Uptown Girl Abroad

Our girl about town has taken off. She still love shoes, shopping and the odd drink. Now she's added a backpack and a traveller's budget. Catch up with Alana Dixon as she becomes Uptown Girl Abroad.

Car-hire ripoff sours otherwise cool view of Iceland

05:00am 12 Apr 2014

UPTOWN

Before I left on my OE, I didn't think I was very intrepid.

To be fair, that assumption was largely correct - especially if the criteria is restricted to visiting war zones or going hitch-hiking.

And yes, given the choice, I would choose a sumptuous king- size bed in a hotel room with a view over a squeaky bunk in a dorm.

But I feel I should get some kudos: No matter how small, I'll claim it.

Going travelling is a constant learning experience, and I'm pleased to say I've advanced beyond rookie tourist.

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Lingo key to making friends

05:00am 05 Apr 2014

ALANA DIXON

With such limited time in Europe, holders of a two-year working holiday visa are easily sucked into bouncing from one country's big-name destination to another.

And while that's fabulous - here's looking at you, Barcelona - there's so much beyond the places found in your On a Shoestring.

The Bearded One and I are planning a weeks-long road trip around Europe, part of which will take in some of Poland's bigger centres.

But after a friend raved about it, Mark organised a group to head to Gdansk.

The town on the Baltic coast was a place I knew only from old textbooks as the flashpoint of WWII - and only as Danzig, where a group of post office workers defended the building against invading Nazi soldiers and some of the war's first shots were fired.

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Living in London means learning to say goodbye

05:00am 29 Mar 2014

ALANA DIXON

The scourge of the Kiwi in London isn't the lack of freely available Watties sauce.

It isn't even Infernos in Clapham. (Hangover-stricken expats are likely howling in protest at this as we speak.)

No, the scourge of the Kiwi in London is the never-ending churning of visa expiration dates.

The ebb and flow of life in the UK means you constantly find yourself saying goodbye to mates - mates from back home, mates you've known just three months - all people you share memories of what will be the most nostalgia-inducing years of your life, when you're in the mortgage slog.

(If you're lucky.)

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Watch out: sensory overload outside

05:00am 24 Mar 2014

ALANA DIXON

If you hadn't already guessed, I'm not exactly one of life's Great Outdoorsmen - and not just because I'm missing a key appendage.

               ABOVE: Beautiful landscapes in Iceland

It's on my agenda, but I haven't tramped the Routeburn.

I'm a decent swimmer, but so far my plans to learn to surf have been all talk.

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A glimmer of hope

05:00am 15 Mar 2014

ALANA DIXON

The success rate wasn't good, but we crossed our fingers anyway.

One of the men I work with had no luck.

Our flatmates didn't see them either.

Then, a glimmer of hope: the week before Mark and I were set to visit Iceland, another friend got a glimpse of the ever-elusive Northern Lights.

Much had been made, in the travel pages of the paper and in weekly deal emails, of 2014's (alleged) viewing ripeness.

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