Friday, October 21, 2011

Suisse. Swiss. Switzerland!

A train ride from Italy to Switzerland is so lovely, but when you actually cross that border to Switzerland, it's intense. Switzerland is so beautifully picturesque, it's like the perfect backdrop for a disney movie!

Day 1
I checked into The Happy Inn Lodge. Very cool with the Brasserie 17 bar/ restaurant downstairs and all the rooms above. That afternoon  walked around Interlaken West taking in the incredible scenery, looking in the shops (admiring cow bells, swiss army knives and cuckoo clocks)= watching paragliders with envy. Oooh I so wanted to go paragliding but it was just so overpriced!

That evening my mate Simon and I got ready and and walked around town in search of somewhere to have a good, reasonably priced meal and a few drinks. It was extremely quiet for a Saturday night, much to my surprise. As popular as Interlaken is for tourism, it is not a party town. We found a restaurant, not too much charm but we were lured in by the free salad with every meal. I had a cordon bleu schnitzel and chips but poor Simon. He ordered a pizza which took forever to arrive, and when it did it was a large, flat, cardboard slab with a minimal toppings. Worst pizza I have ever seen, ick! Lucky we had a couple of carafes of wine to wash it all down.

Day 2
Next morning, after breakfast we walked to the train station to make our way up the mountains. Interlaken West - East - Grund - Grindlewald - ooh woops here comes the ticket master and we have no tickets. Damn it! Luckily he saw we were just a pair of dumb tourists and we just bought our tickets at the next stop. Then we headed all the way over the other side to Lauterbrunnen. Here we get our first cable car! Then its a couple more trains and cable cars until we get to Murren. Murren is incredibly cute, a lovely town, up a mountain, gorgeous homes, cows and of course... goats! We walk through the town to which we get another cable car. up..up...up we go. Thinking we had arrived at the top of the mountain, I was surprised to see yet another cable car. So we are on the final leg, heading up to the top of Schilthorn Mountain (the famous Jungfrau Mountains neighbor). It's cool seeing yourself thousands and thousands of feet above ground, in a small box literally dangling from a cable that connects one mountain to the next!

We arrived to the summit at the top of Schilthorn Mountain. Snow decorates the mountain tops. Mountain peaks as far as the eye can see, land so vast. Standing on the deck, a large round platform, it's so quiet, peaceful and cold up there. Black birds flying and darting in and out, as the sun is starting to go very slowly go down, it's a remarkable moment in time. There is a panoramic revolving restaurant, named Piz Gloria, at the summit, which is where the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service was set. We had a couple of sandwiches and a drink never taking our eyes off the large windows as the mountains go by.

We took the last cable car at 6.00pm back down to Murren where we made our way back down. Stopping in Lauterbrunnen at a pub for a warm glass of Gluhwein before eventually getting back to our hostel. That evening we made the right choice in eating at Brasserie 17, sharing tapas consisting of albondigas (meatballs), pepper balls (cheese stuffed jalape├▒os), mini bruschettas and a bowl of farmer fries. Of course my friend wine is never far away and we shared a carafe of tuscan red.

Day 3
Next day we took a train over to the East, walked along the river up to where it meets the sea. I've never seen water so blue. The river was aqua, so gorgeous it doesn't look real. After a relaxing walk and a sit by the sea we went back to the West for lunch. Having a sandwich each, neither of us were satisfied and decided we needed to try the famous Swiss specialty, Cheese Fondue. We told the waiter we wanted to share one between two of us but he insisted we have a fondue for 2.... so out comes the pot of melting cheese and bread basket. Oh boy we were excited! In we go with our bread squares, lathering them in cheese, rotating them in the liquid hot goo. So good! I had a glass of white wine with mine while Simon had a bottle of water. Now the water and wine costs exactly the same! When water costs as much as wine, you order wine, always!  He's crazy I dont understand people that dont drink! Ok so by now we are halfway through the fondue realizing that it was too much buuuut we kept on going. One bread cube after the next until I started to yawn. I was getting cheese lethargic, like the way babies do after a bottle of milk. Oh I was so dozy and starting to feel really ill. TOOO MUCH CHHEEEESE! I had had it, no more cheese!

That evening, cheese drunk I walked Simon to the station.   So I had a night to myself where I went to sleep early and prepared myself to leave the next morning.

Day 4
Next day I woke up fluey, I blame the cheese of course. I left at lunchtime and caught the train to Basel where I would spend one night.

Basel is a cool town, but unfortunately I did not get to spend any time exploring. Check in at the YMCA hostel was not until 3.30pm so I waited in the lobby for reception to open. While I was waiting there was a very large and rowdy group of men, I think they were Italians. All drunk, stupid and OLD. Ick they were middle aged men all carrying on in preparation for some sporting event. When I checked in I asked if there was any female dorms to which she replied no. I said I did not want to be placed in a room with any of those men, I was under the impression this was a youth hostel! So up I went to my room . I opened the door and was hit in the face with the smell of salami. Oh My God. Only one thing smells of salami, other than salami of course, and thats a dirty old Italian. There was no one in the room, I realized that some of the men downstairs were occupying this room. Beer cans, mens shoes, deodorant and other crap littered the room. I could have cried. I was sick, tired and did not want to stay in a room with drunk, old, European men. So I went downstairs, told reception I could not stay. They had no other beds left! So I used their computer, found another hostel and left.

Just a 10 minute walk away to Basel Backpack. It was perfect. Urban culture, young and I got a female dorm no hassles! Just one other girl in my room. So I ate a microwave lasagna for dinner and hit the hay by 9.30pm. I checked out at 8.30am took the bus to the airport and boarded a flight bound for Copenhagen where I then took the train to Sweden. So here I am again, back home with my family planning the next stage of my trip. I was supposed to fly home to Australia Nov 10 but its just not an option. I have ummed and ahhhed about what to do. I would ideally love to stay, work and travel but finding jobs without a visa is very difficult. So I am extending my trip, just until the beginning of December. Giving me the freedom to see and do what I want without rushing. The journey continues....


I arrived to my hostel Florence Plus,  massively impressed, it's perfect. I would say even better than the Wombats hostel I stayed at in Vienna. This room was even bigger, I'd even say this place was like a hotel especially since it had a restaurant.
I went down to the tour desk first up to book in for the pub crawl that night.  Also booking in was an Aussie, a Korean Aussie medical inturn named Van. On first glance he looks like a sumo wrestler / gangsta.  Nice enough though we walked around the city, grabbed a beer and chatted before I went back to the dorm to chill out and get ready.

The Pub Crawlers all met down in the lobby at 8pm a small group of 11 people. Dinner was included upstairs on the terrace we got pasta, bruschetta, croquettes and bottomless wine. It was a great way for us to warm up and get to know eachother.  A really lovely bunch of people, mainly English speaking i.e. Aussies, Brits, Kiwis etc.
We all headed to the first bar, free sparkling wine and a shot on arrival.  I made a new friend, David. He and I were of similar age, he's a Canadian Scottsman and was like my little spiritual mate, bonding over universal law, alignment, stars, destiny, dreams, childhoods and travels. We were kind of like twins... espeically considering we share the same birthday... spooky!

At the 2nd bar Van, David and I thought more shots were a good idea so on came tequila slammers, limoncello, meanwhile I was already drinking a sex on the beach cocktail.

At the 3rd bar, it was a free shot with any drink. Oh dear, this is where things go blank. My bad.  To cut a long story short, I wasn't feeling too well so I had to bail.

The next day was a complete waste. I was a wreck! Thankfully noone else had checked into my room so I could suffer in silence.  I was really upset with myself for wasting a day, it was irresponsible and stupid, but there's no point in dwelling on it. After sleeping most of the day, that night all I knew all I could stomach was McDonalds, so off I went.  When I returned I did a load of washing and then watched MTV.

Next morning I went down to the restaurant for some breakfast and bumped into lovely Londoner Mel. She was on my pubcrawl. After breaky her and I went to find our other Aussie mates from the night Connor and Jess.  The four of us walked the city and made out way to Galleria dell Accademia where the most famous statue in the world lies... David.

There are many beautiful sculptures in this museum but when your eyes set upon David, isolated in his own corner of the building, with his own domed ceiling, with light beaming down on him, its beautiful.  He is huge, smooth, white, you just want to reach out and run your hands over his foot.  His hands and feet and massive, almost out of proportion.  He looks sad, almost like he is not proud of his deafeat of Golliath.  He stands there, in perfect form, sling slung over his shoulder gazing off to who knows where.

That night I enjoyed a delicious Spinach and Ricotta Canneloni with my friends and we parted ways about 10pm.  I was to go pack, and have an early night as the next morning I would get my train to Interlaken.

Florence is a gorgous, safe city.  It is not overrun with tourists, beggars or peddlers the way Rome is.  I wish I had more time here, but as always I must leave and make way to my next destination.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Perugian confusion

I left Rome to head to Perugia. I arrived in Perugia where I then needed to get on a bus to get to my hostel. The hostel is out of town, at a backpackers farmhouse.  Being in the country with an Italian family, animals, wine, relaxing for a couple of days is just what I wanted.  I arrived at the bus stop, following the directions which lead me on about 1km of unecessary walking in the hot sun.  I rang the hostel for better directions, the man on the other end of the phone hardly spoke english.  I went back to the bus stop to start again, realising I missed a turn.  I eventually arrived to a large double story house, ever so quiet. Not a peep! I found an open door and was greeted by a young American girl, Maria who I assumed was another guest, but she told me she worked there.  I was kind of confused, there's no check in desk or anything official. I was wondering why she was American and asked if she was related to the family, she said no.
So she showed me around a little, explained a few things then took me to the dorm room.  I met Nora, another American girl, also working there. 
The funny thing is, I was the only guest!  This was the strangest place I have stayed so far on my journey.  I met old Rita, the Grandmother who runs the farm but I never saw her again. Although it wasn't exactly what I expected it was still very relaxing and I enjoyed it thanks to Nora.
She explained she had only arrived 2 days prior to me and she hated it. Poor love!  She was as confused as I was.  She told me about a program called HelpX where you apply to work at various places in Europe with a host, they pay you to work and house you which is a great concept, provided you get what you are expecting and have agreed on.
The farmhouse has been running for years and gets great reviews but I guess at this time of year, it's dead.
Maria was a little lazy and nonchalant.  Luckilly Nora and I had eachother to pass time with.
That evening I walked down to the supermarket to get my food for the next 2 days.  I grabbed a bottle of wine and some cheese for the 3 of us to enjoy while getting to know eachother.  I suggested the 3 of us go out to a bar so we caught a bus into the University to go to the local bar there for students.
Maria asked if we didn't mind going to her boyfriends apartment beforehand.  So we walked in, oh geez. It smelled of cigarettes and body odour, the guys that lived there were Moroccan and blasting their bizarro bollywood tunes. I had to hold back the laughter.  Nora and I sat side by side trying to disguise our sheer awkwardness.  The guys were nice enough, after being there for an hour or so we headed to the bar.
The bar was thankfully full of young people, it was karaoke night and shots were only €1. It was a cool place, the bartenders were funky Italians, singing and grooving and slinging drinks.  It was a good vibe in this place.  After not too long though, Maria left to go stay with her boyfriend. So Nora and I stayed, had a couple more drinks and even got up to sing a No Doubt song together.  We had some strange guy cracking on to us who was not cute at all and I must have told him 3 times I only speak english.  We decided to head home and we were in bed around 2am.

Next morning I had breakfast then jumped online for a little then decided I should go and visit Assisi.  I asked Nora to join me and we headed out on the train just after lunch.

Assisi is an incredible town. I would love to come back and stay a couple of days.  A very old town set up on a hill - holy, safe, beautiful and relaxing.
The birthplace of three saints, most famously St Francis of Assisi. 

The basilica where Francesco's tomb lies is a huge, world heritage listed structure.  You have to be silent, no cameras allowed.  A mass was in progress when we entered.  There were a couple of different prayer temples inside.  Downstairs in a dark, gothic room is the tomb. It stops your heart a little, you feel sad but at the same time really peaceful.

We caught a bus up to the top of the town where we could then walk back down through and explore on foot.  The streets are gorgeous, old, quiet, quaint and just what I expect from an old historical Italian town.  We walked through to the centro, just smiling and being amazed of the cuteness of this place.  Stopping to admire bakeries, delis and stores and the magnificent views of the world below Assisi. Priests, sisters and friars walk the streets while the locals sip wine, coffee and talk amongst eachother. 
A place not to be missed on a visit to Italy. No tourists, no hustle and bustle just pure beauty.

That night Nora and I made dinner while discussing our travel plans.

I think really we needed eachother for the 2 days I was there, she was a wreck unsure on what to do and I would have been the same had I not had her, more as my friend than a host, hopefully our paths cross in our future travels.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mamma mia

My flight to Milan was good, I must have been crazy when I booked a 6am flight though.  I arrived to my hostel in Milan, hot, sweaty and tired at 9.30am and check in was not until 1.30! The host, Francesco was lovely though he gave me a room to shower and change in, gave me juice and a croissant and I sat outside reading until check in.... I was falling asleep when he came out to me and says andiamo! (lets go) I stared at him confused! He told me he had my room made up already, so I was able to check in at 10.45am, I was sooo happy and grateful.  I settled in and was literally asleep by 11am, woke up at 2.30pm and went for a walk into the city.  Now Milan is kinda pooey.  I dont like it.  The people are nice but the city is dirty, smoggy and boring.  So I was happy to check out and catch the train to Rome early the next morning.

Rome Day 1

Nothing is weirder than checking into your hostel dorm room and seeing someone in there you met at a previous hostel in another country!  Crazy stuff I tell you. 
This young Aussie guy I met really briefly in Frankfurt was in the same room as me, which was handy.  He and his friends and I hung out for the first couple off days.
Walked up to the Victorian Monument, which is beautiful, white marble, massive, impressive, nicknamed the wedding cake.
Following that, walked up to the Colleseo or Colloseum as we know it.  I did the tour there, learning of the history and construction and ultimate downfall of the structure.  It is by far the oldest thing my eyes have seen, with it being as I say nearly as old as Jesus!  It is huge, I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in its original state, covered in Marble - all white and glossy.

That night we walked into town to go to dinner.  The streets are all cobblestoned, narrow, bustling with tourists, street vendors, mopeds and locals.  We picked  a little restaurant that was well priced.  I had a bruchetta, stuffed Zucchini flowers and a Spaghetti with cheese and pepper.  Sounds plain, but it was delicious.  Who would have thought a simple cheese and pepper sauce could be so heavenly.  We shared 2 bottles of house white then walked off to get some Gelati.  I had a combination of Baileys and Cappuccino. Oh Mamma mia! Afterwards we came to a couple of little bars, to have a few more drinks.  They weren't the most atmospheric places, the Romans do not mingle.

Day 2

We headed off to the see the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.  Along the walk we stopped in a cafe that served Panini's and Club sandwhiches, but not just any club sandwhich, an epic club sandwhich.  Four layers of bread with ham, tomato, egg, cheese, rocket and potato salad. Again, the food oh Mamma mia!
Arriving at the Spanish Steps, people are everwhere!  The steps are the widest set of steps in Europe, they are really steep too! At the top sits a church The Trinit├á dei Monti then the 138 steps flow out from the base of the church, this monument built in the early 1700's. 
After visiting inside the church, taking a few photos and trying with all my might to not fall down the steps, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain.  One of the most famous fountains in the world, the thing is massive! 26mtrs by 20mtrs.  I dropped in a couple of coins, I think I made a wish...!  There were people everywhere, lots of dodgy street vendors, I was keeping my handbag clutched tight to me.
Walking the city I just happened to stumble upon a Sephora.  I purchased a little D&G Light Blue Perfume and Body lotion gift pack, I didn't bring any perfume with me so now I smell ok again.
We went out for dinner again that night, this time around sharing a mixed bruchetta plate and I had a seafood linguini.  It was an early night as my friends were checking out early the next day.

Day 3

By myself today, I had to check out of my dorm and was put into a girls only room, booooo. 
I took the metro to Ottavia station which takes you to Vatican City.  I walked up to Saint Peters Basilica.  It is breathtaking.  Beautiful. Renaissance. Holy.
I like this: The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described St Peter's as "an ornament of the earth ....the sublime of the beautiful"
I had lunch at a Pizzeria, pizza of course, and Americano Caffe.  There was not much else to do so I took the metro back to the hostel and rested before dinner.  Dinner was provided by the hostel this evening, at a pizzeria.  Dry pizza made by Koreans, but it was ok as it came with free wine.  I met some American guys, we talked for a couple of hours before I headed back to the room for an early night.
Day 4
I had a tour booked to tour The Vatican Museum.  It was an 8am start, the bus drove us up to Vatican City.  We had priority entrance, so lining up was quite short.  We had a great, knowledgable guide who talked us through the museum. We walked through the Frescoes -galleries of tapestries, paintings, sculptures. Then walking in to the Sistene Chapel.

The Sistene Chapel is everything you'd imagine it to be. Jaw dropping. Decorated  by of course Michaelangelo and Botticelli works.  The Last Judement, I could stare at for hours.  That wall that Michaelangelo painted has to be seen by all, it took him 4-5 years to paint, starting it in 1535.  The stories and explanations told about this piece are very interesting. Seems old Michaelangelo was quite a witty man.

The side walls of the chapel are covered with panels painted almost in a storyboard fashion.  The life of Moses on one side of the chapel and the life of Jesus on the other.  Then of course there is the ceiling which we all know about, again Michaelangelo at his best, depicting 9 panels of Gods creation of the world.
After the chapel we venture out through the museum libraries and make our way back into the city and eventually on the bus. 
It really is far better to go here with an organised tour to take you to The Vatican.  On my way out, I saw lines that extended so far, wrapping right around the block, lining up for hours upon hours these people will be.  Just pay an extra €30, have the tour, no lines and you get a bus and a guide.  Well worth it!

Jesus Shaves mug

Spanish Steps

Epic Sandwhiches

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh Vienna!

Vienna. Wien. My beloved. A city so old yet so modern. Safe, clean and exciting.

Day 1
I arrived Sunday evening to Wombats City Hostel at The Naschmarkt. A brand spanking new hostel decked out with modern amenities and facilities.  A large dining room, trendy dark lit bar, aptly named The Wombar. In the lobby is a common room with lounges, free wifi and about 20 computers.  My dorm room was cool. Timber bunk beds, each bed with its own in built lamp & power point. Acces card activated lockers, hairdrier, clean bathroom, cosy linens. I hardly saw any of my dorm mates which was on one hand fantastic to have privacy and peace, but on the other hand, a the first point of contact and easiest way to make friends.

I showered, changed and headed down to the Wombar for my first complimentary beer and to find some friends.
The first beer was consumed in roughly 90 seconds. There wern't too many people in the bar, but I liked the music. Metronomy, Nirvana, Snow Patrol, Powderfinger - the list goes on  I ordered another beer (Ottakringer), when behind me I heard a voice discussing Oktoberfest.  Naturally I chimed in.  This is the start of my first friendships in Vienna.
Three people. A 26yr old German biology student - Daniel.  A 28yr old biochemist from Spain - Susana. And a 30yr  old Vietnamese Australian interior architect who I shall nickname - VA. On account of me not remembering his name.
Susana, Daniel, VA and I got along very well. We chatted and drank for a while before agreeing to go out for dinner and of course more drinks.  We walked into the modern museum square, only to find most places were closed.  It was a school night after all.  We found a bar finally and ordered some tapas. We talked about our cultural and language differences, travels and ninties cartoons. We headed off on a mission to find another bar but failed and ended up getting a little lost.  We walked and walked trying to work out the map, all the while my bladder was slowly filling up, ready to burst. I literally needed to wee so bad I thought I would vomit.  So there was only one thing to do.... Ninja pee. I did it. I quickly found a dark, quiet space, nestled between two large cars, squatted and felt the best release of 2011. It was a success. The four of us eventually worked out how to get back to the hostel, had one last drink before heading to bed, agreeing to meet next morning and go out for breakfast.

Day 2
The four of us met in the lobby and made our way across the road to the Naschmarkt. An outdoor, multicultural permanent market. We found a nice cafe and sat in the beautiful Vienna sun reading our menus, all of us deciding on an Israeli breakfast. Literally having no idea what to expect we were delightfully surprised when our four.meals came out served on 3 tiered serving dishes!  Bottom tier was scrambled eggs, middle tier was a salsa type salad of fresh, chopped.tomato and cucumbers. Top tier was a a soft, spreadable goats cheese, olives and olive oil, all served with warm flat rolls.  The meal was delicious, fresh and fullfulling, a perfect start to the day.

It was now time for Susana to check out so we said our goodbyes.  Daniel, VA and I were off on our way to see the Schonbrunn Palace.  We were joined by a newcomer, Rick. A big middle aged Australian man, intelligent, kind and well spoken (except for a nervous tick he had) we were the strangest looking group of companions! The blonde girl, the german, the old man and the asian.
We arrived at the Schonbrunn Palace. A grand building. It was originally a mansion built in 1548. Then a palace was added between 1638-1643, becoming the summer home of Queen Marie Theresa and her sixteen children. One of whom was the famous 'let them eat cake' Queen Marie Antoinette of France.  A 6yr old Mozart performed here for the Queen. Napoleon stayed here twice. A very powerful and notorious empire she held sovereign over Milan, Croatia, Bohemia,Hungary, Austria for 40 yrs. Every room was laden with gold. Hand drawn and painted wall papers covered the walls. One thing I noticed was how short the grand beds looked. Then Daniel informed me 'people were short back then' I'm like 'yeah but this wasn't the dark ages!' Well anyway they must have been really short back then!
Ok back to the palace... It's pretty damn impressive, as you'd imagine a palace to be.  Outside are the  french gardens, The Great Parterre. Massive backyard I tell you!   Immaculately manicured, perfectly and symetrically designed with blooming colours of yellow, red, pink, purple, blue. I defied instruction and of course had to run up and get a photo on such a beautiful piece of floral art.

Lining either side of this amazing backyard are the gravel paths, every few meters stands a large white marble statue, I'm not 100% sure who the statues were of or what they symbolised, but they're cool, and massive.  As was the monument that stood perhaps a kilometer from the palace, directly parallell and centered called The Sun Fountain. Raised on a hill, so when the queen looked out from her windows and balcony, she had something to look at.  When you walk and climb your way to the monument, there in front of it lies a beautiful fountain and a pool.  From up here the view is incredible. You literally stand there looking back down on the palace and the whole city of Vienna stands behind it. What a site!
We had a great time, we ate cornetto ice creams and got lost in the palace maze gardens. Then made our way back to the hostel where we had to say goodbye as the others were checking out.

I used my time that evening to take care of any business I needed to on the computers. I met two Aussies, Dwayne and Ken. I had an early night.that night.

Day 3
I got up and ready to cease the day. Today I was heading to the Albertina Gallery.  An impressive building built in 17th century, bombed in 1945 and refurbished. It houses 65,000 artworks. Only €9.50 entrance fee.  I started in the    Rennaissance section where the work of artists like Michaelangelo, Rafael, Rubens hung.  My brain has mini explosions and my heart skips a beat when my eyes witness 500 year old artworks.
I then made my way into the Max Weiler exhibition. He is a very famous, influential Austrian artist. His impressionism confused me.
Then came the Picasso and Monet exhibition.  It's cool seeing them in real life, alongside Kandinski and Matisse.
After a couple of hours there I headed over to the main street, shopping! Oh my lord. This is the shit right here, anything you need you can get here.  Just so happens my bag was breaking and my boots had worn down. Needless to say they were replaced, alongside a black cardigan, a pair of tights and 2 t-shirts.
I then went over to Crossfields, the Aussie pub for a feed. The food there is overpriced and terrible. I met an older Australian business man and he paid for my food and two beers, yeaaah. I couldn't tell if he was creepy or just very kind. Anyways I bailed and headed back to the hostel where I bumped into Ken and Dwayne who invited me to a trivia night at a nearby Irish Pub.

There was us three plus another aussie girl and an english girl. Our team name was The Fritzel Kids. We came third, well third last actually.  It was good clean fun though and I had another early night as my winery tour was booked the following morning
Day 4
Up early, the tour bus picked up the group at 9am.  Our guide, Sascha was lovely and very informative. The bus was made up of Aussies, Canadians and Americans.  We headed off into the Wachau Valley where we went to pick up our bikes, then rode to our first winery.  Tables set up outside of this beautiful, exclusive winery, nestled in between valleys of vineyards. I sat with two Aussie girls, Gemma and Jackie. We got along great, giggling and chatting over our first 3 glasses of wine. We then rode about 30mins to our next winery, where we had lunch. Traditional style, meats, salads, cheeses, breads... More wine. We rode to the next place, this was tasting of apricot schnaps and apricot brandy. Us girls sat and had a coffee, melange. While the rest of the group climbed a mountain to a castle ruin.  We then rode to a beach where we relaxed for a while before heading to our next and last venue, more wine.  Yummy yummy wine.
The busride home was quiet but filled with happy, tipsy, worn out winos.
I did not go out that night with my new friends as I had some things to do. I heard so many bad stories of Naples, I needed to cancel my hostel there and research what I'm doing instead. As I had to be up at 3am next morning for my flight to Italy, I had to get myself sorted out. I've decided on visiting Perugia instead.

Vienna has been a trip highlight. The friends, shopping, art, history and culture. Vienna is the underdog of Europe. I can't wait to visit again.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rusted wheel

I've had a great couple of days with my sweet cousins Isabel and Marcus.  Such lovely, smart, loving kids.  It's sad to leave but I shall see them again in a couple of weeks.

Well I left Adams early Saturday morning.  Took the train up to Stockholm, a 4hr ride that I read, napped and listened to music on. Arcade Fire, Silversun Pickups and Bon Iver created the perfect soundtrack for my journey.  I find the rides so peaceful. I smile, content with the fact I'm on to the next leg of my journey.

As I sit here and the song Rusted Wheel comes on by Silversun Pickups. It reminds me of how I felt at home on the Gold Coast... Rusted wheel planted still, rusted wheel can't move on. And it feels just like the ground. Trapped in another way just still, in the ground.

My hostel was located at Zinkensdam. It was a little difficult to find, and searching for a hostel with 12kgs on your back sux majorly but after some helpful strangers I made it fine.  The room was tiny, cosy I guess.  Just me and two other women. One I nicknamed Snuffleuffagus due to her terrible snoring.  The other was Eve, a lovely, smart, friendly Brit.
After walking the very trendy area on my own for a while I went back to the room and Eve invited me to join her for dinner.  So we caught the Undergound to Slussen. Even trendier if you can believe it.  All the women with their naturally long, glossy, flowing hair. Vintage, just thrown together so effortlessly cool wardrobes. The men: preppies, goths, hipsters, pretty boys, all just so handsome and well dressed.  The Swedes know how to put more than just furniture together that's for sure.

One thing I noticed is how composed the Swedes are.  Me laughing out loud during conversation often shocked people around me. Like I should be put into a glass cabinet and studied. Loud obnoxious Australian girl!
We had a beer at Snaps, an outdoor lounge bar.  Then ate out at a Chinese restaurant, Ming Garden. Very nice but the little Chinese waiter took it upon himself to take our change as a tip.  After dinner we made our way back to the hostel where we had a wine, more great.conversation and laughs.

I haven't seen nearly enough of Stockholm yet as it was merely a stop over as I'm flying out of here to Austria.  I shall return one day to explore more of this lovely, cool city.

I didn't take any pictures in Stockholm but here are a few more of my stay at Adams. 
Adam in his soccer coaching outfit.... the baltic sea and our swedish meatballs!