Scotland and such

Hello again!

I think I last left you after just arriving in Sweden. Well, the last few weeks have been such a whirlwind! I have fallen in love, found a place I despise more than Sydney, treated and tortured my taste buds, and experienced some of the best the world has to offer….

Sweden was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. And, it was a good time to improve my Swedish language skills, after a year of learning back home, with only an Aussie-Swedish teacher!

We spent 2 nights in Uppsala with Ingrid and Pete, seeing the sights of beautiful Stockholm, then one night in Nykoping, and 4 nights on the west coast near Goteborg. I think my most favourite day of the trip so far was near Kykoping, where Pete took us out on his speed boat, cruising around the Swedish archipelago in the warm, glistening sun. We stopped off on a deserted island, and sunbaked on the rocks, eating strawberries and Egyptian grapes, and watching life literally sail by. Everyone except me went swimming, as I don’t like FREEZING cold water! It was such a perfect day, and I even got a tan!! 🙂 At Nykoping we also went for a lovely walk up a mountain, and ate wild berries till we nearly burst.

At Goteborg, we spent two nights 1 hour north of the town at Andrew’s host family’s Summer house (most Swedes have summer houses they live in only when it’s warm). It was amazing – right on the water, and we arrived to a spectacular setting sun. We were treated like royalty in Goteborg, feasting on 4-course meals, champagne and the best guest rooms. Mum and Dad – I’m taking you here one day!

After a week of bliss, we found ourselves back in London, and for me, the holiday stopped. There’s something about London that just makes it stressful. The culinary delights of the east came to a screeching stop, and customer service ceased to exist altogether. (Note – don’t believe restaurants when they claim to have “world bests”, like fish and chips – it’s all lies!!). I also had to say goodbye to Andrew, which was very hard, but we had a great final night, watching the musical ‘Wicked’ on stage in London.

Luckily, this was when Leah joined the trip! We’ve now just returned from a week in Scotland. (And were blessed with glorious sunshine the entire time – shorts and t-shirts!) We spent 2 nights in Edinburgh (and fell in love with the city we were supposed to live in…), 2 nights on the banks of Lochness at Fort Augustus, 2 nights at Inverness (with Shell – and covered the entire North coast of Scotland, nearly hitting some reindeer in our rented car on the windy one-way roads!), and a final night in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh festival. The Highlands were amazing!!! The mountains so green, spotted in patches of bright purple flowers, and dark, eerie Lochs. We did a 3 day Haggis Tour, and learnt so much about this amazing country, traveling through Glencoe, the Isle of Skye, past Ben Nevis (where the brand ‘The North Face’ is named after, and training ground for Everest), Fort William, and the battlefields of Culloden Moor (strengthening our case against the English!!). We also did an evening cruise along Lochness. As I peered into the black waters half listening to the safety brief on life jackets, I couldn’t help but wonder, does my travel insurance cover being eaten by Lochy? Hmm….

Now, back in London, Leah and I have become increasingly critical of the city, and we feed of each other, adding to our list of ‘English hates’ (it’s written in the back of my travel diary for anyone who cares to read upon my return). I can’t believe of all the places I’ve been, this is where I’m settling! I think it will be short-lived.

Another gripe I have against this city is the payment of toilets. I fail to see how employing a full time staff member and installing turn-style security is economically rational for the 20-pence it costs customers to use the facilities. Meh.

Yesterday I got a room though. It’s about the size of my walk-in wardrobe back home, and the house is shared with 5 others, from Italy, Hungary, Germany and France. I have no loungeroom, as that’s been converted into an office! But it’s in Fulham, in a gated community, and I don’t plan to stay long. At any rate, it’s not like I have many friend to come over an entertain! (Minus Jayne who lives 20 mins walk away). It was hectic being shown around rooms though. Some were absolutely filthy carpets jumping in fleas, floors littered in items I’m not even going to mention! When we naively asked when it would be cleaned, we were laughed at “haha, no! You clean yourself!” At least my place is clean(ish). I think my obsessive compulsive behaviour will get a work out in the next coming months… Can’t wait to sterilise it.

I’m getting to that point where I’m craving bed consistency, cleanliness and, my body free from bed bug bites.

Tomorrow Leah, Liss and I fly out to Spain (Madrid), followed by 8 days in Morocco, then back to Spain (Valencia) for La Tomatina (world’s biggest food fight involving rotting tomatoes! Yeah! They boarder off the street and for an hour we are pummelled in tonnes of tomatoes!), then to Barcelona, followed by an 8-day cruise along the Croatian Islands. I’ll try to write again when I get a chance, but I don’t know what the internet connection is like in the North African Desert!! 🙂

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