A Travellerspoint blog

Awakening

Life and the Ocean

sunny 28 °C

==“For whatever we lose, It’s always our self we find in the sea.” e. e. Cummings==

5 and a half months… 155 days… 3720 hours… 13 392 000 seconds… since I had felt the gently touch of the oceans waves upon my flesh.
To me, the ocean is life. It is a living being that exists so delicately yet powerfully. The last time I was at the beach was on our summer vacation in Zante 6 months ago. Absolutely beautiful, but absolutely nothing, not even the Greek Isles compare to the beaches surrounding my home town, and I was so anxious to be there as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, over cast weather welcomed me back home, and I was hanging out for the sunshine to make its grand appearance. I guess I’d already waited 6 months, another few days wouldn’t hurt right? Before long, I was awoken early one morning to the sun’s rays creeping through my window and a gentle sea breeze calling my name.

My family and I ran across the road and down to our little beach which was absolutely perfection. I felt the sunshine on my near transparent skin, warmth flooding throughout my body. The tiny grains of sand tickled my toes and the salty breeze ran through my hair. I skipped across rocks, shells and seaweed until I reached the waters edge. The cold water invigorated my body making every hair on the nape of my neck stand on end. I ventured out into the ocean, the water climbing its way upwards. There was a gently wave rolling into the bay. I held my breath and dived under the wave, its energy rolling over me. Under the water I could hear the wonderful explosion of the wave as it crashed on the shore.

I emerged from the depths, water stinging my eyes. I smiled. Since returning home, my mind had been clouded with doubt and worry. But this is where everything in life just makes sense. For a minute you can escape life and float along the surface. Feeling the sun on your face and the surreal beauty of weightlessness. Your ears fill with water and you can just hear your heart beat in your chest and focus on your breathing. Slowly, I moved my hands and glided across the water, eyes closed and mind open. I let the sea take me away for a minute. In this moment, everything is simple. Everything makes sense. And you forget about your worries. The waters power rushes through my body and suddenly I’ve got power and meaning again. I stand up. Water drains from my ears and the sound of life swarms back around me. I walk towards the shore, the hot sand prickling my feet.

For the first time since being home, I actually feel home. London will always be a special kind of home, one that I created for myself, but definitely one I couldn’t live in for the rest of my life. As long as I’ve got sunshine on my face, the love of people around me in my heart and the wise voice of the ocean in my ear, I’ll be happy. Oh and just to put it out there, my tan is coming along quite nicely.

Xxx

A

Posted by missadelaide 21:31 Archived in Australia Tagged water home ocean beach waves summer life light paradise love sunshine energy peace heart pure crash Comments (0)

Oh London

overcast 22 °C

Oh London, what an extravagant mistress you are
Your flirtatious eyes hyptnotise us
We are captivated by your riches
You promise us so much
We wish upon your sparkling lights
And dream under your sky

Oh London but why are you so kind and cruel?
Your sparkling lights are blinding
You deliver but hard work and long nights
Your promises are empty and turn your back on us

Oh London how mysterious you are
To a tourist’s eye your beauty is in Westminster
Along the waters of the Thames to the tower
But your beauty lies beyond
Past her majesty’s palace and the metal eye
Past the bustling stations and big red buses

But to the north on the Heath of Hamstead
Where trees and flowers grow wild and free
Where ducks glide across your waters
Ripples glistening in your light
Women and men stroll hand in hand
Children and animals run wild across your grass plains

I consume your light
Your fresh air
It invigorates me with a sense of life I feared you had taken months ago
I carry it in my spirit as I venture back into your dark streets
I travel home on your viper, resisting its fatal poison
Still your beauty within me

As I pack my life into a bag
I take a piece of you
Not your cheap souvenirs
But a light within my soul and spirit
Your wisdom seeps through my flesh and into my veins

Oh London what an extravagant mistress you are
You may fool others but not I
I know your secret and you know mine
And I will carry you with me as a reminder of the beauty in all life
No matter how hard it may be to find.

xxx
A

Posted by missadelaide 23:09 Archived in Australia Tagged london cities home nature life love writing inspiration Comments (1)

66degreesNorth

Iceland

snow 0 °C

Hvar sem fjandinn er par hafur hann sina (A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will).
Emanuel Strauss

Iceland. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be boarding a plane, crossing the North Atlantic Ocean, heading towards Reykjavik. However four days ago, this is the exact position I seemed to find myself in.

Many people asked me, ‘why Iceland?’ and my response was ‘why not?’ This fascination with this little country with a population of 320 000 stems back to the start of this year. A guy I met traveling was heading there in search of the Northern Lights, and I never really thought anything more of it. Another friend of mine headed there in Summer where it’s light twenty-four hours of the day, again, I didn’t give it another thought. Then, whilst I was planning, booking and researching my end of year travel, Iceland made her way into my mind. I began looking into the wild idea of actually going, where I became hooked to my computer screen at the captivating images of this magnificent country. Then, another friend went to Iceland and I thought, that’s it, I’m doing it. So that brings me to Reykjavik in the middle of winter.

As we descended through the clouds, I was breath taken by the rugged, barren and untamed landscape before me. The bus ride into town was pretty majestical, I listened to Sigur Ros’ album Valtari, and my senses were overloaded. I was captivated by the dark mountains blanketed ever so delicately in snow, the mysterious sky swirling with grey clouds to such a brilliant album was truly such an amazing experience.
I stayed at the KEX hostel which is one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. It used to be an old biscuit factory which is now converted into a retro, funky hostel. That night I had some beer at the bar with our little KEX crew, people from England, Germany, America, Canada, Taiwan, Malaysia, Holland and of course, Australia.

My first day in Iceland was spent relaxing and lazing around the Blue Lagoon. Whilst steeply overpriced, it was so worth the money to be in such a warm, beautiful place. The hardest thing about these geothermal pools is the pain staking run from indoors to the water. And I’ve never run faster. Once submerged in the cleansing waters, all of life’s troubles were forgotten. We watched the sun rise over the mountains, witnessing the darkness disappear to golden hues. I had my underwater camera so we took some pretty awesome photos, the only issue now that I believe some of the sediment made its way through the cracks and now I’m experiencing technical difficulties, but the photos are fine so that’s all I need. After a few hours of heavenly bathing in nature’s goodness, we headed back to the city.
That afternoon, we trudged our way around the town, and that is no exaggeration. I have never been in wind so strong. Your face stings, coat is flapping everywhere and your words are lost to the roar of the skies. In hind sight, it’s all hilarious but at the time, ever so painful. We saw the renowned Viking statue and walked up to probably one of the strangest churches I’ve ever seen. The main street is so cute and lovely, with Christmas decorations still swaying above. That night I enjoyed a long hot shower, some awesome cheap food and more beer from the bar before completely passing out in my little cocoon of a sleeping bag.

A very early start to the day as I embarked on a journey around the Golden Circle. At 66°N, the sun doesn’t rise until 11am so the first part of the day was spent napping. The Icelandic Highlands are absolutely incredible. Words cannot describe the vastness of the place. How people managed to inhabit the land hundreds of years ago is beyond me. Our first stop was Gullfoss waterfall, and I thought Reykjavik was windy, oh wasn’t I mistaken. The hurricane strength winds flew off the icy earth and whipped across my face like knives. I literally could not feel my nose and occasionally reached my hand up to check that the wind had not swept it from my face. We were walking across the ground which was dangerously covered in ice so people were slipping and sliding in all directions. However, the view was worth the numbing pain. The waterfall was such a vivid cold blue, as the edges of the earth were frozen the water plummeted down. I took my photos, took it all in and then retreated back to the bus to defrost.

The next stop was the Geysir, which as we arrived was spurting high into the air. Here was much less windy and they sky was a rich blue with the sun actually showing its face! Afterwards we stopped at the tectonic plate boundary between the Eurasian plate and North American plate. The Rift Valley was amazing and having studied environmental science at school and being a mega nerd about it all, I was fairly excited! The view over the valley was incredible and difficult to take in. On the ride back to town I was listening to Of Monsters and Men, another great Icelandic band, and let my mind wonder beyond the mountains and clouds.

That night there was a jazz band playing in the bar so we found a corner complete with a cool swinging chair and lots of beer to enjoy each others company, the music and my last night in Reykjavik.

Iceland was such a beautiful surprise, a gem hidden in the middle of nowhere. I really didn’t have many expectations but I can tell you they were all exceeded. Despite the pricy nature of the country, it’s so worth getting up hours before the sun rises and exploring this mostly untouched land. I would love to return one day, maybe in the summertime, but who knows when I’ll next be 66°N again? I met some absolutely lovely people, drank some really awesome beer, saw natural wonders like glaciers that I may never see again. And in an environment that is so fragile yet fierce, it really got me thinking about the immense power of nature and how it can influence our mind, spirit and body. Iceland, you were absolutely magical and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my year abroad.

Xxx

A

Posted by missadelaide 04:00 Archived in Iceland Tagged waterfalls beer unique friends beautiful love amazing geysers windy cold iceland arctic reykjavik Comments (1)

Eastern European Escapades

Budapest, Krakow, Prague

overcast 1 °C

All throughout the year, one of the things that gave me hope and motivation to get through those long hours at work, was my plane ticket booked to Budapest on the 28th Dec.

Initially, in my naiivity I thought that over New Years I would comfortably travel for 2 months wherever I want in Europe before returning home. But after London sucked all the money from my savings for nights out, paying the rent and just living, I settled for a solid two weeks backpacking around Eastern Europe.

It isn’t a eurotrip without waking up at ghastly hours to catch a ryanair flight. Before the break of dawn, I was at the airport eagerly anticipating the following weeks. I was joining a topdeck tour (for those who don’t know, topdeck is a tour company where mostly Australians party around Europe) and I was looking forward to a week of late nights, cheap drinks in some culturally rich and vibrant places.

BUDAPEST - HUNGARY

After landing in Budapest, Hungary, so began the challenge of making my way to the hostel. Now, Hungarian really is a strange language, indecipherable to the girl who can only speak English. Thanks to precise directions and one too many glances at maps and street signs, I made it into the heart of the city. And wow, Budapest is beautiful! A mix of Euro-Asian archictecture with such recent history and bold culture, I was enthralled.
At the hostel, The Wombats (which I would highly recommend) I met two lovely Australians, who will feature in this blog a lot due to our shared love for adventure, and we joined the tour. It was slightly intimidating joining a group of 40+ who had already been traveling together for 2 weeks, however, everyone was so fun and welcoming. With our cute Polish tour guide, we did a driving tour of the city. Personally, you haven’t seen a city unless you’ve seen it under the cover of darkness. We drove up to the castle on the hill which overlooked the Danube and the entire city and I was swept away with its beauty. Church spires protruded from the sea of buildings reaching for the heavens and golden lights glimmered under the moonlight.

That night, we had traditional hearty Hungarian cuisine with amazing beer, whilst socializing with our group. Seriously, all Australians. We then went to a renowned ice bar which, yes you guessed right, is a bar entirely made from ice. The only problem was that my glass kept melting in my hand, resulting in sculling my drink. Afterwards, we went to probably one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to quite a few). In Budapest, there are a lot of ‘ruin bars’ which are converted bars which used to be either Nazi, Soviet or military buildings. With funky music, a vast selection of beer and cool vibes, I was in my element.

Hungarians are absolutely lovely people, but drunk, sleazy Hungarian men are not. At all. And the Hungarian accent really isn’t the sexiest out there either I’m afraid. With flirting being translated to a strange potential stalker relationship, I think it’s safe to say that my future husband will not be Hungarian. After fighting the leeches off, us girls were free to finally dance. And the music was amazing! We don’t know how this happened but suddenly it was 4:30am, and with our wake up calls being 8am every morning, it was time to call it a night.

The next day was a free day, starting a little slow and quiet after a big night, we headed to The House of Terror. Despite the touristy name, it was remarkable. This building which lies on one of the main streets of Budapest used to be the Soviet headquarters where prisoners were held and tortured until the 1970s-80s. Afterwards, I went on a free walking tour of the city by myself where I met these lovely Romanians. I absolutely love the free walking tours which are usually offered in all major cities across Europe. They’re run by local guides who are knowledgeable and passionate about their country and work off of tips, so if you’re on a super tight budget aka moi, it’s perfect.

After galavanting around the city all day, that night, I was joined by two others and we went to the thermal baths. The best money I’ve ever spent in my life! We arrived at 7pm and paid a discounted price (score) and stayed for nearly 3 hours. With the temperature lingering around 0degrees outside, words cannot describe the orgasmic feeling of diving into a pool which was 38degrees. The three of us found a corner or the pool, put our heads back, our feet up and just relaxed. We even bought champagne. That night I absolutely passed out after being nourished by the thermal waters cleansing my mind and body.

The next morning was a struggle, 3:30am wake up for a 4:15am departure. Those hours don’t even register to me. Luckily I was able to pass out on the bus for a few hours. This is what I absolutely love about Europe, there’s so many countries within such close proximity, that sometimes you don’t even realize when you enter a different one. Within one day we drove through Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland. I still can’t get my mind around it. Back home you can drive for 10 hours and still be in the same state.

A grim start to the day as we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camp. The whole day I just felt sick. And not because of the cough I had picked up from all the sick people on tour, but this intrinsic feeling deep within me, knowing that horrendous acts occurred on the very ground I was walking on. In November whislt in Munich, I went to Dachau, which was such a moving experience, I didn’t know how I would handle the most infamous camp that was responsible for millions of deaths. There were two particular accounts where I broke down. The first was seeing the room full of hair they cut from the prisoners. And the second, was a story that our guide told us of the first Christmas in Auschwitz. In the main square they put up a huge Christmas tree in the main square. Prisoners hopes and spirits were slightly raised before being crushed on Christmas morning to find corpses of their loved ones under the tree. The whole experience of being there left me feeling empty and numb, something I’ve never felt before. It made me realize just how important history is and how we shall never forget, but learn from the past in the hope of living peacefully in the future.

KRAKOW – POLAND

Ah Poland, the land of vodka. I absolutely loved Krakow. I may be a little biased in saying this because of my thing for Polish boys, but the architecture, history and culture is truly unique. That night we hit the town, of course, and ended up consuming way too much vodka. For the equivalent for 80p shots and drinks, how could we resist? And vodka is my drink of choice so I felt completely in my element!

The next day we went on a walking tour throughout the old streets of Krakow. My friends and I ventured up to the castle which was pretty incredible. We ventured through the Christmas markets buying bits and pieces here and there. Then we stumbled across the magic of Pierogis, traditional Polish cuisine which is like a little dumpling stuffed with various ingredients like beef, potatoes, spinach, cottage cheese and even strawberries. So good. We headed back to the hotel for a quick nanna nap in preparation of the nights festivities for New Years Eve!

We picked up a bottle of Zubrowka vodka for 3pounds and drank it with apple juice, creating the goodness of apple pie in our mouths. At 10 we headed into the main square where all the celebrations were occurring, after consuming vodka, wine and more vodka. With the temperature between -2 – 0 it was very different to the summer evening 28-30degree New Years I’m used to. All rugged up, we welcomed the New Year dancing, singing and drinking some more. 2014… WOW.

Thankfully we had a late departure the next day to compensate with the hangovers. So it was goodbye Poland and hello Czech Republic.

PRAGUE – CZECH REPUBLIC

With everyone settling down with a quiet night, my friend and I decided to go out. And it turned into one of the wildest nights on the tour. We started off at an amazing lounge drinking cocktails and being all ladylike. We then headed towards a club we were told about before stumbling upon this wicked underground bar with amazing music. We got some drinks and became acquainted with everyone in the bar. We ended up hanging out with this group of gay French guys who were absolutely hilarious and the best dancers ever. Then met this group of German guys and ended up doing shot of tequila with them and suddenly it was 5am. How does that keep happening? Regardless, it was such a good night!

After 2 hours sleep, we went on a walking tour of Prague. Easily one of the coolest cities I’ve been to. The Astronomical Clock, main square, hundreds of churches and atmosphere of the city is so incredible! We ventured through the Jewish Ghetto, getting some awesome Czech food and walking along the river, soaking up all that Prague had to offer.

That night, surprise surprise, we went out. Prague is home to Central Europe’s biggest nightclub, with 5 storeys of pumping music, filled with tourists, it’s pretty insane. By night 7, my liver had pretty much committed suicide, so I was on the water. In the Czech Republic it is legal to smoke inside restaurants and clubs, so my head was spinning from the smoke. I called it a night at 3am and crawled into bed smothered in other peoples smoke and sweat.

The next morning we said goodbye to the tour as we finished up in Prague. My two Ozzies and I had a chilled day exploring the other side of the river, and ventured up to the castle. Such a magnificent view of the city. Feeling a bit worse for wear after a week of partying I went back to my hostel to have one of the best sleeps of my life.

The following night I went into the city to meet up with my friends to have one final night out to say a proper farewell to Prague. Unfortunately this is where my story becomes less than legendary because I became very sick. I don’t know if I ate something bad, or it was the alcohol pumping through my veins, but I was throwing up all night. So unfortunately, I had to cut my eurotrip short, as I flew back to London as soon as I could manage to get out of bed, meaning Vienna and Berlin… you’re still on my list, but I’m coming for you.

I had such an incredible time galavanting across Eastern Europe, meeting some wicked people and having some pretty (un)memorable nights. For anyone considering Eastern Europe, don’t think, just do it. There seems to be many stereotypes out there about the dangers of the east, but bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere. Not to scare you off but it’s true. I think as long as you maintain common sense and don’t let the alcohol control your decision process then you’ll be sweet. So that’s how I spent my New Years, drinking all around Eastern Europe for a fraction of the price you’d pay back in the UK.

So Happy New Year to you all, I hope 2014 brings health, good times and happiness.

Peace

Xxx

Posted by missadelaide 12:43 Archived in Hungary Tagged food budapest prague beer culture history poland love hungary amazing vodka krakow czech_republic eastern_europe Comments (0)

Christmas In London

sunny 8 °C

Firstly, I apologise for such a late entry. Over the festive season, I didn’t get a chance to write and for the past two weeks I’ve been on the road/sick, so here’s a few entries I’ve been meaning to type up. Enjoy!

“It will be lonely this Christmas…”

The song that echoed throughout my mind with the festive season rapidly approaching. Personally, Christmas is the epitome of family. Each year, I’d be woken up at the crack of dawn by my brother and sister and practically carried up the stairs whilst still half asleep to find the lounge room dotted with beautifully wrapped gifts. Obviously as a child, Christmas means Santa and presents. And over time, when you slowly figure things out, you realize just how lucky you are to be sitting there surrounded by people who love and adore you.

However, this year was very different, with my biggest concern being that there would be no afternoon dip down at the beach, prawns, mangoes, or sweet summer dresses. No, the biggest thing was not being able to hug my family on Christmas day and tell them how much I love them. And yes I know how incredibly cheesy it seems, but you really don’t realize just how lucky you are until you’re in a situation where you don’t have it.
Thankfully, my house, little old Clarendon 9, has become my home and my housemates, my family. Twisted, unconventional, dysfunctional but when we need eachother, we’re there. And I couldn’t have asked to spend Christmas with more wonderful people.

Our London Christmas was complete with a little Christmas tree with lights and tinsel, Michael Buble’s Christmas album, a magnificent feast and secret santa. There was enough food to feed an entire army. We popped all of our Christmas crackers, put on our colourful hats, read our horrible jokes and handed out presents. And what is a secret santa without the ultimate gag present… a dildo. And that dildo went on to feature in every photo for the rest of the day. We keep it classy at Clarendon.

We danced, ate and drank the night away. Even though I didn’t spend Christmas with my family in Australia, I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas with my own little London family. I had many mixed feelings over the festive season. My year is coming to an end, yet it’s just the beginning of so many new adventures. It also got me thinking about where I’ll be next Christmas, or the year after. I guess these questions can’t be answered now because as I’m well aware, so much can change over the course of a year. All I can hope for is that I’ll be with people who love and care about eachother, we eat a little too much food and drink a little too much red wine and we just have a lovely day.

Merry Christmas

Xxx

A

Posted by missadelaide 12:39 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london adventure turkey friends happy family christmas love santa wine presents white_christmas Comments (0)

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