31 May 2005


OK, OK, where to start?... our last day in venice!

we stored our things in the station and wandered around venice with the sole aim of eating all the yummy looking pastries we could find. this ended up only being 3 pastries, but THAT WAS ENOUGH! they were yum. we also went a-wandering, looking for a lonely planet reccomendation for dinner. (no, we hadn't learned our lesson). and we looked. and looked. and it REALLY WASN'T THERE. but THEN we wandered over a canal, and then a few blocks further, and then... THERE IT WAS!!! Ae Oche, where the pizzas are HUGE HUGE HUGE and it took us 45 minutes to eat them. the night train was fine - no gassings or muggings or snorers or stinkers, and only one person from our compartment got hauled off at the swiss border control! ate breakfast with the alps and lakes rolling past. bloody beautiful. amazing. GROUSE.

we arrived in zurich with no idea of what we were going to do. however, as our sole reason for coming was to see heidi's town, we jumped straight on a train to maienfeld... we didn't know if there were hotels or... anything, really. we just went. (not before we saw a vending machine with uno... AND DUEL MONSTERS!!!)... at the station, the info man put us on a shuttle bus, and that man took us to a place called Schlaf im Stroh. (remember, we understood very little of what was going on... crazy swiss german!)... it means, as we found out, SLEEP IN STRAW. and the beds were literally, STRAW. which the farmer, max (who wore a singlet and overalls), made for us. with a pitchfork. yep. HILARIOUS!

we headed off up the mountain to look for heidialp - the alm-uncle's house. it took us almost 2 hours of hiking to get there, and it was worth every last drop of sweat to drink the pure mountain spring water, and look out over the meadows full of wildflowers, and listen to the pines and cowbells, and gape at the snow capped mountains and drink the very large beer provided by one of the old geezers up there (not the very beardy man, though he WAS hilarious!)... wow! childhood dream fulfilled (not the beardy man part, the heidi's pasture part!)...

slept. in straw! had 2 others in room - one snorer who was instantly forgiven when they turned out to be japanese and like yugioh!!! YAY!

went to heidi museum today, then jumped on train... and another... and another... and eventually got back to zurich, where the really LOVELY customer service people reserved a room at the city backpacker hostel, which is where we are now... we have also seen millions of giant teddy bears (2005 is the year of the teddy or something), and people fishing bicycles out of the river. very very strange. we think zurich is the japan of europe. we are staying in the red light district, apparently, but all the nightclubs look very clean and rather like tanning salons. interesting.

tomorow we are going to catch another night train to vienna.

we just went for a walk and saw an outback pub. it has phrases on it like: extra grouse! and just beaut! ... and That's a Peg! ... what does it even mean???

we like zurich. we LOVE SWITZERLAND and if it wasn't so f'ing expensive, we'd live here for ever!!!... and of course we would miss you all, too!

29 May 2005


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28 May 2005


Don't wash your reds with your whites. Let's just say that Dan's "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army" t-shirt has a whole new subtext-as-text thing happening! Whoops!


1. Everything looks like a postcard.
2. Everything that looks like a postcard will cost you.
3. Everything that doesn't look like a postcard will cost you.
4. Pay for toilets. Pay cover charge at restaurant. Pay through nose for water transport (nose now hurts).
5. Beggars are really tourists trying to get back the money they've spent in Venice.
6. Everything looks YUM! ESPECIALLY THE FOOD! PASTRIES!!! PIZZA! They taste pretty good, too.
7. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection (entry 5EUR/10EUR) is great, because you get to use the toilets (space agey) for FREE, and you can sit in the garden for FREE, and laugh at the fact that Peggy is buried there with a million of her silly pet dogs for FREE, and the lockers are FREE, and there is a tree by Yoko Ono, and it is all quiet, and there is a room of Jackson Pollock, and a Surrealist room, and there are DI CHIRICO PAINTINGS!!! and the restaurant is expensive-ish, but the people are NICE, and the tiramisu is NICE (not as alcoholic as Julia's, though), and the bread is FREE and there are complimentary biscuits and you get TWO TEABAGS with your tea... WE LIKE!
8. There are NO CARS IN VENICE! consequently, in the heat we've been having, everything off the tourist path is quiet like a lazy saturday afternoon... aided by the slow moving boats, the old italian ladies hanging out of windows, the old italian dogs hanging out the windows... it is nice where the tourists are not.
9. San Marco... DON'T BOTHER UNLESS YOU ARE THERE IN THE HEIGHT OF OFF-SEASON. I don't even think there were that many tourists in Rome!!!
10. BOTHER with the islands. Torcello is beautiful and sleepy and small, and was deserted back in the day because of malaria... the Basilica is really old (900s) and has a huge gold mosaic of mary in a byzantine looking style... very nice for the 3EUR. but get postcards for 30cents cheaper outside the church! Burano has cute, cute colourful houses. Wander around.
11. It will all be OK. Just budget for 20EUR a day more than you usually would. Then double it!

Please keep in mind that this is all written under a blanket of 30° heat... lovely so long as you don't have to come home to a cabin which is HUMID and probably 40°!!! We've had a great day, and hoping that dinner in camp restaurant is as good as last night! Hope you are all well, and will post pics soon - perhaps tomorrow!

27 May 2005


so, tuscany... we remember those days with joy and fondness... on wednesday we wandered down to the market with tina, and picked up some tomatoes, cheese, bread and cute italians (ok, the last one maybe not...) for a wonderful FEASTY LUNCH. it was feasty. we had bread, 3 cheeses, tomatoes and fresh herbs for starters, followed by chickpea salad (ah, how we have missed it!) and our wine from Luca, then pasta with delicious saucy sauce and more of the wine... mmm.

that day a couple of americans arrived, and - Will, Charlotte, Stephanie, other Barcelona guys - we think they are in training for the Alejandro look-alike competition... seriously. one of them kept playing pink floyd (not particularly well) on the guitar, and i think it was just an excuse to sit around topless and check out his own muscles. they also called emma (from the hostel, she is all of 27) "ma'am"... hilarious!

also with us were a few brits, and we managed to drag pretty much the entire hostel down to the bar to watch the UEFA champions league final... which was HILARIOUS. there were goals, there were miraculous comebacks, there was a WEIRD GOALIE who did some sort of circus trick during the penalties... really, the only thing that could improve it would be MORE DEFENSIVE WALLS. there were not nearly enough... and on the way home we saw more fireflies.

and then yesterday we came to venice. we really havenàt seen much of it because weàre staying in a camping ground outside of it... and our shuttle bus just left without us, because it was full. we have to wait an hour for the next one. i am very pissed off. also crap about this place: the toilet exploded when dan flushed it; the cabin is REALLY hot (but it has aircon, so it's OK); it is RIGHT NEXT TO THE AIRPORT (i feel like iàm in The Castle!); basically it's crap. Dan thinks i'm being melodramatic. GOOD things include... a pool (and a very nice pool at that); and these weird alien-head structures that we THINK people sleep in (???); the weather is still BEAUTIFUL! so, it's all TOTALLY CRAP. can you tell?

anyway, thanks for leaving messages etc. can't wait to see you all. especially if you're offering us a bathroom that works... ah, remember those days of australian showers that weren't temperamental, and australian toilets that didn't explode??? hopefully venice itself will be nice. when and if we get there. the 50 metres of it we saw yesterday were pretty.

25 May 2005


WE SAW FIREFLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEE!

that's about it! also went to firenze... nice. climbed tower. ate at trattoria mario, recommended by julia and erin... AND US! went home, had swim, went out for lovely dinner with tina from canada and richard from scotland. THEN SAW FIREFLIES! soooooo exciting and so BRIGHT! and flashy!

today to market then to nice homemade lunch with nice wine from nice winery and nice swim and nice siesta and nice going to irish pub to watch the liverpool-milan European Champions League Final! yay! nice futbol!

soo you all, and thanks for the amusing messages. cellulite cream sounds delicious, i want cleo to send some to me!

24 May 2005


hey guys! sorry it's been a while, and apologies for typos... funny old italian keyboards!
so, where to start?... on our last morning in rome, expecting to get more of the same at the train station, we headed out with heavy hearts. on arriving att he station, we FOUND OUR TRAIN STRAIGHT AWAY, and we GOT OFF AT THE RIGHT STOP, and FOUND OUR CONNECTING TRAIN, and besically everything went suspiciously smoothly... which has set the tone for the last few days. the train ride got progressively slower and more beautiful, the day got progressively sunnier... the smiles on our faces got progressively wider... it was all very progressive, really.

on arrival in certaldo we set off on the 25 minute hike to the hostel. it was sunny but not TOO hot, and when we found the place (without much hassle)... WOW! guys, this is pretty much everything you could possibly want. it is an old monastary set on the side of the hill, surrounded by olive trees, vinyards... the hostel is charmingly ramshackle, with HUGE common areas, and single beds - YEP! NO BUNKS!!! - there are hammocks, benches, a pool... GAH! i know some of you were already jealous, but if the rest of you arenàt jealous of us now, then NOTHING will ever move you!

that afternoon we found a bar (a cross between a cafe, a bar and a dodgy truck stop) that had sky, and watched the cup final... those of you who care already know all about it, those of you who donàt care... arsenal won 5-4 on penalties... anyway, the point is we made the effort. that night the bar attached to the property had a band playing - very cool. it was sort of bizarre sitting in the heart (or belly button... yep, belly button is definately better!) of tuscany, listening to a fusion of jaz, irish and italian folk, pop-ish stuff... anyway it was good.

on sunday, we were LAZY. read, wrote, swung on hammocks, had siesta, went for swim... and in the evening the guys put on a HUGE BBQ, with vino a-plenty, salads, etc... guitar, etc. dan and i played a couple of NMTOD songs (Winston and Farmer's Lament) which went down surprisingly well! went on til late-ish, fell into bed, slept well!

yesterday dan and i went up to the old town, certaldo alto, and spent a few hours wandering around in the old castle - great historical notes, gloomy dungeons, cool contemporary art exhibition (sex, death and horses... from what we could make out), BEAUTIFUL views from the wall and tower... great. recommended, coz itàs not too touristy, and very quiet and lazy feeling... in the afternoon we went on a haphazard tour with brad from the hostel. included san gimignano, another old city, with more towers and therefore more tourists, and excellent gelati (esp the saffron flavour!)... then to a vinyard, where we were given a spontaneous tour of the vinyard and winemaking process by luca (luka? luka bloom? no, unfortunately not...), and a nice little tasting. dan and i have an expensive bottle of red (ginovese, shiraz and merlot, aged for a year in french oak... mmm) which we will drink soon!!!

today, off to firenze (florence) for a day trip... i know we should spend longer, but, hey... anyway we hope youàre all well. we are writing this off line to save on internet costs... but will update in another few days! take care, and love and hugs...!!!

20 May 2005


1. Go to Roma Termini train station.
2. Go to the ticket desk, and greet Sullen Ticket Woman (STW).
3. Ask for 2 tickets to Certaldo on Saturday.
4. Receive glare. And one ticket.
5. Ask for the other ticket.
6. Be slightly bemused when STW says No. Uno. and assure her that you'd like a second ticket.
7. Receive uberglare and second ticket.
8. Ask what time the train leaves, and what time the connecting trains leave, because you KNOW that you have to change trains.
9. Become a little frustrated when STW spits No. It's fine. You go.
10. Eventually give up with STW, and having not the faintest idea of when and where your train leaves, head to the information office.
11. Take number and wait your turn (73). Like many other information offices, this one has 7 desks. There are 2 people working. They are up to number 51. As you stand around, one of the assistants leaves... for the day? ... you don't know.
12. Wait. The people who have number 64 spend about 30 minutes with the customer service officer.
13. Decide to ask the quick information point outside, to see if they can help. Get annoyed when she says that (A) you have to pay an extra charge at the ticket desk occupied by STW and that (B) your train doesn't exist, despite you having a ticket for it.
14. Opt to wait around for the information office to get around to your number. Wait. And wait. Eventually the man comes back from his break.
15. Talk to aforementioned man. Discover that he is A SAINT!!! He shows you all of your options on the ticket you have, and says that you can upgrade for 5EUR if you want to go on a faster train. He sets everything up for you, prints out a schedule, tells you some nice places to visit.
16. Leap across the desk and give him a bear hug and a huge kiss and promise to marry him and his 17 sons if he wants.
17. Go and drink a... ... ... BEER! I DRANK A BEER (that wasn't Guinness)... this is what I was driven to!

YES, FOLKS, WE HAVE FACED THE ITALIAN RAIL BEUROCRACY AND HAVE LIVED TO TELL THE TALE!!! After this, I swear, everything else will be a piece of piss.

Other than that, Rome has been good to us. We have been very touristy, and will just give you a brief rundown.

19TH. Walked to Roman Forum and wandered through the ruins. Really surreal to think how long they've been standing there, and that a few hundred years ago people were herding their sheep between the pillars... Then to Bocca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth. I stuck my hand in the mouth and told Dan I loved him and it BIT MY HAND OFF!!! No, not really. Anyway, it's cool, but not as cool as the original in the cafe on Lygon St... Then walked up to the Pantheon, where we got gelati (recommended by Lonely Planet AND US!) and ate it while sitting at the base of the pillars and watching the sunny world go by. Went in, looked around, saw the hole in the roof, saw a million signs that told us there were 22 holes in the floor for the rain to drain away... Back to hostel via the Spanish Steps (OK to sit on, but really nothing spectacular. We would probably sit here if we were studly locals and wanted to crack onto tourists) and Trevi Fountain (which looked even tackier in daylight... we saw it the night before as well). Then The Incident as described above. We went out for dinner with some Americans to a great place around the corner. It's called Africa, and the cuisine is... African... (recommended by Let's Go AND US!)

20TH. Up bright and early, ready to train it to the Vatican, only to discover that the public transport system was on strike. Well, the workers were, anyway, and buses don't just drive themselves... So we walked. It was nice. After looking in St Peter's (squishing up against the glass to gawk at the Pieta), we headed straight to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Argh, the people! So many! And the Art! So much of it! And the GOLD... the catholic church is really lacking in BLING, we think. Please donate heftily to rectify this situation. WOW. The Last Judgement is amazing! It's so much bigger than I expected, even though the chapel itself feels much smaller than I thought it would. God and Adam are a long way away. Also got to see, in the Creation of the Sun picture, the very firm buttocks of the figure not usually shown in the art books (check them out, on the left of the sun, while God is on the right). Hilarious. Like Swiss Guards! They look like clowns! ... for all you Yugioh fans, they look like Arcana (the one with the other Dark Magicians)...

And tomorrow, we are heading to Certaldo... WE HOPE! We also hope we'll be there in time for kick off (we should be...) (but who knows...) (this set of brackets has no use at all). For those of you who are obsessed with a certain film (Mike), no, we haven't seen it, and probably won't til we're back in England. For those of you obsessed with Gelati, get yourselves over here. It's like Lygon Street, only there's a whole city of it!!!

Please write comments, or we won't post any more!

18 May 2005


just a quickie... and ciao from roma!

our last day in valencia was spent in galleries (good modern art collections, recently restored medieval and renaissance art... still no women artists...), kicking the stone in the park, eating paella and the valencian version, fideua (?), made with noodles instead of rice.

today we had a very pleasant trip to roma, with HELPFUL and NICE ryanair staff, unlike the last flight. about half an hour from rome, however, the pilot/captain gave us a message that our airport was closed, so we were being diverted to leonardo da vinci airport... this was fine with us, because LdV is the main airport, and itś very easy to get to rome from there. so, we landed... and waited... and then we were told that the other airport was about to reopen, so they were going to fly us back over there. there was a lot of cursing going on, and i thought we were about to be caught int he midst of an impromptu italian riot, but then the flight attendants told us that we were actually going to disembark at LdV... so we waited... and then came a very reassuring announcement... THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPAKING TO YOU FROM THE FLIGHT DECK. DO NOT PANIC. YOU WILL BE DISEMBARKING SHORTLY. WE ARE WAITING FOR THE BUS. FORGET ABOUT THE POLICE.

umm, yep. do not panic and forget about the police??? not really what you want to hear after your plane has been diverted because an airport has been closed for some undisclosed reason... but we got out ok, and eventually collected our luggage, and made it to rome in one piece.

the hostel (yellow hostel) is nice so far - people are friendly, the internet is FREE, beds and rooms are ok, kitchen is clean, and OH. MY. GOD. there is a pizza place on the corner that sells pizza by weight (and i KNOW michelle told us all about this, as did julia and erin, but it is still SO COOL) and the pizza is SO GOOD! we have already eaten there twice. within the space of... i would say... 4 or 5 hours...? we are going to be SO FAT by the end of our stay. thanks so much michelle and charlie for recommending this place!

OK, enough ranting. except to say i am disgustingly excited about the FA cup on saturday... we are going to time our train trip so we will be at our hostel in time to watch it. i have officially been in europe too long, and have been converted... eliot, i hope youŕe pleased with yourself!

hope you are all well, guys!

17 May 2005


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we thought that, given circumstances, some of you might not be able to view our photo album... so we have brought the giant yabbie to you! look at it! it´s all smiley and nipper-y!

yesterday we went to valencia´s catedral... and saw not only the HOLY GRAIL, but also the WITHERED ARM of some saint or another (ST VINNIE, dan assures me). the grail was in a room of incense, and the arm was in a little glass case... it looked suspiciously like jamon... hm.

we kicked a stone down the park for a couple of hours yesterday (i am going to be signed by barcelona... i am such a futbol star) and played on THE SECOND BEST PLAY EQUIPMENT IN THE WORLD after madrid. it was a giant gulliver, and you can climb all over him and slide down him and laugh because there is a door where his bum should be... hours of amusement!

speak to you all soon (when we´re in ITALY!)

16 May 2005


HAPPY BIRTHDAY! welcome to the realms of the mid-twenties! you know we´re almost officially old¿?¿?!!¡¡


yes, chappies, here we are in (what was yesterday) uber-sunny valencia city! if you haven´t already done so, check out the new pics from spain we´ve put up. some of them are very random... such as the GIANT YABBIE that inhabits the waterfront of port vall in barcelona. it´s a very smiley yabbie. it may in fact be some form of lobster... at any rate, go and have a look.

since last time... we were in madrid then... ah yes, the bad old days... madrid got MUCH BETTER on the last day however, when we walked to atocha station to buy our tix to valencia. the queue was amazingly efficient (yep, we only had to wait in ONE LINE, no little number dooverlackies or anything like that, just a good old-fashioned english queue!), the purchase painless, and we discovered that atocha station has ... A RAINFOREST in the foyer. yep! it has high glass ceilings, and tall trees and wisps of mist, and also... A MILLION TURTLES!!!!!!!!!!!!! ok, so there may have only been hundreds, but they were SO CUTE! there were little ones (about 10cm long) and big ones (almost a foot long) and they all had red and/or yellow stripes on their heads. and the little ones were sitting on the backs of the big ones, and it was generally HILARIOUS!... in a train station...

after that, we went to the "park of good retirement" - parque del buen retiro - where we visited the crystal palace (no, not that one, geeks) and then GOT CURSED BY A SPANISH WITCH!!! actually, she was a fortune teller who grabbed me and gave me a sprig of rosemary, so i gave her 2EUR, thinking she was a beggar... then she asked us if we understood spanish and we said no, so she read dan´s palms anyway (he is going to have 2 babies and be compassionate... that´s all we could understand), and then said (in a very thick spanish accent) tu-enty u-ros, tu-enty u-ros... which we thought was spanish, so we nodded and smiled and gave her MORE money... then she pulled out a 2oEUR note, and wanted us to pay the same... which we didn´t have, so we apologised profusely and walked away while she muttered at us... we think she was cursing us. hopefully with infertility!

this escapade happened beside the big lake in the middle of the park, apon which we proceeded to go for a row in a boat! hilarious!!! it costs 4·20 for 45 mins, and you can fit 4 ppl in it, so we recommend this as one of the best things to do in madrid! we were very uncoordinated, and VERY SORE the next day, but it was worth it. especially to see all the other couples being ridiculously affectionate. it would have been funny if they´d fallen in.

after rowing, we decided to head back to the hostel (which we didn´t mention has SUPER lifts! very cute), but were sidetracked by ... THE BEST PLAY EQUIPMENT IN THE WORLD!!! i was SO EXCITED!!! it was all made of metal and ropes and plastic and had strange angles and bits that spun around and it was all about gravity and centrifugal forces and OH MY GOD IT WAS SO COOL!!!!! if i went back to madrid i would spend at least an hour per day going around and around on the weird spinny things! i think we´ve put a picture of one item in the photobucket album.

that evening we joined forces with some other australians (god, are there any left in australia?¿?) (i love spañish keybºªrdçs) to make a feast of pasta and green vegies and ... wine ... strangely enough ... and to go to the festival of giants and big heads. this festival was basically a street party dedicated to some sort of saint (possibly madrid´s patron saint?¿?), which involved a lot of people crammed into a plaza with a whole bunch of GIANTS AND BIG HEADS! well, people inside giant puppets, and people with huge papier mache heads, all dancing around to a live band... it was very cool and completely confusing if you didn´t know WTF it was all about.

the night ended with more wine and sangria and patatas bravas (ross, these are the spanish equivalent to chips, so i think i am becoming more like a chip every day... you won´t recognise me next time you see me... i´ll be the one in the red sauce, patent number 357942).

slept badly, then snoozed on the train to valencia.

LOVED valencia before we even left the train. the landscape is much more green, there are cute little houses everywhere, and we saw a HUGE wind farm on the way down. but no don quijote attacking the windmills. Valencia city is (and i NEVER thought i´d say this in a flattering way) like a country city. my first impression was that it was like bairnsdale only prettier and bigger and sunnier and in spain and with a bull ring... so basically much better than bairnsdale, but very relaxed (although it was the start of a long weekend) and everyone was SMILING, unlike the snoots in madrid...

the nest hostel is alright - there´s LOTS of space and common area, unlike united world international, and there are 5 floors of rooms. and only 2 FRIDGES. which don´t work very well... because the light doesn´t go off when the door closes, so it melted our cheeses! bastard! but beds are ok, and it is moderately clean and very funky.

yesterday we spent lazing in the park that goes ALL the way through the city in the old riverbed. very VERY nice! it was warm and sunny and bluesky and freshbreeze and there were bunches of stupidly hilarious dogs chasing each other around. the silliest was a cocker spaniel who would bark ferociously at the other dogs and then go and hide under its owner´s legs or chair. hee! it was also friends with a tiny mop dog that spent its time eating grass and leaping into the air and trying to have sex with a dalmation.

anyway, guys, hope you´re all well. thanks for all your messages (mmmmmmmmmm, LAMBS BRAIN CURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANT! also fish and chips, although patatas bravas will do... we´re hungry and we don´t know if anything is open, coz it´s a public holiday)... and WELCOME TO VALENCIA! WE LIKE!

xxxxx you can write us emails, too... although a reply may not be forthcoming!

10 May 2005


nope, not briefs...

8th: lazy day. went into city, got magnum icecreams, wandered around port and down beach. MUCH MUCH sunburn and shiny skin and manboob action... some of our friends from the hostel got photos of a GOD in tight white satin hotpants (alejandro!), and we hope they email them to us as promised (the pix, not the hotpants) so we can share the joy. will, are you reading this? ...spent evening as usual, drinking and telling tales. sad to say goodbye to all, but that´s life. HIGHLY recommend home hostel.

9th: train to madrid. very clean, speedy, high security (nothing like VLine!), and had unfriendly staff. the landscape is WEIRD. like the monaro near canberra with a mediterranean going-over. bizarre. madrid is not attractive, either. we got to the hostel - ok, more space in bedrooms, but with a tiny kitchen-living area, full of smokers, very clean luxurious bathrooms (but only 2 in the entire place), and a BIDET in one toilet! BIZARRE!

10th: to Museo del Prado in the morning, after complimentary breakfast (always a bonus). The place is COOL! my personal favourite was the collection of Goya paintings, ranging from still lifes, portraits, to the really creepy dark ones. made me shiver. and shed a tear. they are AMAZING in the flesh - better than in the books, even! dan´s faves were the bosch pix (they call him EL BOSCO!!!)... garden of earthly delights is great, as are the other strange paintings... we think dali is a copy-cat... then back to hostel where rachel slept for a good few hours (how did we ever get this lazy? never going to be able to hold down a job again!!!... unless it´s in spain!). then here, to update and collect emails. we have no idea how much this is costing, so it´s gonna be short.

it has been short.

hi to all, and if you´re reading, leave us a comment - let us know how you all ARE, wenches.

8 May 2005


HI MUM!!! have a great day. am thinking of you, as i sit in this FABULOUS hostel (anyone thinking of going to barcelona, you HAVE to try Home... it´s very great!), debating whether to go to la sagrada familia or the museum of contemporary art, or just wander through the city, or zonk out on the beach with a book... the options are as fantastic as they are endless, and they all involve sunshine.

as it is mother´s day, i´m also thinking of YOU, esther-yami, and your fun and frolicking good times at interflora. but, as you say, on a sliding scale of all time, we will be together somewhere that is not interflora very soon.

barcelona has treated us well. have formed a loose conglomerate of english-speaking backpacker friends (australians, brits, irish, sth efricans) and have enjoyed sharing tales, jokes, mucho vino tinto - EL CHEAPO (i.e. 1EUR for a bottle of semi-decent wine), tips, food... we´ve been out twice to a tiny little tapas restaurant about 5-10 mins walk from the hostel. it has, one might say, character. it also has legs of cured ham hanging from the ceiling, cargols (snails) on the menu - yes, we tried them, and yes, they were yum - HUGE portions for 4-7EUR, great sangria... and, last night, some sort of local fashion parade was hapenning in the square outside the window. many a man-bag, mullet and denim ensemble were on display. bonza.

went to Museu d´historia de la Ciutat the other day. this is SO COOL. basically, it is located under the city streets, and is an archological excavation of the roman foundations of the city Barcino. you get to wander through the foundations of residences, a church, a bishop´s palace (i think), and a huge wine-making building. it´s a very cool experience. also on that day, we found a little tapas bar/cafe that served xurros amb xocolata... basically REALLY thick hot choc with spanish doughnuts for dipping. mmm... had a GIANT merangue, too, with hazelnuts inside.

yesterday, we went up to montjuic, which was a little disappointing, mainly because everything seems to cost - from the buildings to the botanic gardens. as a result we had to wander around on the main roads instead of along nice little footpaths (yep, we´re stingy). this did, however, afford us some rather interesting sights. firstly, some sort of aero club meeting, which involved a bunch of men with these tiny, NOISY aeroplanes zooming around and around on the end of a string. bizarre enough on its own, in a little stadium on the side of a road... however, on the grassy bank beside the busy road and the very noisy aeroplanes, a middle aged, corpulent, heterosexual couple could be observed in a semi-clad state in the middle of some sort of romantic, sun-lotion inspired foreplay. there was MUCH shiny rolls of skin on their part, and fits of giggles on our part. ah, continental europe, and your exhibitionist population, how we love thee!... also yesterday, on julia and erin´s recommendation, we ate at Organic - an organic (yep), vegetarian restaurant that offers a set menu for 11EUR... you get a HUGE buffet of salads and YUMMO bread, soup, a main course and a dessert. we have eaten SO MUCH, and are going to leave spain a lot fatter than we arrived.

we are really enjoying barcelona (combination of a fantastic place to stay, great weather, nice people, sangria, good food, cheap wine, excellent metro system - possibly even makes more sense than the tube in london)... and we´re a bit sad that we are leaving tomorrow. let´s hope that madrid is just as good!

so, tips for people coming to barcelona:

STAY at home hostel
GO to parc guell - for at least a couple of hours
VISIT the underground museum
EAT at both organic and the tapas bar near the hostel (i could show you on a map)
GET LOST in barri gotic, and find the pastry shops... yum. yum. yum.

now, off to the beach, methinks... only after we find some more xurros amb xocolata!!!

5 May 2005


argh! we are trying our hardest to get by in spain without looking and sounding like americans. hopefully our vocab of pleases and thank yous from around the globe (castillian, catalan, french, english, hebrew, indonesian... haven´t tried the last two yet) is getting us by.

well, spain is... WARM! SUNNY! everything you would expect a spain to be! we also had about 15 minutes of thunder and rain this arvo, but it cleared up quickly. since we last posted, we left england (duh!), and many, many thanks (muchos gracias/muches gracies) to the katz household for letting us stay, feeding and clothing us (literally in dan´s case), driving us to airport, etc. where would we be without you? ... maybe would have come to the warmth sooner... hm.

sunday night had a few people round to say goodbye, and played SNATCH (thanks SJ and es)... also played "guess who" with letters of the alphabet stuck to our foreheads, as you do. tried ordering pizza from one place, but they had "technical difficulties"... nope, not delivery guys quitting, not stoves breaking down... they had RUN OUT OF SAUCE!!! eventually got pizza and pesach was sent off in yeasty style.

monday went to aldbury for the may fair!!! again, this was all it should have been, combining morris men, maypoles, horrendus bread at the BBQ, and scones and tea in one scintillating conglomorate. i was very, VERY excited! maypole! maypole dancing! morris dancers (snicker)!

tuesday was going away day... was full of semi-sad goodbyes... sad becuase i´m pathetically attached to dan´s people, despite only having been living with them for a bit over 2 weeks... semi because we´ll see them again in late june or early july (and despite what they say, i´m sure they´re dreading it)... we arrived in gerona in one piece, having had a screaming baby on the plane with us (YUCK YUCK YUCK), but things went downhill for an hour, as the lonely planet taxi numbers didn´t work and the bus wasn´t for an hour, and we couldn´t speak enough catalan OR castillian to confirm our reservation at the pension margarit... GAR! however, we eventually made it in, and the hotel was nice - fairly big, sparse, clean... but, like all of girona, smelled of sewage. that´s not entirely accurate - the toilet stunk of sewage, and the rest of gerona also smelled like that fake coffee syrup stuff (what is it called? i know you know, mum - tell me!)

on wednesday we locked our bags at the train station and wandered through the old quarter of girona... so SO picturesque (picture-skew). there were little staircases (or huge staircases) at the end of every lane, and tiny little alleys leading off to cul-de-sacs dedicated to the virgin mary, and a MASSIVE catedral at the top of the hill! we ate our lunch of fresh tomatoes and bread (bought from a random little market that morning) with the catedral to our backs, looking over the burnt-orange tiled rooftops and other spires to the hills opposite. wow... it was beautiful, amazing, but pretty tiring with all the stairs and hills etc, so after walking along the wall and through the medieval jewish quarter, we went back to the station and caught the train to barcelona (we managed to get tickets! our first major purchase involving the use of catalan!).

the hostel here is very funky and relaxed - there is a courtyard with colourful plastic furniature, a roof-top hammock (both perfect for the consumption of red wine), a nice big kitchen, communal living space, dvd area... why even bother with the sights???

today, we headed off to parc guell... and OH MY GOD IT IS SOOOOO SOSOSOSO GREAT! it is unbelievably fantastic to be able to walk through the places i´ve studied, and touch the columns and sit on the mosaics (we ate lunch looking out over barcelona from above the hall of 100 columns)... we walked around for about 3 hours. fantastic.

this afternoon has been spent writing journals, reading, writing postcards, drinking aforementioned red wine in aforementioned hammock, and now writing to YOU! how special are you? pretty special, i reckon!

on a slightly more practical note, it does cost us to RECIEVE text messages, asl well as send them, so if you want to write, make it as hefty as possible! put it all in the one message, too.

hugs and WARMTH from spain! adeu/adios... til next time!

3 May 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.com
A Local.

Hello, chappies!
Pop over to photobucket (click on picture above) for loadsa new pics!
I've also rearranged the photos into albums. Got to go now - dinner is ready. Yum.

UPDATE!!! (03/05/05)
Even more pics have now been added in all the albums, so hyper-space along like a good thing and enjoy the view.

1 May 2005


all i have to say is...

so long and thanks for all the fish
so sad it had to come to this...

film of hilarity! who's seen it (apart from esther j, with whom i have already discussed it)? i thought that there were bits of absolute gold, although it wasn't the best narrative-wise. dan and eliot and i went to see it last night after spending the day in stratford watching 12th night with margot and aaron... so a good mixture of high art and pop culture. the 12th night production was pretty good - the set and costume design were excellent, and most of the actors were good (sebastian was crap as usual, whereas malvolio was hilarious!)

stratford is cute - lots of white swans, canada geese, normal geese, ducks and DUCKLINGS! we spent a good 20 minutes giggling at their duckling-antics! ... on the way to stratford, we stopped in a tiny village at a pub with a thatched roof and a friendly publican, and cards for card games and a HUGE plunger of coffee. i love english villages. i want one.

in news that might only excite esther von otterpants and sara-jane, i saw the 'best of friends, best of duellists' episode of yugioh yesterday! this is the one in which joey and yugi face off (!) in the final of duellist kingdom... and they have a montage of joey/yugi love accompanied by the song... 'we are closer than brothers, now we have to fight each other' and 'you've always meant the world to me'... a cornicopia of yujou.

today i made pancakes for breakfast - it reminded me of many sundays at home with mum and dad and esther noo, and also the occasional sunday with liz or monique... and you'll be pleased to hear that i had a VEGEMITE CREPE - so multi-cultural, aren't i?

anyway guys, we're off to spain on tuesday, and i don't know if i'll get the time to update before then, so in case you don't hear from us, think of us heading off on our 'proper' trip to europe... continent, here we come!