Sunday, October 24, 2010


This is it, this is the big one. We're off to London! I have been very excited about this weekend, it has been a dream of mine for a very long time to go to Topshop in London, true i don't dream very big but that is because i like to see results, and to see results i need to aim relatively low.
Emma Lisa and I were packed and ready to go Friday morning and our adventure started at the train station in Hoorn.

From Hoorn we caught the train to Amsterdam where we got off and got another train to Belgium. I took a photo of every train station we went to. So here we are in Amsterdam, waiting for our next train.

From here it was an hour on the train to Belgium where we all entertained ourselves with various magazines and books and assignments.

this is the lovely view of belgium from the train

The Belgium train station was so busy, everything was in French so that was a bit of a problem. Luckily Lisa speaks just about every language under the sun so she was able to translate for us. We didn't have much time in Belgium, just enough for Lisa to have a cigarette,

 and to see this guy passed out on a bench

and also to buy some disgusting fast food before we had to check in on the eurostar.

Once i had gone through british customs i started to get really excited and it actually hit me that i was going to London. I think this was mainly because the man who checked my passport had a lovely english accent.

So here are the girls waiting at the Belgium Eurostar station.

 We had assigned seating on board the eurostar but i was very lucky because even though i had ot sit on my own i didn't have anyone sitting next to me. We went from Belgium through France, where we stopped in Lille, and from there we went through the tunnel to England.

Emma and Lisa both fell asleep on the train

Aren't they precious? Shortly after this photo was taken i fell asleep, i like to think i would have looked like this too but i have a horrible tendency to sleep with my mouth hanging open. I woke up just as we came out the otherside of the tunnel and from there it wasn't long before we were rolling into St Pancreas International Staion.

We walked from the station to our hostel which sounded easy until we actually set out and walked around in circles for what felt like ages all dragging our suitcases behind us with those stupid little wheels that go grazy everytime you hit a bump. But then someone was nice enough to stop and ask if we needed help becuase i think they could see the bewildered look in our eyes. I think we would have been fine if we all just followed Emma but i always insisted on giving my 2 cents worth and sending us of in different directions. I quickly learnt that whatever sense of direction i thought i had was to be completely ignored if we were to get anywhere. But we arrived at our hostel and checked in and found our room all by 5pm so then we rubbed our hands together and headed out to Oxford Street to go shopping!
Our hostel was in Russell Square so we were able to walk to Oxford Street, it took about half an hour but we were 'able' to walk there. I think the excitment of visiting another country is one of the best feelings in the world as long as you have someone with you who knows where you are going and how things work. Otherwise i feel completely out of control and find it very stressful. Luckily in this country i spoke the language fluently and i even had to translate some (not many) things for Emma and Lisa. We worked our way from one end of Oxford Street down to the other and it was here that all my dreams came true.

Even better than i imagined, more than i could ever want. Shockingly though i did not buy anything from Topshop while in London. Crazy i know, it doesn't really make sense but heres the thing. I have always said i like quantity over quality, and here even though the quality was so good it was also expensive. And i had heard rumours of Primark prices so i wanted to save my pennies (because i actually had pennies now) So i walked around, i savoured, i enjoyed and i marvelled and then we went on our way to find Primark.

I had only found out about Primark a few days earlier when i saw a Coat in a Dutch magazine and Lisa told me how good it was and more importantly how cheap it was. I may be majorly behind in the times but i made up for it on this night. I think we spent over 2 hours in here, trawling every floor and every section for the best bargains i have ever found, even with the Pound/Aussie Dollar conversion rate! Emma Lisa and I ended up splitting up because it was so busy in there and you could really only look out for yourself while trying to grab everything and anything you saw. In the end we only left because the store was closing and we agreed to come back the next day anyway.

Our next mission was to find somewhere to eat and i just couldn't pass up the oppertunity to go to an dine in Pizza Hut when i saw it. Now the last time i 'dined in' at Pizza Hut it was horrible and a complete waste of money (i think you will second this ash) but this was a lovely Pizza Hut. It a bit different to the ones in Australia and we didn't have 'the works' we just ordered some pizzas and all had giant glasses of Pepsi. We had every intention of hitting up the ice-cream station after tea but we were just too full so we sadly had to give that a miss.

We headed underground to get the underground home which was another exciting first.

The underground was so much easier to navigate than i thought it would be and it is no surprise it is so packed all the time because it is the most efficient way to travel around London, in my inexperienced opinion anyway.
Back at the hostel we headed down to the bar to check out the scene. The scene turned out to be very noisy and boring so the three of us sat and watched wrestling on the TV and i occasionally stole glances at a couple making out in a corner booth. Young Love.

We headed to bed early that night because if boredom didn't kill us the cold would. (this is in no way a reference to Emma and Lisa's company which is great, it is more a reference to the lame hostel bar, which i'm sure would have been fun if we had all skulled 5 jugs of frozen margarita's)
The next day we were up bright and early to go on a FREE walking tour of London. We left the Hostel as a group and followed a homeless looking tour guide to Hyde Park Corner via the underground and from there we met up with even more free tour walkers and we were all split into smaller groups and assigned each a guide. It was stunning weather as we set out.

the guy on the right looking homeless was our first guide. very nice guy

This guy was our assigned tour guide and we started out at the Duke of Washintons memorial. He was a really good guide, he gave us a really good background on everything he showed us without being boring. We headed down to Buckingham Palace next, just in time for the changing of the gaurds so it was busy with a capital B.

From here we were taken past the original palace of King Henry

and down Pall Mall to Trafalger Square and the National Gallery

This is where we said goodbye to our free tour guide, he was good but he was also taking too long and we wanted to get as much shopping done in the afternoon as we could. We left our group and ventured off on our own in search of Big Ben.

We were almost at Big Ben when the weather turned really nasty and it started pouring with rain. There were so many people, or rather tourists, everywhere so we couldn't take cover anywhere so by the time we got to Big Ben i just snapped a few photos and we all ran for the underground.

We went back to the hostel to swap our tourist shoes for our shopping shoes.

On Saturday the tube was always packed full of people so we always had to pile on top of each other and this photo was the only time any of us managed to score a seat
 I had thought it had been busy on the Friday night because of late night shopping but when we got up onto Oxford Street from the station i could not believe how busy it was. I have never seen so many people before, ever, not in Sydney or Amsterdam or at the Royal Show or the Nairne christmas street party. We went back to Primark first and it was so jam packed with people you could not stop and stand anywhere, i had to line up for an hour just to exchange some things that didn't fit properly and then i had to fight my way through the crowd for like 20 minutes just to get the 15m across the store to get another size. Still completely worth it though. After Primark we went to Marks&Spencer to have a cuppa and regroup before taking on the crowds again. At the end of the day when we were well and truly shopped out we caught a bus home, and yes it was a red bus, because the crowds to catch the underground were spilling out onto the street, and also because we really wanted to catch a big red bus.

When we got of the bus at Russell Square we just so happened to find a phone box. What trip to London would be complete with out some telephone box shoots? We also came across this taxi, with the driver asleep in the back.

That night we went out for tea to a little Italian place across the road from the hostel. The food was delicious and the service was shit, i think that makes it a good restaurant doesn't it?

After dinner we went back to the hostel to watch the soccer and drink cocktails. A bit of an unusual combination but it turned out to be a really good night.

We had to get up very early the next day and pack up all our purchases so we could be at the train station by 8am. It was sad to say goodbye to our little room that had been a home to all our shopping for 2 days.

We really wanted to catch a traditional balck cab atleast once over the weekend so i suggested we get one the to train station the sunday morning, even though we could easily have walked. We were all really excited about it and we specially booked one the night before to make sure we would be on time getting to the station. When the cab arrived it was a crappy maxi cab that looked like a black tarago. That was the biggest waste of ten pounds! Needless to say i didn't bother taking a photo of that experience.

So the weekend was almost over. The mood was a little sombre at the station but i think both the girls were looking forward to going home and seeing their significant others (try going away for 7 weeks)

When we got to Belgium we found out our train to Holland had been cancelled so instead we had to get a train from Brussells to Antwerpen and then from Antwerpen we could get a train to Holland. The joys of travelling! It made me feel like a real backpacker and not just a weekend visitor.

It didn't really bother me too much because it ment i got to take even more photos of train stations and Antwerpen on the right was particularly beautiful, but Emma really needed to get home to work on an assignment that was due. Homework? What did that use to feel like?
Eventually we were on a train back to Holland. I said goodbye to the girls at Rotterdam where i got off to go and stay with Inga and Jan for the week and they continued on to Amsterdam.

I think this is the first time in my life i have actually achieved something, i actually managed to go to Topshop. What am i going to do now? I have lost all direction. I need a new dream. Maybe my direction can be working towards getting a new dream.

I loved London and i hope one day i will get to go there again.


  1. Lovely Lil I did very much enjoy this blog about your journey to London we recognised very many places on top of it a photo from the station in Antwerpen is not that very beautiful
    so many lovely photo,s from the Roosjes.and then all these bags of shopping ( what is in it)?love Oma

  2. wow - what a fabulous experience. i'm so glad you got to go to london - it sounded like so much fun.
    i'm sitting here trying to think of new goals for you but i think your biggest one will be getting your purchases to fit in your room!!!!
    you may also need to find a new wardrobe perhaps like the lion the witch and the wardrobe, wardrobe.
    i can't wait to see you. louis keeps saying only two more days till lily gets back and we go SHOPPING. then i have to break it to him that it's actually 10 days.....