Wednesday, 17 February 2010

New years resolutions 2010

New Year's eve (or possibly as late as New Year's day - somewhere on the mini-bus in Cappadocia in Turkey) I wrote down some New Year's resolutions, I've decided to put them up here as I figure the best way to be held accountable to them is to display them publicly. Not only that but in a few year's time I can look back (like I have been doing recently) and evaluate my success at obtaining and maintaining them.

1. Get Stable in London
Basically this one refers to getting a decent paying job with more security, which in turn allows me to get a flat and then generate savings, which in turn I can concentrate on spending on travel.

2. Get fit
A usual one - had varying degrees of success with this in the past. This last year was reasonably successful, mainly from playing touch rugby, so I intend to repeat that pattern.

3. Eliminate Swearing from my vocabulary
Another usual one - one day I will accidentally swear at an old lady on the phone when someone scares me or something.

4. Only chase girls that are worth the heartache.
2009 was rough girl-wise, basically kiss them and then they'd run away. So now its a case of risk vs. return.

5. Be more talkative to everyone, not just girls.
Since finishing High School, I haven't put much effort into making guy mates and talking to them, as I've concentrated on making up for lost time (5 years at an all boys school) and making guy mates is natural anyway. However I have been told that it is noticeable.

6. Generally be more charismatic/effervescent
Not sure how to go about this without compromising my honesty, integrity, or genuineness. Then I also try to be more talkative, and get told I'm intense, so I can't win. Whatever

7. Keep my integrity
Despite my current economic situation.

8. Stop having McDonald's regularly for Breakfast.
Its just so nice and convenient - and if I'm not prepared in the morning its just so easy... in recent weeks I have been better at this. But my waistline is giving me away.

9. Don't drink alone
I'm not a huge fan of drinking 'just for fun' anyway, but because I'm living the life of a solo rider, and its a social lubricant, occasionally I may do this. I just don't want to become more involved with it (not likely anyway) nor risk the subsequent temptations.

10. Go to bed earlier/at a decent time
When you live life to the full its hard not to burn it at both ends. But more sleep would help my sanity.

Anyway thats me being honest with myself and the world. I've let you into my head and heart, so please don't be a dickhead about it with the information I've given you. Admittedly I may change my mind at some point and remove them.

Back with a Vengence

Once I got back from Turkey, I called work and made sure I still had work to go back to, which gratefully I did.

The following weekend I went to Church with Suzanne and Bevan, and then we went to the France show which was at the Earls Court Exhibition centre - not far from my hostel.

The France show was a little pretentious, it was more aimed at British wanting to buy land in France - however, I did a reasonable job at pretending to be interested and making conversation with the vendors in order to access their freebies, such as lollies and cheese. I also managed to pick up several maps and things, and enjoyed watching a bit of Can-can dancing.

The following Thursday I went to the Redback tavern on one of my nights off, as it was their 17th birthday - so it was themed like a kid's party, with games like pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel, and food such as fairy bread and sausage rolls. On top of that there was the odd free shot of zambuka, and as per usual (apparently, honestly) they play toss the boss, ie Heads or tails, if you win it you get your drink free, which I managed to do virtually all the time, so I ended up paying only about £6 for about ten drinks. I got chatting to the bar tender who I always seemed to get (and then aimed to get as she was good luck) and it turns out she was from Hamilton, and her dad was actually a teacher from my high school when I was there.

That Friday me and my mate, an old workmate from swine flu, moved from our hostel in Earls court to a Hostel in Hammersmith, as we worked out that it was £17 cheaper a week, and we could have our own room, and be two stops closer to work.

The following week I caught up with Anthony - the Australian guy I travelled through Germany with - over a few beers and a pie in Shepherd's Bush, and heard about his travel through the rest of Europe and through Africa. From there I jumped on a bus to Fulham Broadway to catch up with Scott and Barish - our tour guide from Turkey, after a few beers there, we were joined by several others from our tour, and others from some of Barish's previous tour groups.

On the Sunday of the same week I finished work and headed straight for the Redback again, this time to 'celebrate' Australia day, (in other words, get free stuff) what I didn't consider that morning was the fact I was wearing my black t-shirt with an outline of New Zealand on it (albeit subtle) - however I didn't run into any trouble. I managed to get a nice big free burger before moving onto the Temple Walkabout, where they were having a Miss Bundy (Bunderburg - as in the Australian rum) competition

The following Wednesday night I caught up with Anthony again, this time with Mel, whom we had all met at Oktoberfest. Once Mel went home, Anthony and I carried on and were subsequently joined by my flatmate David - and hence had a rather good time.

The next day, after recovering, David and I headed to east London to check out his old haunts. It was interesting to contrast it with west London - but what interested me the most was the frozen canal I saw - as I realised then that that was the first time I'd actually seen a frozen body of water like that.

That Friday, due to a low call volume, I was sent home early (10.30am - I started work at 9am) which to be honest was annoying, barely enough work to cover the cost of my travel to get there and back, however the silver lining was I got to go to a free lunch that my Agency was putting on, had a good feed, networked, and then afterwards also managed to make contact with my other agents in Putney.

It was around this time that I found out that my campaign was coming to an end, and hence was given a weeks notice. However on the Saturday we got moved to the Toyota campaign - to deal with the calls that were coming in due to the accelerator pedal recall, which is where I currently still am.

That night after work I went to a friend from Kaitaia's birthday celebration, at the Southerner - which is the only real New Zealand pub in London. But because we'd told them we were coming for mince pies, and they had sold out of them the week before (Australia day) they ended up giving us a free beer and chicken and potato pie each for free. Because of that I was rather stoked, and proud to be a Kiwi, because that wouldn't tend to happen else where in London in an English pub (that is probably run by Polish LOL).

The following Wednesday I went to the Duke's headliners - a comedy club in the Duke's head pub in Putney. I especially went that night, as their was a ventriloquist I seen on YouTube called Nina Conti - with her little monkey.

The next Saturday was something I had waited all year for - The Waitangi day pub crawl - the previous year I had just missed it due to my visa not being active until the 12th of February. I started off at Paddington, and headed around the circle line, met up with my mate Scott at Bayswater, and carried on quite a way around, until about 3pm, when we decided to catch the tube to Westminster - otherwise we would miss the haka - I happened to meet a couple of girls who then joined me on the travels, but once I got to Westminster, we didn't see the haka, and I subsequently lost the girls accidentally whilst complimenting a Welsh girl on her tenacity of wearing a Welsh flag on the crawl. Anyhow, it turned out that Suzanne had accidentally found Scott when she came out of the tube station, so I went and met up with them again.

My darling sister, because she wants some nieces and nephews at some point, then walked with me to see if we could find the girls again, but of course we didn't, so we headed to Waterloo to catch up with Scott again. From there Scott and I headed back to his place and had a feed of Chicken and played Guitar hero.

The following day after work I headed to the Redback again, as being the day after Waitangi day, they were having a free hangi. It was rather late being served, however Suzanne's flatmate Rob and his kiwi girlfriend Belinda were there, so I had someone to hang with, rather than being no mates.

The following Friday ended up being my 1 year anniversary of being in London - I spent it working, and then had some drinks with workmates, before going to Suzanne's for a movie.

I had made sure work gave me the next two days off - because I took the attitude that they were going to get rid of me soon anyway, so I was going to do what I wanted and not sacrifice what I wanted to do just because they had all the power. So on the Saturday, I went to Cambridge on a bus trip with some friends. When we got there we went punting on the river, then went and had a pub lunch, and then had a walk around the town and campus, before watching/listening to the choir at Trinity college before heading back.

On the Sunday I went to Bath with Suzanne, Bevan, and their flatmate Luke. We checked out the Roman baths, had a pub lunch, then did two bus tours - although I did fall asleep on the second. We then went to the Sally Lunn bun shop - however, it turns out that real Sally Lunns don't have icing on them - actually really nice. I fell asleep on the train back, once back in London, I went to another thing that the Duke's headliners put on.

On the Monday after work, I rushed to Nottinghill Gate - to do a walking tour that I had planned to do the previous two Monday nights, however had not been able to make it due to work and the tube lines having delays - so I was determined to make it this time, I ended up running to catch the group up. It turns out a friend of my Kaitaia friend was actually on it too, so I hung out with her. Afterwards I went to Queensway to a all-you-can-eat pizza place for £5.45.

The rest of the week I worked 9am - 8pm except for Thursday - basically making hay while the sun shines - ie while I have work, making money while I can, and besides, the phones are pretty quiet between 6-8pm (Friday I didn't get a call for two hours). Saturday night went to Suzanne's for dinner, and Sunday had the day off, had a bit of a sleep in before going to church and then checking out Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Other than that, did some grocery shopping, went and had a roast dinner with Scott and Charmaine at a pub on Goldhawk road, and then home to do some washing.

And there we are - I've finally caught myself up to the present day. All in all its been a bit of a rollercoaster few months, mainly because of living in fear of not being in work the following week, and also because £7/hour doesn't exactly stretch very far - so really I've been breaking even after entertainment, but not really managing to save. Similarly knowing I've been here a whole year now, and not managing to achieve a great deal in terms of job success, or even moving into a flat as yet - because I've been holding out for job security. I was glad that I managed to go to Bath and Cambridge in one weekend, as it had been playing on my mind that in terms of England, I have only seen London, and Southend-on-sea, and Brighton in a year - in the same amount of time, I had seen all I wanted to see in Japan (less a couple of things I didn't get around to in close proximity) as well as a decent chunk of Asia. I know life's not a competition, but competing with your own expectations is hard work.

I definitely want to stay here until my visa is up - not ready to give up and go home, glad I managed to get some work that has at least kept me in the game.

All this has taught me several things about myself, not all good -
1. New Zealand is the best country in the world. I've been to 24 or more countries, I'm qualified to make that statement.

2. I enjoy a customer service role - I like being the solution.

3. However, I do end up wearing the customer's stress/negativity - and almost take it out on others, such as the Subway guys who ask if I want a foot long when I've specified 6 inches (and a foot long isn't anymore cost efficient)

4. I haven't actually solved my intense-ness/ high expectation of others issues.

Other than that, I'll finish this blog with a couple of observations -
a) They make good and cheap hot chocolate at pubs here (I've worked out that a Hot Chocolate is cheaper, and I enjoy it more than I do a beer - and its probably healthier too)

b) British struggle with the concept of flushing toilets.

c) They also seem to stop in the middle of the path of a doorway.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Christmas & Turkey (The country, not the bird)

As it fell, I ended up having Christmas eve off as part of my weekend, so I packed up my stuff and moved out of the hostel (again), but required Suzanne's help to take all the things I had gathered for my nest (as well as a bag of stuff I was babysitting for my Irish friend while he was home).

The rest of the day was generally chatting and hanging out with Suzanne, and Bevan, once he came home.

We decided that midnight mass at Westminster abbey sounded like a good idea, but due to being Christmas the next day, trains and buses weren't running, so we had to organise a taxi to take us home before we left.

The service was kind of cool, to be honest, which surprised me - just the awesomeness of the pipe organ and the size of the abbey was mind blowing. And considering it was an Anglican service in England, the sermon was actually not too generic or boring.

Because we got home at about 1 or 2am, we didn't actually arise the next day until about 11am.

We feasted on some goodies that Suzanne & Bev had gone out and gotten, including getting some L&P for me, which I was rather stoked about.

The next day we got up early - again hindered by the lack of transport because it was Boxing day. We had to catch a taxi to Victoria (that Suzanne had skillfully negotiated a price for the night before) to catch our bus to Luton, to get the plane to Turkey.

Once we got there, I went through customs, but got called an Australian, despite my Kiwi passport, and the All Blacks jacket I was wearing.

Got a shuttle to our hotel, met the others on our tour, and then we all went out to a nearby restaurant , and then for a beer at an outside bar, sitting on pillows.

Day 2-
Got up, enjoyed the buffet breakfast that the hotel provides, met the tour leader and the rest of the group - it ended up being 4 Kiwis (3 being me Suzanne and Bev), 4 Aussies, and the Turkish guide, 5 guys to 3 girls., and then proceeded around Istanbul for the day - looking at the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia- which was originally a church, later converted into a mosque, and subsequently now a museum. We then had some lunch, I opted for a Turkish hotdog, and the cheapest burger at BK (for example a Whopper was 21Lira - approximately $21NZD)
From there we went and checked out the palace, which was OK, but I didn't really rate it. After that us Kiwis went and had some tea at a place overlooking the harbour - which was nice, despite me not being a great fan of tea (although I have gotten used to it having been to Japan etc, and have made myself drink it in order to be more socially acceptable, as my parents would say). From there we went back to the hotel and had some dinner near by.
Day 3
Early-ish in the day we meet the bus driver and the minibus that was to be our transport for the next several days. We headed off, crossing from Europe into Asia, towards Gallipoli and Anzac cove. On the way there we watched the Gallipoli movie that starred Mel Gibson - which must've been a little old, as he was a young guy in it. The first stop was the museum, which was good in terms of a little background. From there we went to Anzac cove, then Lone Pine (the Australian memorial,) and then to Chunuk Bair (the New Zealand memorial). We then headed back down to the water's edge to watch the sunset, before driving to the ferry that took us across the channel to our hotel for the night. We went out for dinner, and had Pide, which is Turkish pizza. From there we went to a bar and watched a Pop/Rock/Punk covers band, which was quite good, before going back to the hotel and playing scum for a while.
Lone Pine
Remains of fortifications, around the corner from Anzac cove.
Day 4
After a nice breakfast, we headed off, on the journey we watched the movie 'Troy' in preparation for the first stop which was Troy (funnily enough). Troy was kind of interesting, seeing the ancient ruins, however, lacked in comparison to the following stop - Pergamon - which was ruins on top of some hills, complete with a ampitheatre, and numerous columns etc.
An aquaduct - at Pergamon.
Something humorous that happened while we were there was the daily call to prayer came over the loud speaker - which resonated from the mosque in the village below. At the end of the singing it sounded like the guy singing started dialling his phone.

From there we headed to our next hotel. Bevan, me and a couple of the others went and had a Turkish bath, which is basically a sauna and massage, before rejoining the others to go for dinner in a restaurant in the hills in a nearby village.

Day 5
Once getting up we made a short drive down the road to Ephesus - which was cool - again lots of ruins and stuff, but also cool in the sense that I was actually somewhere that is mentioned in the Bible - the first time in my travels that I can say that.
The Ampitheatre at Ephesus
We then drove some more, to Pamukkale - the White terraces, which were rather beautiful especially as it was getting on to sunset. The next hotel was just down the road from there. Once we got there we went for a swim in the indoor heated pool before having some dinner.
Day 6 (New Years Eve)
We got up at 5am and drove for most of the day. Near evening we reached Cappadocia, and went to the underground city, which was rather cool - the history behind it was that the ancient Christians feared prosecution from the Muslims that were beginning to come into the area, and so dug a series of tunnels - basically a city to hide in when necessary, when the Muslims came through. From there we went to our hotel, got changed, had some dinner, and went to a New Year's party in a big cave - where we saw whirling dervishes, and a belly dancers. Unfortunately because we had gotten up so early, just after midnight our energy levels just crashed, and at least Suzanne, Bevan, and I fell asleep at the table. Shortly after that we headed back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep.

Day 7
Got up, had a great breakfast, because this hotel also made omelets, as well as the standard bread, salami (made from beef rather than pork - similar taste just darker and more red) cheese, and hard boiled egg. We made numerous photo stops because of the unique landscape and caves. We went to a Turkish carpet collective, which was kind of interesting for a while, but got a little boring while the others made some purchases. The good thing was they provided us with a free lunch.

From there we went to Goreme open air museum - totally awesome, as it was Churches carved into the rock from the 2nd Century.
We then went to a ceramic/pottery factory before going to a restaurant for dinner.

Day 8
The other's were supposed to go Hot air ballooning, but that got cancelled due to the weather. Basically we travelled most of the day to get back to Istanbul via Ankara, where we dropped off the other Kiwi.

Once in Istanbul we farewelled Barish, had a beer, walked a bit, and had some pancake things for dinner.

Day 9
Got up after a sleep in, breakfast, and then went to the ancient underground Cistern/reservoir. From there we went to the spice markets and had a look around. From there we got on a ferry and crossed over the harbour (to another continent no less). After that we went out for dinner before retiring to bed.

Day 10
Got up at 7am, went and checked out the Grand Bazaar, before heading back and catching the shuttle to the airport for our flight back to London.

All in all, it was a great trip, especially as I was half expecting Turkey to be a bit dodgy, but was pleasantly surprised to find the people kind and genuine.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

...and into the 4th decade

I woke up to the smell of a birthday McDonald's breakfast, faithfully bought for me by my lovely sister. What I had not really remembered was that I really had turned 30 about 15 hours before, probably about the time I was waiting in the queue at the Reichstag. I'm not sure whether it was then, or later in the day, I rang my mother, and probably also my Grandmother.

I had an interview in the afternoon, so on the way Suzanne, Bevan, and I had lunch at Wimbledon.

Later in the day Suzanne headed off to Iceland with friends, so for dinner Bevan and I went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for dinner - a formerly New Zealand owned burger chain, before meeting the other flatmates for some drinks.

A few days later I had an interview back at the call centre, and started a couple days after that - worked for a week calling customers to let them know of an upcoming sale. During that time I had my party for my 30th at a local pub in Putney. I then was without work for about 2 weeks before being called back by the call centre for the same campaign, but taking inbound complaints, where I have been ever since, to the time of writing except the 9 days I was in Turkey (although in the last couple of weeks I have been working on Toyota, dealing with concerned customers re the latest recall.)

Since just before Christmas a former workmate from Swine flu has been staying in the same hostel, and since Christmas we have been in the same room, more recently we moved hostels as we worked out we could have a room to ourselves, and be 2 stops closer to work, for £20 cheaper a week.

Back to reality & Berlin

It was kind of nice getting back to London, familiarity I guess, although was less keen on being back sleeping on the lounge floor. Similarly it was also nice being able to resort back to wearing shorts and t-shirts for several weeks, rather than jeans and a big jacket I had been wearing in Denmark.

After job hunting for two weeks, I was back off to Berlin - a trip I had organised back when I was working on Swine flu - to see the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall falling celebrations, which worked in nicely with my own 30th anniversary...

On the Thursday night I went to my mate Scott's - as we needed to get up at 2am to get the night bus to Victoria, to catch the EasyBus to London Stanstead (which isn't in London) - I ended up not really sleeping that night.

Once we got to Berlin we went to the Hostel and dropped off our gear and proceeded to the Russian war memorial, the Eastern Gallery, and found somewhere with a fake ski slope, so I had four tube rides down the slope. Admittedly it was rather hard work, had having so little sleep the night before.

That night we enjoyed some alcoholic beverages, were joined by our friend Tai, and I met some Brits who were also over for a birthday celebration.

On Saturday morning we got up and went and did a walking tour of Berlin - very long, but well worth it - the best walking tour I've done, possibly because of the variety of history in Berlin - ie the Nazi part, and then the east being communist for 40 years.

Once that was over, we went and watched an All Blacks game, and then went for dinner with a guy we'd gone to school with.

Sunday, the others went to a concentration camp, I decided against it, as I had already been to the one at Mathausen, and its something you don't want to re-visit in a hurry.

I knew from past experience that German McDonald's have a breakfast item called a McGriddle - a McMuffin laced with golden syrup - however since this was the former East Germany, it wasn't as easy as you'd think to find a McDonalds - so in the end I settled for a Leberkaus sandwich.

I then went to the Reichstag - the Parliament building - had to wait in line forever, but past the time chatting with an American lady.

Following that I went and had a very late lunch at a popular American restaurant, made a quick trip to a famous stadium - which wasn't so smart, as there was a football going on, and so the train got crowded fast. I then went to the start of the dominoes (that represented the former wall - a touch ironic, considering they were cordoned off, resulting in making it near impossible to get around them) and walked along it for a period of time, then realising it was taking longer than I had, jumped on the metro to Checkpoint Charlie, before going back to the hostel to get my bags and meet up with the others.

On the way to the airport, we discovered the train wasn't going all the way, due to engineering works, so the three of us and a random German girl shared a taxi to the airport. Not that expensive, but just frustrating.

Once we got back to London (ahem) Stanstead we had to wait for a seat on the EasyBus back as our flight was late, we weren't top priority. I then proceeded to walk some of the way back to Putney from Hammersmith before catching a bus the rest of the way.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

London Calling


The following is a copy of my email I have recently sent, summarising my past year. I have included it here as it provides a nice summary.

Of course keep an eye out for some posts below this one, as I have several more to write to catch up to the present, namely Denmark, Berlin, & Turkey.

My apologies, this past year despite not having gainful employment for a lot of it, I have been slack at emailing and keeping in contact in general - probably largely due to the onslaught of Facebook.

Its probably best to start with the start of 2009 - where I found myself waiting for my UK visa to come back. I was labouring for Allied Workforce at a meat works in Te Aroha in the meantime.

For New Years I found myself at a party in Hawkes Bay. The next day I went and visited my brother-in-law Bevan's family, and went to splash planet in Hastings, something that had been on my to do list since at least 2004. (It was the former Fantasyland). I ended up staying the night at Bev's parents and then the next day headed back to Papamoa, via Taupo to catch up with my mate Andy and his wife.

I had a couple of days at Papamoa before returning to work for a week before our contract was finished.

I spent the next few weeks between completing the upload of pictures to Mum & Dad's company website, and the beach at Papamoa.

My visa eventually came at the end of January - because of a dating error, I had 12 days to kill before entering the UK, so I decided to make use of the stopover in LA.

I spent 3 days in LA, in a hostel in Santa Monica - did a bus tour of Hollywood, Venice beach, Rodeo drive etc.

From there I got a train to San Diego - where I stayed for a night and a day, during which time I nipped across the border to Tijuana in Mexico for an hour or two, to say I had been there.

I then got a night bus to Las Vegas. Stayed there for 3 days, during which time I went to the Hoover dam - would have gone to the Grand Canyon, but they weren't doing tours there due to the weather.

From there I got a flight to San Francisco. Unfortunately only got a night there before heading back to LA.

Back in LA, I spent a night in a hostel in Hollywood, and then another in the hostel in Santa Monica, before catching my flight to London.

I didn't manage to sleep at all on the flight, so when I arrived in London at 10.30am local time I was a little tired, however managed to make it through until about 7 or 8 that night, in order to get my body-clock right.

The next day I woke up about 6 or 7am, and went to work with Bevan, and walked from there past the Big Ben, across and then along the river, past the London eye, Shakespeare's Globe, and back across tower bridge, to Suzanne's work for a late lunch. Unfortunately my body-clock didn't act as nicely as that for another week or so.

The next 4 months I was job hunting with several near misses, but in the meantime did a 9 day drive around Ireland for St Patrick's day, and Wales for Easter.

In June, I worked for 7 weeks in a travel company, checking the data integrity in their new system. When that finished I was lucky enough to go straight into a months work in a call centre - working on the Swine flu hotline - people who suspected they had it would call, and we would go through a checklist with them - if it looked like they may have it, we would give them a code to go and get some medication.

While it lasted it was great as not many calls a shift- the NHS had employed more than enough people so people wouldn't sit on the line waiting to speak to us (and give up, and then continue spreading their germs.)

When it finished I decided, rather than sitting around waiting for another job, I would go travelling - to make the most of the remaining summer, and also catch a couple of festivals that I otherwise probably wouldn't get the opportunity to go to, which were conveniently soon.

Therefore the following week I flew to Valencia, Spain, to go to La Tomatina - a big tomato fight, that I had heard about originally in an English lesson back in Japan. I spent a week in Valencia, then 3 days in Alicante, 2 nights in Barcelona - by which stage I'd come down with a bad flu/cold- but thankfully I knew it wasn't swine flu due to the lack of a temperature.

From Barcelona I went to Marseille in France, and lay low there for about a week to recover, before heading to Nice, checking out Cannes and Monaco while I was there.

I then got a night bus to Vienna where I spent a week and a half with a friend and her family. While there I popped over the border to Bratislava in Slovakia for a day, which was cool.

From Vienna, I went to Linz, and spent some time at my friend's parents, visited Mathausen Concentration camp, the Hallstatt Salt mine, and the various museums in Linz. My friend's parents then dropped me in Salzburg, where I stayed for about a week.

Salzburg was rather nice, interesting - mainly because it was easy to recognise the locations of 'The Sound of Music'. I also did a S.O.M. tour on a bus, in retrospect I would've preferred to do a bike tour - that way I would have seen things closer up. Anyhow, I also went and saw some ice caves and a rather cool castle, nearby in the alps.

On my way out of Salzburg, I went to Hanger-7 at the airport, where the Red Bull team keep all their planes, jets, helicopters and cars etc- which is free to visit. Awesome.

From there I jumped on a train to Munich for Oktoberfest. I had a great time, although it was rather expensive. I meet a guy who was also heading towards Denmark as well, so we decided to travel together for as long as it was mutually convenient. We checked out Neuschwanstein castle, and then headed to Stuttgart for another beerfest and to check out the Porsche museum. Halfway through the next journey we parted ways on the train, as he was heading to Berlin, me to Hamburg.

It was a wet day in Hamburg, so I didn't see much there. The next day it was on to Denmark for 2 weeks with some old friends.

While there I went to Copenhagen several times, Helsingor (also known as Elsinore, ie Hamlet's castle, Roskilde viking ship museum, and some chalk cliffs, which also had a radar station from cold war times. In Denmark I managed to see multiple windmills, both the old kind, and the modern kind. I also nipped across to Malmo in Sweden for a day.

From Denmark I flew back to London, as I figured I had more chance of getting another job earlier rather than later, before Christmas.

After being back for 2 weeks, I headed to Berlin for a 30th birthday present for myself, and also as I knew it coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall falling.
Berlin was cool - the definite highlight was the walking tour - best one I've done so far - so much history - being Nazi era, and then the communist era as well.

I was back in London for the day of my birthday - celebrating it with McDonald's for breakfast, a pub lunch, and then me and Bevan went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) - a Kiwi (originally) owned/inspired burger restaurant (Suzanne had gone to Iceland) before meeting the flatmates for some drinks.

Shortly after I got some more work back at the call centre I worked at for Swine flu, where I have pretty much been since then.

We celebrated Christmas at Suzanne & Bevan's flat, with a Christmas tree and a great feed. Christmas eve we went to midnight mass at Westminster abbey, so didn't get up until about 11am Christmas day.

Boxing day we headed to Turkey for 9 days, spent a day in Istanbul, checking out the Blue Mosque among other things. From there we headed to Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia in the following days.

Other than that, there isn't so much to report. Hope this hasn't been too long winded, as I don't believe in subjecting people to reading things against their will - I've tried to keep it brief, and wouldn't have written it if it wasn't a particularly interesting year.