Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ London is a must!

From Liverpool we are now off to London. This time we choose to take the train, just to add the varieties of transportation we experience in Europe. The train ride took about 3 hours crossing awesome views, green all the way. Just amazing. We arrived at Euston Station and took another train to Bayswater where we will be staying for 2 nights.

Why Bayswater? Cause it's such a strategic place to be. Halal food is everywhere, it's overlooking Hyde Park, near train and bus station as well as convenience stores. The moment we arrived, we left our bags at the hotel and started our London journey. We went to many places, Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Harrods and of course Oxford Street. I always feel safe in London, I have no issue to be walking outside even after dark.

The next day was more exciting! At least to me lah. We went to BICESTER! It's a must to go to this place if you are in London. The prices of branded stuff are super cheap. Some say cause it's off season but I'm not a fashion concious person, so, don't really care about the seasons. As long as it looks nice and the price is right, I'll grab it. We took a train and got on the free shuttle bus to get to there. I got myself a Gucci bag, one pair of Tod's Shoes, many shirts for my better half and shoes for him and my dad, Clarks of course. I went crazy at Hackett, I think my better half looks hot in Hackett shirts and bought kids clothing. My better half kept on reminding me this is only our first country and we have 8 more countries to go but how can you resists shopping in Bicester. I was obviously prepared, I packed light so I can put more stuff in.

Our final day in London, we decided to just walk around our hotel area. We spent few hours in Hyde Park, walking around and enjoying the view. The weather was really awesome and you can see people jogging, taking their dogs walking and some were having picnic. Hyde Park has always been a place I love. This has be the place my family would go to everytime we go to London when I was much younger.

Yes, we will be back. And this time around we'll bring our kids with us. In fact, I have started my planning to bring them next year Insyallah...

Next stop, Dublin. But, next entry will not be that just yet. I'll share some tips and experience while we were in UK. Perhaps it can benefit those who wants to go there :)

Signing off,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ You'll Never Walk Alone!! Liverpool

I have always love football. I love football ever since I was very little. This was of course influenced by my Abah. Being the only daughter, I was in a way forced to enjoy football however develop the tendency to love it. I still remember when I was much younger, staying up late with my Abah to watch the matches live and end up being a sleepy head in school. All in the name of football. (In fact I used to play football for my school's team :) )

That is why it will not make sense if I come to UK and not visit my favourite team of all time, Liverpool. I am a pure Liverpool fan and a genuine football nut too. I don't watch football cause the guys are perceived to be hot or because of Beckham and Ronaldo. I watch football cause I love the game. *by the way ladies, Beckham no longer play for MU in case you are not aware of that*

Our journey to Liverpool from Oxford was an exciting one. We took a coach from Liverpool to Birmingham before taking another coach to Liverpool. The bus terminal in Birmingham was a comfortable one equipped with Wifi connection. Even our LCCT is not close to their standard. The journey was really good. We got to surf the net in the bus all the way as well as get all of our gadgets charge.

Once we arrived in Lime Street bus terminal, we took a cab to where we are staying, a B&B called Sheil Suites. I love this place! Not only it's cheap, the room is nice and they provide free wifi. We just left our luggage and went straight to where else, Anfield which was about 15 minutes walk

I have pre booked 2 tickets for the stadium tour. I was here before however did not get the chance to do the tour. It was more meaningful to have to do the tour with my better half. He was such a good sport, knowing he doesn't really like football and have been supportive of my interests.The stadium was not that big. Our Bukit Jalil Stadium is double this size and better equipped. Even the changing room is such a simple one, not to mention the press conference room which look so nice on TV but in actual life, is a box size room with a table and backdrop. We were told the press have been told which angle they can take.

The trip will not be complete if I don't do my Liverpool shopping. We were few days earlier than the release of the latest jersey kit so did not get to have any. However, I must admit, I went crazy buying other Liverpool merchandise including new bed sheet for Ilham. (Yes, he supports Liverpool too and it was his own choice, no force, really!)

We went back to our B&B with my face beaming with such joy and feeling so satisfied. My next wish list would be to come here again, this time with my kids to watch a game. Actually, the original plan was for us to watch the Liverpool vs Chelsea game which was scheduled a day after our trip but we decided to give it a pass and do that Insyallah, soon. For dinner, we just had Maggie Mee, which was the best maggie mee I have tasted! (power of exegeration when you are hungry)

Yes, Liverpool was awesome only if you are a Kop or love Beatles. Otherwise, it's just a quiet town (yes, I'm not kidding you, it's REALLY quiet).

Next stop, London (and Bicester Villagelah!)

Signing off,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ Welcome to UK and 1st stop, Oxford!

I must start this entry by sharing our so called adventure became too adventurous. Why do I say that?

Well, we departed from KLIA at 10am and we chose Qatar Airways. I have checked pricing for many airlines and Qatar was the cheapest. And the fact that I had pleasant experience when I used Qatar before as well as they served halal food gace us the level of comfort. Of course it had to transit in Doha which was a short transit for about an hour so no big issue there.

We arrived at Heathrow at 10pm and to be honest, one thing I hate about traveling abroad is the prejudiced especially to muslim women who are wearing tudung. So, I was quite nervous when we have to go through Immigration check. Alhamdulilah, the man who took care of our counter is a Muslim man who have been to Malaysia. We engaged into a very pleasant conversation and he shared with us how he have been trying to convince his wife to go for holiday, just the 2 of them. Seeing us doing just that motivated him to talk to his wife again.

By the time we got our luggage, it was already 11.30pm. I did not book any hotel cause it'll be waste of money as we will be making our way to Oxford the next morning. It was freezing cold, temperature was about 8 degrees and we were not prepared for it to be that cold. We planned to sleep for few hours at Heathrow bus station and planned to take the 4am bus to Oxford. However, we fast tracked our plan and took the 1.30am bus instead. Never did we think the bus station in Oxford is actually a normal bus stand until we arrived there around 3am.

Yes, it was an ordinary bus stop with no lights and just a roof over our head. We walked towards our hotel thinking to just wait at the lobby. There were few kebab places opened hence we asked for directions. The kebab man was kind enough to walk us to the hotel. And then we realised our hotel reception is closed and will only be open at 6am! It was kind of scary with lots of people who I think are students getting drunk and hanging out right where we were taking shelter. When we thought things could not get any worse, it started to rain! At that point of time, we know we need to get out of here and search for better shelter. We hardly can feel our fingers!

So, we did the best thing we know, we took another bus to London City, specifically Victoria Station. We arrived at Victoria at about 5am and bought coffee. I tell you, that was the best coffee I have tasted considering we were in desperate need of coffee. We stayed there for about 2 hours, freshen up at the toilet and then took another bus to Oxford. The bus fare was not to expensive but it was all worth it. FYI, almost all buses we boarded have Wifi and charging service which you don't get in many other cities in Europe.

We arrvied in Oxford (again!) around 8am and went straight to our hotel to drop our luggage. We stayed at this place called Victoria House and it costs us about 50 pound per night including breakfast and free wifi which is a good deal. However, we wouldn't recommend this hotel for people who need peace and quiet to sleep as the hotel is on top of a night club. Us? We just want cheap place :)

Oxford was as beautiful as how I remembered it. I have time and time again told people I know, Oxford is a place I can imagine myself settling down and raise my kids here. My better half did not get it at that time until he saw Oxford for himself. We walked and walked and walked everywhere. It was so beautiful and the air was so fresh. The buildings were so classic and just amazing. Enjoy the photos.

I still have this dream to stay in Oxford one day, Insyallah. Perhaps, my kids can study here or I can pursue my PhD if after I pass my Masters. Come to Oxford and you know what I mean....

Next stop ! Liverpool! YNWA!!!!

Signing off,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Europe Adventure ~ The preparation

It has always been my dream to go on European Adventure with my better half. I have been having this dream since 5 years ago. At that time, I could only dream, I know we can never afford it. Financially and the fact that who will take care of the kids...Yes, at that time, I was convinced, it will be just another dream, just like the dream I will get back to my weight before I get married. Huh? Off tangent, never mind...

Then, 2 years ago, some how the dream became more possible. That is when I started my planning. Knowing 2012 will be the only year none of the kids will be sitting for major exams, that will be the best year for me to realised my dream to go for this tour. I don't plan to take the kids along, I wanted it to be a cheap tour. No particular about the hotel we stay in, B&B or even 2 star hotels are ok for this trip. Also, to use just public transport either bus, train or Metro. Minising cab usage and NO NO NO on car rental.

Next, to convince my better half. One, to convince him to take more than 2 weeks leave and also to convince him to leave the kids behind. Something we have not done, not for too long. The longest was 3 days when we sent the kids to my parents' home for school break, nothing longer than that. Finally, he agreed.

Then, I started to look at the overall costing. That include lodging, transport including air fare and all connecting transports, projected food expenses and other costs which may incur like taxes, shopping and other miscellaneous stuff. Considering it's a budget travel, I was not into anything lavish. I started surfing, agoda, expedia and many other related websites. It's also important to read reviews from TripAdvisor to ensure I don't book some dodgy hotels. The hotels must also within the cities areas so that we don't spend too much on transportation. We would rather walk around and enjoy the views. Reviews from real people who have stayed in the hotels are also very important.

10 months before the planned trip, I started the booking process. All bookings. Yes, it's much cheaper to book in advance especially for 2012 there are many things going on in Europe like Olympics and Euro2012. Things will get expensive if we don't book early. It is also cheaper to book the trains, buses and connecting flights online. Much much cheaper! And we decided to go early May and will be back before the kids school holiday starts.

So, the routes have been decided...tentatively it will be....


Flight tickets were finally bought at Matta Fair. We started surveying our options whether to do this via tour or on our own. That's when we know, it's cheaper to do it ourselves.

Yes, it was a well careful planned trip. I applied for leaves nearly a year in advance. And made the necessary arrangements on kids well being as well. We managed to get my parents to take care of the kids for 10 days and my inlaws the subsequent 10 days.

We are lucky, before we left, the exchange rates we extremely low. More money can be spent then!

Look out for next entry, when we arrived in London!

Signing off,

Friday, June 22, 2012

This is me and that's just who I am

I don't mean to brag, but despite I don't really have that much traffic coming to my blog, I received severals messages asking why I have not been blogging for quite some time and why they can't access to my blog. Simple, cause I shut it down temporarily. Major reason is because I thought of giving it a face lift, considering I have not been blogging for a while. Another reason was to manage misconception about my blog.

However, I realised, misconception will continue to be there....

I love writing, and I love writing with my own style. I don't write for others, I write for myself. I write cause it makes me feel happy. I write cause I have this passion in me which I love to share with others. I write to express myself and I write because.....of too many different reasons for me to lists.

I write to share my traveling experience. I write to share my passion for cooking. I write when I explore new places for food. And I write mostly about my kids....Yes, I love writing. And when I write, I write from the heart.

I did quite few sessions of self reflections on my own lately. I reflect on how I have always been allowing others to shape who I am, how I should behave and to certain extend what I should love and who I should hate. Well, NO MORE!

If I don't feel like going out for meals with individuals whom I know don't want me to be there anyway, I won't. If I choose not to speak a word to those who have done nothing but spreading lies and hatred about me, I won't. If I choose not to defend myself towards accusation thrown about me, I won't waste my energy to do so, cause I know those who knows me well enough will not fall for those lies. Hence, those who did will be people I can make do without.

I want to continue writing. And I will continue writing. Those who knows me would know the caring person I am. How I will go the extra miles for people I call friends. How loyal I am towards people who have done so much for me. And how I never judged others just by what I hear. Yes, only those who knows me really well will not label me with negative thoughts.

I will continue writing...(and go ahead and call me emo, cause, yes I am. Too bad you have a problem with that)

Next change...

EUROPE TRIP ADVENTURES!!! Simple awesome!!!

Signing off,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blogging again with a twist

I know, I haven't been writing for quite some time. In between then and now, so many things happen. Good things and not so good things. Would not want to call it bad, let's just call it lessons in life.

Well, in between then and now, many milestones happened :

1. Kicked off 3 major initiatives, as far as work wise
2. Finally, fulfilled one of the biggest dream I have, to tour some of the countries in Europe with my better half. 20 days, 9 countries, 14 cities to be exact
3. Took kids to Ipoh and JB for short break
4. In the study department, completed 1st semester. 4 more semester to go. Itu pun kalau tak kantoi paper

So, in between now and maybe tonight, depending the amount of clothes I need to fold after putting that on hold to prepare for the exam, I will be writing about the journey, some recipes, few movies reviews and some makan places we visited.

Sit back and hang on tight cause Liza is back in the blogging world. And this time, would most probably sustain the momentum after I realised how much I love doing this.

Have a good Saturday all. Be good!

Signing off,