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Sunday, 20 May 2012


Hey everyone!

It's 4 days until we leave!!! Shit!

It's funny because it doesn't feel like it at all for me or for Sam. I've done all but two of my exams; Sam's been working ridiculously hard (at the time of writing I think he's had about 2 hours sleep in the last week?!) and he's reaching the climax of his workload. And I think that this other stuff that's going on is the thing that has stopped us from freaking out. It's like our brains are making sure that we only focus on the next thing that has to be done, whether it be an exam or some architecture-computer-modellling-rendering-designing thing, so that we don't completely lose our minds.

Which is funny, because my last exams and Sam's last assessment thing are on the Tuesday 22nd, which gives us exactly 2 days to mentally prepare ourselves for over a month's worth of hectic travelling.

Well that's going to be fun.

In the meantime, we (when I say 'we', I mean mostly 'I' because Sam has been slacking... *chuckle*) have made quite a few preparations for our trip - buying/lending the stuff that we need, transferring money between ourselves, booking things and constantly updating the list of things that we need to take with us. So for this post, I thought I'd just give you all an update of what we've been up to.

Oh, and if any of you have any clever ideas of things that we should do/take that you think might have escaped us, hit us in the comments. Because it's quite likely that we've missed something completely essential, like clothes... (don't worry, they're on the list).

Ok, so firstly I'll talk about the various objects we've acquired.

We have 2 large rucksacks. I had one at home already and we've been given another one to take with us. These are the two bags we'll be living out of, so let's hope they're good! We will also be taking two smaller bags with us so that we can leave our massive rucksacks in the hostel and just take the things we need with us if we want to.

I bought a really good European-to-British plug adapter off Amazon - it has four slots!!

We have a tent which we will use if we are staying anywhere without hostels. It packs away to quite a small size and is very light too, which is good for reducing the weight of our luggage:

In case we do not have access to laundry facilties (although hopefully the vast majority of hostels will have them) we have some liquid detergent and some handy travel-sized detergent so that we can hand-wash our clothes in a sink if we have to. Not ideal, I know, but it's there if we need it!

Right, and here's when I have an embarrassing confession to make. Yesterday I went out and bought loads of batteries for our digital cameras, including rechargable ones, pictured here:

I bought this, another pack of 4 rechargable batteries to go with it and 16 more non-rechargable batteries. I thought that, considering the amount of photos we would be taking, buying this many would make sure that we would have enough.

However, I literally just realised, in the process of creating this post, that my camera has its own battery that charges VIA PLUG SOCKET OR USB.


I can't believe I spent £11 on high-quality batteries, most of which we will not use during our trip. In fact Sam's camera uses four batteries, so I could have just bought the thing in the picture for £5 and that would have probably been enough!!! Oh dear. Well at least they're something that we can actually use at home anyway so it hasn't been a complete waste. Still, I'm an idiot. Next time Sam can do the fucking shopping.

Finally, a couple of other little bits that we got were two small padlocks (for our rucksacks when we leave them in the hostels, for added security) and some pocket-sized sanitizer gel that we can wash our hands with quickly.

Oh, and I also bought some new noise-cancelling headphones recently seeing as my previous ones were deteriorating rapidly. I had to keep twisting them in the socket so that music wasn't just playing out of one earphone, it was like tuning a radio. That would have got very annoying very quickly on the trip. So yay for good music!


Now let's talk about the money situation.

I can't remember if I've said already (I can't be bothered to check) but the money we are taking with us will be on a card, so we've had to transfer all of our money into the account linked with that card. In total, we budgeted roughly £3000 as the cost of the whole trip. £1300 of that has already been spent on our flight out to Spain, our InterRail tickets and our travel insurance, so recently we've been transferring about £1700-£2000 into the account.

Only Sam and Mum are authorised to transfer money to the account, so a couple of weeks ago I had to undergo the arduous task of transferring £1500 to Sam from my account. I have never let go of such a large amount of money before in my life, let alone to Sam. I almost died.

Thankfully, I'm pretty sure all the money's there now. We had to wait for cheques to be processed and stuff too, which was annoying, but now it looks like the money side of things is all sorted out. If you wait for blog post #15, though, I'm sure there will be some story about how we've lost all of our money for your entertainment.


In the last post, I said that we're not going to book any trains before we leave. However, there is one train which we've had to book as it's an important part of our journey and is very popular amongst tourists, so we had to make sure we reserved our seats way in advance.

This is the Glacier Express, a scenic train which travels through the Swiss Alps. It travels between Zermatt, where the Matterhorn is located, to St. Moritz in the east of Switzerland. Here is a map:

As described on the Glacier Express website, "It is a day trip through untouched mountain landscapes, glamorous health resorts, deep gorges, delightful valleys, 91 tunnels and across 291 impressive bridges." Here's a picture of the train in its natural environment:

As you can hopefully see, the carriages have MASSIVE windows which allow you to see a lot of the landscape.

So this is something we're really looking forward to, and another bonus was that we were able to print out our tickets, so it was easy to organise. Suddenly all my ranting about trains in the last post seems a bit unfounded!


Finally, I'll show you a SIMPLIFIED version of the list of stuff to take which me and Sam have been updating:

Jack's phone, fully charged
Jack's iPod and plug-in charger
Sam's iPhone and cable USB
Digital Cameras and SD-USB adapter
Netbook and charger
Batteries and charger
Eng-Eur adapter
Sam's 8GB USB stick

(All the usual stuff, plus sun cream, insect-repellent wipes and pocket sanitizer)

Money stuff:
Card, 100 euros cash

Holiday itinerary
InterRail tickets
Glacier Express e-tickets
(All with photocopies)

(This part of the list is massive; I'll spare you the boredom of reading it)

Sleeping bags

Sketchbook and pencils
Padlocks for bags
Hand-wash detergent

As you can see, in terms of a computer, we are just taking my netbook. This is for a number of reasons: Sam's MacBook is heavy and if he loses it, IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD. Seriously. Also my netbook is light, small and can cope with the stuff we'll be using it for. And if it gets lost, we can cope.

You can also see that we are both taking our mobile phones. Mine is purely for emergencies and will be off almost the whole time. Sam's iPhone has some useful apps on it and will be good for quick internet browsing, however he will disconnect it from the phone network when we get to Spain. So this is a good time to remind you all, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TEXT OR CALL US WHEN WE ARE AWAY!!! If you need to get in touch, email is the best way.


Right, so you should be pretty much up to date now! I can't believe how close we are, I can even check the weather for Madrid while we're there. At the moment it's saying 25 degrees and completely sunny the whole time we're there, so that's nice. Not like I'm rubbing it in your faces or anything.

Actually, it looks like the weather's turning much better here just as we leave. Typical!

But anyway, I think I'm going to do one more post before we leave, and that will be on Wednesday, the day before, probably late in the evening. That will be the mega, adrenaline-fuelled, crazy, last-minute packing post, which I'm sure will give you plenty of entertainment. For us: stress. For you: enjoyment.

So until then, adios!

Jack - 20/5/12 - 16:47

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