I have to admit I wasn’t the slightest bit sad to be leaving Sydney. The excitement levels were so high that I hardly noticed the goodbyes and it wasn’t until my third movie in on the flight to Abu Dhabi that I started to miss good old Aus and my family and friends. The flight on V Australia was fantastic, the service was great and the in flight entertainment was awesome. Abu Dhabi airport was an experience too, getting off the plane into stupendous humidity then walking into a neon shopping hell. People in suits offering us everything from Vodka to Ray Bans. We had a coke in the “Irish” bar then tried to find our gate. This was difficult as no board anywhere in the airport told us where we were supposed to go. Luck was on our side however and on our 4th time walking up and back we came across the right gate. Following the english accent nearly got us on the wrong flight to Manchester. The Etihad flight was not so good. Tiny cramped seating, poor service and no sleep meant I was very tired upon arrival. Walking into Heathrow was amazing, the excitement from all the Aussies around us was palpable. This continued as we filled out our landing cards and continued until we got into the queue for customs. This was my first experience of a good old fashioned English line. Walking the long distance to the end, only to find that in continued on around a corner, up a hill, round another corner and down a LOOOOONG corridor was enough to dent our spirits a little. 3 hours later we showed the nice man on one of the 10 manned desks out of 37 our papers and we were sent through. A change of clothes later we got onto the tube, changed at Leicester Square and went to Hendon central. We walked out of the station to our first glimpse of English weather. Misty drizzle (quite unexpected). It was only then that we realised we had no idea how to get from the station to our hotel. We walked into the nearest Backpackers intending to use the internet but the nice attendant got his ipad out and showed us on google maps exactly how to get to Hendon Hall. We walked the 25 mins lugging our heavy backpacks and about halfway there the real rain started. We arrived very soggy but in high spirits. We left our bags in the office as we were too early to check in and headed into the city. The receptionist told us which bus to get (the 240 to Golders Green) and we departed. Our first trip on a double decker bus was an experience. Cars in britain don’t seem to have any concept of where other cars on the road are. My new favourite game is to sit on the top level right up the front and laugh at cars pulling out in front of people, cars slamming on brakes to avoid collisions and all the road rage. We got the tube from Golders Green to Waterloo and walked down to the London Eye. At first the eye was hidden behind a large building but as we turned a corner Anita saw it for the first time and all colour left her face. She immediately let me know in no uncertain terms that she was not getting on. I let her know that I was definitely getting on. I am so unbelievably happy that I did. Even with the light rain the view was spectacular and I shared my carriage with my first real English Bogans whose foul mouths and dirty humour reminded me of Orange. I took Anita’s video camera up and filmed pretty much constantly. When it was over we ate a Byron Bay cookie, and decided to buy some wine to take back to the hotel. Walking into a supermarket we discovered that every bottle of wine they had was Australian with the exception of two bottles of kiwi wine and a cheeky little Californian chardonnay. We chose a white and I bought a litre of cider for 89 p. The cider was horrible. The bus trip from the hotel to the train station took us 15 minutes. On the way back we realised it was friday afternoon. This was our first experience of real London traffic. The bus trip back took an hour and a half. We filmed the hilarious driving antics of many a smart car dangerously weaving in and out of traffic. Also red lights seem to be more an inconvenience then a law in London. We decided to eat dinner in the Hotel restaurant. Walking down I discovered the bar was 24 hours, I love this place. I ordered my first pint of english beer called Tetleys. It was awful but easy to drink quickly. I moved onto spirits as we moved into the restaurant. The meal was amazing. I had smoked ham with quail eggs and pineapple as an entree and beautiful lamb on a bed of peas with little cheese balls for a main. Anita had a mushroom risotto with truffle oil and herb gnocci with asparagus for a main. I also had a soufflé with gelato for desert. This was a truly amazing meal one of the best I have eaten in  along time,  25 pounds for the 3 courses 20 for the 2. So decent value too which is always a plus in my book. It was nearly at the end of our dinner when the jet lag really started to kick in for Anita, she nearly fell asleep halfway through my soufflé. We went pretty much straight to bed after that which felt wonderful and that was the end of our first day in the northern half of the earth.

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