My London Expedition

The trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a working traveller in London

Friday, 29 October 2010

Travelling across Europe

Ok. So much to share.
The past 2 and a half weeks have been the best of my life, I cannot describe with words how good it has been, except to say that it was amaaaaaazing.
7am on 7 October, we departed on our topdeck tour.. With high spirits and high hopes, 50 of us hopped onto a bus which was to take us around Europe. Dominated by aussies, immediately good friendships were formed, and the partying began. Our first stop was Paris, where we indulged ourselves with snails and frogs legs, and partied until the sun came up. I cant say we got a lot of sleep during the trip, but I wouldn’t change a thing. After 2 days in Paris, our journey continued to Switzerland, followed by Italy, Austria, Germany, Amsterdam and Belgium. The memories and friendships we formed during this trip is priceless, and I am already really missing everyone 
After a sad farewell, I am back in London, continuing my journey as a solo traveller.
A couple of days ago I went to Manchester with a friend, and after that stayed with a mate in Harlow town, down south of London.

Coming back to London has been bittersweet, sad to leave my new mates behind, but also excited for my next stage of the journey. One thing I can say is I am soo sick of lugging my giant suitcase up and down stairs in Europe! There are stairs everywhere, so im quite content to be staying in one place, for now anyway.
I am currently living in a hostel, right in the centre of London. I love it. It isn’t cheap, and I share a room with 7 other girls, but it is in an awesome location and gives me everything I need including free internet  I have been making use of that free internet by job and house hunting, and I am pleased to say, I am now employed  I had an interview this morning at Sofitel London, a 5star hotel, and I got the job. I will be working in the room service department full-time as of Monday. It is about a half hour walk from where I am staying now, quite convenient.
The house hunting is not going so well, I have been looking on gumtree and viewed a couple of houses today, theyre shocking! First of all London flats are tiny which is to be expected, but the majority are also very dirty and smelly. I feel that it is going to take me a while to find a good place to live.
On the bright side, I’m getting to know a few people in London town, so my calender is staying busy :)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Big mistake

I made the HUGE mistake of counting my pennies and opting for a coffee 50pence cheaper than at Starbucks today, it was a horrible experience! After a sip it was in the bin and I lost £2. Starbucks I shall never put another coffee shop before you again!!

It's my last night at the generator hostel tonight, just when I'm finally starting to enjoy it. My next move is to Clink hostel, 10minutes down the road. It used to be a courthouse and I've only heard good reports. My room size will half from 12 people to 4-6, plus we get our own bathroom and free breakfast. Half my room will most likely be made up of Australians no doubt. They're everywhere, we rule London town!

I got a new iPhone today. I visited the apple store, told them there was a problem with my phone and the replaced it no questions asked. It's a really cool store - the biggest in the world. It is located in Covent garden, right by all the markets. Markets are everywhere in London, covent garden markets are my fav so far. They sell anything from food to clothes to jewelery to souvenirs, and the clothes are actually quite cool. Call me a tourist, but I bought an 'i love london' hoody. It was only £12 I couldn't resist.

Something I find quite funny is that I get asked for directions about 5 times a day. As I said in my previous post, quarter of London is made up of Aussies, and the rest tourists! Everyone asks each other for directions but nobody knows the answer. I am am a little pleased with myself though, I've been able to point a couple of people in the right direction now. 1 week in London...what can I say...

Monday, 4 October 2010

A few things I've realized about London..

During my days of sightseeing and touring London I have noticed a few things -
•coffee is expensive. I pay £2.50 for a coffee which = $5.00. maybe because I'm a starbucks addict...
•I can walk to places in the same amount of time that the tube would take me to get there
•no londoners actually live in London, just tourists,travellers and foreigners.
•food is fairly cheap, other things arent
•the traffic lights turn green then orange then red then back to orange and then to green.
•pedestrians do not wait for the walk signal at traffic lights, but pretty much walk over the road whenever they want and expect cars to stop for them
•after the tube, biking seems to be a really popular method of transport. There are pay and go bike stalls all over London for hire.
•there are way too many pigeons,seagulls and other annoying birds in the city
•rubbish gets left out on the sidewalk in rubbish bags
•it costs extra money to dine in, even at coffee shops (except for good old Starbucks!)
•it is the most beautiful and exciting city in the world, but then I already knew that

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I just wrote a massive blog, but thanks to my one hour of free internet expiring, it deleted itself. Boo! So here we go again...maybe a little shorter this time.
One of the many things that I love about London is that theres a starbucks on every corner. And the amazing tube. I have become quite a tube pro actually. I am now compulsively standing to the right hand side of the esculators to make sure I do not get stampeded, and know my way around the different tube lines. Its quite an amazing system of underground railroads. Trains come every couple of minutes. At some stations instead of esculators there are lifts. Which can be quite interesting especially at peak time. About 50 people will squash into one lift haha.
Another thing that i am really loving is the parks that are all around London. It is actually quite an outdoorsy place suprisingly. Transportation by bike or walking is really common.
I visited Harrods today - the most expensive shop in London. It is huge, but quite a bore to be honest. Id rather be spending my time at Hyde Park. I also made a stop off to the famous Notting Hill - it looks just like the movie.

Friday, 1 October 2010


I stepped into London heathrow airport with big eyes and a giant suitcase.
The view of the city from the airplane was amazing, and I already LOVE this place. I was expecting intense cold, but instead Today was a warm sunny day.
 I checked into my hostel last night, and the foreign receptionist insisted he give me my first English kiss. My hostel is awesome! Free breakfast buffet,wifi Internet, lounges and organized tours and pub crawls... I'm staying in a girls dorm with about 8 others at the moment, it's not that easy to sleep with the noise we all make.
Today being my first day in London, I got up nice and early for a morning walk. I was greeted by several squirrels running around the parks, they're the cutest things ever! I did a 3hour walking tour of London and got to view all the impressive historic London icons, including a spectacular show of the changing of the gaurd at buckingham palace. 
with my new found tour friends we went to a pub for lunch and then I decided to continue touring the city on another 3 hour trip. On this one we mainly got to see the thame river and the bridges over it, as well as the London tower. 
After my day walking the lengths of the city, I well deserved a sit down, so I met up with one of the girls I'd met on tour, and we went to see the lion king show! London is well known for it's musicals and theaters, and I have to say the lion kong is the best performance I've ever seen. It is soo good! I'll go and see another show again for sure.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


i feel really ackward here in dubai.a bit out of place. i am the only blonde person here and i am really getting stared at. i do not see a lot of woman, but mostly men everywhere.i feel a bit like a moviestar with people taking phtos of me and staring with open mouths. its like im from another planet. so i started wearing a head scarf to cover myself and things are going a bit better now.Dubai is a really nice place. it is so fancy, i do not see houses but only mansions and palaces. there is nothing dirty or run down, but all the buldings and shops are exquisit.
my first day here i went to the emirates mall-the biggest one in the world. they have an indoor ski field which is so cool, so i took a snowboardng lesson. i dont think ive never fallen on my bum so many times but it was really fun! i did it with 2 poms from london who were on their honeymoon we got on really well.
after snowboarding i got picked up at my hotel, and went on a dessert safari in a 4wd! this was so much fun i loved it. it felt like we were going to crash several times going over the sand dunes. in my car there were2 aussies and 2 south africans who were really fun. we got to ride camels, and during our arabian bbq were entertaineed with belly dancers, fire throwers and free henna tattoos.
i will put some photos up soon!
right now im at the abu dhabi airport again, waiiting for my 8hour flight to london. free internet computers are the best, but i only have 5minutes left on it, so farewell lovelies!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

cutting it fine

I have arrived in Abu Dhabi finally. After a nice 15hours on the plane. I did get a short break at singapore, and I decided to make the most out of my hour in transit. and went for a wonder around around the airport. If youve ever been to singapore airport, youll understand when I say I got lost... its huge! and confusing! I did some window shopping then got distracted by the free internet computers. when i realise it was time to board my flight, I also realised I didnt take notice of how to get back to the boarding gate. Claps for me. So after doing a few circles (up and down the travelators), I found my gate just as the done the final boarding call and were closing the gate. I cut it fine but MADED IT! and thats all that matter! proud of myself.

When i arrived at Abu Dhabi i was shocked. I mean, i know its a dessert and all, but I arrived at midnight and thought it might have cooled down a bit. I thought wrong. My glasses fogged up as soon as I stepped outside. Ive never felt heat like it. The pilot had said it was 20 degrees, but it felt like 50 degrees because its so humid.
The Abu dhabi airway was pretty cool though, the biggest ive ever seen with lots of different coloured lights. Its so big that it took us 15 minutes to park at our gate after landing.
I was really suprised at the lack of security/border control in the UAE. We were not required to fill out arrival documents, people smoke inside the airport, there is no x-raying of luggage and the guy who checked my passport at customs had no idea wether he was allowed to let me in the country and so just took a photo of me and let me go through. Rad.
Singapore was quite the opposite which made me laugh - on the arrival announcement in the plane the pilot said to us that bringing illegal drugs into the country has 'fairly big' consequences, the punishment is the death penalty. Wow singapore thats a bit harsh!
I made some friends in Abu Dhabi with a sydney family and am so greatful for how nice they were to me! we had just met and because it was so hot then especially went and bought me some water. We travelled to Dubai together where I will be for the next day and a half. Aussies are the best!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Awesome day

Yesterday I found out my journey is going to be longer than expected..18hours on the plane from Brisbane to Dubai, and then another 7 hours from Dubai to London. Far out that's a loong trip! At least I love planes :) I shall watch about 10 movies I'd say!
So today has just been a really GREAT day!
The morning started off with a journey into the city (for one last time) and I met with my mate Amy who has just moved over from NZ. We had brunch at starbucks and I took her on a mini city tour. She recently came back from London herself so was able to give me heaps of advice.
For lunch I went to the Novotel one last time (where I have worked for the past 2 years), and my boss took me out for lunch to say thank you and farewell. It was such a great lunch, with compliments of Novotel :) a couple of the other managers joined us too and I was treated to several farewell presents from work, lucky me!! I received flowers from my supervisor, a card and $20 pounds for my 'first beer' from the sales girls, a bottle of moet French champagne from the food and beverage manager, scratchy tickets from my manager, and a platter of cakes with a goodbye message written in chocolate writing from the chefs. Ooow I'm going to really miss my work :( So many good times have been had there, lots of laughter and shenanigans :p
For afternoon tea I physically didn't have room to consume any more food, but met up with the girls for high tea. You would think that's where my day would end, but No, I squeezed in dinner with my family at an amazing Indian restaurant. All the food is made to order and super fresh, one of the best Indian experiences I've had. Last night I had an Italian experience too! I've been out to restaurants for meals soo much in the past month I'm almost restauranted out.. Keen for a good home cooked meal, although I don't think I'll be having that much on my travels whilst staying at hostels. I'll make sure mother cooks up a good roast before I go :)
One other thing I'm really going to miss is my car :( it's been with me through the good times and the bad, and how convenient and cosy it is! Guess I'll have to get used to the public transport system again. I hear the tube isn't that bad.
I'm going to have a great nights rest after a really amazing day. To my friends - I love you all! Your the best mates I could ask for and I'll dearly miss you. X

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

toughed out

I have made it through an 80hour week at work, through working 14 days straight, and through 3 going away gatherings. I cannot remember the last time I was able to sleep in, but today I was able to snooze until I was sore and I am feeeling good :)Yesterday was a bittersweet day,being my last one at work. So now a week of relaxation is before me, with some last minute goodbyes with mates of course. A group of us went to hogs breath last week for a farewell dinner, photos are above.
5 days...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Girls weekend away at the coast

i had the most fabulous weekend! My sister wanted to take me away for a girls weekend before I go overseas, so she booked us beautiful apartments right in surfers paradise. We stayed on level 36 at the mantra apartments, on cavill circle, which is a prime spot in the gold coast, right by the beach, restaurants, attractions and nightclubs. We left friday morning, road tripping on the highway and arrived in time for lunch. The weekend started off with champagne,strawberries and chocolate, and continued in that respect pretty much until it was time to go home. We went to infinity - a futuristic 'fun-house' attraction, where you walk through trippy maze like worlds with special effects and illusions, very cool. Before we headed back to brisbane on saturday we visited the palazzo versace, an almost 6 star hotel overlooking the beach. It is so fancy, we had a high tea with scones, finger sandwiches, cakes and drinks. On our arrival back to Brisbane, the city welcomed us with a display of fireworks shot from the river. Riverfire happens every year in Brisbane and there are so many people in the city that it is hard to move. After the fireworks we filled our bellies with authentic turkish food from a great little restaurant called Ahmets. The interior is fully decorated in Turkish furnshings, and while we ate our meals we were treated to a belly dancing show. The night ended with a walk around the city and dancing in the nightclubs.
After a very welcomed sleep in on Sunday, we got up to have some lunch and went to the movies to see Tomorrow When The War Began. Really great film.
Such a satisfying weekend, one that I will remember for a good while! I have attached a few photos above, the first one of my gorgeous sister.
Today is fathers day, so Im sure we will celebrate that tonight when my parents get home from their week away in Cairns.
This upcoming week will be a busy one, a lot of dates with mates and farewell get togethers. Looking forward to Wednesday when my connect group and I will be dinning at hogs breath :)

Monday, 23 August 2010


I've opened up a British Bank account with Barclays, through the Britbound program. It is a pretty tricky thing to do being a newcomer to England (some say impossible) so Im glad I have it sorted! Britbound has been great, they have hooked me up with a UK simcard, free international money transfer, arrival information sessions and travel guides as well as heaps of other stuff. They make the transition a lot smoother!

Dad bought me a cute little netbook today! I had been contemplating wether or not to take my laptop with me, as it is heavy and could be a bit annoying to travel with and was suprised by an early birthday present in a beautiful red box with gold and silver ribbons. I opened the box and there was little laptop inside, it could fit in myhandbag! the screen is nice and large, but it is so light and easy to carry around. It is going to be so handy to travel with! Lucky for you that means there will be lots of blog updates and photos of my adventures! I have the best dad! :)

Only 4 weeks left of work at the Novotel! It will be broken up nicely too, as in 2 weeks my sister and I are heading down to the gold coast for a girls weekend away and then its just 2 weeks left! It is true what they say about Queensland - beautiful one day, perfect the next! The sun just wont stay away, it is the middle of winter and still hot. I'm looking forward to a bit of cool weather, but dont quote me on that, I may regret that statement later. 2 winters in one year, lucky me. Praying for a white christmas!

Thursday, 15 July 2010


A quick update - I am proud to announce, I have britsh entry clearance. Woohoo! My Visa got approved after only 8 days of applying, what a speedy process. Today is a GOOD day!

Monday, 12 July 2010

A whole NUTHER level

I am changed, never to be the same.
Upon returning from Hillsong Conference in Sydney this week, I feel refreshed, strengthened and renewed by the grace of God. The things which I experienced worshiping and being in the presence of God this week have been so amazing. Through praying for people, my friends and I were able to see miracles happen - people with broken legs being healed, and lives restored that were broken! God is good. I have gone to a WHOLE NUTHER LEVEL! And the best is yet to come! Hillsong Conference 2010 - the turning point of my life. I would recommend anyone and everyone to go, no matter what it takes to get there.

Taking a week off work unpaid was so worth it! Such a fun and powerful week - slighty different from my last Sydney experience where I decided to jump out of a plane. I was pretty good at sticking to my budget, consuming oats and tuna daily! It was an action packed, fun filled, impressive week which included a trip down to the beautiful Bondi beach. I have never heard of paying for the beach - until now that is. Parking at the beach is not cheap, and neither are the cafes/restaurants along the strip. Great beach though, and heaps of awesome shopping across the road.

I love Sydney for many reasons. It is always buzzing with excitment, people out and about through all hours of the night. Shops are open late, public transport is fantastic, friendly people, very multi-cultural, both the beach and mountains are a short drive from the city - what more can you want? I imagine it to be similar to London, including the fact that its very expensive!

My Qantas experience was fantastic as usual. Great service, food and on time arrivals. Bless their little cotton socks.

I have figured out that I have only 8 weeks of paid work left before I go. WOW! Still waiting on the arrival of my Visa which I applied for last week.

Above are a few photos of my Sydney experience and Hillsong Conference

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Yes yes, I am meant to be saving I know, but I cant resist a week away to the city which captured my heart (and still has not given it back). Magnificent in all it's glory, Sydney is an amazing city, and how I looove it! With the beautiful opera house, great city life and spectacular harbour, there is always something to do in Sydney. It has frequent festivites and cultural events, making it the perfect spot for my last Aussie holiday. I'm off with a bus-load of friends on July 5 for Hillsong conference. Going with an expectant heart, I cannot wait for what God has instore. I am taking the exotic option of flying, I've always had a thing for aeroplanes - they're just so exciting! Any excuse to fly and I'm there. My friends and I are heading over for the conference (pretty much the highlight of our year) and staying on a couple of extra days to do some sightseeing.
Don't worry I plan on being wise with my spending - every dollar saved can be spent in paris!

I have taken on a second job, picking up a few extra hours each week. It keeps me on my toes and because it's keeping me busy the days are blurring together.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

In between stage

I am waiting with excitement and anticipation for the journey ahead of me. In 3 and a half short months I will be on my way, travelling across the seas into the depths of the unknown.
I'm in an 'in-between' stage, where I cannot afford to have any kind of social life as my funds are being stashed away, but I am not yet ready to depart. Playing the waiting game. Life is keeping me busy though, veeery busy. Time is flying by which is quite good.
I feel like I'm leaving at the best time - I'm almost sad to be leaving. Life in brissy is great, I'm enjoying every moment, I even get excited to get out of bed and go to work. My friends are beautiful and there's never a dull day. But I am so excited to embark on this adventure and it gives me encouragement for the journey ahead - hope and confidence that even though I'm going to a new and unfamilliar city, I will be okay!
I got my renewed passport back, now just need to get my evidence of funds together! This is to show I can survive in UK, so that I can apply for my visa. The visa can be post-dated up to 3 months before I leave, which allows me to stay in the UK for the full 2 years rather than the time ticking away before I leave.
Well I'm off to the movies to see sex & the city 2(my ticket being kindly donated), au revoir...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Let the long days begin

Those days of working 15 hours, sleeping 5, and getting up to do it all over again have begun. Im blessed that I am able to get a lot of hours at work to save up for my trip. Last week I did 65 hours and and this week about 50, so its pretty good! only 4 months to go, it will fly by!

I've taken my first big steps so far, went to see the travel agent and booked my flights, topdeck tour, travel insurance and hostels for the first 9 days!
Here is my itinerary so far:
27 september 2010 - Depart brisbane(Etihad Airways), with stopover in abu dhabi.
28 september 2010 - Arrive in London
28 september to 06 october - stay at generator hostel in London. According to reviews, this is the maddest, wildest, biggest, best hostel in London. With free breakfast every morning, a walking tour of London, a bar, free towels, and a wi-fi cafe, it seems alright to me!
06 October - stay the night at Clink hostel (where topdeck tour departs from)
07 october to 20 October - European Wonder topdeck tour. Departs 6am from Lodon, to paris, to switzerland, to italy, to Austria, to Germany, to Netherlands, to Belgium and back to London!
October 20 - Arrive back in London 9pm, staying at Clink hostel once again.
October 21 - Start looking for work and a place to live!

To give those of you who thinking of doing a trip like this an idea of the cost, for my flight, 9 days of hostels, the 14 day topdeck tour, and 6 months of travel insurance, all up the grand total comes to $4150. I did get a fairly cheap flight though, it just depends on when you want to travel. Around october it is off season, so everything is a little cheaper.

Monday, 10 May 2010

From the get-go..

Helloo and Welcome to the beginning of my journey as an independant working traveller, going solo to London! This story starts in a far far away place called Brisbane - Australia. AKA Bris-vegas - the home of the unbeatable broncos (yes theyre a rugby team), and the city where I dwell.
My previous adventures have brought me to this place which I now call home, but as the saying goes - its time to set the sails, I feel a wind a'stirring.
Soon I will be saying bon voyage and au revoir to the beautiful brissy city lights, and bonjour to the delicacies, extremities and extravagance of europe.

The planning stage has begun! So much to get in order before my ship sets sail.
October 2010 is my expected departure date into the unprecedented yet exciting unknown depths of London.
Through all the excitement of organising my trip, I failed to realise my passport was due to expire during the middle of my trip. So currently I am in the tedious process of filling out forms and getting passport photos taken, to renew my passport. Once I have my newly refurbished passport, the visa application process will be underway! The great thing about being an aussie/kiwi is that its pretty easy to get a working holiday visa to UK. This visa is called the youth mobility visa and allows you to work while holidaying in the UK, for up to two years! woohoo!
After a brief visit to the travel agent today (STA travel is the way to go!), I have bookloads of information in regards to my trip. It seems my biggest expense is going to be travel insurance! Its a must have but costs a fortune ( about $700 for 6 months spent abroad - it gets cheaper the longer you take out).

There are so many things to think about. If only we could just get on a plane and go!

I will keep you updated, keep watching this space!