Gypsyfeet in the land of the gypsies

Trip Start Oct 18, 2006
Trip End Nov 13, 2006

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Where I stayed
Hotel Merlin

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Hello travel blog enthusiasts,

I'm back!! I know it's been 12 months since my last confessions. I can only apologise profoundly as I've been slack and haven't done any travelling of note. I've managed to res urrect my password for these blogs after many attempts. It was send the straight to my junk box and it took me while to realise. In the last year I have been forging a career as a travel consultant so it's taken a while for STA Travel to let me get out of the branch and practice what I preach.

Me & Clare have made it to Prague. We have however spent 3 days in London so I better give some highlights of that. This entry could drag on a bit as I'm not known for keeping things short. I'll do my best to keep it interesting for you readers out there.

Firstly the flight; NZ2 direct from Auckland to London. It's about the fastest way to do it even if it does take about 24 hours. I've done this flight before a few years ago and can report it's as bad as ever. 11 hours 45 mins to L.A. then 2 hours in transit before another 10 hours to London. The transit part has improved. Last time we had to clear full immigration and re-check in clearing all luggage. It seems sense has prevailed (in L.A.?) and they hord us into a small transit room for the duration, not forgetting to fingerprint and photograph us on the way in. We even got free snacks while we were waiting. The television revealed where we were as the bubblegum news and weatherman looked like an out of work actor over enthusing about the fact that the wind was 10 mph instead of it's usual 6. I guess that's about as exciting as the weather gets in L.A.

On to London were we circled like a massive hungry vulture about to unleash it's tired antipodeans upon the old land where most of us came from at some point of other. The view's on the way in were spectacular as we passed over central London and almost snagged on the London eye. I felt somewhat guilty after watching the AL Gore spiel on the environment 'An inconvenient truth' as jet planes are the worst offenders. Hey I cycle to work okay! So what that I own a V6 3.8 liter gas gussler. I only use on weekends!

I thought that arriving at 11pm would give us the chance to see something on day 1, but we thought we'd just have a short nap. I awoke in the dark completely unaware where I was of what time it was. A quick sniff revealed an old hotel room in central London. Edwardian vintage. I got up, but quickly thought better of it as dizziness set in and took my time. Those jet lag pills do nothing! How could they really, I mean it's just not travel circling the globe and expecting to be fresh as a daisy. We did make out way out into the black night and had a meal in Leicester Sq before heading swiftly back to bed for another 12 hours.

Day 2. Stogy English breakfast of beans and eggs then of into the stodgy day. I thought we did pretty well as we wander through Soho to check out Soho Books, and an old music shop I used to love, then on to Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Sq, St James Park (lovely) then on to stare at a Big Clock and catch a double decker bus through to Tower bridge where we started a river cruise. The captain/river guide/comedian was a proper cockney so I'm sure half the boat looked on blankly and they couldn't comprehend a word. He cracked me up, but what he said I can't remember except that he had a funny experience when a strawberry milkshake fell off Blackfriers bridge onto one of his hapless passengers last week.

On Friday evening I had a nightmare getting lost as I tried to catch up with some old mates in Crouch End, north London. I had the street name of my friends flat, but there are a lot of streets in north London and it wasn't anywhere near a tube stop. I think we asked every late night kebab shop owner in that area, but nobody had a clue. We did got there after 11pm at night after planning to be there at 10. It was cool to see my old London flatmates of a few years ago. My good buddies! It's so good to see people don't change to much. I wanted to play music all night, but sadly there were sleeping people through the thin walls who owned the place so we had to keep it a bit quiet.

Saturday we went to the Camden markets. I think it's safe to say Clare loved it. Her eyes lit us at the many varied items on sale from every corner. Especially all the wonderful hippy clothes and cosmic nic nacks. We spent about 6 hours there or so, but only touched the surface. We had to save a bit of energy for the Salmanella Dub gig at night which we had our names on the door for. Care's sister knows Tiki, the lead singer. We've both seen them play loads of time over the last 10 years at various festivals around NZ, but for me this was musically the best ever. They were in fine form and I felt the pain of longing for wide open spaces and green hills in the audience as their music evokes a feel for Aotearoa beauty. The visuals of beaches, cabbage trees, mountains and long open roads may have helped and as I looked around the Sheperds Bush Empire that night I'm sure I saw tears in a few eyes. Maybe even my own.

Sunday and another plane ride, this time only 2 hours and into Eastern Europe we come. We left a grey rainy day behind and arrived to blue skies and lovely autumnal colurs. I love Prague and feel a the old culture come back straight away. I decided to go cheap and take public transport to our hotel, which turned out to be a bus, underground, tram nightmare. Especially the last part on the tram as I couldn't find the stop and the station we wanted wasn't listed as my 'how to get there' guide on my hotel voucher was insisting. Bad marks to out own computer system as I use always assure my customers to follow these directions. Hmm. I had to ask locals for whom English is like a hard crossword clue but we did make to Hotel Merlin which was not 10 minutes walk from the town center (more mad marks) but was an eccentric place I liked immediately as the Grand Prix was on telly, even if I couldn't understand a word of the commentary.

Seeya next time for more words from the East.
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