Friday, August 18, 2006

One other thing that I've started recently was to invest my money in the stock market. London Stock Exchange. So, I invested in 3 companies and right after confidently putting my money into them, their stock plummeted. It's not a comfortable position, because you're expecting to make money, not to lose them. But that's the stock market, it's a long term investment thingy. And overall, on the long run, it outperforms other means of investment, like dull saving accounts.

And of course, I have a special fund for speculative investments. And let me tell you that right after the terror allert, that foiled bomb plot, what did I do? I invested into British Airways, as everyone was chickening out and their shares were free falling.
6 days after buying, I sold and made a profit of 105 pounds.
If I had waited 2 more days, I would have made 600 pounds. I'm pulling my hair out at the moment. But still, it goes to the archive of successful stories, just that it could have been roughly 6 times more successful had i had some more patience.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

As I didn't write anything lately, a lot of things happened lately, so I hope I'll earn your pardon without necessarily begging for it. I moved place, I can be found in New Cross now. New Cross is much better than the previous area, Elephant & Castle, a very cosmopolitan area (I wasn't the only white there, but barely), quite a rough area where regularly you could see signs "Someone was murdered here 2 weeks ago, we're appealing for witnesses". Well, living on the edge, a tumultuous youth. Nah, it's not as bad as it sounds. I lived there for 2 years and nothing happened to me there. But it was time for something quieter and lower profile. Enter New Cross.

I have 2 train connections to and from London Bridge, from New Cross and Deptford train stations. It's 5-8 minutes to London Bridge. From there, tube for about 5-8 minutes more, 2 stops on the Northern Line and I'm in the City. The City is a one square mile area in the heart of London. Door to door, it takes me about 30-35 minutes, once you start to account for delays, walks, etc. Not bad.

I also took a week in Greece with Chris, her uni friend and her uni friend's sister. The trip started with some glitches on the way ... we forgot one bag at home, so had to return to collect it. Then we got hit with extra 18 pounds, ticket difference as we landed in the 1st class on the Stanstead train. I wouldn't pay as the only difference between 1st and 2nd was the number and the pretence of more comfort. But a little scum ticket controller followed us after we left the train, threatening us with all sorts of crap. I decided to pay as we were late for the flight and he had our return tickets. Wanker!

We should have guessed by then that the trip will be pigmented with all sorts of misunderstandings...

Now that I got your attention... let's talk about something else... :-)

Ok, so Athens was good, we were driven around and showed places by Chris' uni friend. We stayed at her place. Athens is a crammed place but it's mainly made of houses, no more than 2 storeys, not the 13-storeys block of flats that sometimes sore the eye in London or other places, signs of a forgotten era.

We went to Acropolis, Parthenon, unfortunately it was cordoned off. It's all due to the minority of irresponsible travellers (or locals) that like to immortalise their names on pieces of national heritage, that all the old landmarks are cordoned off, you have to see them from a safe distance. So you guessed it, my name is not on the Parthenon. :-)

We also walked a bit around Athens which seems a bit crammed, the space being used very pragmatically.

On a monday morning, waking up at the early hours, squinting, we took a ferry boat from Pireus which holds the honour of being Athens' port. The 6 hours journey to Sifnos was boring at least. I also hated being in a smoking lounge. Which leads to one of my most serious complaints about Greece and greeks. They're heavy smokers and they smoke like old locomotives from the Industrial Revolution. Almost everyone there smokes and sometimes without consideration. I looked in the smoking lounge, there were mothers with little kids. How can they keep them in that smoky place? There's a sort of ignorance about smoking, with people lighting up while you still eat. There's a need of a major shake-up. The price of a cigarette packets being 2.80 euros doesn't help either. It's very affordable. In the UK it's 4.50 - 5 pounds. That works out around 7-8 euros per packet. And from next year, London pubs and restaurant will be smoke free as a ban will be enforced.

Sifnos is an island part of the Cyclades group of islands, along side Mykonos, Santorini, Milos (Venus of Milos anyone?). It's a rocky and dry archipelago, not much vegetation, which is also the case for southern Greece (I would assume). All the houses are painted in white, with narrow streets and people sometimes just lying on the porch enjoying what (I'm sure I'd convinced you by now) must be the national hobby: smoking.

It's still a touristy place, but not yet discovered by the cohorts of mass tourists coming down on a dirt cheap package deal and pissing on the place. Most tourists there were greek.

There are some sandy beaches, narrow though, but still ok. There are also some rocky shores where you can dive, even enjoy a bit of snorkelling as I did. The sea is very salty, much saltier than the Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean, for some reason. Hopefully it's not because people piss more in the Mediterranean :-)

Unfortunately our program wasn't an exact overlap with the program of our greek hosts. They were mostly waking up around 1pm and going to bed at 3am, after a bit of clubbing, or the pretence of it. The lack of adventure was also a major difference, as we were hoping to explore every corner of the island while our hosts were more conservative, choosing places they knew already. We soon fell off grace with each other over the differences. The last days unfortunately were quite tensioned and we were thinking of "how the hell can we get out of here".

Morale of the story: Always travel with people with the same travel ideas, same expectations roughly. Alternatively, go on your own! :-)

Some pics from Greece are coming up.

The food in Greece is good, the greek salad with feta cheese is omnipresent and other delicacies. The food is a bit fat. No wonder the greek men are the fattest in Europe, according to statistics.

Ok, enough about Greece. Once coming back, I realised I had to go again to the gym. Said and done. Me, Chris and Roberto we're all subscribed by now to a local gym, quite good, new equipment, air conditioned, no smells. We'll see how that goes.

We've also seen 2 films, as we felt bad about not using our film cards. We saw Cars and Monster House, both animation films. Cars is a very good film I thought, I liked it. Recommended. Monster House is an animation horror film. It's not for kids, although being an animation film. The animation I thought was very good, especially when it came to people movement and facial expressions etc. but the film failed to impress me much.

That's about it for now...