For the past 3 weeks the Aussie dollar had been slowly falling against both the sterling and the euro. In fact, on one particular day in Budapest it lost about 1/4 of its value literally overnight. I think this was the main factor behind my decision to not continue travelling and to find myself a job again.
The plan: to find some work until Christmas, have a few weeks off over the festive season to do some travel with Lee, then head into the French alps to work in a chalet for the ski season. The perfect plan in my opinion. That, I figured, would set me up with a good few months worth of French-speaking opportunities and then a good few months more worth of unhindered travel options around Europe for the summer months.
On that final day in Prague I booked myself a Student Agency bus (loving the bus) back through to Victoria Station in London, departing that afternoon. Student Agency are a cheap Prague/Budapest based bus company with a difference. I guess you could say they act a little more like an airline than a bus service. There's the selection of movies, your choice of music stations and there is even complimentary hot chocolate served by a stewardess who's on call for the entire trip, which in this instance took about 5 hours longer than scheduled due to delays on the eurotunnel.
Tom and John were kind enough to take me in again for that transitional period in London. I was not staying for long. I was on my way to Belfast.
My week in London was relatively uneventful apart from buying myself a new laptop to replace the one that I had bought only a month before. At one point I spent 48 hours indoors with the curtains drawn - I figured out that that can be quite depressing only after I stepped outside to do some shopping and realised that there was actually a world out there. I also managed to catch up with Nic and Michael again for a few drinks on one of my last nights (although I'm not sure how good my company would have been due to a self-inflicted absence of sleep the night before.)
The most interesting day by far was the one after I arrived. On Sunday, Tom and I decided to go on a photo excursion of the city. It was something I felt I had neglected to do during my time here last time and so I was more than eager for Tom's suggestion. We took an anti-clockwise tour of central London, using a combination of buses and our legs, in order to find unusual sites where we could make manifest some of our ideas in front of the lens. We managed to get some great shots!
I booked the first half of my trip, to Dublin, on the Friday afternoon and the following morning - about 6am - I was once again on the move. The day was to be another long one on buses, trains and a ferry. During the train journey north towards the port at Holyhead, I had an interesting conversation with a few girls that were born and raised in Dubai. At the same time an announcement came over the intercom system informing us that there was some quite adverse weather conditions over the Irish Sea where my ferry was due to cross. Some of the ferry services had been cancelled. Luckily, mine was not one of them. It was a massive and unexpectedly fancy cargo ferry, and one would think that it would hold such considerable momentum that choppy weather would not affect its crossing all that much. That just didn't hold true. For the majority of the several hour passage the boat was rolling and pitching with quite unsettling amplitude - cupboards were opening and cleaning gear was rolling around the upper deck - and there were a number of audible and jarring collisions with large waves. It was actually a little scary when my stomach started getting that same sensation that you get on a rollercoaster or when your car dips suddenly on an undulating road.
Rocking aside, the trip went by without too much drama (apart from those that threw up in the stairwell) and after passing through customs we were once again on dry land.