Friday, 22 June 2012

"Amsterdam Yes I Know I AM"

And our Euro trip has officially begun! After two and a half months of working our butts off and living like Jews we were finally able to save up enough money to start our European adventure. First stop: Amsterdam! And No, (Yes, I know what you’re thinking) their lawless culture is not the only reason why we wanted to go there! There is so much more to Amsterdam, not only is it dirt cheap to travel there but it is home to historic architecture, thousands of bicycles, famous artists, tranquil canals, CHEESE, beer and, well, interesting window displays! Haha!

After watching Euro Trip numerous times I took some tips into consideration for Amsterdam, stay away from places like Club Wandersexxx, even if they offer you a free T-shirt, don’t act high after consuming brownies (they might not contain Hash) and always keep my travel wallet within sight. With that in mind I was ready for the long 10 hour bus drive and 2 hour Ferry ride that layed ahead.

We arrived early Sunday morning, checked in and took a stroll around central Amsterdam. The architecture is similar to the Old Dutch style houses in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Except the top of these buildings slant outwards and are separated by dingy cobble walk alley ways. There are large fat cats roaming the streets, one can expect that, where there is cheese there are mice and where there are mice there are cats!

The hostel we stayed in is called Aivengo, we stayed in an all girls dorm on the 5th floor, besides the 1000 stairs we had to climb our room was amazing, stunning view, loads of space, very central and really tidy. After a long Sunday nap we decided to hit the Dutch Supporters Club to watch the Portugal vs. Netherlands game. They take soccer very seriously in Holland, the streets are decorated in oranje streamers and soccer balls, and the pub was filled with Dutch supporters sporting orange gear. They weren’t too impressed when we shouted for Portugal’s victory. We ended off our night with a visit to a coffee shop (for coffee haha) and the best burger I have ever eaten from a little place called Burger Bar!

Day two: We decided to get to know the area a little better so we went on a lovely walk to the canals followed by a visit to the Anne Frank Museum where we got to see the rooms the Frank family hid in during the war. We then headed back home to get ready for the night, a night my mom wouldn’t approve of! We took a stroll down the Red Light District; it was interesting to say the least. Seeing men come out of the red lit rooms and she-males flaunting their bits was definitely the funniest.

Day Three (and this is where shit gets interesting): We decided to join the masses and hire a yellow bike. Thinking it would be a breeze, we got on our bicycle and hit the streets. Yeah not as easy as I thought, dealing with advanced cyclists who don’t even need to hold the handle bars, trams, cars that travel from the opposite direction, pedestrians, motorbikes and no cycling zones made for a slow start. While the others cycling skills were up to scratch besides Adriana’s bike bump into a park car, yes parked, I was left cycling at snail’s pace and waiting for it to be completely safe before crossing the road. Our mission for the day was to cycle to the I AMSTERDAMN sign, our hopeless navigational skills made for a long ride across canals where we stumbled upon a gem called Rembrant Square, a guitarist kept bystanders entertained, we used this opportunity to stop for some ice-cream. With no place to lock up our bikes we decided to lock it all together around a tree. End result, hilarious! We finally found the I AMSTERDAMN sign after asking people to point us in the right direction every 10 minutes or so. During the evening we met up with a friend, who took us to the popular party area Leidseplein, as it was a Tuesday all the popular clubs were closed but we had a fun night at one of the pubs none the less.


Day four (last day in Amsterdam): The girls woke up with a broken butt from cycling, me...well, I have a butt of steel. Bianca and I woke up earlier than the others so we headed to central to eat and look at souvenir shops. On our way back we stopped at the Bulldog... drove our bicycles back (I tried, but kept falling over so decided to walk it) then we went on a quest to Kaasland to get a free muffin/croissant but the owner directed us to his brothers shop who was running the special (only to find out that his bothers shop doesn’t exist) but waffles with Nutella and cherries was the perfect substitution. 

Our plan for the day was to do a canal bike ride, but after being caught up in our waffle eating frenzy we only had 1 hour until closing time otherwise we would lose our deposit we put down to hire the canal bikes. We decided to take the risk, Adriana and I teamed up and Bianca and Nikita were on the opposing side. I voted Adriana as steer Captain of the ship as every time I took the reins we kept bumping into the parked boats on the side of the canal, yes parked again! Nikita and Bianca decided to take over the canal by cruising in the middle instead of abiding by the stick to the right rule which was hilarious when they tried to steer out of the way of oncoming boats. The views were stunning until we realised we were lost, travelling all the way to a dead end, we had to ask people in their boats how to get to the final destination, all of them giving us a different answer. Smart Nikita finally figured out the map and we got back to the canal bike hire right in time.

Our last night in Amsterdam was pretty chilled, as we had to get up early in the morning so we just strolled around taking in the little time we had left in the vibrant city. There were three things I didn’t experience: the taste of Dutch cheese, Van Gough’s artwork, the sex museum and the windmills. A little disappointed, but now I have a reason to go back again! 

My menu for the holiday:
Mc Donald’s Big Mac
Crepe with Nutella and banana
A pizza from Pasta Bar
2x M&M Mc Flurry
Burger King Cheese Burger Meal
Waffle with Nutella and cherries
3x Burger Bar Burgers
(Fat I know)

I can’t wait until our next trip, did someone say Barcelonnnna!!! This post is dedicated to all of those who thought we wouldn’t make it past the first month, as Nikita always says “Suck on my chocolate salty balls, put it in your mouth and suck ‘em” hahaha!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Two Month Jubilee

The weekend marked our two month anniversary in lovely London therefore I thought it would only be fitting to update you all on the dirty deeds since day one, and by dirty deeds I mean eating our first meal in London on the floor in front of Mc Donald’s, sleeping in dirty hostels, finding a pack of Mentos on the floor and eating it, turning the 10 second rule into the 1 minute rule (no food will ever go to waste), doing our washing in the sink to save money on laundry, drinking ‘Cup Of Soup’ out of our old coffee cups which we dug out of the bin, getting our hands dirty at work when clearing food off tables and cleaning plates before giving it to the porters, and moving into a home that is made of dust, grime and dirt. Okay.... before I suck you into our world of unforgivable dirtiness I think I should start from the beginning.

Our adventure began at Cape Town International, all of our families and friends joined us for a long and sad goodbye. We were not off to the greatest of starts as we almost missed our flight due to one of the airport staff telling us our flight was delayed when in actual fact it wasn’t. The next leg of our journey involved a 9 hour flight to Dubai followed by a 7 hour flight to London. London greeted us with grey clouds and 10’C weather.

We checked into our back packers late that afternoon, to our surprise Brazen looked nothing like the pictures on the net but it was home for the first month of our stay, if you get past the smells, the dirt and bug invested beds it wasn’t too bad of start. We made loads of friends there, from Hungary and his tasty Tesco doughnuts to Scotty and his pint of beer in the mornings. Most of the nights were spent making microwave food in the upper kitchen where we shared a meal meant for 2 between the four of us (this was during our “WE NEED TO SAVE PHASE”). The rest of our meals for the past two months have ranged from Burger King's 'King of the Day', Mc Donald's and Subway to dodgy Chicken shops or Tesco/Sainsbury meal deals, healthy I know...

The Job Hunt: 

As we all know one cannot survive in a country without a job, so when we arrived it was game on. I applied for numerous jobs over the internet, sending my CV to various businesses in the fields of design, hospitality and administration. The girls and I even printed off our CV’s and handed it out to businesses in Wimbledon. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Nando’s was one of the lucky contenders I handed my CV to. After the trial shift, I never heard from them again, it’s safe to assume that my waitressing skills weren’t exactly up to scratch. In terms of my design applications, I got a call back for a job as an Adobe suite lecturer, I attended the interview and all went well. For a while I didn’t hear from them, however on the day I signed up for Elements, I got a call back saying I should come in for a trial shift as I was shortlisted for the position. I declined hoping that Elements would be the better option.

Before our shift at Hilton Park Lane

Elements is an agency which ‘hires’ you out to five-star hotels within London for banquets and events. Work varies from waitressing at weddings, serving drinks at buffets and my personal favourite doing room service at hotels. One of my favourite things about working for Elements is that you get to meet new people all the time, picking up friends along the way. From the awesome staff at The W to the crazy Auzzies/Kiwis we work with every day, each and every one of them keep me thoroughly entertained.

The things I have learnt from my job thus far:

  • Napkin folding and polishing cutlery/glasses is an art.
  • Silver service was invented to make you look like an idiot.
  • Australian men wear “Thongs” haha!
  • Never drop curry on a ladies bag or a glass bottle of water in a guests room because then you are an idiot!
  • Always dish yourself three servings of food at the hotel cafeteria in order to save money, and keep eating even when you can’t anymore.
  • Always say yes to free food, that’s why you doing this job in the first place.
  • Whoever invented court shoes should be repeatedly beaten with it!
  • Make sure you read the bus/tube maps properly otherwise you might end up in zone 5.
  • Make sure you ask someone how to use a bottle opener before you attempt to tackle the task yourself.
  • Always ensure that you know which celebrities are at the hotel otherwise you might be unaware of who you serving (as that look profoundly different in person).
  • You can carry 10 plates on one arm and 8 wine glasses in one hand.
  • Yeah... I'll rather stick to Graphic Design!

We haven’t shaped up too bad, we have a home and holiday plans for the up and coming weeks, I shall elaborate on these a bit more in my next post. I will also share my London site seeing with you and wait for it... my trip to Old Trafford which will be a post entirely on its own. The past two months have been an amazing adventure and I am looking forward to the new experiences with my Lundun Ladies!