York

After becoming friends and hanging out with Robin a fair amount, he offered to take us to one of his favourite places. Being the nice guy that he is, we even got to meet his parents and they made us a wonderful roast dinner and let us stay the night rather than a hotel.

The trip to York was about a 3 hours drive from his parents place which was about an hour train ride outside of London. I’ve never heard of York but I also haven’t heard of many places in the UK so that isn’t really saying much but York

I’m sure Robin mentioned previously before the road trip but it turns out that York was where he went to University to study and we also found out that he’s been to every pub and club in York which has over 300 facilities.

Josh! No! We are law abiding citizens…

Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel and Robin started us on our guided tour of York. I couldn’t tell you anything he told us as I’ve already forgotten everything about York but I do remember that York is a very beautiful city. One part of the tour had us go along the wall which was  pretty interesting and awesome to walk along.

We also discovered that York has a fair amount of churches and we checked out a handful of them but their Minster was huge. It was amazing to see in person especially after seeing London’s main cathedral, this one was magnificent.

Josh, get out of the picture…

York was a very beautiful city and a great place to visit. Also, after looking at rentals posted in windows, I couldn’t believe how cheap it is to rent outside of London. I suppose being in London is the price you pay for being so connected to everything.

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Amsterdam

If we didn’t end up going with our friend Robin who has been to Amsterdam previously, I think it would have been a bit more stressful getting from the airport to central Amsterdam as most of the signs and terminals start out in their native language.

Seeing their trains was bizzare as they had two levels so people could either go upstairs or downstairs into the train which was really interesting compared to the trains in London but these trains don’t have to go through an underground system that was built a long time ago. We of course went upstairs because that’s where all the cool kids sit.

Once we arrived into central Amsterdam, we made our way to our hostel called Durty Nelly’s Inn to check in and drop off our bags as we didn’t want to carry it around as we explored our first night in Amsterdam. The rooms require you to go upstairs through this stairwell with the smallest and steepest steps I have ever seen.

This is the top half

What I was wondering was the number of people that trip/fall/stumble up/down these stairs.

Having dropped off our stuff, we made our way out into the night to see what was around our hostel. It turned out that we were about a 2 minute walk from the red light district so we checked that out but unfortunately, you are unable to take any pictures while in the area. You can try and take pictures but if you get caught, the guys watching over the area will come and take your camera away to either break it or throw it into the canals so we don’t have any. The red light district was a lot smaller than I thought it was as we explored. Don’t know why I thought it would have been a lot bigger but I suppose there were a lot of girls looking through their windowed paneled doors pointing and trying to pull you in while a fair amount were also just sitting on their stools playing on their cell phones looking bored. Having filled our curiosity of visual boobs, we moved on exploring more.

It turned out to be a lot colder than we thought it would be but we came prepared bringing our Canadian fall jackets and gloves. I think one of the nights actually went down to -15c but we later found out that Amsterdam hasn’t been that cold for almost 12 years and that the canals froze over letting people to go on them. We didn’t try during the night as it was pretty dimly lit over the canals and we couldn’t really tell how safe they were but the next day we found a place where there were lots of people going onto the ice.

It was nice seeing some snow and frozen waters during the winter period as we completely skipped out on our normal winter back home.

We also discovered that the places you buy coffee from are called cafe’s while coffee shops are where you buy other goods which was really confusing and doesn’t make sense to me.

We did a lot of walking around and exploring of Amsterdam and even saw an Anonymous protest of ACTA going on in front of the Royal Palace.

ACTA makes me sad

While exploring we found an optical illusion museum which has one of those classic room illusions where if you stand on one side opposite someone else, one will look a lot smaller than they normally will be.

Puny Leone

Overall, Amsterdam is a beautiful city. All the buildings are unique and each have their own odd shape to them. It was nice that it was less crowded and the snow was a nice touch. Definitely would head back there again sometime in the future.

All Photos of our February 2012 Amsterdam trip

London: The beginnings

As time to leave to London came closer and closer, I never found myself thinking along the lines of “I’m moving to London in less than 2 weeks” and then come the day we arrived, it still hasn’t really hit me that “hey, I’m in London.”

It’s now the third day that we have been in London and I still doesn’t really feel like anything has change much other than where we are living. It feels as if we just moved around the block to a new house and the fact that we are on a different continent hasn’t been a factor. If it hasn’t hit me now, I don’t think it’ll ever really hit me. The only things that just come to mind is that I just find things weird and different but more on that later.

We arrived at around 10am on October 21st at the London Gatwick airport flying with Thomas Cook Airlines and I’d have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at our flight. I was dreading the flight to London as it was going to be an estimated 9 hours and 40 minutes to arrive. All I kept hearing was how bad the seats were and the service and just about everything. Josh described it as imagine sitting in a wooden chair facing the wall with your feet against the wall for the entire flight. Fortunately, when we actually got on the plane, it really wasn’t that bad and I would say it was comparable to WestJet. Everybody on the plane received a small pillow, blanket and water bottle for the flight. We also got lucky with the fact that since there was an extra 100 seats not being occupied by people, the person beside us switched seats to a different spot giving us 3 seats to ourselves to spread out rather than being cramped into the 2.

The plane ride was smooth and I think they arrived ahead of the scheduled 9 hours and 40 minutes, which was nice. Unfortunately, once we walked about 10-15 minutes to the customs gate carrying our ridiculously heavy carry-ons, we saw the line and it wasn’t a short wait. I think there must have been at least 400 people on the non-UK passport side while the UK passports side had the same amount, their line was moving twice as fast as ours. We waited about 2 hours before we finally got through. We took so long to get through customs that by the time we got to pick up our luggage, workers have moved them from the carousel to the ground and there was only ours.

Josh said he was worried that he missed us from arriving at the airport that when he asked a services desk to page us and was asked what flight we arrived on, the person only laughed and said that they were definitely still back there.

Taking the trains from the airport to our apartments was exhausting and tiring. The first thing I noticed was that it must be extremely hard for people in wheelchairs to get around as there are mainly stairs everywhere and when there is a ramp, it’s extremely steep. There are people at all the stations that help with that by putting the ramps onto the doorways but still, not quite as wheelchair friendly as Canada is. I only noticed this because we were carrying our luggage and mine alone weighed about 70lb and after travelling all day and then being up while you should be sleeping, doesn’t make for the best of times.

Arriving in our apartment was a nice sight to see after travelling for so long but as soon as we got home, we had to head out to get supplies so we could sleep that night as our bed linen did have sheets and a duvet but I wouldn’t trust them as they had stains on them. Josh took us to a place where we got to experience what people do all over London and that is people set up stalls all over the street to sell their wares. This one that we went to is located by Woolich Arsenal and it’s not the best market as we soon learnt the very next day when we went to Greenich market but it’s where we got enough supplies to get us set up in our new home for the next while.

The way people live in London sometimes doesn’t make sense to me. Things like our bathroom sink has the hot and cold water taps seperated from each other so to get warm water, you either have to use the hot water tap before it gets too hot or plug the sink so it fills up and pour both hot and cold water into it and fill it up to use. The fact that it’s rare to have a dryer in the place is really odd to me as it takes about a day and a night to dry your clothes or that windows don’t have screens on them so if you keep them open, bugs and other stuff can get into your house easily. Just odd I find and doesn’t make any sense to me.

We stayed up about 26 hours travelling from Vancouver to London before sleeping and I think I was pretty much adjusted to the time here the very next day. Go me!

More to come soon as we have hardly spent any time at home as we constantly go out and when we get home, we’re exhausted from being out all day that we just want to sleep. I have pictures to post but being on an internet stick, it’s pretty bad for uploading big files, like pictures.

And here we go

It was a short time spent at the airport but it was nice seeing some of our friends show up to see us off. A very nice thing to do to stop by for 10-15 minutes after driving down to the airport. A short goodbye to the family as well as the time before boarding was very short.

The flight to Vancouver from Edmonton was only an hour and fifteen minutes. I wish all flights could be that short as I’m not looking forward to the flight to London. As Josh put it, imagine sitting in a wooden chair facing a wall with your toes right up against that wall for 9 hours. That’s what the seats are like on Thomas Cook Airlines. For our flight that we took to Vancouver, we were on WestJet and they have always been a nice enjoyable flight.

Once we arrived, my cousin picked us up and we went ou to eat as we were both starved and eating in vancouver surprised me. This rice dish below was only $11 and the springrolls (There was 2 but we were hungry) was only $3. To get something comparable in Edmonton, this would probably come up to $18 at least and according to my cousin, this was one of the more expensive places.

The next day we went to an Italian restaurant called Anton’s Pasta. This place was on the safer part of Hastings street. Before we got our food, all we knew was that the dishes have gone up $1 in price and that you got a ridiculous amount of pasta to eat. When we received the dishes though, all I could think of is “Who needs this much pasta?” as I shake my head.

This is how much damage the three of us did. I had 2 servings each from each plate as did Leone and Chris had I think 2 servings total. Chris wasn’t too hungry though as he ate roughly 3 hours ago. Seriously though, so much pasta. The leftovers filled up 2 big sized take-out containers.

Our time so far in Vancouver has been nice as Chris has took us on a quick tour through Vancouver and area. Plenty of things that we could do while we are here and it should be fun.

Where does all this stuff come from

As we were cleaning up and clearing out our possessions, more and more things would come out of nowhere. You think you don’t have much stuff in your place but the more you clean out and the more you pull out stuff from your storage and other areas you leave, it’s incredible how much stuff you can store away.

We dropped off about 10-15 garbage bags and moderately sized boxes to Good Will and moved about 15-20 boxes to my storage area and then we have about 4-5 pieces of luggage filled to the brim and vacuum packed. Seriously, where does all this stuff come from? It’s not like we have a lot of possessions but more and more items kept coming out. I’m just glad we didn’t have to move our furniture and rented it out with it. I’m so sick of cleaning and moving boxes and bags.

The day before the walkthrough, there was about 14 hours of cleaning and moving. This was after doing little things leading up to that day and then on the day of the walkthrough, we still had to move more boxes and luggage. I was really hoping to have everything cleaned and cleared out 2 days before giving me 1 day to just look over everything and get a chance to relax before the walkthrough.

Also, even though the place has been cleared out, we filld out 2 other pieces of luggage that we just needed to put stuff in so we could clear out the condo. I still have to go through it.

The place has never been so clean. I hope they renters take good care of the place while they stay. From the sound of their references, they’re good renters and really, you only get bad renters once in a while from what I hear. Plus, most people aren’t going to go through the hassle of filling out long forms beforehand if they’re not serious about renting.

Now that the condo has renters, it feels weird to not have a job at the moment and after living away from home for almost 5 years, not having a place to call my own. Handing over the keys to them is a really weird thing to do when you still have all your furniture there still so it doesn’t actually feel as if you have moved out.

I think if I didn’t ever take any risks with my life, I would regret it later in life.