I have been all over this app called duolingo the past week or so, I have decided to finally step up my language game and try to learn a new one. What better time learn than when stuck in quarantine? The free time shouldn’t be wasted.
I have decided on Portuguese (I will explain my choice in a moment) and although just getting through the basics it is very fun so far.
I can confidently tell Portuguese speakers that I am not a shark but I do eat bread.
I always felt that learning a new language would be amazing, I just have never got round to actually starting. And I never knew what language to choose. But when I travelled around Brazil in 2016 with friends from São Paulo, I learned the very basics and thought it would be nice to keep the ball rolling. I didn’t keep the ball rolling. But I still wanted to learn and when I heard of this app I gave it a try.
It is a very convenient way to learn. I have been doing it daily in short bursts, and the thing with this is I don’t have to focus at certain times of the day in classes. I choose when and where I learn and this is a game changer for me, even if it takes me a little longer. I can imagine so many people are enjoying learning a new language in this way, the app states that more people are learning Irish around the world than there are native speakers.
I am not learning due to a career or for better career/financial prospects, more so because it sounds like an exciting challenge and it is great brain training. So thank you Brazil for helping me decide on a language to learn about. And similar to the US and UK variation of English, I would be interested to learn the differences between Brazilian-Portuguese and Portuguese-Portuguese.
I hope to keep it up. It’s like learning an instrument, real progress won’t happen overnight but with gradual steps. And I know a few of you do speak more than one language, I would love to know how many and what made you choose. If you only speak one, what one would you pick if you could?
Speak to you all soon! (in English for now).
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.
Also, I would love to grow on Instagram, please give me a follow over there as I will have plenty of London shots coming your way. Any help would be amazing as photography is fast becoming a passion of mine. Click here for onechancetoseetheworld on Insta and thank you so much for your support. It means the world to me.
Hello, it’s Sam. The guy that has been pretty AWOL so far in 2020, however I can proudly say that I have finally got my sh*t together and found a flat in the process. That and a lot more stability as I am located close to where I work in Old Street and that is certainly a blessing. No tube or buses to work, a simple five minute walk to blow away the cobwebs. I did try to find a place in close proximity however I didn’t expect to find somewhere this close.
I really don’t like spending time on transport.
So no more of these frustrated faces in Pret as I buy yet another coffee to kill the time and avoid going back to my roomshare.
I do like Pret though.
But anyway, less of my rambling. I have a new adventure to share with you.
In January I put two of London’s most popular market destinations up on Instagram and allowed those that follow me the chance to choose which one I would visit. The votes came in, and it was big victory for Covent Garden. Poor Borough Market didn’t stand a chance, but I will definitely be doing a blog post from there at some point due to it being such a historic market in London. Anything 1000 years old is worth a visit.
Now I have to say, after doing some research on IG stories it seems like I may have made a rookie mistake. I placed the vote box right in the middle of the screen, and some of you may know that to swipe through stories, you press the right hand side of the screen. This means that some of the votes for Covent Garden may have been accidents by those simply wanting to skip through my story, I am not sure. It would explain why CG received way more votes, but it could simply be a more popular choice.
Regardless I had a great day there, soaking up the great sunshine we were blessed with.
Here is my visit, as chosen by you, of Covent Garden.
Admittedly I didn’t know Covent Garden was a district, located between St Martin’s Lane and Drury Lane*. I thought the central square and market within was Covent Garden, however it is much larger than that containing many streets, pretty courtyards and hidden gems. It has had a long and interesting history- being a very popular fruit and veg market and even a red light district at one point- to the entertainment hub it is today full of bars and restaurants with Leicester Square right on its doorstep.
To get there, I took the Northern Line northbound to Kings Cross before switching to the Piccadilly Line westbound. Total journey time of 14 minutes, not bad at all.
Taking a right out of the exit barriers I found myself right in the heart of it all. Immediately I was walking on a cobbled street surrounded by beautiful buildings decorated with plants that bring colour, the White Lion pub on the corner immediately tempting me in before I even start to explore. I do come back to this spot later and take a left, for now I will continue down the street (Covent Garden’s main square can be seen in the background) to see what I can find.
What I was not expecting was a restaurant that Mark Wahlberg and his brother opened here in May 2019, the first of the chain to be opened outside of North America. This is the first time I had heard of Wahlburgers and as much as I wanted to go in, I refrained as I was meeting family in Camden Market for lunch later on.
It didn’t look particularly busy, there were many passers by taking a closer look after seeing the Wahlberg cutout outside, but not enough to get them through the doors. I guess it isn’t very well known here yet, I hope it picks up. I would like to pay a visit when I am next around the area, unexpected but a pleasant surprise for sure.
Heading down to the square, the market building is beautiful. I made sure to do a full 360 walk of this before peering inside. A timelapse around the building will be up on my Instagram story soon, so keep an eye out for that!
I am not sure if the tourists above were posing for the camera, there was no one behind me that’s for sure. But soon enough they headed inside and I followed suit through Central Avenue, or ‘Central Ave ue’ as it now appears. Whether the ‘N’ fell on someones head or was stolen for whatever reason I do not know. But this avenue is full of stores selling food, clothing and accessories and for those that spotted it, a famous pub called ‘Punch and Judy’.
Speaking of Punch and Judy, the show was mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his famous diary on May 9th, 1662. On this date it reads:
Up and to my office, and so to dinner at home, and then to several places to pay my debts, and then to Westminster to Dr. Castle, who discoursed with me about Privy Seal business, which I do not much mind, it being little worth, but by Watkins’s —[clerk of the Privy Seal]— late sudden death we are like to lose money. Thence to Mr. de Cretz, and there saw some good pieces that he hath copyed of the King’s pieces, some of Raphael and Michael Angelo; and I have borrowed an Elizabeth of his copying to hang up in my house, and sent it home by Will. Thence with Mr. Salisbury, who I met there, into Covent Garden to an alehouse, to see a picture that hangs there, which is offered for 20s., and I offered fourteen — but it is worth much more money — but did not buy it, I having no mind to break my oath. Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants. So to the Temple and by water home, and so walk upon the leads, and in the dark there played upon my flageolette, it being a fine still evening, and so to supper and to bed.
Samuel Pepys diary, Friday 9th May 1662
It is referred to as ‘an Italian puppet play‘, and this is the first Punch and Judy play on record in England.
Covent Garden has a very old worldy feel to it. The architecture, the lighting… I feel frozen in time walking around and it helps me to imagine those like Pepys walking around enjoying the shows that we still see today. There is a basement level in the square, opening to two smaller seating areas for the bars and pie shops and the occasional singer/ musician performing to onlookers.
As I arrived a singer was performing a beautiful cover of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, casually sitting on the flat bit of the banister at the bottom of the stairs. This was shortly after getting down from a chair of which he climbed onto to sing to the one businessman alone there having lunch. He quickly gained attention not just from his great singing but his entertaining nature, walking up to those passing by and taking photos of the crowds themselves.
There were two acts I caught whilst here, and I regret not getting either of their names. Maybe I will find them online, and I am going to put some clips into a story in IG for you to check out, maybe someone knows who they are.
Crossing the road south we have Jubilee Market selling foods and typical tourist gifts.
And just a block behind this is a store with a really cool feature that I needed to share.
Ellis Brigham is a store for those into mountain sports, and inside is an ice climbing wall for those wanting to try out their new gear. It is hidden away at the back of the store and was such a cool find!
The wall stretches two floors, perfect for a little practice without even having to leave London.
But back into the warmth(?), walking north takes us back to the Underground, past the iconic red phone booths that were very popular with tourists taking shots.
I do love these phone boxes and hope they never leave us (not that this is likely), it is interesting to think what they could be turned into now the demand for such telephones has diminished. I once heard they could store defibrillators and other opportunities are endless really. It would certainly make use of a great space whilst allowing London to keep a part of its identity for decades and hopefully centuries to come.
This has got to be one of the prettiest streets in all of London. Located further north of the Underground (taking a left as you come out of the station) you will find this little hidden corner of bright and colourful buildings. On the morning I was pretty much alone to take all the shots I wanted, businesses slowly opening up and waiting for the afternoon rush.
Below, a man reading his newspaper making the most of the calm in a dreamy corner or Covent Garden. I would recommend Neal’s Yard to anyone visiting London and a must for photographers.
Got myself some inspiration on the way out…
The first selfie of the day!
The guy behind doesn’t look best pleased though, probably has to deal with tourists everyday. But that is what you get for living and working in London.
Now for any of you Harry Potter fans and/or collectors, this store is for you. I found it walking back from Neal’s Yard and the enthusiastic guy at the door won me over.
I am not sure what wand he was using, however you are absolutely spoiled for choice inside. Replica wands from the movies lined the walls and they looked great.
At first I tried to take pictures when the employees weren’t looking, in case for whatever reason I couldn’t take photos. I don’t know why I thought this, I guess it was because some items were very pricey. However they later told me it was fine to take shots on any type of camera.
I am in love with this Batman mask. Would love to have bought it!
This store was easy to find, take a left out of Covent Garden Station, cross the road and keep heading north past the pub on the corner and you are there. With the variety across two floors there is definitely a gift to take back to wherever you call home, or for that crazed Harry Potter fan we all know.
What’s that, that crazed fan is you?! I knew it.
I kept heading back to the station to not get lost, and it was a good base as most of the things I wanted to see led back here. Another is Floral Court, on the same street as the White Lion and again very beautiful.
Designer handbags with arms sticking out of them could be found, as well as a nice looking cafe named Arket, although the lack of ‘M’ was throwing me off a little. Same thief that stole the ‘N’ earlier? Possibly.
The Lamb and Flag is a very old pub and was a favourite watering hole of Charles Dickens. It has had a long and fascinating history, the pub was once known for its bare knuckle fights earning the nickname ‘The Bucket of Blood’ and the alleyway you can see below was the location of an attack on John Dryden in 1679 arranged by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.
Floral Court is another lovely courtyard very close to the Lamb and Flag. I visited day and night and again it wasn’t too busy during the morning. I have learned that if I want to beat the tourists, get up for sunrise.
And how welcoming is this tree house, Dominique Ansel is an award winning pastry chef and I have linked the website below as the venue looks great.
Looking past the treehouse sign, a bright tunnel caught my attention. The Infinity Chamber is made up of thousands of LED’s that at the time was decorated for the Dominque Ansel Treehouse. This design and colour scheme is constantly changing so the chances are you will have a different sight to behold on your visit.
And the sun sets… if anything Covent Garden comes to life even more, the lights come on, people are finishing work and the vibes are good. This was after I went to see my family from the Isle of Wight for lunch in Camden Town, I recharged my camera batteries and started to revisit the places I had been during the day.
The courtyards looked great. The slideshow below highlights some of my views as I walked.
This is one for the foodies. A great place to socialise, Seven Dials Market was once a handful of small food stalls outside, they now take up a large indoor venue that was once a banana warehouse.
It was almost 9pm by the time I got done seeing everything I wanted to see, and decided to head back to the main square to soak up the atmosphere around there. This was the time I first noticed the Punch and Judy pub despite mentioning it quite early in this post, it stated on the window that it is ‘World Famous’ so for that reason I had to head down the stairs to the basement level and grab a drink.
It was cosy, built in 1787 and believed to be named after the performances in the area. I decided due to lack of room inside to sit in the oudoor-yet-still-indoor area, a little cold but fine with a jacket on. I am still not used to paying over £5 for a beer though, this one costing me £6.25.
That’s right, £6.25. I drank it quickly to forget the price.
And as I did a group of people came over to me, recognising the now worn Texas flag on my laptop.
It turns out that they were from Dallas and on holiday in London, Kenneth in the group being very kind and offering me a beer if I ever go back to TX and pay his restaurant a visit. Texans have always been friendly and a big reason as to why I would love to go back there someday.
But for now, I will remain in the UK. I am all traveled out and despite maybe taking a weekend break somewhere in the near future, anything longer than that probably won’t be on the cards for a while. I mean I don’t need to rush anywhere as I have so much to do here so I am okay with that.
And this is it! My first of many travel plans in London, chosen by you on Instagram. I will very shortly add this to my story on Insta, as well as my other social media pages with some video clips to go with them.
I had great fun in Covent Garden and like many places I will be visiting, I couldn’t do it all in one day. But I hope that I have given some inspiration for anyone planning a visit to London, Covent Garden is a must.
Thank you for reading, thank you for voting and I will see you in the comments!
Today was the first day I walked over London Bridge since it reopened. Maybe because I have done a dozen times already and I don’t actually need to. Just for photos. Maybe it was the uncomfortable feeling I still have inside me about this specific bridge following the recent stabbings. Probably a combination of both.
December has been pretty uneventful for me. London looks stunning at Christmas (I posted here about the Regent Street Christmas Lights), but a combination of flying back home and needing to buy gifts leaves all my exploring and discovering until 2020. That being said, I have been able to see some friends and enjoy the winter markets.
This is Ola, both heading for the mulled wine after a crazy shift. This was in a rotating bar in Winter Wonderland, a huge Christmas market I will link at the end of the post. It is great for all ages… families and grown ups with no kids. Rides for those that love a little dose of adrenaline often seen at your local fairground, cute little stalls selling everything you would want to find in your Christmas stocking.
And massive people…
A whole Christmas dinner in a burger…
More huge people, this time a hillbilly enjoying a bit of VR. I dread to think what’s playing…
London is full of mini versions of this market too, all dotted around the city. Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, South bank and all the ones I haven’t found yet. I am not sure if they are all owned and organised by the same people but they look pretty similar. Not that I mind, there is only so much they can do to stand out. A cosy wooden hut selling mulled wine from a cauldron, what more would you want?
This is Marcio and Maiana, a beautiful couple I met in the UK a good few years ago. My then flatmate and still very good friend Paul had them stay over our place when they visited the UK, travelling Europe and taking some time to visit out small corner of England. Paul and Marcio met during an event in Disneyland Florida. After spending a very fun few days showing them Newcastle, Durham and our regions castles I was very grateful to be a guest at their wedding in 2016 (they even gave us a shout out during a speech!) in their home of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
This time, we met in London.
And back to my post title. What I love so far about London is that it is such a popular destination for both Brits and international visitors, anyone that I have met on my global travels will probably visit this city if they come to the UK. It would be weird if they didn’t. Being as hectic and crazy as it is some people think it is too much, and this is something I hate about London. For those making a first visit to the UK this may be the only place visited, and if they don’t like it’s fast paced, car honking, crammed, occasionally rude and expensive nature, this is the perception of the UK they take back home. But the UK isn’t one city, even if it is by far our biggest. Whatever you don’t like about London, another British destination is begging for your attention.
But I am pleased we have London. For everyone that doesn’t like it there is a million that do, and it’s attraction is a very good reason as to why I have seen some people I probably wouldn’t have if I was living elsewhere.
Above is my friend Laura. We met when I started working at Sofitel in Melbourne, she recently moved to Sweden and waited in the UK as her visa was pending. She got it and off she went. I was also meant to meet my a colleague from Brisbane however unfortunately my shifts wouldn’t allow it. A couple of other friends are heading this way in the next month or so too which is great. I hope to see them.
As I have said in the past, what I love about smaller cities is that it is so easy to make arrangements to see friends. A reason why I loved Brisbane so much. Every possible meeting place is relatively close by and it isn’t unusual to bump into friends in the street. But these are people already living in the city. I never expected to meet so many friends from outside of London, in London in just a couple of months. I had a coffee chat with my previous manager from Newcastle last week as well, now working just a couple of Northern Line stops up from me near Old Street Underground Station. Bumping into people in the street is rare among the millions of tourists. But in this age of social media meeting up is easier, especially in one of the worlds most visited cities.
No matter where you are, take a moment to check social media. You never know who is around the corner!
Thank you for reading, and I hope your lead up to Christmas is more merry than manic. Let me know what you’re up to, and I will see you all in the comments!
Hey everyone, I hope you’re having a fantastic weekend. A much better one than mine as I eagerly await my first paycheck, looking through the window at the London skyline like a dog waiting for walkies.
Roll on the 31st.
But I have tried to remain productive outside of work and compile a list of things I want to do in London. I recently told you that I was planning to do more on Instagram, using the platform’s polling feature to put two London activities in my story every week and see which one people want me to do. Two attractions that follow a similar theme, and with the list I already have, I won’t run out of things to do very soon.
An example of this is below, I have done a bunch of these and have enjoyed putting them together.
So far I have paired a few things up, and still putting a bunch of things to do in the list. For anyone from London or those that have spent time in the city, I will add the current list here and would love if you could help me think of more cool and interesting places.
The list so far (not in any kind of order) is:
Emirates Air Line cable car
Go up to London’s Sky Garden
Big Ben (warning- under construction until 2021)
See Tower Bridge lift up
Try an authentic curry in Brick Lane
Have a crispy battered fish and chips in Camden Town.
Changing the Guard ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace
Meet the Beefeaters at the Tower of London
Go sightseeing on an iconic London red bus
Visit Aldwych abandoned tube station (if open)
Soak up spectacular views of London’s skyline at The View from The Shard.
Take a boat trip on the Thames
See the Apollo 10 command capsule at the Science Museum
See Egyptian mummies and the world-famous Rosetta Stone at the British Museum
Tuck in to a pie, mash and liquor at one of London’s pie shops
Try the Chinese cuisine in London’s Chinatown restaurants
Visit Crossbones Graveyard, a graveyard for medieval prostitutes
Drink coffee in a Victorian toilet at the Attendant
Oldest prison in England (Clink Prison Museum)
Tallest bar in London/ Smallest pub in London
North London Derby
Take a tour of Wembley Stadium
See graffiti at Leake Street tunnel
Visit Karl Marx’s grave at Highgate Cemetery
Visit London’s oldest red telephone box
Walk over the famous Abbey Road pedestrian crossing
Take a Harry Potter Walking Tour
See the neon signs at Gods own Junkyard
St Pauls Cathedral
Visit Greenwich and stand on the Longitude 0 line
Visit Pudding lane (Great Fire of London) and learn more about Samuel Pepys and his diary
Find the pump that cured Cholera in Soho
Have tea in the 300 year old Twinings tea shop
Visit a Roman Temple dedicated to Mithras
The Post Office Railway
Last Tuesday Society (not sure what this is exactly but it sounds strange and intriguing)
See the oldest surviving Surgical Theater in Europe
Stay overnight in London Zoo
Banksy’s ‘Designated Graffiti Area’
Churchill War Rooms
The Traffic Light Tree
Seven noses of Soho
The Embassy of the Republic of Texas
End of current list
A lot of places already!!!
Thank you to those that have already provided suggestions, this list will keep me going for a while. But then I need to take into consideration that I will try to do most of these, and if my posts are ‘this or that’, the ones that aren’t successful will have to be done at some point too! Maybe I will do a new poll for the losing options once I have made my way through.
I am currently living really close to Borough Market and the Shard, both seen in the picture above. I have tried hard not to have too many wanders into the tourist areas before I get myself a new camera on payday and do some proper blog posts on the locations I visit. But I have been working full time anyway which has helped. So far I am happy to just have some casual wanders day and night around the local neighbourhood that is Southwark.
Despite feeling a little anxious to be moving into London’s city centre, I have felt very safe on all my walks and on public transport. One reason for this is because it is just so busy all the time, no matter the time of day. I feel safer in numbers, and despite the higher crime rates inevitable in a city of 10 million, I would much rather be around a high population if it happened and not down some dark back alley in the middle of nowhere. The constant sirens of the emergency services and sight of police everywhere is welcomed too. Not that I want there to be a new emergency every ten minutes, but knowing that they are there protecting the city.
And with that I haven’t met too many miserable people either. The common belief (particularly being from a much smaller city up north) is that everyone looks down and that London isn’t a particularly friendly city. But I have found that most people I have engaged with have been pleasant, even in the most chaotic of crowds. I am hoping this isn’t just beginners luck and it stays like this whilst I live here, I can only imagine how many people I could possibly meet on my adventures and I am really, really looking forward to getting out there and exploring properly.
The beginning of November will be when I am back in the zone.
Thank you for bearing with me over the last month or so, I haven’t blogged much since moving back to the UK but it will all be changing in a week or so. It is all about finding routine and I am settling in well and cannot wait to do some more solid full time blogging in London.
Let me know what you would like me to do, have a great weekend and see you all soon!
The websites I used for these activities are linked below.
Checkpoint Charlie is the closest tourist spot to where I was staying. It is largely a reconstruction of the east/west border crossing in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie (or Checkpoint C) was the name used by the Western Allies at this particular site between 1947-91. It was also the location for the stand-off between Soviet and US tanks in 1961, the dispute over a US diplomat crossing the border. It ended peacefully almost a week later after both armies agreed to slowly move their tanks back.
As you can see above, a replica of the guardhouse sits before a picture of a soldier. A sign to the right of it informs you that ‘You are leaving the American sector’.
After the Berlin Wall was taken down, some sections of wall remained standing. These sections are a reminder of what life would have been like with the wall dividing the country, and many parts of the wall are decorated with paintings, messages, padlocks and at this section, chewing gum.
What I didn’t know which I found pretty fascinating was that there is a line that runs through the city to show where the Berlin Wall once stood. You can see the brickwork below leaving the actual wall and heading into the distance.
Larger sections of wall were found close to the German finance building talked about in Part One. From here I learned that the wall wasn’t just one wall but two, separated by a ‘death strip’ filled with trenches, barbed wire fencing, landmines and armed guards. Sand was used in the strip to detect footprints that would lead to those looking to cross the border illegally. This is why despite the wall being pretty small, the chances of crossing it were very low and incredibly dangerous.
The wall was incredibly long, over 140km in length.
The left hand picture above is the location of President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech, declaring “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”
The brick trail showing where the Berlin Wall once stood can be seen here.
This is the section of wall that I talked about in Part One, full of artwork and the longest stretch of wall I had found. I am glad I found this before I left Berlin, I love how such an oppressive structure can be used to display messages of love, as well as a reminder for us to not repeat history.
This is all from my Berlin trip, it was only a few days and one of them involved a gig, so time was limited. But I would certainly visit again to see what I have missed, and would love to see more of Germany.
Where else would people recommend I visit in this great country? Let me know, and thank you for reading.
I was never warned about the winter here in Australia. We aren’t as Brits, we just see the golden beaches, the clear waters and are pretty happy to go with that perception. And as I was finally getting back to my place last night, taking off my soaked jeans and dipping jacket, I decided to look through some pictures of the summer I have oh-so missed as I made my way down the east coast of Australia.
I have been pretty lucky to be fair. I arrived in the summer of 2017 and as winter was creeping up, decided to do my farmwork in far north Queensland. Despite the odd heavy thunderstorm the days were warm. The nights were cold, but nothing a heavy duvet and a couple of beers with a bunch of fellow international backpackers couldn’t fix.
And after August and the beginnings of summer I made my way to Brisbane. A more humid city than Sydney, but I will always remember the day Sydney hit 47c. January 8th 2018 was a pretty brutal day, the breeze was no relief and felt like a hairdryer to the face. Brisbane however was hot but I enjoyed the simpler life. T-shirt, shorts and flip flops on the way to work, that kind of thing. But from March 2019 and the beginning of winter my contract ended and there was one last city I needed to visit. Melbourne.
Now Melbourne has had some nice weather since I have been here, such as the day I took this shot above. But it isn’t unusual for me to wear a scarf and two jackets walking through the city.
And as my last day in Australia will be August 27th, I will be heading to Europe at the back end of what seems like a great summer and again, preparing for winter.
I mean I don’t mind a British winter at all, the Christmas Markets and mulled wine and all that, but after a heatwave to cool off from. I am going to have a winter shortly after a winter, whilst the UK (and seemingly everyone outside of Melbourne!) enjoys some glorious sunshine.
Winter is coming. Well it just won’t leave me.
What’s the weather like where you are, are you enjoying the heatwave yourself? Let me know and feel free to make me more jealous than I already am.
Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!
Flinders Street Station is probably one of the best looking buildings in Melbourne, day or night. As I was walking by I had to take a snap of it looking a lot more lonesome without the crazy amount of people that use it every day.
Night gives a new perspective on a lot of things. As the light fades so does the sounds of civilization, in place the sounds of nocturnal wildlife and empty trams. I enjoy my walks from work as I see two different sides to Melbourne, or any city for that matter. I feel we all need to have differing perspectives on things to gain a better perspective altogether.
I honestly reside a two minute walk from this market. And ever since I arrived in Melbourne I have heard the same ‘why haven’t you visited Queen Victoria Market yet?!’, and it is a question I have asked myself a lot too.
Maybe the fact that it is right on my doorstep has given me less urgency. Maybe it is because I have been doing a lot of morning shifts at work. I don’t know. But now that the winter markets are taking place every Wednesday evening I decided to take a very quick look for myself.
I will warn you, it was very quick.
As I was walking up to it I could sense the scale of it. The smoke escaping the tent from the various meat stalls, the sound of the live band playing and chatter of hundreds of people enjoying their mulled wine and finger foods. That and the neon signs pointing to the entrance and various stalls made this a very exciting and inviting first impression.
I mean it was packed. There was enough room around the market to find space to stop and eat your chosen grub, and seating didn’t seem to much of an issue. The first thing I did was head to the bar, what else gets you more in the mood for food than beer?
In fact, the queue was that short I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of it before being asked my order. I grabbed a pale ale and did a lap of the floor. Here is what I found.
Firstly, meat. Lots of meat.
The smells were amazing. And it was an obvious choice looking at the lines, usually a good indicator as to how good the food is going to be. IMPORTANT RULE: Always trust the locals. Although I am unsure as to how many of the people here are locals with this being such a popular venue.
I kept walking around and almost got knocked over by this silent disco train…. I have seen these a couple of times wandering through the streets in Melbourne, the last one was a hen party. Must be something you can hire… Have you seen this in your city?
The looked like they were having a good time.
I need to come here during the daytime, I have seen many pictures from this position and the skyline makes for an impressive backdrop.
Thanks to the guy in the hi-vis below for providing the light.
Melted cheese anyone?
And of course, there were vegetarian and vegan options, although I am not sure how much choice there was as I didn’t really look out for them. The below stall is one with vegan choices, I am sure this was food stuffed into a pineapple. It looked very different, but very good.
What would the world be without live music? I don’t want to know.
Now this was a very quick run through of the market, as I had a busy night ahead of me and needed to meet friends from both Sydney and my work on the opposite side of the CBD. However as I got there quite late, things were wrapping up anyway. I then noticed this huge parting of the crowds in front of me, which I assumed was the grand finale of some sort. The lights moved around on the floor like a nightclub, the music was pretty dramatic as if we were expecting a close encounter with the third kind.
As everyone held their breath in anticipation….
Actually, that was it. It led to a bit of confusion as it was a bit of an anti-climax, loud music, lights all concentrated onto this small patch of ground that people circled, maybe I was late and missed all the fun. But it all stopped and we all started walking again. Picture it like a crosswalk basically. An overly dramatic crosswalk.
Now as this was a very brief tour I aim to go again very soon. I also aim to do the day market too and see what this has to offer. However this was a very fun run around and I would recommend anyone in Melbourne to take a look, whether during the day or winter market. Look out for another post from here in the near future!!
Winter Market: Every Wednesday 5pm-10pm, 5th June- 28th August.
This has been on my Melbourne bucket list for as long as I have known I was moving to Melbourne. Even in Brisbane many people told me it is a must when I am down in Victoria, visiting the 100,000 seater Melbourne Cricket Ground for an Aussie Rules Football game.
The MCG, Australia’s Wembley for my British readers. Australia’s Madison Square Garden, I think? I don’t know, you will have to tell me what your biggest or most beloved stadiums are in your home country so I have a place to watch some great sports if I make it to your corner of the world. Don’t be biased though. Sports fans never are anyway… 😉
This was a very quick ride from where I was in the city, we all met in a bar called Stomping Ground, appropriately named as we bought a can for the road and discreetly yet very elegantly drank them on route to Australia’s biggest and most famous stadium.
The bar was in Collingwood, as this was the team we were watching play against Melbourne. Interestingly enough for those not too familiar with the sport, the majority of the AFL teams are based in Melbourne. Ten of the 18 are in the state of Victoria, and nine in Melbourne’s metropolitan area.
As you can see above, Collingwood sport black and white colours. For me this was an easy team to cheer on.
Or so I thought. Black and white stripes with the nickname ‘the magpies’? Just like Newcastle, the city I lived in back in England. Easy choice!!
However it seems people that aren’t Collingwood fans, well, like to tell me not to be a Collingwood fan. Apparently it is a bogan/chav/redneck team, as are their fans. I mean in the stadium everyone including my Melbourne friend seemed to be pretty nice people, is this a myth? I guess I will let the locals decide…
The Big Freeze at the ‘G’
Melbourne vs Collingwood is an annual game held on the Queens Birthday. On this day an event called the ‘The Big Freeze’ takes place before the game. This is a fun charity event with the aim of raising awareness for Motor Neurone Disease, a condition former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher suffers from and now aims to raise funds fighting for a cure.
‘Each year, a group of ‘A-List’ celebrities take the icy plunge sliding into the Big Freeze pool all in the name of raising critical funds to help fine a treatment and cure for MND.’
As you can see below, the celebrities ride down a slide on a sled and into the ice water, often in fancy dress. I noticed people started to clap the intro to ‘We Will Rock You’, and with that out came Freddie Mercury himself. Freddie was always at home in a stadium.
And the plunge…
It was a glorious day for football. Well, I say glorious, it didn’t rain. And the Melbourne skyline looked fantastic from here with the Eureka Tower dominating as always.
Now for the game itself. It is a sport that always looked rather funny to me, as does Gaelic football, with the variety of things going on whilst the players run. Sometimes bouncing it, something punching it, sometimes kicking it. Sometimes kicking each other. Once I understood the rules a little better it was much more fun to follow and appreciate.
I was under the impression that this game evolved from Gaelic Football, but after some quick research it turns out this may be a myth. Historians consider that the game Marn Grook that was played by Aboriginals in Australia possibly has more of a connection. One reason is due to one of the founders of AFL- Tom Wills- having watched the game being played.
Here is a picture of Tom Wills, believed to have been taken on a very early Nokia.
The basic rules are this. Six points are awarded if the ball is kicked in the middle goal. one point if it is kicked between the outer posts. The games lasts four 20-minute quarters and starts with a ruck. In the event of a crocodile, any player is considered ‘fair game’ and the team suffering the loss can substitute another player on without penalty. This is when you see the referee do this.
The ball up is an interesting start to the game. As the umpire throws the ball off the ground, the players then try to take possession as it is bounced into the air. A bit like a basketball tip off really, but with what resembles a mild kids temper tantrum. The throw-ins are equally unique too. As the ball goes out the opposition team does not get to throw it back in, instead one of the umpires throws it over his head, wedding bouquet style. The difference is the guys actually run to grab it first.
The ball is passed between players via a handball, in which the ball is punched with a clenched fist from the other hand. This is the only hand pass allowed. Players can also kick the ball to opponents, and can ‘mark’ the ball by catching a pass that has been kicked over 15 meters without being touched or bouncing (I think). A mark gives the receiving player a free kick without the threat of a tackle. Players running with the ball have to bounce it every 15 meters. This and the kicking rule got me thinking how umpires (or anyone really) can tell what exactly 15 meters is on the field in such a fast game. I mean, does anyone really have the ability without computers to determine what was a 14, 15 or 16 meter pass or sprint? It seems pretty hard to do. I asked my friend and he replied with ‘they don’t’. Fair enough.
But knowing these rules made the game more fun to watch. Like any sport actually investing a few minutes to getting to know the rules means we can relate to the cheers and geers from the fans, and can actually join in. It was a great atmosphere and I would certainly do it again.
I would recommend to anyone reading to go to a local sports game, even if you aren’t a sports fan. It is a great way to embrace the local culture, meet some of the cities most passionate people and try some of the local junk food, which is more than often delicious with a beer. It might not make sense at first, but think of it like trying new foods. You don’t know what it is or what to expect, but regardless of the outcome it is another memory to look back on. And I am certainly glad I had this one.
Pssst, if you want to see the pro-shot of the glorious ‘Freddie’ slide, here it is…
Yesterday was a very fun day. With each and every day that passes down under I feel more and more like a local. I went to my first AFL game here in Melbourne and it was a great experience. This was the view from the impressive MCG stadium at sunset.
I will blog about this experience more in depth tomorrow as its my day off and I have a few photos to share. But the team I went to see won and I’m pleased I got to enjoy the experience, which is a must when in Melbourne.