Disneyland, Paris

So obviously I wanted to go to Disneyland. I know, I know. But seriously, who doesn’t want to go to Disneyland.

Everything I had heard about it sounded brilliant and magical and whilst Australia has theme parks (well the Gold Coast does) I was always told they were nothing like Disneyland. And I suppose, in some ways, that was true. But in most, sorely disappointed.

Maybe I had high expectations, I don’t know but I booked 4 day tickets (well 4 for the price of 3) and off we went. You need to catch the RER line A and it costs 7.50euros one way, but if you plan it right you can get a 1.70 Central Paris ticket and jump on the same train and it’ll take you there. It’s just coming back that you need to have the 7.50 ones. Takes about 45 minutes.

Really did not need 4 days. In fact, we did it in 3 and could have done it in 2, or even 1 full day had it not been for a raging hangover and late sleep-ins.

It’s magical, sure, but it’s definitely for children. None of the big thrill rides were really any good, none of the shows were anything amazing, and the parade was average. The night time sound/light and firework show was amazing though!

Bit of fun, but I’m hoping the Orlando eon is better.

Paris, France – Take 2

Just got back to London from a week in Paris, and that my friends signalled the end of all this travelling as well.

Paris the second time around was much better though, not that the first time wasn’t good but it was so rushed that it was just like this whirlwind tourist thing seeing all the sights.

We stayed in Montmarte, right near where the Moulin Rouge is and it’s sort of a trendy/ red light district area but also a little bit grim. It was nice though, and there was plenty around the area with shops and supermarkets, bars and restaurants.

Our first day was actually going to see the Louvre which we missed out on last time. The lines were surprisingly okay, but mind you we are no longer I’m summer or peak season. We got the audio guide as well which I highly a recommend to anyone who isn’t an arts student. They’re Nintendo DS audio guides as well with like this gps interactive map and stuff which is so cool. Anyway, definitely something that is a ‘must do’ but if you don’t understand art, like I don’t, then it’s no different to any other museum. There are amazing views of Paris out some of the windows though. Oh yeah, and then there’s the ‘Mona Lisa’ the main attraction – it frustrated me so much. There are hoards of people flocking straight to it so you are just cramped as close as you can around this painting like your at a bloody rock concert. Even if you were an artist and wanted to appreciate the strokes and the craftsmanship you couldn’t. But, all in all the Louvre was nice to go too.

We had a proper browse around some different shopping areas supposed to be cool and less touristy than Champs Élysées but, it’s Paris. Everything is designer and ridiculously expensive. So I can’t say I found anywhere that was a thrifty or vintage or anything. If you have 500 euros to throw at a cardigan though, Paris has gazillions of amazing boutiques. Around St Paul metro stop was good and so was Montmarte. Speaking of Montmarte – Sacre-coeur is really stunning. Bit seedy around there, a lot of people trying to sell you stupid cotton bracelets and pestering you and stuff but if you get over that beautiful, and would be lovely to take and sit with some lunch on the hill.

The main event had to be Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘on the run’ concert though. It was why we planned to go to Paris for the week and was brilliant. Naturally. Without going on about it. We also found ourselves at a uni party with a bunch of Aussies and a bunch of Parisians which was cool.

This time around, I have to say Paris, love you. It is beautiful, truly. But like any city, it has a dark side. It’s almost as if the French government don’t really care because there is littered streets, lots of graffiti, the metro always stinks of piss as soon as you get off the tourist centre. But I can overlook those things for the beauty the city does have.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014

I know it has been quite some time since my last post – and I would like to say with good cause. I have just spent the past month having the best time working in my life – even if I was completely run down by the end of it.

Basically, our goal in coming to Edinburgh was to find some temporary work. It just so happened that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was on and therefore there was PLENTY of temporary work. Convenient. I think randomly coming to Edinburgh and ending up meeting the people I did, immersing myself in so much art and culture and gaining some UK work experience that may actually help towards my career was the best random run-of-the-mill decision I had made thus far. Everything just fell into place perfectly. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After learning that the Edinburgh Fringe was on I had a look at Festival work – and noticed that there was a lot of positions for PR/Marketing people, Stage managers etc. and I got super excited and applied for heaps…only to realise that most of the applications closed a few days/a week before I got to them. Which was really disappointing because I just missed out on some jobs. So alas, I had to get whatever work I could.

I ended up finding employment working in a box office for a traveling show, ‘The Ladyboys of Bangkok’. Which was fine. It paid, and it was work so whatever. But the fun began when one of the stage managing jobs I had applied for contacted me and through them I ended up working on no less that 5 shows assistant producing/stage managing/Stage teching and it was amazing fun, and a lot of hard work. I would start my box office job at 9:30am every morning and work through until 4:30pm where I had a couple hours off until my next show at 7:30pm, but then work again up until midnight. And quite often in that break, I would meet up with the associate producer and work some more. Although in saying that there was a lot more play than work. Then 9/10 times, after shows finished at midnight we would stick around for a pint or 2 (or 10) and I would end up home every night at 3-4am only to get up a couple hours later and do it again. At the time, It was the most tiring experience of my life. Now…I loved every single minute of it.

The Edinburgh Fringe is unlike any art festival I have been too. The sheer cultivation of talent and artists mixed with producers/journalists/agents and the rest literally make this the olympics of art. All the work that goes into it is phenomenal for one month of shows, which happen every single day…oh and there is well over 4000 of said shows. The ENTIRE city lives/breathes and transforms into this Ed Fringe haven where the population doubles from festival workers to festival goers. Pop up shops/bars/restaurants come just for the month, every pub/bar/restaurant ends up being some sort of venue and the most spectacular thing of all is that the entire thing is run mostly by students, or at the very least under 30′s. If you are any sort of artist – even from another field – then this has got to be up there with one of the most intense experiences. The whole concept of it is actually nuts – trying to sell tickets for 4000 shows every single day for a month, plus trying to promote those shows so you can sit above the rest of those contending 3999, plus networking as much as possible…not to mention shows are usually given an average of 10 minutes either side get in/get out. No time for a sound check…like ever but the show must go on so oh well. Got a massive set…better have 20 people putting it up and dismantling because you WILL get charged for every minute over time that you run. Its absolute craziness. But in a brilliant brilliant way.

I wish I could say more, but the way it works is honestly one of the most intense things I have seen.

Edinburgh, Scotland.

It’s happened. It’s finally happened! We got an apartment, our very own, where we can justify buying food and walk around in our undies and go to the toilet with the door open! For two whole weeks! Woo hoo! Two weeks may not sound long but that’s the longest I’ve been in one place for 3 months, I can actually unpack!

Getting here was a pain though, we booked tickets on the train from London paid like £40 (transport around the UK is crazy expensive) and couldn’t get seats, so were sitting on the floor in the little restaurant carriage and then the train is delayed and Brandon had a job interview and was late to that so I had to sit around waiting and then it was another train and a longer than expected walk to the apartment and… Nah that was it, but it was sorta annoying. Brandon got the job (5 week contract) though so that was good.

Naturally, first night we are like ‘fuck yes let’s sit around semi naked, eating ice cream and watching TV’ so that’s what we did (except that there is no TV, so it was DVDs on my tiny DVD player. The idea was there) and then as everyone should do when they have two whole weeks not living in our suitcases we went SHOPPING! Which was so stupid cause we still eventually have to get it all in our cases, but I needed something presentable to wear for job interviews and whatever. So that took an entire day.

The next entire day I sat in an Internet cafe applying for jobs, which cost me 25£ to use the net and print off 10 resumes so that was a really good blow to the old budget.

And the day after that I spent the whole day walking around handing out resumes.

So we have really immersed ourselves in Edinburgh culture and seen heaps yeah?

Okay no but it is really pretty. More like a big country town than a city (in the same way Hobart is a city) and really old and untouched by modern sky scrapers and stuff so it’s really cool just walking around and stuff.

West end, So Ho and Harry Potter

Okay. So I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd (isn’t it funny that the word nerd is worn as a badge of pride now?) so naturally, I have to do everything Harry Potter related that I possibly can. One of those things is a Harry Potter tour of London from walks.com. I quite like the idea really, there’s heaps and heaps of different themed walks for like £9 each and it’s a bit of a different sort of walking tour to your usual ‘this is such and such church….’. There’s rock and roll walks, Movie walks, Jack the Ripper walks, photography walks amongst your usual walks like ‘royal London’ and such. But if you want to do a bit of sight seeing this way, it’s a cool spin on things. Anyway, the Harry Potter one. Admittedly, it wasn’t that fascinating from a Harry Potter perspective – the coolest thing we really saw was the front of the leaky cauldron which would of been impossible to just stumble across and other than that we of course went to millennium bridge which the death eaters destroyed and stuff but that ones pretty obvious. However, there was heaps of fun random facts along the way, stopping off at places that were JK Rowlings inspirations, Daniel Radcliffes school, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (which had a cool connection to Harry Potter I didn’t know) amongst other famous sights that were discussed in between the Harry Potter sights and other movie sets such as Bridget Jones’s apartment and such. So whilst it wasn’t fantastical full of the HP world (I suppose that’s what Warner brothers studios are for) it was a bit of fun, and a better way of doing it then just walking around trying to find these places by yourself.

Also went to see the Book of Mormon on west end. 45£ for the ticket and we had fantastic seats for an honestly hilarious show. It definitely deserves all those awards it got. I mean, it’s so politically incorrect – but if your going to complain about that why go see a musical written and directed by the South Park guys?!? But all the songs are excruciatingly catchy in the best musical fashion and again the quality of performers supersedes Australia astronomically. I would definitely see it again, and tell everybody to see it. Usually, when I’m seeing a show I know nothing about I get a bit underwhelmed. I like the comfort of knowing songs and characters, but Book of Mormon definitely broke that rule.

After the Book of Mormon we took the two second walk (okay I’m exaggerating a bit but it wasn’t far) to So Ho (funny thing about London is that even though it’s soooo big, it’s like your in one area and then before you know it your in a whole new are and it took no time and you just sort of stumble across it. It took us a while but quickly we learnt that you can pretty much walk most places in London – at least Central London). So Ho is definitely a gay area – it pretty much smacks you in the face – we were just walking and next minute there’s all these rainbow flags and gay couples and it’s like ‘oh yes, we must be in So Ho now, carry on’. In particular we went to this club called g-a-y (I wandered if there was some hidden meaning in the name?) that was obviously a night club. Kinda cool, it was like three levels but separate levels for gay/lesbians (apparently they will co-inhabit) but the best bit was that a round for 4 people cost 6£ – that’s a round of mixed spirits mind you. So that was good.

Now to Edinburgh!

Back to London

So were back in London – and this time we’re doing the tourist thing. We went and got the London Passes – which if your going to use them are great value. £100 (just under) for a 6 day pass but that gets you entry into a lot of the sights. You get up to £540 pounds worth of admissions that includes the major sights like Westminster abbey and London tower, galleries and exhibitions, walking tours, tours around football stadiums/theatres etc. and even a free movie ticket. Touristy as hell, but we may as well just do it all now and then it’s done and you save some money cramming it into the 6 days with the pass.

We started off with the ‘royal walk’ – went into Westminster and as much as we hate tours we got free audio guides and they were really interesting. It makes the touristy thing a bit better because you get more that ‘yup cool, seen it’. I was just excited about test running the aisle for when Harry decided to marry me (the real one – not from that stupid television show). But it was cool though.

Then a short walk up to Buckingham palace – slightly underwhelming although we haven’t seen the changing of the guard yet – before searching for Clarence House (we failed) and setting off. There’s other touristy thing I’m the royal circuit to see but we didn’t both – those are the big ones.

That evening we went to see Wicked in West End. Absolutely brilliant. Much higher standard than what you get back in Australia and tickets are dirt cheap – premium full price is about £50-70 but we got a ticket for less than £20. Up the back, but who cares for that price. And there is so much theatre – like upwards of 10 massive productions running. It’s nuts.

Today we went to the Tower of London – absolutely massive and again if you get the audio guide it really does make it interesting. Got a bit bored with the exhibits but hearing about it all was great. London Tower is a proper medieval castle – the way you think castles should be – and history to match. They run free guided tours there as well, or you can just take yourself around. We spent like three hours there. Of course, the Crown Jewels were a sight!

We also checked out the exhibit at tower bridge which was a bit of a waste of time – free with the London pass but meh.

Then a river cruise along the Thames which was cool – going past all the big sights – back to Westminster for the London Eye.

A ticket is about 20£ and it was cool – brilliant way to see London skyline – but you line up for ages, are ushered on like dogs, everyone is crowding around the windows (which are dirty so you can’t even get a good picture) and then they say half an hour (I think heaps less) later your ushered off again like cattle and good to go. Considering we payed the same price for wicked…it seems silly. It was a beautiful way to see London though.

Heaps more still to do – But we still got 4 more days to do it!

Gay Life in Mykonos

So, a big reason my travel partner wanted to come to Mykonos was for the gay scene, and boy is there a gay scene. We obviously had to check out as much as possible and that we did.

After a bit of research we determined that there are 4 big gay bars in Mykonos – 2 we actually liked.

First was Lola’s, which is hidden in little Venice. It was really quiet and small to be honest. We didn’t dig it too much but it would be a great place for a couple or some quiet drinks as it’s more like a lounge than a club.

Then there is Jackie O’s – one of the better known ones. It’s around the corner on the water next to old port – in between the port and little Venice. Early in the evening (okay anytime before 1am) it has this cool little vibe to it on the tables out the front, and then it gets busy at 1am ish- it is a decent club except we got kicked out one night for taking a few extra girls with us and that’s something about the gay world I really find hypocritical. Like, the entire western world is currently going through a social rights campaign to promote acceptance, awareness and rights with the LGBT community and yet as much as the LGBT community want society to accept and embrace them, they don’t want to accept the wider community. I find it hypocritical – like feminists who fight for gender equality but are man haters. Anyway, rant over. Jackie O’s is okay, but right next door Babylon is better.

Babylon has even more cool seating and lounge areas for chilled drinks and again transforms into a nightclub with (in my opinion) better music than Jackie O’s, a more accepting vibe and has a drag show. Admittedly that drag show isn’t the best, but it is entertainment all the same. But if you want a drag show Elysium is definitely the place to be.

Every single night, between 9-11pm, Elysium puts on probably the best drag show I have seen. Every night is different and it is a full 2 hour show with a 20 min half time break. There are many different acts – singing, comedic, dancing, male belly dancers, bit of ballet…it’s very impressive. It reminded me why I thought the moulin Rouge was similar to good drag show – because it is similar. Tacky in all the best ways. Elysium is the ultimate sunset bar, before hitting the clubs. Not just because of the show, but because of the actual sunset view and it all closes after the show as it’s also a hotel (their slogan is ‘the str8 friendly hotel’ which I think is brilliant because I’ve never understood why hotels need to vocalise if they are gay friendly or not…). Only drawback is that drinks are 12 euros a pop going upwards (which is quite a wack more than anywhere else) but the way I see it is you pay a bit more extra for a drink, and get a free show.

In terms of beaches – again I’m not sure why this even needs to be a thing – there are many gay beaches around, or gay areas on beaches. There’s also a lot of nudist beaches so it’s really just a bit of everything but I don’t understand the point of a gay beach so I won’t harp on about it.

Mykonos is a gay mans dream – whether your in a long term relationship or with a group of friends or whatever it is a very accepting town (honestly, there’s more gay men then straight men I reckon) with a fair bit of variety.