A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: willandsam

Two Months in London

all seasons in one day 7 °C

Hi all!
Firstly an apology for not writing in the Blog for ages, we havent fallen off the edge of the earth, although it has felt like that at times... We have spent 2 months in London, and it hasnt really been exciting enough to warrant a blog entry... We managed to find some work courtesy of Sams friends Tim from home... He has carved out a career in the high flying world of selliog stuff to strangers on the street. Burstingtwith enthusiasm, we joined him a few days after we arrived and entered the crazy world of selling paintball packages to passers-by. Over 7 weeks we have honed our skills to the point where we can literally confuse unsuspecting random people into handing over thier cash with the ease of any master salesman... Brilliant. It has had its good days and bad, as it is all commission based, so there have been many days where 8 hours out in the bitter cold of British summer where we have actually finished the day with less money. great. We have met some crazy travellers though and had many drunken nights which has been fun, and earning a few pounds here and there has allowed us to do some pretty cool stuff.. We met up with Sams mate Glen, the capt of the Aussie Polo team, and went with him to watch some games at the royal polo grounds at Windsor castle (We were very underdressed), we have scored free tickets to the World 20\20 at both lords and the Oval (thanks Lippy), i somehow wrangled front row tickets for us to see Jude Law as Hamlet in the West end (Sams favourite moment... Óh my god Jude just spat on me... he really spat on me! Im never washing again!!) and have seen some shakespeare at the Globe Theatre. We even got a day in at Wimbeldon to see Lleyton and Andy Murray over a couple of jugs of Pimms.... We have caught up with heaps of friends and had far too much to drink and its been a blast, but soon enough it was time for Europe...
And so.... it was off to Brad and Laras place (sams friends) as we were travelling with them for a few weeks... They bought a big 1986 Fiat Swift - basically a big square 80s van that sleeps 6 (there are 9 of us)... awesome. We piled all our stuff in and headed for Dover, got the ferry across to Calais and drove to Dunkirk. Slept in the van (that becomes standard) and spent the next day touring the battlefiends and cemetaries of Ypres and Pascendaele... Its was great to see what it was really like and very moving, some of the guys dying the in the war were only 15-16. Heavy.
From the we drove to a little town called Werchter in Belgium, which i think is normally home to about 800 quiet reserved belgians, but for the next 4 days became home to about 100,000 (seriously) crazy rock fans... Rockwerchter is the biggest festival out... We set up our campsite and headed in for 3 crazy days... we saw Oasis, Placebo, Expatriate, Lily Allen, Prodigy, Jason Mraz, Katy Perry, the Streets, Bloc Party, The Killers, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga (brrr), 2manydjs, Grace Jones, Metallica and more but i cant remember! We missed the last day though as we had to get to Spain, so after partying for three straight days we left Belgium at 3am and drove 17 straight hours to Pamplona for the opening ceremony of Running of the Bulls. Had a huge day on the Sangria and got about three hours sleep (again) before getting up at 530 to line up (very shakily) to run.... it was mental. Thousands of crazy drunken spaniards and us crammed into this tiny course.. the whole thing runs for about 800m, we were at Gate 1 which was the closest to the bulls when they let them go and therefore the most dangerous..oops... We stood there for half an hour waiting and feeling very sorry for ourselves before a gun went off somewhere and everyone just went ballistic. the first gun was to get ready, and when the second one went off the bulls were out! Crazy. Everyone just bolted through these tiny narrow cobbled streets toward the stadium... About halfway along, we were concentrating on jumping over all the fallen spaniards axing themsleves on the stones and then the bulls were upon us. They were HUGE and travelling at a rate of knots.. Guys were getting flung about and trampled all over the place.. We somehow made it to the staduim without getting crushed and then they sent more bulls in to pretty much gore anyone in their way. people were getting punished all over the place, and we had a few close shaves. We survived though and retreated back to the campsite to trade war stories over yet more sangria before getting up the next day and doing it all over again! Sadly two guys got killed while we were there, one Aussie guys by a truck (everyone was passed out on the streets the whole time they werent drinking - someone was bound to get crushed, and one local guy got gored to death by a bull. So sad but in the end its very dangerous and thats what you sign up for when you do it. Terrible though.
Anyways, after more drinking in rghe campsite we packed up and drove to Biarritz, which is spectacular... so nice but we were having serious problems with Swifty (our van)... His clutch decided to pack it in, and we were stuck. After getting towed to the local Fiat place we were told it would take a week to get the parts and get it done, so we left it with the French b*stards and headed to San Sebastian, which is possible the best place ever...Great beached, good tapas, cold beer and hot sun. Nice.... Not a bad place to break down... SO, now when swifty is fixed and back on his feet we are heading to Portugal for more of the same, before flying from Sienna to Barcelona for a few day, and then on to Milan for three weeks touring italy, before catching the ferry over to croatia to sail the islands for 10 days. Life is tough.

Posted by willandsam 05:42 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

London

Our new life

all seasons in one day 15 °C

After the sheer desperation of our final days in NYC, we were happy to have made it to London and some level of familiarity... We had organised a night out with friends on the first day we arrived, foolishly thinking we would sleep on the overnight flight and be ready and raring to go once we got here.... but no. We landed to brilliant sunshine and spent our whole day in bed, thinking “oh its alright that we are missing a sunny day, there’ll be plenty more.’ How wrong we were.
After a good days sleep, we hit the town and wound up deep in Kensington downing shots at 4am. Good start.
After sleeping off the hangover and the jetlag, we set about sorting out some work.. The past 4 months have seen us drastically blow our budget, as South America turned out to be severely more expensive than anticipated. So it all hung on being able to find some work in our 8 weeks in London. With nearly a decade in post graduate study between us, we were confident in landing the corner office within the week, but as it happens the job we got gave us a office much bigger and with much better views than we ever anticipated. Thats right, we are hawking stuff to strangers on the street. Paintball packages to be exact.
Okay okay, there might not be a dental plan or free childcare, but its not all bad. Its quite lucrative on a good day, but being totally commission based a bad day could see you return home in the red... Also being told to rack off 500 times a day can be damaging to the self esteem...
So after ten days in the high flying corporate world of street sales, we have fine tuned the art of sales, and could quite easily offload a crate of ice to any passing eskimos. (PS If anyone is in the area and wants a great day out, ill do you a good deal. I swear.)
So here we are, living in the trendy suburb of Tooting Bec ( i know, i hadnt heard of it either), selling fun for a living, and generally living it up. Some weeks we even make a few quid profit. Having crashed back to earth after 3 months in South and North America, we are counting the days till we can venture off around Europe. 43.

Posted by willandsam 13:32 Archived in England Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

New York

We survived...

overcast 19 °C

Having spent a day completely homeless after being evacuated, and moving from one Red Cross van to another in search of food and shelter, we were kindly taken in by one of our flatmates girlfriend, who thankfully had a spare room. We had attempted to go and pack our bags that afternoon, and were escorted inside by a police officer, who said not to worry about getting all our gear, just enough for overnight, as our flight wasnt until the following afternoon and the whole place would definitely be clear by then.
We returned the next morning to find the whole block still crawling with police and emergency services. Our flight to London was at 6pm so we had plenty of time, and went and grabbed a coffee... After mucking around for a couple of hours we went up to the building to get our bags and passports for the flight only to be told that the building had been declared unsafe ten minutes before, and therefore nobody was allowed in!
After explaining that everything we owned was inside and our flight was leaving in a few hours, we got absolutely nowhere with the cops, who flatly refused us access. We were getting desperate and asking everyone if there was any way we could just get in for 5 minutes, but they thought the place could come down at any second, and we would have to wait until they declared it safe. Which could be 2 days. Great.
After spending an hour or so completely maxing out, and imagining being stuck in Manhattan for the rest of our lives (there could be worse things), we finally happened upon Officer Harrison. At least we though he could be a cop... I mean he was dressed in a cops uniform, but he had a peroxide blond mohawk and was completely covered in tattoos. We confirmed he did actually work for the police department, and he said “I dont care if the buildings falling down, you cant miss your flight... ill take you up.” What a champ!
He went and asked his boss, who said no.
But Harrison lives life by his own rules, and so we went anyway. No one messes with a guy covered in tatts and a police uniform.
We hurriedly packed our gear while Harrison made himself at home on our couch. It is quite possible that he isnt a cop at all and just wanted to case the place for later. Whatever though, the main thing is we got our gear and made it to JFK.... Thankyou Officer Harrison, you legend!
After the heart rates went back down, we were calm enough to board the plane... It could have been the anxiety, it could have been the airplane chicken... either way, the trip across the pond was mostly spent in the toilet. Brilliant start to our two months in the Mother Country!....

Posted by willandsam 13:29 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (1)

Only in America

overcast 15 °C

With only 48 hours left in the big apple, we have covered every tourist attraction, taken hundreds of photos, visited countless martini bars, slept through several hangovers, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. After all that, you could be forgiven for thinking that we had squeezed every last drop of excitement out of the city that never sleeps. Well, youd be wrong.
After Sams birthday celebrations ended at around 2am, we were thoroughly asleep at around 6, when suddenly we awoke (well Sam did, i wasnt waking up for anything) to the walls shaking, and a deep rumbling sound.. Sam mumbled something about an earthquake, and then fell back to sleep... (not stressed at all).. It was soon forgotten about as we went back to the business of sleeping off another big night. It wasnt to be though, just a few minutes later there was an urgent knocking on the door.
The knocking got more frantic so eventually we dragged ourselves to the door, very grumpy at this interruption... we were confronted by several firemen telling us in no uncertain terms that we had to evacuate RIGHT NOW!
Throwing a jumper on we wandered out into the street, to find literally hundreds of police, red cross, firemen, construction workers, TV crews, random crowds and just about everybody else running around putting up POLICE DO NOT CROSS yellow tape and generally being far too energetic for this time of the morning. We looked up and saw several choppers circling... Turns out, the 6 floor building next door had randomly collapsed. Looking around, all there was in place of this huge building was a pile of dust and debris. What the hell?!?
As the reality of our situation set in, our bemusement turned to anxiety. Apparently there was a real chance of our building going down with it at some point, hence the evacuation.. While we were dressed in our pyjamas, everyone else was spilling out of our building with bags full of photos, electronics, animals, and basically whatever else they could grab in the rush. While i was envisaging the difficulty in explaining to Customs tomorrow at JFK that our passports were somewhere in a big pile of concrete in Tribeca, Sams eyes were lighting up as she thought of all the designer crap she could buy with the insurance payout....
Someone recognised us as the homeless foreigners we had just become, and shepherded us toward the Red Cross Disaster Relief van. We were given a drink and told that in this situation, the Red Cross will put us up in a hotel. Great! That was until they found out that we were just visiting and didn't actually live in the place. At that point the charity ran out, and we were told that we would have to fend for ourselves on the mean streets of New York City. And that brings us to the coffee shop i am sitting in right now, and have been for the past three hours. All we have is a laptop and the clothes on our back, no home, no money and no idea what to do next..... Ah the joys of travelling.

Posted by willandsam 12:29 Archived in USA Tagged lodging Comments (1)

Birthday Girl

McCloy strikes again

overcast 20 °C

As some of you may know the 29th of April is a very special day not only was Jerry Seinfield, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Therman born but a little Aussie battler - Samantha (no middle name) Dennis was brought into this world.

Although no family (not that Jamie or Michael really ever did anything of any worth) and friends (tear) to share my birthday with, the idea of being in NYC was exciting enough...or was it..William darling, gorgeous, prince charming McCloy decided to take matters into his own hands and organise a birthday to remember.

Please note it is extremely difficult to organise anything without the other person knowing considering we spend every second of every hour of every day with each other..

It all started in the morning..breakfast in bed.. i might add Will can put together a mean cereal (bananas yoghurt we are talking the whole kit and caboodle) all set on a chopping board for my convenience..food / bed i was in heaven already.

We then had a lunch reservation at the infamous “NOBU”..due to popular demand there are several Nobu’s around New York but we went to the original one set in Manhatten..the real McCloy...(see what i did there)..

Lunch was amazing..the food was ridiculous, each bite melted in ours mouths and it was so fresh and flavoursome. Will being the investigate journalist he is had practically read every review on Nobu and could quote a comment on each menu item..recommending meals better than the waiters..brilliant..I was so sure i would see a celebrity, i even went to the bathrooms in hope i would see Lindsay Lohan making out with someone..unfortunately she wasnt in there and as i left (an hour later) i walked past the “celeb section”..there was a special room which was roped off which was were the real celebs go...dammit sneaky devils.

After lunch we had a bit of time to relax before getting ready for a fun filled night.

First stop - Flute, a trendy little champagne bar which use to be a speakeasy bar in the 1920’s. This place was gorgeous, reservations only and it seated a limited amount of people giving it an intimate feel. Each seating section was roped off with velvet curtains and the waiters were dressed in WW1 outfits. With a bottle of champagne, food and a martini for good luck under our belt it was on to the main course..

A broadway show..Wicked!! I was so excited, i had wanted to see this show for a while. It was at the Gershwin theatre not far off Times Square. It is a great theatre as it isnt too big, you can see everything from where ever you sit. Well we both absolutely loved it, even Will surprised himself as he wasnt overly keen on sitting through a thousand songs but eveything was done so professionally, the performers had the most amazing voices, the costumes were awesome..basically you couldn’t flaw a thing. I found myself a few times staring so hard that i would forget to blink and then i would blink and my eyeballs would sting and id cry and look ridiculous but it was because it was so good, i didnt have time to blink i didnt want to miss thing. Oh and the poor Wicked witch of the West..yes that’s right, i feel sorry for her, she is just a green misunderstood little girl who actually has a huge heart..my whole take on the Wizard of Oz has changed. If had seen this 15 years ago i wouldnt have been so scared of her in the movie...

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly anymore fun along comes more food and drinks...

Next stop...PDF..short for “Please dont Tell”. This is a club that is so exclusive you have to ring up for a reservation the day of at 3pm...not 2:59..or 3:02.. but 3pm or they wont answer. What is cooler about this place is that you enter through a telephone booth which is inside a cheap hotdog joint “Crif Dog”. You walk in, go into the booth, pick up the phone and then the side door opens and you enter this funky, intimate hidden away bar. What i like about this place is although exclusive it is not pretentious and you can also order the hotdogs from next door and they bring them through. Will and i tried the special which had deep fried mayo on it..yes a heart attack waiting to happen..but it was delicious.

Finally it was time to head home and reflect on what a great day i had...ok to be honest not a lot of reflecting happened that night, as soon as my head hit the pillow i was out...too much fun for this little birthday girl..!!

What a day..i feel so lucky..thank you to all my friends and family for their birthday wished and presents. I miss you all but luckily i couldnt be in better hands

xx

Posted by willandsam 13:31 Archived in USA Tagged luxury_travel Comments (3)

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