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Archive for the ‘Random thoughts’ Category

STA Travel shows me a lot of love. Through STA Travel Buzz they promote this blog, they take me on amazing trips through London, and they organise monthly events.

I was asked to reminisce about all the ways I’ve used them over the years.

I first used the STA offices in 2007 when I took a backpacking trip around Europe. I went to their offices where I bought my Euro Rail pass and my Euro Tunnel tickets along with my travel insurance. I got a pretty good deal, plus having the Rail pass was a huge weight off my shoulders – it was nice to be able to travel around without having to continually hand over cash every few days. On top of all that, I was able to talk to someone about what was actually a realistic trip for me – where I could go, how long would I need, how would I get there. Just like any traveling trip, nothing went exactly as planned, but it calmed a lot of my worries being able to talk to someone who actually knew what they were talking about!

After that I used them again when my three good friends and I took a trip to Barcelona, Marrakech and Madrid. They figured out the cheapest route for us (turned out it was actually cheaper to go to Madrid, then down to Marrakech and back into Spain to hit Barcelona) which helped us out a ton.

After that I finished off university and headed to Asia on my own wind (sorry STA…) but it wouldn’t be long before I came crawling back! If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll know already that I am one of the very lucky £10 Poms now enjoying the sunshine in Australia. When I got that ticket, I found out about STA Travel Buzz and the wonderful Cam who set me up as one of her STA Explorers. Before I headed to Australia I managed to sort out an Australian bank account and tax number, again, all through STA. What legends.

They’ve got a lot of great staff there and they’re out to help the young and restless on their travels…where ever that may be!

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STA Travel Buzz

Some of you may know that I teamed up with the lovely folks at STA Travel Buzz and they’ll be following this blog as I go along as well.

You can check out their website where you’ll find blogs about myself and the other ‘Explorers’ to find out where we all are!

My latest appearance is here:

http://www.statravelbuzz.co.uk/marianne-is-leaving-the-country…/

Just more ways to find out what I’m up to!

 

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So I know I haven’t even set foot in Australia yet, but I’ve already been thinking about the next place I want to go. While South America is actually at the top of my list, for now, I’m thinking of trying to head to Senegal next winter if I can. A good friend of mine, Amanda, is currently living there, working for the Peace Corps and has sent me and her other friends and open invitation to visit. Pretty tempting offer I have to say. I’ll keep you updated.

But for now, Amanda needs a bit of help. There are two things you can do to make her life in Senegal easier.

One: e-mail her MP3s. She is dying for some jams to rock to while she rides her bike through the bush into town. If you would like to do this, please e-mail them to me and I will forward them on to her on your behalf. (My contact details are on the ‘Contact’ tab).

Two: Donate a couple of pounds to help her build a well.  She lives in a village of 197 people where she is working to improve the conditions of their health hut in order to try and provide some basic, sanitary care for the people living there, as the closest town is a few hours away by bicycle. She is currently starting to build a well in the hut grounds so that the village has access to clean water.

The well project is only $500 which should hopefully be an easy target to reach. So if you’re looking for a good cause, this is one that wouldn’t otherwise get much attention. Any amount helps if you want to donate.

That’s all, I promise, just thought I’d pass it around and see if I can help out a friend.

You can read more about it and donate in the link below:

http://appropriateprojects.com/node/67

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A few weeks back I mentioned attending the STA Australia event. They filmed us asking various questions about Australia, and now the lovely Claire has our answers! Check it out, but listen closely. Claire talks really quickly.

Not exactly a Travel ARTICLE technically, but some helpful information about Oz, and a TAW is way overdue.

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On Thursday I went to the STA Travel Buzz office where Shapes, TimTams and Victoria Bitter were the contents of my healthy? dinner…

After reuniting with Cam, Alice and AJ from my ‘Around the World’ tour of London, plus a couple more £10 Poms and other STA Explorers we ate, drank and were generally merry running around in our Australian hats – corks and all, until Saxon sat us down for a little Ozzy talk. Apparently Magnetic Island is the place to be. Less than two months until I head down for those keeping track. (!!!)

So Cam has been asking us to look back on traveling and how it has changed over the last 30 years (they’re really squeezing everything they can out of the STA 30th anniversary thing). I haven’t been alive for 30 years, but here are my few thoughts on how travel has changed that I’ve noticed.

Hmmm…..

I’ve had a quick look at some other responses, and music is a trend. I’ve just spent the last month and a half iPod-free and have certainly come to appreciate how dependent I am on that little machine. BUT I have to say, especially on long haul flights, my iPod is not my saviour. It’s that amazing IFE (In-flight entertainment). I do not go to the cinema as often as I’d like because 1 – it is way too expensive these days, and 2 – all my friends feel the same way: it’s rare that someone is around to convince us all to part with that money when we’d rather use it for dinner or a few pints down the pub. As a result, the films shown on long flights are pretty much my main source of newly released hits that I never got to see.

I need something to look at when I’m sat in the same seat for that long, since sleeping comfortably when you’re not dropping thousands on First Class (which obviously I do all the time…in my imaginary world where I’m a famous and insanely rich writer….) just doesn’t happen.

I’ve been on a lot of long flights in my life, and on most airlines (Virgin Atlantic is my current favourite) the entertainment systems have become pretty amazing. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t choose from all those on-demand movies, television shows and games.

I know some planes still start all the movies at the same time, and you can’t choose the film. And god-forbid I ever get on another plane that only has those screens in the aisles. When you are sitting just a little too far away, or directly below those things: literally a form of torture.

There are other obvious thoughts: the Internet makes researching destinations and booking tickets a piece of cake; the world is a much smaller place.

Thirty years ago, there were a lot of places that I wouldn’t have been able to visit. This past year I spent about eight months in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. 1979? Not so sure I would have been so comfortable heading over a mere four years after the Vietnam war.
Africa is still a continent with a lot of struggling countries, but it’s becoming more and more accessible as a destination. My friend Olly goes there quite regularly these days and recently returned from his newest tour.

No smoking on flights. I remember flying with my mum once and having no choice but to sit in the smoking section of the plane. I don’t think a confined metal tube is really the best place for smoking, so that’s a change I’m definitely okay with.

A change I’m not okay with? Back in the day, one of my favourite things to do was to go into the cockpit. Anyone else do this? The air stewards would take me up, and I’d get to sit in one of those extra seats behind the pilot and co-pilot and watch them as they played with all those buttons and dials that somehow managed to keep a massive chunk of metal airborne. These days that’s definitely not possible. Probably something to do with terrorism, but a damn shame if you ask me.

A few random thoughts about travel: check.

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James Bond has starred in 22 films over  47 years of filming starting back in 1962 with Dr. No starring the dashing Mr. Connery as Agent 007.

Harry Potter’s first film was in 2001. A mere eight years ago, with only five (soon to be six) movies released, and yet it has (or is about to) make MORE MONEY than the man with a license to kill! Who ever thought that was possible?

This is just my own guess, but I’d say that the James Bond film franchise is one of the most famous film series out there. It’s definitely up there with Mission Impossible, Die Hard, even The Godfather; and it has more movies than those three combined; so it’s simple math. How could a franchise with six films beat one with 22?! Well it has, and I’m amazed.

What I think it really says is something about who is going to the cinema these days. The James Bond target audience probably starts with early teens, especially boys who like to see things blown up, but it’s range goes through adults and was certainly more focused on it’s older audience back in the day when Mr. Connery was playing the dashing agent.

Harry Potter does appeal to adults who like to relive a little childhood fun and magic, but it’s main appeal is to the younger generations. It appeals to males and females too, unlike Bond’s action packed sequences and cool cars that typically appeal to members of the public with a Y chromosome.

So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re a person looking to make the next blockbuster, look no further than Generations Y and Z because apparently they’re the ones lining up at the box office multiple times, and they’ll probably bring their parents along for the ride.

BY the way. Back to James Bond. Agent 007 is supposed to be this handsome, ever so polite, refined ENGLISH gentleman right? I know a lot of people were up in arms when Daniel Craig was announced as the new Bond because his look was too ‘rugged’ or something like that. But at least he’s from the right country! He’s only the SECOND English person to play the big man. Even the first Bond was Scottish! He was interrupted by an Australian (George Lazenby… it’s okay if you forgot about him, most people do since he was only in one film, and Connery did one more after him, making him even easier to disregard). It wasn’t until the third James Bond (Roger Moore) that we actually got an Englishman, and he was followed by a Welshman and an Irishman!

Secondly, why is it that he’s supposed to be English anyway? If you actually look into it (or just read this blog since I already did this for you), James Bond’s dad is Scottish and his mum is from Switzerland!

This is all off the topic of Harry Potter, but it’s interesting. At least I think so.

So here’s to Harry Potter, beating 007’s record in about one quarter the amount of episodes. Also – I have a ticket to go see the sixth film with my parents after which I will be driving straight to the airport to fly back to London. See I told you – a Generation Y child hiking up those box offices sales and bringing her parents to help too.

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So I didn’t actually get to watch the memorial service live, although I did listen to some of it on the radio, but I just spent the last couple of hours watching it on a local ABC channel website. There’s a lot of talk about how ridiculous the service was, and about how over the top everything has been since MJ died.

We all know that MJ turned out to be a somewhat strange person, but let’s give him a break people, he just died. I think it would be in pretty bad taste for people to bring up all the bad and weird memories we have of MJ the week after he has passed.

Whatever you think about who he turned out to be, you can’t deny the enormous influence he had on the music world and the rest of the world for that matter. He turned the concept of dance and entertainment into something completely new and different, and on top of that he was one of the pop world’s most generous givers when it came to charity and helping those less fortunate.

I can’t think of very many child celebrities who HAVE turned out completely normal. Actually I can’t think of any… But MJ had a bigger impact on the world than any of the Britney Spears’, Nicole Ritchie’s and Drew Barrymore’s.

So yea, I know he turned out sort of strange in his adult life, but since when is it appropriate to trash talk someone so soon after their death? When people die, whoever it is, we always honour them for the good things they did, not the bad. So I think all the talk, the music and the memorial service were totally appropriate. For those who think the service was too much like a concert…hello?? MJ spent his life performing and being on stage, and he obviously had a passion for it, so why shouldn’t his memorial service be a tribute to his love for over the top performance and glamour? I can’t imagine it being any other way.

So from the girl who spent a lot of her childhood singing along to the songs on her ‘HIStory: Past, Present and Future’ CDs, that’s all I have to say about it.

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