A Travellerspoint blog

First steps

A day in London

overcast

Under the cover of night we fly in. Scattered in a way only a 24 hour flight can induce, it seems we slowly start to materialise into the real world. Vague and tired, it is only the glimmer of excitement that pushes us forward, clawing and fighting its way through the mental haze, determined to take control. This place after all is responsible for its creation, for its existence. And finally excitement meets its maker, in London.

And that how we arrived, during Londons dawn, tired but enthusiastic. The city itself greeted us with a think fog. Our brains, just as cloudy as the sky, attempted to navigate our way from Heathrow to West Hamstead where we would be staying. If Londons weather is described as dreary and miserable, then the same can be reflected in its people, well, its early morning commuters at least, appearing as lifeless souls passing through the spirit world. That, and everyone we asked assistance from, including public service agents, seemed to offer it begrundgenly and with an air of contempt.

Luckily for us we were soon greeted with the warmth of our generous hosts, who opened up their gorgeous home for us on a cute and quintessential London street. Energised by such friendly hospitality we dumped our bags and headed straight out into one of the worlds great cities.

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Still a bit scattered, we headed into Londons underground and caught the tube to London Bridge. Nestled at the foot of the bridge laid Borough Markets, a farmers/food market recommended to us for its awesome cheesecake. Stepping into the stalls of produce, we were hit with a sensory slap across the face. With all kinds of fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, wines and juices, breads and deserts, this place had everything, the spices and smells seemingly coursing through our veins and erasing any of the fatigue we came in with.

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After wandering around and taking it in, we decided to try a very popular looking coffee shop. Very cute and cottage style in its interior, it seemed we had stepped into our first coven of the trendy, vain and some would say snobby bourgeois cafe culture, where it appeared the Burberry clad socialites were there to be seen rather than enjoy a coffee. But, as a traveller and an observer I tried not to be judgemental, but did have a little chuckle to myself. They were probably doing the same to me. The coffee itself though, awesome.

We continued to explore the markets in the shadow of a beautiful old church, treating ourselves to some cheesecake, and Mel, a sneaky hot dog, which by all accounts was delicious. Our great way to start our Friday morning.

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From there we went for a stroll, admiring the cities people and architecture. We walked along the not so remarkable river, and then decided to check out the very touristy Tower of London.

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Soaked in a bloody history, the buildings and surrounding battlements gave us an authentic feel of Londons past. I myself had no problems envisioning (or remembering) heaving a battle axe into the chest of a marauder scaling the outer walls, defending the keep for King and country. We viewed the obligatory Crown Jewels and gold ornaments, and trekked through the armoury halls, where I am sure Mel gave thanks that our home didnt look quite this gaunt and full as weapons, as knowing me it could well be.
After taking some shots of the Tower Bridge, we again set out on foot through the streets, getting a sense of the flow of the city.

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What I immediately noticed and loved walking through the infrastructure was the seamless integration of old world artefacts and architecture within modern development. The way a cobblestone path can wind between an all glass office building or how a sleek and modern department store can perfectly frame a Gothic masterpiece, is an absolute marvel. Its is something I admired greatly in Japan, and one that is sadly lacking in the comparatively infantile Sydney.

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We walked onto St Paul’s Cathedral, humbled by its scale, detail and overall beauty. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed inside due to a prayer session. Trust religion to ruin something as lovely as a church. So disappointed and starting to tire, we poetically crossed the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern art gallery. We finished up the day here looking at some cool artwork, from young up and coming artists to famous favourites. I must say that I am still stopped in stride when I see a Dali. I am no art critic, but his subject matter and execution really hits a chord with me, and I feel deeply connected with his themes of disconnect from the world and a sense of longing for something lost. If I was talented enough to express how I view the world it would definitely be in the surrealism forum, deeply influenced by Dali's fearless creativity.

At that stage the fatigue started to hit and we made our way home. I must say though that London was originally just our easy entry point into the EU, and didn’t inspire much desire to explore. However, after only one day we fear that we may not get to see all we want, but am excited about giving it our best shot.

Posted by Clayton30 11:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london europe 2012 Comments (0)

The Plan. Kind of.

“You know, walk the earth, meet people, get into adventures. Like Caine from Kung Fu.”- Jules Winnfield.

Well Jules, as tempting as that sounds, I haven’t decided to be a bum. So below is, for the most part, a very rough plan. I would say they were more like guidelines than rules, but seeing as we fly out in less than two weeks, we better have some idea right. So, family and friends,

2–5 March – England- London
5 -12 March - Scotland- Edinburgh
12-17 March – France – Paris, Versailles
18-20 March – Belgium – Bruges, Brussels
21-24 March – Netherlands – Amsterdam
25 March – 1 April – Germany – Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden
2-5 April – Czech Republic – Prague
6-9 April – Austria – Vienna
10-12 April – Hungary – Budapest
13-16 April – Poland – Krakow, Warsaw
17-24 April – Russia – St Petersburg, Novgorod, Moscow
25 April – 5 May – Turkey – Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Olympus
6-13 May – Greece – Athens, Santorini
14 May – Montenegro
15-29 May – Italia – Florence, Rome, Venice, Turin
30 May – 6 June – Southern France - Cote D’azur
7-13 June – Spain
14-21 June – Morocco
22-28 June - Portugal
29-30 June – Spain
1-3 July – France
4 July – UK

Like I said, it’s a really rough plan. Apart from the time in Russia, where every footstep has to be accounted for, we haven’t really booked anything. We are trying to stay flexible, but because of the Schengen Visa restrictions we do have to watch our time in certain places. Admittedly, we may be trying to fit too much in, but we will play it by ear.

Hopefully if our finances get us into July, we can then make a decision. If we like living out of a backpack, the adventure continues! However, if we are completely over it all, we can come back to Sydney and try and piece our lives back together. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Man, so many things I want to see!

Posted by Clayton30 02:11 Tagged europe plan 2012 Comments (0)

Gotta begin somewhere...

sunny 23 °C

Well, one month out and I guess it feels time to put something down. Although it may seem strange writing a travel blog before actually going travelling, I have to admit I have actually been putting it off. The reason being the shear plethora of travel blogs currently out there, from established and aspiring career writings, to the ever surprising multitude of average Joes who's vain delusions lead them to believe people care about every insignificant aspect of their lives. Both this ever increasing pool of talent and those uninhibited by their lack thereof, had left me at the point of merely entertaining an idea, rather than making it a reality. What changed was a piece I read by Michael Palin.

Struggling with his own literary pursuit, Michael expressed the difficulty in trying to find “a single fresh word to apply to sunsets, Venice or another morning on the Mediterranean”. It was only during his journey that he made his own realisation , one that struck a chord within me, as it represented exactly some of the hopes and anticipation of my own adventure. It came down to this.

“Sunsets and sunrises would always be there but what made them special was who you were watching them with at the time.”

Pretty simply really, but I found it powerful. Not just for the obvious reason though. I mean yes, I most definitely look forward to sharing events with the people I meet and my soulmate who'll be next to me every step of the way. but the statement itself suggests endless possibilities, ones that really encompasses much more than the rising and setting of the sun. to me it conjures images of chance meetings with locals, sharing food and stories and company. Connecting over laughter and smiles, despite the absence of a common language, sharing local music that is itself is as complex and unique as the culture its from, yet draws an emotion that everyone in the world can experience. And of course the possibility of the unknown.

And yes, the sunsets and sunrises will always be there, but in Europe, they go back a long time too. More specifically, the people who have enjoyed them before us were doing so longer than any other race on earth. And how can you not be moved by this. The idea that all the castles, all the wars, all the art, all the growth, all the horrible atrocities and the amazing acts of humanity throughout the ages, all occurred under that same sun is truly mind blowing. And within this I find inspiration. That when I think about those who I am sharing my experience with, I can count more than the person I am sitting next to. I can count all those who have helped me get to that point, whether friends and family back home, or helpful strangers I've met along the way. I can count all these people and all those who have made them, those who have come before and those that still watch over us. I can even now count you. For I know that all these people, that all these eyes have seen what they have seen sharing the same light. Sharing the same sunrise and sunset .

I hope you guys enjoy.

Clayton

Posted by Clayton30 05:02 Archived in Australia Tagged europe 2012 Comments (2)

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