As the days grew closer to Christmas I decided to book a bus back to London to spend Christmas with my closest friends on this side of the planet, Matt and Ian. The cost of taking the bus at this busy time of year was actually reasonable. For 80 euros I got a return trip, both rides during the day which I had never done before, but it turned out to be a very nice way to spend the day. On my way over to London I met a very friendly Londoner who I talked to the entire trip, it is always interesting seeing who you will sit next to on long rides.
I arrived late in the day on the 23rd of December, with light London style rain falling and a not so chilly 14 degrees, it was a relatively warm Christmas welcome. I envisaged a “love actually” snow covered London with Liam Neeson and his step son chasing the loves of their lives through the snow. But there was no such luck. I briefly caught up with Matt and Sara before heading to sleep as most people still work on Christmas Eve.
I met up with Ian in a west field shopping center which was jam packed with last minute Christmas shoppers buying countless presents for loved ones. The toy shops resembled an ant mound with people hurrying in and out of the shop. A que stretched the length of the shop and around the back corner as people lined up to pay for their gifts. Ian and some friends had organised a 3 day event to celebrate Christmas and boxing day. The public transport system shut down over Christmas so everyone was sleeping over. It was really nice to meet new people all full of Christmas cheer. Matt also joined on Christmas Eve so the three amigos were once again together. The last time we were all together was in October 2014 in Ko Lanta!
Christmas day was spent with Matt and Sara watching Christmas movies like Die hard and eating good food, it felt like I was with family unwrapping presents that were tucked under a 2 foot tall Christmas tree, I was happy to be around friends. I headed back to Ian’s house for Christmas evening which was filled with games, very funny acting skills and plenty of laughs. Ian’s friends are hilarious, we all had a good night, and of course had to end Christmas with a classic, Love actually. I stayed up chatting about life with Ian’s friend Carley, solving the mysteries of life, and after enjoying the a walk through the quiet streets of London on Boxing day morning. A feast was prepared in the morning, a typical English breakfast which goes to show all these expatriates are assimilating quite well.
The days seemed to fly past so fast, I caught up with Matt and Sara with their two friends and headed to the weird and wonderful, Winter Wonderland set up in Hyde park. A chunk of the park had been turned into an amusement park, with huge ferris wheels, carousels that were also bars, and plenty of flashing lights.
The next day after fixing a puncher on Ian’s bike, a group of new friends headed out to explore London with the help of the Geocaching app. I had never heard of it before, but it was such a good way to see the city, you are given coordinates on a map and small clues as to where a package may be found. The package could be as small as a marble! It was a lot of fun looking through bushes and under park benches, we got to explore a decent amount of one part of the city.
I headed off the next day to spend new years in Amsterdam. It was quite sad to say good bye to new friends I made, and old ones too. But I’m sure I’ll be back in London some time soon. I am so fortunate to have a great downstairs neighbour here in Amsterdam who invited me out on his boat to spend new years with his friends.
The city sounded like an actual war zone for about 4 days before new years. It was pandemonium! I kid you not, there are not many times in life where I’m actually scared, just doesn’t happen, but when I stepped out my front door to see a 9 year old kid mucking around with a fire cracker that was actually bigger than him and he is waving it around and chuckling away with each bang that came from the fire cracker, I was actually a little scared. I’m not a parent so Im in no position to pass judgement, but I saw a dozen children under 12 years old mucking about with powerful fireworks by themselves, and… that can’t be great from a health and safety perspective can it? I know we are raising children in an overly protective society now days, but these kids were either revolutionaries or their folks just didn’t get the memo.
Anyway back to new years! We went out along the canals of Amsterdam and into the main harbour to get a good view of the entire harbour lit up by various firework displays, some of which probably put on single handedly by 6 year olds, none the less it was nice to see a city in celebration.