And We're Off!
This is it!! We decided on this just over two months ago. We've been packed and ready to go for weeks and now the time has come. We are en route to Stansted airport..train from Oxford to London, tube to Baker Street station, shuttle to Stansted (with a cheeky pub stop along the way for some celebratory Strongbow cider).. Hopefully this journey of " hop on, hop off, drink cider, repeat" prior to even boarding the plane will exhaust us enough to make us pass out and get some rest so that we can be ready for a day of exploring Istanbul tomorrow. And with our packed itinerary (thanks to my obsessive planning) there will be no stopping!
;-). I am also using this trip as a way to lose the weight I have put on recently so I am motivated to be on the go go go...in fact, instead of taking the tube to Baker Street from Paddington, we decided to walk it, backpacks and all...and just our luck it decided to hail down (like PAINFULLY hail) and be really windy,( windy enough to blow metal cafe chairs down the street!!). We stood undercover with a bunch of businessmen because the hail was actually really hurting as it hit our faces and these chairs just blew along Wizard of Oz style...We were in hysterics! It is part of the adventure after all! We also stumbled upon a Beatles shop with some amazing merchandise and 22 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes' residence, so although we haven't even departed yet, it feels like we are already traveling. But I guess London always feels like that as there is so much to do here!
So the only uneasy feeling I have at the moment is to do with my visa for UAE. After a ton of conflicting information from a variety of sources, I have gone ahead and applied for a visa through a third party- a travel agency that was recommended by a member of Couchsurfing. I applied, transferred the excessive amount of AED and now I cross my fingers and wait. It's out of my hands now. I was told that it will be ready before we arrive in Dubai on Monday but I do have my doubts. I'm not going to let it worry me. I have to just be positive, enjoy Istanbul, and take each day as it comes. If I get the visa, then great, if not then I can think of a lot worse places to spend 3 nights than the Dubai airport! But all I have to say is Dubai, you have already broken the bank and we haven't even touched foot on UAE soil yet! You better be worth it!!! Well, the weather looks promising anyways so here's hoping that the visa comes through!
I spent about half an hour at a currency exchange counter before getting on the train. One thing that is NOT easy when traveling to ten different countries (which means ten different currencies) is trying to predict how much to bring in each currency, how much to bring in travelers checks (if any) and how much to leave in a bank account. The annoying thing about the bank is they only allow a very minimal amount to be withdrawn daily while abroad and they get you with the fees and poor exchange rates so we opted into getting travelers checks in order to avoid paying hundreds of £'s in transaction fees. I have never used travelers checks before but after some research, they seemed like a good option. This way they are insured as well so if the checks get lost or stolen then we can get them replaced. Also, some countries we are visiting, such as Laos and India, do not (legally) allow their currencies out of or into the country so this just complicated things even more but it will all be part of the adventure that is just beginning!
Istanbul, we are coming for you! Oh, and this will definitely be an experience as we are being hosted by a couple that just so happen to be naturists! Gotta love Couchsurfing and the interesting yet amazing people you meet because of it! Looking forward to it. And to escaping the miserable cold weather in the UK!
But for now, I leave you with something very appropriate (click here and enjoy the song as much as we are enjoying our Strongbow at the moment!)
Honeymoon adventure part 1, bring it on!