Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Punk Tees to Posh Teas

Yesterday started with a trip to Camden Markets, which is pretty much inhabited by punks selling t-shirts, sunnies and studded belts. 'Good for some people watching but nothing worth buying' was the description for this place and it lived up to it.

The only thing of note to mention here is that Adam had his feet eaten by fish. Yes - a fish pedicure. He put his feet in a spa type thing filled with hundreds of little fishies.. and they munched on all of his dry skin. Quite gross really. But he enjoyed it and his feet are actually now smoother. I have been unlucky enough to spend alot of time with Adam's feet.. and therefore I pity the fish whose home was invaded for a short time.

Headed to Harrods for a sneak peak and a touch more shopping in the surrounding shops.

Then - we jumped into a black cab (another experience ticked off the list) and headed for the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel for Afternoon Tea (courtesy of the 'experience' voucher Kate & Todd gave us as an engagement gift).
Afternoon tea was very posh. The menu was as follows:
- an assortment of 5 finger sandwiches including: curried chicken, smoked salmon, egg & watercress, roast beef, cucumber & crab.
- 2 varieities of scones (wholemeal & poppyseed), served with cream, rhubarb compote, lime & lemon curd, and raspberry jam.
- 5 mini cakes / desserts... which i cannot actually name. They were all dellicious though!
- We chose English Breakfast and Lady Grey teas.
It was a great way to spend the afternoon in London (so many thanks to Kate & Todd). We didnt need dinner afterwards.. and probably also shouldnt have eaten lunch beforehand.

Last night we went next door to the local pub and met up with Emily Parker for some drinks. It was great to see an old friend on the other side of the world. The girls sipped on their drinks inside while the boys got rowdy with some Americans outside. When we got home, Adam and Jarrod put on a bit of a dance performance in the kitchen for us. Some things never change no matter which side of the world you are on!

This morning we leave London (pies, pints and pimms) behind and say 'hola' to Barcelona (and sangria and tapas). Is it wrong that we associate food with each destination in this journey??

London - you've been good to us. Farewell until next time. xo

Jarrod's London Monopoly Tour by Car

After an exhausting day at Oxford, we came home, cooked up some fajitas and headed downstairs to the hire car.

Lauren & Jarrod are members of a car club. It works like this: there are cars parked around London (one just near their place). You book ahead, walk up, hold your card against the scanner on the window and the doors open. You enter a pin number in the glove box.. and the keys pop out. Then you're off. You drive around (dont pay for petrol or anything) and return it to where you took it from. Nifty!

Jarrod's tour of London took 3 hours. I can barely name all of the places we drove.. but we definitely drove through Camden, Hyde Park, Regent Park (where all the rich rich rich people live), Primrose Hill (where the also rich and possibly celebrities live), Kensington (past Harrods and Harvey Nichols), Park Lane, and then through the west end (where all the theatres were) and over to London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Plus back past some of the sights we saw on Monday - but this time by lights. We also saw Shakepeare's Globe theatre and the creepy little cobblestone alleys around London Bridge. So old. You can just imagine what went on in them.

I am referring to it as the 'Monopoly Tour' as I kept seeing places that rung a bell.. and kept having to ask questions such as "Ooh... Park Lane.. does this mean Mayfair is close by??". Very exciting! I actually WISH that we had carried a monopoly board with us to London so that I could tick off the places and stations as we saw them! Can somebody please do this on their first trip to London?

Jarrod and Lauren were excellent tour guides. (In fact they have been excellent hosts. We are very lucky to have had somewhere to stay). Seeing London by car was a great experience. As wonderful as the tube is, you really miss out on seeing a lot of the city and it's hard to get a good perspective as to the size of the place or where things are in relation to each other. Going by car was a bit of an eye opener and gave us a good feel of the city as a whole.

When we returned home, i was horrified at the loud growling noises in the apartment. Had Jack the Ripper's ghost followed us home? Had Lauren & Jarrads statue pug, 'Bruges' come to life? Or had some sort of city bear crawled through the open window? ... Oh no, its just adam snoring into his chest before he's even gotten into bed again! Bless him. The days are long.. but they are great.
.. I drifted off to sleep with thoughts of myself dining with Harry and Hermione in the great hall.. till next time! - Jess

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oxford scholar , Harry Potter and Pies and Pims.

Yesterday started with another battle through the Tube out to Paddington station to get the Train to Oxford . One little line mistake caused us to do a last minute evacuation to get the next tube or we would end up in Hicksvillle. Once in Paddington Station , the very helpful English workers assisted us in Ticket purchasing....i seriously think that some English people literally don't understand ENGLISH!.
The trip took about 50 minutes to get there with the highlight being going through the beautiful town of Slough, the town that the TV show , The Office is set. Drab is the word that comes to mind.

I really was not sure what to expect and thought it may have been a waist of a day but we did want to get out of London to have a look elsewhere so Oxford it was. We left the station and walked to the centre of the town and grabbed a sight map to see what this town had to offer other than just colleges . In the Lonely Planet it mentioned a bar called the Turf Tavern that was a locals bar that was worth having a look. ( I'm sure putting it in the Lonely Planet will not keep it a locals bar for too long). We walked into some of the college grounds and took some great shots of some cracking old buildings and churches and libraries and a Crypt! a bit creepy.

Getting hungry i used my super sense of directions to locate the Turf Tavern, it was down a side alley through a crack in the wall , past some bins and there you were. It was a cool old pub in the middle of all these old building with a couple of outside terraces, 5 foot ceilings and about 20 different beers on tap. We got a seat outside and i ordered 2 of their local beers, Hooky Bitter and a Turf Tavern Summer Ale. Jess did not like either of these so i unfortunately had to drink them both while she went off to order a jug of Pimms. Jess things to tick off on her European Summer was to have a Pie in an English Pub so the food order was made easy. It was a beautiful warm day sitting in the super cool little pub eating Pie and drinking Pimms.

After lunch we went in search of some more photo opportunities.
There were tours going everywhere with guides talking crap but all Jess wanted to find was the Hall that they filmed Harry Potter in ( or designed the set from this Hall ?? ) We found the building that it was supposed to be in but they were charging to get in and saying the hall was closed, jess tried to sneak in but i was being an old fart . We walked down to the next old building and Jess just walked past the booth and kept going i was forced to follow, there were some great gardens and buildings . As we kept walking through there was a blackboard sign saying ' the hall is open for visitors, Bang , Jess was off and in the hall in a flash. It was the Hall that she was searching for. It looked awesome, got some great shots.

After seeing her highlight we thought we had seen all we needed to see in Oxford so we had a parting cider in The Red Lion and made our way back to the train to head back into London.

London Town..

Its now the morning of our 3rd day in London. We weren't going to write every day - but by popular demand, here is another update for you!

First off, some of my thoughts about London off the top of my head:
- I am surprised at how green it is! There are parks and trees everywhere and is a beautiful city. I really expected it to be all buildings.. grey and drab. I guess I got this idea from TV shows? I thought it would be too full of people to have all of the park space - but it is really lovely..
- I cant quite get over the fact it is light until 10pm. And light again at 4am.
- I keep laughing that everyone on TV sounds like the guy from the Sooty and Sweep show from when I was little!
- Finding it very easy to get around and navigate the tubes... I actually think I could live here. But then Adam reminds me it is not always 30 degrees.. and I probably wouldnt like it in Winter.

Yesterday was a busy day. We jumped on the tube and headed off for some sightseeing. Perhaps I exaggerated above about how easy the tube is.. because there was certainly a moment or 2 of tension early in the day.. but we wont get into that!

We headed to Buckingham Palace thinking we'd missed the changing of the guards.. but as we approached it was all starting to happen - so it was great timing! This was quite the spectacle and we got some good pics.

We walked through St James park until we reached the Parliament area and the Thames. Saw Big Ben, The London Eye, Trafalger Square, then wandered back through Piccaddilly Circus, Carnaby St and Oxford Circus. We managed to squeeze in some shopping (which we thought was going to have to be a separate day) - so we considered it all very productive! Though our feet were almost numb!

When we got home to Lauren & Jarrods, we all headed around the corner to a pub (The Canonbury) with a fantastic beer garden (possibly the best i have ever seen.. which is kind of odd considering our climate in Australia vs the one here!). We had a dinner of half rotisserie chickens (delicious!) and Lauren and I sipped on Pimms while the boys had beer.
The area that Lauren and Jarrod live in is really great. There are so many pubs close by and it's very pretty. The Mayor of London lived down the street from them until just recently.

As we headed home last night Adam and I were keen to stop at Tesco for more drinks.. we thought it was about 7pm. When Lauren told us it was 9:30, the reality of all the action of the day hit us and we crashed out, with Adam snoring like a road train as soon as he sat down.

Today we look to be heading out into the country somewhere.. currently tossing up between Oxford, Windsor, Brighton, etc.. Then tonight L&J have a car hired for 3 hours to show us the sights by night. We considered headng back to Brick Lane for a curry.. but may do that tomorrow night instead.

We have been busy negotiating with and it looks as though we may be doing afternoon tea at the Park Lane Hotel tomorrow (cross your fingers for us, they dont make it easy to redeem vouchers!).

(Update on the status of my cold: it has moved to the chest region and I'm coughing like an old man nonstop. But in the words of *insert name here* "aint nothing gonna break my stride, nobody's gonna slow me down... oh no.. I got to keep on moving...". This is my anthem.)

Will work out how to add some pics soon. We gotta get this day started!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 1...England v Germany...

After surviving the worst flight i have ever had the spirits were high as we got through a very speedy customs. The customs lady was extremely friendly as she grunted through a few questions and sent us on our way.

The flight was an early arrival so we had about half an hour to wait for the first tube and headed towards Kings Cross Station. Jess had run out of tissues by this stage so her sleeve came in very handy. Lauren had given us great directions to get to their house and after an hour we were there to wake them up. It was good to catch up .

Jarrod greeted us with the fantastic news that England were playing Germany today at 3pm in the World cup . Jess was so excited , i was so so . We all got ready and hit the streets to have a look at the Spittisfield (not sure of spelling) markets. Jarrod and Lauren were the perfect tour guides giving us all the info as we rode the bus there. The markets were a shoppers dream , Lauren and Jess went for a wander through as Jarrod and i thought we would go have a beer and discuss world events, wedding plans, work and really important things. Alot of people watching was going on and there were some crazy people about. England shirts were everywhere and people were getting charged early.

We decide to have a quick lunch and then off their local 'The Baily' to watch the game. the pub was busy and had plenty of atmosphere, Germany 2 nil up in 25mins was not good but when England scored the pub went crazy and then the 2nd goal that was dissallowed sent them out of control. Half time talk was all about the non goal and how the rules should be changed. The second half does not need to be discussed.

After the disappointing result we went back to the house to have a couple of drinks and dinner. With Jess nearly falling asleep in her food and the plane ride finally catching up with us we called it a day.... a day that England football would rather forget.

The flight from hell...

Jess here - reporting on our treacherous British Airways flight...

So.. when we wrote from Singpaore we were relatively happy. Qantas flight from Adelaide to Singapore was great (as great as any flight gets). We had 2 seats to ourselves, good food, watched some good movies and it went like a breeze.

This was not good preparation for the flight that was to come.. We boarded the BA flight, with Adam already slightly uncomfortable because the plane 'looks old' and has 'scuff marks'. We are seated at the very back of the plane (row 54) and as soon as we reach row 50, its like walking into a sauna. We were sweating, couldnt breathe and stripped off to minimal clothing. The plane was full, no chance of moving seats or spreading out. When we commented on the heat to the hostess, she agreed that she was hot too, "something not right with the aircon". Hmm, no joke.

As we took off, the pilot warned us there were some storms about. He was not lying. The entire plane shook violently for the first 4 hours of the flight. And we just rattled away in the sweaty hot box from hell.

After approximately 10 hours, we were served breakfast (spew on a plate). And I think this was also the first time they officially offered drinks. We did request a drink a couple of times earlier.. and were presented with half a cup of warm water.

British Airways... you suck!!

Regardless of this, we arrived at Heathrow alive and well, albeit somewhat dishevelled.. and as the sun rose over London we started to get excited. WE'RE HERE!!!

Up next: Adam with a report of Day 1 in London..

(forgot to add - we have an unwanted guest on this trip. A cold that has taken residence in Jessica's head. This added to the discomfort of the flight (3 packs of tissues!) and we are crossing fingers and toes that it doesnt stay around for long!!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


We made it through the first leg of the massive trip over.
Killing time. Bored.
Watched plenty of movies on the way here though.
Nothing to report as yet.
See you in London!!

We're off!

Welcome to our blog. The purpose: to document our 6 week jaunt around Europe.
We're off on the trip of a lifetime.. a pre-wedding honeymoon. (And hopefully we still like each other enough after 6 weeks to still get married!)

The itinerary looks a little something like this:
-England (London)
-Spain (Barcelona, Zaragoza, San Sebastian.. with a trip to Pamplona)
-France (5 days of random driving, 5 days in Paris)
-Greece (Paros & Santorini)
-Italy (Venice, Rome.. and wherever we end up in between)

Join us on the adventure... Check back for regular updates, travel highlights and pics.