Saturday, June 8, 2013

Croatia and a few little trips.

Hello little followers,

No, I've not forgotten about my blog. I just don't ever deem my day to day life to ever be exciting enough to keep blogging about it!
I just got back from two weeks in Croatia though, and that is exciting!

As my last update was October last year, I'd better do a bit of back tracking, as there are a few important life events to report on, that I will never forget.
I received the best birthday present of my life last year. Madi flew over to London to surprise me! I had absolutely no idea that she was coming. I had a halloween party the night before and had dressed up as a zombie Alice in Wonderland (as you do). Unbeknownst to me, I arrived home from a huge night of partying about the same time that Madi landed at Heathrow airport!
About two hours after getting home I got a phone call from Anna (mum that I work with) telling me to come downstairs to sign for a package. The fact that she could have signed for it and that packages don't get delivered at 7am escaped me at the time and I stumbled downstairs. To my complete surprise Madi was sitting in my living room. I don't think I have ever been more excited/overwhelmed!

We had a whirl wind month while she was here. We explored London, all the touristy places and my favourite place in the city, covent garden. We also had a fabulous weekend in Paris too. It was such a cloudy overcast weekend though, we couldn't actually see the top half of the Eiffel Tower. I was back in Paris in the middle of winter and when I went to see the tower that day, it was a gorgeous, albeit freezing day, but it was snowing and I wish Madi had got to see Paris that day, instead of the day we were there. Paris is so much colder then London, but such a pretty city. It was so lovely to have Madi here, the girls I look after loved having her here too and they ask about her and my mum everyday. It's so nice, that even though I'm on the other side of the world, my kids that I look after are still so close with them.

Taking Madi to the airport was horrible. I've always been the one that does the leaving, and whilst saying goodbye is always hard, when you are leaving you are excited for your adventure ahead and that helps a little bit with saying goodbye. Being the one to put someone that you love so much on a plane, was heart breaking and my homesickness instantly doubled. I miss my sister very much.

Christmas soon crept up on me though, which made me even more homesick. It is so hard to be away from home at that time of year. It wasn't a white christmas in London last year, just a cloudy, cold one. I had a lovely day though, with the girls family and their family friends. We had a proper christmas lunch, turkey with all the trimmings. Even brussels sprouts! I tried to skype home, but was a blubbering mess, so hung up and drank a lot of wine instead!   

I spent new years eve at my most favourite bar in the whole world, Graffiti. The bar staff and my close friends make up my little London family, and are a huge part of the reason I've stayed in London. I've met the most amazing people in this city.

A quick trip to Amsterdam for Easter with three fabulous ladies was the next thing on my agenda, we had lots of fun. My friend Claire and I went and spent the day in Edam, which is where I went the first time I was in Holland with my Contiki tour. We hired some bikes and cycled around. We even temporarily joined a Contiki group as I couldn't quite remember how to find the windmill that we wanted to see. Lots of shenanigans, tram rides, cheese eating and tulip buying later we all headed back home to London.

My next trip was in May when I spent two weeks in Croatia. For the first week I did a sailing trip with Sail Croatia. We started in Dubrovnik and made our way up along the coast to Split. I've never spent that much time on a boat before and was a little bit worried about getting sea sick, but I was totally fine. I did get land sick though! (I'm sure that's not what it's actually called) After about three days on the boat, whenever I got off the boat I constantly felt dizzy and couldn't stop swaying. Wine helped mask the symptoms though. It really is the cure for everything! 
We stopped in Mljet, Korcula, Hvar and Stari Grad. Everywhere we went was very beautiful. Crystal clear waters, very mediterranean terracotta roof tiles, gorgeous mountain and ocean views all along the coast. The local people are lovely and so friendly, the food is good and served in very generous portions. It was quite similar to some of the landscapes I saw in Greece and a lot of the food has quite an italian influence.  
The people on my tour were all really nice and really fun, and we all drank way too much and partied every night. I would recommend Sail Croatia to be done with friends and not solo though.
My second week was very chilled out. I stayed at a lovely hotel on the island Brac, which is visible from Split and about an hour on the ferry. It was the first holiday I have had in a very long time that I got to just chill out and read books. It was total bliss. I really recommend you go check out Croatia in the summer time. It's pretty touristy, but so lovely for a little get away.

So that's what's been keeping me busy lately. My next trip is a weekend away to Ireland, maybe a sneaky trip back to Spain and then home for Christmas, which I'm so excited about!
I hope everyone is doing well at home, I am missing everyone as always.
Can't wait for december to get here!

With love, always

A few little life lessons from Sara:
* Beer pong on a boat is not the best idea.
*When you think you are done packing, especially ladies, take five things back out, you have to much stuff. Trust me, you don't need that extra top and fancy shoes that are "just in case". 
* Sunscreen. Use it. 
*Travel insurance. Buy it. Every time. 
*When you travel always make sure you have £100 hidden away for emergencies. Doing this has saved my butt a couple of times.
* Wine fixes almost anything. So does duct tape.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh how I love Peru!

Hello my little blog followers!

My latest adventure was an absolutely amazing two weeks travelling through Peru. I honestly can not sell it enough. Peru is incredible, the people are brilliant, the country is beautiful and don't even get me started on the food. Peruvians know what they are doing in the kitchen!

I flew into Lima (25 hour flight from London) and stayed in a little guest house called "The lighthouse" in Miraflores, which is the centre of Lima and well known for being the safest suburb for tourists to stay in. My guesthouse was very sweet, it's family run and breakfast feels like you are staying with the family as a visitor, you just sit with the other guests at a little 6 seated dining table, while being fussed over in spanish. I stayed there for two nights and didn't achieve very much. I just wanted to have a couple of chilled out days and mainly walked along the coast and through the city. Lima is not a very pretty city and you don't get the safest vibe from the buildings. Most of which are run down/falling apart and everything is covered in barbed wire and/or prison bars. There is however some incredible street art hidden through out the city. There is a huge surfing culture in Lima too, which I had never really thought about. The walk along the cliffs is quite nice, it is very lush and green and well maintained. Lima is covered in a fairly constant cover of cloud for about eight months of the year. One of the locals said that it is called the sad city. I must admit, it was pretty glum both times I was there. So I probably wont rush back to Lima, Cusco however, I'd go back tomorrow!

I flew down to sunny Cusco and immediately felt the effects of altitude! I went to Peru without doing a whole lot of research, which wasn't the best idea I've ever had. I honestly didn't think altitude was that much of a big deal. As soon as I stepped off the plane though I felt weird. I was dizzy, short of breath, headachy and my legs felt like jelly. It wasn't too bad, some people get hospitalised from altitude sickness, I was ok though. I drank loads of coca tea, which is what the locals recommend. Coca tea is tea made out of the leaves from the plant cocaine is from. It just tastes like green tea, but it felt a bit naughty drinking it (living life on the edge, I know!). 

I did a short contiki tour while I was visiting. I usually just do my own thing when I travel, but I really wanted to not have to think too much, have my decisions already decided and the added bonus of instant friends! I joined an already existing group that had been travelling for about a week already. Everybody was super lovely and the group got along really well. We did a city tour the first morning and checked out a few churches and the markets. Then we all headed out for lunch to try the peruvian delicacy, guinea pig. Now, I'm not sure why someone looked at a guinea pig and thought "gee, I bet that tastes pretty good, lets deep fry it", but they did, and it caught on. I went to Peru with the intention of tasting their local delicacy, but then they bought it out to the table. With it's head/teeth/eyes all still in place. It looked like someone had run over my childhood pet and then dropped it in a deep fryer, there was no way I could even taste it. Other people said it tasted like chicken or rabbit. I'll take their word for it.
It was free time in the afternoon and I met up with Jany. I met her on my flight from Lima to Cusco, she is a local and an absolute angel! She took me to a great little cafe and then showed me around a bit. Locals are the best people to make friends with.
Everyone in our group went out that night, but I didn't stay out very long. I was really struggling with the altitude. 

The next morning we went up to one of the mountains that surround Cusco, to get a special blessing from two of the locals. It was really nice, and I'm so glad we got to do it. I like having that feeling of being extra protected while I'm traveling. So between my saint christopher necklace and my blessed peruvian bracelet, I should be covered!
We drove to Ollantaytambo (try saying that fast, three times in a row) that day, stopping off in Pisac to see/climb some ancient ruins. The views were absolutely breath taking and there is no way any camera could ever do it justice. The Andes are just incredible. Once we got to our destination we climbed up more ruins... ok, well I didn't. I'd had enough of being out of breath. So I went and chatted to some locals who spoke a bit of English in the markets. Did I mention my Spanish is still very Russian? Why oh why I had spanish lessons in Russia, I will never know! 

The next day, most of the group set of for the Inka trail. Me being super organised though, booked the tour too late, and the Inka trail was already full. I don't mind, now I have the perfect excuse to go back to Peru. I really want to hike that trail. We stayed in Ollantayambo until 3pm, I spent the morning walking along the back streets away from were the tourists are and had the most amazing time. I ended up playing football (soccer) with some kids and their family came out to say hello and offered me something to eat. I politely declined though, as I had no idea what it might have once been when it was alive. 
That afternoon we caught the train to the base of Machu Picchu (Pueblo).

Another early morning start and we were all on our way up the mountain to explore Machu Picchu. Some people on my tour said that the bus ride was really scary, I didn't even register that at all. I have been on much scarier bus rides. At least this bus had sides on it!
I really don't have the words to describe just how beautiful Machu Picchu is. If you have ever even contemplated going and it's something you would like to see, just do it! It is breathtaking (literally, at times). We were so lucky with the weather, it was hot and sunny and early in the morning it was misty and cloudy, which was just perfect. It is so green, and the surrounding mountains and valleys are so spectacular. I want everyone to go and see it and experience this amazing place for themselves. Not to mention just how incredible the actual ruins are. Our guide took us around and showed us what is left and what has been restored of the temples and homes. There are some pretty cute llamas walking around too. They are very used to people as well, if they want to get to a patch of grass and you are in their way, they basically just walk over you to get it. No fear of people at all. We also saw my very first chinchilla, it looks like a mix between a rabbit and a possum. They are really cute, plus I love saying the word chinchilla.
I could go on and on about Machu Picchu, but I haven't even started on what the Amazon was like yet. So just go explore the Andes and find out for yourself!
We were all in the party mood that night, and after a sing-a-long on the bus trip back to Cusco, we put on our salsa shoes and partied the night away! 

We spent one more day in Cusco before flying down to Puerto Maldonado, the main "city" in the Amazon of Peru. 
After a flight, a bus trip and a boat ride, we arrived at our gorgeous jungle lodge. It was all open and smack bang in the middle of the forest. We slept under mosquito nets and slept to the sound of the jungle (it was the best sleep I had the whole time I was in Peru). When we arrived we split into groups and went for a walk to the canopy tower. This tower was terrifying! It was 37meters high and the higher you got the more it swayed. If you had seen the tiny cables holding it up you would have been scared too. Generally I'm not scared of heights, but I am very scared of wobbly heights. It was worth being scared though, once at the top we had an amazing view of the sunset over the seemingly endless canopy of jungle. You could see macaws and a sloth in the distance and hear all sorts of birds, insects and monkeys. It was brilliant! 
The next morning we were up before the sun and we awoke to the most unusual sound. Hearing strange sounds, that are close, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere can make your morning a little uneasy. It turns out that the sound was just howler monkeys, but when I first heard them I was thinking "what sound does a Puma make?" 
We went fishing for Piranha's, my expert fishing skills failed me that morning, but luckily a few others caught some, so I was able to see what they looked like. Not nearly the flesh eating monsters my imagination/hollywood had made them out to be. I still wouldn't want a bite from one though! We saw loads of monkeys and birds and the ants that carry the little bits of really green leaves that you always see on the discovery channel. We also saw Capybara, which look like wombat sized guinea pigs (they don't get eaten though).
Once we had done our group tour, I went kayaking on the river. It was amazing! It's just coming to the end of the dry season now, so the river was quite low in places. I almost got stuck in the sand and was starting to reside to the fact that I was going to have to live in the kayak for the rest of my life, as there was no way I was stepping foot into the caiman (alligator) infested waters, but then a boat came along and made some waves so I got free. I saw more wildlife along the river, including a huge snake going out of the water onto the bank (more reason to not step out of the kayak). 
While I waited for our time at the lodge to be up, I swayed in the hammock and saw a butterfly in every colour, with the exception of maybe green. I love the Amazon and can't wait to go back and visit.

My last five days in Peru were mainly spent salsa dancing and drinking Pisco sours.
I had the most fantastic time, and if I've not made it obvious enough, Peru is without any doubt, one of my favourite countries!
Please go and visit, you won't have a single regret!

A few tips though:
They free pour alcohol in Peru... they are very generous.
Altitude gets you drunker faster, this is good, but can also be bad. Be careful!
Learn a few spanish words, lots of people speak English but it makes a difference if people see that you are trying to learn their language (in any country).
If you salsa like a disabled duck (like me) still dance and have a super fab time, cause no one really cares if you know how to dance or not.
Try the food, the exception being, things that look like deep fried pets.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of my blog as much as I did having the adventure!
Missing everyone at home, 
all my love


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel catch up and London.

It's been twelve months since I last updated my blog (oops!), so needless to say, this one is going to be a pretty long entry! Maybe go make yourself a cup of tea before you start reading...

This time last year I was soaking up the sunshine in Greece. I am certainly not doing that now, London is having the wettest summer ever. After six rather horrendous months, with a very difficult family, an almost mugging/stabbing and a mountain of the best feta cheese I've ever eaten, my Greek adventure finally ended in October. I flew home a few weeks earlier then I was meant to, so I could surprise my family and spend christmas at home. It was so very lovely to be home and to see everyone, I  even clocked up a few hours working in one of the local pre schools. Thank goodness I was able to do that, I think I was having baby withdrawals after not having my twins around for a few weeks. 

Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of my self. While I was in Greece I got to have a lovely long weekend in Barcelona. I adore Spain, I don't know why, but it has always been my number one country to visit. I even tried to learn Spanish, but I tried to learn it while living in Russia and now I speak this weird mix of spanish/english/russian and absolutely no one has a clue what I'm trying to say! 
I landed at the Barcelona airport, jumped on a shuttle bus, hopped off at the stop that seemed fairly central in the city and then wondered about doing a bit of exploring and tried to find a hotel. I ended up staying in this fantastic little boutique hotel in the penthouse apartment (got an amazing deal too). That evening I was sipping away on a delightful margarita and I met an amazing bunch of Dutch people that I ended up hanging out with all weekend. Oh the people you meet!
Barcelona is a gorgeous city. Unlike Athens, which is rather ugly, Barcelona has combined the old with the new and created a stunning and captivating city. The people are just lovely, great weather and you just really want to be there. You all know that I love getting lost (or geographically confused) in a new city, and whilst wondering around I got caught in a freak hail storm/flash flood. I had to get out of the hail and the only safe haven was a large church window which was built into the wall, so I was able to climb up onto the ledge. The storm lasted about 40 minutes and then stopped as fast as it had started and I had to find my way back to my hotel in knee deep water! All the shops in the little cobble stoned alley ways were busy bucketing water out of their shops and saving their merchandise. 
Such a fun weekend that I will never forget!

So, back on track now. On boxing day of 2011 I said yet another teary goodbye to mum and Madi, it never gets easier saying good bye, no matter how excited I am for my next adventure. 
Five friends and I then headed to Thailand for an amazing holiday and to bring in the new year. 

We spent our first three days enjoying all that Phuket has to offer (which is a lot). We landed on the night of the 27th were we where bombarded by offers of taxi rides to the main beach called Patong. It reminded me of a slightly tamer version of walking out of the Moscow airport and having loads of russian men shouting "Taxi?!" at me.
We headed outside in hopes of a good deal for our taxi ride and where hit with the heat and smell of this tropical island. We quickly grabbed a minivan and headed to our hotel.
The main streets surrounding Patong beach are incredible, there is so much life there. You couldn't get bored if you tried. There are a lot of locals who all speak English and they all try to sell you everything under the sun for "very good price, you like". Our bartering skills were certainly utilised while we were travelling throughout Thailand.
Our hotel thumped with the beat of the music in the night clubs surrounding us every night until 6am every morning. Other than that though our hotel was great. It was called PS hotel. I highly recommend it to anyone heading to Phuket. It was very clean, very central location and the restaurant down stairs was so good!
Our days were spent lounging around on beach chairs drinking Pina coladas out of coconuts. We were in heaven. A little too much sun for a couple of us though, we got a wee bit burnt. One of the days we did a boat tour and checked out some beautiful little islands, did some snorkelling and drank more cocktails.
During the evenings we would walk along through the markets and take in all the sights. Pretty much anything you could think of to buy was for sale (all fake, but still). The food stalls were a sight too! A huge whole fish on a stick that had been tossed on the BBQ, fruits that we had never seen before and 99baht mojitos in a bucket available everywhere (thats roughly $3). Phuket was a great starting place for our trip.
On the 31st we flew to Koh Sumui and celebrated New years eve on the island of Koh Phanang, which is a ferry ride away. Our beach party was fantastic, we were covered in fluoro paint, wearing matching shirts that we had made up in Phuket and we drank buckets of cocktails all night long. We did the countdown and danced the night away. It was so much fun! What better way to bring in 2012?

We stayed three nights in Koh Phangan, which was two nights too many! Terrible accommodation (although we didn't pay very much for it), so much rain (felt like a monsoon) that our hotel room started leaking. Which was peculiar since we were on the 4th floor of a hotel with six floors... go figure. It was all ok though, because our next few nights back on Koh Sumui were spent in four star luxury. We planned to chill out and soak up the sunshine. Unfortunately though, I think it was our second night there, a few of us (including me) came down with absolutely horrible food poisoning! We had been so careful not to eat dodgy looking street food and picked our thai restaurants well, and the one night we decide to have a night off from drinking and stay in for a movie night with western food (McDonalds) was the time we got sick. Needless to say, I will never eat another McChicken burger! I spent most of Koh Samui in bed or in the bathroom. On our last day on the island, I was determined to not miss out on riding an elephant in the jungle, so I did! There are a few photo's that show just how sick I was, it was a mammoth effort to not throw up on Niko the elephant! But I made it and it was amazing, well worth the whole trip! 

We flew to Bangkok, which is just an insane city. The sheer amount of people there and the intense heat is a lot to take in, but I loved every minute. We cruised about in tuk tuks, checked out the metro, went to the markets, did a river tour. We certainly made the most of Bangkok!
Our little group slowly broke up and went our separate ways, and I was bound for little old London town.

I've been in London for seven months now and I absolutely love it. I wasn't 100% keen on moving here, as I always thought it was just a place with rubbish weather (which is completely true) and it would be full of Aussies (Kinda true too), but I've been really happy here. I have an amazing family who have made me so welcome and go out of their way to look after me and make sure I'm happy. They are truly wonderful people. Plus my two little girls, Lola and Lulu (Amelie), I love them to bits and they are a huge reason why I love being here too. I've met amazing friends here and I'm just having loads of fun really! I am in a great routine with the kids during the week and most weekends (and some weeknights) I hang out in this fabulous little cocktail bar called Graffiti, which, if you are ever in London is an absolute must. Mainly because my name is on the wall! 
London life is agreeing with me anyway. 

There is one more little trip I did too.
A couple of months ago I found super cheap flights to Oslo so I cruised on over to Norway for the weekend which was lovely, insanely pricey though. I did the same thing as I did in Spain, just booked flights then found my way into town and stumbled upon a really lovely hotel right in the middle of the city. It's the best way to do it, unless you find a super cheap package deal online. Had a lovely time exploring the postcard picture perfect city. It was freezing, but sunny, so I didn't mind the cold. Everyone complains of how expensive Oslo is, but I didn't realise it was the rich people complaining its expensive too! It cost me about £30 for a cocktail, that wasn't even a proper cocktail! Crazy!

So now I'm just happily cruising along with life in London, counting down until september when I head to Peru for two weeks!
I imagine that will be my next blog update!

I hope all is well with everyone at home,
I miss everyone so much. I'm always feeling a bit home sick.... you should all come and visit me! 
Sending lots of hugs and kisses
All my love

Friday, July 22, 2011


So apparently my enthusiasm and dedication to my blog died a while ago while I was still in Russia.

I thought it was about time to get back in the swing of things and give everyone a bit of an update on my current adventure.

As I'm writing this I'm watching the most incredible sunset I have ever seen, in Santorini, Greece. This island is just breathtaking and should be on everyones bucket list. It is amazing here. The sunset is the most incredible burst of colours, it is like the sahara desserts orange sand merging with baby pinks and violets and then the most gorgeous blue before melting into the blue of the ocean. While the actual sun turns into an amazing shade of red that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. All this while eating the best Greek salad and enjoying live Greek music.

My new family that I am working with are a greek family with 18 month old twins (boy and a girl) and a four year old girl. They own two hotels, one here in Santorini and another in Athens. The babies are just great, cheeky, sweet and cute as ever. Their older sister was the worst case of wrong first impression I've ever encountered. She was this sweet little angel the first two days, then her true self came through, and good grief! She was no angel anymore. Not to worry though, with the introduction of the naughty chair and some much needed boundaries, the well mannered angel is almost here permanently now! So I am very happy with my three new children, busy but happy. I've had a few issues with the parents which is a first for me. I've been so lucky with all my families I've previously worked with. They have all been wonderful and we've not had any issues. Things are not great, but I'm managing. Thank goodness for the amazing scenery or I just might have called it quits already!

I arrived in Greece in early May, and spent two weeks exploring Athens before I started work. Athens wasn't what I was expecting at all. When I first got here I didn't think I would want to stay. The city centre is not all that nice, very touristy and everybody speaks English, which I don't like. I loved the markets though and the museums and all the historical ancient greek stuff. The food in Greece is fantastic as well . It's all so fresh and simple and just delicious. Plus the olive oil. Oh my goodness! The oil is what makes the meal! I didn't know olive oil could be so good! Aussies back home, you really don't know what you are missing! Italians and Greeks know their stuff when it comes to olive oil.

I'm finding that a lot of stereotypical stuff about Greece to be mostly true. They are passionate, with huge families and they love to eat and they all love their football (soccer). I really like the older generation here in Greece too. They seem to be so happy. The men play back gammon out in the streets in the afternoons (after siesta), the women (who seem to hit the age of 55 and suddenly shrink, and what they loose vertically they gain horizontally) they all sit around gossiping and preparing food. The evenings are my favourite time of day. It's when all the bus loads of tourists have gone and you are just left with the locals and you can really feel a sense of community and family. Thats also the time when people start taking their donkeys home. These poor donkeys in Santorini, I feel so sorry for them. They have to walk up and down hundreds of steep steps in 40˚ heat, all the while, carrying fat tourists on their backs. They where harnesses with little bells on them and when they are all walking along they sound like christmas reindeer.

I've picked up on a bit of Greek. I can sort of follow the conversations that happen at home. I haven't really put in much effort to learning Greek, as unlike in Russia, just about everybody speaks English here. I am able to read the alphabet and I know most of the basics. I do occasionally get yes and no mixed up, which can be awkward in some situations. When I walk into shops I greet the shop keepers in Greek, and they have all continued to speak to me in Greek, because I say hello and good morning really well. They have all said "You confused me, you sound like a greek.... but you're not" which is rather flattering to hear but also makes me feel like a bit of an impostor as well.

Our house in Athens is very modern. It has four floors, (an empty) pool, an elevator and three gardens. We live in the posh end of town on top of a huge hill (that I have to push the double stroller up twice a day). You can see most of the city from our house and the ocean, which is a view hard to get bored of.
In Santorini we are staying in two apartments that are side by side. We are almost right at the very far end of the island (the side of the island with the best sunsets). Where we are staying isn't all that nice, but we are away at the beach and the pool every day so it doesn't really matter.
Next month we will go to the families summer house in Porto heli. We spent a weekend there a little while ago. It is a very pretty drive to get there. The house is not very child friendly from a nanny point of view, but gorgeous from any other point of view.

At the end of this month I am having a weekend away by myself. I will be spending it in Barcelona and you would not believe how excited I am about FINALLY going to Spain (even if it's just a couple of days!). I made up a little count down calendar some weeks ago, and crossing off each day is very satisfying.

Greece has been nice to live in so far but I am very much missing Moscow and the people I left behind in Moscow. I'm already planning out my itinerary for a return visit one day, I didn't manage to see St Petersburg while I was living there so I am keen to go see it, plus check in on my kids!
I'm feeling super home sick for Australia too, although not the winter part, I had more then enough of winter in Russia. This is the longest period of time I've been away with out seeing anyone from home though, which is proving to be tough somedays. I must say, I'm missing being whisked away back to Oz every three months for visa reasons (even if it was 30 hours of travel). Though, it won't be too long until Christmas is upon us and I'll be home to see everyone.

So that is about all for now. What's happening with you? I haven't heard from some off you in quite a while! Email me people!

Missing everyone, as I always am.
Can't wait to catch up with everyone in December.
lots of love, hugs and kisses
Ya Sas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So this is what winter feels like!

Hello all!

While descending down into Domodedovo airport on a Tuesday morning early in November, I couldn't help but think about how on earth the sun was ever going to penetrate through the kilometres of thick cloud hanging above Moscow. I concluded that if I see the sun in the next three months it has got to be close to a miracle! However after my first month back, I have come to realise that seeing the sun actually isn't as nice as I thought. Once the clouds go the warmth that they had been keeping in goes to, so on sunny days it is horrendously cold. A fine example of that is today, from inside it looks like a beautiful sunny day to go out and play in the snow... but no, it's -22˚ out!

My mental preparations while back home had worked very well. I was coping with the cold exceedingly well. That of course was while the temperature was hovering above zero, which was very bearable. Now I am very much not coping. It's hard to breath when it's this cold. Going outside takes a lot of motivation. I was waiting at the bus stop and there was five minutes to go before the bus arrived, it felt like it was about an hour wait. My nose and checks where stinging from the cold, and my fingers where frozen.

I had forgotten how short the days get in winter, and with most daylight hours being very overcast it's hard to determine the time of day, it all just seems like night a lot of the time.

Once I got back to Russia, for my birthday Nelli, her sister and their boys took me to the Russian circus. It was a Wednesday night and completely sold out. It was very good, but I don't really like the animal acts. They had horses, chetahs, panthers, tigers and bears. Oh and six little sausage dogs, they were adorable. The clowns were very good, and the acrobats where amazing. Moscow has two permanent circus's, I think we went to the better of the two. I'll have to find the name, I've forgotten it at the moment.

Russian circus and Russian ballet done. I'll have to think of some other things to put on my to do list. I would really like to go to Saint Petersburg one weekend, I think I'll wait until there is a little bit more snow.

Moscow has turned into a white christmas wonderland. All the shops are decorated and there are christmas trees sprouting up everywhere. Not far from where I live there is an actual place to go and buy a real tree. It is so pretty, there must be hundreds of trees in there and they are all covered in snow. We haven't put up our christmas things just yet, hopefully soon though. Even though it's freezing, it still feels like christmas (thank goodness).
There is no Santa Claus in Russia, they have a guy called Ded Moroz, he brings presents on new years eve, then Christmas is celebrated on the 6th and 7th of January. I plan to have a little mini christmas on the 25th as well.

Well besides the temperature, I really don't have much to report. Life in Russia is just cruising along like always. My Russian family is well, and are looking after me like always. The kids both have birthdays coming up soon which will be great to be here for.
I hope everyone is well (and warm) back home in Australia.
Missing everyone, as I always am!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home again


I haven't posted much about Russia lately, it all just feels like routine now.
As I'm flying back to Australia tonight though I thought I should sum up my Russian autumn and start afresh when I return to Moscow.

For some odd reason I didn't think it would be all that cold here in autumn, I haven't a clue why I thought this. It certainly isn't just a bit chilly, like at home. We haven't had a day above 10 degrees in weeks!
I wasn't mentally prepared for the cold, so this month has been hard to cope with. I went for a walk this morning and it was 1 degree, I did get some good photo's for my effort though.
I'm struggling with the fact that it's going to drop at least another 30degrees.

On the 19th of last month, Nelli, her mum and I went to the ballet. It was simply magnificent. So very Russian. I loved it. The orchestra, the stage and costumes where amazing. The dancing really goes without saying, incredible! We watched the show at the Kremlin palace and where pretty much in the best seats. I felt very spoilt and can't wait to go again.
I still have to go to the circus and then I think I will have done everything on my Russian to do list.

I was hoping to write more, but I'm a little pressed for time so hopefully I can add more later.
Grace is currently unpacking my suitcase, suppose I won't have to worry about that extra baggage anymore.

Hope everyone is well, and hopefully I will have time to catch up with everybody this time.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Hello Everyone,

I finally found some time to do an update. I have been a busy little bumble bee!
This post is going to be a long one, so grab a cuppa and settle down and get cosy.

On the 18th of August I flew to London to meet up with some girls I went to school with. Hannah, Tiff and Hayley, who were already in England. We stayed at the generator hostel, which was nice. I had chicken schnitzel and chips for tea, I was in heaven! The best thing about not being in Russia is the food is so much better everywhere else.
I didn't have much time to explore London, I didn't really see anything besides the hostel and Heathrow.
The next morning we jumped on the bus and started our tour. We drove down to Dover to catch the ferry to France. I didn't even come close to finding my sea legs, I sat down most of the time. Once we got to France we drove straight to Paris. Basically day one was spent on the bus. We got to our cabins and then had a bit of a scenic bus ride around the city. We then went to have some French champagne and try out some Escargot, in other words, snails. They weren't as bad as I thought, mainly because they were smothered in garlic butter, and its hard for anything to taste bad in garlic butter. I couldn't get my snail out of the shell so they bought me a new one, which was steamy fresh. All I can say is, I tasted it, I won't ever feel the need to do it again. After that we went and got our first look at the Eiffel Tower.

Day two was a free day around Paris. First thing that morning the girls and I went to the Louvre to check out the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo (The lady with no arms). From the Louvre we slowly wondered through the city to the Eiffel tower picking up supplies for a picnic on the way. We grabbed a great spot under some shady trees, with a magnificent view. Not only of the Eiffel tower, the people watching was fantastic. In all the touristy areas there are loads of Gypsies trying to sell stuff, or just asking for money. Selling things without a permit is illegal so whenever the police rode around on their bikes it was like watching sheep getting herded. They came out of no where and there was loads of them running away. It was hilarious. A few people got their mini Eiffel towers confiscated, but that was about it.
That night we got all dressed up for a night on the town. Our group went out to a nice little restaurant before going to a cabaret show, across from the Moulin Rouge. We got back to the cabins and continued partying, it was a great night.

Day three started off rather slowly. I was very, very hungover. Kids, don't mix your drinks!
Luckily though it was another day mainly on the bus, so I didn't really have to function.
We headed down the south of France and spent the night in a gorgeous 16th century chateau, surrounded by vineyards. The rest of the group went and did some wine tasting, but I thought it best if I sat that one out.
That night there was another party, in the cellar. I went for a little bit, but put myself to bed early. Good decision, as the next day everyone else was hung over, but I was fine!

Day four was more driving. We stopped of in the walled city of Avignon where the Pope hung out in a palace their back in the 14th century (I think it was then, a long time ago anyway).
We continued on and stopped of again at a very smelly perfume factory.
Than finally made it to the French Riviera. We were in cabins again, just a short walk away from the beach. The girls and about half of our tour group headed down to the beach. It was gorgeous, the Mediterranean sea, with a full moon, and a Ferris wheel off to the side. In the distance we could see the lights of Nice. We sat down on the pebbles and watched the boys try and hit a buoy out in the ocean with stones.

Day five. I was finally starting to remember every ones names. Our bus was completely full, and its quite hard to remember 51 names. We were so lucky, everyone on our tour was great, I really don't think there could have been a better bunch of people to tour around Europe with.
Today was another free day, I accidentally slept in, then headed into Nice to meet up with the girls. Nice was lovely, we got scooters and roller blades and cruised along the beach for a while.
Later that evening we got all dolled up and headed to Monaco. We had some champagne and then tried our luck at the casino. I was down twenty euros and decided to stop. Some boys on our tour however were up 800 euros (that also may not be exact, it was a lot anyway). They shouted the whole group a drink at the bar!

Day six, we left France and headed into Italy! I love Italy, I won't ever be able to live there because I would get too fat to be able to fly out of the country. Italian food is divine. The pizza, pasta and gelato, oh it is oh so good! The people are so lovely, and Italy is gorgeous.
Our first stop was Pisa, which is an incredibly boring place. Besides a building that is slowly falling over, there isn't much else to see or do. Except eat of course.
After taking our photo's of either holding the tower up or pushing it over, we drove to Florence. A city of beautiful churches and is rich in history. I really liked Florence. We had yet another big partying night, which involved huge jugs of cocktails, karaoke and I had a minor wardrobe malfunction. Yet another fabulous evening with my new contiki friends.

Day seven, half way through the tour. It started going very fast from here.
Today was our free day in Rome. It was really hot in Rome, without much shade around the city. First up we went to the Trevi fountain, which is gorgeous. We all through our coin in over our shoulder. We will all now supposedly return to Rome, I certainly hope so!
From there we walked to the Spanish steps which are apparently famous but to be honest until I was there I was slightly unaware of them. The rest of the group went off on a walking tour and the girls and I went off on our own. It was way too hot to be following a guide around the city.
We headed to the Colosseum, which was really cool. I loved seeing all these places, I got to cross lots of things off on my "to-do list". We didn't go inside, but I was super impressed with the outside anyway. We grabbed a very expensive bite to eat and waited for the rest of the group. We all then headed to the Vatican. Michelangelo's work is simply incredible, everyone should definitely go and see it for themselves.
More partying that night at the club where our cabins where, loads of fun!

Day eight. I woke up covered head to toe in bed bug and mosquito bites. To say I wanted to claw my skin off is an understatement. It was really painful and extremely itchy. A friend gave me some antihistamines but that's all I could get at the time, there wasn't a chemist near by.
We headed down to Venice, before we got to the camp site our tour manager Daz, said to watch out, because there are loads of mosquito's at this camp. I nearly cried when he said that. I ran to the shop and covered myself in mozzie spray!
We caught the boat over to Venice, were unfortunately all I was thinking about was finding a pharmacy, even so, it is pretty impossible not to take in the beauty of the city. There are no cars anywhere in Venice, so everyone pushes there little carts around, it's very cute. Kind of like stepping back in time. We grabbed a bottle of Italian bubbly and had a gondola ride through the canals. It was very relaxing.
We grabbed some dinner in Venice, then headed back to the mainland, where I could continue fixing my bites!

Day nine we were off to Germany!
After complaining about the heat for a week, Munich was freezing. Stepping off the bus my first thought was "please don't let Moscow be this cold yet", it's not as cold as Munich was, it's much colder!
I didn't think I would like Germany, but I really enjoyed it. I meet a few Germans who weren't very nice, but I don't want to judge everyone on them. I'll definitely be going back for another visit.
We went to the main square and watched the glockenspiel, a giant cuckoo clock. Then off to the hostel to get ready for our night at the beer hall. We learnt a German beer song and set off to consume copious amounts of beer steins. I don't usually drink beer, but German beer wasn't too shabby.

Day ten we left Munich and headed up to the Rhine Valley and stayed in a little German village called ST Goar. On the drive up we stopped at Dachau concentration camp, which was incredibly sad. I'm glad we went, but I struggle to understand and cope with the amount of evil that happened in world war two.
It was a very beautiful drive, Europe is the kind of green you just don't see at home.
More wine tasting today and I bought my first investment. A rare bottle of wine, which is called ice wine, it's a very sweet dessert wine.

Day eleven, The Netherlands. I love Holland, everyone cruises along on their bikes and it is just so picture perfect. I didn't know the country was so low and flat, they have so much water there. Before going to Amsterdam we went to a little village to see what the real Holland was like. As everyone says, Amsterdam is not a reflection on the rest of the country. We went for a bike ride around Edam. It was lovely, even though it rained and was cold.
After that we went to a clog factory and then tasted some Dutch Cheese, which was really yummy.
Then came the "Amsterdamage"!
What can I say??
What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam!
It is one crazy place, with all sorts of crazy people.

Day thirteen. Another friend from school, Monique came to party with us, which was brilliant!
It was our last night on tour, and we all went a bit wild in the red light district, but it was certainly a great way to end our tour, and a night to remember.

Day Fourteen. The long, hungover trip back to London.
We had arranged amongst ourselves to meet up one last time at an Aussie bar, so we could say one last farewell to everyone. We certainly have all made some great friends from all over the world. I even have a friend coming to visit me here in Russia next year, I'm super excited about that.

The next day I flew back to Moscow. It was so great to have a holiday, I was feeling really homesick, so it was the perfect fix!
It's Autumn here now, and all the leaves are changing. Apparently we aren't going to ease into winter here in Russia, it literally went from heat wave to ten degrees in the two weeks I was away! I keep thinking about how warm it is at home, oh well, I don't think I'll experience another Russian winter after this one, so I'll just suck it up. Please remind me of this in December.

Other than my contiki news, I don't have anything else to report on. My Russian family are all fine, and I'm still loving Moscow.

So that's all for now, I hope you enjoyed!
Dasvidanya, au revoir, ciao, Auf Wiedersehen, vaarwel!