Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hello Italy.

(An old, incomplete post which I never actually posted.... but here it is anyway: what is left of my travel stories...)

Wow! What a week! I am very much enjoying traveling around a bit more!

Jessica and I went to Rome on Friday afternoon with about 3 words of Italian, and I left Ciampino on Tuesday morning, able to properly communicate with a slightly better vocabulary. Rome was incredible - very touristy - but there is just so much to see. We arrived quite late in Termini which is basically the center of the city. There were millions of Hotels in the area and many tourists, so in these parts basically everyone spoke English. (Apart from one woman at a tourist information booth - go figure!) When we arrived at the station, we had no idea where we were going - all we had was an address and the knowledge that the hotel was nearby. We asked a 'taxi driver' and he told us it was just around the corner and that he would take us there for 30 euros - Jessica became quite offended by this, and so we carried on walking into the dark with our suitcases and no map. After walking a while we sat down and I had a look in my Europe book, and found that there was a map of the area, and we walked straight to the Hotel. (Thanks Kate!!) Was a rocky trip there with my suitcase which is very easy to move around on flat ground, but on the old italian roads it was quite difficult!  
We were so excited about eating the incredible food, but it was late so we just had to go to the closest restaurant which wasn't so great. While we were eating, a Cat wandered into the restaurant, which of course I found a great novelty and was possibly the highlight of the night. 

Saturday morning we got up fairly late and then headed in for some sightseeing, after having some really good lasagna! It is pretty incredible - you'll just be walking down the street and you'll come across some enormous monument built in 103BC or something.  We saw ' The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,' which we just sort of stumbled upon. It is massive, and very impressive - just like most of these monuments around the place. We then wondered down to the Pantheon. It was built in 27BC, which is just inconceivable, considering that they had no trucks or cranes, and they say that even today it would be considered a massive architectural achievement. We also had a look at the fontana di Trevi and threw a coin each to apparently ensure a return visit to Rome. Then we had a look at the spanish steps.... to be honest I'm not quite sure what the story is here, but the view from the top was pretty good. We took a look down Via Condotti, where every big designer label has their own shop.... and then we continued into some of the more affordable shopping streets... including some of the ones where men will yell at you to come and look at their fake hand bags and sunglasses. "A moment miss! Miss! A bag for you!" They have it all set up so that when the police arrive, they can just run away, so you could be in the middle of a transaction and they'll just disappear. A friend got a pair of sunglasses for free this way, however we weren't so lucky. Jessica bought some sunglasses and we both bought a fake prada bag. Prada probably don't even have bags that look like the ones we got - but they were cheap, so who cares. I bargained mine down from 65 euros to 15. The more you don't want it, the more they want to give it to you! We were so tired by then, so we went back to the hotel and had a nap before heading out for dinner. 
We thought that we were more likely to find a decent restaurant outside of Termini, so we went for a walk into the student district to find one of the places suggested in our lonely planet book... it was not there. So we just went somewhere else, which also wasn't great - but better than any Italian food we'd be having in Australia!  Every restaurant we went to had incredible wine for no more than 5 euro for a litre! So delicious. I was happy to get out of Termini as well, to see that Rome is an actual city where people live, and not just a city of tourists! Everyone seemed to know each other and the people sitting at the table next to ours kept having new additions to their table cause someone would drive past and beep - and then they'd wave them in. I think 5 people joined them like this while we were having our dinner! 

Day 2 in Rome, we just went to the Colosseum! This was the main thing that i wanted to see, and it was very impressive - but no surprises really. A bit like seeing the eiffel tower - you've seen it a million times on television - except you're just there in real life. I had always been quite jealous of all the Italian students back in year eleven when they all stranded me for the Summer - so I feel that I have fulfilled my desire to see it now. After a little while of listening to the audio tour, it started to rain quite heavily and we didn't have an umbrella or poncho so we went and sat inside the mini museum and waited. The rain did not go away, and it began to storm. I was STARVING and I really wanted to leave, but the street outside was cut off for road works and there were no taxi's or buses, and it was quite cold so Jessica refused to leave and get wet. (We later found out that there is a subway station right outside that we could have taken it almost all the way home!) We were trapped in the colosseum for about an hour until I talked Jessica into leaving... as soon as we got to the gate, we peered outside to check if anyone was selling umbrella's nearby - and a man literally put one in my hand before we even got outside... it turned out there were men EVERYWHERE in the city selling umbrellas... they must have boxes of them in their homes and then just watch the weather and run out with a bag of them when it rains! We paid 5 euros each for one, and then a little gust of wind completely broke mine. I walked ages, holding it in place, except anytime there was any wind it would go inside out again.  Jessica's was fine of course. 
We had a really good dinner that night at a small family run restaurant around the corner from our hotel and then we went home and watched a movie!

On Monday we woke up really early to go to the Vatican before Jessica flew back to London. The Vatican was by far my favorite if all the sightseeing. The Basilica was really lovely and the Museum was really great. We were told that we would have to wait 2 hours and the line was really VERY long... we thought about buying our way in with a tour, but I'm glad we did, because it was the fastest line I've ever been in and we only had to wait 30 minutes. I think we waited longer for our McDonalds at the airport on the way over! We were really excited about seeing the Sistine Chapel - and I spent most of the day trying to explain to Jessica what the Michelangelo painting was on the roof ... She claims that she has never seen it - which I believe to be impossible - it's got to be one of the most famous paintings in the world. I kept saying - you know, the pointing one. I think we built up the Sistine chapel a little too much and it was a little underwhelming in the end. 
After a quick lunch, Jessica and I parted ways - She was heading home, and I was going to check into the youth hostel in Ciampino! I decided to stay in Ciampino because the cheap flights all fly out of the airport there, and I figured I'd rather stay close to the airport and see a smaller italian town. It was a lovely little place, but I hated my time there and I wish that I stayed in Rome for the night! I arrived at the hostel in a tiny little bus about the size of a maxi taxi. It was down the end of quite a long street and it was fairly run down, with a broken plane in the car park and half of it abandoned. When I went inside, the man on reception was having a nap on a couch and quickly jumped up to check me in. It seemed that the place was empty apart from myself, and even though I had booked a shared room, I had a room to myself. It was WELL creepy. 
I decided to go for a walk and try and find some dinner, I had seen a few small places on the drive to the hostel, but all the streets were so long and bare (lots of grapes and olives) and I took a wrong turn and ended up in I think a different town to Ciampino.... one with very little to eat. I tried to get some money out, so that I would be organised for the next day, except BOTH of the two ATMs in the area were broken! I walked forever along all these roads with no pathways with cars driving very close to me (often containing old italian men who would leer and beep and yell CIAO BELLA!! ) and weeds whipping my ankles! 

I ended up making it back to the backpackers after very good use of my tiny Italian vocab, after becoming quite frightened that I wouldn't make it back before the sun went down and I became actually lost for the night in the Italian country side. 

I hated the backpackers - it was terrifying. I seemed to be the only one staying in the whole place, yet because I was in a room for eight, I felt I had absolutely no privacy. I thought that the man at the counter would come into my room and attack me, much in the style of Norman Bates.... (my shower was a very swift one. )
I had also left the window open during my walk of hell, and so a billion mosquitos came inside and buzzed around my room! The room sounded like a beehive... for about a two and a half hours I took part in a war against the mozzies, running and bashing them against the wall... There was much evidence of previous wars all over the room.. I eventually went out and asked Norman for some bug spray and then emptied the whole can into my room... I slept okay after that, surprisingly. ( with a torch and a can of bug spray in my clutches. I wished that I had Zaac's "intruder knife." )

Anyway, I lived to see another day. I was up at 5.30am to catch the only bus in town to the train station, and then the airport... and then I was off to Berlin! 

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Uh. Hello. So last week there was a tube strike. It was highly annoying and the whole city sort of fell apart. I was working on a photo shoot on the first day, and it wasn't too much trouble getting there in the morning.. I had to go into the city though and that took about 3 hours. Once I finally made it back to the studio, it was all a bit weird really. We were making a fancy catalogue for a fashion label and the designer was sort of calling all the shots.... and he just made a few weird ones. My job was to dress the models. Often I was putting on their shoes, and I kept thinking, surely it is much more simple if they just put them on themselves. Same with most of the clothes. I would be untangling a dress, and there would be a poor woman with her boobs out, waiting for me to work out how the straps go. Not that they were shy. One of the girls was just wondering around wearing only pants... sidling up to conversations and chatting with her boobs on show. I especially enjoyed dressing the male models.
Getting to the other side of town was a NIGHTMARE! I was supposed to meet Adam in Belsize Park, but I had left the Quilt that mum sent me over with at Georgia's house... so I took a mini cab with Georgia... The traffic was HORRENDOUS. We were in the cab for 2 hours until I needed to go to the toilet so bad that I jumped out to use the bathrooms in a nearby hotel. The plan was that I would just jump back in the cab further up the road because the traffic was moving so slowly it was easily possible... however when I got out, Georgia called me and told me the traffic had started to move really quickly, and to run across a park and meet them on another road... so a ran.... and I couldn't find the road she was talking about.... So I just called her back and told her I would forget about the quilt and go straight to Belsize Park to meet Adam. The Northern Line on the tube was the only line that was almost completely working, so I ran to what I thought was Euston Station, (really Euston Square Station) and became confused as to why it was closed. (There was a tube strike. Most of the stations were closed!!) I saw a bus going by that had Kings Cross written on the front and so I jumped on, thinking I would take the Northern Line from there... but soon realised that the Bus had already gone to Kings Cross and it was driving away from it. By this time I had told Adam I would only be ten minutes... so I jumped off the bus and ran to Euston station! I almost applauded the train as it pulled up! Adam and I went to Nandos (weird and pointless table service Nandos...) and then saw Drag Me To Hell... (Adam's choice... not mine!) Although it was VERY entertaining... I think Adam put it well when he said, "That is one of the best worst movies I've ever seen!" I actually screamed a couple of times.. the whole movie was just disgusting. I highly recommend it.

Second day of the tube strike I took a bus the V and A museum. Of what I saw of the museum, it was pretty incredible... but alot of the rooms were closed because of the strike and so I am going to have to go back to see anything upstairs. I missed the hat exhibition. I actually wish I'd caught it. Imagine that - loads of sweet hats! Basically what I did see was the fashion... which is what I went mainly what I went there for. It showed how fashion has evolved... and had some incredible dresses! I'll go back, but probably not for a couple of weeks. :-(

I don't even remember what I did on Friday during the day. Good one. It must have been AWESOME!
Friday Night Jenny and Tino attempted to take me out. It was quite unsuccessful, but we had loads of fun anyway. I met them at their friend's place and we played a bit of guitar hero. I was very bad. I played two songs, and then gave up... After a few beers, we planned to meet some of Jen and Tino's friends at some sort of gay night in a club somewhere... except that they had the club wrong, and by the time we gave up looking for the correct one, we couldn't really be arsed paying a large cover charge, when all the clubs close at 3, and by then it was almost 2am. So we just went home after roaming the streets for a couple of hours...

On Saturday, Jessica and I went and met Lauren for a delicious Cupcake in Primrose Hill. It is probably only a 20 minute walk, and a lovely area.

This is a pretty little square, where there was some sort of fair going on. The were lots of children running around and a man on a microphone doing some sort of auction... he kept coughing without pulling the microphone away. It was delightful. Oh by the way, I finally st
ole my camera back from Jessica's bag - so I'll be putting up a photos finally. Whoohoo!

Saturday night, Jen told Nicole that she had to actually take me to the inside of a bar or club to make up for the wanderings on Friday... so we went to After School, which was a bit like rics... so of course I had an awesome time! Drink were incredibly cheap as well. We were going up and getting 4 drinks, and it was costing us £6. That doesn't even make sense. The song that got us dancing in the beginning was Dolly Parton - Workin' 9 til 5! The hits just kept coming. There was a bit of Joy Division, The Gossip, The Beach Boys, The Strokes... you know the drill.
I danced like an idiot until 4 when they kicked everyone out. The bar was on the 4th floor and it was on the river, so there was an awesome view of London with morning breaking!

Sunday, after a sleep in Jessica and I made our way down to The Warrington, which is Jessica's local watering hole, and also one of Gordon Ramsay's many restaurants. I had Steak and once I had finished it - I just wanted to eat it again. It was very delicious. After that we went down and had a few drinks in the pub and then headed home for a frozen pizza.

Yesterday I didn't really get up to much. I went and saw I Love You, Man... it was pretty funny, but not as good as I thought it would be I suppose. It was in this tiny cinema with only 52 seats and a mini little screen. When I came out of the cinema though, it was the premier of Transformers! I figured something was going on when I went in, but when I came out, there was a red carpet situation and a giant transformer and millions of cameras... I quickly evacuated.

(I understand that I am not so awesome at the photo rotating... I'll work on it.)

I went to the zoo today. I loved it there. I saw loads of Monkeys, and everything else that you would expect to see at the zoo. There was even a toucan. I am so exhausted now from walking around for so long (including to the zoo... it's about 15 minutes from Jessica's.) I even got a little sunburnt. Towards the end of my visit there, I went to watch this show about hawkes, but the second hawke to come out flew into a tree and wouldn't come out. They spent the next half hour calling out "HARRY!" and throwing bits of meat into the air... reminded me a little of when I can't find Rufus and go outside shaking the dry food, calling out for him. They apologised and called off the show after about 20 minutes. I went and looked at a couple more things and by the time I left they still hadn't gotten him out. Harry is very naughty.

Anyhoo, I am just at home now, watching TV and resting my tired legs. I should really be going for a run... but I say that everyday. I am becoming quite rotund. Hayley is making tacos tonight!

Heading to Rome on Friday and then onto Berlin for a week with Ollie! I am very much looking forward to that!


Monday, June 8, 2009


I can't believe how many of you are actually bothering to read my blog. Apart from family members and maybe one or two friends, I didn't really think anyone would be interested. So thanks for reading. I'll try to lift my game and do something more exciting.

I worked a little more with Georgia on Thursday, and honestly it is pretty easy work. I'll be doing a photo shoot with her on Wednesday. Perhaps my career is in for a little bit of a shake up when I get home!

On Friday, I went on a search to see a squirrel! It wasn't very hard... I basically walked into Hyde Park and there was one running down a tree! I almost squealed with delight... they are SO cute! I don't understand why people don't have them as pets... imagine that! 
Aside from the squirrels, Hyde park is absolutely gorgeous! I love it. If I lived in London I would just hang out there all the time. There are some pretty sweet geese and swans on the lake... the whole place is very pretty. 
In the afternoon I met Nicole at the Royal Academy of Arts and had a look at the Kuniyoshi exhibit. He is a Japanese print artist from the 1800s. It was quite incredible to see the wood blocks that he carved out and then somehow turned into really quite intricate prints. Alot of them told traditional Japanese and Chinese tales - heaps of warriors fighting off demons and things like that. I especially liked alot the animals and weird creatures that he did.
After the exhibit, Nic and I went out for a few drinks around Trafalgar Square. We had some crappy Chinese at this place that served next to NOTHING vegetarian, so Nicole had an iced tea, while I ate some very bad duck noodle soup. 

Saturday I took the train out to Epsom and went to the Epsom Darby. This was no Gold Coast Turf Club! It was massive. The Queen was there. They had a fun fair in the middle of the track and heaps of people hire buses and park them in the middle of the track and have a party. The middle of the track was about as big as the big day out. Jenny made a little cash on the Horses, but I made one tiny bet and lost. I'm not exactly in the position to be throwing away my money. It would have been magical if the Sun came out.. but alas, it did not. Some girls were quite dressed up in summer dresses... they must have been freezing. The weirdos in tracksuits almost had the right idea! After the Darby we headed over to a pub in Epsom and got 50p pints from a friend of Jenny's behind the bar! Whoohoo! The whole day was heaps of fun, although the latter part is a little hazy.

On Sunday we were supposed to go to the Zoo with Phil's nephew, but he was sick and we couldn't go! I think the adults were more upset about not going to the Zoo... I was really looking forward to it! Instead we went to this delicious french restaurant that only serves steak and fries! It was VERY delicious. I'll go to the zoo another time... 

Jessica and I decided that we will go to Rome in a couple of weekends time, and then I will go to Berlin from there to stay with Olly! I can't wait to get my party on in Berlin - I hear it is insane! I'm staying for about a week aswell, so Ill get a chance to do a proper tour and see all the incredible history.

For now though, I am going to get out of the house and check out the V&A museum. Mum suggests that I will like it. There is a tube strike planned for the next couple of days, starting from 7 tonight, so it should be an interesting ride home. Everyone will be finishing work early to get the last trains. The whole city is going to fall apart!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Week In London!

I've gotten a little blog-slack, but that is mainly just because I was waiting for something to write about! I'm not sure that I have loads of material, but I'm sure I can manage a few paragraphs!

I'm starting to get to know my way around London now! The tube makes it ridiculously easy to get around... and I have now successfully traveled via bus. (red double-decker bus that it.) 

I've been to 2 wonderful gigs... Phosphorescent with Adam and his friend Jo... and Phoenix, all by my lonesome. Phosphorescent was surprisingly excellent. They put on a really enjoyable show at The Jazz Club in Camden. Phoenix played at KoKos which is a really cool venue... a bit like the Tivoli on crack. 6 levels and a GIANT disco ball in the middle. I paid far too much for my ticket from a scalper... I'll have to work on my persuasion skills for next time. They put on a really fun show though, and played a lot from their last album as well as their latest one. 

This week I've been working quite a bit with Georgia, the stylist I mentioned in my earlier blog. We did a British Airways/Heathrow ad... (ironic really after my harsh welcome at Heathrow... and considering the circumstances I was detained.) I enjoyed it very much... it was a lot more relaxed than a film shoot and the studios were lovely. Maybe it's just that I am used to working in a giant, glorified shed.. but the room was beautiful!  There were pastries and freshly brewed coffee on demand, fancy bathrooms with hand cream... there was a fridge fully stocked with lots of fancy drinks, and bottles of coke... and that delicious green and blacks chocolate. The food they gave us for lunch was by far the best food I've eaten since I arrived...  It seems like a dream job to be a stylist really... Some of the jobs this girl is doing sound ridiculous. And you get free clothes ALL the time... You get a budget for a job and then you take everything back at the end and exchange the things you don't like for things you do. I think I refunded about 40 items on Tuesday... so I certainly know my way around High St, Kensington now. I'm working with Georgia again tomorrow and then again next week. I'm going to have to say no eventually so that I can get on with my holiday. 
In other 'Working Illegally in the UK' news - I am going to get some cash in hand work, going around in bars and giving people massages... At least it is one up on 'slamming.' Hayley is trying it on Thursday just for fun and she is a Lawyer - so it can't be that bad right? A bit of extra money to help me relax on my budget will always be very welcome! 

I've been out a couple of times with Jessica, and also Nicole and Jenny - so that has been nice. I went out to Nicole and Jenny's place in Twickenham. They are moving out, which is a pity because it a great house that they are living in. Twickenham is a lovely suburb as well... lots of very british looking houses. 

I'm a bit crap at sight seeing. I looked at Big Ben from across the river and when we drove past in the cab.. and other than St Pauls Cathedral, that is it. I think I need to pay to do a tour. 

Anyway, it is almost midnight now - I'm listening to Triple J breakfast online, but I'm very tired and it is time for bed. 

Goodnight xx