And the winner for the most well-timed holiday during a European transport-stopping natural disaster is…..
With half a day left in Iceland, we decided to check out what the town of Reykjavik had to offer… Apparently not much when it’s a public holiday. With most shops closed, we stalked a group of flag and banner bearing children and adults marching up the street chanting in Viking language towards the church. After finding out that the country stops for the first day of summer (strange seeing as it was still below 0), we went in search of Iceland’s most famous restaurant, a hot dog stand which has stood in the same spot with the same owner for over 30 years, to taste the well known delicacy.
With our bellies full of strange hot dog toppings we set off for the airport, with fingers crossed that we’d fluke it and manage to sneak on the first plane out of Iceland to London in over a week. In fact, we managed to get on the 2nd flight to London, with those stranded passengers shipped off earlier that morning. Anyone who was affected by the cancelled flights will understand how ridiculous it was that we managed to get through Iceland completely unaffected… no delays…no cancellations…and no ash particles in the engines.
So London bound we boarded what could quite possibly be the oldest plane still able to fly commercially, scaring Sal even more than normal. With a safe landing we managed to get through customs (with our 5 litres of smuggled alcohol) ridiculously quickly and caught the tube where we were greeted by our new temporary house mates, Spero and Bianca, fellow PE teachers.
Our first day in London was filled with running around London trying to organise life. A meeting with our new teaching agency, (who are awesome and so far have really looked after us) and 2 bank meetings trying to get bank accounts and then phones. After a few hiccups we managed to get ourselves sorted with bank accounts and a temporary phone.
After catching up with some of our fellow Wollongong Uni PE teacher friends, we went to visit Keiran and Glen who introduced us to London’s Lager and for Sal, cider. Anzac Day saw us up at 4am to assemble in Hyde Park with a few thousand other Aussies and Kiwis for our first dawn service, which was really cool to be involved with. London traffic around the area was even stopped for the moments silence. After a little snooze, we headed off to ‘the Reddy’, a vomit smelling Aussie, Kiwi, Saffa pub with Glen and Keiran and discovered the deliciousness of snake bites (or as Sal calls them, Spidys)
After chilling out in London for a few days, not doing much at all, we reluctantly started working. We managed to teach at the same primary school for our first day meaning Sal wouldn’t get lost on the streets of London. With our heads sufficiently banged against a brick wall, we both agreed we wouldn’t be going back to that school - (Nath – ‘Mt Warrigal ,I miss you!’). We both taught at different schools for the next 2 days, meaning Sal had to learn how to follow directions. SANZA our teaching agency make it pretty easy for us though by texting through what tubes and buses to catch and how long the walk to the school is. We both saw how much better it is if you can find the right school with both days crazily more tolerable than the first day.
During this time we also managed to search for a room of our own. After looking at about 8 or 9 places we managed to find a massive room in a 2 bedroom apartment or mansion as they call it over here, with a British couple. Within a few days we have now moved in and no longer live out of a bag…or several bags as it actually turned out. Luckily Spero has a mate with a car who kindly drove us to the Mansion to move in, otherwise the move would have been an incredibly painful ordeal. Thanks to all the Kingsgate crew for being so hospitable and letting us doss!
So now that we are set up, have our own place we are working on saving up some pounds to fund our first holiday. So far we are undecided as to where we should go however we have a week off for school holidays over Sal’s birthday, so we will be able to celebrate in style.
We’ll let you all know our UK numbers when we get our permanent phones but skype is still the best way to contact us now that we have the net, if you want to catch up.
Miss you guys!
Love Sal and Nath