London Central

My second flight to London was set to leave at 2:30 AM of September 15.  Getting a sleep before an early morning flight was challenging for me. I forced myself to sleep in the middle of the day so I wouldn't be dozing off while on duty, but, I kept on waking up every after 1 hour :( Despite the not so good sleep, I managed to stay awake for the entire flight to London. I guess, the feeling of excitement played its role in waking me up.

I planned ahead before my flight. I asked for directions, search the internet for the landmarks and etc. I already expected that I would be doing sight seeing by myself since other crews would either stay in the hotel or go to Hounslow.  We arrived around past 8 AM (London time) of September 15. After checking-in and getting into my room, I immediately changed clothes, prepared my bag and went straight to the concierge to ask for a map.  My route for that day? LONDON CENTRAL.

I rode the bus to Hatton Cross station and bought and All day ticket. From there, I rode the Picadilly Line to Baron's Court where I transferred to District Line. Since I wanted to see the Big Ben and London Eye, I went down at Westminster Station. I was really awed that I instantly saw Big Ben while I was going out of the underground.  On that very moment, Big Ben was a reality and not something I am just seeing in pictures. Nothing could ever beat something you've seen through your very eyes.







London Eye was just on the other side of Big Ben. A lot of tourists (count me in there) was crowding the area - each trying to get a shot with those famous landmarks on their background.



House of  Parliament:

















Across the Parliament Square was St. Margaret's Church - Westminster Abbey or known as "the Parish Church of the House of Commons".









Westminster Abbey (one of the most important Gothic (Architecture) landmark in the United Kingdom. It was the Benedictine monks who first came to the site of Westminster Abbey. According to the abbey's website:

Westminster Abbey or - to use its formal name - the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, is a ‘Royal Peculiar’. This means it is a free chapel of the Sovereign, exempt from any ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than that of the Sovereign.
 One of the not-so-distant past events held at Westminster Abbey was the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. 




Buckingham Palace was also on my list on the day I visited London Central. From Westminster Station, I rode the Jubilee line tube and get off at Green Park Station. It was just a short walk from the station to the Buckingham Palace.





Rain was unstoppable in the middle of the day. I lost the chance to see the Tower Bridge. I just rode the train to Bond Street so I could visit Oxford Street, a shopping area in London Central. I just visited Primark, Boots and M&S foodies. I bought a few things which I thought as essentials for my other layovers at Primark. Queue was crazy at first glance but when you're in there, line was moving faster than you've thought. My tip if you're planning to visit Primark: Go there as early as you could.


Getting around London Central was easy contrary to what I thought on my first time there. Landmarks was within reach via London Underground, just read the signs and you wouldn't get lost. Sight seeing slash ME time was not a bad idea. Sometimes, it was a good way to make you feel confident about your sense of direction and even independence. If I would be having another flight to London for the next months, I wouldn't mind traveling alone again :)




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Bonjour!

I believe a lot of people wanted to see the Eiffel Tower (including me). For me, it became the trademark of Paris along with all other sites like the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral. I would always include the picture of Eiffel Tower in my inspirational boards which I eventually used as an ipad wallpaper.

I never thought I would see the City of Love and Lights on my first month at work. I felt really excited from the very moment I saw my roster.  I guess you attract what you think most of the time so believe in the power of your thoughts combined with your feelings. Just like what it says in The Secret "Thoughts become things".

It was on the 9th of September that I flew to CDG (Charles De Gaulle Airport or AĆ©roport Paris–Charles de Gaull or just Roissy Airport). We had an evening arrival so it would be favorable to me that I have a large part of the day (the next day) to do sightseeing. I was lucky that there were other crews who planned to do the same so I would not be alone then. Instead of taking the hotel shuttle to the city (which would start later part of the day), we asked the concierge to book a taxi for us for the next day. 

If I would be alone, I am unsure whether I could manage to ride the train to the city but I guess if I could muster all the courage and ask for directions from the hotel's concierge, soul searching in the city would be possible *lol*

On the next day, I, together with five other crews started our trip to the city at 9:00 AM. Three (including me) planned to just do sightseeing while the other three would shop at Champs Elysees and Lafayette.

Let me share with you some photos of the landmarks I've seen and visited in Paris:

1. Eiffel Tower


2. Arc De Triomphe


3. Pont Alexandre III

4. The Louvre

5. Avenue des Champs Elysees



How we got around Paris? We walked! We didn't choose to get a day pass (for the train, which I think costs around 22 Euro) so we walked from one landmark to another. A day pass would be ideal if you don't have patience to walk around the city. For me, I didn't care if I get tired. It was my first time in Paris and I appreciated everything I saw along the way.

What to wear? Take some time to research about the weather. When we got there, it was sunny but in the middle of our sight seeing, rain started to fall and eventually, sun showed up again when we were about to end our activity. I believe it would be best if you bring a folded umbrella with you, in case there would be a little possibility of rain. You wouldn't want the weather to spoil your sight seeing right?

I have yet to see some more landmarks like Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. Fingers crossed for another flight to CDG :)





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One Day only at Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland was the second leg of our ultra long range flight (MEL-AKL-MEL). When I was a kid, I would always incorporate the words cow and milk to New Zealand (the country became known to me in that way) because Anchor, a brand of milk was so popular in the Philippines. I've read once that cows outnumbered people in NZ.

According to the Tourism website of Auckland (source:http://www.aucklandnz.com/about/founding-of-new-zealand):

Europeans first laid eyes on Aotearoa (New Zealand) on 13 December 1642, when the great Dutch explorer Abel Tasman caught sight of the west coast of the South Island. After a skirmish with local Maori, he sailed on, never setting foot on land, however his 'footprint' still lies in the name he gave Aotearoa - New Zealand. 

The next Europeans to visit Aotearoa/New Zealand came under the stewardship of the famous English mariner, Captain James Cook, who in 1769 visited the South Pacific in order to study the passage of Venus across the disc of the sun.

News of Cook's 'discovery' spread fast and in the ensuing years early settlers began arriving in New Zealand in search of timber, flax for ropes, and whales for the production of oil. These early visitors, who sometimes settled, brought with them western materials such as tools and muskets, as well as alcohol and disease. Of all these imports, disease and muskets were the two which had the most devastating effect on the indigenous Maori population. However it was confusion and miscommunication over land ownership that was to have the biggest and most wide ranging effect on the traditional Maori way of life.
We had a day of stay at Auckland. I decided to visit Auckland Central alone at night (Queen Street in particular) since it was the nearest place to be from our hotel.  It was cold as I walked around the area but I just thought of this: "mind over matter" or else I won't be maximizing the hours we have there. 

Queen Street was a commercial road in Auckland Central.  I've seen several shops, fast food chains and restaurants along the way. The big designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci were part of the main strip.  I've seen two boutiques of Louis Vuitton and Gucci while walking around and I don't know if there were more than that. 

Let me share with you a few photos of what I've seen along the way:

Town Hall

Keep Calm and Eat Hot Dogs :P

LV and Gucci stores
I just had around 2 hours of sight seeing at Auckland. I planned  to come back at the hotel early so I could have enough time to rest and prepare for another walkathon to downtown when morning comes.

My batch mate and I went together and continued our sight seeing around Queen Street.  We both wanted to see the iconic Sky Tower (the tallest man-made structure built at New Zealand) so we explored how we could get there. Luckily, it wasn't hard to get there but what made us challenged was how we could ever get a good photo of each of us with the Sky Tower in the background lol.


After our Sky Tower-photo-op, we decided to find our way back to Queens Street and look for a food court.  Getting back  was a tempting journey because we've passed by so many shops (Cotton On, Supre, etc.) and seen so many things that we wanted to buy but I asked myself: "Do I really need it?" Impulsive buying was not in my vocabulary in the Philippines so I won't spend much if it's not really a necessity. I knew I could get cheaper things on my other layovers :)

I consider Auckland as simple and laid-back. I saw the downtown as a not-so-stressful place to be with. I enjoyed my layover there. I still have another Auckland flight by the end of the month and I would try to see other parts of the city.  I just hope the rain would not be so imminent by the time I would get back so it would be easier for me to take a walk and just do sight seeing. 


TIP:
If you're planning to visit Auckland, wear something that will keep you warm.

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Walkathon at Melbourne

It's my thing to check the weather before my flight so I know what to pack in my suitcase. Since it's in the forecast that it will be cold in the land down under, I made sure I packed a jacket and coat to keep me warm while getting around the place. 

I welcomed the month of September with a multiple sector flight - this means I will be away from the sandpit for 5 days and finally get back on the 6th day.  I was excited to operate that flight since I will be flying with my batchmate - this means we can easily tag along each other and explore what Melbourne can offer us .

It was a long flight to the land down under. We arrived there early morning of Monday and decided to take a few hours of sleep before setting our system into TOURIST MODE ON.

Across our hotel was a park and a known landmark there which is the Cricket Ground:

Yarra Park

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Closer look at the Cricket Ground
Melbourne Cricket Ground was said to be the 10th largest stadium in the world and the largest in Australia. It's the home of Melbourne Cricket Club. This stadium was the venue of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. This was also used in the 1956 Olympic Games.

The city centre/central city (of Victoria) is walking distance from the cricket ground. There we found some more landmarks like the Flinders Street Station, St. Paul's Cathedral and a lot of shops and restaurants along Swanson Street.

St. Paul's Cathedral, an Anglican Church located diagonally opposite Flinders Street Station

Shuttle for Melbourne visitors! Visit: http://www.city-sightseeing.com/en/tours/australia/melbourne.htm for prices and other info
Flinders Street Station (serving the entire rail network of the metropolis)
 My batchmate and I were looking for St. Patrick's Cathedral which caught our eyes on our way to the hotel (passed by via our shuttle). We believed the way was on the other side of the city that's why we decided to visit it on our second day at Melbourne. 

Sharing some more Melbourne photos (taken on our second day):

Rainy Melbourne! Good thing it was sunny on our first day

I remember I was confused if this was a university or a theatre (someone correct me please *winks*)

Oooh Lala! Pinas! They have that signage on a tram

Finally, a photo of St. Patrick's Cathedral (Catholic Archdiocese) 


  

St. Patrick's Cathedral (located near the city) has a great architecture. I was awed by how it was designed when I saw it. According to the cathedral's website (http://www.cam.org.au/cathedral/Cathedral/Article/13296/Message-of-Welcome):

St Patrick’s is regarded internationally as the finest ecclesiastical building in Australia and a pre-eminent example of the Gothic Revival style. The austere facade gives little hint of the glorious interior with its ethereal golden light of mesmerising beauty.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed by Fitzroy Gardens (named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy):


The park was well-taken care of. There was a shop in the middle of it and the doodled-tiles on its entrance (near the city) was hard to ignore.

I liked how we were lodging at an area near the center where there were plenty of shops and restaurants as I would prefer eating outside the hotel since it will help me discover more than the hotel foods can offer. Not to mention it would be cheaper eating out than opting for hotel foods. There were also cheap finds along Swanson Street. I bought a long jacket (enough to keep me warm on cold weather) for 17 AUD. A friend also told me there was a Cotton On outlet store in the city. Too bad I didn't see it. Hopefully on my next flight to MEL :)




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Hello Sandpit!

I'm back! That's my one liner after getting into more than a month hiatus.

From this post onward, you may have an idea why I am missing on action in the blogging world. 

My apologies for all the late replies on your queries. If you're in need of an urgent answer to your concern, do not hesitate to send me an email and I will try my best to answer them in the quickest possible time and with the best answer that I can give :)

I've kept mum about this, but I don't have any intention to keep this forever - I already left the Philippines to live a life in the SANDPIT. I arrived here on a RAMADAN and everyone really followed the customs and traditions. There's respect anywhere.

I've been here for a month already and I have a simple thought on being here: "Independent life. IT IS! So far so good. I am learning a lot everyday."

I've been to some malls here and have seen a few landmarks closely and even from afar. Certainly, I am looking forward to discover more of the amazing landmarks in this place. 

Let me share with you some of the photos I had that are staying in my folders for more than a month (they may not be a set of good shots hehe):

Burj Khalifa! Better to capture this at night

A sight inside Dubai Mall

Largest Aquarium! Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

Jumeirah Mosque. Picture taken during a mosque tour c/o our company.

COSMOPOLITAN. That's one thing I will say about this country I'm living in right now. The place is so clean and organized and a lot of buildings will give you a "wow" factor once you've seen them. Getting into some malls will never be a problem because the metro will take you right in front of the destination of your choice except for Dubai Mall wherein you have to patiently walk like the whole Ayala Avenue before getting inside.

Mall of Emirates has a great interior but if you're looking for more affordable shops, I will opt to visit Ibn Battuta (where each section of the mall has a theme: Persian, Indian, Chinese, etc) or Deira City Center. Deira City Center is more convenient with me since it's the nearest mall to where I am staying ( less than 5 Dirhams less on my NOL card balance for a roundtrip fare) and it seems to be a one stop shop for me. Add to that, there are cheap finds around the area where you can buy your necessities with less than 5 dirhams  (insert name of Day to Day and Greenhouse). 

GETTING AROUND BY TRAIN/METRO: Buy a NOL card for 20 dirhams (reloadable).
TAXI: A min of 10 dirhams (regardless how near your destination is)
BUS: There are a lot. They have schedules and I am not yet sure. Mode of payment is your NOL card.

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