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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 31 Jul 2006

Location: London, UK


First weekend under my belt in London, and it is official that this place is expensive. Let me give you a few highlight from the week of pound-ing.

Well, the most rediculous thing I have come across was going to the movies in Leicster Square. There are like 6 cinemas in this big square, but apparently the block-buster movies are bid for by the cinemas and only one of them is allowed to play it for the first couple weeks after opening. Well, you know what that means - £15 tickets on Wednesday night when trying to see Superman. That is the equivalent of $37.5 Aussie for a movie. And all of you people saying don't convert to Aussies, bite me, until I am earning the £, and whilst drawing coin from an account that is in AUD, I will keep thinking in AUD, at least with rediculous prices like that. So, still haven't seen Superman.

Some other thinsg aren't so bad, and a night at the Swiss Cottage Beer Garden goes pretty well. Pints for £1.72, for a pretty good beer works out to about $4.30 Aussie, all the time. Happy with that.

Okay, so the weekend. Well Friday night I headed in to the city and met Sarah and her work friends after work and we headed out for happy hour drinks (till 7pm) and then more drinks. We satyed mainly in the Oxford Street area, and in around Soho and Fitzrovia. Was a pretty goo night. Eventually we ended up at a place called Barsolona and I stayed there till they shut at 3am.

Sarah had left earlier, and heer friend who was supposed to be coming back to Sarah's bailed with another work mate, so I was left to fend for myself on my first ever night bus ride, from the 'heart' of the city - Picadilly Circus. Well, thats where the night got to a point where I was sure I wasn't in Melbourne.

The bus rolled up after about 15 minutes, and I managed to find the bus stop pretty easily. I headed to the top of the double decker so I could be sure of where I was and know when to get off. Well, after two stops, and at best a 3/4 full bus, this girl sits down next to me. I look around, wondering why exactly she sat on a seat next to me, and noticed still a few seats left. Being polite I said hi, and then the story started:

She was an Albanian refugee, trying to get back to Albania, but for whatever reason some paperwork wasn't right and she's been in Lodnon for 5 years and pretty much hated every minute of it. I mean she has HATED it, well that's the way she came across anyway. She is not allowed to work, as she is an illegal immigrant, but they won't let her go back. Go figure. I was a little bit warey at this stage.

As the bus rolled on, I asked what she was doing out at night, and she said she'd just finished work, and I said I thought she wasn't allowed to work. She said cash in hand... I asked what she did and she said she was a hostess at a club. Eventually it became clear that she was a stripper in a club in London and worked for cash... easy enough to stay off of the books I guess. Before anyone gets excited, great body, face like a bucket of smased crabs. Anyway, my stop came, I got up, checked that all of my stuff was still in my pockets (wouldn't want anything to 'fall out' on the ride home) and got off the bus. That's right, I guarantee you wont find an Albanian refugee working illegally as a stripper on a night bus in Melbourne.

Saturday was an incredibly cruisy day. Was gonna head to the Walkie to watch the tri-nations final, but thought the game was Sunday morning, not Saturday, so missed that one! Besides, I was up too late, given I got home so late, and didn't do much at all. The highlight of the day had to be the new purchase of a digital box for the TV. The hosue was fixated by the new channels. From 5 channels, of which 2 were predominantly snowy due to bad reception to 30 channels, all for a £25 box to go on the TV. We were fixated.

Sunday I headed round to see how the other side live; Shephards Buh (She-Bu). Sarah is in a pretty swank looking pad, and whilst there are 6 people in the hosue are the moment, 7 last week, and constantly fluxuating, it is a 4 big bedroom house, each bedroom with 1 person (plus guests) and a lounge room, kitchen, 2 toilets, one with a shower. So it isn't too crowded, and is really quite clean and organised.

Well I headed to She-Bu to catch up with Kristy after she had locked herself out of her room and couldn't meet me in the city. Well, upon entering the house, which is under rennovation, it was apparent the difference in life styles. The place houses 10 people in 5 rooms, people sleeping in rooms with people they had never met before. In fact, two girls in one room are sharing a double bed, and from what I can tell, only met while looking for a room. The lounge room is just lined with couches on the wall, and could sleep a fist full more people, and I am sure they have. No privacy, no order, no cleanliness. But on the up side, it would be much cheaper, and you never find yourself on your own in the house. There is always someone to go out for a drink with, stay in and drink with, etc. Plus, She-Bu is the centre for Aussies, Kiwis and Saouth Africans, so it has it's advantages (and again disadvantages - feels like home, but why come to Lonodn to feel at home?). Anyway, that will be the fun of looking for a place, you never know what you're gonna get till you rock up to look at it.

After chilling out in the park with Kristy and a few housemates, I headed home round 7, and had a quiet Sunday night, hoping for a quick start to the working (or looking for work) week. Well, so far, with Monday coming to a close, still nothing. Late Friday I had a pretty much solid offer from a recruitment company saying that they represented Bombardier Transport and that I had worked for them in Australia meant I could almost walk into a job there. Only catch is it is in Derby, in the middle of nowhere between London and Manchester, a couple hours from either and without a car, I don't think I'd be interested. The more I asked around, the more I was told it wasn't a place I wanted to be! And if it was a semi-permanent thing, I'd turn it down. If it was a short-term contract I'd consider it. Anyway, waiting for Bormbardier to call to discuss it with them, the agent said he'd forward my CV to them and ask them to call me....

Anyway, will give more info regarding jobs and London life as it happens... Go the Blue Boys (hahahahaha) and I'll see you guys later.