So if you are thinking of heading over to the other side of the world like I am, here's a few things to help you. Get the "backpackerpack" from Backpackerpack.com - it's just under 30 euros and it's really good. You get a map of Australia and a CD of really useful information such as average grocery store prices, dangerous animals to be aware of and help with your Visa application. It's designed for people who are going over on a Working Holiday Visa for 12 months but it's useful for people like me, just going for a couple of months, too.
Apart from that, it's worth checking out workaway.info - sign up for around 20 euro for 2 years and have the ability to search the world for places to work for food and accommodation. Great for people only on a Tourist Visa! (This is how I got the opportunity to work on a horse farm in Italy, which I am going to this Friday- 15/02/13) So yeah, useful for more than just Australia. However I have found that replies from Europe are a lot faster and a lot more positive than those from Australia. The other thing to think about is, you only get as much out of that website as you put it. Make your profile page approachable and write personal messages to Hosts instead of copying and pasting, it get's you a lot further. On average, for every 10 messages I send out, I get replies to about 5 or 6.
A similar website to consider is http://www.wwoof.com.au/ - this one is specifically for Australia, however you also can get country specific websites of the same scheme, e.g. http://www.wwoof.org.uk/ for the UK. I have not actually signed up to this myself as I don't really see the point, having already signed up to workaway, but it is the most commonly spoken about website when travelling to Australia. This can also be used to get a Second Year Visa when on a Working Holiday Visa.
(A Working Holiday Visa can be used once between the ages of 18 and 30, you get 12 months of Australian Sun and you are allowed to get work just as you would in your home country. These days, there is the chance to get a Second year, this is done by doing at least 3 months of voluntary work that wouldn't usually be completed by an Australian Citizen. E.g. WWOOFing or some Workaway!)
Lastly, if you are travelling alone like I am, it might be worth your time to check out Travbuddy.com or www.travel-buddies.com these are websites designed for solo travelers to find people interested in going to the same places that you are; meeting up, sharing advice etc. So yes, obviously you are meeting up with strangers through this, but this can be done safely - be aware of the danger, always meet in a busy place, don't commit to travelling cross-country with them until you've at least spent an hour chatting face to face. But remember that everyone was a stranger once, my best advice is to follow your instincts!
But enough about places I haven't been to yet. Here is a little about Amsterdam that you may not have known about. Dan, Tom and George (people I know through my best friend Abigail) came on a road trip through Amsterdam for a week and we did some exploring.
|Tom, Dan and me|
Apart from the first night, where we all camped in the freezing cold, they stayed at http://www.bobsyouthhostel.nl/ which turned out to be a pretty cool place. Word of warning: they encourage you to draw all over the walls and you can smoke in the common room. So that might be a GREAT place for some, and an AWFUL choice for others. Up to you there.
The Ann Frank Museum is in Amsterdam for those of you who didn't realise. (http://www.annefrank.org/) Now every time I've been past there's a HUGE queue so I've never been in, but one of the guys we met at the hostel said he went on a Tuesday mid-afternoon and the queue was very minimal. So I guess, go at a really random time!
The Sex Museum - you can't go to Amsterdam and not experience the sexual history so you might as well head to the museum. This is probably a good place even for people who don't like museums. http://www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl/index2.html - We went, and it was 4 euros entry, you guide yourself round and although, obviously, it's all about sex, porn and prostitution, I didn't find it sleazy or gross. (There is a section at the end which is a bit more disturbing, but there are warning signs and you don't have to go in) Overall it's very well done. So don't be afraid to check that one out!
The Red Light District. Now I remember the first time I went to Amsterdam properly (with Abigail and Becky in the Summer of 2011), my mum told me that we should avoid The Red Light District, being 17 year old girls. However, it turns out that most of the night life is right along the District, it is perfectly normal for Tourists to be walking down the road. There are a lot of pubs and sights to see, the only thing to avoid is taking pictures of the girls in the windows, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, this is probably because they see it as a threat, you, being a beautiful woman, are on their territory and are distracting their male costumers. This is their job, so be respectful.
That's all for now,