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Hogmanay and back to London with a weekend trip to Europe in the mix..

I returned to London just before New Year’s 2011 and headed straight up to Edinburgh to bring in the New Year with the Hogmanay Festival.

I was with a group of friends and we hired an apartment in Grassmarket Square which is pretty central and not far from Princes Street Gardens. We had a few cook ups and roasts and joined in the festivities of the Hogmanay Festival which included artists such as Mark Ronson, The Vaccines and Bombay Bicycle Club etc.

Fireworks over Edinburgh's Castle for New Year's
Fireworks over Edinburgh’s Castle for New Year’s

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Another first for me, snow!

One of my mates organised for a group of us to head to the French Alps for Christmas with Fanatics Tour Group. The package included transport, accommodation, lift pass and ski hire.

We met at Waterloo Station late in the evening and jumped on the bus to Risoul (La Foret Blanche) in the South-eastern French Alps. Little did I know how far away from London this actually was and how long it would take us to get there.

We stopped a few times along the way for food etc and at one stop I finally got to experience snow, at last! It made everything so beautiful, and slippery!

The sun is out to play!!
The sun is out to play!!

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Croissants, chocolate and cheese..

It was December and so I boarded the Eurostar from St Pancras bound for Paris . It was so simple, a simple show of the passport, sit down in your seat and you were off to another country, via train, underwater.

As my mate had been to Paris before, I went off and did the free-walking tour while I waited for her to arrive (she was coming by plane from Edinburgh). The Sandeman’s free walking tour was great and went past a few of the major sites, Notre Dame, down Champs-Elysees with the Arc De Triomphe in the distance, past the various museums and through the arch at the Louvre. This was a perfect way to get my bearings around the city and learn some history all for free (funding based on tip at the end).

Ahh the Eiffel Tower..
Ahh the Eiffel Tower..

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My first few months in the United Kingdom..

I arrived in London with no plans. However, I was lucky enough that my cousin, Tarlia, had also just arrived and had kindly booked me into a hostel with her for a couple of nights.

For about a week I hostel-hopped whilst checking out some housing options and setting up my bank account. I was having no luck with the house search (via houseshare.co.uk and gumtree.co.uk) until one of the girls (Aussie) I met on the tour (through Portugal and Spain) got in contact with me and said I could crash at her place until I found somewhere. This proved perfect as Chloe was actually leaving London and moving back to Australia, so after a week dossing on her couch she told me I could take over her room and it was only £380 a month including bills!!! I had somewhere to live!

Picadilly Circus
The busy Picadilly Circus in London..

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First stop, Europe and a little Africa..!!

Goodbyes are never easy and I had my family there to bid me farewell, I had a two-year visa but no real idea of when I would be back.

After a mammoth flight, I landed in Lisbon, Portugal (Adelaide-Melbourne-Hong Kong-Istanbul-Lisbon). It was a solid 25 hours on a plane.

I was doing a ‘Top Deck’ through Spain and Portugal for two weeks as a ‘welcome to Europe’ for myself.

What I saw of Portugal was beautiful. We went from Lisbon to Porto which was stunning. A boat ride down the Douro River was ideal and a great way to see the sights.

Douro River in Porto
Douro River in Porto

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In preparation of my move overseas..

Within a week of returning from India I gave my boss notice and signed up with various agencies to start some temp work (higher hourly rate and experience in other companies).  So I could save to move overseas.  To the UK it was, solo all the way.

For my UK visa, I applied online and booked a day trip to Melbourne (from Adelaide) for my biometrics.  The visa cost £208 (roughly $370 AUD) and was simple enough to follow.  I applied for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme which allows Australians to work in the UK for 24 consecutive months, allowing you to exit and enter the countries as much as you like in the meantime.  There are a few rules such as:  you must be between 18 and 31 years old, have £1,890 (roughly $3,250) in your bank account, and you must apply for the visa outside of the UK.  For an ‘Ultimate Reference Guide on the Youth Mobility Scheme’ please click here to see how Chris from ‘The Aussie Nomad’ explains it in great detail. Continue reading “In preparation of my move overseas..”

A day of wandering in Singapore..

I had a full day in Singapore on my way home from India and wow could you notice the difference. Coming from India to one of the world’s most ‘cleanest’ cities was a bit of a shock for me, I missed the chaos of India already.

Singapore was nice for a day – I walked around, a lot, and noticed pretty much all the shops were the same just in different shopping complexes. I did go on the Singapore Flyer which gave me a good view of the city and ate some yummy food. Continue reading “A day of wandering in Singapore..”