Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Don't pretend you didn't hear me, you ginger slag.....

(imagine Kim and I yelling this at each other on the streets of London in horrible fake cockney accents, and it'll be half as funny as it actually was at the time).....we heard these awful, trashy 13 year olds saying stuff like that to each other. And we though Americans were the White Trash Champions.

So I'm aware I haven't written a blog in a quite a long time. And while it would seem that now is the opportune time to update you all, on our goings-on, I couldn't be arsed. Ok, well, I'll do a little one. But only because I know you're all gagging for it.

Berlin. Lots of sleeping. I mean lots of it. We were lucky enough that of the 4 nights we were there, we only had roommates for the first night, and that meant that the last three, we were alone in a six bed dorm. Ideal conditions for Kim to start on a mental exercise (I mean mental as in crazy, not intellectual) regime to decrease her perceived girth expansion - so while she was lying on the floor doing sit-ups (trying, anyway), I figured it was so cold that I needed an extra layer of padding to protect myself, so I lay in bed eating Ritter cornflake chocolate (THE BEST). After this, there was lots 0' sightseeing, in the form of the Berlin Wall - what's left of it, anyway - Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and almost every Starbucks and bookstore in town. For the record, I've bought no less than 10 books throughout this trip. I don't regret any of these purchases, but it's starting to get hefty......and expensive. Whoops.

Anyway, loved Berlin. It was relaxing, and Melbourney, and mucho historical. When it came time to leave, I managed to shove my cornflake-chocolate enhanced bottom into my jeans, we heaved on our 17 kilo backpacks, and shuffled off to the train station to get to the airport. Now, I don't want to say that we left it to the last minute, but, well....we did. We left with a little over an hour to get to the airport. And I mean a little over an hour till our plane LEFT. After 40 minutes on the train, I had accepted that we were going to miss our flight, and was mentally planning alternatives, when we pulled into the station, and adrenaline kicked in. I know adrenaline usually occurs in emergency situations, but missing a plane is about as emergencyish as we get, so I made the most of it. With trembling legs and aching backs, we speedwalked to across the concourse, with me yelling at Kim to hurry up, and her shuffling along behind me, bursting into a jog-shuffle when necessary. We got to check in just as it was closing, checked in, hopped on the plane, and that's the end of that uninteresting tale.

Then came London. Once we got off the plane, caught a bus and two trains, we settled in at the Piccadilly Backpackers (once thought to be a pretty great hostel, not so much anymore) and went off to meet the lovely Danny.

Our second London stop consisted of: movies, Starbucks, lettuce-leaves-instead-of-regular-buns-hamburgers, Buckingham palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, being hunted down by a squirrel army (ask me about it when I get home, it's still too traumatic), Abbey Road, Chicago, the Tower of London, St Pauls Cathedral, another movie (the new Bond is AWESOME), more chocolate (coffee-flavoured this time), and more sleeping. It was a great week, led by Dan-gerous, who always ends up where he meant to be, even if he ends up there by accident, with lots of photos and more souvenirs than I meant to acquire (a.k.a I spent way too much money).

Got to Hong Kong last night, had a massive sleep in, and now we're shopping. Well, obviously we're not shopping now, but we will be in a minute.

Ok, so that's all for now. I'll see you all in a few days, you'll forget you missed me and wish I'd go away again. Just like old times.



Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

So....I've been lazier than usual with this blogging thing, but Prague was gorgeous, and when we weren't out getting some culture (and clothes, shoes and earrings) we were sleeping or eating, leaving no time for blogging! Oh, also we were busy being robbed.

Yes, we were robbed. Our private room was 'broken into' (someone had a spare set of keys and snuck in), and one of Judy's bags was stolen, and also.....Kim's DS. Which I had last, and left badly hidden under her doona. How was I supposed to know that was the day we were going to get robbed? Anyway, to alleviate my horrible guilt, we're going DS shopping in HK, and she'll get a shiny new one. Just call me Santa Claus (who leaves peoples' things out to get stolen).

But moving on.....In the time Kim has written three blogs, I have written none. So not entirely sure how this will turn out. Bear with me, folks.

So Prague. The Czech Republic. Awesome.

We had an awful train ride from Rome via Vienna. We were in a regular 6 seater compartment, and for the first four hours, were sharing with a group of Italians who had been in Rome for the march/political rally. They got off, and Kim and I dragged the curtains closed and shut the door in the vain hope of getting some sleep (it was midnight at this point), but alas, a mentally unbalanced hobo got on and had a seat in our carriage. Slightly terrifying, but mostly just VERY annoying. She kept talking (to us, and then when we failed to respond, to herself), and walking in and out of the compartment for no apparent reason, then made several very loud phone calls (at about 2am). Anyhoo, she got off, and we had a little while to ourselves until 4 Americans got on. They were perfectly pleasant, and the rest of the train ride was just shite due to the horrible cramped conditions and constant interruptions to our much-needed beauty sleep.

Despite these (admittedly pathetic) complaints, I still love the trains - planes have nothing on being able to see the entire stretch of Spanish countryside between Madrid and Barcelona or watching Switzerland fly by as our train meanders in and out of the Alps.

Sooooo.....When we got to Prague, we realised we had NO Czech currency, and more importantly no coins with which to purchase our metro train tickets. So, after much um-ing and ah-ing over how much to withdraw, we got some cashola, thoroughly confused ourselves as to how the bloody system works (they have no cents!), bought our tickets, and with a severely pained Kim in tow (I think it was our food combinations on the train....a little dodgy even for us), I troddled off into Praha central to find our hostel.

Found the hostel, settled in nicely (settling in is my specialty), and went to dinner at a cafe/bookshop right across the road. Lovely.

The next day, we went on a guided tour of this little Czech town named Kutna Hora, on the way checking out an intensely disturbing church decorated with the bones of about 40,000 human skeletons (known, not surprisingly, as the Bone Church). The day trip included a tour of the town itself, the mint (where all the pretty, pretty money came from), a traditional Czech lunch, and a tour of the outside of an awesome Cathedral. All in all, it was really cool, and totally worth the however much we paid.

We also had a wander through the Christmas markets. Let me tell you people, if you go to Prague, go at Christmas time. The Old Town Square was absolutely stunning. These amazing old, Gothic buildings surround the square, and at the moment the square itself is chock-full of these little wooden stalls with scarlet roofing and Christmas lights coming out the wazoo. They were selling everything from amber jewellery to these strange round, hollow rolls covered in sugar. It may sound tacky, but it could not have been more quaint and Christmasey, and being the sucker for Christmas that I am, I loved it.

After having two meals at the same cafe, we decided to branch out and have a meal at a lovely tavern just down the road from our hostel, named The Dog's Bollocks. It was AWESOME. Best steak I've ever eaten outside of home (no dad, they weren't better than yours), and we had broccoli and all sorts of healthy things.........as well as a fair serving of booze.

Kim just called me sweet cheeks. It was weird.

OH! The glass factory. We, being the nerds we are, signed up for a tour of a family-owned crystal factory just outside of Prague. When we rocked up to the tour bus, we were (not so) taken aback when we realised that we were possibly the only two on the tour who didn't qualify for some form of pensioner discount. But it was all good, because we're used to being dorks.

The crystal factory was cool. We got to see glass blowing (not really done by artsy gypsy types, but really by middle-aged dudes with a penchant for muscle shirts, sandals, and no underwear - don't ask how we know), and the cutting/decoration of the individual pieces, and then we were allowed into the store to buy silly amounts of fragile crystal.

Ok, trying to keep it snappy...

Crossed the Charles St Bridge, which was beautiful, did some window shopping, went to Prague Castle (old, castley....you'll see pictures), went home via the bookshop/cafe to have some internet time, and it was then that we were found by a hostel employee to tell us that our room had been broken into, which brings us back to where I started this rant.

Needless to say, the theft was distressing, especially to the Judester, who copped the brunt of the loss, but it was also rad, as we were transported to a police station in a Czech cop car, and waited for over an hour to make a statement. Awesome.

So we're now in Berlin (I'll write more about that later), but just wanted to make a sidenote, explaining the title of this blog. I have been clumsier than normal for the past few days. I have so far managed to slip/fall over in the shower a few times, punch myself in the face while getting dressed, fall down the stairs on the train, fall onto my arse getting off the bunk when my feet slipped out from under me, and tripped down 3 stairs at the hostel, resulting in me doing the-almost splits and nearly getting a hernia from laughing so hard. Hopefully this streak will end, but it's not looking good.......

So, that about does it. We're off to find some food (so, nothing new).

Miss you all lots,



Friday, December 01, 2006

You very nice, I give you half price....

As said to us by some greasy, very creep street merchants trying to unload their crappy faux Prada bags onto us poor backpackers......

Okie dokie, so I promised more detail, and here more detail comes. Well, not really, I'm feeling quite lazy, so it'll be semi-detailed.

Colosseum: After meandering around the streets of Rome for a while, Kim and I finally ran into the Colosseum (kind of hard to miss, no?). After avoiding all the people offering extremely overpriced guided tours, we paid our entry and headed into an arena that has been standing (it's still standing, kind of) since 70AD. That's pretty cool. After poking around the lower levels for a while (and getting the best self-photo ever), we charged up the stairs to get a view from the top. The stairs are mental; really big and they've been worn down so they have a definite slant to them. Now I'm sure that they're very historical steps, but surely thats and OH&S thing? We nearly bloody killed ourselves trying to get up them. Or we could just be lazy and unfit. Either way, big steps. From the top you can see the whole arena floor, and it looks like a labyrinth. I don't know what the deal is , but it looked pretty rad.

After the Colosseum we checked out Palatine Hill, which is where Mars' sons Romulus and Remus were fed by the she-wolf before they were adopted by that shepard dude and before Romulus slew Remus and founded Rome (like that little history lesson? I thought you would).
Now Palatine Hill is old, and seriously ruiny. Everywhere you look, ruins, ruins, ruins. As I said to Kim, "some serious shit happened here.....well maybe not here, but definitely over there (pointing to an important looking building)". It's pretty amazing to think about; these buildings had been built for more than 500 years before that Jesus guy came along. Hardcore, I know.

We also had a squiz at the Trevi Fountain. First thing that hit me about it was the number of people there. It was ridiculous, and people were just sitting there, eating gelati, relaxing. I CANNOT relax around that many people. It was tooooooo much for Lisa. So we sat down, took some photos, did the obligatory coin toss, marvelled at the beauty of it all, and went on our way. The water was very clean though, I like that.

Found a pharmacy and bought a truckload of gluten-free food; crispbread, panini, pasta, cookies, you name it, I've bought it, or am thinking about buying it. Cost me a small fortune, but I would do it all over again.

Vatican City: first we did St. Peter's Basilica, which was completely amazing, and enormous, and ornate and ridiculously intricate. But as Kim points out, there's something off about it all. I mean, it's beautiful and was obviously built with a lot of devotion and love, but it's all so sad and horribly depressing*. I even found the Pope's tombs to be depressing, because it all just seems so crass and weird. But moving on...the Sistine Chapel was completely amazing. Not at all what I expected in terms of form, but just as beautiful as I imagined, only fuller and with meaner guards. But it was still mindblowing. No photos though. Poo.

Piazza Navone was gaudy and unappealing, and have never felt more like I was going to be mugged and raped than I did there. NOT a highlight.

Pantheon was old and a little boring (see, I'm getting lazier as I type.....). I succumbed to my thirst despite my "no buying food/drinks near tourist monuments policy, and got a Sprite from near there, and was charged about 6 dollars. Never again.

Tiber was awesome and dirty.

Yesterday went to Ostia Antica and looked at more ruins, which were cool. They put a necropolis right next to the food warehouses though. I know it was 2000 years ago, but mucho unhygenico people.

Ok, must go out and do Roman things now.

More when we get to Prague (in about three days),



*Dogma is totally right. It was more a mourning of faith than a celebration of it. Kevin Smith is a genius, and as soon as I get home and have slept for a week, I'm going to have a Kevin Smith marathon.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rome is like, really old, you guys....

So I had just written a seriously cool and intellectual blog about how old everything is here, and I accidentally closed the window without actually saving any of it - my blog may be intellectual, I am not.

So you'll have to wait 24 hours for the next installment, because I'm not writing it again, and I only have 7 minutes credit remaining. So hold tight until then, I know how excited y'all must be to hear from me, but hang in there.

Brief breakdown of the last two days; colosseum (old), Palatine Hill (older the Jesus old), Trevi Fountain (relatively speaking, not so old). Found gluten free food, made pig of sef. Vatican City (old and very rich), Sistine Chapel (mindblowing and old), Piazza Navone (Bernini fountain closed, quite anticlimactic), Pantheon (crazy old), the Tiber (Antony bestrode it, according to Cleopatra). Today, headed off to some coastal town for ruins....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Do as the Romans do?

Before I get on to the big guns (i.e. Rome), more Spanish adventures await - or all of them, since I haven't blogged since we got to Madrid. So here goes

Madrid is awesome. Despite being extremely tired when we arrived, our first impression of Spain was pretty good, especially when we managed to get a train ticker and navigate the metro without making any pathetic 'help us, we're silly and foreign' faces, which I was particularly proud of.

I may or may not have written down the address of the hostel incorrectly, but I also had a map of where it was, so with Kim's excellent skills of deduction at work, we were able to locate it after walking past the street only two or three times. Good job, team. The hostel was really nice, it had a great common room area, with a pretty fountain, floor cushions and tiled walls - very Moroccan. The rooms were the biggest we've been in so far (10 beds), but most nights they weren't all occupied, so it was fine. We shared with some lovely Canadian girls who did a book swap with us (Kim and I bought about 6 books between us, and we've read them all at least twice), and tipped us off on where the good coffee was at.

So all in all, the Cat's Hostel was cool, it had free internet, free breakfast (useless to me of course), a decent bar (which we totally used one night.....I stayed up till 4am!) and great security, which I love. The biggest downfall of the place was that it was fricking HOT and SMELLY at night - mucho unpleasanto as they say in ol espanol (they don't really say that).

Moving on....

Since Kim and I speak no Spanish past "No hablo espanol" (which is essentially a lie, since you're saying you don't speak Spanish in Spanish, therefore contradicting yourself immediately), we decided to take the easy route and have Maccas for our first meal. If it's a Spanish bloody McDonalds, then it's a Spanish bloody meal as far as I'm concerned. Also went to Starbucks, which became a daily ritual so I could get my latte - they only do two kinds of coffee in Madrid, espresso and espresso with a little foam posing as a cappuccino - and it was surprisingly good for an evil soul-sucking corporate coffee. Kim also became quite the fan of the Chai Tea Latte, provided it had a thick layer of vanilla and chocolate powder on top, much as I have to have my 10 million sugars in my huge (grandè is muuuch bigger in Spain than in Melbourne) latte.

I suppose I should try to describe the city. Madrid is beautiful, but in an interesting way. It has this atmosphere of strangely intense energy and a sense of sloth-like calm - during siesta, the city is so quiet, but at about 3am, it's crazy crazy crazy. I was going to use this description for the Spanish countryside, but it suits the city as well.......it's very earthy; it feels like almost every building has been there for hundreds of years (which some of them have).

The colours are neutral and there aren't half as many glass-based buildings as there are in Melbourne, most are made of stone, which adds to the organic nature of the town. It feels rugged and worn, but at the same time, totally full of life - mostly because of the people. Looking around, it's impossible to ignore the history of the city, it's displayed on every street corner, in the tiled street signs, intricate brickwork, and the pride with which it was built. It's hard to explain (clearly, as I ramble on), but it was amazing and I loved it, and I have lots of photos to act as visual aids when I get home.

We decided to keep our Madridian (yes, I know it's not a word) adventures in the same tradition as our Parisian stay, and spend our time soaking up the atmosphere of the city, not the tourist sights. So our first stop was a park, where there was some monument dedicated to Don Quixote and Pancho. It was really nice, and we met this awesome - if a little scary - old dude, who - when he realised we didn't speak Spanish - resorted to gesticulating wildly while Kim and I tried to glean what we could from his manic movements and garbled Spanish. At one point, in order to ask how long the flight from Australia was, he gestured to his watch and started running in little circles making engine noises and little wings with his arms. It was hilarious and a lovely break from the generally brusque nature of the Spaniards we had been coming into contact with.

Our Sydney friend, the now-infamous Danny, rocked up and we all went out to dinner and drinks with Kim's uni friend Robin and his lady Pepix - it was a hilarious night, filled with overpriced tapas, authentic Spanish bars, beer, pigs stomach and crazy old Spaniards with Merv Hughes-esque moustaches. Pepix even taught us a little Spanish....which we never used. We went to this place called Musee du Jamon (direct translation, The Museum of Ham), which was rad....Kim and I went twice.

What else? We went to a traditional flamenco show, which was awesome, despite the male flamenco dancers predilection for smacking his own arse and rubbing his body in a far too enthusiastic way. We also starspotted Mischa Barton - that's Marissa from TVs The OC - only metres away from us, stuffing her face with tapas. For you celeb whores (aka Bards), she was gorgeous (although Kim managed to get a truly hideous photo of her), seemed very polite, and was wearing a longsleeved canary yellow chiffon Chloè dress and she was with friends and family having a night out.

But back to me; we went to see a move, as is our tradition, and this time we took Danny along and went to see The Departed, or Infiltrados as it's called. It was AWESOME. One of the best films I've seen in a really, really long time. All the actors in it are amazing (especially Jack), and I am totally in love with it. Even with annoying Spanish subtitles. The cinema was a little odd. For one thing, it didn't open until about 5 minutes before the session time (hardly enough time to choose appropriate movie snacks), and there were no previews, which we found a strange considering there was a good 15-20 minutes of ads. Still, movies = awesome.

Next up....more Danny, and some Chinese food. Yes, we had Chinese food in Spain. Leave me alone. Anyway, we ordered three orders of spring rolls, which was fine, because there was only one per serve, and we figured wontons were the same. They were not. We got an overflowing plateful of wontons each, and between the three of us, I think we ate about 5. So we had the rest baggied up, and dumped them with Danny, as it's his manly duty to take care of all our problems.

After more shopping, Kim and I headed for a biggest park we could find on the map - we figured the bigger the park, the less chance we had of losing it. So we went to the _________ (yes, I've forgotten the name), and it was ace. It was kind of like Central Park, but more spaced out and landscaped. It had long meandering paths (perfect for us, we like to meander), and this amazing monument to King Alfonso...it was my favourite place in Madrid. Seriously beautiful. Again, hard to explain, but I have photos/visual aids to make up for my lack of writing talent.

There was a massive pond (more man-made lake than pond) in the park, and we saw a few fish...and a massive orangey cloud that we though may be fish. I wanted to know, but didn't want to get deported for being a public nuisance, so Kim dropped a coin on top of said orangey cloud to check if they were fish or not. Of course,being Kim, she missed the cloud of fish, so we'll never know and I'll never get my 10 cents back.

This is getting to be a very long post....quick summary of the rest of Madrid.
Found an awesome jewellery store; arrival of Top Bunk and Bottom Bunk, aka two Sydney accountants Alain and Mark (Alain + Kim = smoochies) who went out with Danny, Kim and I; More Starbucks and shopping; Said goodbye to Danny (we'll see you in London, lovey!!); took the train to Barcelona.

The train trip took about 5 hours, and was totally amazing. It was still quite early, and the moisture on the ground was still evaporating; as we were passing these long, cavernous valleys, a thick, dense layer of cloud was hanging in the air a few metres above the ground. Occasionalyly, the sun would break through the top layer of actual cloud, and shine through the mist; it was seriously beautiful. And of course, there was more countryside (earthy, rugged, blah, blah, blah) Once we arrived in Madrid, we went to book our train to Milan (to get to Rome), but it was full, so in a split second (10 minute) decision, we decided to take a train completely out of our way, and head to Bern to get a train to Rome via Milan.

Best accident ever. Switzerland is ridiculously scenic and gorgeous. It is like nothing I've ever seen before (outside of a television screen), but exactly what I was expecting. The railway runs inbetween and underneath picturesque snowcapped alps, alongside small, completely lovely Swiss towns, wild rivers and deep, green gorges. The alps were very impressive...Switzerland in general was just so beautiful, it's definitely a must-go destination now. Plus they have awesome chocolate and cheese, and plenty of cute soldiers weilding semi-automatics (for a neutral county, they seemed very prepared). Also, had the best iced coffee ever. LOVE Switzerland.

Nearly finished....hang in there.

Train from Milan to Rome was ok. Sitting next to a woman who looked like she had robbed a jewellery store and was wearing the booty for safekeeping. Kim was sitting next to a total loon, who kept whispering to herself, and had no sense of personal space. Got to Rome, found the hostel, checked in, realised we'd booked for too many nights, checked emails, went to bed.

Now we're off to see Vatican City, and totally get in good with his Popeness. Will report back (with a much shorter blog) later.



Thursday, November 23, 2006

Oh Baxter, you know I don´t speak Spanish

Alright. So haven´t updated in a few days, mostly because these Spanish keyboards are doing my little head in. Keys are not where they´re supposed to be!

So where to begin. I guess at the train trip. Our train from Paris departed at 11:00pm, so we headed off to our station at about 9. On our way to the train, some odd little French boys called out ¨Sexy girls!!!!¨at us........mind you, Kim and I were carrying our 15 kilo backpacks, grotty train clothes, crocs, and our daypacks on our fronts. Never felt sexier, and it must have shown. It was the best laugh we´d had all day. And that´s saying something; we were hanging out with some ridiculously funny people in Paris.

Once we arrived at the station, we encountered what has been our major complaint with Europe. The endless supply of pervy men. Kim and I were thinking the other day, Europe is certianly not short of attractive women, so why is it that almost every old dude we walk past or sit opposite feels it necessary to stare, wink, lean out his window, and just be generally creepy?? It happened on the train too, for several hours. Mucho unpleasant. As was the smell. I want one train that doesn´t smell like urine. Too much to ask? Apparently.

Other than old geezers and slight pee smell, our train trip was lovely. The Spanish countryside is what you´d expect, very picturesque. There were a lot of rolling hills, and in fine Spanish form, the valleys were dotted with terracotta roof tiles of the little houses. At one point we were going through a valley with houses on the hillsides, and Kim woke up and asked, ¨Are we in China?¨, and it did indeed look like we had made a slight detour.

They played two movies on the train, both in Spanish, so Kim and I mostly slept and stared into space, absorbed in our iPod companions. I love my iPod. I don´t know about Kim, but I have been well trained for long trips - I have been through many a 12 or more hour drive with the fam - and so it was a great way to unwind and have some ´me´ time, as it were. The toilet was an interesting experience. Despite my cast-iron bladder holding strong through several hours and several bottles of water, eventually nature called, and I could no longer send it to message bank. After scrubbing the toilet itself for about 10 minutes using antibacterial wet-wipes (not that I´m a priss), I was brave enough to face it, and it was only mildly unpleasant. I mean, the cubicle smelled less like pee than the rest of the train, so it wasn´t that bad.

Oh, note for my music peeps. RHCP Stadium Arcadium, Augie March Moo, You Bloody Choir, Garden State Soundtrack - very good road trip music. Will find more bests and report.

Anyway, I´m hogging the computer, so I´ll scoot off, and write more about Kim and Lisa´s non-lingual adventures later......

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Between the coughing and the gurgleslurping.....

I have no idea how to arrange this blog. It feels like we've done so much, and I haven't been taking notes, so I don't even remember what order we've done them in. So this blog will be a mishmash of Paris activity......

Best story ever....we were on the Metro platform standing next to this old guy (we now figure all solitary old men are perverts), who was holding a bag over his crotch, and every time we'd move over, he'd scoot closer to us. We were weirded out enough, but when we got on the train, he dropped the bag and revealed a massive erection......I started killing myself laughing, and so did Kim, and it was possibly the most awkward and hilarious moment we've had.

I guess the best part of Paris so far has been the fantastic walks we've been on around Montmarte. It's so Parisian....like Kim says, it's exactly how you'd picture it in your head. Judy has been leading us on crazy shopping expeditions in these little boutiques, where we encourage her to spend waaay too much money to avoid falling into the same trap ourselves. When we're in Rome, we're going to be waiting for a phone call from her yelling at us for letting her spend so much money, demanding that we send her money to make up for it!

But we don't just shop.....we've been stopping pretty frequently for food. It wouldn't be a Kim-holiday if we weren't eating something smothered in nutella every 30 minutes. I, of course, stand by and watch with seething resentment as the girls eat their crepes and pastries, while I sip on my scalding hot, extremely strong, bitter (much like my heart at this point) coffee - which I've come to love.
We've been out to dinner (or drinks and desserts) the last few nights, and our trip has coincided with the release of the new beaujolais, so we've been sampling, and liking! But you know us.....we're nerds at heart, and the other night I was in bed by 7pm. Sad, but true.

Kim and I also took a trip to Les Halles, which is a shopping centre unlike any in Melbourne - it rivals casinos in that it's impossible to escape from. After we finally did escape - after much stress and edgy banter - we headed over to Notre Dame, passing a few hundred police on the way, which was a little unnerving. Kim and I were suitably impressed, but also very, very lazy and tightarsey, so we didn't climb the stairs (we have to climb four flights to get to our hostel room and 92 stairs in the Metro........isn't that enough?). It was pretty drizzly that day, so we wandered for a while, but headed back to the hostel when Kim realised she'd left her passport unguarded in our room. Her passport was fine, and still there when we returned, but a pair of my earrings was not so lucky, and I've resigned myself to the fact that they're gone. Sigh.

Yesterday, we hit the ultimate tourist spot....the Eiffel Tower. The lines were mental, the costs were, well, actually pretty reasonable, but we're tight arses, so we didn't pay. Plus, it just seems that it's almost the least French thing one can do in Paris....we'd both rather walk around Montmarte for a few hours. I feel infinitely more satisfied after a day of that than a day of hardcore sightseeing. That being said, we figured we were so close, we should also mosey down to the Arc de Truimph, which was big and archy, as was expected.

Today Kim and I were a little 'under the weather' having last night shared 3 bottles of cheap wine with Danny and our new two American friends, discussing all manner of things, including sharing some very tasteless dead baby jokes (I only know one really dirty joke (Thank you Jacques), and having told it last night, I will never tell it again), and debating the smog in LA.....the fault of palm trees, or Native Americans? You decide.

Needless to say, after some coffee and chicken nuggets today, I was ready to face the world again....which of course means that I was ready to see a movie and then go to bed at 6pm...which isn't too far away. We went to see Scoop, the new Woody Allen. It was terrific, highly recommend it. Hugh Jackman is possibly the dreamiest man in the world; although if faced with a decision between Hugh and Scarlett J, it'd be a tough choice.

Now we're hanging at the hostel, being lazy. Surprise, surprise.

I'm feeling a little homesick and heartsick today; I think it's the combination of a teeny hangover and the fact that I've hit a little wall having been in Paris for so long (I love that a week is a long time). I'm a baby, I know, but it's my party, and I'll cry if I want to. I'm not a love-em-and-leave-em type person, so this backpacking thing has been a strange experience.

More when we hit Madrid! Ole!

Email me if you want (...........that's code for email me or I'll cry).



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are we out of the ghetto yet??

Sooooo, I thought that I should update y'all on the friends we've made here, since so many of you know how few people I actually get along with.....

We've been really lucky in finding people. First was Matt, an Aussie boy who packed his things and moved to London to work for a year. We met him in the laundry room in London, commiserating over the lack of functioning machines. Sadly, he had to check out, cos he found a house to stay in. He was good fun, and the first Aussie we properly met.

Then there's Jacques (although we didn't know that was his name for three days) We met him in the laundry too, after 'someone' - certainly not Matt - started Jacques' laundry cycle for the second time after concluding that the clothes sitting in the machine belonged to some asshole who was too lazy to pick up his washing. So the two boys had to sit with us for about an hour while we waited for everything to finish up, and we all had a lovely chat. Jacques was funny, had a pacman and space invaders t-shirt, and liked pirates and Scrubs. Needless to say, he became our Scrubs buddy, and our first official (and my favourite) overseas friend.

In Paris, we have been soooo lucky. Our roommates, Judy and Beth (a Canuck and American, respecitvely), are completely awesome - just as nerdy as we are and proud of it.

Judy is 30, and lived in Paris a few years ago, so she knows all about the city, and has been taking the three of us on these hilarious walking tours through Montmarte and surrounding suburbs - red light districts 'n all. Beth is 22 and from South Carolina, is very sweet, and says y'all. She's going to Barcelona to possibly teach, but mostly to meet her boyfriend (when we were walking out of the less-nice part of Montmarte, Beth asked if we were "out of the ghetto yet?"...hence the title).

Last night the four of us went to dinner near Sacre Couer at a really nice little tavern; it was Kim and my first 'real' meal since New York, and I have never craved steak as much as I did last night. My French steak was really nice (I even ordered it in French), and I had green beans to boot (I ate all them without complaining, mum), so it was possibly also the healthiest meal Kim and I have had since New York. After our fantastic dinner we carried on with our very loud talking for a while, then headed off into Montmarte for a walk (have to work off that chocolate mousse, and in the others' cases, pastries and nutella). Judy took us into Pigalle, to see the Moulin Rouge and some other dirty stuff.....then we hit the Sex Museum.

Best 6 euro ever. It was freakin hilarious. Apparently there is nothing to bond four women together like 1920s porn. We spent a while hanging around in there, taking it all in (pun intended), and laughing about sex, which is, let's face it, pretty funny. We walked back to the hostel via a bakery, where we all got some more treats (we'd walked a long way....leave us alone), and then headed off to bed.

Today we went for more walks. First was to see the Monets at the Musee l'Orangerie, which were seriously beautiful. After that we went to the Gallery Lafayette where we looked at ridiculously priced handbags and wished for wealthy Frenchmen to sweep us off our feet. We then went to train station to reserve our seats for our Madrid train, where we found out that it was going to cost us an extra 67 euro just to reserve our seats. Kim and I were pissed - stupid STA had told us it would be a few euro extra - and I think we've decided to get a refund on our waste-of-time-and-money eurail passes, and fly everywhere. We did the maths, and it just seems that the eurail pass is a piece of shit designed to rip us off. Although, we are still pretty mad, so we're probably not thinking very fairly. Oh well. A 14 euro flight is a 14 euro flight.

Lastly we went shopping, where I found a 90 euro top that I love!!! But I'm still contemplating buying it....it seems wasteful. But awesome and a size 2. And it's French. Totally worth it. Judy and Beth both bought a few things, and now Kim and I are on the prowl for something outrageous for Kim to buy for herself.

In conclusion, Judy and Beth are the fantastic, funny and awesome roommates. Our hostel is great and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Paris. I can't wait to come back (preferably with a man, in lovey-revolting-cliche), and explore more of France. Paris is beautiful, and I can definitely see why Kim loves it so much. Lots of photos; I haven't figured out how to post any of them yet, but as soon as I do, you'll be the first to see 'em.

I miss you all thhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssss much, especially my bed..........oh, and my family and friends. You guys too.

Email me if you want! I love getting emails. It makes me feel special. You do want me to feel special don't you?

Lots of love,


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Empire of the Dead

Quick update - we're off to dinner so I'll write more later or tomorrow;

Today was Sacre Cour, The Musee d'Orsay and the Catacombs. Awesome, awesome and creepily awesome/scary (That's the Empire of the Dead).



Wet Side Story.....

This one is supposed to be BEFORE the Paris one!!!!! READ ME FIRST!!!!!

Ok, so to explain the title of this post, (clearly a parody of West Side Story) it was raining on our last day in NYC. And I mean RAINING. So what do Kim and Lisa decide to do? That's right....we decide to walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is across the other side of Central Park, and about 20 blocks down (that's a long way, for those who are currently scoffing with disdain our renowned laziness). And in the pouring rain, with only the tiny travel umbrella I gave Kim for her birthday as our cover, it's an even longer way. Especially in our Crocs...which are rubber.....and have holes in them.....and we had socks on.....and jeans. You get the point. We're idiots, and yesterday we were wet, cold idiots. Especially when we walked home, got lost and crossed the park once or twice.....or three times, then got back to the hotel looking for a clothes dryer, which were all taken, and so we had to pack our wet clothes into zip lock bags. Good times.

Oh, sidenote; I have no idea what day we did what, so the following not be chronologically factually accurate.

But let me take you back to a special day, in which Kim and Lisa took a wander through lower Manhattan. In the Soho/East Village area (we can't tell them apart), we wandered into a lovely park in the middle of a busy intersection. There were some couples sitting, some old men reading newspapers, and a couple of middle-aged potential hobos.....oh, and there was also a trannie and statues of same-sex couples. We had accidentally stumbled into a gay hangout. As Kim so eloquently put it in her ever-expanding journal, "Known gay hang out? Black transvestite is clue".

Soooo, accidental-tranny run-ins aside; the next day we were off to do the Circle Line!!! Just like George Clooney and Michelle Pheiffer before us, we set sail aboard America's favourite sightseeing boat, and took in a big dose of New York (and a little Jersey). So we saw lots o'Manhattan (including the State of Liberty; I have a bunch of photos that I like to call the Liberty Series - they all look the same), and lots o'bridges, and also some teeny-tiny NYC Marathon Runners as they crossed the aforementioned bridges. It was long, freezing cold and totally fun.

Afterwards, being Kim and I, we had a fries (Kim also had a hot dog), and then a milkshake - which, unbeknownst to me, was made with cake-batter ice cream. America can do anything. I was violently ill that evening (cake batter clearly has wheat in it), so we decided to see a movie and call it a night. We saw that new Hugh Jackman Christian Bale one. Both hot, hot, hot. Oh, and the movie was good too. Very twisty-ploty.

But one thing Kim and I realised that night was that seeing a movie in a cinema full of Americans can only be likened to seeing a movie in a cinema full of (another Kimism here), "monkeys or children". At each climactic point, they would loudly gasp and cry out in shock, sigh (loudly) in sympathy with the characters, or laugh hysterically. I'm sure it doesn't sound so bad, but Kim and I were extremely weirded out.

Oh, we went to Barneys. It's awful. Unless you're looking to spend a shitload of cash, then I'm sure it's fabulous. To relieve my retail-depression, Kim let me go to Bloomingdales (which was fun), and to Century 21 where I picked up two adorable Calven Klein bras for 40 bucks. My other good bra broke, and I'll be damned if I'm trodding around Europe in hideous undergarments for the next 6 weeks.

Redbank, NJ was another NY highlight. About an hour away from Manhattan, the lovely New Jersey town is home to Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash (a la Kevin Smith). So we took a ride out there and spent a little time in Redbank, which is beautiful; lots of pretty trees and lovely people. Not at all the armpit of the nation as some have implied. Would actually rather live there than NYC - or perhaps that's only because we spent about 2 hours there. Either way, it\'s nice.

Next up is Empire State Building, which - despite Kim and my stubborn refusal to believe - is not actually the Chrysler building. I swear it's not what it looks like in movies. It\'s ugly and boring. So after swearing that the sign MUST be wrong, we headed inside and lo and behold, the sign was not. We mixed them up. We're not clever. Then more walking, a great gluten free dinner with brownies, and a fun subway ride home to good ol\' Dexter House. 'Twas a good day.

Anyway, London is great so far. Got a few dirty looks at the station, but were also greeted by a lovely Aussie (made us miss home....I think Kim almost jumped over the desk to embrace the man), and nice cheap internet!!! We made two friends...one Aussie and one mucho handsome South African. Our reservation got mixed up, and we're in seperate rooms for now....my roommates sleep in their underwear. Not pretty.

More adventure updates soon.

Love, Lis

Paris!!!! (said with a French accent)

We've arrived in Paris....and I can finally see what Kim has been ranting about for the past few weeks. Despite the Metro smelling faintly like urine, the rest of Montmarte (where we're staying) is seriously beautiful.

Our flight was short; I slept for the whole two hours, having been awake the entire previous night. And on our arrival, Kim's French was immediately put to the test, as we had to buy two sets of train tickets. Needless to say, she aced it, and didn't even get a funny look from the ticket lady. Her French skills were also handy when putting our photos onto CDs, and she had her first actual conversation in French (cut to me standing there looking all confused), and the shop owners loved her. Damn her.

Alas, Paris is also the city of fine baked goods....all of which I can't eat. So while Kim is gorging herself - well, not really gorging, more like stuffing - I am sticking to the tried and true diet of corn chips, cashews, cheese, and deli meats. Oh, and fries. We loooove fries. So, we're certainly not losing weight, as much as we are possibly gaining weight. But it's Paris weight, so we don't care.

Have to hurry, Kim's computer doesn't have an @ key, so she's waiting for this one - and not very patiently, I might add. Oh, and yes, we had our first fight, due to me being an asshole. Luckily, she's forgiven me (I think, or she's just high in pan au chocolat), and all is right with the world.

More soon,


Saturday, November 04, 2006

I heart NY.....

I don't even know where to start......I guess apologizing for the spelling mistakes.

We're sitting in an unusually dark internet cafe on Bleeker Street, after just having a fantastic lunch at Risotteria's, an gorgeous gluten-free Italian place, with gorgeous gluten-free staff (who offered to be our tour guides...wink, wink). We're going back there for dinner.........to eat, not to look at the handsome men, I promise. But in all seriousness, a real meal after three days of cornflakes, doritos, ham and fries is a welcome change, although I'm used to the cereal diet. Kim did have her first bagel with schmear, which was fun for her, and excruciating for me.

So to recap the last few days:

Our first day in NY was maniacal. Our flights were delayed, and immigration was a nightmare. We had no idea how to find our shuttle from the airport to the hotel, so we just asked some random guy, who said, "Yeah, come with me", without even looking at our voucher. Cut to Kim and I sitting in the back of a family-sized van, huddled together, discussing the darker possibilities, being death, rape, mugging, over-charging, or just being dumped in Queens somewhere. Let me tell you, Brooklyn at night = scary; at least for two suddenly-very-suburban kids from Melbourne. But we made it to the hotel after the surreal and slightly scary NYC driving experience (these people love their horns and their accelerators), we dumped our stuff, went for a walk and got some Maccas - of course - and then slept for a bit.

The next day we hit Central Park, which is amazingly beautiful. We don't know how anyone could hate a city that has such a peaceful and scenic centre. We took photos of trees, squirrels (we were very excited), hobos, Strawberry Fields and pretty much everything in between. But even those pictures don't do the Park justice. It's really beautiful, much more so than I expected.

After Central Park was the American Museum of Natural History, where we saw Dinosaurs and went to the Planetarium to see a movie narrated by Robert Redford, but the highlight was Kim's disturbing self-serve salad of imposter-cous-cous, several un-mixy vegetables, ranch dressing, and someother unlikely contenders. It sounds fine, but it - like Times Square - had to be seen to be believed.

The next day (don't ask me which day it was, we're not even keeping track), we got to MoMA, which was amazing. Cultural overload kind of kicked in, which led to us adopting a more click-and-walk attitude, which meant we got to Starry Night, took a picture and kept on walking.......a mistake we won't make again. MoMA was fantastic, just like I pictured. Van Goh, Cezanne, Pollack, Gaugin, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Dali...they were all there. I love Pollack, we have discovered.

We took our first subway ride downtown, which actually turned into our third when Kim forgot her camera, and we had to go back to the hotel. We got called "gorgeous broads" by some hilarious old perv on the subway - which in Melbourne would have been disturbing, but here was awesome - and then hit Times Square. I swear, that place cannot be described. It's like nothing else on earth and certainly not like anything in Melbourne. It's massive, and loud, and cold and bright and dark, and busy and a total drainer. Kim and I had our first bicker, caused by stress, overwhelmed-ness and tiredness, which was resolved by going downtown to Grammercy to see the Flatiron building and The Last Kiss - awesome, by the way.

Oh, we got stopped to be called beautiful by some former military guy, who was a little intense and weird. His suggestion was that we met him in the Diamond District and he'd get his friends, and we'd all hang out.....needless to say, we decline the crazy man's offer. Although Kim did think he was cute. THEN, I got mistaken for a New Yorker!!! Very exciting, someone stopped and asked me for directions. It was cool. On the other hand, we were fleeced out of 10 bucks, cos some guy raising money for a homeless shelter was nice to us, so of course we gave him money....at that point we'd have given any nice person money. It's not that New Yorkers are mean, they're just.....busy. Borderline rude, but in that New Yorky way that they're known for, and it's all part of the experience, right?

After yesterday's very full-on-ness we decided that a relaxing day of food and city ambience was needed, and we headed downtown to Soho and the East village, where we had the BEST hot chocolate in the entire world. It's what I imagined the hot chocolate from Chocolat would taste like. But it was so rich that even Kim couldn't finish it - and for those of you who know Kim, you know that's a challenge.

We checked out the Guggenheim, but most of it's closed to renovations, so that only took about half an hour, and that pretty much leads us to here..........

I'll update in a few days, when some more has happened! Tomorrow is the Circle Line Ferry and the NYC Marathon, then Monday we're hoping to head to Jersey, Tuesday is Financial District (WTC site, some other stuff), and then Tuesday is a short day; we fly out at night, heading for London.

More soon....miss you all, miss home already, but having loads of fun.

Definitely coming back, but next time with more money and more time!!!!!!!!

And Erin, have had more SATC moments than I can count.....The Blue Note, the site of Harry and Charlotte's wedding announcement photo, the park where Steve and Miranda get married, and many many more......it's so much fun!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So they say 'stay' instead of 'eat in'.....

It's so weird. This woman said it to us at McDonalds last night.

So kim used up all our minutes writing her blog, so check it out at kimsblee.livejournal.com for all the more interesting details and I'll update mine later, cos right now I'm so jetlagged I could die.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Manhattan Bound.....

So this is the first post of the unofficial Kim and Lisa's Around the World Adventure blog series.....I pretty much have nothing to say right now, but rest assured, there will be much rubbishing on once we've actually been somewhere.

First stop - New York. Home of Billy Joel, the Yankees, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Century 21, Barney's, MoMA, and a whole heap of other cool shit.

One day, 17 hours, 14 minutes, and 30 seconds to go...................