Taiwan 2018 – Day 4 – Longshan Temple, Daan Forest Park, 101, Shin Yeh buffet

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Our day started with us going 6 floors up to a restaurant which wasn’t even open yet, the information we had read on the internet was wrong and so there we were all ready to eat and nowhere to go – thankfully Ximen has no shortage of places to find food – we settled on Taiwans famous fried chicken breast, which could basically be considered a gigantic chicken nugget depending on how you look at it, we coupled it with some iced tea as well for an authentic experience (Lychee black tea, mmm).

The forecast this morning said 80% chance of rain, with 100% chance of rain from 2-6pm, but venturing out to find breakfast we found clear blue skies and toasty 30 degree heat, I decided to head back and grab my sunglasses etc. before taking advantage of the skies (while they last) to go to CKS Memorial hall, a few stops away on the metro.

We weren’t really expecting the scale of the CKS area, with 2 gigantic temple structures straight outside the metro station, and a massive white and blue tower thing towards the end of the plaza, opposite an equally large traditional gate, was thankful I had a chance to grab my snuglasses as the heat and sun were really out in force today (I probably should have put some sun lotion on as well). We were in time for the changing of the guard ceremony again, or 15 minutes early, enough time for us to wait behind the barriers as they were set up, and get prime location for the ceremony – which lasted for a shocking 15+ minutes, consisting of marching, shouting, gun twirling, gun inspection, lots of stomping, and so on, honestly kind of repetitive by the end and confusing as to why it would go on for so long for a simple changing of the guard ceremony which happens every hour or so. Cordelia started feeling a bit sick by the end so we went and chilled for a bit and grabbed some drinks before continuing.

Wanting to make the most of the weekend, I found out about a flower market and we set off to go find and explore it. The market is actually a car park during the week, set under a suspended motorway and goes on for literally at least a mile, maybe more, we didn’t get to the end of it because it just kept going and going, definitely the longest market i’ve ever seen. Mist was being sprayed from pipes in the ceiling for the plants, which was cool to see but obviously made the place incredibly humid.

On the opposite side of the junction where the flower market starts was the weekend Jade Market, this one I had never actually heard of, but being that we were literally across the road, we headed in to take a look. This one was smaller but much more densely packed, with hundreds of individual vendors with small tables packed into another parking lot – this one was smaller but also air conditioned thankfully, as everyone inside would have almost certainly died by now without AC. As you would expect, the majority of the booths were selling Jade goods – bangles, earrings, carved pendants, etc. However all other gemstones and jewellery were also on sale. I don’t think many of the sellers get much business, as they seemed tired and happy to play on their phone in front of you, I do wonder how or if any of them make a profit with 200ish similar stalls around.

Another thing which wasn’t on our list but we visited anyway, was the huashan 1914 creative park – described as an old winery turned creative hub, the winery was now a strange mix of old architecture and modern trendy shops and cafes, with some amateur performers and plenty of youngsters roaming about, I imagine it’s quieter on weekdays but we had come on a Sunday and the place was very busy. Not a massive amount more to say about it, we had a good wander but didn’t stay too long as it was just so crowded.

Dinner at coco curry, a japanese chain specializing in katsu curry and then a long walk back to Ximen from central station. We did initially plan to go to a japanese buffet restaurant but it was booked out, so we’ve reserved it for tomorrow, the only english name on their reservation sheet. We also passed by an ‘Animate’ store on the way home, filled with super cheap manga and anime/idol goods, it’s a shame the books are all in chinese because £2.50 per manga volume is crazy cheap and they had a massive selection.

Taiwan 2018 – Day 3 – CKS Memorial and weekend markets

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Our day started with us going 6 floors up to a restaurant which wasn’t even open yet, the information we had read on the internet was wrong and so there we were all ready to eat and nowhere to go – thankfully Ximen has no shortage of places to find food – we settled on Taiwans famous fried chicken breast, which could basically be considered a gigantic chicken nugget depending on how you look at it, we coupled it with some iced tea as well for an authentic experience (Lychee black tea, mmm).

The forecast this morning said 80% chance of rain, with 100% chance of rain from 2-6pm, but venturing out to find breakfast we found clear blue skies and toasty 30 degree heat, I decided to head back and grab my sunglasses etc. before taking advantage of the skies (while they last) to go to CKS Memorial hall, a few stops away on the metro.

We weren’t really expecting the scale of the CKS area, with 2 gigantic temple structures straight outside the metro station, and a massive white and blue tower thing towards the end of the plaza, opposite an equally large traditional gate, was thankful I had a chance to grab my snuglasses as the heat and sun were really out in force today (I probably should have put some sun lotion on as well). We were in time for the changing of the guard ceremony again, or 15 minutes early, enough time for us to wait behind the barriers as they were set up, and get prime location for the ceremony – which lasted for a shocking 15+ minutes, consisting of marching, shouting, gun twirling, gun inspection, lots of stomping, and so on, honestly kind of repetitive by the end and confusing as to why it would go on for so long for a simple changing of the guard ceremony which happens every hour or so. Cordelia started feeling a bit sick by the end so we went and chilled for a bit and grabbed some drinks before continuing.

Wanting to make the most of the weekend, I found out about a flower market and we set off to go find and explore it. The market is actually a car park during the week, set under a suspended motorway and goes on for literally at least a mile, maybe more, we didn’t get to the end of it because it just kept going and going, definitely the longest market i’ve ever seen. Mist was being sprayed from pipes in the ceiling for the plants, which was cool to see but obviously made the place incredibly humid.

On the opposite side of the junction where the flower market starts was the weekend Jade Market, this one I had never actually heard of, but being that we were literally across the road, we headed in to take a look. This one was smaller but much more densely packed, with hundreds of individual vendors with small tables packed into another parking lot – this one was smaller but also air conditioned thankfully, as everyone inside would have almost certainly died by now without AC. As you would expect, the majority of the booths were selling Jade goods – bangles, earrings, carved pendants, etc. However all other gemstones and jewellery were also on sale. I don’t think many of the sellers get much business, as they seemed tired and happy to play on their phone in front of you, I do wonder how or if any of them make a profit with 200ish similar stalls around.

Another thing which wasn’t on our list but we visited anyway, was the huashan 1914 creative park – described as an old winery turned creative hub, the winery was now a strange mix of old architecture and modern trendy shops and cafes, with some amateur performers and plenty of youngsters roaming about, I imagine it’s quieter on weekdays but we had come on a Sunday and the place was very busy. Not a massive amount more to say about it, we had a good wander but didn’t stay too long as it was just so crowded.

Dinner at coco curry, a japanese chain specializing in katsu curry and then a long walk back to Ximen from central station. We did initially plan to go to a japanese buffet restaurant but it was booked out, so we’ve reserved it for tomorrow, the only english name on their reservation sheet. We also passed by an ‘Animate’ store on the way home, filled with super cheap manga and anime/idol goods, it’s a shame the books are all in chinese because £2.50 per manga volume is crazy cheap and they had a massive selection.

Taiwan 2018 – Day 1 and 2 – Arrival and temples

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Day 1 – travel from Dubai and Arrival

Our first day in Taiwan was basically a throwaway, the plane departed Dubai at 3:40am so we already wasted a bunch of time in the airport just waiting for take-off time to roll around.
The flight thankfully didn’t feel too long, I didn’t feel like I slept for much of it, but at the same time I think I was drifting in and out of consciousness, as it only felt like I was fully awake for 1 or 2 hours of the 8 hour flight.

After arriving in Taiwan, doing immigration and waiting a long time for our luggage to appear, we set off to try and work out how to get to Taipei central by train, before going to Ximending where our Airbnb was, stepping out of the metro system to Ximen was crazy, reminding me of the time we came out into Tokyo for the first time. In particular it felt so crazy considering we just came from Dubai, whose city vibes seemed almost professional – I guess they don’t bother putting much out because nobody really walks around outdoors there as it’s too hot.

We dropped our bags off and got acquainted with our home for the next week – sporting a pretty barebones setup, super hard bed and noisy air-con unit. It’s not really the nicest place I have to admit, but it’s in a fantastic location at least and the price was pretty good.

After freshening up, we headed out to explore Ximen, and eat dinner, we thought we’d make it memorable by going to the famous ‘Modern Toilet’ restaurant, themed around toilets – you sit on toilets, eat out of toilet bowls, get drinks served in urinals, eat chocolate ice cream shaped like… you get the idea. The food was decent, though obviously the main attraction was the decor. We had a little shop around afterwards before heading back home for some much needed sleep.

 

~~~~

Day 2

The night was noisy, even with the earplugs I was wearing, the aircon was loud and a nearby dog wouldn’t stop howling at the moon.

After a sleepy start, we would go in search of a restaurant recmomended to us by our Airbnb host, a place a short walk away called ‘Lao Wang Ji beef Noodles’, the actual name of course was entirely in mandarin, and so pretty difficult for us to try and find, especially as that road had 3 different places all specializing in beef noodles. We found our place in the end, or rather, we found the queue for it. From experience, the best places to eat in asia are the ones with queues outside, just follow the locals. It was amazing – super soft chunks of braised beef with slippery noodles, in a flavorful fatty broth, worth trying if you are ever around Ximen in Taipei.

We’d head up north a bit to try and do some sightseeing, first major stop being the Martyr’s Temple, a huge temple ground with grand gate, we arrived just in time to watch the changing of the guard as well, a march which seemed kind of comical to watch as they freeze in time at the middle of their marching step, the result looks more like a ‘World order’ music video than a military march.

We didn’t really know how to get back to the station and so ended up just jumping on a random bus, in the hopes that it would get us back to any metro station, the buses in Taiwan aren’t particularly frequent, nor are they easy to read for the chinese impaired, it ended up dropping us outside Yuanshan station, featuring a farmers market and underpass area filled with teens practicing dance routines, naturally one of them was doing a choreographed routine to All-star by smash mouth, I guess somebody once told them as well.

Was initially going to take the train to another area but on a whim decided to try and find a cafe or something where we could cool down and have a drink, we instead stumbled upon the Confucius temple and Dalongdong temple across the way, and so stopped to take pictures.
Also had my first proper bubble tea, which was delicious and also dirt cheap at only £1 for a large cup.

Still desperate to cool down, we headed for Main station and the adjoining mall for a bit of shopping and lunch, the basement 3 level of the mall was filled with food shops so we’d end up having an assortment of baked goods before doing some general shopping around – I was told that the clothing in Taiwan was pretty cheap so I only actually packed 2/3 of a suitcase, as I hope to refresh my wardrobe.

We were pretty tired by this point, and so walked back to the airbnb, I quite needed a shower after walking around in the heat, came out to see Cordelia had fallen asleep so and so we had a little while to rest before heading out for another wander around Ximen, this time however we decided to sample some of the street food instead of having a traditional dinner, and so had some fried chicken, squid, ‘onion cakes’ and then some mango shaved ice for dessert.

Dubai 2018 – Days 1 and 2 – All the touristy things

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An intense smell of body odour welcomed us to our seats on the plane, which was not a fantastic welcome present to the start of our big 2018 holiday. We had planned to sleep through the 6.5 hour flight and wake up to be greeted by beautiful hot Dubai, instead we both got pretty minimal sleep and arrived in Dubai feeling like shit.

A train across the city and then a long nap in the hotel then, we’d awake around 4pm or so, and head off towards the Burj Khalifia which we had booked tickets for prior.

The Burj is attached to the gigantic Dubai Mall, so we headed there first for a good walk around and quick snack. We hadn’t planned it this way, but we had arrived during ramadan – the holy muslim month where everyone fasts from sunrise to sunset, as a result the mall was somewhat quiet and a large amount of the food and drink shops were closed or had huge blackout curtains or wooden dividers around the shopfronts, with accompanying signs saying saying non muslims and children only. it was a strange sight and environment, but I can appreciate not wanting to see a KFC when you haven’t had anything to eat since 6am, eating and drinking in public during Ramadan is basically an offense – we didn’t feel like pushing our luck to see what is and isn’t allowed.

After having a nice walk around and seeing the huge aquarium fish tank, biggest OLED screen in the world, and the comically large indoor ice rink, we headed to ajoining Burj Khalifia for our booked slot at 6:30. if you’re ever in the area, 6:30 slot is the way to go, you essentially get the sunset view and the nighttime view for the price of one, though an unexpected side effect was that we had to queue ages for the lifts to get out. The Burj really was seriously high, the skyscrapers below look so small it kind of pulls you out of how high you are because it almost doesn’t feel real, but of course, everything looks small when you’re up 125 floors. The night view was definitely worth staying for, and I think worth the price of admission £40ish per person including Aquarium.

After a lengthy queue for the lifts back down, we went out to watch the Dubai fountain show over the beautiful man-made marina, which was really nice – not quite a singapore ‘laser projection on water mist’ level of complexity but a really solid lit choreographed water jet show with some of them really shooting up high.

Burger and frozen custard at shakeshack for dinner, which was somewhat underwhelming but oh well. We would have normally gone for something more locationally specialized but we couldn’t find any arabic food restaurants (and honestly, aren’t really sure what Arabic food would even consist of).

We’d walk around the aquarium and underwater zoo for a while afterwards, there were some impressive exhibits which are less common – huge crocodiles, sea otters, and large sharks to name a few.

by the time we decided to come home, we discovered that we had just missed the last train back to the hotel – at a surprisingly early 11:30pm.
it turns out the trains run at different times depending on the day, but we at least expected them to run until midnight. We had to catch a cab home which thankfully wasn’t too expensive at around £8 – if he wasn’t doing meter and said £20, we probably would have accepted it and paid him. Speaking of less expensive than expected, I should mention that the Dubai metro is also very reasonably priced, charged on a zonal basis, the cost is 3, 5 or 7.5 UAE Dirrhams (equal to 60p, £1, £1.50 respectively).

A late shower and then bed for us, to prepare for our second and last day in Dubai.

 

~~~~~

Day 2

 

We overslept.

Granted we didn’t actually have a massive amount planned for today but waking up around half 10 was a minor concern for us.

We’d actually start the day the same as yesterday, heading to the Dubai mall to go to the IHOP we scouted out yesterday, I’m not sure i’ve ever actually been to an IHOP before, even when I was in America, so whilst I imagine quite lame to some readers, we were genuinely quite excited to have some big american fluffy pancakes with bacon.
We’d end up both ordering a combo of eggs, bacon, hash brown and then an entire plate with stack of pancakes and topping – it was way too much for brunch, or any meal of any day for that matter.

From the mall we’d head back for the metro to check out the old town, heading for the spice souk and gold souk, it would all be outdoors, and it was about 39 degrees outside.

Whilst you can kind of mentally prepare yourself for 39 degrees heat, the real deal was genuinely super draining, I have no idea how the people that live there, are able to do manual labour in that kind of weather. Even a brief walk for half an hour made us want a shower.

The spice souk was smaller and less busy than we anticipated, I kind of thought it would be a bustling hub where old women bartered for cinnamon pods but it was actually just a covered alley/street with few locals and even fewer tourists, and a whole lot of spice sellers trying to grab you to visit their shop. Personally I got a whole lot of ni hao’s and konnichiwa’s whilst Cordelia got called Shakira more times than I can count (we can only assume because her hips don’t lie), I also got called a professor, which is a new one to me.

The gold souk was honestly not that much different either, except the staff wait for you to look at the diamonds in the window before coming out and trying to entice you in with their allegedly cheap prices and (more importantly) super cool air-con. It was around this point (about 45 minutes after we left the station) that our bodies were properly sweaty, so all the small licks of air-con we got as staff came to greet us was so very lovely. I actually found a shop which had an air-con leak in the corner, just spewing out cold air, we took advantage naturally.

The next thing on the agenda was the Dubai ferry, an hour long ferry trip which goes round to the palm jumeriah and Burj al arab, unfortunately the Ferry only sails if there are at least 10 patrons – which our timeslot failed to reach, so instead it was back on the train, unsure what we were going to do next.

We ended up at the other massive mall in Dubai, the Mall of the Emirates. We got to see the arcade which had a bunch of games i’ve never seen before (a rabbids 4 player lightgun game, and a tomb raider 4p lightgun game, amongst others), and the super cool looking indoor ski area, complete with toboggan run, little hot cocoa stands and all sorts. Had a small dinner and then back to the hotel to pack and start to prep for the airport. We still have a few hours to burn, but honestly not sure what else to do with such a small amount of time left, we’ve done all of the major inner city stuff so we’ll likely just end up chilling out until it’s time to head to the airport for the next leg of our journey.

 

Would also like to point out that i’ve been annoyingly ‘ill’ during this holiday, with a dry cough situation and what I presume is an eyelash hair stuck somewhere in my eye which I just can’t rid of, it’s driving me crazy!

Italy 2018 – Day 6 – Vatican city and Rome

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The beginning of the end, our last full day in Italy.

The vatican was top of our priority today, we took a bus over from our Airbnb and was almost immediately stopped by a tour guide providing ‘advice’ about how long the queues are, and how they conviniently have a fast pass to skip the queues – they said we’d be waiting 4 hours around the block, which seemed absolutely ridiculous.
This was promptly followed by us walking down the road and seeing the gigantic snaking queue to get into St Peters Basilica – literally going around the entirety of the Vatican courtyard and then coming back in towards itself like some sort of pretzel made from back pain and suffering instead of flour and whatever else goes into pretzels. We’d end up waiting 2 hours in line, majority of that in the sun – thankfully the weather that day was forgiving, being in the low 20’s rather than the scorching 28 degrees only 24 hours prior. Indians would constantly roam up and down the lines to sell drinks and selfie sticks – the water actually being a surprisingly cheap 1 euro for a half frozen 500ml ,best euro I’ve ever spent, genuinely.

I had already been inside last time and so no surprises, though worth noting that it was about as big as I remembered – which is to say really goddamn big, with each wing of the basilica being the size of ‘huge’ cathedrals in other cities. We were too tired to bother to climb up the steps to the dome (again, I did it last time so when Cordelia said she didn’t want to, I certainly didn’t argue).

We spent some time hunting around for lunch afterwards, eventually eating some mediocre pasta in a small cafe, as we were waiting in line so long that most of the proper restaurants had already closed. I’m not sure if i mentioned already, but Italy is really strict with their eating times, after 2:30pm be prepared to struggle with finding a good restaurant for lunch. By chance, I stumbled upon a small takeaway pasta place which I saw on tripadvisor, I greedily ordered some pasta to go – i’m on holiday, I can have 2 lunches if I want.
The takeaway pasta was shockingly nice, considering I wasn’t even hungry. You could really tell that the pasta was legitimately fresh and cooked just right. I’ve never had paparadelle before but man it was good, like an inch wide chewy egg noodle pasta, served with a ragu meat and tomatoes sauce.

We’d return home to rest for a bit before heading back out, hoping to hit sunset at the Giardino degli Aranci – an orange grove atop a hill overlooking Rome, we were a little bit early, but it was late enough in the day for us to get that yellow glow at least. We checked out the Circus maximus as well on the way down, which looked like a massive track and field area in a small crater.

Dinner first at ‘I Monticani‘ which served an amazing bruschetta, lasagne and tiramisu (gf had the panna cotta, which I can confirm is just as good), followed by one final visit to the Trevi fountain at night, hoping it would be less busy than last time, unfortunately not really as relaxed as we were hoping, but less people than during the day at least – enough for me to set up tripod, and for us to go down and take some selfies by the fountain edge.

Italy 2018 – Day 5 – Rome

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Train journey from Florence to Rome in the morning, which took about 2 hours, followed by the meeting our Airbnb host Isabella. Our room in Rome was really impressive compared to the last 2 we had stayed in this holiday, with a 3 meter tall door, high ceilings, air conditioning, memory foam bed and bunch of other small nice touches – we were ready to finish off our holiday.

Our Airbnb was near to Lepanto, sort of close to the river, Isabella advised we should start by walking down the riverfront and visiting the outside of the castle, before going into central Rome via the bridge – we followed her advice and really enjoyed it, the sun was a toasty 28*C that day, and the riverfront was shaded by trees as we passed the supreme Court building and Castel Saint angelo.

We’d basically go on a Rome 1 day sightseeing foot tour from here, guided by a bunch of small flags on Google maps and my own top notch navigation (if i do say so myself) – we saw the Piazza navona, campo de’ Fiori and beautiful church ‘Sant Andrea della valle’ before swinging by the Pantheon to see the outside (queue went around the block so we skipped going in, I’ve seen it before anyway). This was followed by the Trevi fountain, some house with a face in, the top of the Spanish steps, altar of the fatherland, Roman forum, and collesium. We just hit them one after another with only some short breaks in between to be able to give our legs a break.

We were lucky enough to come across some sort of carnival/parade while walking outside of the roman forum, with a bunch of dancing people in bright costumes parading around in the golden Roman sun, I think it was meant to be something to do with South America? A few of the younger performers were really suffering in the heat, visibly tired from dancing and spinning around in their costumes (at 28*C, i don’t blame them).

I tried being nice to an black guy who promptly then tied a bracelet around my wrist as a gift, I tried to play it off as ‘oh thank you very much’ and then walking off and then he started saying “don’t you have a gift for my family?” – I did kind of wonder how he was going to transition into getting me to give him money, I promptly removed the bracelet and returned it – thankfully it was only rope and not some sort of one way knot. I don’t want to generalise, but unfortunately it seems nearly every black guy who approaches you in Rome is trying to sell or con you, so watch out and steer clear if you go. The Indians aren’t great either but at least they just try to sell you things, not pretend to be friendly with you.

After taking all of our photos and enjoying the full length of the parade, we stopped by the Colosseum we went for dinner at a quirky italian/American place which had literally filled their ceiling with random stuff – had a calzone there which was unfortunately pretty mediocre, Cordelia enjoyed it though, I did enjoy the tiramisu at least.

We had Gelato on the way back too, a place on the walk back from the station called ‘G Like gelato’ which I can only assume is either some sort of FGC reference (godlike?) or house of the dead reference (Enjoy like G did?). They had some really interesting flavours, I picked yogurt and a Berry mix which was so good, the containers which hold the gelato actually spin which was interesting.

Italy 2018 – Day 4 – Pisa

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We were scheduled to do Pisa today, and set off fairly early to do so, it was the only major train ride we hadn’t prebooked in advance and so we at least had an open time frame to sort out the ride over.

Which is just as well, because I managed to get us completely lost on the way from our Airbnb to the station, bare in mind this is actually a 12 minute walk or so, we instead wound up walking down the nearby (Allegedly famous – according to Google at least) market. Grabbed some cheap sunglasses to stop half of our pictures looking like we are staring at a solar eclipse, and then proceeded to take the long scenic route to Florence Station.

The ticket system was pretty strange and caused a lot of confusion for us, the tickets sold at the booths show you all of the outbound trains for your destination and then basically ignores it all and prints out a super generic ticket which can be used at any time, no mention of the train or times on the ticket itself. Pisa is not the terminal destination of any of the trains so naturally we were running around clueless for a while, unsure which train to actually take, eventually I figured going back to the ticket machine to attempt to buy another ticket – and then taking a picture of all of the train numbers and departure times.

Train journey was maybe an hour, and unfortunately sat riding backwards in front of an arguing Arab couple who would cough without covering their mouths – the joys of second class unallocated seating, though at least we got a seat, many people were standing for the long journey.

Eventually we arrived in sunny Pisa itself, our itinery for Pisa was pretty much as expected – see the leaning Tower, take ‘that’ photo and whatever else we can spot along the way before heading back to Florence. Pisa had a more relaxed vibe to it, with wider pavements and gaps between buildings, and more sunlight as a result. Had the best gelato on the way (half coconut with chocolate and oreo, and half homemade Nutella? hell yes.) The place was called Il Gelato di toto and very much recommended if you ever go to Pisa.

The walk from the station to leaning Tower was longer than expected, and honestly, the tower itself was a little underwhelming in terms of size. I thought it was going to be like the Eiffel tower where you can see it in the distance from miles away, but maybe because of the way that the streets curve and the buildings all quite high, by the time you spot it peeking above the buildings you are basically there.

We took our pictures and then spent the rest of the time watching other people take theirs, which is honestly probably the best laugh I’ve had in ages – watching clueless middle aged men and women completely not understand the concept of how to do the photo illusion is comedy gold, some examples are an old man who looked like he was preparing to do a military press with the tower of Pisa, and a woman who was making a pose I couldn’t comprehend at all.

There are a few other attractions around the tower of Pisa, but in usual unprepared fashion with hadn’t prebooked anything – the cathedral did free tickets but on a timed schedule, and the earliest time they could let us in was at 5:30pm, about 2 hours longer than we anticipated sticking around, similarly we were too tired to walk up the tower (18EUR pp), and not particularly bothered about the other attractions which were pay on entry.

We’d unfortunately end up taking a wrong turn and walking 2 miles looking for somewhere to eat, always stick to the tourist paths people! Italy has a strange thing where many of the restaurants only open for lunch at strict hours and then close at 2:30pm or 3pm, of which we found our way back to the main strip of shops a little too late. We settled for a small cafe closer towards the station for some Pasta and then more gelato.

Seasoned experts of the Italian rail system now, our journey home was easy and much less busy than expected – for those considering travelling, the trip is about 8EUR per person, each way Firenze SMN to Pisa Centrale.

Fed up of walking for miles each day, we headed back to our Airbnb to have a little rest before dinner time, before eventually heading back out to go to a Korean fried chicken place around the corner from where we were staying – it was pretty authentic and super crispy, Cordelia had never tried it before so she enjoyed it a lot. (‘Il coco – chicken and beer’). We got to sit outside and enjoy the breeze as the sun set, with some dinnertime entertainment from the owners cute dog.

We still had some life left in us, and so off for a final walk about Florence, this time at night. I wanted to try and take some night photos of the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which was a bit of a challenge to find a good spot and not have people walk in front constantly (also hard because I don’t have a wide angle, and the cathedral is so damn big you have to be really far away to get it all in one shot with a 18mm lens). Some dessert at a nearby desserts place, where I had some sort of Pistachio giant Ferrero Rocher thing filled with cream and god knows what else, nice but very rich an a little too sweet for my tastes.

Tomorrow we catch the train to Rome.

Italy 2018 – Day 3 – Florence

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27 degrees or so, what a fine day for adventure.

After catching our train over from Venice in the morning, we headed straight to our Airbnb to meet Andy and the small room we had paid to stay in – emphasis on small, but all of the essentials were there at least (some aircon would have been nice however coz jeez, I’m sitting here typing this after a shower, in underwear, and still sweating slightly).

After having a quick freshen up, we would begin our grand tour of Florence, first stop being the Galleria del Accademia, situated only a few blocks down from where we were staying, the tripadvisor reviews describe it as basically ‘Michelangelo’ s David, and some other stuff’, which is actually more or less how I would describe it as that too, there were some other very grand paintings here, and an entire room full of busts and sculptures (I think some were plaster replicas though) but the focal point of the gallery was definitely the gigantic statue of David – to the point where it almost feels like the building was built around the statue, as there’s a huge dome above it to allow it to be properly lit from every angle.

Next up was the Piazza del duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria, the cathedral of Santa Maria was gigantic! You can spot it from miles off with the right elevation or if walking on roads with clear lines of sight, the cathedral also features a tower and baptistry building, all of which were equally huge. We wanted to go up the tower and see the cathedral, but tickets were entirely sold out for the next 5 days, imagine not even being able to buy a ticket for tomorrow, just to see the inside of a church. Gutted, but at thankfully the outside was impressive enough to not leave any aftertaste.

We’d continue our trip south, hitting the Piazza della signoria an it’s iconic buildings, though truth be told, we didn’t really do any research so no idea what was inside. There were loads of artists outside, some less convincing that others, but a few were doing oil and watercolour painting on the street and it was very cool to see.

Eventually we hit the river and followed it around to the iconic Ponte vecchio, by name alone you wouldn’t know it, but you’ll probably recognise it from pictures. Unbeknownst to me, the bridge is filled with jewelery shops with awesome old style shopfronts to complement the cobbled road. We enjoyed a slow stroll down the road, playing top 3 rings, in a badly veiled attempt to work out which style of ring I should definitely not buy should our relationship continue. Turns out she likes weird shaped rings where the material twists, and large diamonds – who would have guessed.

We’re still walking? my legs were already dead at this point, we had been walking for miles. Cordelia in her optimism or gusto decided we would go and see the gardens in the south of Florence – they were pay on entry (though thankfully half price for those 25 or under) and lead to an impressive gigantic hedge maze style garden with plenty of Statues interspersed to keep things interesting. The fountain at the bottom was pretty and surrounded by citrus though you couldn’t get up close or steal the fruit to eat unfortunately.

We’d slog it uphill for a while afterwards, Cordelia somehow powering through like some sort of trained mountain climber, while I slowly but surely plodded upwards – the pictures really don’t do the slope justice, it was very steep.

We’d find out why as we got to the top, a view of the city from the top of the hill, before a steep decline to the Palace gardens and grounds below. A slow walk back to the airbnb afterwards, followed by me passing out on the bed whilst taking a ‘quick break’.

Special mention to dinner which we had around 8pm after I woke up, a place called Fuocco matto, we were sat in a bar style area right in front of the Pizza making station, which was an unexpected treat for a foodie like me, spending dinner watching a team of 3 guys just pump out pizzas constantly from dough to stone oven to being finished off and seasoned – as we were sat in front we literally got the pizzas as fresh as possible, where the pomodoro had only just been bubbling half a minute earlier, it was goddamn delicious.

Italy 2018 – Venice day 2

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After spending yesterday effectively doing prep work, we were ready to properly take on Venice today.

Grabbed some food from the train station and then bought a travel card for the day – 20EUR to provide a days worth of access to buses and the water buses in Venice Central.

After arriving in Venice by bus, we just hopped on the water bus all the way to San Marco Square, hoping to get in early to the Basilica di San Marco, unfortunately it’s closed on Thursday mornings for prayer, which wasn’t ideal for us. We took a diversion north to basically just escape the crowds, I had previously bookmarked a spot northeast of the main square, though couldn’t really remember why.

Upon arrival to the starred spot on my map, I remembered why I had bookmarked it in the first place – a small bookshop filled from floor to ceiling with books, complete with book filled Gondola in the centre, bathtubs and canoes filled with books, even a staircase made of books just outside, leading to a view of the nearby canal.

Bit more gelato and some wandering later, we returned to the church and got in line, the queue went around the front and then out into the square, with no shade and the sun beating down on us for a half hour or so, I thought for sure my neck was going to burn, though at the time of typing, nothing yet.

The church itself was impressive in scale, adorned with a whole ceiling of gold and murals in the negative space. They didn’t allow photos inside but a snuck a few here and there anyway. The queuing continued even inside the church, with additional segments of the church requiring payment as well, we’d end up stuck in a queue inside for what felt like a small eternity, honestly we didn’t even know what we were queuing for, just following the crowd. Eventually it turns out we were queueing to see some form of golden plate adorned with jewels – nice and sparkly, though personally not worth the agonising queue to get to see it. My legs and back were aching by the time we left, it felt like I had aged 10 years while waiting to move around the inside.

Lunch followed, we found a nice place off the beaten path offering pasta and a second plate with side and drink for 20 euro, which for Venice, is pretty good value.

Time for our Gondola ride, hunted around the main tourist spots and found another couple who wanted to share with us – as the prices are 80EUR for the gondola itself, it made sense to share and split the cost, the 80EUR is meant to last approx half an hour and include some level of tour. Unfortunately we picked a bad gondolier, to anyone who visits Venice, if your gondolier asks for the money up front? peace out of there. Rather than being a romantic ride down the side streets of Venice, our guy spent half the time having a shouting conversation with other gondoliers he passed, and the trip lasted maybe 20 minutes before he started bringing us back in to dock, we felt pretty ripped off but I’m just thankful we did share with another couple, as 80EUR for 20 minutes would have been a little too painful for me to stomach.

We were kind of out of ideas from there, and proceeded to wander around for a while, passing and looking at many of the shops selling murano glass before deciding to get the most of our travel card and catching a waterbus to anywhere – we’d end up in some gardens at the east end of Venice, taking some time to chill and take in the scenery while cooling down with the ocean breeze.

We took another boat from there to Lido, a sand bar island just off Venice, not entirely sure what the purpose of it is, but it felt like a different country over there, where the sunshine seemed brighter – it had a Spanish seaside resort kind of feel to it. We walked along the beach there for a bit before having dinner (Pizza) and starting our journey back. The waterbus taking us right round the island as the sun set.

Italy 2018 – Venice day 1

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25th April

After a painfully early wakeup to get to Heathrow Airport for 8am, we’d touchdown in Marco Polo, Venice Airport at around midday. Caught the bus from Venice Airport to just outside the main train terminal where we were staying, and then randomly stumbled in the general direction of our Airbnb until we arrived.

The flat itself was pretty nice, modern kitchen, nice shower, unfortunately it fell a bit short in the most important department – with noisy upstairs occupants and a bed which feels like it’s been fitted with some sort of plastic cover underneath the sheets. We’d get to fully enjoy that mess later, but for now, a quick cleanup and it was back out to try and find our way towards Venice.

Some more stumbling later (we found a bus which takes us to Venice bus station) we finally made our way to the island and started marching off in a random direction to just go and see what we could find. We were pretty unprepared and didn’t have a whole lot on our proposed itinerary so we figured we would just enjoy the streets themselves whilst maybe passing by and checking off any landmarks that we’d come across. Initial impressions were patches of a very overwhelming sea smell, like being at a dirty seaside in Essex – it wasn’t always present, but every now and then you’d get a big whiff of it and remember where you are.

The streets were really small, more like a collection of alleyways really, this combination of small alley-like streets and no roads for cars (just bridges and canals) meant that all of the shops were very condensed and foot traffic was heavy, it felt almost bazaar like in it’s maze like structure, and the high buildings would generally provide shade from the sun (which was a lovely toasty 24 degrees or so). We really walked about, got some gelato, saw a bunch of interesting shops, crossed countless bridges.

Eventually we got to the main touristy area, and it was noticeable. The tourist bit of Venice is on the other side of the grand canal, and only cross-able by Water bus or 2 or 3 bridges, so naturally these bridges were mental and filled with tourists getting their selfie sticks out.

We’d finally hit the main Venice Square, to the sound of music and cheers – rounding the corner we found a stage and a small sea of orange flags, it turns out we had arrived on their independence day and they were showing some real team spirit – a lovely dash of colour to my photos.

We kind of just walked around some more for the rest of the day, went into a small art gallery, had dinner (Lasagne) and then headed back to sleep because we were shattered. It doesn’t sound like we did a whole lot on paper (maybe because technically we didn’t, but we walked a massive loop around all of main Venice over the course of 6 hours or so. I personally slept like a log that night (though aided by earplugs to drown out the noise of the mattress plastic), Cordelia unfortunately didn’t get such a good night, apparently upstairs were making noise all through the night, dragging chairs about and such. We’ll be sure to leave that on the review.

Ian’s wedding

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So the third wedding i’ve been invited to, and yet another reminder of how old I’ve become. This one for one of my university housemates Ian and his now wife Alice whom he met after we left uni (he did a 4th year).

Wedding itself was up in warwick so we headed up in the morning, and gave it some extra time as it was actually snowing really heavy around London – of course the snow quickly disappeared and we ended up an hour or so early – oh well, at least we were guaranteed a parking space.

It was a pretty nice venue, an all-in one huge functional hall, bar, dance floor and hotel/rooms situation all in one building, actually really good for weddings I have to say. The ceremony was nice, thankfully no hymns or songs and so we got to skip that awkward bit and just generally fast forward a lot of the procedings in general – not that I don’t enjoy a special day etc but lets be real we’re all just sitting there to see you say “I do”, so that we can cheer and go back to drinking and celebrating.

Nice little glass of champagne on exit, and we soon got a tip-off that the brides father had put money on the bar and so free drinks for us there too.
Was starting to get a little drunk as we hadn’t eaten lunch yet and i’m admittedly quite the lightweight. Luckily dinner came along just in time, a nice little prawn salad, leg of lamb dinner, coupled with rapid fire quiz gameshow thanks to small boxes of random trivia left on the table – actually kind of a genius way to get everyone to socialize and oh so very Ian (who is basically pub quiz king). I don’t know how much thought actually went into the table seating but actually quite good as we had a few loud people to compensate for the more introverted people on the table.

Dessert, more drinks, cake cutting, first dance (way better than I could have done) followed by a night of drinking, dancing, and meat/bread/cheese/cake buffet.

Made the mistake of driving home afterwards, I was sober enough but underestimated how tired I was, and unfortunately Cordelia was drunk to the point of being K.O instantly upon sitting in the car. The 2 hour drive home, in the dark, with heavy snow, while tired, is one of the worst drives I’ve ever had to do – and this is coming from the guy that used to have to drive across the country in the middle of the night for work.

All in all, a fantastic wedding, and I suppose one of many to come.

 

Close friend wedding status:

Schoolfriends: 1 of 4
Uni housemates: 2 of 6

Life – Jan-Mar 2018

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Oh jesus, where did the time go!

Things which have happened over the last 3 months (that i can remember)

 

Go-Karting!

Got to have my first Go-Karting experience with work, we went on a weekend after a team meeting, an indoor track around the London docklands with teamsport racing. After a super edgy introduction video which almost seemed to border on satire, we were off to the track – 2 sets of 12 or so people.
I was literally first off the bat for the qualifying round, and was surprised at how fast those little karts can go – obviously no idea how to take the corners and so span out on the tight U bend on my first go around. The steering on those things were really heavy, and at parts, the track had little bumps and so it would feel like the kart was on the border of losing traction and just exploding.
The qualifying round arranged everyone by time and then separated drivers into basically a fast league and a slow league – I placed somewhere towards the end of the fast league, so still in the top half at least. My forearms and hands were already aching after the first race, and so wasn’t looking forward to the second.
Started 2nd from the back for the second race, and while I didn’t break any speed records, consistency let me gradually overtake most of the pack to finish at 4th place.

 

Mayfair Meals

Valentines and my Birthday were made special with visits to Mayfair for dinner. Never really had much fine dining before, and after those 2 meals, i’m not really sure it’s for me. For V day we went to the Athenaeum hotel restaurant, Cordelia had recieved a red letter day for a 3 course meal for 2. Similarly my dad took me to Coya in Mayfair which is a peruvian restaurant. The food at both were good, no doubt about that, however for the price we paid and the amount of food we received I couldn’t help but think we could have gone somewhere else and really eaten ourselves to a coma. We actually went to have a second dinner in Chinatown after Coya because we weren’t quite full but didn’t want to spend another £60-100 for a few more tapas size dishes.

 

Room Hunting

I’m unfortunately having to move houses again, my current landlords recently got married and thus want to move back into the house to remodel and live in it.
Really annoying for me as, even though I hated the house and everyone inside, it was very convenient for work and personal life, close to a train station and supermarkets, had a drive, large room, and came with furniture for me to use. I initially thought i’d use this opportunity to find a flat or something to try and live on my own, but jesus christ the costs for a 1 bed flat or studio apartment around here just made it not viable at all – typical costs for a room in a shared house at £600 to £700 including bills, while a solo flat would be upwards of £1k excluding all bills (of which, probably like £100 pcm for council tax and then another £150+ for bills and internet).
So, after 2 weeks or so of searching, I found another room, still in a similar area but unfortunately a bit out of the way.
The room was actually originally going for £700 but was recently discounted to £675, I said i’d take the room if they’d let it go for £650 and to my surprise the landlord agreed.
I’m still waiting to sign documents, and i’m slightly worried that im going to get some shitpiece bed or that there won’t be any furniture at all (the room was unfurnished but property keeper said he could source me some furniture), time will tell, i’ll post some pictures after i’m moved in – it’s a huge converted lounge room with a fireplace though.
With any luck, this will be the last time I have to move into a shared house, hopefully by this time next year i’ll be considering moving in with gf or maybe even getting a place of my own – though i’ve had thoughts about moving away from London just due to how insane the housing costs are.

Top 10 Games of 2017

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Disclaimer: I definitely didn’t play all of the notable games in 2017, I had nowhere near enough time to do so.
So the below list is the top 10 of games which I played.

Missing from the list (unplayed) is:
Zelda BOTW, Mario Odyssey, Mario rabbids battle, Golf Story,
Nioh, AC Origins, Wolfenstein 2, Finding Paradise, South Park FBH, Hellblade, Prey, Evil Within 2, Destiny 2, Edith Finch, PUBG, Fortnite

 

Special Mention – Hidden folks

Wheres Wally for a digital era. A little bit short, but while it lasts, Hidden Folks is fantastic.
The maps are huge, yet the clues provided make the finding fair. it’s also casual friendly for those with girlfriends.
Short but fun, and something a bit different to the normal gaming fare.

 

10 – Snake Pass

Fantastic looking Rare style platformer game, with a super unique control scheme which I’ve never seen before. Snake pass was a fantastic way to chill out and just collect some stuff after work while snaking around.

 

9 – Resident Evil 7

Just the right amount of spook, action and exploration. The first arc of the game is survival horror masterclass and gets the game onto the top 10 list on it’s own, the game unfortunately starts to taper off once you leave the house but nonetheless still an enjoyable game. (though i’m not sure it needed to be called Resident Evil)

8 – Sonic Mania

Hooo boy, nostalgia to the core.
Best 2d sonic game since Sonic and knuckles, and imo better than Sonic CD.
Great music, cool levels and the physics and mechanics all felt spot on – which is my main issue with every other sonic game – even the ones that have 2d segments.

 

 

7 – Doki Doki Literature Club

There aren’t many games like Doki Doki Literature Club – and it’s hard to really say anything further without spoiling things.
It’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever played.
Also, it’s completely FREE.
2-3 hour experience, soldier through the first 90 minutes.

 

6 – Horizon Zero Dawn

Self explanatory dinosaur free roam game? It’s really expansive, the combat is fun, the visuals are stunning for a PS4 game…
It just feels like a good all rounder, not really going to win awards for gameplay originality (though the world is kind of cool) but sometimes you want to play a AAA adventure game and I think HZD will have me occupied for as long as I let it.

 

5 – Hollow Knight

just a really really solid Metroidvania.
super polished, interesting areas, good level design and progression, easy on the eyes, varied enemies etc.
Has everything you would want from this style of game.

 

4 – Persona 5

Admittedly, I haven’t actually managed to finish Persona 5 yet. Is it because the game is bad? Hell no. It’s just because i’m old.
I am 80 hours or so in and the game keeps refusing to end, this game is long and unfortunately I’ve already romanced all of my favourite characters and so the remainder of the game left for me is dungeon crawling and personamon catch-em-all stuff.
Persona 5 is fantastic, and probably the only JRPG I’ve had the patience to sit through in the past few years.

 

3 – Cuphead

Just solid platforming boss rush action. Brutally tough at times, yet almost always fair.
Cuphead has a great difficulty curve and some fantastic fights.
My only complaint was that it only took me 4 hours or so to complete.

 

2 – Yakuza 0

This was my entry point to the Yakuza series, as I suspect it will be for many others.
The story was cliche but I really enjoyed watching it play out, the characters were ridiculous caricatures and I loved all of them, the combat is repetitive and yet varied enough to still illicit a verbal “ooooh” response after 20 hours.
Yakuza 0 has loads of great reviews, and after a few hours running around and doing a few of the quirky side missions, it’s so easy to understand why.

 

1 – A Hat in time

Literally cannot think of a better 3d platforming game that I can play on pc without using an emulator – and honestly even then I think i’d have a hard time picking a favourite between Mario Galaxy 2 and A hat in Time.
Beautiful colours and art, memorable and catchy soundtrack, charming design, interesting and varied levels,
A Hat in Time is pure gaming bliss for the 10 hours it lasts, and my personal favourite game of 2017.

 

Goodbye 2017

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For me personally, 2017 has unfortunately been more eventful than I would have liked.

I can easily say that 2017 may be the worst year of my life thus far: I lost a 2 week holiday, I thought my girlfriend was going to die, and more recently some family issues at home has unfortunately caused all manner of depression.

I was kind of hoping on 2017 to be a lucky year, almost all major events in my life revolve around the number 28, and so my 28th year on earth was to be no exception – it is a shame however that the major events were almost all bad ones.

 

For the more positive stuff, I attended the 2 weddings and i’m sure there will be many more in the next few years, I got closer to old friends, and strengthened bonds with new ones, I took a gamble on cryptocurrency and won, and added one new country to my visited list (Denmark).

 

As far as 2018 goes, my goals are:

  • Consider buying a house
  • Get some IT qualifications
  • Continue to hit the gym, attain a 6-pack
  • Win the lottery and retire

 

Mengs guide to trading cryptocurrency

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Step 1 – Pay lots of money and Acquire Cryptocurrency

Step 2 – Watch the price drop

Step 3 – Cry and have anxiety for a while, watch other crypto’s rise in price while yours falls

Step 4 – Trade your crypto for another one

Step 5 – Watch your new crypto start to fall in price while your original begins to rise

Step 6 – Cry again

Step 7 – Come back in 6 months and realise how much money you could have had.

 

Real talk, I am not an expert on buying or selling cryptos AT ALL.
Infact, literally every single time I have bought or sold, I have made a massive mistake
Here are some times I traded, obviously nobody can time the market but If I hypothetically just waited like a week before making some of these decisions, I could have been up by £30k or more

 

January – Bought bitcoin at the peak, proceeded to watch it fall 30% over the next week

February – Bought Monero instead of more bitcoin

Summer – Traded bitcoin for Ethereum at it’s peak, Ethereum then dropped in price and bitcoin exploded in price.

Autumn – Traded Monero for Ethereum, Monero proceeds to explode in price whilst Ethereum doesn’t do a whole lot

December – Traded Ethereum for IOTA, Ethereum proceeds to increase by 50% over the next 3 days.

 

And so, my actual guide? Look into what the coins are, understand how they work, and then make an educated guess on whether it’ll take off or not. Buy some of your chosen coins and then hold on for dear life and be careful about trading or selling. Assume that any money you invest into crypto’s is going to be gone because mentally you’ll be better off that way. I’d also recommend trying not to check the price too much unless you are considering selling or buying more – keeping a close eye on how your bet is doing is a surefire way to just give yourself anxiety.

i’d also advise not doing what I did (on every occasion) and buying during an upward rush.
If the price is exploding, it’s going to come down soon, give it a few days and you’ll (probably) find yourself with better rates.

 

Good luck.

Life – November 2017

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I’m still alive! I just have nothing to report!

Being an adult is impossibly boring compared to my university days.

 

Days out:

Went for a day out to bushy park to photograph the autumn colours.

Also went for a day out to Enchanted woodland in Syon Park – which was a bit of a disappointment compared to last years Magical Lantern festival, but still interesting and a bit different. That said, I don’t think ill be doing it again next year.

 

 

Health:

Mentioned last blog post that my car was making screechy noises, turned out to be the brake pads as expected – about £130 to repair, so not great but it could have been worse i guess.
My poor teeth on the other hand didn’t do so well at it’s last checkup, and they had to drill 3 more holes, fml.
I also went to the opticians to try and work out why I was getting so many migraines, and whilst im not sure it helped, they did identify that I needed a more up to date prescription, so I grabbed some nice new hipster glasses – as my last pair were over 7 years old from before I even started university. They look super hipster, especially if i’m wearing my hat.

 

 

 

Games:

Started playing Witcher 3 after grabbing it on sale (I think it was the GOTY edition for £15?), also started playing Battlerite a fair bit again after the new free to play updates came out – Having a knowledge advantage is quite a lot of fun, there are loads of bad players, and I have no problem taking advantage of them.

 

That time I got caught up in a terror attack scare

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So, a kind of eventful weekend for a change, took my car to get fixed up and found my brake pads were 95% worn, got a haircut, and went to Bluewater shopping centre and we thought there was a terror attack in progress.

Wait what?

So we were in John Lewis at the time, just shopping as you do – Me, my parents and my brothers girlfriend Scarlett, when suddenly there seemed to be a lot of commotion from outside (the entrance to John Lewis, from the shopping centre), we suddenly started seeing LOADS of people start running into the shop and people shouting, like 50+ people suddenly just running in our direction. So naturally, so naturally – herd mentality and all that, we started moving as well.

My family were somewhat more distraught than I was, I remember hearing my mum shouting for Scarlett, and my dad yelling for me whilst I was trying to work out what the hell was happening. The scene was a bit chaotic, with parents yelling for their children, and a few people had fallen over whilst running in the panic. Hundreds of us streamed through the store while the staff looked baffled, I saw a bunch of them retreating into staff areas. Towards the end of the shop, a large revolving door had stopped because people were pushing on it, and a couple dozen people were ‘trapped’ inside trying to get out (protips: use the fire escape doors, not the revolving doors…)

As we gathered outside, many people were trying to find their families and loads of people straight up just left – got in their cars and just got out of there. We all got out safely and without injury and looked on as people continued to stream out of the building. We were fairly sure it was a false alarm, as there had been no sirens or fire alarms sounded yet, so we began to walk the perimeter of Bluewater to get to the next exit (map) over by the Village. It was really interesting walking around and hearing people talk about the situation, and see it all develop, majority of people had no idea what was happening, but similar to us, just saw a crowd start running and went along with it – better safe than sorry and all that. The rumours and Chinese whispers ranged from gunman, to ‘suspicious package’ to ‘bomb’ to ‘fire’.
Protip #2 : Twitter is awesome – I basically got all my info from twitter whilst we were walking outside, the #bluewater tag suddenly flooded with loads of tweets from ranging from urging people to stay away, to people talking about ditching their KFC, as well as the more useful stuff like what actually happened. 5-10 minutes later we heard police sirens, and then 5 minutes after that I started seeing some retweets from the Kent police with the actual updates.

The cause then?
Apparently a kitchen appliance went off in Nandos and made a loud bang with smoke, a fire alarm was pulled, and then someone shouted bomb and then began asking people to evacuate. The crazy thing is that, for anyone who has been to Bluewater, Nandos is pretty damn far away from John Lewis, so it must have really been a major reaction of people following other people running for it to have gotten to us.

It was a really interesting though kind of scary experience, a useful ‘drill’ if you will – and an interesting look at how everyone naturally reacts to these sort of events, it’s unsurprising to hear that apparently over the food court, it was complete chaos – with food being thrown about, overturned buggies and chairs and all sorts. I found myself surprised at my own natural response, which was to stay calm but alert – perhaps just the gamer in me, but my first reaction was to break line of sight with the entrance and put some shelving between me and the front of the shop, which in retrospect probably wouldn’t have saved me if there were an actual bomb situation occurring.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5003953/Faulty-oven-causes-bomb-scare-Bluewater-Shopping-Centre.html 

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