Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Trip (part two)

Vienna (Austria) - two days
Coffee, opera, schnitzel, Australians. Many, many Australians.

I arrived in Vienna after a brief (one hour) stopover in Riga, Latvia. They have good coffee and chocolate there. In the airport.

Vienna was the start of my organised group tour around Europe. Well, part of Europe, anyway.
I had two hopes for this bus tour:
1) that it wouldn't be full of old people (you know the kind), and
2) that it wouldn't be full of Australians (you know the kind).

It was full of Australians.

Nevertheless, the tour group itself wasn't so bad - and the tour operators (Kevin and Susan) were awesome. I hired a bicycle with one of my tour buddies and cycled around Vienna. Lost patience with my tour group on day two when we argued for an hour about where to go for dinner, I waited five minutes, then went and discovered a free classical music concert.

Sacher Torte, Habsburg Castle, biking around Vienna (and getting a little lost), a giant of a man for a room mate who snored, sneaking lunch from the hotel breakfast buffet, opera, chamber music group, schnitzel, outdrinking the Aussies, buskers that would make our symphony orchestra weep, updating my blog in an internet cafe while sitting next to an old guy looking at porn, and massive slices of pizza for only one euro.

Budapest (Hungary) - two days
Goulash, Goulash, Goulash

Starting to get the hang of this bus tour thing by then; well actually it was my first stop on the tour since I started in Vienna. At this point I'm in a bit of a funk. Not quite homesick, but wondering if I'm a little crazy for leaving for so long, and if I'm cut out for all this travel nonsense (spoiler alert: I am). Fell in love with the goulash, and spent most of my time there chasing the dragon. Also bought an Obama russian doll.

Goulash, Obama doll, giant paprika market, homeless elephants, the House of Terror, goulash, beautiful weather, getting stood up in a shopping mall by my snoring roommate, Hungarian Florints, resisting the urge to make "I'm hungry in Hungary" jokes (and failing), not being able to find anybody to read my fortune.

Prague (Czech Republic) - two days
Communism, art purchase, cavemen

Prague was fun. Though our hotel was well out of town, it was close to public transport and so we were able to make it into the city well enough to enjoy the sights. The Charles Bridge was awesome, and I took many a blurry photo from it's periphery. Went to a caveman themed (not entirely Prague-ian, but fun) restaurant for dinner where we could only eat with our hands and almost got charged for drinks we didn't order but I drank anyway. Paid instead with a hangover (karma?), and became obsessed with a painting in the hotel lobby.

Making (read: stealing) the riskiest lunch from the hotel breakfast buffet (50 euro fine if caught), the Charles Bridge, buying new sneakers to walk in, cavemen, not getting drunk but getting hungover and throwing up incredibly discretely at 3am, buildings that looked like they were designed by me in a third form graphic design class, and buying a spectacular painting (only to find out that it is a spectacular print). Lovely.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Trip (part one)

Okay, so I know it's been a while since my last post.

Maybe it's because I've been getting used to being home, or maybe it's because now that I'm back I'm finding it difficult to write anything. But what I do know is that I have at least one more update in me after this one; a 'now that I've been back in NZ for a month, what is it like?' update.

What I thought I'd do today though, is provide a summary of my trip having now finished it with no more trip left in me.

So without further ado (any more ado I could not do), here it is:

Beijing (China) - four days
Great fun, great food, great Wall.

I enjoyed Beijing. It was great getting to catch up with my friends (having somewhere to stay also made a heck of a difference!), and culture shock is a very interesting, and I would say effective, way to start a six month trip around the world. Culturally very different, crazy, and a little oppressive. Japanese tourists love me.

Live scorpions on a stick, arguing with a tuk tuk driver about a $40USD fare, discovering the Beijing branch of the Mediterranean Food Warehouse (from Newtown), the Great Wall of China and being followed by the paparazzi (I just want my privacy), eating a fish eye (even if by accident), not being able to see for the pollution.

Stockholm, Uppsala, Fiskebaksil, and Goteborg (Sweden) - Ten days
Ahhh Sweden - home of ABBA, meatballs, and many types of preserved fish.

The reason for my trip. Going to watch my good friends Rob and Emma tie the knot in a small fishing village in the south of Sweden showed me what it would be like to live in a postcard. If living in a postcard was the kind of thing you would want to do, or in fact could do. Met a few new people, but did not meet a Swedish wife. More's the shame.

Beautiful Stockholm, the palace, the Madonna concert that I didn't see, meeting ABBA (not the band though), the wedding, meeting Stockholmian improvisors, road trip across the country, Swedish natives, expensive everything that required me to eat at McDonald's and BK more than I wanted, taking a riverboat cruise, and $40 for a load of washing.

Copenhagen (Denmark) - Three Days
Even more expensive than Sweden, beautiful people, a mermaid and fairytales.

Killing time before my tour started, Copenhagen seemed like the perfect place to spend a few days before surrounding myself with Australians for two weeks. I met a couple of new people, stayed on a random (awesome) guy's couch, and lived on not much more than bread, cheese, McDonald's and BK. And beer.

Hearing a car crash and missing the last bus, a Little Mermaid, getting lost on arrival and walking three kilometres in the wrong direction with my backpack, beautiful buildings and architecture and stuff, Tipoli gardens and open sandwiches (seriously, that's their national dish... a sandwich without a top?), Carlsberg beer and elephants, the crown jewels and all kinds of sunny weather.