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Three continents in six weeks..

My first stop was Amman in Jordan my original tour was meant to head straight to Syria followed by Jordan and Egypt but with all the conflict happening at that time, the Syria leg of the trip was cancelled. Therefore, I had quite a number of extra days in Amman so I did some research about heading to Jerusalem in Israel for a few days (this is not as easy as it sounds because of the border crossing).

I arrived at the hostel in Amman (Jordan) where I met one of my roommates who told me that a few of them heading to Jerusalem the next day and asked if I wanted to join – perfect! There were four of us in total which helped a lot with the cost of the taxis to and from everywhere.

The view of Amman (Jordan) from my hostel window..
The view of Amman (Jordan) from my hostel window..

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My first family visit and another weekend trip to Europe..

After working my ass off every single day (over 70 hours per week) for the last couple of months, my Mum and Sister arrived. It was good to see them. My sister had her 18th birthday in London which we celebrated by having dinner at Jamie’s Italian restaurant and a quiet night as we were up early the next day to go to Copenhagen.

We got to Copenhagen where my Mum’s cousin (my second-cousin but still call him my ‘cousin’) picked us up and took us to his family home. They treated us with a yummy Danish lunch and then took us on a bike ride around the city of Copenhagen – it was beautiful!

Our cousins - Scott and Jeanette
Our cousins – Scott and Jeanette

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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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