25 August 2012

Summertime in London-town, Olympics and Getting Lost...

Summer, Autumn, Spring & look back to Summer. This is how I like to spend the year.

Hello London. Full of firsts, now where do I begin? How about the very start…

First trip to London on the First Great Western train to Paddington was straightforward. Travel card purchased for the national rail, bus and underground was put to good use. First few times on the underground were interesting. First ever destination Tower Hill! 

The “tube” is user-friendly; I guess it has to be for the millions of tourists that visit the city. First few times on the tube were usually off peak and relatively calm, but you adjust to the chaos…eventually. Now its second nature, knowing what line goes where, the direction of the lines, the exits, the platforms, where the best spot to stand is to jump on fast. It’s a mission at times. One that I’ll be living from now on.

Bearings. Yes I have lost mine at times, and I’m sure it’s going to continue to happen. London is massive and I could never imagine how big until you step out onto the streets and explore the size. Losing your bearings, walking in the wrong direction is all part of being in a new city. Thankfully there are signpost maps every few hundred meters showing where you are and what streets, locations are in a five to 20 minute walking distance radius. Not afraid to look at one of these to get going in the right direction!

SO far I’ve explored Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, The Mall, Oxford Street, Angel, London Fields, one-night out in Highbury, Camden Town, Crouch End, one-night out in Shoreditch (with a bus fail that will not be mentioned - apart from that one mention), Kings Cross, Leicester Square and then Holborn where I’ll be working. I have wandered around a few more places when attending job interviews but they don't count because I never had time to actually explore.

This summer was also supposed to be rocking out to Blink 182. Alas, arriving to Brixton to find the show was cancelled was a downer. On the other hand I now know where the O2 Academy is for future events. Bonus.

First stage show in London was at the Queens Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see the longest running musical, Les Miserables. To be honest, I knew two or three songs (not word for word) and that was about it. In the end? I loved it. The cast were superb in my opinion. The story was fascinating. Especially knowing I was about to embark to the city of Paris at the end of the month. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the new film version to be released later this year.

With summer almost over, it’s been a crazy time. The Jubilee craziness long gone was replaced with Olympic craziness.

Ticketed events and the opening/closing ceremony were sold out long before I arrived. I did go to a few free events such as the Triathlon and the Endurance Swimming. I never would have thought I’d be in a city where the Olympics are hosted. It’s an atmosphere alright. Giant birdcage swing and ping pong tables were set up in Kings Cross. 

Olympic park is massive, not that I went inside…the mall out there was equally massive though! 

Kiwi House was themed beautifully: Moa beer, Weka cider, BBQ, Mince ‘n’ Cheese pies, and relaxed people enjoying sports. I obviously started with the most important feature. Even a gas explosion didn’t stop the organisers who in a day and half had the house back open again. 

Hyde Park had a live set up with free entry to watch any of the four giant screens showing BBC coverage of the games. Now I read a bit about the coverage not being that great. I agree. I chose to view most of the games online and that was fantastic, saw TeamNZ medal ceremonies and the entire NZ anthem, that did not play on TV screens here. I watched Sarah Walker win silver for the BMX racing, in a crowd of TeamGB, we (that being two of us) cheered as loud as we could. I followed the sailing, rowing and BMX a lot and snapped a picture of the fall replay of Kurt Pickard, ouch!

In between all of these events I have lazed about reading in the garden, walking along the Thames, seen a film or two, even caught up on TV shows and loads of writing of course. 

It’s been a great summer but the chapter ends here. Now I join the workforce to earn money…to get back on the road again!