Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brain and foot freeze

My brain hurts. I’ve been working and having to think way too much of late. I mean, seriously, I need a good 2-3 hours per day of faffing to survive. Plus, I need to be surfing the net instead of working. I mean, I’ve got important things to do like look for somewhere to live and also look for winter holiday spots for my trip with Megan.

Looking for somewhere to live is so painful. Because we haven’t been paying our bills properly, like not paying council tax and not owning a tv means that my bills haven’t been that accurate. So now, when I’m looking for a place to live that has a tv, occupants that actually pay the bills they’re suppose to and maybe a house that doesn’t have mould growing everywhere, it’s a lot more expensive. Plus, it’s so competitive. You have to firstly email the person who is advertising and try to sound normal and considerate, yet fun at the same time. Then, you have to go see them and the room, then, if you’re not a complete nutter, meet the rest of the housemates for a drilling session.

At the beginning of the week I went for my 2nd round interview at this 6 person share house near where I am living now. One girl was really hostile for reasons I don’t understand. She started talking about how the 21st of February was the day when most suicides occurred because it has the least amount of daylight. Then she told me we would be losing 4 minutes of sunshine this weekend with the end of daylight savings. Needless to say, she was charming. I got absolutely drilled on why I was moving out, why I wasn’t wanting to live with my current housemates and when I made the mistake of saying my current house was kind of crap, I got drilled as to why that was. Umm, maybe cause the heating hasn’t been working, the house is infested with mould, the toilet doesn’t flush and the letting agents keep allowing potential tenants into the house without asking. It wasn’t for me anyway cause the bills ended being £100 per month instead of £70 as advertised. This was on top of rent being £575 per month. Don’t convert. Don’t convert!

Another fun part of house hunting is going to never been seen areas of London. Like ending up in ghettoville when you catch the wrong bus going the wrong way. Then you don’t want to get your a-z map out cause it’s just not 'street enough' when you’re in da hood. Let’s just say I didn’t see East 17 when I was wandering around Walthamstow….

Um, onto other things, last night I went and saw The Vegemite Tales. It was actually really funny and resonated well with me and most of the Aussie audience. Some of the small things about living in London rang so true, like drinking wine out of mugs cause you have no glasses and the fact that so many Aussies adopt a strange affection for all things Cold Chisel as soon as they land here. Plus I heard the word ‘boofhead’ that I hadn’t heard in a while!

This weekend I am off to Manchester with Cassie. It will be fun to catch up with Vic and Nick and hopefully the chocolate place we visited last time I was there!!

Other than the house hunting and the manic workload everything is going really well. Oh, and also apart from the fact it is freezing here and it’s only autumn! It’s getting a lot darker in the afternoon now, so I can imagine winter is going to be rather depressing. I am also waking up with a cold nose and freezing feet every morning despite wrapping myself up in a blanket and wearing thermal pj’s. I think a hot water bottle may be needed, or and electric blanket.

Monday, October 15, 2007

SAAAT, sausage and goulash

I have returned from the lands of sausage and goulash and am all the fatter for it. I ate possibly the best sausage ever in Zakopane in Poland. Although, that means it would come up against the best hotdog ever in Hamburg. My Lady and the Tramp moment with Skinner is kind of hard to beat….

So I had a rather cultural holiday which was both pleasant and long overdue. My brain feels all the more enriched. Well, kind of. I was all for feeding my brain until I got to the Salt Mines in Krakow (admittedly, this was on the 2nd day) and had to eat my lunch and all associated snacks halfway through cause I was bored. But apart from that, I am now a walking culture machine!!

You know when people really piss you off and you want to give them a piece of your mind and never do? Especially annoying American tourists?

Ok, let me paint the picture.

Stupid and annoying American Tourist (SAAAT)
VM (yes, that’s me)

Auschwitz – English tour 5th October 2007. SAAAT is going nuts taking photos. So much so that she is totally disregarding what the tour guide is saying while trying to get the best angle of the death camp, gas chambers and torture areas.

Tour group enters a building that has a sign saying “Please do not take any photos inside this area”.

[SAAAT proceeds to take photos all through this area. VM does a lot of glaring at her. VM stands next to her while she takes a photo through glass. SAAAT does not turn the flash off and does a tut when she looks through the viewfinder and sees nothing but flash].


VM ‘I guess that’s what happens when you take photos when you shouldn’t’

SAAAT ‘Mmmmmmppphh’ (but more like Mmmmmmmppphh, you got no game kind of way)

[VM walks outside and SAAAT follows]

SAAAT ‘I was only taking photos because everyone else was’

VM ‘Just because everyone else is doesn’t mean you should to. It’s extremely disrespectful to do it when there are signs saying not to’

SAAAT ‘Mmmmmppphh’

[SAAAT then walks off to take more photos of the death railway]

[VM does more glaring]

I actually should have known that this is what would happen. I guess I was hoping that people would have more respect. Places like that bring out the worst in people. I guess I can understand why people take photos, but seriously, what are they going to do with them after? Instead of absorbing things through their lenses, they should have just listened, took in the travesty of what happened and learnt a lesson about humanity. There was one guy who answered two phone calls while we were in one of the sheds that housed men in Dauchau (this was probably one of the most depressing moments in the tour) and another handful of people who took photos in the gas chambers. Why? I just don’t get what is wrong with people.

Anyway, besides that, we also visited the Salt Mines before heading off to Zakopane in the Polish Tatra mountains. This place was beautiful but freakin cold. We hiked up to the Morskie Lake which was stunning and then had a picnic by the lake. I had kind of forgotten the good ole backpacking tricks/tight arseness of stealing breakfast items for lunch, but quickly got back into the swing of things! Then, the next day, we headed to Budapest through the Slovakian Donovally area. Budapest was pretty, but there was something slightly seedy about it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t have the charm and beauty of Krakow.

And now I’m back. With no more holidays til December……

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wrong but oh so right

It’s funny when you’re in a foreign country and you’re suddenly overcome with a wave of nostalgia for home. Usually I feel it in my stomach. What I wouldn’t give for a pack of BBQ Shapes or Twisties. Or, even better, a Farmers Union Ice Coffee. Oh, and Fru Chocs. And Lift. OK, I’ll stop. But the reason why I’m talking of all things home is from watching the grand final on the weekend. Yes, I got up at 4am to cram myself into the Slug at Fulham to watch it live with a hundred other Aussies. Don’t ask me why. Well, I do know, it was fun. But, it’s wrong to start drinking at 5am. Ok, what am I saying? It's fun but snakebites? What have I turned into? Beer just should not be mixed with raspberry. Crawling out of the pub at 11am is also wrong. Especially when everyone else is going about doing their food shopping outside and you’ve been dancing to Barnsy in the pub. It was a good day and long night, filled with completely random fun including bumping into some people I had met in Croatia, stumbling into a dim sum themed pub and eating the best chicken kebab on the way home.

I can’t begin to describe how different my life is over here. Not that life at home was bad, just different. I feel like I haven’t taken a breath since I got here. Standing still is now alien. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are always so many new things to discover and my list of 'want to do' is endless. Of course I miss you all (and of course BBQ City) but I’m so happy here. Perhaps I’m in a hurry to do it all because I know it’s not my home and there's an end point at some stage, but if there had to be a temporary place to call home, I couldn't ask for a better one. Well, maybe take the tube and the bad weather out of the picture. Perhaps it's not even London itself, just the fact that I wanted more and now I have it.

This week I am off to Krakow and Budapest with Jen. I can't wait, although it's proof of how quickly time has flown, as I remember spontaneously booking it back in June. I'm looking forward, although this is not quite the right word, to visiting Auschwitz. Being able to go to a place such as this, that played such an important, albeit tragic, part in history is part of what living over here is all about.