So he bought some land out of town and set up his brewery on a hill, which in Danish is known as a Berg. He asked his son Carl to join him, which he did and thus the name Carlsberg was created.

    - Copenhagen has had two major fires, which damaged the city, in 1728 a third of the city was destroyed and again in 1795 a quarter was damaged.

    - Princess Mary: we saw where she got married and where she lives now

    - We watched the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace

    - Fav new Danish word: As in Sweden, the Danes have their own special word for a cosy, coffee moment, it's called Hygge. Basically means doing anything that warns your heart :) so nice.

    - Half way through the tour we took a 25 min break for lunch. I stopped in at a local cafe got a smorgborrd. Mine had sliced meat, dried onions, salad and some sauce, plus the rye bread. It was great! But I definitely needed a second one.

    The tour ended at the Royal Palace Amalienborg, where we watched the changing of the guard. With an hour to spare I decided to go and see the Little Mermaid before returning to The Bishop Absalon Horse Statue for the start of the Christiania tour.

    I, however, failed enormously at this task and somehow got stuck on the Military Island which houses the Baroque church of Kastelskirken. Time was up and I decided that as the Mermaid is apparently the most unimpressive statue and has repeatedly won this honour in awards then perhaps I wasn't missing out on too much haha and left. Until next time!

    Christiania is a very interesting area of Copenhagen so this should be a very interesting tour.

    We began at the Bishop Absalon Horse statue where we walk to the nearest canal and all peer in to see a sculpture in the water. Depending on what time of the day the sculptures are either in full sight, appear to be coming out of the water or covered all together. Our guide said that it had inspired the Little Mermaid story.

    We crossed a bridge and heading towards Christiania on the way passing the Borsen aka 17th century former stock exchange. Our guide told us that McDonalds had wanted to buy it several years ago for a nice figure, but the committee refused to sell it to them.

    According to legend (thanks visitcopenhagen.com) the dragon tailed spire guards the building against enemy attacks and fires, and surprisingly, the Old Stock Exchange has many times been spared from damage, when fires have broken out in neighbouring buildings.

    The Christiansborg Palace (the present Danish Parliament) has burnt down on several occasions, and most recently in 1990, a fire broke out in the Proviantgaarden in Slotsholmsgade (Slotholm Street), but once again, the Old Stock Exchange was spared!

    We took pictures on the bridge as the sun set over the city and heard stories of the naval years while walking through Christianshavn. When we reached the bridge near the Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our saviour) the guide asked us all to yell out 'hi Daniel’ towards an apartment block where apparently his friend Daniel lives.

    The Church of our Saviour is one that you can climb to the top. It also apparently plays music on the hour and once our guide heard the Star Wars theme! From here we neared Christiania. Apparently guided tours from guides not from Christiania are not legal, so we had to finish our tour on the outskirts and pretend not to follow the guide into the village.

    Christiania is a former barracks area colonized by hippies after declaring itself a ‘free city’ in 1971. It has it’s own rules and runs completely free of the Danish government - none of this is legal. They also don’t pay taxes which is a sore point for some Danes, but as it’s one of Copenhagen’s’ most visited attractions others feel that it’s ok.

    You can’t take pictures unless you have permission and the last guy who did so (according to our guide) was forced to strip naked and hand over all of his clothes. It is also ‘legal’ to buy and smoke weed here and does some ridiculous figure like $150,000 US a day in revenue of weed.

    It’s a really arty area with cool buildings, shops, food and people. You exited through a sign that says ‘you are now entering the EU’. It was cool to see, but I’d like to see it in the daylight to get a real feel for the place.

    It was quite dark by the time the tour ended and cold. As I made my way back to the city I stopped in at a little café for a croissant and tea, but mainly to warm up haha. I decided that I would try and visit the meat-packing district, which Chloe also recommended and is supposed to have some great food places there!

    So I headed back to the hostel had a shower and packed my bag for tomorrow and then headed off to Kodboyn, which is near the central station. I walked around and around, down through the little alleyways. Everywhere seemed full or hosting fancy Christmas parties or dark and deserted.

    I don’t know if I went to the wrong place or perhaps I didn’t feel appropriately dressed to walk into some of the restaurants but in the end I walked back to the hostel feeling slightly defeated haha. I’ll have to try again another day.

    Instead, for my final meal (clearly excluding tomorrow night) in antoher country, and in exactly one week’s time I will be back in Australia I had pizza and gin at my hostel. Mingling with other travellers, forced to listen to the doff doff going on in the hostels opening night of their bar in the basement and looking at a map of Europe and marking off all the countries I had been to.

    Tomorrow I have the morning to explore before heading out of town to attend the Women’s Handball World Cup championships, how exciting!


    Free walking Tour
    http://www.copenhagenfreewalkingtours.dk/

    Meat Packing District
    http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/culture/meatpacking-district

    Christiania – images
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2011/apr/28/christiania
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  • Day337

    Copenhagen - the final town

    December 3, 2015 in Denmark ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    So I've arrived into Copenhagen! My final town and country before heading back to London and then on to the big jet plane.

    I have had an amazing few days in Sweden with Claire and Terese and now I am really looking forward to cramming as much as Copenhagen as I can into my few short days.

    Visiting Sweden and Denmark have been two countries high on my list to visit since I arrived two years ago, but for whatever reason I just haven’t made it here yet. I really wanted to visit in the summer months. Those travel images of people cycling all over the country side really had me hooked. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. And instead I am here at Christmas time, my favourite time of year!

    I pulled into the train station in the early afternoon and made my way through the rain, past Tivoli Gardens to my hostel. Cool fact we took the train over the bridge that the tv show The Bridge is based around! I shall have to watch it, I’m told it’a a great scandi show.

    Anyhoo, I’m starving, so I set off looking for somewhere to get a bite so I can begin exploring before the sun starts setting at 4pm. I found a cute little café that was American style (epic fail) but was still serving lunch, just around the corner from my hostel. I settled into the warm booths and enjoyed lunch, whilst pursuing my guidebook.

    With a full belly, I stretched my legs and got ready to go on an adventure. I walked wherever my gut said to go. I went up the main shopping street, past various Christmas markets, a Ferris wheel, shopping districts and old buildings. I walked around the famous Tivoli gardens, taking in the squeals of delight... I think.

    I crossed over to one of the islands to visit the national library. I was looking for an exhibition that had Hans Christians Anderson's works, but it had sadly shut. Instead I wandered around looking at other exhibitions and writing in my blog.

    As the evening wore on I went looking for a cocktail bar that Jane has told me about. It was called the Ruby bar. It had a cool 30s feel to it and I sat in the window watching the world outside over a few choice cocktails. It was nice.

    Copenhagen is known for its jazz and in the summer they have this great jazz festival along the canals. It sounds so wonderful and I would like to visit it one day.

    With such a following ensures that many great jazz bars are located around the town throughout the year. I chose to visit Charlie Scotts as they had a live band tonight. It was awesome! I sat back with a red and enjoyed the fantastic talents. At the end of their set and well into the night I headed back to my hostel.

    Day 1 in Copenhagen in is going well!

    Today marks two years since I left the sunny shores of Oz and headed to Europe in search of grand adventures. Today marks entrance into my 26th new and final country. What an adventure it has been.

    Charlie Scott's
    http://www.charliescotts.dk/

    Ruby
    https://rby.dk/

    Vist Copenhagen
    http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen-tourist
    Where I stayed
    Copenhagen Downtown Hostel - Vandkunsten 5, Copenhagen, Denmark
    I rated this place 3/5 - Clean, good location, young vibe, annoying nightclub downstairs
    Good points Was a good place, had a young vibe, right in the center of town, which was fab! 10 min walk to the train station Bed - comfortable Lockers - fit my small backpack in it,not large Room - was really hot in early Dec, I think there was a fan, but it wasn't used Bathroom - a few per floor Breakfast - 5euro there was cereal, meats, yoghurt, eggs Kitchen - good Reception - open 24 hours, can hire chargers / ipads from reception Heaters - too good! Haha Wifi - good Staff - friendly Location - right in the city, its perfect Alcohol - They have a bar Some things that didn't particularly resonate with me Lounge - there wasn't really anywhere just for the hostel guests. They have a big bar area that merges into the reception and lounge / kitchen area, plus a night club in the basement. It's all great, but this is shared with the public, there isn't anywhere just for guests. Also on the Saturday night they opened up the first floor toilets which were for hostel guests to the public, which meant that the rooms on the first floor was open to the public.
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  • Day337

    This time 2 years ago ...

    December 3, 2015 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    Today marks two years since I left Australia. Two years living out a dream I have thought every day about since those early high school days.

    This time two years ago I was standing on the edge of a very exciting cliff. Full of nerves, sadness and excitement. It very much resembles this year's cliff, except I'm facing the Southern Hemisphere and not the Northern.

    This time two years ago I was sitting in the Emirates business lounge, drinking French champagne with one of mum's doctor friends, getting ready to board my very first long haul flight.

    This time one year ago I had a one year party, celebrated with friends at the Scandinavian Christmas market on the Southbank of London. Feeling a bit of a broken person. Wondering why I'd come, but feeling pretty loved by these people.

    Tonight I find myself in a jazz bar in Copenhagen, live music, by myself, drinking wine. Having a wonderful time. In some ways this represents my trip. Me, red wine, and a jazz bar somewhere.

    This has been my solo trip and I feel prouder everyday I say that. This year has been just amazing!! I have met so many wonderful people, seen so much and eaten such wonderful food.

    I think it will take a while, when I am at home, reliving these adventures through stories I tell for me to realise how huge this adventure has been and what I have actually achieved.

    Today I took my final rail journey through Europe and that makes me sad, but There is so much of the world to see, including my own country. And that makes me excited. This is just the beginning, not the end.

    By the end of this year I will have spent 7 months travelling. That I am very proud of and it was everything I needed. Time to be me, do that things that I Ioved, explore and remember who I am.

    The country I look back on the most is Macedonia because I had just an incredible, unplanned experience.

    The countries I wish I could emulate their values and social standings, the Nordic countries. I love them.

    The food I love is French.
    The country I missed was Germany.
    The countries I've seen: 26.

    The new music is endless:
    Years & years
    Tom Odell
    London grammar
    George Ezra
    Disclosure
    Hozier
    James Blake

    The plays so memorable!
    List ...

    It makes me sad to know that this part of my life is over. I'll probably never visit most of these countries again, probably never meet these people who have become my family, my friends, shaped my world views again.

    But I am tired. I'm ready for 2016, to be home, to explore the next town with as much enthusiasm as I embraced London.

    I look forward to this conversation again. December 3rd, 2016, where will we be? Who knows, but oh that's so so very exciting!
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  • Day336

    Gothenburg - Day 3

    December 2, 2015 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Today is our final day in Gothenburg, Claire leaves tonight and I leave tomorrow. We opt for a sleep in once more - Claire has now missed breakfast both days haha and meet in time for lunch.

    Terese takes us to this restaurants that feels like an RSL or tigers club. For 89Sk we get a main, access to the soup and salad bar plus tea, coffee and biscuits. It's an awesome lunch!

    Afterwards we headed towards Liseberg, the amusement park, which is in the city centre. It ins't usually open over the winter, but for the first time is having a Christmas special.

    The whole park has gone Christmas themed. There is fake snow everywhere, pretend snowmen, Christmas trees, Christmas markets and Christmas carols blaring from the speakers.

    We walk in and have a great look around. Claire is only with us for an hour so we walk through the park checking out all of the Christmas markets, watching people go on crazy rides - we've previously discussed how rides weren't our thing, and took the appropriate pictures.

    When it's just Terese and I we go on the Ferris wheel. Given her fear of heights and my newly found fear of rides - thanks TMP, grad-jobs & Thorpe park fright night lol, it seemed an odd choice lol. But we took nice pictures.

    Then we wandered the park some more. It was now all lit up and proper dark. Just beautiful. We got a hot chocolate and sat beside a roaring fire in the park. It was in the section that was dedicated to Lapland and the aboriginal Norwegians.

    There were cool cultural tents, music and good food. Plus fire of course. There was also these barbecue fire warns all throughout the park to keep your hands warm, they were great!

    Afterwards we retreated inside for a wine abs to await the I've sharing show that would be on at 7pm fir Hansel and Gretel. The show was fab. The ice skaters reminded me of ballerina dancers, I really like the ballet.

    And that was it. We headed home, had pizza, watched river and went to bed. An epic few days if any where ever to be had!

    Thanks Terese X
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  • Day335

    Gothenburg - Day 2

    December 1, 2015 in Sweden ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    Today was a beautiful sunny day in Gothenburg. We began the day by sleeping in, which is easily justifiable when the sun doesn't rise till 8.30am!

    Claire is staying in the city, so after breakfast Terese and I heard in to meet her. We went to .... To have a look at the oldest building in Gothenburg. It was originally built to house military uniforms, today it's filled with arts and crafts stalls.

    We had a walk around looking in on the smaller buildings on the outside as well. These houses a chocolatiers, glass blowing shop, and hand made clothes / fashion. Before heading to a small cafe in ... Where we had seen a great Swedish lunch survival yesterday.

    For 89SK we got a plate of meatballs, mashed potato, bread, salad, water and tea & coffee. It was great! A cosy little spot and a giant plate of food. Yummy!

    We took a walk through .... an area full of independent shops and stalls. It was wonderfully unique and individual. From here we headed towards .... an area known for ....

    But not before stopping in at the Fish church, past different university campuses, and climbing up the ... For fantastic views and great photo opportunities.

    Fish church. The name its self is awesome. Apparently play on words is a thing of the Gothenburg people. The building looks a bit like a church and is full of all sorts of fresh seafood, hence the name.

    Gothenburg university has all of its faculties spread out over the city, and some of the buildings look really impressive. We passed a few on our walk today.

    The climb up to .., reminded me of the castle hill stairs. They were a challenge! Especially with all of our layers, but the view over the city on this blue sky day was worth it.

    Afterwards we climbed back down into the ... The oldest district in Gothenburg. They are represented be the red roofs. We walked along ... Looking into all of the independent shops and cool cafes.

    Coming to a stop at .. A famous cafe recommended to us for their plate sized cinnamon buns. We sat down to share a bun and it was lovely. The closer we got to the middle the moire flavourful it became.

    We then continued walking down in a big circuit and we came back to main shopping strip and had a look in on what was on offer.

    Over lunch Terese told us about a conceit that happens at her work every Friday. Their office opens at 8am for the early morning business and then at 9am the whole office - from managers to cleaners - sit down to a breakfast that is provided by a different staff member each week. It's just wonderful!! What a way to build bonds, meet people from all levels in the business and generally strengthen your office.

    She also told us about a concept called Fika, I don't believe there is an English translation. Basically it means to have coffee and bun and sit with something. She said & backed up by the Internet that it's something that is also ingrained in the work culture. You either have a morning or afternoon fika or both.

    I loved it! Another building ties and strengthening your workplace. Both Terese and Alex in Barcelona have told me how in their workplaces they have gone back to morning and afternoon breaks with the whole office taking it at the same time.

    They said it should increase productivity, you know when your break is and the whole office comes together. I think it's just awesome!

    After we'd had enough of shopping we decided to see a movie. The whole getting dark at 4pm sucks really. It's so misleading. Anyway, off we've when went to see Bridge of Spies. It was good, although I though it could've been more dramatic.

    For dinner we went to a new restaurant where you order via their app. Everything drinks, mains and desserts. You even had to get it yourself, which I thought was lame haha, slack waitstaff. But it was a fab place!

    It seemed to have an identity crisis. Was it jazz club style, burlesque, country, Spanish tapas but the food staying in large degrees towards the genre haha. It was fab! And wonderful way to end our epic day!

    Friday breakfast and fika
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  • Day334

    Sweden: IKEA, meatballs & cashless

    November 30, 2015 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    I'm here in the land of yellow and blue, of DIY furniture, meatballs and in some ways the future.

    I arrived in the city of Gothenburg on Monday afternoon after taking the bus from Norway, only 3.5 hours. Ive come to visit a friend, Terese and a friend from London, Claire, is joining us.

    I've told Terese ever since I left Australia I was coming to visit and I'm so glad I managed to get here! Even if just by a whisper.

    After picking Claire up we went to have a late lunch stopping in at a cute little cafe, something we remarked that London doesn't really have.

    Yesterday was the first advent of Christmas and finally it's ok to start eating all the Christmas food. Terese explained to us all the special days in the Swedish advent calendar.

    After talking about Christmas food Terese bought us this Christmas buns or breads that are eaten on the 13th of December. They are called Lucy buns and made with saffron. They were very tasty.

    Afterwards we had a walk about town looking in st ...... List the places

    Tonight we went back to Terese's for dinner. We had Swedish tacos, which are eaten every Friday apparently. It must be a Scandinavia thing because Norway do the same thing. They were very tasty.

    We stopped in at a bottle shop first to pick up some wine. They also have strict laws here, the bottle shops are owned by the government you can only buy at certain times and certain places.

    And you can only buy the wine and spirits at the bottle shops. As my Norwegian friends also tried, terse tried to convince me that goon wine was really good in the Nordic countries haha.

    It was pretty good. I also ashamedly found Australian wine in what looked like a juice carton! Whilst here we also bought Glub, which is a Christmas hot drink. You hear it over a stove and put almonds and raisins in it.

    We had this for dessert with gingerbread biscuits with blue cheese on them. This was not a favourite of mine haha, but Claire liked them.

    Renting - Terese was telling us about how renting works here. You have to go in a waiting list to rent in different areas and wait for a house to come up. Most places are owned by the government.

    I'm the city there is like a 10 year waiting list! She also said the things like hearing are all centrally controlled in apartments. Residents can only turn the temperature down or off, but not up.

    I thought that was super weird haha. She also explained that unlike the rental houses in Australia, you treat your rental property as your own. If you want to put up shelves, just do it.

    I'd definitely like to learn more about how this all works. These are the reasons I travel. I love learning about how other cultures live and work.

    Cards only - I read recently on co.exist.com that in the next 10 years or so Sweden could become the first country to eliminate cash and become a card only country.

    I asked Terese about this, but she wasn't aware of it. She knew that card was favoured and very easy to use. Claire mentioned that she had seen a restaurant today that advertised they were a cashless restaurant.

    I thought it was a great idea, but Terese pointed out that if hasn't stopped people from being mugged. She said that with apps were in use where you could move money with the use of phone numbers. People had been forced to move money while being threatened to their attackers account. I guess criminals will always find a way. But a great option if you can't spilt a bill!
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  • Day333

    A weekend with my fav Norwegian family

    November 29, 2015 in Norway ⋅ 🌙 2 °C

    I'm back in Oslo tonight after spending the weekend with my favourite Norwegian family. It feels symbolic that I began my trip by spending Christmas with them two years ago and now I visit as my trip comes to an end.

    I arrived into Oslo on Tuesday evening and took the bus into the city. The guy used this cool iPad to scan tickets and use credit cards – I thought it was great haha! I stayed at a new hostel in Oslo. It apparently it showed up last summer, as I don't recall there being one here when I was here last time.

    The Saga Poshtel Oslo Central is located right in the city centre, only 10 min walk from the train station. I had a delightful walk through the rain getting here, and once again Catherine's umbrella came in very handy! The hostel is a bit clinical for me, and in direct opposition to the hostel I just came from in Edinbrugh haha. There is no character or hostelly feel. But there are lifts, swipe access to rooms & bathrooms, probably the most comfortable beds I’ve slept on so far, a big downstairs area and a really good free breakfast!

    I had a bit of a situation when I arrived last night. Barclays had suspended my account thinking there was fraudulent activity on it, which they advised me of while I was standing in the line to enter the plane!! But after a phone call with Barclays all was well.

    On Wednesday day morning I took a self guided walking tour of the Royal castle. Exploring its history and walks, before viewing the opera house and taking a walk up to the Opera House, across to Youngstorget and another before getting ready to leave for Emma's.

    At 4.30pm my train was due to depart, however as they were doing track work we had a multiple vehicle option to get there. First we took the bus for an hour, then we caught our train for 3 hours and instead of switching to the Raumba train we caught a mini bus and drove to Andalsnes. We drove through all this beautiful snow, but arrived to a snow free Andalsnes as per usual! Eh!

    But finally I was here! There have been a few changes since I was here last time. Emma & Vegard have moved to a smaller village about 30 mins away, a big ugly tourist building is being built in front of their old apartment blocking the beautiful view, Eirlirl is now two and has grown up and Emma & Vegard own their own house.

    Their new house is beautiful and sits in front of the port where the ferry to Molde docks every half an hour. They have an equally beautiful view looking out into the fjord and sea. It is a truly beautiful part of the world.

    On Thursday I spent the day chilling in the house, failing at starting a fire, writing about Scotland in my blog and looking out the window. In the evening I was to meet the family in the Andalsnes as there was a Christmas party in the town centre for the local hiking community.

    But, as with all good stories mine begins with missed transport. The bus I needed to catch was coming off the ferry. I waited patiently looking around for where the bus would dock, but it didn't! I wondered if I had missed it. But Emma assured me that if the ferry hadn’t arrived yet, the bus was still to come as it was coming off the ferry. I couldn’t see any particular bus stop, so I waited in the warm hut ready to dive out when the bus arrived.

    Unfortunately the bus was faster then me! The ferry docked, I walked out and here came my bus cruising off the ferry, waiting for 2 mili seconds in the middle of the car park and then it just shot off onto the road heading towards Andalsnes.

    I walked after it but then just stood there staring at my bus, wondering what to do. It’s funny, when you’re on your own you are resourceful to find the next step, when you are with people all of a sudden you temporarily forget that you can manage this with out someone who can speak the language!

    I must’ve looked like a right deer in the head lights because next minute this car pulled up asking if I was waiting for the bus, I said yes, the lady inside said jump in I'll chase after it. So I did, thinking once again of the movie Taken haha. She says she saw the look in my eyes, told me how bad the bus drivers were, and that if she wasn't going in the other direction she would've taken me in. We rounded two bends, took over the bus and she waved me off at the next stop. Legend!

    Eventually I made it into town. Emma & Vegard’s hiking group was having a Christmas party and the winners of best hikes were going to be announced. The Christmas party was held in the small town square, just behind their old house. Children were roasting butts of dough over fire pits, there was a stall selling hot dogs and sweets, a band playing and a big Christmas tree in the centre.

    We stayed to hear the winners drawn, it was not us sadly, before heading home, Eirli was ready for bed.

    On Friday Vegard and Eirli were home, so we hung out, watched TV, and had naps before heading into Andalsnes in the afternoon. We visited Emma at her work and took a walk about town before visiting a massive grocery store. I love grocery stores. The food and variety was awesome.

    Tonight we are having dinner at Eirli's best friend from kindy's house. We are having tacos, which apparently having tacos on a Friday night is a real Scandinavia thing that everyone does! They were delicious! The house was huge! It was one street back from the House E&V rented in between buying their own home and the lake unit.

    After putting Eirli to bed we had a lovely evening catching up on Friday night back at the ranch. Emma tried to sell me on the idea that goon wine is a good in Norway haha and we caught up over the last 2 years. They tell me that they are planning on coming out to Oz next year! Happy days!

    Saturday was a cooking day and the first weekend of Christmas. For breakfast we had the beautiful waffles! Oh so good. After Eilril lay down for her mid-morning nap Emma and I set about making some Christmas cookies. These included … Yummy. In the afternoon Eilril, Vegard and I played in the garden. Vegard showed me their hot spa they use in the summer, it was all made out of wood and just like something you’d see in this country.

    On Sunday my time drew to a close with this wonderful family. I packed up and said goodbye to the view from my window. Enjoyed some final Norwegian treats and Vegard drove me to the train station.

    In true form a truck was driving ahead of us laying out salt in preparation for the snow predicted the next day, which came. Two days too late, one day to early L Oh well. Lucky I hadn’t planned on seeing any snow on this trip!

    And with that I was gone. Back on the Rauma express, which was now running, but into the city of Oslo. I dropped off my belongings at my hostel and rather funnily was back in the same room as last time. I chose a different bed though!

    I had pizza for dinner, which cost me a fortune, but desired. A glass of wine cost more then half a pizza and salad :/ On Monday morning I got up earlier and headed up to the Spikersuppa Christmas Market as it had opened the night before. I took in all of the smells, sights and sounds. Trying to absorb as much as I could. I walked up past the National Theatre and almost to Slottsplassen aka the Palace Square, right in front of the Royal Palace.

    As time marched on I headed back to my hostel, grab my bag and headed to the bus stop, Sweden was awaiting.

    Goodbye Norway, you’ve been amazing. Maybe next time I could visit in the summer, or spring or autumn, just to change things up a bit haha.

    God Jul to you all.


    Norway Christmas Traditions
    http://www.visitoslo.com/en/articles/christmas-traditions/

    Oslo Christmas markets
    https://sayhitonorway.com/2015/11/17/christmas-markets-in-oslo/
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