As it was the year of the Olympics in London, it was manic with crowds of people from all over the world – more than normal! Such a great time to be in the city though and there was even more on than usual!
A group of us watched the Opening Ceremony at a mate’s pub before I caught the train to Manchester the next day read to go to my first Olympic event – New Zealand v Egypt soccer (also Brazil v Belarus). As the people I went with were mainly Kiwis I thought it was best to support the cousins from across the sea and join in donning the black and white. It was good fun watching the game at Old Trafford stadium and a great atmosphere. I spent the night and did some exploring of Manchester with some mates making the most of our time there.
The following weekend I watched the women’s triathlon in Hyde Park before jumping on a train to Cambridge. Again I did the free walking tour this time with Footprints Tours, walking through the UK’s most wealthiest college, Corpus Christi College, before returning to London ready for another day trip to Brighton with a mate. Was such a nice day with the sun out and being on the coast it had a great feel about it – we ate our way around and sat out in the sun on the pier. Such a nice way to spend the day away from the hustle and bustle of London.
And then it was time for me to return to Berlin to see my mate again! This time is was a lot warmer so we rode the bikes around in the sun exploring the great city and going to Mauer Park which is a must do in Berlin – there is karaoke set up in front of a hill and some cool markets to check out as well.
After a couple of big nights we again went to Burgermeister for a delicious meal and I did the Alternative City tour with Sandemans Tours where I met some cool people and we walked along the East Side Gallery before joining in a random Zumba party at Yaam. A great weekend in Berlin once again and another reason why it is one of my favourite European cities.
One of my mates had a car so a few of us went for a big road trip along the Southern Coast of England. We started at Dover and then along through Folkestone, Hyth, Dymchurch, Camber (where the crowds were out in force at the beach as it was a lovely summers day), and camped out at Hastings. We checked out the beaches along the way which went from pebbles to sand to concrete (!) and then back to pebbles. We went through to Eastbourne, Saltdean and finished up in Brighton on the Sunday arvo. The Telscombe Cliffs (outside of Saltdean and Beachy Head) were absolutely stunning.
It was time for another Bank long weekend and this time I went to Bratislava in Slovakia and Vienna in Austria. I flew into Bratislava for a night where I did the free walking tour with Be Free Tours and hung out with a couple of Aussie boys for the afternoon eating some yummy Slovakian delights. To get to Vienna (in Austria) I caught the ferry up the Danube River just as the sun was setting – ideal! I definitely ate my way through Vienna and joined a few people to check out the stunning Schönbrunn Palace and accompanying perfectly maintained gardens. We even managed to go to an apple strudel cooking display having a taster afterwards – delish. The old fair was cool to check out at night as well as during the day and hiring a bike is a great way to get there. I caught the bus back to Bratislava (only an hour or so) to fly back to London – it was half the price compared to flying out of Vienna!
My cousin was due to head back to Adelaide we did a few things around London and as a last minute trip, took a tent and caught the train to Llantwit Major in Wales to camp out for the night. We went for a few big walks along the coast (again perfect weather!) and chilled out in a couple of cafes and pubs. Such a nice weekend in Wales back to nature once again.
The following week I certainly made the most of the Paralympics in London and went to various events including: wheelchair basketball, pass to the ExCel Centre (weightlifting, sitting down volleyball, wheelchair basketball) swimming, and tickets to the main Olympic stadium for a night of athletics where I have never seen a crowd so big – another perfect night and we got to see Peacock (British) win the 200m sprint and saw Pistorius run as well. Such a great night with an incredible electric atmosphere.
The next weekend consisted of a short trip to Stockholm in Sweden with a few friends. We walked around and did a bit of exploring including the ‘hop on hop off’ ferries to check out the main sights. We sat on a hill at Skeppsholmen and watched the crazy people on the insane ride at the fair. The Skansen was great with lots of animals including many reindeer!! Ate some yummy Swedish meatballs here but didn’t try reindeer as it was extremely expensive – Stockholm was not a cheap city!!
During the week a few of us had tickets to the England v Ukraine soccer game at Wembley Stadium – this was pretty cool to experience and it ended up a 1-1 draw.
As my cousin had now left London and was traveling around Europe, I met up with her for a weekend in Vilnius, Lithuania. I really enjoyed it here and we checked out a stunning lake with Trakai Island Castle in the middle. We ate some delicious food and joined in the free walking tour for three hours with Vilnius Free Tour. There was also another district, Užupio Respublika, which was also an island and had its own constitution which was all about ‘freedom’.
A weekend in Vilnius turned out to be my cheapest weekend away with everything (including flights, accommodation, food, drinks [alcoholic cocktails] and transport) costing only £110 – less than $200!!!! Bonus that it was such a great city and I loved it there.