Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Activities since the return...

Not sure if anyone's reading this blog anymore, but since I've been back I've been....
Playing with my pony (hey, I'm unemployed with loads of time and a way too cute pony to play with, what else am I supposed to do? Plus I can actaully ride properly now!)

Photographing Chippy making silly faces...

Finding out that Laurie has turned into a crazy unicorn who likes to drink blood...

Taking my brother's girlfriend for rides and offering to teach her how to...

Bathing Lily (although she tends to just do it herself...)

Watching my mother convert to beastiality (I don't condone it but she can snog who she wants to...)

Making Adam build me an arena so I can make Chippy ridable again...

So basically, a whole lot of horsey stuff! But I can add to that list:
Applying for jobs
Being rejected for jobs
Making Chrissy presents
Looking at Chrissy lights
Catching up with friends
Spending lots of time with my family
Generally being an unemployed slob while I can

On that note, I'm about to go and eat some cheese and bikkies with my mum so adios!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The last week

I'm in Santiago de Compostela and its a sunny but very cold day outside and I've basically 'done' the city in 2 hours so thought I'd keep you updated on my lonesome travels. I was a bit worried I would be lonely in the 5 days that I'm traveling by myself but I've managed to meet some pretty cool people and do some pretty cool things. I woke up the first night here and was about to set out on a day of exploring Santiago on my own when I met an American girl and an Austrian girl who are both here studying Spanish. They said they'd convinced a guy that works at the hostel to drive them to the beach and invited me along. It was beautiful, the beaches very Australian-looking, but with stone ruins and cute little houses. He took us to his house and showed us his beach and then took us out for lunch. He ordered for us, wine, seafood latters, expensive fish and I could see the bill going up before my eyes, but he wouldn't let us pay for it in the end! It must have been 50 euro a head and he payed for all three of us!! He drove us home and we all sat in the hostel drinking and watching movies! Not bad for a first day!! 

Then I met two Brasilian girls who asked me to come to A Coruna with them. Naturally I accepted. It was good to see the touristy side of the city because every time I've been there its not for sightseeing, but bloody hell it was cold! We were caught in a huge gust of wind, hail, rain, and general coldness on more than one occasion, my jeans were soaked, I was cranky and just in that "I hate the cold, I want to go home and have a hot shower and curl up in bed with a movie!" mood! When Carolina's umbrella broke, we decided it just wasn't our day and so returned to Santiago where they took me to a Brasilian retaurant (it always bemuses me when people go overseas and spend the whole time in the community of their own people (Australians in London, Chinese in Sydney and Brasilians in Santiago apparently!). It was actually really traditional Brasilian cooking, which I quite like even though its full of meat and beans! So feeling fat and bloated, we went to the famous Cathedral to watch a free presentation on Santiago (which I struggled with because it was all in Spanish!) and then bid our goodbyes! 

I came back to my room to a Canadian girl who had just moved in and wanted to go have a drink. I really just wanted to sleep but there's no point in being anti-social in situations like this so we went and bought salad and pizza materials and a bottle of wine and had a home-made, semi-healthy dinner, then went to a tapas bar for a drink. Deciding that it was just a horrible night to go out on, we went home and have agreed to go out tonight and sample the tapas of Santiago and find a bar to get sloshed in and drink the cold away! 

Its amazing how friendly people can be when they're traveling. There's no way i would meet people so quickly at home and it helps this last week go by quickly as I wait to fly home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

La Ruta de Ortigueira

Sunday was the day of the St Martin's ruta, a trail ride consisting of more than 200 horses through the town centre to the beach and back. It was basically a parade through the town, consisting mostly of men on stallions with harsh bits, riding in a traditional, but most ridiculous style. You could smell the testosterone in the air. It was like we were about to go to war and the person with the biggest, sweatiest stallion was the most masculine! No one had any control over their horses, mine managed to take off with me on the beach as I was trying to take a photo and it was just a general shambles of a ride. It was fun but I'm glad I wasn't on Chippy because he probably would have had a heart attack over the excitement of it all!

Kenya and I after her bolting on me on the beach

Splashing around

Bootiful boy (the horse, not the man)

Galateya having a stretch

Trotting races, on hard ground, not the best but they've been doing it for years

Chunky boy

The gathering beforehand

The stupid way they ride their horses

Look at the bits - crazy!

Kenya and I. Gumleaves in Spain - hmmm

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is one for Babelfish

Hey 'yall. Here's my effort in Spanish, I wrote it then translated it in Babelfish and couldn't stop laughing for at least 15 minutes. Just goes to show what I've been saying to the locals....

Hola chicas y chicos. Esta noche escribo el blog en Espanol, porque necesito aprender mas Espanol. Ahora estoy en Galicia, Espana. Estoy trabajo con cuarenta caballos. Trabajo seis dias por semana, y un dia tengo una fiesta. En la manana, limpio cuatro o cinco estables, y en la tarde monto dos o tres caballos, dependencia en el tiempo. En Galacia, hay mucha lluvia, yo no gusta. Pero yo gusta de montar todo dia. Este ano, yo viajo por diez meses, pero ahora quiero regresar a la Australia porque quiero mira mi madre y hermano y amigos. Lo siento por error en esta blog. Hasta luego amigos.

In English (according to the ether):

"Hello small and small. Tonight I write blog in Spanish, because I need to learn but Spanish. Now I am in Galicia, Spain. I am work with forty horses. Work six days per week, and a day I have a celebration. In the morning, clean four or five stable ones, and in afternoon amount two or three horses, dependency in the time. In Galacia, there is much rain, I does not like. But I like to mount all day. This anus, I travel by ten months, but now I want to return to Australia because I want sight my mother and brother and friendly. I feel by error in this blog. So long friendly."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some observations on dancing

I love a good dance. It doesn’t take much to get me on the dancefloor but I do require a few pre-requisites. Good tunes need to be blaring at a reasonable decibel level. There’s nothing worse than dancing to music that isn’t positively blowing your ears off. And the mood needs to be right. I’m all for dancing by myself but there needs to be at least one other person dancing so I don’t feel like such a dork. Often is the case that its just Jem and I and the dance floor and I’m quite happy with that, as long as she doesn’t go wondering off leaving me to dance with my imaginary friends, which has also happened.

The Spanish consider themselves wonderful dancers. And they are. They can swing their hips and salsa like no-one else (only usurped by the Brasilians, whom I’m afraid, shit all over the Spanish in the dance-like-a-sexy-beast stakes). I’m often set into a trance watching the girls here move their hips and I try I hard as I can to copy them but I always somehow manage to revert to running man or Bec and I’s “Pendulum dance” which really just consists of a lot of jumping around madly.

BUT, one thing I will say about the Spanish is that they have no versatility. Sure, they look great when dancing to Samba or Salsa or Flamenco, but put them at a Pendulum concert, or in the mosh of Karnivool and they would have absolutely no idea what to do. That is where I come in. I don’t believe I’m a great dancer, and have disappointed many Mexicans/Spanish with my ability to tread all over their shoes when they try to dance with me, but you should see me go at a Chemical Brothers concert! I can switch my dancing style with the change of a tune. I can flick my hair about in a girly fashion to 80’s tunes, I can trance around in my trainers to hardcore techno music, complete with glow-stick arms, I can bang my head with the best of them to Mudvayne and I can roll my body to R’n’B (although I prefer to in jest as I think R’n’B dancing is hilarious and I have learnt most of my moves from Bec’s Eminem-loving-boyfriend, Mitch.) Hell, I can even successfully complete some very tricky boyband moves, I have photo evidence of that below!

Friday night I went to a fiesta that wasn’t particularly pumping, but people were dancing all in a circle, there was about 15 of us and they were all doing the side-step, hip-swinging dance that they all do here, and I was dancing like the band was playing Prodigy. It must have been somewhat of a hit with the local boys because one guy asked me to dance and I downright refused because I know exactly what they do when they dance with you. They take you in a ballroom-like pose and swing you around in a series of twirls and dips and the last time I did that was with my friend Paco in Mexico and it ended with a few feet injuries and us fighting because I wasn’t trying to “embrace the culture” because I refused to dance with him again!!!

So, I may not be able to twirl gracefully in high-heels with a Mexican man, I may not be able to salsa with the Spanish girls, but I think I’ve been able to hold my own in the clubs/concerts/fiestas of more than 16 countries this year, chopping and changing my style man! I’d like to see you do THAT Latin mofos!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Was that a dream?

I began work this morning with one question on my mind….was I dreaming last night or did that actually happen??? (Before you ask mother, my nymphomaniac of a boss isn’t rubbing off on me!!!)

I was on my couch trying to recover from some weird strain of European flu when Michelle (boss) comes in saying “Right, get dressed, we’re going to a Halloween party tonight with a bonfire and they’re all English so you don’t have an excuse.” And she was right. I didn’t.

So I have this vision of a huge bonfire in the middle of provincial Galacia filled with hot English guys and marshmallows and good tunes.

We arrive to be greeted by a couple of about 55 (now don’t get me wrong, I know a fair few fun 50ish year olds and age is no excuse for being truly fucked up), their daughter of 14 years, a German girl who’s married to an English guy with a toddler and English mum and her daughter (28) who are keeping their horse at the yard. So no hot guys. That’s cool, it’ll still be fun.

So we all sit round the table and everyone seems lovely at first. Until I learn that the English couple are full on vegans who don’t let their daughter watch any form of television, believe in alternative horse care (which involves standing in the rain with your ponies in the middle of the night to make them feel better about themselves) and proceed to tell us how they’re going to save the world through happiness and spirituality. A few conversations with the daughter and I realize she’s a nutcase too. She gives us all pieces of paper with which to make Halloween masks (keep in mind everyone at the table but her is over 20) and we’re invited to make them as funny as possible. I proceed to colour in a transvestite dracula, probably not the best thing in retrospect, but she and her mum thought it was “dreadfully naughty har har har!”.

The little girl brings out a platter. “I’ve been waiting all day to bring these out, you’ll positively adore them! Har har!”. On the platter are eyeballs, mice and fingers made out of condensed milk and coconut which is quite cute and clever, I think, until I see the likeness of the mice to tampons! They’re little white finger things with a piece of string coming out of them and Michelle, failing to recognize the resemblance, picks one up and starts sucking and chewing on it “Mmmm, these are lovely!” Hahaha! Laura (28 year old English girl we’ve been hanging out with) looks over at me and we can’t contain our laughter as we’ve both obviously had the same thought! No one else has any idea how hard it is for us not to laugh, because they’re not the type of people to share our humour.

The night hasn’t gotten completely hilarious yet but is doing very badly at keeping her giggles at the ridiculousness of the situation under wraps! I am in somewhat the same situation.

We go outside for a bonfire (actually it was more of a collection of planks slightly burning) and have sparklers lit for us and handed out to us. We all have to write a wish in the sky with them. How lovely. So I ask where the marshmallows are. “Well, marshmallows have gelatin in them so we don’t have any.” Gay!!! If there’s nothing to perve on at least give me marshmallows, Laura and I comment. Meanwhile, we’re trying to find any beer, win, spirits in the vicinity that may be consumed. Nothing.

Next we all go into the barn for a ‘performance’. This sounds interesting! We’re treated to a concert by Dad and child. “This one is one I wrote when I was 7, its about how I’m supposed to grow up straight according to society.” Says the 14 year old, “This one I wrote last year in Spanish, the words are a work in progress so please be patient”. Oh my god! This is bloody hilarious!!! There are cries from the Mum “Oh oh! Sing ‘Life’s a Bitch’, that’s a good one!” I’m looking at Laura and laughing behind my ghost pie! Then, in the middle of the second song, my ears hurting from over-pretentious 14 year old screeching in my ears, I suddenly fall right through my chair!!! Of course, nothing funnier could have happened at this point in time and everyone bursts out laughing and complimenting on my ability to not drop a crumb of apple pie whilst falling through my chair!!! At least the ‘performance’ stopped!!!

One of the funniest nights I’ve had since I’ve been here! Even though all the laughing was at others’ (and my) expenses! Laura and I had a good laugh the next morning and tried to figure out if it in fact was a dream or if it did happen. Too good!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I miss...

Triple J - no other radio station satisfies me on a 24hr scale.

The smell of grass just before a big thunderstorm, its 30 degrees and I'm sitting on the varandah with Mum, Adam and a collection of Dunns

My doggie. I think I started missing her before anything else! Pathetic really!

The ability to make a cup of tea whenever I want

My own bedroom. My own space to chill and where everything is MINE, not shared or open to others....MINE!

A decent hot shower (although ours is not exactly strong, its hot!)

An icy cold Carlton Draught - nowhere but Australia has beer so cold its almost frozen

Champagne - its impossible to get sparkling wine for under $10 anywhere else in the world!

The ability to run when I want and feel safe.

My Mum. I miss her like a limb and I can't wait to give her a massive hug at the airport!

My bro. I miss his silly noises and ability to make me laugh with the most obscure jokes that only a few people seem to get.

People who know me. I'm sick of pretending to like people in order to socialise, I want my own peeps, the friends I've been with for years who I don't have to small talk with, can swear, belch and get ridiculously pissed in front of without them caring.

Family dinners. I miss getting sloshed with the family and eating as much as I possibly can in one sitting. Oz Shnozz - best game in the world!

Soccer. I miss training on Wednesday nights, miss having a kick with my mates down at Roxbourough Park, miss putting on my shin pads for a game.

The RSL - the social meeting place where you're guarenteed to run into people you know.

My clothes. They'll all feel new again by the time I get home.

Heat. I've been to some hot places but none with that excellent close humidity and 35 degrees. I miss going to bed in a wet sarong because its so stinking hot!

My car. I haven't driven in 10 months. I hope I can still drive!!!

Movie nights with Jem. We have an ability to get wasted whilst watching copious amounts of Will Ferrel movies and turning up very hungover to work the next day!

Girly nights (Em would kill me for calling it that!) with my girlz (hehe) eating many a snack

Chocolate Lave Pudding. Oh yeah!

The Fiddler. My local. Coolest place ever - always a good night!

Friday arvo drinkies (does this list involve a lot of alcohol?) when Alicia or Jem or just me and Mum will have champagne and nibbly bits watching the sun go down.

The ranch. I miss my house, the space, the garden, the people, the animals.

Mum's cooking - cheesy veggie bake, beef carpaccio, the awesome salads, tuna mornay, leek and potato soup and the large array of sauces that are presented beautifully for us each night!!!

I can't wait!!! 5 weeks baby!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A few pic from the yard

The stables
Riding in the bush, looks like Australia - good for the homesickness

One of the youngen's, likes to bite a lot
A view of the yard on my way to work

I got headbutted by a 12hh pony - it really hurt!!!

The piste or arena

Me at the yard

The little fuckers who bit me and kicked Michelle

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vida en la hipico

This is an update on my new life as a professional groom and riding student… (sounds impressive huh?) So I live in a 3 bedroom flat about 200m from the yard by myself. It’s quite an impressive place, view of the mountains, fully equipped (with everything except a kettle…grr) but its quite lonely. I keep the TV on to keep me company (all 4 channels in Spanish). Luckily I’m so busy I never really spend much time here. I spend 8am until 8 – 10pm at the yard. My day consists of (you guessed it) a lot of moving large quantities of poo around, riding, drinking coffee, siesta-ing, eating and playing with a gremlin-esque dog called Winnie the Pooh. I’m still getting to know all the horses, I’ve only been here for 4 days, but there’s a great variety of personalities in the yard. Don’t ask me to use all their names cos they’re all in Galego and no native English speaker can pronounce their names without their tongue falling out.

There are a number of young horses (most of which are friggin huge!) who like to bite things (fingers and lead ropes) and are very frolicky and fun. I love young horses because, compared to our two gerries, they are always so excited to see you, greeting you with delighted whinnies and nodding up and down. They a handful when they’re tied up but they always look so beautiful, rearing and pawing the ground, despite the fact that they’re being very naughty. There are 3 foals and a couple of preggaz brood mares, foals are lovely to play with and you have to watch your hair but they’re always up for a playful fight. There’s Ben, the English thoroughbred who’s just been trucked in (looks like Black Beauty, absolutamente bonito!) but has breathing problems and needs to be fed, bathed and cleaned like a newborn.

So after I finish mucking out and putting out and bringing in and checking the fences and sweeping the yard, I get to ride. Today we went on the most beautiful trail ride I’ve ever been on, through little villages in the mountains and with views over the whole valley (I’ll try and get some photos next time). They call a trail ride a ‘ruta’ hehe! Then after that I got on a gun of a horse called Tecal (a steel grey arab/Spanish cross) and had an hour’s jumping lesson. Now there’s something you should now about riding – its not just sitting on a horse. Apparently that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years! No no, riding PROPERLY is all about ‘contact with the inside leg and outside rein’, ‘keeping hands down during transition and switching leg contact’, ‘putting the horse at a jump perfectly straight, fast enough to gain momentum and slow enough to maintain control’ and some of this comes at me in Spanish!!!

My first lesson I almost came off because I was leaning forward too far over the jump and I think Tecal can sense I’m not a jumper and freaks out at the last minute! I’m only going over 80cm – 1m jumps and I’m struggling! I’m using muscles I’ve never used before and I’m absolutely buggered after half an hour of riding. I think everyone things I’m a massive amateur but even after 3 lessons I’ve learned so much! And not only about riding, I’ve witnessed a ‘pregnancy check’ (basically a man sticking his hands up a horse’s shoofter), an attempted foal weaning, learnt how to tie multitudes of safety knots, alternative horsemanship like bit-less bridles and countless (possibly useless) information on the performance on different breeds and the best way to approach them. Imagine what I’ll learn after 6 weeks!!! It is hard work, I have blisters on my riding fingers and they’re getting infected and sore, I have bruises from the wheelbarrow and I am homesick, but this is such an amazing experience and I really think I will be glad I did this. I feel a sense of accomplishment doing this, like I’m not just touring the touristy cities and seeing things everyone else sees, I’m tailoring the holiday to me and what I like. Michelle my trainer is taking me to a fiesta in town tonight which should be interesting (especially working the next day!), so I somehow think this intended diet will have to wait until I get home. But I’m hoping I still feel so optimistic after a few more weeks!!!s

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bathelona baby

What an eventful city. So far, after being in Barcelona for 5 days, we’ve witnessed an attempted suicide by an obviously drug-fucked woman with a broken bottle, a guy who’d been stabbed and was bleeding all over the pavement (both in the middle of the main street), a Barcelona game at Camp Nou, one of the most amazing football stadiums in the world (see its not all blood and violence Mum!), a large array of awesome street busking which puts Circular Quay to shame, a cooking class in which we were taught how to make tapas, sangria and paella and numerous ciders and kebab consumption in the city pubs and bars. So everyone keeps going on about how dangerous Barcelona is, but touch wood we haven’t had any troubles yet. We’re pretty alert about our belongings but I haven’t seen anyone who looks completely dodgy yet. There were thieves lurking around while we were doing our cooking class apparently but I think they aim for the stupid white-socked tourists who carry all their money around with them in bumbags and cameras slung around their necks! We’ve seen a lot of crazy shit here but strangely I don’t feel like I’m personally in any danger, even at a crowded football match or in the underground stations.

Unfortunately I can’t upload photos onto blogger for some reason but I’ll try and put them up in the next hostel. I’m so glad we decided to stay in Barcelona longer than first intended, although it’s not the most attractive city we’ve been to, its certainly eventful! We’ve met heaps of people here, Americans, Germans, more Aussies and a few locals as well which has provided us with much entertainment (more-so because of the wonderful way they lisp when they talk!!!)

So it turns out they don’t actually speak Spanish here. Well they do, but the main language is completely different, it sounds more Portuguese to me, and it also turns out that nowhere that I’m going on this trip has Spanish as their main language! I’ve been conversing as much as I can in Spanish but I don’t think I’m going to pick up a great deal here. But at least I can get around with basic words and numbers.

The great thing about Spain is that everyone does everything about 4 hours later than the times I’m used to. No one rises before midday and everything is open until about 10pm so you can start the day a lot later and not feel like you have to get up early in the morning! It’s a bit hard for Bec who is an automatic 8am riser, but I’m adapting quite nicely!!! We’re going to a film festival in Sitges tonight (http://www.cinemasitges.com/uk/) at a beach a little south of here that’s supposed to be really cool so that should be fun. We’re meeting up with our friend Braddles on Wednesday which will be fantastico because I haven’t seen him in 8 months and its always good to see a person from home that you can catch up with. So that’s a brief account of recent events.

Hasta luego amigos, stay tuned for photos!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Random thoughts of the day

Just a few random words tonight. We've managed to find a hostel in Barcelona with really good internet (the Spanish know how to do it!) and I've also swapped a few movies with the owner of the hostel who has a crazy powerful and spanking new mac in his office so I'm quite happy that all my affairs are up to date! We've been shopping like crazy today, no matter how hard we try we just can't keep away from Zara! I don't know why they don't have it in Australia, it would go off! We're going to the beach tomorrow and then learning how to cook (and hopefully pronounce...) paella! So in two weeks time I will have to say goodbye to Bec which will be really sad and embark on the last part of my journey at an equestrian centre which I'm a little apprehensive about. I know its not going to be anything like what I experienced in Dorking, but I'm still worried I'm going to get the homesickness I seem to get when I'm in the same place for too long on my own (without people I know of course...). I'm very excited that I'll finally learn how to jump properly (on a horse, not on my own, although I am fairly retarded in the jumping side of things) not that I can really use it for anything, but I guess its like riding a bike...

The other thing I'd like to randomly mention is the difficulty I seem to be having in picking up Spanish again (gaudium de lingua you may appreciate this). In south america, it was not an effort to pick up the language, it just happened because you had to learn to speak the basics or you didn't eat (or you ate something you just pointed at which usually turned out to be bread with cheese...). It was a smooth process and at the end of a couple of months you find yourself ordering almost anything in another language and you're a little bit chuffed! I know Barcelona is a touristy city but so many times I've been asking people questions in Spanish and they reply in English! Bec's finding people automatically speaking Spanish to her because she has the latin looking complexion, but me with my "english rose" skin - why will no one speak Spanish to me? Its as if they see me coming - a gringo wanting to learn a few words while I'm here for a couple of months, and they just don't even bother obliging me from the start! I'm hoping it gets a little more cultural in the smaller cities but at this rate I'll learn nothing at all!

Oh well, even if I did pick up more Spanish, I'd come home and forget it all anyway. I know its a defeatist attitude but the dream of being multi lingual without the accompanying effort is fading away everyday.... Come on latino man of my dreams who will subsequently teach me the language and produce bilingual children with me!! Now where's that cute hostel owner with his fancy puter.........bye!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Vrgada Boat Tour

We have just docked from a fan-bloody-tastic cruise around the Dalmatia Coast. I was a little bit worried it would be a contiki-esque porn fest but it turned out to be full of girls, 5 of whom Bec and I got on famously with! Well, we didn’t really have a choice, there were 25 girls and 6 guys (2 of them single) so it was time to accept the girl bonding sessions which actually worked out not as painful as I first thought. These girls are exactly like us. They like to eat, they’re not the type to go out until all hours of the morning unless its worth it, they like antipasto picnics on top of mountains (one of our adventures in Hvar) and we even formed an all girl boy band called Buoyz. Just one of those jokes that forms out of nowhere and seems to keep going, but I think we do a pretty good job of being the Nick Carters and Robbie Williams of the world!

My personal favourite island was Hvar, but not for the reasons I thought. I was told to go there because it’s the party island and there is heaps to do there but we docked quite late and so had an impulse picnic up near the castle overlooking our boat (amongst some lovely super yachts, mind you, which some of the girls on our boat managed to sweet talk their way onto!). Most of the clubs closed early or were not open at all due to the fact that in Croatia “summer has finished” and therefore also any social life that may have some with it, but most of us were too buggered from doing nothing all day on the boat to care!

We were almost evacuated from Mljet due to a huge bushfire so close to the town that we were a little bit scared… but most people kept on drinking in the bars anyway and we managed to survive so it was all good!!!

We tried the cuisine at every stop (yes, gelato is part of Croatian cuisine….) and managed to get some lovely seafood dishes with bizarre looking squid and other delicacies.

We were treated to some beautiful sunsets at most ports and the general atmosphere was so relaxed and chilled out that I’m really struggling to get back into the usual hectic pace of traveling!

We’re off to Barcelona this week and going to a football game in Camp Nou (apparently a big game against Atletico Madrid) so I shall update you more in terms of photos then.

Sorry guys, that’s all I have time for today, the internet in Croatia is ridiculously expensive and I feel ripped off and abused as I type!!

Ciao amigos, hasta luego!

Bec kicked our Nemo ball into the water but there was a round of applause from the surrounding boats when it came floating back to us...
Our picnic in Hvar, nice spread!
Turret bar on Korcula, we are sitting in front of a huge hole that drops down to the ocean!

The boating life is hard...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We are blessed.

(Prepare for the longest running sentences you will encounter).

Trieste was supposed to be a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the many cities we have faced on our awesome, but not altogether smooth running holiday. A quiet little coastal town, so close to Slovenia, it was selected by Clare and Rebecca (advanced travelers and frequent Euro train and bus patrons, and therefore complete experts on the subject (!)), as the perfect place to position ourselves for a one day visit to a set of caves so thoroughly researched and longed for by Rebecca, otherwise known as Skojan Caves.

After being directed to a set of caves in Slovenia, which unbeknownst to us were in fact a DIFFERENT set of caves to the ones we were intending to visit (one would probably deduce with the help of basic high school geography, that an area known for its amazing underground rivers and rock structures would MOST LIKELY boast more than one set of caves…our bad), a detour was in order to redirect to the RIGHT caves, a fairly expensive venture in terms of both time and money (deep breaths).

We eventually arrived at the caves at 4pm (having left Trieste at 10am…need I say more about the apparent reliability of the “when in Rome” sentiment – never believe the locals, even if they don’t know how to get somewhere they WILL make it up…).

Despite this costly mishap, we had a lovely afternoon in the humid 12 degree depths, the walking path that descends more than 170m underground and winding through stalagmites and stalegtites was lined (romantically enough..) with small lantern lights – a truly breathtaking scene. Bec managed to hit the nail that is her fear of heights right on the head by traversing a bridge high enough to make even the non vertigo sufferer’s knees like jelly (ahem, me…). I felt much like I imagine Shmeagle (to be said in a slimy bubble-in-the-throat tone) would, surrounded by a constant, yet not creepy dripping sound, followed by the rush of an underground river and still-live stalagmites/tites that resembled various amimalia figures. A river enters outside these caves and flows underground until it re-emerges somewhere in Italy. They were in fact the most amazing caves I’ve ever seen and you’ll have to take my word for it due to the stingyness of the Slovenians whom prevented any photo taking…

Aaaaaanyway, after our nice little sojourn, we walk to the station closest to the caves as apparently the free shuttle service finishes before the last tour (go figure). This was no mean feat by the way, we miraculously managed to choose the right path despite some very ambiguous directions and distinct lack of signage (and with some help from a young man from Colorado called Charlie). We catch a train to Sezana, according to the cave people, this is the way to get to Trieste. To our complete and unpleasant surprise, we are told that the next train to Trieste departs at 4am! After trying to decipher the conversation of a few train conductors (most likely trying to get the younger man of the group to give us a lift to Trieste in the hope of being paid in kind…) we refused to give up and walked to the Autostazione and managed (with some more help from a lovely Dutch bus driver) to decipher another sign (in Italian – go Clare and her universal language skills!) that there is in fact a trial bus that began less than a month ago, leaving in half an hour to Trieste! There is a God despite my previous beliefs! After confirmation from a cute Italian man donning cereal in bulk, our elation is well and truly set in.

IN ADDITION (oh yes my avid blog readers, there IS MORE), not only were we really getting home on wing and a prayer, the bus trip set us back a whole 1 euro, 6 euro cheaper than the fare there…and so the vision of us sleeping on a train platform in the tiny town of Sezana, surrounded by seedy Slovenian train conductors until 4am, is vanquished! Hooray!!

So despite the constant obstacles that seemed to present themselves way more often than any obstacle should, we were unbelievable relieved to have stumbled on this accidental method of travel home with a king sized bed, pepsi machines and a roof over our heads waiting for us in Trieste.

We are truly blessed. I’m becoming a Catholic again. (Figure of speech only…don’t get excited Grandma…)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

From Munich with Love

I’m currently on a train to Rothenburg ob de Tauber which is rather exciting, not because its such a cute little town, but because it has an awesome Christmas shop and Bec and I are so into shiny things and all things festive! Munich is pretty cool but we haven’t had time to explore it very well yet because we missed 2 free tours, one because of my bum steer in the opposite direction to where we were supposed to meet (I know, it wasn’t Bec this time!) and secondly, because we didn’t give ourselves enough time to get to the main square! We did, however, manage to get to the truly kitsch but slightly amusing Glockenshpeil, a clock in the main square with rotating figures and nice bells! The hostel is really cool and I’m glad to have a decent WIFI connection for a change because we’ve exhausted our collection of Shameless seasons and need to download series 3 before we get withdrawl symptoms!

When I first stayed in hostels, it really didn’t bother me how much noise people made, how much mess they made or the things they did but I think its slowly starting to get to me. Last night I opened a window to let some fresh air in and some girl came and closed it after I’d gotten into bed. Now, I can understand that people would want to close curtains, but why would anyone want to be in a room with no oxygen coming in? It never used to bother me that people don’t like windows open but now I’m longing for my own room where I can have the window wide open! I come from a household where doors and windows are always open (sometimes in winter too) and there is never a feeling of mustiness or claustrophobia. I know some people obviously don’t live like this, but its driving me crazy that I can’t dictate my own living conditions. I’m fine having other people in my room, but I like to have a shower when I want, open all the windows and not have to trek 2 floors everytime I want a cup of tea.

Its not driving me crazy to the point where I want to come home, but I will be so grateful for my own bed, a strong shower and my own living space when I get home. Mum, you say that you think I’ll want to move out when I get home to have my own living space, but if anything being at home is ten times better than living with other people who don’t share your lifestyle. I think living at home for a few months will be blissful!! (As long as I get my car and computer back!!!)

Here are a few photos to show you what we’ve been up to in the last week or so.

Flowers are fun

And oh so sweet smelling!

Beautiful Praha from the top of a hill

No European city would be complete without icecream!

Getting on the Caiparinas in some South American bar!

Bec playing marbles in a random competition we found. She was the only Australia representative.