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It really isn’t much fun coming from 35-degree heat one day into what seems like one of Melbourne’s coldest winters the next. Let’s be honest here, the only good thing about this cold weather is how cold your water in your water bottle gets when you leave it overnight. About a week ago I was thoroughly enjoying myself lying on a beach in the Greek Islands.  This uni break, my best friend and I took a 7-week trip around Europe – and let me tell you that was nowhere near enough time. I’m going to start my blog by giving you a VERY BRIEF, PG-rated description of some of my travels!

I started my trip in the great city of London. It sort of is like Melbourne, just 100 times busier and a hell of a lot bigger.  We were staying at a hostel (YHA Hostel) just off Oxford St  which is one the best shopping streets in London.  Shopping on this street is not easy as it is so crowded it’s hard to walk down the street without bumping into other people. The shopping in London was incredible – everything seemed so cheap compared to back home, and there was just so much more variety. It was really hard not to spend all my money in this first week on clothes.

One of the most amazing things about London is its public transport tube system (the tube). We never had to wait for a train for more than about 4 minutes. The trains come so frequently and just go everywhere you need them to go.

All the main tourist attractions in London can be seen in the space of a couple of hours as they are all so close. These include Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. It was great seeing all these sights but what interests me the most is experiencing what the locals love about where they live. It was speaking to the locals that led us to Brick Lane and Camden Market, two places I really recommend you visit if you are in London.

Brick Lane is famous for its many curry houses, but the lane is so interesting in itself. So much incredible street art can be found down all the little alleyways off this Lane, as well as countless bars, a few clubs and so many food places.

Next up we visited Camden Town, which was practically a whole town devoted to being a market (Camden Market). It was huge, with a whole variety of strange and interesting things. It was the best market that i visited overseas.

For me, London would be such a great place to live. It has a lot to offer – everyone there is so friendly, it’s so easy to get around, the shopping is amazing and food is cheap. What more do you need!

Next stop Amsterdam! We took a ferry from Harwich (about 2 hours from London), and let me tell you this was no little, uncomfortable ferry: it was huge! The ferry took 7 hours as far as I remember, but since we had hired a small cabin with two beds and a TV for only 18 pounds (such a deal if you ask me), I did not want this ferry ride to end as I was quite enjoying my sleep.

Now Amsterdam is a very, how do I say this … interesting place. As you may know, smoking weed in coffee shops is completely legal here. They even sell it to you in all sorts of nifty ways. It is because of this that Amsterdam attracts a lot of tourists. This causes prices to be very high on most things you buy, even it is just a sandwich, and the public transport costs an arm and a leg. I found Amsterdam to be a very seedy place with lots of strange, strange people roaming the streets. The night life in Amsterdam wasn’t the greatest either – lots of tacky little bars and pubs which were also very expensive.

The red light district actually made me feel quite sad. I felt really sorry for these girls who (some of them) were just trying to earn money to pay for study or rent. For me there really wasn’t very much to see here. The one tourist attraction that I was interested in was Anne Frank’s house, but when going to see this the line was too long so, being the good tourists that we are, we decided to give it a miss.

Since the public transport costs a fortune, most of the people turn to bike-riding. This makes the streets dangerous to walk in! You are nearly getting hit by a bike every minute. One nice part of Amsterdam was the beautiful canal system. Although this looked pretty, it was also very confusing as everywhere you went looked the same. So for me, someone who isn’t very good at directions, it’s very easy to get lost.

Despite all this, I still managed to have fun here; it just was nowhere near as good as some of the other places I visited, which I shall continue to tell you about on my next post.

Until next time bloggers.

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