Starting University

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Tomorrow I have my first day of uni ever.

I’m pretty excited ngl, but the nerves are starting to creep in a little bit. I went to two days of o-week, and that first bus ride and arriving at uni where I knew no-one and had no idea where to do (my uni is so big it has its own postcode), I felt like a year 7 again: lost and scared and lonely.

By day two of o-week, I felt a little bit more comfortable (still didn’t know anyone), but managed to fake being confident to at least talk to one or two people. I struggle a bit with meeting new people because I get all nervous and what if they think I’m ridiculous and do I smell???

But I’m learning (and it’s taken a damn long time) that a) everyone has thoughts like these at one time or another, b) lotsa people are in the same boat, and even though they look like they’ve known each other for forever, they’re probably just walking together because the footpath is narrow, and c), you travelled around the world for 4 months and met people and made friends there, uni friend-making should be a piece of cake.

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I know it won’t be easy – it’s just not something that comes so naturally to me – say, like writing or baking – but I feel more armed and ready to fake confidence and actually talk to people rather than standing in the corner people watching.

I am doing a bachelor of arts (aka bugger all), and my four subjects this semester are: bioethics, media and culture, human geography and journalism. I have no idea what my major and minor will be yet (and whether I’ll even enjoy these subjects); but it’s such a far cry from high school where we were basically forced to do certain subjects, that it’s just really nice having a real choice (so I’m mostly determined to like it on that factor).

As part of my 2017 resolutions (which you can read about here), one of my goals is to make more uni friends. So cheers to that! I’ve had a lot of the same friends since primary school and the beginning of high school, and don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I do want to meet new people and have new relationships and learn new things about said people and relationships.

interesting-to-friends

Other uni goals include:

  • Joining clubs (I’ve already joined debating, which I did in high school and have missed it for the past year). I also want to write for the uni magazine and there’s possibly some others (film club, creative writing club, linguistics club etc.), that I wanna check out.
  • Go to your bloody lectures because you know in your heart of hearts that you’re not going to sit and home and watch them and concentrate as much as you would in class. The recorded lectures and there as a backup!
  • Do your notes the same day as your lectures, because you will forget them, especially the finer (usually important) details. (I could never do this in high school, but because I’m typing notes during the lectures, I should be able to achieve this).
  • ASK FOR HELP WITH YOUR ESSAYS (and don’t ask at home, the can help, but they’re not the experts). I can write essays, but they take me forever, and I’ll probably have a breakdown somewhere between the second paragraph and the third (actually that’s a lie, it’s usually during planning somewhere); and there is so much help available at uni that I need to get over myself and just ask (and ask and ask) for help.
  • Have fun fun fun! I need to learn to balance uni and fun and actually relaxing and not feeling guilty while I’m relaxing (major year 12 flashbacks).

Here’s to me: loving (and sometimes hating) uni. May I make friends and learn new and interesting things everyday and whilst learning those new and interesting things, summarise my notes in my 5-subject notebook (that I bought today because I am unusually disorganised). Here’s to me probably missing a few buses (but not the important ones), and to not getting too lost on campus, and actually asking people for help when I need it. Here’s to living and having courage and enjoying uni and taking advantage of the things offered and joining clubs and – finally – graduating in 2019 with my degree in arts, with a yet undecided major.

cheers-house

(I miss House a lil)

 

 

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Read//Watch//Listen (7)

This is my first Read//Watch//Listen of 2017 (and also my first one since May last year…)

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READ

I am currently reading Adam Silvera’s new book More Happy than Not. I’m not super far into it (about 80 pages), but I’m enjoying it so far. The last book I finished was Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley) which was excellent and so very cute.

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I am still non-consistently writing (see: never), but I WROTE JUST OVER 1500 words the other day. This was quite an achievement because I think the last time I wrote something was last year sometime. At this rate, my novel is going to be finished in about 5 years.

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WATCH

Last night I watched the season (4) finale of How to Get Away With Murder, which wasn’t as cliffhanger-y as the last ones, but there was definitely one bit that was a bit of a shock (classic htgawm style). I still watch Greys and I still enjoy it!

I am also currently watching Homeland (trying to stave off watching them because I’ve only got 3 episodes left until I’m up to date and I don’t wanna wait, so this is my way of pretending not to). I am also watching Chicago: PD, Fire, Med (and Justice starts this week I think, so that’ll be added to my list). I watch Bones (which is sadly getting closer and closer to the end!); and am stockpiling This is Us for when I have nothing else to watch.

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Classic lines from This is Us

 

LISTEN

Despite me not seeing it yet, I am very must invested in the Moana soundtrack. I especially like How Far I’ll Go and Where you are and You’re Welcome. I’m very impressed with The Rock’s singing ability (I did not know he could sing), plus some of the songs are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and he is so extremely talented so his works are music (literally) to my ears. I really need to get my ass to the cinema to see it.

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What are you guys reading, watching and listening to?

 

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2016/2017 New Years Resolutions

These are my 2016 Resolutions (I wrote a list of 7 on my summary post last year), but on paper I handwrote (wow, what a concept!!), a full ‘official‘ list of 16 NY Resolutions:

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2016 NY Resolutions

  1. DRINK LESS JUICE
    – In the last couple of months this has been going downhill, but at the start of the year, I was a bit more vigilant. I would say ACHIEVED
  2. GET A JOB
    – I have a (pretty regular, proper) job (which I’m going back to on Tuesday after a nice long holiday). So, ACHIEVED
  3. GO TRAVELLING (OVERSEAS)
    – I went with my mom to South Africa and also went on a 4 month trip with my friend around Israel, Europe, London and Abu Dhabi. I did a series of 11 recaps if you want to see what I got up to and live vicariously through my travels (which is what I’ll be doing when I go back to work). ACHIEVED
  4. START/FINISH MY MODELLING NOVEL (OR WRITE AT LEAST 30K)
    – I did start it, but got nowhere near 30K – I wrote a grand total of 12,387 words this year, which is better than nothing but certainly not where I wanted to be. I’m not very good at consistently writing, and those words were probably done in a matter of days/weeks. This was NOT ACHIEVED, and will probably end up back on my 2017 list.
  5. READ 100 BOOKS
    – I only read 61 (same as last year!), so this was NOT ACHIEVED. I attribute my low(ish) number to the large amount of travelling that I did.
  6. SEE SOME FOREIGN FILMS
    – I went to a few JIFF (Jewish International Film Festival), so that ticked this off my NY resolutions list. I saw Fritz Bauer vs. the People, Anne Frank and False Flag. ACHIEVED
  7. SEE AT LEAST ONE CONCERT
    – I didn’t manage to get to a concert this year (so NOT ACHIEVED), but I am seeing Adele next year which I’m SO excited for!!!
  8. LOOK AFTER MYSELF
    – This will always be a goal (whether I write it down or not), but I think I ACHIEVED it this year. I tried my very best to be aware of how I was feeling, and then doing something about it, and not bottling everything up. I did things for me and not always for other people. I took precautions in my mental and physical health and worked hard to be self aware.
  9. LEARN/PRACTICE PHOTOSHOP AT LEAST 3 TIMES WEEKLY (IF POSSIBLE).
    – I worked sporadically on Photoshop throughout the year, but didn’t do it enough. SEMI-ACHIEVED
  10. LEARN HOW TO USE MY CAMERA PROPERLY
    – I have had my camera for way too long to not know all the ins and outs of it, but this year I did a little bit. Certainly not enough, but I know more than I did 1 year ago, and I plan to continue learning more. SEMI-ACHIEVED
  11. MAKE A CROQUEMBOUCHE
    – This has also been on my to-do list for the last 3 months, and I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. NOT ACHIEVED
  12. FINISH SUV
    – Still not there. I think I watched 1 episode this entire year? NOT ACHIEVED
  13. GET A NOSE PIERCING
    – Yep and I love it! ACHIEVED
  14. BE HAPPY
    – It was a year of ups and downs (as every year is), but I have ended it with a feeling of overall happiness. I travelled and laughed and cried this year and spent it doing thins for myself and for once, not feeling stressed out everyday. It was a good year. ACHIEVED
  15. WRITE IN HERE (JOURNAL) EVERYDAY
    – I wrote on an A5 piece of paper everyday from the beginning of year 12 to the middle of 2016 (the day before I left to go travelling). On my travels I recorded a travel diary everyday. When I got back, I didn’t pick up where I left off in my every-day diary. I think I needed it at the time, but now, I’m good! NOT ACHIEVED (but happier with that).
  16. WRITE >18 BLOG POSTS
    – I wrote a grand total of 23 posts this year, so ACHIEVED!

Overall I am very happy with my results – 8 achieved, 6 not achieved and 2 semi-achieved. It was a big year for me, physically, mentally and locationally. 2017 is my first year of uni, so I’m going to be focusing on that as well as the stresses and triumphs that come with it.

2017 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

  1. Read 100 books
  2. Get to 35K in my modelling novel (more achievable goal)
  3. Make a croquembouche
  4. Empty the read-and-then-donate bookshelf
  5. Make more/uni friends
  6. Be proud of my achievements
  7. Join uni clubs
  8. Finish The Woman’s Murder Club series of books
  9. Learn to sew
  10. Go on a road trip
  11. Do NaNoWriMo 2017!!
  12. Start a weekly/monthly segment on my blog
  13. Write more poems
  14. Write more short stories
  15. Learn the positions for volleyball
  16. Scrapbook

May 2017 be everything I want.

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Number Crunch (3)

2016 has been a big year. It was my first year in 13 years that I didn’t have school (or uni) commitments. I could almost do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and I spent a lot of time at the beginning doing just that. I loved the freedom that no routine brought, and during that time I learnt more about how I was as a person.

This year I’ve done a lot of travelling: I went to South Africa in April/May with my mom (to see family) and then went travelling for 4 months with my friend from July-November. My trip was incredible (I did a series of blog posts if you wanna read about it); and I can’t wait to go on the next one.

Being away from home for such an extended period of time with only Skype and Instant Message to keep in touch forced me to figure out how to manage with problems by myself. I think I became more confident overseas, and learnt more about myself as a person and how I interact with others.

Once again I have summed up my year using numbers. Have a look down below to see the number of books, films and TV shows I have spent too much time on this year:

BOOKS:
61 books in 2016 (same as last year!)
932 since I started recording in 2/3/2008

TOP 5: 
– Summer Skin (new favourite) – Kirsty Eager (I did a review on it – NOT spoiler free, so read at your own risk)
– Frankie – Shivaun Plozza (#loveOzYA represent!!)
– The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson
– Saint Anything – Sarah Dessen (My favourite Sarah Dessen so far <3)
– Pieces of Sky – Trinity Doyle (this has been on my TBR for about 2 years, and I finally read it and really loved it!)

  • Once again the books that I listed at the end of last year’s summary are still there for me to read (excluding Pieces of Me):
    – Carry On – Rainbow Rowell
    – Friday Brown – Vicki Wakefield
    – The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
  • I’m still behind on reading 2016 releases (as usual), but I went to the Centre for Youth Literature’s 2017 #YAshowcase, and heard about so many incredible 2017 releases. You can hear about my Top 5 (and Diem’s) from our Bookish Friends podcast episode where recapped the event.

MOVIES:
64 films overall (11 more than last year!)

TOP 5:
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (definitely my favourite of the year – hilarious, very clever and beautiful cinematography)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (I loved loved loved being back in the Harry Potter universe – with everything magic. The beasts were incredible and Eddie Redmayne as Newt was spectacular)

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La La Land (Excellent music, acting and storyline. It was so whimsical and lovely and I could watch it over and over (I have seen it twice and am listening to the soundtrack as I type this))
Standford Prison Experiment (If you get the chance to see this I highly recommend! It stars Ezra Miller and is based on a true story (from Wikipedia): “The Stanford Prison Experiment was an attempt to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison guards“)
False Flag (this was 8 episodes of a TV show shown back to back. I saw it at JIFF*, and it reminded me of HTGAWM – you didn’t know who was going to betray whom next. From Wikipedia: “It involves five ordinary Israelis who wake up one morning and discover that their names, faces, and personal details have been splashed across the world’s media on suspicion of involvement in a high-profile kidnapping.
Honourable mentions: Spotlight, The People Vs. Fritz Bauer and Room

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From Room

TV SHOWS:
Currently watching: 
Homeland
(Started already)Waiting to come back:
– Bones (one more season to go!),
– Please Like Me,
– How to Get Away with Murder,
– Chicago Med/PD/Fire,
– Sense8 (
The Christmas episode was excellent),
– Orange is the New Black,
– Marvel’s Jessica Jones,
– Grey’s Anatomy,
– This is Us (n
ewly started)
– Top of the Lake (newly started and finished, but apparently they’re making another season which is exciting!)
Waiting: Chicago Justice
Finished: House (finally!!) and Castle (where I wrote a thank you post to the show)
Need to finish: Winners and Losers

Next year I start uni, which I’m pretty excited for. I’m doing a Bachelor of Arts and my chosen subjects are: Human Geography, Media and Society, Bioethics and Journalism. They’re all English-arts related (which I love), and I’m so ready to start learning again.

Here’s to an excellent 2017!!!

 

 

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2016: a poem

We lost Willy Wonka, Snape and Mohammed Ali,
David Bowie, Prince, Dolly mag and Harper Lee.
There was Brexit, Trump elected and terror attacks –
Orlando and Bastille Day the worst of the acts.
Goodbye George Michael, Princess Leia, and Zsa Zsa Gabor,
Debbie Reynolds, Nancy Reagan and deaths from the war.

World wise, it’s been a bad year,
But personally, it’s way up there.
I travelled to Israel, Europe and the UK;
To Abu Dhabi and British Broadway.

Physically and mentally I battled the heat,
trying my best to care for my feet.
I managed (with the help of a few),
And (mostly) successfully made it through.

I saw sights and sounds I’d never before,
We ate till we were full and ate some more.
I cried and laughed and took so many snaps;
We were lost everyday and loved Google maps.

Travels aside, I discovered more of me,
Who I am as a person, what I’d like to be.
I chose my uni subjects, and I’m excited to start –
It’s a mix of what I like – a degree in ‘arts’.

2016, we have survived,
And ready or not, next year’s arrived;
We are armed and ready to go;
To live and party and dance and grow.

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Travel Update #11

The flight wasn’t delayed, the food was good and the whole thing relatively painless.

I had no seat in front of me and no-one next to me. I watched two and a bit movies: Now You See Me 2 (again), Money Monster (which wasn’t bad), and a little bit of Deadpool (which I had seen, and I knew I’d run out of time so I started it).

We got picked up from the airport by A’s aunt, L and her daughter, Av (A’s cousin). We drove to their (very nice) house, got the tour (and our own rooms!) And ate very delicious dinner (pho), made by T, the husband.

We chatted a bit with L and T and then I had a great shower and went to bed (a bit late, but my body was still on UK time).

Day #2 we used as a relaxing day. I woke up early, turned the air conditioning on and then went back to sleep.

I woke up at about 9.45, chatted to the family, had breakfast and then used up a few hours by doing not much (the internet seems to suck up time like no-body’s business).

I had 2 flatbreads, a boiled egg and hummus for lunch.

T took A and I for a drive around the island, showing us the main sights of the city.

It was super weird not to see people walking around – it seemed quite barren and lonely. I’m not sure if there were no people because of the weather (although there’s people walking around in Melbourne weather like this), or the places we were driving.

We picked the kids up from school and came back to the house. I did some hand washing and wrote a little bit (something that might be coming up here soon).

L came back from work and I joined her and A downstairs. We chatted for a bit and then had Sheppard’s pie, with sides of broccoli and cabbage, for dinner. It was really good!

L and Av follow the UK X-Factor so we watched it after dinner. We ate some lemon and like cheesecake, made by Av, which was really good! We also watched multiple Leona Lewis videos, courtesy of L’s love for her.

Showered and went to bed (late again).

Day #3, had a little bowl of gross cereal and a piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast.

T took A and I to the shops – we needed an ATM and a pharmacy. We got what we needed and wandered into the supermarket to look around.

Suddenly loud music starts playing over the PA system. We find the source – members of staff had choreographed dances as a celebration for their 21st anniversary. We watched for a bit, found T and then went back.

For lunch I had flatbread, hummus and olives.

Packed my bag, got ready and left. One minute in, T asks us what we’re wearing in our feet (thongs and sandals) – and he says to do quad biking, we need closed shoes. We turn around, race back inside and grab what we need.

He drops us off by the bus – and we find our leader – Glycer. She was a very excitable and happy person.

We spend the next 2.5 hours picking people up and driving towards the place.

When we arrive, Glycer gives us a quick rundown of all the activities we can do and we’re off!

First things first: we pour karak tea, get a free soft drink out the fridge (I have sprite); and then I sit down to get henna-ed.

My henna!

We chatted while it dried and then it’s our turn for the dune bashing, aka sitting in the back of a 4×4 whilst being driven through the dunes like a maniac.

We stopped on one of the high dunes for sunset photos.

The dunes at sunset

Me on the dunes at sunset

It was fun, although the combination of the heat and the constant turning (kinda like a rollercoaster), made me feel a bit sick.

Once we arrived back, we had more tea, and sat down for a falcon show.

They had a dead/fake (not sure), falcon tied to a fishing rod; and they rode a (live) falcon on a quad bike to the top of a high dune.

The man below – with the fishing rod falcon, starting waving it about and making noise. The live falcon flew to try and catch it. They’re pretty incredible birds: very swift and skilled and determined.

Falcon with cute hood!!!

Me holding the falcon ((with some others))

Next, we were going to go quad biking, but had to wait for a group of annoying Irish girls.

Instead we went sand surfing. It took us a little bit of time to find (because it was pitch black), but we eventually spotted the board (over the hill from the camel poo).

A went first and it was so slow. But he’d essentially made a path for me, so mine was fun, especially at the end. It was a bit of a struggle to climb back up the steep dune with this heavy board in my hand.

Next stop: quad bikes! They were super fun!! We rode up and down the dunes in the darkness, with only headlights to see about 1.5m in front of us. I accidentally went down a steeper dune – the quad bike was a bit nose first for my liking but it managed and I didn’t fall off!

QUAD BIKING!

Post quad biking, we had dinner, sitting on traditional cushions outside.

For dinner, there was a range of things, but I had little bits of: hummous, baba ganoush (so good!), fried noodles, tandoori chicken, battered fish, beef, yellow rice, vegetarian curry, pickled salad (with pickles) and Greek salad.

For dessert was this liquid with what tasted like bread and raisins and apple (cooked) in it. It was quite nice, except the liquid was very sweet.

Post dinner, we all sat around a big screen in the desert and drank karak tea (passed out by then this time), and watched a short video on how the UAE came to be etc.

Then we were invited to sit in a traditional tent (reminded me of the Bedouin tents in Israel).

Selfie in traditional seating area

We were bussed back to the drop off point and took a taxi back.

Day #4, I chatted to my sister for a bit and once again had peanut butter on toast for breakfast.

At about 11, we left the house – I had my bathers on and my phone and wallet in a Ziploc bag: we were going kayaking!

T dropped us off, we got life jacket-ed up, and the four of us (A, myself and a German couple) – plus our leader (Ernesto), were off!

We kayaked for about an hour and a half straight. It was pretty fun, although I bumped into everything and everyone, especially in the narrow channels.

I managed to get water everywhere, so by the end, I wasn’t only wet, but very salty as the water has a very high salt content.

Part of where we kayaked

T fetched us, and we went back to the house, via picking up his kids from school.

Once back, I chatted to my parents for a bit and then A and I went to the compound pool. I was feeling lazy and just lounged in the warm, but shallow pool.

Post pool, we went back (the long way), and showered and cleaned up from all the salt (and now chlorine).

We left the house at just past 6 and taxied to our destination:a Guy Fawkes celebration.

As a snack, we shared popcorn and chips (crisps), and then were moved, saying the fireworks were going to start. Forty minutes and a Sprite later, they did. They were quite incredible and I’d never seen some of the firework designs and noises that went off.

Fireworks #1

Fireworks #2

Post fireworks, A and I chatted to L and T, and then we had the ‘BBQ’ dinner: steak and chicken and Asian noodles and rice and potato gratin and corn and broccoli and bean salad and coleslaw and gravy.

We chatted for a bit more, and then at about 10.30 we left. A and I taxied home with L and T went with his children and the friend.

I had a headache from the sun and not drinking enough and my lenses being in for too long so I went to bed pretty quickly.

Day #5, peanut butter toast for breakfast (again).

I m didn’t do much in the morning, and at 12pm we left the house and Rove to the shops.

There, we bought lunch and snacks.

From the shops, we drove to the marina and sat in the members lounge whilst we waited for the boat (Mariah) to be refuelled.

Once it was ready, we all got in and we were off!

We had a very choppy section of water to begin with: lots of jumping up and down in the boat. We boated along the Corniche –  the left side of the island.

Cityscape across the water

We stopped the boat and ate our (pie) lunch – I had a steak pie that was very delicious.

We floated around a little, then headed towards Al Maya Island through one of the scariest/choppiest sections of water. It was like being on an insane rollercoaster and there was definitely a bit of fear there!

We arrived at the island and it was gorgeous! The boat was anchored and the kids (and a friend), and L, and A and I jumped off the boat. We swam around for ages – and covered the friend in sand (and pretended she was pregnant/having a baby); and helped M make a sand mansion.

Nose of the boat//island

We all then climbed back into the boat and ate the snacks we bought: sea salt lindt chocolate, billtong, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, olives, stuffed bell peppers, Cheetos (it was my first time trying them and they’re too spicy!), Fritos and artichokes.

Selfie on the boat

At 5pm/sunset, we tried to leave but the boat wouldn’t start! We tried again and again and eventually it turned on.

The path back was less rocky, and once back at the marina, we got off the boat, into the car and drove home.

For dinner, we had takeaway Indian: butter chicken, lamb Rogan josh, onion balls (I always forget the name but they’re so good), chickpea curry (so good), naan, roti and rice.

After dinner, we watched Tallulah – a film with Ellen Page and Allison Janney about a young girl that kidnaps a baby. It was quite good.

Another headache, another early(ish) night.

Day #6, L very kindly made us crepes do breakfast and I had mine with nutella and banana.

Crepes for breakfast!

I chilled and packed in the morning, and then L took A, Av, M and I to the top of the Etihad Towers.

Foyer of the Etihad Tower

It was very beautiful with all the sand and buildings and water.

View from the top

View from the top #2

We shared 3 cakes and had a drink each.

L-R: cheesecake, honey cake and caramel grand opera cake.

Red Velvet mocktail: strawberry and peach puree with fresh fruit

Post Etihad Towers, we went to Manarat and saw an exhibition about the development of Saadriyat.

We weren’t there for long, and drove from there to Emarat Park for the markets and food stalls.

Emarat Food Stalls

We walked along the craft stalls and I bought a cutesie chameleon felt pin for myself.

For dinner we had SALT burgers and chips. I had one of each kind of burger – L and I swapped.

Burger 1 – waygu beef, jalepenos, lettuce + brioche bun//Burger 2 – waygu beef, pickles, cheese and a brioche bun

We drove home, and watched Dear Frankie, a beautifully done film about a kid who receives fake letters from his father (written by his mother).

Day #7 (last day!!), I had yoghurt and banana and bits and honey for breakfast, dressed, packed my bag and our car arrived.

It took about an hour and a half to get to Duabi, and once there we wandered around for a bit trying to find the Gold Souk.

A was convinced it was the area we were in, but I thought it’d be more market-y. Turned out I was right when we eventually found it!

Apparently it’s all real (and reallll ugly)

We did the Gold Souk, continually being harassed – ‘Want a copy bag or watch? Louis Vuitton and Chanel?’ – where I bought a small bowl for my friend and beautiful Picasso-esque pillowcase (where I haggled and got the price way down).

The guys were both super annoying and kept asking if we wanted more more more.

Essential utensils

We walked to the Spice Souk (where, on the way, some guy heard up talking about trying to find it and led us there – but it wasn’t the souk, it was his store).

Pretty spices!!

After more annoying men, we took the abra (wooden boat) across the water and did the Old Dubai Souk, with the most annoying men of them all: those who put scarves on you.

They held onto one side because I had the idea to just walk off with them (instead I angrily shrugged it off).

For lunch, we went to a recommended restaurant: Bayt Al Wakeel.

I had a strawberry juice and mixed sambosek (mixed savoury pastries with cheese or spinach or meat in them) for lunch.

Strawberry juice

The sambosek were just a starter and I wanted something else, so I ordered the mixed Arabic pickles.

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Mixed sambosek

Lo and behold, it turns out THEY WERE NOT PICKLES, BUT PICKLED CARROTS AND PARSNIPS which were absolutely terrible terrible. I shoved some down, but couldn’t do more (and was in mourning for potential pickles).

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NOT PICKLES

We left, and I bought overpriced, but yummy camel milk ice-cream (because when in Dubai and also to cheer myself up after the non-pickles) and we abra-ed back to the first side.

We managed to find our way back to the main road (via A buying a bowl for himself), but we couldn’t find the shop we were meant to meet our driver at. We called him and walked around and called him again – eventually we found him! Turns out we went the wrong way at the crossroads – right instead of left.

Our driver drove us to Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the entire world with over 1200 shops. Insane, and definitely unnecessary (but we were there, so why not?!).

First stop: the aquarium! There is an aquarium – complete with a shark – in the shopping centre. Across from here, there is a rad and very delicious lolly store called Candylicious with incredible popcorn (Garrett’s), and sweets from every place you can think of. They also had the largest Hershey’s Chocolate, weighing at 2.26kg!!

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Me at the aquarium inside the shopping centre!

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Candylicious speaks true words!

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Section of Candylicious

We walked around for a bit: to Muji and Gallery One (super nice art store), and West Elm and past all the super fancy unaffordable shops. We saw the ice-rink, and the waterfall with the really cool sculptures.

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The waterfall and the diving sculptures (also inside the shopping centre!!)

We sat in the food court for a break, and then went outside to see the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world!! It was quite impressive (and hard to get the whole thing in a photo).

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The Burj Khalifa

Once back inside, we went to the supermarket and I bought some Karak Tea sachets, and walked around a bit more. At 5.40pm, we went outside to wait for the fountains to start dancing. It was a bit hard to find a place, but at 6pm, all the fountains started dancing to loud music! It was pretty cool and quite beautiful.

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Dancing fountains

We squished our way through the crowds of people to go back inside and went back to Muji and West Elm for potential T and L presents. On the way to Galeries Lafeyette, A thought to get them Garrett’s popcorn, which I thought was a great idea. We went back to Candylicious and bought the popcorn (I wish I could’ve bought but they didn’t sell small packets and I was leaving the next day).

We went back to Waitrose, where I bought a zataar bread as a snack and flowers for T and L. We met our driver in the parking lot and drove back to the house. Paid and thanked him, and gave T and L their presents.

For dinner, we had really good lamb stew that T made us, and I said goodbye to Maddy. Av, L, A and I tried to watch the X-Factor (but it wasn’t working), so we watched Carpool Karaoke videos instead and Pink Panther clips. I said goodbye to L and Av and A and I drank Karak tea.

On my last day, A and I walked to the mosque in the morning – where I had borrowed L’s abiyah to cover up, and I had a sarong to cover my head. The mosque was incredibly beautiful and we were also allowed to go into the prayer room (not sure if it’s used) – to look at the stunning walls and floors and beams.

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Mosque from the outside

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Dressed for the mosque!

We taxi-ed back, and I finalised packing (aka stuffing my sarong in my bag), ate lunch and was dropped at the airport. A and I said a quick goodbye (and of course took photos).

I went through easily, and waited on the other side for a bit.

My plane flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha was 38 minutes – the stupidest plane flight I have ever been on (not even enough time to watch a movie – but I did start The Secret Life of Pets).

Doha Airport was incredibly boring (plus my phone was dying and none of the chargers were working). I did get a response from A (whom I’d written a letter to saying thanks etc.), which made me cry in the middle of the airport.

I bought hot chips at the only restaurant there (other places included a tiny duty free and a cafe and that’s it), and then spent way too long surrounded by small children whilst I was waiting.

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Good hot chips!

We had our bags scanned as we went through. I was unfortunately in a middle seat, but still managed to sleep (for 5 hours!!!) and watch a ton of movies. I finished The Secret Life of Pets, and watched: Bad Moms, The Shallows and Aquamarine. I also watched about 40 minutes of Deadpool.

My bag took forever to come through, border security was way easier than I thought it would be, and my parents were there to pick me up! After all that flying, I was very excited to be back home.

We took some time to find the car, but eventually located it, and drove home. Happy to see my sisters and my dog and my guinea pig!

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My sisters and her friends made me a sign

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Travel Update #10

​Of course our plane was delayed. We were meant to originally take off at 8.15, then 8.35 and then 8.45. We eventually got on the plane, with everyone seated around 8.50; taxied down the runway and sat there for about 15 minutes. So we ended up being an hour delayed. 

Sad to be leaving mainland Europe

The reason? On the plane flight prior to ours, a man had become so unwell that they had to turn the plane around, drop him off and come all the way back.

We arrived at the airport, where we had to take an15 minute bus ride to the terminal, where we found our bags easily (and very quickly). We took an underground (our first!!!) to Acton, where we changed to another Piccadilly branch and underground-ed to South Harrow.

The people we’re staying at – F&G – my mom’s friends, came to pick us up at South Harrow tube station – which was super nice of them, as it was quite late! 
We only got home around 12.10am (1.10am in our still-on-Europe-time brains), where we were given a quick run down and then threw ourselves into bed.

The next morning was slower: had Cheerios and banana for breakfast, chatted to my mom and only turn set out.

We loaded an (atrociously expensive) Oyster card, and took the tube to King’s Cross Station – where we stood in the line for Platform 9 3/4. 

They take professional photos of you (which you can then buy for all for savings); and A took photos of me too. His photos of me didn’t turn out very well (blur city) – so we’ll go back sometime to take some more.
We grabbed lunch – I had a very yummy chicken satay salad; and then we took a train to Buckingham Palace. It was cool to see Lizzie’s residence, but I was expecting something much grander (and have seen throughout Europe).

Lizzie B’s house aka Buckingham Palace

We walked to Big Ben (via Hyde Park where there were so many cute squirrels); and the clock tower was (surprisingly) excellent! 

Very beautiful design on the clock tower and the connected buildings. We also saw and walked past Westminster Abbey – we didn’t go in as the line was super long and I am a little sick of churches.

Big Ben!

We walked across the Thames for more photos of Big Ben, and then walked to Trafalgar Square, which sadly was undergoing preparation for the Olmypic Parade. I went into a Waterstones bookstore and Tesco Express (where I bought an egg and cress sandwich) instead. 

Big Ben across the Thames

We tubed to Piccadilly Circus and went on musical playing see-saws! Every time the bottom would hit the ground, it would make a ding sound. It was fun!
We went into the Nickelodeon store (bit childlike) and the MnM store which was epic!! So many (overpriced) MnM souvenirs – from cups to pajamas to packs of special MnMs. 

There’s a self serve section, where I poured some dark chocolate peanut MnMs into my bag (too much of course, because those things come out bloody fast!). I was able to dispose of the ones I didn’t one in a bag held by a staff member. I also got 2 white coloured (with milk chocolate) peanut MnMs. 

Along Piccadilly Circus, we went into too many souvenir stores and bought nothing. 

We tubed and walked back home, where we relaxed for a little bit and then had supper. F had cooked really good flat noodles with beef strips and stirfried vegetables. For dessert we had a fruit salad. A and I also met her kids – E and J, who I hadn’t seen in about 12 years!
We chatted to F after dinner, and had an early night (like the grandmothers we are).
Day #2, we woke up super early (7am) to get ready for our trip to the Tower of London (which had kept coming up as the recommended thing to do in London). 
We arrived at about 9.20 (opened at 9); where We bought tickets and promptly rushed to the Crown Jewels. There was no line! 
The Crown Jewels were quite incredible (no photos of course); and we did the travellator twice so we could view them in their beauty again.

We explored the rest of the castle: from medieval torture devices, to prisoners’ writing on the walls; to the royal mint, animals that were once kept inside the castle and various loving quarters of various royals.

Incredible wire sculptures that tied in with the animals that used to be kept on sight.

Writing on the wall

We also watched a changing of the guards, saw an exhibit on royal medals, and walked through the tower’s grounds.

Up close to a fluffy hatted guard!

Tower grounds

Post the tower tour, we walked along the river, and found a good view of the London Tower bridge.

The Tower of London Bridge

We walked along the bridge (which took us a while to figure out how to do as a lot of the entrances were blocked due to construction). On our way to figuring it out, we accidentally walked into a construction site and bought snacks from Tesco.

We ate lunch sitting on the banks in the wind/overcase sky that looked like it was going to saturate us in seconds. When we finished lunch (sandwiches we’d made), I relaxed while Asher explored further down.

When he came back, we decided that a) it was too late to go back to F&G’s and then come back for West End, and b) we needed somewhere to shelter.

We also wanted somewhere with shops (for potential present shopping), and a nice cafe. So we chose the obvious choice: a shopping centre. We used maps.me to find the closest one (30 minute walk), and off we went.

Had an impromptu tourist photo shoot on the way.

Posing inside like the tourist I am.

It was the dodgiest and worst ‘shopping centre’ I have ever been to. Cracked windows, and two ‘shops’ that both sold waist trainers and underwear with fake butts in them. We got out of there asap and took the tube to Victoria station.

We accidentally took a round trip and ended up back at dodgecity, but we hauled ass and moved as fast as we could to the right place.

We plopped into the first cafe, where A napped and I twiddled with my phone, pretending to think about ordering. I was clearly doing a terrible job, but I think the lady thought something was wrong with A (I mean he was sleeping in a cafe), because she left us alone.

He did have a coffee (where she asked if he was okay when he ordered); and then we walked around the streets to kill more time.

For dinner, we had gourmet chicken burgers from Burger King (which is way better than Hungry Jacks), and shared Nando’s Peri Peri chips (which was a lil exciting because they don’t have Nando’s in Europe).

W I C K E D !

A bought another espresso (he was sick and tired) to shot just before the show. We waited in the foyer of the Apollo Theatre for 10-15 minutes and went in at 7. The show started just after 7.30 and it was incredible !!

The actress who plays Elphaba had the most insane singing voice and when she sang Defying Gravity it was bloody insane!! 

The whole plot line of Wicked was super cool and it’s definitely made me see the Wizard of Oz in a completely different light. The rest of the cast were incredibly brilliant as well.

I was so captivated, I barely ate any of my Malteasers!

It was a bit of a struggle to get back as we were so tired. But, we made it, and slept very well that night!

Day #3 was an early, but not super early morning. I had Marmite (!) on my toast for breakfast and attempted to move the photos off my phone onto a USB via laptop but it wasn’t working, so I sent them via Facebook message to my sister who saved them for me.

We fast walked to the bus stop where we had to scrape together cash because it didn’t take Oyster or card. We changed buses about 35 minutes in.

Over the hump: HARRY POTTER WORLD !!!

We ran from the bus stop to the ticket office to pick up our tickets because we thought we were late, but it was a session starting between 10.30 and 11, not at 10.30. All that running for nothing!

But it was absolutely incredible and so very surreal. I have watched and read all the Harry Potters multiple times; I remember so clearly the countdown for the sale of the final book and when I went dressed as Hermione for the viewing of the final film. 

The tour was insane and brilliant and incredibly creative and clever and so damn detailed and here are so many photos from the day (in order of viewing):

Dursley family photos

The cupboard under the stairs

Part of the great feast (in filming there was some real food, but it started going yucky, so they made a lot of it out of resin).

The sorting hat!!!

L-R: Mcgonagall, Dumbledore #1, Snape

Evanna Lynch handmade the radish earrings and the bracelet with the rabbit charm (front, middle)

Costumes!!

Gryffindor boys dorm

Potions classroom (which was incredible!!)

Mirror of Erised!

Dumbledore’s office

Fun fact: they made two of the gargoyles that guard Dumbledore’s office (and they are massive) – a stationary one, and one that actually moved in a spiral!

This mechanically moved and worked and wasn’t CGI!!

The Weasley Burrow! Complete with the self-knitting knitting needles!!

The Black Family tapestry with burnt Sirius 😦

Excellent EXCELLENT characterisation in her ooffie

“Might is magic”: the statue from the ministry (real sized!)

The last costumes

GENIUS designers and incredible attention to detail!!

A and I have tried so many times to make butterbeer, and here was the ‘real’ thing. We had to try it! It tasted like creaming soda and marshmallow fluff – pretty good!

Number 4 Privet Drive: where it all began

Going on the Knight Bus!

Dudley true to form

Diagon Alley!!

Fun fact: there’s a guy working here that was a death eater in the film. He told us that a) lots of the wands were made of resin, and b), they had LEDs on the end so when they were having epic wand battles, it could be seen who was casting what spell etc, and they would just match the LED colour to the spell/wizard casting it in editing.

They made to scale cardboard models of everything. They were beautifully crafted and so detailed!

A to scale Hogwarts they used for filming some parts

I can’t explain how big the Hogwarts was, but it was surprisingly large (I mean they did have to get cameras through there); and a perfect replica of actual Hogwarts. They filmed at both locations’ and overlapped footage, and well as using them individually.

The shop had every sort of merch you could imagine plus Fantastic Beasts stuff (which isn’t even out yet). I bought an Undesirable #1 postcard.

We got back, packed, had chilli con carne and rice for dinner and were ready for bed.

Day #5, we left nice and early (kindly dropped at the station by G). Waited 10 minutes, got on the train, went four stops and then our train was terminated. Moved to another train, which was terminated after one stop! Finally got on the tube which took us (with no more interruptions), to where we needed to be.

We got on our bus. Our first stop was about 2 hours 45 minutes in. We had a stretch and used the bathroom. After that, we got so very stuck. There had been an accident on the M6 (a major motorway), so everything was being diverted to the M56. I think we spent over an hour barely moving. 

On the bus, I mostly listened to music, did some writing and cringed at two extremely drunk/gross girls behind us who would not shut up.

We finally turned around, stopping to let people off, but we didn’t get a break. At Lancaster, we split into two buses and we went straight to Kendal. 
We finally got there (over an hour late), and used Subway’s free WiFi and the helpful worker there to find our hostel.

Turns out A had booked for November instead of October, but the lady was lovely and said she had room for us tonight, and we’d work out tomorrow tomorrow. He’d booked the wrong month for all our subsequent hostels, so we cancelled and then rebooked Edinburgh and he looked at Chester accommodation.

We walked to Tesco for food – I bought eggs for breakfast and a packaged lamb rogan josh. Warmed it up in the microwave – it was actually quite good!!

Day #6, I made myself a perfect omletter for breakfast (of course worthy of a photo).

Omlette!!

We walked around Kendal, visiting the markets that were on. We went past and stroked some owls, and bought 2 mintcakes (Kendal is famous for them, and they taste like pure mint with the consistency of hard fudge).

Pretty owls!

I also bought a Mowgli and elephant poster from an op shop, a card (also from an op shop), and a Rolo milkshake.

Rolo milkshake

We took a bus to Windermere (the next town), and walked up to the Offest lookout. When we got up there my camera wouldn’t work, so I was a little sad about that.

View from the top of the Offest lookout

We walked down, and then towards the promenade, stopping and shopping at stores along the way. I bought a Daim (which we had been looking for everywhere and finally found in the Lake District of all places) – and it was really good; and two rings! I had been looking for rings throughout the whole trip, and of course I found them at a Windermere tourist info.

We went out for lunch (after looking at all the stores because I wanted a pie but we didn’t see any). 

Lunch: toasted chicken sandwich with salad and chips (with mayo and vinegar!!)

We bussed back, collected our bags and my eggs from our hostel and walked to our inn ‘bnb’.

We had Subway for dinner (I had chipotle chicken). 

When we were booking, we had been warned that there would be a disco, but not to worry we wouldn’t be able to hear anything. 

Everything was as clear as day, and the entire floor vibrated with the music and karaoke. 

We drew the banana that I bought and I started a face (there was no internet).

Day #7, we showered and had breakfast (banana with passionfruit yoghurt), and walked to the Kendal Castle (ruins). 

The ruins were quite pretty AND my camera worked so that was good!

Kendal Castle ruins

Kendal Castle and surrounding view

We walked back down, went back to the inn, finished packing, checked out, paid, and walked to the train station.

We trained to Oxenholme (6 minutes away); changed trains and sat for 2 hours. I listened to music, napped and ate food.

Our hostel was easy to find and we were staying in the Hogwarts dorm – I was in the Snape bed!

We internetted a bit, and then went for late lunch: I had a steak shoulder pie and an apple custard lattice for dessert.

Steak shoulder pie

We walked back via the touristy shops – lots of fudge, whisky, kilts and scotties.

Back at the hostel, I drank (free) hot chocolate and browsed the internet for dinner recipes. I decided on nothing, but went to the shops anyway.

I walked to the further but larger Tesco (via an op shop where I bought 99p photo stickers).

I bought dinner ingredients and snacks, walked back to the hostel (in the rain and dark), watched some Narcos and made dinner.

I fried potato, sweet potato and mushroom rings in paprika, oil and salt; stacked them up in small stacks and put cheese slices between them. They were still hot so the cheese melted and they were actually quite good! 

Chatted to a Welshman and some Americans, had 2 more hot chocolates (free powder is dangerous), messed around on the internet and went to bed.

Day #8, I had an omlette with basil and cheese for breakfast with baby tomatoes on the side (and a hot chocolate of course!)

Walked to Pandora to (finally) get a present for A’s cousin (we’ve been looking for about three months) and then walked to the Holyrood Palace to see the Abbey.

Turns out you can’t just see the abbey, and I wasn’t that interested so I waited outside whilst A went in.

Took a bus from there to Mound Street, and on the bus we chatted to a very friendly Scottish lady. Walked 5 minutes from the stop and took photos of the castle. Pretty, but not incredible.

We walked back to the hostel, where I had my 5 leftover stacks for lunch (and used the internet).

We set off for Tiger (shop with little bits and bobs), so ready to complete our present buying and they had nothing! We walked out a bit sad and I remedied this with getting a chicken pie from Gregg’s for lunch.

We went to the Museum of Childhood Toys, which was cute; and to a mini market with jewellery and souvenirs. We also went to Blackwell’s, a huge and great bookstore.

Walked back to the hostel, and lay in front of the fire, drying my socks and listening to podcasts.

We went out for dinner at an Irish pub and I had friend haddock and chips, which was really tasty!

Fried haddock and chips with coleslaw and tartare sauce

For dessert, we shared a fried mars bar, which was as great and as over the top as you can imagine.

Fried Mars Bar and ice cream with sauce

Day #9, we had a slower morning. I made a scrambled egg for breakfast and the hostel made free pancakes so I had 2 of those.

Walked to Princes Street and to the very pretty gothic monument there.

We walked along the street, going into various clothes stores and trying things on. I bought 2 pairs of fingerless gloves.

For lunch, we bought pastries from Marks and Spencer: a cheese twist and a Belgian chocolate twist. We had bought a ton of shortbread so we had a piece each.

We continued along the street and went into Sainbury’s – where we bought chocolate for F&G and I tried a Lion chocolate bar. 

Walked back to the hostel, checked cinema times, walked to the cinema and saw Doctor Strange. It was quite excellent!

Walked back via Sainsbury’s and bought snacks and lunch and dinner for my long bus ride. 

Boiled eggs back at the hostel and saw that my baby tomatoes had been eaten! Some of my cheese had also been eaten (but I saved the rest and write my name all over the packaging). I definitely won’t miss hostel fridges!

Went to an Asian restuatant for dinner and had satay chicken with noodles, green capsicum and bean sprouts. Was yum! On the way back I bought a Subway cookie.

Walked back to the hostel, packed and had hot chocolate with shortbread. Last night in a hostel! 

A left early the next morning and I took my time: had eggs for brwkafast and packed my bag. Checked out and even waited a bit before leaving (because why not wait with the internet instead of at a bus station).

In a classic Lauren move, with both verbal and mapped instructions, I got lost. I had offline Google Maps but it doesn’t seem to give me walking instructions and when I’m walking through Scottish alleyways, driving instructions don’t suffice.

It was super stressful but I got there 5 minutes later than I was meant to (only 10 minutes before the bus arrived, instead of 15), BUT the bus wasn’t even there yet.

Finally got on, settled in etc.

It was one of the longest and worst bus rides ever. There was nothing specifically wrong, it was just never-ending and when we arrived, we were an hour and a half late. I got to walk back in the dark. Not yay!

Day #11 was arts n culture and I took myself to the Tate Modern, via the Sainsbury’s to buy a panini, a tiny packet of peanut butter and a peanut and chocolate bar. I made up and ate the sandwich on the train platform.

On the way to the Tate, I went into a watercolour gallery.

Watercolour #1

Watercolour #2

The Tate was incredible and so many free exhibits! Melbourne, get on spreading your art and culture freely throughout society!

Monet’s waterlillies!!!

Selfie in front of Gerhard Richter

Halfway through I ate some overpriced English mustard and black pudding crisps from the cafe.

Andy Warhol

Guerilla Girls (they were AWESOME!)

Media and consumption

A woman’s schedule

After the Tate, I walked across the Blackfriars Bridge, bought some caramelised nuts and took photos of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Caramelised nuts

Shakespeare’s Globe and Blackfriars Bridge

I walked back across, to another tube station and tubed across to Charing Cross. 

I went to the National Portrait Gallery, where I accidentally escalated into the floor with the tudors portraits (cool but I wanted modern); and moved down to the modern floor (some of which was closed for a private event).

I walked to the Milk Train Cafe, where I actually lined up for the ice-cream/fairy floss combo! 

Happy me and Milk Train!!


I tuned home, got stuck between two stations for about 15 minutes and had leftovers (chicken curry and ravioli) for dinner.

Day #12, I had vague notions of going to more galleries, but F offered for me to come with her to Tesco and it was more appealing. The gallery I wanted to go to sounded awesome, but I was tired and needed a break from the go go go.

I walked around Tesco while she did the shopping – it had clothes, books, electronics and of course, food.

After we were done, she took me on a driving tour of the neighbouring suburbs (Radlett and Shenley). We stopped in Radlett and went to a bookshop that we browsed. It smelt nice.

F took me out for lunch to a restaurant attached to a theatre, and whilst our food was taking forever to come, she got a phone call: the mechanic – where was she? 

F had an appointment she’d forgotten about, so she dashed off to take the car home, drop it off and take the other one.

I ate my very delicious haloumi salad whilst she was gone.

My haloumi salad

She came back with J, her son, and a crisis: she couldn’t find her phone, even though she’d used it to call me on the way.

They finished lunch and I used my phone to call hers – eventually we found it underneath the car, on the concrete! If she’d reversed, she would’ve crushed it.

F dropped J at home, and took herself and me to the local shopping strip. She did her own shopping and so did I.

I mostly went into op shops (and some real shops) and bought: a FRIENDS ps2 game, a romper, a donut (strawberry) and glue dots from Hobby Craft (which is like Spotlight and dangerous to my wallet).

I walked back, and for dinner we had chicken curry and rice with fruit salad for dessert.

A came back that night.

Day #13, A, E (the daughter), and I went to Camden Market!

Iconic!

We shopped around for four hours, and mostly just bought food. For snack, I had a toffee covered and filled cronut. 

Crazy cronut!!

For lunch I had a ruben bagel, with salted brisket, cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It was quite good!

The v good ruben!

For dessert, after I’d digested a little, I had an ice cream sandwich: red velvet biscuits with raspberry shortcake ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

Ice cream sandwich!

We separated from Emma at the tube station and A and I tubed to King’s Cross Station, where we redid my (previously blurry) photos at Platform 9 3/4.

We then tubed to Harrods which was bloody crazy!!

HARRODS

It has everything you could ever imagine: pastries, jewellery (about 7 different sections), groceries, poultry, fish, clothes, bed and bathroom accessories, books, toys, cafes and more! We did most of the floors before we took our exhausted selves back to the tube.

Colourful cauliflower and cool broccoli!!

A left me in Leicester Square because he went to see Aladdin. I tuned and walked back to the house.

For dinner, we had challah (!! haven’t had it in ages); salmon, baby carrots, beans, leftover zucchini and broccoli and broccoli and cauliflower cheese bake.

Last full day! Woke up early, but clocks had changed overnight, so I slept for a little while longer.

Tubed to Kentish town, where we got the Northern Line to Leicester Square, and walked to Covent Gardens (via buying a hot chocolate).

I was expecting some sort of greenery (and the classic cobblestones), but there was nothing park like about it!

We walked around the markets and shops, listening to the street performers as we we passed (and trying 12/10 hot chocolate at Whittard).

Camden Market markets

We walked to Hamleys, which was insane! Toy wonderland, including a Harry Potter and lolly section!!

Royal Lego

We walked back towards Covent Gardens, via lunch: We shared bangers and mash – ‘chard’ mash (cheese, chives and milk), and 3 mint sausages.

I had been saying just before I felt like a sausage (and the likelihood of finding any, or a non pork one was so low, and then we stumbled upon this place!

We had to keep room for our favourite ice-cream: Venchi!! We’d had it a few times in Italy, (and hadn’t seen it since); and it was the perfect way to end the Europe leg.

White chocolate with salted huts and creamy hazelnut

We bought flowers for F & G and tubed back and packed (easier than I thought it would be, but still a pain). 

We forgot to draw money for a taxi, so G drove us to an ATM to get some (we were dressed in mostly pajamas with coats on top because everything else was packed).

I’m honour of us leaving, F & G made roast beef, sweet potatoes, normal baby potatoes, parsnip and gravy. We had fruit salad for dessert. Everything was super good!!

We chatted a bit and said our goodbyes.

A and I had a relatively early night and woke up at 3.30am. We finalised packing, got our taxi and got to the airport way quicker than expected (we were almost 4 hours early).

We accidentally stood in the wrong queue for a bit, but then moved across and everything went smoothly.

We are now waiting to board a flight which will symbolise the end of our Europe (mainland or otherwise), leg!

The last post will be me summarising Abu Dhabi and heading home. Until then!

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Travel Update #9

I’d heard about GRÜNAU’s beauty and Gerhard’s caring manner (and excellent cooking) skills from a few people, so I had high expectations!

The bus ride there was easy, and we were welcomed by a delicious smelling lasagna (which I had not ordered because I had finally finished the Nutella on two rolls I packed). I was lucky enough that our guide was too full to finish it and gave the rest to me. Legend!

After those who weren’t staying left, Gerhard went through everyone’s dietary needs so he could make sure we could eat what was cooked; and we got our rooms (and showed how to dodgy door worked, by Sebastian, Gerhard’s son).

A and I went for a walk (in the constant rain) to the fairytale forest. Someone had built houses and fairytale characters in the real forest. Everyone who went said it was creepy but I thought it was pretty cool!

Snow White

That night, we had our first taste of Gerhard’s rad cooking: chicken with a creamy sauce, a rice cup and carrots, peas and corn. It was so nice to have a homely meal cooked for me!

Dessert was a sour cherry cake.

A and I spent the evening/night playing cards and chatting with a couple from the bus – Ally and Sam. I learnt two new card games: presidents and assholes and a variation on that.

Day #2, we all ate (included) breakfast together. There was Marmite, which was super exciting for me!

With a group of 5 other people – A, Hannah, Alex, Jaime and Adele, we cycled the 21km to Almsee Lake. Most of it was flat, but there were a few bad hills!

Me in front of mountains (at lake)

We ate lunch at the restaurant by the lake – I had beef soup with chopped up bits of crepe in it; and A and I shared a cream cheese strudel.

Cream cheese strudel

We then walked to an area of the lake we could put our feet into (we were potentially going to swim but the air was cold and the water was bloody freezing!)

Lake and swans

Almost panorama!

We cycled the 21km back and it was a major struggle!

A, Hannah and I got separated from the other three; and then A and I got separated from Hannah, as we took forever getting back. After way too many stops, we eventually made it!

Dinner that night was beef and gravy with pasta and herbs. Dessert was a chcolate cream sponge with a solid chocolate layer on top and cherries inside.

Played Trivial Pursuit (but it was going for forever so we gave up an hour and a half in). Hung out with Zyna and Hannah and A at one stage and then Hannah and Kell later on; and one of the girls went skinny dipping because she lost odds.

Day #3, I read My Sister Rosa and had the lasagna lunch with the new Busabouts.

Such a good lasagna!!

The new Busabouts (Libby, Amy, Jason and Molly) and us walked to a waterfall. It was mostly easy, except for the last couple of minutes where there were slippery logs and rocks.

The waterfall

On the way there, I had taken off my shoes and waded across, but on the way back I was too lazy, so I clambered across the slippery rocks like the others. I don’t have great balance and ended up soaking my right shoe and sock (the left one only got a lil wet).

The slippery rocks

Listened and jammed to HSM tunes on the way back from Molly’s phone.

Shared chips with Asher, finished My Sister Rosa (excellent read) and had the vegetarian option for dinner (they were serving pork which I don’t eat). It was pumpkin ravioli with potatoes, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Dessert was a custard and blackcurrent jam strudel – so good!

The v good hot chips!!

We played some more card games – Drunk Driver and ***** The Bus. I also tried Sturm for the first time: Austrian ‘wine’ (it’s 2%), that tastes like Ribena/grape juice (red) and Apple juice (white). Hung out with Libby and Z and Molly and Brittani and Jason, downstairs in the pool room.

Day #4, I ate lots of breakfast (preparing for Yom Kippur), used the internet, chatted with people and said goodbye to Jaime and Adele who left on the train.

I watched the Amanda Knox doco on Netflix – very interesting!

Hot chips with mayo for lunch, and Asher and I played Uno (with points) for a little (he crushed me).

By then, the others had returned from the lake, so we played standard Uno with them (no points); and Presidents and Assholes and then we showed them the variation we had learnt.

A and I had our last supper (for 25 hours): chicken pizza (I wanted veggie but there was none left). I ate dessert 5 minutes late (because I didn’t realise I had to get it – usually he brings it after diner but we ate early) – so I decided I wanted and I’d just finish 5 minutes later. Dessert was vanilla and chocolate sponge with cherries.

After everyone had finished their dinner, we played cheat; and then pool (my second time ever). I sunk one ball (definitely a fluke, because I 100% suck).

Chatted and hung out with Libby and Kell and Asher.

Day #5, we woke up to it snowing!!! This was very exciting, as I’d seen snow before, but I’d never seen it snowing. Everyone, including myself, rushed outside in their pajaymas (I shoved trackies and a jacket on top) to frolick and dance and take so many photos of the snow(ing).

Snowing/snow!!

Happiness is!

Packed etc., played more card games and looked at the yummy lasagna when everyone ate lunch. 

Saying goodbye to Gerhard and Seb was a lil sad and no-one wanted to leave The Tree house because it had become a home away from home. 

I 100% recommend it to everyone, and I can’t wait to go back!

Bus ride was short, and once in SALZBURG, A and I just hung in the hostel (energyless from not eating and drinking). I started Narcos, and at around 4, we went to buy food for our breaking of the fast feast!

I watched more Narcos when we came back and then it was time to eat!!

I broke it (5 minutes past 7), on schnitzel. I also had Toffifee, dates and a strawberry Magnum which I bought at the corner store.

Our hostel plays Sound of Music every night at 8pm, so the four of us – A, Amy, Hannah and I, watched it.

On day #2, the three of them went to Eagle’s Nest and I went for an early morning run. I don’t actually run, but I was feeling gross and it was the most efficient excercise I could think of. It ended up being 25 minutes of (mostly) running – longer than I’d imagined because I got a little lost at the end.

Showered, breakfasted (waffles with honey and dates), dressed and walked to the farmer’s market around the corner. 

Lots of fruits and veg and meat and cheese, and I ended up buying 2 slices of cheese (2 different types) to put on my already buttered sandwich for lunch.

The night before Hannah had mentioned a fortress she went to but didn’t know the name so I just typed fortress into Google Maps and started walking. It was a very long walk (in Converse because I didn’t realise it would be so long) – 5km from where I was to the Hohensalzburg. It was a pretty walk – through leafy paths, but I was very exhausted by the time I got there.

On the way to the fortress

I hiked up the very steep hill and ate lunch (leftover Toffifees and the roll with the two cheeses) at the top. 

Decided not to go in because I wasn’t super interested (despite the long ass hike). Instead I limped/dragged my feet around the old town.

I went into the cemetery that had bend the inspiration for the cemetery/shooting scene in Sound of Music. I went into souvenir stores and bought a giant bread pretzel for lunch the next day.

Fortress from the old square

I walked to an information store to ask for a train station (because there was no way I was walking back) and she informed me there was none, but there were buses. Found the bus easily enough (across Mozart Bridge – where they sing Do Re Mi in the film) and took it to the main train station because that was near our hostel.

Apparently not though. I wandered around, lost for about 40 minutes – and after asking two people, I finally found the hostel. My phone was on 1% (so no GPS for me), and my theory was that I’d arrived at the main station on a completely different side to where our hostel was near.

Chilled the rest of the afternoon (watched Narcos) and then the four of us went out for dinner to an Italian restaurant (after veteoing a dodgy burger place and an expensive Korean restaurant). 

I had a MASSIVE pizza!! It was a four cheese pizza: mozzarella, cheddar and two others I didn’t know.

Being shocked @ pizza size!!

I had a cloudy apple spritzer which was basically fizzy apple juice. I didn’t finish the pizza and brought home leftovers.

Day #3, we said goodbye to Hannah (we’d planned dinner with Amy in Munich), and took a bus to the salt mines. 

We had to put on freaky looking, bell-bottomed overalls (not sure why), and straddle a train that would take us 650m into the mountain. 

Fashionable mine clothes!!

The tour lasted an hour and involved walking through the salt caves, learning how the salt was extracted, sliding down a wooden ‘slide’, taking a boat across a mirror lake and hopping in a funicular to go back up again. 

– salt in the mines

We learnt the information from an English audio guide because the tour was in German.

Mirror lake we boated across

After our tour, I bought a mini salt shaker at the shop, we ate lunch (I had my cheese and olive bread pretzel) and went for a walk, trying to get a good view of the mountains (to no avail). We walked back, took the bus and walked back to the hostel.

Had leftover pizza for dinner.

Day #4, I woke up early, got picked up from the hostel and driven to Mirabell Platz (via a hotel to pick up a couple), to get the bus: I had booked the Eagle’s Nest tour!!! After seeing the photos and with recommendations from A, Amy and Hannah I decided to go. 

We took the bus (with our tour guide giving information along the way), and once arriving at the base, changed to a narrow bus (for the skinny roads). Drove up, walked through a tunnel, went up Hitler’s Elevator, pass some windows and we were outside!

The view was incredible!! Some snow, but it was actually quite warm up there and super clear skies (I was lucky with the weather because it had been cancelled the day before).

Beautiful!!!

The non snow side

After an hour, we drove to Berschgaden for lunch. I had packed lunch: rice cakes with egg dip, but I bought myself a cake (I think it was Apple with chopped almonds on top). 

It was good cake

Bussed back to Salzburg, and I went for a quick visit to Mirabell Platz gardens (and finished my cake whilst walking around). Walked back to the hostel, chatted to Molly, did more of this blog and surfed the internet.

Mirabell Platz Gardens

For dinner, we ate at the hostel: I had chips with chicken wings (was good) and a blackberry cider (to celebrate/be sad about our second late mainland Europe night).
The three of us went for a walk to Mirabell Platz and had our second cider when we came back. Chatted for a bit.

Day #5 started with me stripping my bed because I couldn’t find my key. Looked everywhere, and eventually just asked for a new one. He didn’t blink an eyelid.

Had (Hannah’s) left(over) pizza for breakfast, packed and chilled out in the common room with Molly and Asher.

Went for a walk to Mirabell Platz and gardens and then back via a housewares store (that was sadly closed, but we started through the window).

I had lunch: rice cakes with butter I had bought but semi forgot about, my leftover slice of cheese and a little sachet of Nutella. I used the leftover Nutella for one more and buttered the rest and put them away for snacks.

The bus ride back to MUNICH was short, and our guide (Sarah), was pretty good! Informative and bubbly and interesting. 

Goodbye Busabout! For now, but definitely not forever.

Checked in, sorted through bag 1 (my attached bag); did a wash and put our clothes in the drier before we gathered downstairs for a lil tour by Sarah and Megan (another guide – we had her going into Grunau!)

We walked to Haubrauhaus (oldest beer house in Germany), via Marienplatz, the Victoria market stalls, the old and new square buildings and a statue of Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet) with one golden boob because apparently rubbing it means good luck for the rest of your life.

We were going to have kebabs for Dinner, but on the way back from getting cash we went past a Mexican place and chose there instead. We shared two dishes:

Dish 1: chicken burritos with wedges, sour cream, salsa and salad

Dish 2: pulled beef enchiladas with potato rostis and salad

Came back, sorted/stressed about our flight info (we had conflicting information); but I think it’s sorted now. We will confirm in the morning. 
I can’t believe this is basically the end of our mainland Europe trip!! Over three months down, and less than one to go!!! 

WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE??

Today, we packed, ate the breakfast buffet (I had a toasted roll with pb+j, a v mini bowl of cereal and yoghurt and 2 hot chocolates!), and checked out.

We walked along the main street for a bit, and then back to the hostel. 

Bought sushi (!!!) for later, and had my packet of Uncle Ben’s rice for lunch.

We will be leaving for the airport later (via public transport); where we will wait for way too long and then catch a (short) flight to London. 

Until the end of our UK leg!!

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Travel Update #8

VIENNA

Vienna’s public transport system isn’t on Google maps (which we didn’t know – we just assumed there was no public transport from the drop off point to our hostel), so we were planning on taxi-ing.

Turns out there was, and it was very easy to use and to get to our hostel! 

We didn’t do much that first afternoon. We went shopping because the next day was Sunday and all the supermarkets are closed on a Sunday. We also went out for dinner: I had noodles with teriyaki chicken.

Teriyaki chicken and noodles

Day #2/our only full day involved rubbish weather and us traipsing around in it.

First we trammed to Schönnbrunn Palace (which I’ve been writing everywhere else as Schlossbrunn, whoops). We waited in line for about half an hour (at least we were undercover) – trying to decide on which tickets to buy.

We ended up getting just the Imperial Palace tour (22 rooms) tickets and were planning on getting the Privy Gardens one at the garden, but we were told there were free gardens for our viewing pleasure.

They give you a time for your castle ‘tour’* so we wandered the gardens for just under an hour. 

During our impromptu autumn photoshoot

They were quite beautiful and whilst it was cold, it had mostly stopped raining.

Green corridor

The garden

Our *tour involved an audio guide that told you about each room as you went into them. There were no photos allowed, and there were guards around, but I managed to sneak a few rubbish ones.

Rubbish photo #1

It took us about half an hour to go through the rooms, and post castle visit, we went back to the gardens to go up on the balcony.

Balcony view

By that time it had started raining again/the weather was just miserable, so we were strongly debating whether we wanted to go to the Gustav Klimt exhibition then or leave it for when we came back to Vienna. 

We eventually decided to just do it (and in true Lauren and A style, we got a lil lost on the way and walked quite far). But we got there and being the student I am, asked for a student price. I showed my INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CARD and the lady says no ‘I want your student card’, and because I haven’t started at uni yet I have no uni/student card (my license was not useable either apparently); so I had to pay full price. 

We only paid for the section of the Belvedere where Gustav Klimt’s pairnings were. We also saw other artwork (once again, no pics, but we’ve had practice). 

Tiger and Vultures, 2015 (isn’t it incredible!!!)

Twins!!!

Klimt’s paintings were amazing!!! Especially The Kiss!!! But the way he uses gold and makes it work so bloody well is quite astounding and incredibly clever. I was the distracter and A took photos because his phone is better. 

The Kiss!!!

Unfinished

I sped through the next section of the galley – Renaissance art and realism – because I am so sick of Renaissance art, but I paid for the ticket so I thought I’d pretend to get my money’s worth. 
We trammed home, had a small break and then started cooking our feast! 

It was Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanna – that night so we’d bought ingredients to make a big meal for us. 

Entree: Apple dipped in honey (to represent a sweet, round new year), round ‘challahs’, pomegranate and gooseberries (for our new fruits).

Entree

Main: chicken with sweet and sour sauce and rice

Main

Dessert: pastry with cheese (quark) and a kinder surprise ‘ice-cream’. 

Kinder Surprise ‘ice-creams’

During dinner, we hung out with a girl I’d met at the hostel (Prue), and with 2 others: a girl (Christina) we kept bumping into (this was he third place), and a guy (Devin) she’d met. I also had a Bahamas Punch – coconut and pineapple juice with rum, which was quite yum.

It was all so good, and I was so full afterwards.

Day #2, we finished our cereal (which was a lil gross after that much – but we didn’t feel like carrying it), packed up our bags and walked to the tram stop. We trammed to the main train station, where we took a bit of time to find our platform (C1), but we found it eventually.

I had a mini panic when I thought I’d left my lanyard with all my keys for all the locks of my bags at the hostel (but they were indeed in my bag, hidden very well).

The bus ride was cramped and uneventful. We got there in an hour and a half, and then had to take 2 buses and walk to our hostel. As we were struggling to find our hostel, an Australian guy asked us where we were going and we told him the hostel name and turns out he was staying there too so we just followed him! We definitely would’ve gotten lost, so that was nice of him.

The first day, we just walked around the town (I had a really good tuna bagel for lunch), visiting all the souvenir shops and of course we saw the famous statue!

Cumil

Walked back to the hostel, did some washing, internetted and got ready for shule (as it was 2nd night Rosh Hashanna and we were only 7 minutes walk away from one).

On advice from A’s parents, we rocked up at 5, ready for some shofar blowing. It was completely closed and we were completely confused so we decided to make some Tesco purchases and then come back.

Bought a banana and milk. Walked back around 5.30 – there were people there! I hid the banana in my coat pocket, and we left/hid the milk on the street (because we weren’t sure what else to do with it). 

Quick service – about 45 minutes (and we heard the shofar!) Understood bacially nothing – the service was in Hebrew and the sermons (and anything else usually in English), was a in all Slovak! We were invited (again) – this time by the rabbi – to come for dinner to his house (and we still didn’t know how to say no). 

So much food – all very delicious! 

Course 1: salads (great lettuce one with avo and this weird thing with fruit that tasted like off grapes) and apples and honey and rad fish loaf.

Course 2: chicken soup and kneidel

Course 3: meat, small boreks/pastries, roast poatoes and Apple cinnamon cake (which was weird for a main course).

Course 4: 2x chocolate biscuit things with icing and cherries on top.

We sat next to each other and fielded questions for the rabbi’s eldest daughter about Australia. 

After an unexpectedly good night, we left at around 10-10.15pm. 

Day #2 had a slower start. We went shopping for lunch (3x pastries) and I bought ingredients for baking (no-one was sure if the flour I bought was normal or self-raising).

Came back, made the Nutella** brownies (after realising the oven hadn’t actually been on for 20 minutes I fiddled around a bit). Let them cool, cut them up, put them into a container and got ready for the walking tour.

Hans Christian Anderson

It went for about three hours, and it was bloody freezing.

Our tour guide explained the history of Bratislava, showed us what was left of the old Jewish Quarter (not much) and took us up to the castle.

View from the castle

We also went into a cat cafe (!!), and got all our guide’s recommendations to eat and drink.

Day #3, A and I went up St. Michael’s tower and got a panoramic view of Bratislava’s rooftops.

(Almost) 360 view of Bratislava

We walked along the streets – taking our usual approach: going into all the souvenir stores and buying nothing.

We went to a burger place for lunch and I had the best burger I’ve had since I’ve been away! It also came with chips and coleslaw and I was so full by the time I finished.

Lamb burger with rocket, avo, mozzarella and mayo

We walked around a bit more (getting caught in a hail storm); went back to the hostel for a bit and then out again.

We went out for ice-cream to a place recommend by our tour guide and it was so good!!!

Flavours: (vegan) fairy floss and lemon cake

Day #4, we went out for breakfast at another one of our guides recommendations (PANCAKES) – and it turns out they were more like crepes (but very excellent nonetheless).

I had a strawberry milkshake (which should’ve been called a strawberry smoothie).

Strawberry ‘milkshake’

For breakfast I had two crepes/pancakes- 1) snickers: chocolate, walnuts and caramel;

Snickers crepe

and 2), mozzarella, pesto and tomato pieces.

Mozzarella crepe

A and I took a bus to Devin Castle after breakfast (where, at the bus shelter, we met two American couples). 

Devin Castle is a ruins castle and whilst it was freezing cold and raining the entire time, it was pretty incredible and it had some ace views!

In front of a part of the Devin Castle ruins

The Danube from a part of the castle

A section of Devin Castle

A and I went out for a traditional Slovak lunch at a restaurant at the bottom of the castle. We ordered two dishes and shared.

Potato dumplings with sesame seeds, icing sugar and something I can’t remember

Bryndza halusky: potato dumplings with sheep’s cheese

We took the bus back to Bratislava and walked to the cat cafe for some much needed warming up!

I had some litchi and cucumber lemonade and took photos with the only cat that wasn’t sleeping (he was a lil grumpy).

Back at the hostel, we packed and ate a ‘spaghetti explosion’ for dinner (cooked by the hostel and very good).

The hostel has a signing wall, and they encourage you to write something on there before you leave.

Inspo words from me (quote credit: Amy E)

I love this!

I’d had the same plastic drink bottle since Israel and it was leaking/dying so unfortunately I had to get rid of it. 

  1. Rip drink bottle

In true Lauren and A style, we left very early to walk to the bus stop. Also in true Lauren and Asher style, we went the wrong way for about 20 minutes; once we realised/asked we got off, crossed the road and waited for the next bus.

Since this journey was only meant to take us about 10 minutes, we bought a 15 minute ticket. When we got into the next bus (which came soon after), we didn’t even think about new tickets. Just as we were arriving at the station, ticket inspectors came on and as soon as I saw one behind A, I realised that we didn’t have valid tickets. 

Of course, we got fined an obscene amount of money (I thought he said 5 euros and handed over a 10 – I thought this seemed too little, but we’d been fined 5 before for forgetting to validate. I was wrong and he laughed).

I was grumpy about the fine (although technically it was my own fault); but what made me feel a lil better was that there were a group of girls that got fined on the next bus we went on.

Our bus ride (and subsequent train ride to the hostel) – was easy.

We dropped our bags off, chilled our and went for a walk along the Nachmarket (where I bought a baklava and a spinach and cheese borek for dinner). 

We went for a walk around the area, and then spent a good few/too many hours planning our UK trip: transport and accommodation etc. 

Hung out at the bar for a little (had my free orange juice), chilled on the couches for a bit and then went to bed, ready for an early wake up.

(I was going to do one blog post for my trip until we left for the UK but I can’t post more photos, so it looks like I’m going to be splitting it up).

**I bought 750g Nutella in Switzerland and was struggling to finish it, so I decided to throw most of it into a batch of brownies!

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Travel Update #7

Next stop: DRESDEN

Dresden definitely surpassed my expectations! 

On the first day, we arrived pretty early, dropped our bags off (at our kangaroo themed hostel) and walked to the old town. 

We went to a beautiful castle.

It even had a moat!!

We were pretty exhausted from the early morning, so we went back to our hostel. We’d been told about a free walking tour that started at another hostel, so at around 6.30pm, we walked down.
Turned out it only started at 9, so we went for dinner. We shared Indian aloo potatoes (entree) and chicken with mint and vegetables (and rice and naan). It was really good and super filling!

Potato aloo

Main course

As we sat there eating dinner in our shorts and t-shirts, we realised we had not dressed for the weather because we were freezing our asses off!!

We fast walked back to our hostel, put some long pants and a jumper on and fast walked back. 

The tour was interesting, but there were times I got a little bit lost as the conversation (too) often veered into politics as a certain member of the tour kept asking questions. 

At the first bar, we had a shot of something amaretto-esque (sickly sweet and a bit sickly), the second alcohol was this disgusting shot of something that was apparently ‘Jagermeister’s cousin’ and the third was vodka (I think). 

We saw quite a bit of street art and learnt about the micro region of Neustadt.

Art

At about 12pm, in the last bar/basically the end, A and I excused ourselves as the alcohol and polticis had finally gotten to us.

Day 2, we took a tram to the terribly named Hygiene Museum. 

Just in front of the museum were market stalls: mostly fruit, but we found these delicious things called langos – deep fried dough of some kind, served hot – and I had melted cheese on mine. SO GOOD! 

Langos!!

Useful things at the market!

The hygiene museum should’ve been named ‘the human museum’ or something not so stupid. There were seven rooms, and everything related to humans in some way: disease, pregnancy, sexuality, family, how we move, food and nutrition etc. For the Melbournians, it was a more information heavy adult version of Science Works. Unfortunately, a lot of the information was in German, but we still read what we could and did all the interactive stuff.

Seeing how a fly does

Not sure what this was actually testing??

Went to the supermarket on the way back from the hostel – and after being annoyingly indecisive for too long, I finally (with the help of A), chose dinner ingredients.

I ended up making crumbed (with paprika chips and an egg) chicken and zucchini with garlic and butter. Had a new Sommersby flavour (blackberry), which was quite nice (as ciders go).

Next morning, we bought more Sommersby for a later stage, packed our bags and walked to the pickup point for our drive to PRAGUE.

The drive was quicker than expected, so we got to our hostel earlier than we thought. Walked around a bit, and introduced ourselves to traditional Czech food: donut cones. We both had one with nutella in them – very good, but very rich.

Cooking the tradelnik donuts

Had dinner – pasta with a packet spinach and cream sauce (better than expected AND leftovers. Bonus!) Got ready for the pub crawl: black jumpsuit, hoop earrings, black $4 Kmart shoes, hair up and I was ready for the night.

Walked to the meeting point, where there were 100+ other eager pub crawlers. We got our wristbands, got told the rules (1/have fun and, 2/get f***ed up), and we were off!

The first bar had an hour of power: free shots of absinthe and cranberry/vodka and cups of beer for an hour. Little bit dangerous.

At the first bar

We drank and danced and then it was time for bar/club #2. We each got a free shot as we walked in the door (I asked what it was and the guy replied with ‘alcohol’. You don’t say???). Felt a bit sick (and they don’t have tap water), so we took a glass and filled it with water from the bathroom. Sat outside for a bit.

Club/bar #3, I just went inside to buy water (which I wasn’t even allowed to bring into the next place) – and sat outside the whole time. I definitely wasn’t feeling my best. 

The best place was club #4: a 5 storey club with different kinda of music on each level: radio hits, golden oldies (which I’m pretty sure which actually 90s, but okay), EDM etc. We went to all the floors (90s was definitely my favourite).

Us at Karlovy Lazne (5 storey club)

We left at around 2am and walked back to our hostel. It was a good night.

Day #2, we wanted to go our for breakfast, but there weren’t many actual breakfast places (definitely miss Melbourne’s great array of cafes), so we had Burger King (they have rad crispy chicken burgers).

Had leftover pasta and a pastry for lunch. Planned to go on the 3pm free walking tour, but 5 minutes after we got there we were told it was cancelled. We just toured ourselves! 

We went to: a chocolate shop (no free tastings) and the astronomical clock in the old square.

Astronomical Clock

We went to the Jewish quarter (reminded me of Tzfat a bit), where we walked around the stalls a bit and then went into the shule Jewish cemetery (that had a tombstones from 1493!)

Pinkas Synagouge

Jewish cemetery tombstones

We also saw artwork from kids that were in Terezin. 

Walked to Charles Bridge – and found a lookout by some swans to take some well angled photos.

Swans and Charles Bridge

Started Making a Murderer and made dinner: salmon with garlic and soya sauce and mashed sweet potato.

Day 3 began with me being grumpy because of lack of sleep because of the abundance of snorers/old people in the room. 

Had provided breakfast, and walked to the Prague Castle (up many (many) stairs). Lots of lookouts onto the red rooves of Prague.

Panoramic shot of Prague’s red rooves

We continued walked up to the stunning castle! It was medieval design – something, in our viewing of what feels like 100 churches, we haven’t come across to often, so that was nice.

Prague Castle

Now that a ‘sufficient’ number of days had passed, we could feel less guilty about buying another tradelnik donut: this time with ice cream instead of nutella. It was good (but I did prefer the nutella one).

Tradelnik donut and I

Read book at hostel (Lies we tell ourselves), and went out for dinner. I had beef goulash with horseradish, red onion, a pepper (which I thought was a tomato) and bread dumplings (which are not the Asian style dumplings we know). It was very filling (struggled with the last mouthfuls), but also very good.

Dinner! (Those bread looking things are the dumplings)

I had a better sleep on day 4 because of the ear plugs A gave to me.

In the day, we went on a tour of Kutna Hora and the bone chapel. 

Story time: some guy (can’t remember who exactly), went to Jerusalem and got wind of this cemetery, where, because of the soil, people go to heaven faster. He took some soil (guess there wasn’t much bolder protection in those days) back to Kutna Hora, and sprinkled it in a cemetery. Everyone wanted to be buried there! This was also the time of the plague, and I think there were some battles, so the cemetery kept getting bigger. Someone decided that they should build a chapel, being Christian and all. They dug up many of the mass graves and started storing the bones in the crypt. Finally, the head monk told the other monks to ‘organise them’, and so the bone chapel was born. 

Fact: it has 40,000+ human bones.

Welcome to the bone chapel

(Chandelier-less) and the main chapel room

Unfortunately, they were restoring the chandelier when we went.

Shield in the bone chapel (reminds me of Survivor’s immunity idol)

We got mini-bussed to the Czech restaurant, where A and I shared a starter (we had actually brought lunch with but couldn’t resist). It was fried cheese (my new favourite thing), tartar sauce and fries (like the tourists we are).

Fried cheese and tartar!

Lastly, on the tour, we went to St. Barbara’s Cathedral, (yet) another church. It was pretty (also medieval), but the Prague Castle was better. We walked around it, went to the lookout, bought a fake coin and sat on the grass waiting for those who were interested in the church to finish looking. 

St. Barbara’s Cathedral

We trained back to Prague and went back to our hostel.

Said HI to this guy on the way back

For dinner, I had chicken with soya sauce and garlic with lettuce leaves, roasted seeds (with chili salt), and oil.

On our last day in Prague, we trammed to the Vsyehrad Castle, via the Fred and Ginger Dancing House.

The Dancing House

The castle/church was pretty but nothing spectacular. There were a few good lookouts with some pretty stunning views (and there were cute dogs too).

Panoramic view of Prague from the Vysehrad lookout

We went out for lunch to a Czech restaurant where we shared a watermelon lemonade and I had duck confit with coleslaw and a variety of dumplings (bread, potato and something else I’m not sure of).

Duck confit, coleslaw and the dumplings – I was so full afterwards!

We trammed back to Wencelas Square (where we were staying), and decided to tram to the John Lennon wall. We took the wrong tram, and then took it back, and then just decided to walk – it wasn’t far, we were just feeling lazy.

Me in front of a section of the wall

Section of the wall

I’m not sure why it’s called the John Lennon wall: maybe it started out as a JL wall and now it’s just somewhere for all types of graffitti; or maybe it was ‘his wall’ because of his hippie/peace/love vibe. 

Bought an ice cream which was quite good. 

Cookies (top) and coconut (bottom)

Walked to the supermarket and bought dinner ingredients. Went back to hostel, internetted a bit and then made dinner: vermicelli noodles with soya sauce beef, cucumber and spring onion. I added lettuce leaves and the roasted chili seeds to mine. It was good and we had leftovers. 

At 12.30am, sercuity was called into our room, because some guy (who was staying at the hostel) – high on drugs – had jumped into someone else’s bed. Security kicked him out.

Early wakeup the next morning, and we trammed/walked to the pick up point. Had an insane donut for breakfast – tasted like a koeksister and had white chocolate on it!

Crazy Czech donut!

Bus ride was short – and we went via a Tesco! First time in a Tesco – and I don’t know if they’re all like like that, but it was pretty great: clothes, toys, food, fruit, bakery section and miscellaneous. 

We dropped our bags off at our hostel, and walked around the entire town in about an hour. Very cute, lotsa touristy shops (definitely more than I thought) – where we went into all of them of course.

We checked into our hostel, used their internet and went our for dinner. We found a place that only accepted cash – we walked around for somewhere with card, rejected everywhere else, drew money and went back to the first place. 

I had onion soup because I was a bit sick of all the super heavy food! I was still hungry afterwards, and the kitchen had closed so we trawled the main square for an open kitchen. Found a place (with a super unfriendly waiter), and ordered poato pancakes (which tasted like hot chips). 

Day #2 in Cesky Krumlov, I had really good apple cinnamon yoghurt for breakfast. 

We walked up and around the castle – and of course saw more red rooves.

Castle view

We walked around the castle grounds and the beautiful gardens.

Slightly dilapidated house we saw on our walk

Part of the gardens we walked through

At the bottom of the castle/when we reached the town again, we both bought another tradelnik donut with nutella in then. These were better than the ones we had in Prague – they were softer and tasted more homemade.

The best tradelnik we had!!!

That was ‘first lunch’ so at about 2pm, we went out for ‘second lunch’: I had fried cheese (and it comes with tartar sauce and chips). It was a bigger portion than I thought it would be so I was pretty full afterwards.

After lunch, we put our bathers on, ready for a swim in the moat (apparently it’s not a river or a lake but a real moat!)

It was absolutely freezing, so we walked in up to our ankles and that was enough. 

Ankle deep was enough!!

It was beautiful weather, so I lay on the bank for a bit enjoying the sunshine and breeze.

Moat and castle wall

We went past the shops on the way back – we bought dinner ingredients and I bought a banana and more of that Apple cinnemon yoghurt.

For dinner, we cooked pasta with tomato/basil sauce and had grated Edam on top. It was yum.

We went for a walk after dinner to see Cesky all lit up (and to check out the berry/ice cream shop which was closed).

Morning #3, we breakfasted and packed and I went to go see if the berry/ice cream shop was open – they were! It’s a scoop of ice cream mixed with berries and another of pure pulverized berry. So good!!

Berry ice cream and I

I have just arrived in Vienna – next is Bratislava, Grünau, Salzburg and then back to Munich! The end of the loop is just around the corner. 

Till then.

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