Monday, September 26, 2011

Hej hej!

Oooh I do love Europe and I have only seen Germany and small parts of Sweden so far.  GEEZ.  There is so much to see and do, it's just a completely different world to Australia.
Even though I am on the other side of the world, when I first arrived I didn't get a big culture shock.  I never got off my first train, or first plane and freaked out.  I never really get jetlagged or feel overwhelmed.  It's just sort of... natural.

I must thank everyone for their kind words, love and support regarding my last post.  It was a very small hiccup on my trip, as disappointing as it is - it has happened for a reason.  Mum is right, she said 'darl, he's done you a favour'  He certainly did.  So, thank you again for all your love, I am ok.  I am using my alone time, (while Uncle Adam is at work) to research and organise my new itinerary.  So hopefully by tomorrow I will have a fairly good idea on whats going on.  I will be working in my trip, to come back to Sweden for a Halloween Party my Uncle and his parter Amy, will be hosting.  Anyone that knows me would know there is no way I'll miss a good party, especially with the opportunity to dress up. My rule: Dressing up means messing up.  Goodbye inhibitions.

Adam met me at the train station 9pm Friday in Hyllie. It was so easy to get here from Berlin, surprisingly. It never felt like 8hrs travel!  I have to tell you, the train from Hamburg (north Germany) to Copenhagen... it goes onto a Ferry. YES that's right the train was on a boat!   Upon the Ferry there's restaurants and duty free shopping.  I had dinner, a schnitzel with chips and some Aussie wine.

On my first night, I was shown to my room, which is my cousin Marcus's bedroom. A batman bed, just what I always wanted! Just a few glasses of wine and some catching up before bed.

Hölvikken is a cute little town in the South of Sweden just a short stroll from the shores of the Baltic Sea.  Through these parts are farming towns.  Sugar beets, onions, potatoes, wheat all grow here, among other things , I am sure to hear about.   Everyone rides bikes everywhere, just like in Germany.  It is so flat and everyone is so close by, a car is not necessary unless heading into Malmö for shopping, working or nights out.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride then took  a drive into Malmö.  I purchased a winter jacket (winterjack!).  Knowing that Scandanavia would be the best place to get one.   It's getting bloody cold here, and winter hasn't even hit. 
On our drive home we picked out own Corn! Yep, went to a Cornfield (Children of The Corn, E.T or Signs never crossed my mind...)   
I met  Adams Australian friend, Chappy.  Chappy has been here for about 25years, married to a Swedish woman.  He is a 40 something, crazy haired, chatty, happy, crazy, full-steam-ahead kind of a guy.  I imagine there is never a dull moment when Chappy is around.  After meeting him for 10 minutes he was already trying to organise for me a job, a car and friends!  God love him.
That night we baked an Apple crumble and cooked up and ate our hand picked corn, with chicken, fried polenta, salad and a few glasses of red wine and sat watching Big Bang Theory. 
Sunday I got to uploading my photos of Germany to facebook while Adam mowed the lawn.  We then took a drive out to his Vineyard in Trelleborg.  It is gorgeous.  A Vineyard that sits out the back of a restaurant / B&B.  I tasted the grapes, so yummy.  We cooked dinner, more yummy corn of course.  More wine, duh!  And then went for a night ride at 9.30pm we set off with frozen faces for about half an hour.  I have to laugh, I am too short for the bikes.  Everyone rides them so high!  I am trying to get used to my feet not touching the ground.  I nearly stacked it the other day trying to stop and push off, right in front of a car full of people.  I think I made their day, I would have looked like a massive dork.

Anyways, back to the trip planning. Big love to you all
Red Grapes

Green grapes

Adams Vineyard

dork in a vineyard

Sun setting behind a Cheiftan burial mound

Saturday, September 24, 2011

day follows night

So. Here I am. I'm aboard a train to  Sweden, via Copenhagen. On my own.
Let me tell you something. People come into our lives for a reason. Some amazing, blessed beautiful people.  Some you may consider just plain bad and wouldn't pee on them if they were on fire.  Then a few in between.
I like to think that most of the people that enter my life are from the first option.  I believe it! All of you, family, friends, readers. Have all touched my heart - hence why we're connected.

Then sometimes people enter your life and put a foul taste in your mouth.  They take advantage of you, your kindness, your spirit, your heart.  They are selfish.  They exist!  But we do not need to attract then into our existence.  If, for whatever reason you have attracted one of these people, like I have, well we need to look at the reason why. Why did this person enter my life, put vinegar onto a wound, a wound that was never there in the first place? Ouch.

Where am I going with this? Stay with me folks I'm getting there.

So my travel buddy, most of you are aware who this is.  He is not who I thought and hoped he'd be. Not a companion to tour Europe with, not a comrade to drink wine with, not a friend to rely on. Not a human being with respect, responsibility or resolve in their being.  He has what I would call an underdeveloped mind and devoid of emotion. Not able to communicate like an adult. No compromise, no discussion, nothing. Nothing but a passive-agressive, immature, irresponsible behaviour that has truly saddened and disappointed me. 

Stay with me guys...

This person has in 1.5 weeks, stayed out drunk and not returned home 3 times. I worry, he has a dead phone battery twice, then the third time actually lost the phone. I do worry, this is a normal emotion to have for a friend, especially when we are over the other side of the world.  Apparently if the roles were reversed, he wouldn't worry. Awesome!

Yesterday evening, we were separated again, not a big deal, it was early still. But when I did see him I asked if he was organising another phone to which he simply says no.  I explain why I think its necessary, trying to discuss the importance of us needing to be there for eachother while we are in foreign lands for the next 2 months. Explaining we need to back eachother up and watch out for eachother. He has no responses, passive-agressive, unable to communicate.  I get one response I dont know what the big deal is, girls travel alone all the time.  Wow. I agree, yes they do but I am new to this, I'm not other girls, I say he isn't comprehending anything I've been saying.  If I was happy to travel alone, I would have done it by now. He says: did you want to go out tonight? Me: no thank you I'll be ok.  He then sprays himself with deodorant, walks out without a word, no goodbye - nothing.  I am shocked, what just happened? Are we children in a sandpit and I just stole his truck, so he storms off? I cry wondering who this person is, why am I travelling with someone that doesn't care?  I cry, upset with confusion and fear.

He doesn't return.

When I wake next morning he is there sleeping, I shower, change and get ready. He does not wake although I saw his eyes peek open. I head downstairs to use the internet for one hour. Go back up to wake him and he's gone. Bags, bed linen, everything.  He's checked out, without a word, not bothering to come and speak to me. He would have seen me at the computer when he checked out. I have no words.  I  shakily pack my bag, and check out. I waited another hour downstairs, I was there until midday - still nothing.  I speak to my Uncle Adam, my Godfather.  We agree best thing for me to do is make way for Sweden asap.  I've resigned myself to the fact I've been abandoned.  This person who has let me down and left me behind is no friend. This persons actions are a disgrace. Who would ever do this? What would a person have done to be treated so?

Well all I can do is pick myself up. Find strength, it does exist it me.  Sometimes I just deny it's there. We all do.  I can continue my journey, I can make this worth my while.  I have the faith, people have faith in me and I have my Angels.

So from this experience. I learn, I am strong, I am smart, I am capable. I had reservations about trusting and travelling with this person, so again I  learn my instincts are right and to trust in them always. I learn I don't need anyone to hold my hand. 

So to wrap up this tangent, people will turn up and mess with you a little. It happens. But by God are we resilient! When we live without fear we will always be ok.



It took a mere 6 hours by train to arrive to Berlin.  First class of course!  Thankfully when you purchase a eurorail pass it must be first class travel (unless of course you take the express trains, there is no classes as the ride is too quick).  Its so comfortable, I actually didn't feel like it took so long.  I just put my headphones in, wrote in my journal and looked at the beautiful scenery. Crops, Windmills, Castles.  There is so much vacant land, it surprises me as the population is so high for a small country, but the Germans are very organised.  

Day 1
Staying at the Heart Of Gold hostel which is a pretty cool place, in a great part of town.  Its a pretty alternative place, what you would expect from Berlin.  My roomates and  I became instant friends.  Jonas (a young German kiwi!) Abraham from Saudi Arabia and Jared from Australia.
I did a walking tour of Berlin, organised through Sandemans New Europe Tours.  They are a really good group, the guide James was super smart and impressive for an English bloke.  We walked for miles and saw some incredible sights (Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitlers Bunker, Holocaust Museum, Richestag, Cathedrals etc).  It went for about 4 hours.  Feet were so soooore by the end of the day.
I met some really nice American girls on the tour, who were doing the pub crawl that night, organised by the same crew.  So we all met up at 8pm for the drinking shenanigans.
So Nick, myself, Jonas and Abraham all headed off to the pub crawl.  At the first bar, the Silberfisch we sat and had our first free beer.  I met two young guys from Canberra who I donned as my little brothers, I just love them - Steve and Martin.  This bar was really cool, played some great music (The Pixes, Kasabian, The Killers)
At the last night club a fair few hours later.  It was seriously so bad and cheesy I wanted to get the hell out of there.  Terrible late 90's pop music. I dont even know what the place was called.
Unfortunately my little buddy Martin had 5 stitches in his big toe from Oktoberfest, and he kicked his toe and busted his stitches.  Oh my lord there was blood everwhere!  So I took him outside and spoke to the door man who sent me inside to speak to the bar staff who sent me back outside to speak to the door man!  I was getting pretty mad.  Eventually the door man called Martin an Ambulance.  Poor mate - it was pretty funny.  His second trip to a German hospital in a week.
Nick stayed out with one of the American girls.  So Jonas, Abraham and I headed back to the dorm.  We got lost, of course. Abraham hailed a cab, paid for it thankfully and we were home in only a few minutes. 

Day 2 
was a late start.  We met up with the American girls at midday and then we all headed on our own tour of the city.  We wanted to get to the parts of the wall we had not yet seen.  The Eastside Gallery it is known as.  The wall has been covered in some great artworks.  We walked the entire city, revisited the sights we had seen on day one, plus went down to the holocaust memorial.
After walking and sight seeing for 7 hrs, it was time to say goodbye to the Americans.  So Nick and I headed back to the dorm and got ready for dinner.  Jonas came with us, thankfully as he can translate for us ;)  We ate at a lovely Italian/German restaurant. I wanted a Schnitzel, no way was I leaving Germany without having one.  So that is what I had, it came with scalloped potatoes that had been fried with bacon, yum! And salad and I washed it all down with a glass of Italian Merlot.  (I still think Aussie wine is better)

Day 3
Nick and I did a self guided tour of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen in Oranianburg.  About a 45minute train ride out of the City.  It was the housing for political prisoners established in 1936 and the training centre for the SS.  Much of the original structures still exist in their original form.  
The killings in this camp were usually done by hangings or shootings.  A lot of the people also died here from torture, malnourishment but most commonly tuberculosis.  Then eventually in 1942 they built the gas chamber and ovens.  The camp also contained a brothel where female prisoners were forced to work.  It was all pretty disturbing, but it has to be seen.  It's all very fascinating.  I wasn't emotional visiting this place as I was sick.  My stomach was pretty unsettled with the stories. Also so difficult to comprehend the terror that existed right underneath my feet.

At the end of the day, I simply had a takeaway pasta in my room and spent some time downstairs with fellow hostel buddies.  I was in bed by 11am and early to rise the next day.

I loved Berlins history, a tortured soul that has bounced back with vibrance and strength.  After 4 days however I was ready to leave.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Munchen: beer and love

It was a 2-3 hr train ride, 1st class with our rail pass to Munich.  The rail system is extraordinary, so functional.

We checked in to Hotel Kent in the very quiet, Bavarian town of Engleschalking.  A great room, 3 single beds, clean & tidy with great ammenities. The room came with a old trouser press, too cute! In the hall was a shoe shine machine, cuter! First night in we just grabbed some snacks, drinks and pizza and were in bed by 9pm in preparation for Oktoberfest.

Awake by about 5.50am, the dress up process began.  Hair, makeup and dirndl all go!  We headed into town (very quick ride on the S Bahn) and when we got off, joined the masses on the walk to the grounds. We arrived between 7.30-8.00am and lined up at the main tent the Haufbrau.  Doors were opening at 9am. The doors cracked open about 10mins early and it was a wave of bodies, a moshpit! I dont think my feet touched the ground, I was jammed so tightly between bodies. We ran and secured a table, in a great spot near the stage and close to the bathrooms. We were joined by two other lovely girls, Cleo and Amy.  We all got along very well.  We were all hungry and parched. I needed caffeine, so ordered a coke but had to wait for 10am for any drink service. I ate a poppyseed roll with ham/salad.  They have cute people with food baskets walking around, serving pretzels and rolls.  When my coke came, I was so relieved to have liquid, caffeine and sugar... Only 2 more hours until the bells ring and its beer time.

At about 11.30 our assigned 'beer wench' Bettina took our beer orders. In the meantime, the band and family of the tent (each tent is named after a family) came on stage and received massive applause.  A marching band came through the crowd about 11.50, everyone stood on their chairs cheering! Then right on 12pm the gong went off, bells rang, the band started and the crowd of thousands cheered! Bettina had our drinks over to us straight away, she was onto it! Prost! Ahhh that first stein went down well, I reckon it took about an hour to get through. By our 2nd round of steins we were all mingling with surrounding tables and everyone was pretty loose and happy.  People from all over: aussies, kiwis, irish, german, italian, swiss, austrian!  It was honestly one of the most exciting, electric and happy environments I'd ever experienced.  Everyone smiling, getting to know eachother, drinking and dancing together.  There was attractive men in lederhosen everywhere.  There's something magical about the traditional suede lederhosen, every man just looks so handsome! And those beer wenches, holy crap some of them carry 10 if not more, steins at a time - it was mental!  These are mostly older women, with arms of steel.

Later in the evening, after a few bathroom runs, a cheese pretzel, a couple of steins later, (at one point I actually pretended I didn't speak english to a couple of aussie girls in the bathroom line haha) tabletops by now where dancefloors. I had  met so many lovely, happy, drunk people two which were a couple, I dont know their names. He was Swiss, she was Irish and they had actually just met that morning! They seemed in love, very cute.  I had said I wanted that, a nice guy - but no Aussie ;) We were all dancing on table tops, laughing, smashing our steins together and singing along to the band until the drinks stopped at midnight and it was time to leave the tents.

Following morning I was a little worse for wear. Lack of sleep, water and food took it's toll and I decided I couldn't do a second day/ night at Oktoberfest.  Nick headed in and I went to sleep.  At 1.45 I woke up, watched german Mtv and caught up on the internet.  I decided to head in so I got ready. Then I sat there fully dressed but still could not muster the strength or desire to head in. So my trackies came on, I went and got a pizza and spent the night in.  It was nice to have some space to myself.  I fell asleep after dinner, woke up about 2am and Nick was still not back.  I hoped he was ok and with his aussie mates.  I woke up at 7am, showered packed my bag and tried to contact Nick, no go.  Check-out was at 11am, he just turned up at 11.02.  Lucky!  We checked out and decided to get the soonest train out to Berlin.  It was raining a lot in Munich so not worth site seeing.  So off we went to catch our 6hr train ride to Berlin. 

I didn't have any expectations of Munich or Oktoberfest but it certainly delivered happiness, beer and love in bucket loads (or Stein loads!)



Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunny Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a beautiful big city. It's a bank town, business district. Very smooth running and organised.
I have really loved the 2 days I've spent here.  The weather is beautiful & sunny.  It does get cool at night but no cooler than at home right now.

Day 1
arrived at Frankfurt Hostel early, 9.30am and could not check in until 2. I has tired but more so very.dehydrated from travelling so I was pretty out of it.  I mingled a little, drank water and tea and rested on the couch until nick (my travel buddy) arrived at 12.30.  I was lookin pretty nasty, greasy hair and my face needed a good scrub.  We walked the streets a little until check in.  I purchased some shampoo/conditioner haha and then it was time to check in, that first shower as you can imagine was divine.  The hostel rooms are very tidy, clean linens and towel are provided.  I am a rare female in this hostel. I realise now the sausage fest was due to a car show that is on.  So after a shower I went in for a quick nap. 3.5hrs later haha! We got ready and walked looking for a genuine German pub with cheap beer and food. No go. In the area we walked, it was all cafes and restaurants! So we settled for an awesome restaurant/bar called Chicago. Yup, it was american! We shared a pitcher of Becks. I had a delicious shrimp salad. Then we were pretty spent so it was back to the hostel.  It was in interesting night. 3 older men must have booked the other beds. One of them slept above me, gross! Lucky for earplugs, it was a dirty snore choir in that room.

Day 2
Early to rise for our buffet breakfast that comes free at the hostel.  Cheese, ham, tomato, toast, rolls, coffee, tea, juice, fruit etc.  at 11am we had to meet for our Rhine Valley day tour that I'd booked.  Joking around we thought it would just be us in the back of a VW Golf. But no, it was a proper fully booked and catered bus tour through Greenline Tours. Our guide was a very funny, witty, intelligent German named Michael. We love Michael! There was about 25 ppl on the tour, 8 of them Australian!  It started with a bus ride taking us through the Rhine river valley to Rudesheim.  On one side of the road, vineyards and homes on the other.  All cute, pointy roofed homes, made of render and stones with shutters and flowers pots in the windows.  I want one of these homes!  We got to our stop which actually took us to a chair lift. And down we all went in pairs down a chair lift that actually passed us through the backyards of homes! Down the bottom (the base of Hells Mountain) we met and walked over to a restaurant.  The restaurant was so cute and kitsch. Extremely over decorated.  Pictures, paintings and fake grape vines adorned every single space on the walls.  For lunch we all had grilled chicken with fries and salad. Well the salad was more of a slaw. I washed this down with a  glass of Hells Mountain Red wine.  After lunch we jumped aboard a large 3 level steamer boat which took us down the Rhine River. It was so cool! Beautiful ancient castles, vineyards, and quaint towns line the river.  One particular place The Loreley, has a legend. Loreley was a beautiful lady/mermaid who would sit upon a rock. Her beauty (boobs) would distract the sailors and their boats would crash, fall to pieces and sink.

At lunch we were seated with some lovely Americans. 26yr old twins, Brendan & Chad and their father Ned - from Kentucky.  Chad and I got on like a house on fire, like we were separated at birth.  The 5 of us sat on the top level of.the boat, in the sun drinks in hand, enjoying the views and great conversation.  The tour ended about 8pm and we decided to go to dinner to a Restaurant recommended by Michael.  Steinen Haus (i think) its a 500 yr old restaurant serving genuine, traditional food. €12.50 for my delicious and generous pork knuckle with roast potatoes & sauerkraut. I requested some of Frankfurts famous green sauce on the side. Best thing ever! Its like a creamy herbal sauce that I reckon you could eat with anything.  Full, tipsy and happy we went nextdoor to a pub for one after dinner beverage. A little place where the bartender did everthing by hand. No cash register, no dishwasher.  There was a funny german who I nick named Duran Duran, he offered Nick some snuff haha to which he declined. This guy actually guessed I was from the Gold Coast!  

On our last day, Nick and I visited the St Bartholemew cathedral, the only structure to survive the war in that area, very beautiful and grand.
Frankfurt was a great start to my trip, made some beautiful new friends and seen gorgeous sites. 


Shrimp Salad at 'Chicago'

view from the chairlift

the homes we pass thru on the chairlift
Hells Mountain

View from the Rhine Steamer

the beautiful restaurant

Malay away

So I'm sitting at Kuala Lumpur international airport.  I've been here for just over 12hrs. The good thing about this place is the airside transit hotel, it books in 6hr increments rather than the usual check in/out times.  So i've caught up on heaps of sleep, had lunch, had a reflexology foot massage (ouch!) A shower, now enjoying some Starbucks.  I've checked out of my room, fly out in about 4hrs. So in the meantime I'm going to do some shopping at the MAC counter then go have some dinner.

I had to have a giggle, on the flight over here they served breakfast on the plane at about 4am.  Rice with chilli shrimp.  Yum, but noooot at 4am! The smell was making me dry reach.  So I just ate my fruit & croissant.
Also during my foot/leg massage oh boy that little asian dude stuck his knuckles right in the arches of my feet, holy moley!  I reckon tomorrow too my calves may have some bruises.  But it's all that good pain.  It was all going ok until the end I felt something being shaken over my legs.  I looked and realised it was talcum powder.  Now anyone who really knows me would remember I hate the stuff!  The squeaky texture makes me want to scream and or vomit.  So I was dying while he rubbed it in, in my head I was screaming get it off! Even now just thinking about it I'm getting goosebumps.

P.s Malaysia has no sky, its jusy grey! We're so lucky in Oz to have clouds, blue sky, rainbows and stars.

P.p.s the airport smells like burnt cheese all the time!

the garden lounge in the transit hotel

the view from my hotel window at 7am, pitch black!

stoked I got a toothbrush!

The New

At the start of the year I had a few goals, one of them was to learn a new language.  I started this! Italiano, but unfortunately got bored after 5 weeks, but I believe I'll pick it up again.  Especially since I'm going to Italy, which brings me to another of my goals - travel.

The world is such a big beautiful place, dying to be explored.  So armed with a heavy backpack, I've come to Europe via Malaysia for a 2 month site seeing trip.
This brings me to yet another goal I had, change career.  I quit my job before embarking on this trip.  A job I had for 10 years but in order to open myself to other opportunity, I had to close the door on that job.  So what's next...?

the cake I got on my last day of work


Monday, September 12, 2011

Take it away

What do you take travelling? What can't we live without?
Well here's a few snaps of me in the process of packing for my trip to Europe. I'm backpacking for a couple of months so I've got the essentials.

Here I have my Soap & Glory travel minis so I smell, look & feel clean.
Check out the cute as laundry kit, comes with dirty clothes bag, clothes line, universal plug (for washing in hostel basins) & a handy little pack of laundry soap sheets.

You may also notice a box of Degas.. well that is pretty obvious what its for! There's just something about long plane rides that gets my gut a little well... windy.  Also I was concerned about the change in cuisine (sausage, cabbage and beer!)  So I bought those to be prepared.  After all - I'm a lady!
Don't forget to take confidence, friendliness and manners. Always makes for a happy and easy experience.