Tempus Fugit

Time Flies…

   Oct 07

Dublin Blues

No, not depressed.

Far from it.

In Dublin…time 0200….just returned from a fabulous evening at a local Jazz and Blues bar.  Was much fun with the live entertainment.

Dublin has provided both sun and rain on day one of my time in Ireland (Republic thereof).

Spent day doing not much.  Dozed briefly in a cafe after reading and sipping coffee.

Probably off to the Guinness factory tomorrow.  Local Guinness tastes far better than the foreign licensed brews.

Not sure what else I’ll do.


   Oct 06

Wicked

Having settled into nice easy comfortable surroundings of a decent hostel, the remainder of the day was spent doing ….stuff.

Took two goes at finding a SIM card….first one didn’t have international roaming. 

Wandered.

Walked.

Looked at all the pretty things in Harrods. (and yes that is a double entendre)

Got back to hostel to allow what I thought was plenty of time to get to Victoria Station so I could goto ‘Wicked’ the musical.

Turns out however, that the London Underground had other plans.  Thanks to a signal fault on the circle line, the whole tube network was in chaos.

Which meant I had to walk jog briskly all the way to Victoria.  Made it with ten minutes to spare – but was a sweaty mess.

Wicked was amazing.  I missed seeing it in New York last year, but am glad I got to see it here.  It only opened last week so I was lucky to get seats.

I suspect that it was a little wobbly in terms of being a new cast and all because it wasn’t as tight as what I would expect from a professional show.  I think that maybe it would have been better to see it on Broadway but none-the-less, the staging, sets, special effects, music, overall atmosphere made up for it.

Literally nearly bumped into Zach Braff from Scrubs during interval (I should watch where I am walking).

Tube network still in chaos after show so walked all the way home.

When I see funky shows such as this I sometimes wonder if I am really doing anyone a favour by remaining in my (second) chosen profession.


   Oct 05

Vomit and Other Conniptions

Travelling is fun.

Most of the time.

First night in London was suboptimal.

My original bed was occupied – so they changed me to another room.

My ‘Non-Smoking’ Room was right above the smoker’s garden…..so I had cigarette smoke to contend with all night.

I woke in the morning and climbed out of bed to discover I had stepped in a pile of vomit that one of my room-mates had vomited all over the floor.  There were splashes of vomit all over my backpack (thank fuck it’s waterproof). 

After getting reception to clean the room, I sacrificed the one clean sock from the pair I was wearing to scrub the outside of my backpack…and promptly went downstairs to demand a refund on the rest of my nights.  I guess you can’t expect much for nine pounds in the middle of london.

New hostel at Holland Park is very nice.  Decent hot breakfasts.  Quiet.  Clean bathrooms.  No vomiting as yet.

 


   Oct 03

London

Well London is a piece of piss to get around

- because I’ve been here before.

- because it’s not covered in Cyrillic.

Can’t believe I’ve just done Eastern Europe and Russia…. seems so distant.

Now I just need time to write it down.


   Oct 02

Moscow Nights

Well….tonight’s my last night in Moscow. What a trip.

Am in a bit of a funk. Was out till 5am this morning at a nightclub. Was bizarre walking through Red Square at 5am – deserted. Caught the first metro of the morning back to the hotel.

Slept till lunchtime. Went to an expat bar – The Boar House – to watch the NRL grandfinal with most of my tour group. Great way to recover from a hangover.

To London tomorrow.

Only three weeks left of my holiday damit.


   Sep 23

The Stairway to Heaven

0545 – Krakow ‘krahh-kov’ (in Poland)

First things first…obtain some zloty the local currency.

Cab to hotel…an orange hotel next to a shell service station in the Krakow booners.

Bags stored.  Fortyfive minute cab ride to Oschwein.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Arriving at 0900 at the site of the biggest mass genocide the world has ever seen.  I was not sure what to expect.  I did not expect the weather to be beautiful and the atmosphere to be serene.  It was.  Which was in stark contrast to the atrocities that went on in these concentration camps.

Wandered around Auschwitz I.  Was feeling distinctly queasy when I walked into a room that was literally full of hair…human hair… shaved off corpses and sold to be made into fabric.  It was literally piled high to the ceiling.  There were other rooms with thousands of spectacles,  shoes,  personal belongings.

Block 11 was the site of the execution wall – thousands shot against this wall.  Again the stark contrast of the sun shining, a gentle breeze, blue skies grated horribly with my thoughts of what this courtyard had seen.  Similarly Block 11 was the site of the trial gas chambers, medical experimentation, torture and other things.

A short trip from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz-Birkenau (Auschwitz II).  I was not prepared for the sheer size of the camp.  Many buildings reduced to rubble.  The main gate – the so-called Death Gate that is a very famous image was still standing.  It was through these gates that the millions of Jews and political prisoners were transported in cattle cars by train to their certain doom.  The building, although not overly imposing was very emotion-provoking.  Walking through the death gate there are a series of three rail lines that run up the centre of the camp.  Barracks on either side.  It was in this rail yard that prisoners were ‘selected’ either for hard labour or execution and extermination.  About two-hundred metres past the death gate and beyond the selection yard were the crematoria and gas ovens.

FOUR separate crematoria/gas chambers capable of each processing thousands of executions a day. Prisoners were told they were to go and have a ‘disinfection shower’ and herded naked underground down a flight of steps.

As I stood at the top of one of these flights of steps staring down into the ruins I had difficulty even comprehending what was before me.  These steps have seen hundreds of thousands of souls walk to their deaths.  A stairway to heaven if you will. I felt sick thinking about what they must have been thinking and feeling…whether they knew that they would never leave this building alive…but out a chimney and as a pile of ash to be dumped nearby.

It is estimated around 1.5 million people were executed at Auschwitz-Birkenau – making this the largest cemetary in the world.

The Tour Group and Photography Dilemma

I was glad that I had chosen not to go on a guided tour and to go early.  By the time we left, the place was SWARMING with tour groups…literally thousands of people.  Most of them eagerly photographing sites of these awful events that happened really not that long ago.

When I arrived, I made a conscious decision not to photograph anything in the complex because I felt it was ghoulish and disrespectful to make a ‘happy-snap’ spectacle of such an horrific time in history.

As I left I wondered if it was a good or a bad thing to have hordes of tourists clamouring over such a sacred site and if it was a good or bad thing to have hundreds of photographs taken.

I have to say that although I felt that the immensity the events these sites represent were probably lost on a lot of people who toured through  – and many of the photos taken were probably out of ghoulish fascination rather than to serve as a memory or a reminder…in the big scheme of things it’s probably a good thing.

I can’t help but think that the only way to prevent such thing from happening again is to make sure we never forget.  We owe it to the memories of the 1.5 million slaughtered souls to ensure it’s never forgotten.  If these tour-groups and snap-happy tourists achieve this then perhaps it’s tolerable.

I don’t think any photograph or any writing can encapsulate the feeling of visiting this site in person. Seeing first-hand the places and the evidence of these barbaric times has left me feeling a changed person. It is a powerful experience I will not forget.


   Sep 23

A Bunch of Books Up A Big Fuckoff Hill

Whoopee for Czech beer! (I have to admit it’s been a while since I used the word whoopee… I might try and incorporate it into more sentences….still isn’t as versatile as phwoop-de-doo which is on high rotation on the radio station that is my vocabulary).

Mental aberrations aside….whoopee for Czech beer.  It’s apparently alkaline and thusly, whenst taken with a proton pump inhibitor means it’s highly unlikely you’ll end up with a hangover.  I was just sleep deprived.  My tour group laughed when they saw me arrive bedraggled and unkempt for breakfast.  Rumours emanating from a certain tour leader suggested it was all my idea to go for cocktails in a strip bar…..

Having locked our baggage in lockers at the train station in preparation for the evening’s train ride, Cheese and I headed off wandering around Prague one last time.  The first point of call was to the only decent coffee establishment we had been able to find in the wretched city.  Phorphuckssake…how hard is it to find a decent cup of coffee in Europe?  Caffeinated  satisfactorily we headed up a big fuckoff hill.  A very big fuckoff hill.  I complained all the way because my knee was giving me curry after having walked up three million steps to get to the top of St Vitus Cathedral.  Cheese was fully engaging in Schadenfreude….and no, that’s not a kinky sexual position….it’s happiness as at the misfortune of others.

Arriving at the top of said big fuckoff hill (herein known as BFH) we happened upon a monastry.  The view of Prague was suitably ooh-ahh-worthy and necessitated a photo with us in the foreground.  The BFH monastry is well known apparently for its big-fuckoff-library (BFL).  So we went to investigate.

Yup.  It’s a BFL.  A very old BFL (VOBFL).  It involved a big fuckoff room that had a balcony running around the top third.  There was one of those funky ladders that you ran along to the higher shelves.  It smelt of very old musty books.  It was very impressive.  I want one.  Unfortunately the souveneir shop did not ship VOBFLs to Australia so I had to settle for a postcard or two.

Leaving BFH monastry we meandered (now that’s a tricky word) back down BFH.  Cheese was lamenting being afflicted…nay…stricken with reflux induced bronchitis and went off in search of Gastrogel (incidentally in Prague, a Gastrostop is a fast food joint…in Australia Gastrostop is a medication for stopping diarrhoea…ironically appropriate I would say).  Turns out though, protonpump inhibitors (which are restricted in Australia) are available willy nilly in Czech republic…which triggered a mad dash across Prague so Cheese could obtain several months worth of PPIs.

Dinner at a funky pub which was a brewery also.  Standard Czech cuisine…beer…potatoes…meat marinated in beer and covered in cream.

Got onto train only to be told Czech trains lack a vitally important feature….TP.  No TP for my BH.  Luckily I had 18 minutes and some remaining crowns so I was able to purchase large quantities of travel kleenex for the journey.

Slept most of trip.  Surprisingly comfortable given the horror stories I’d heard about Czech trains.


   Sep 23

A Pub Full of Fifteen Year Olds

Morning began with meeting the other members of the tour:

  • An Aussie couple from Laidley (between T’Ba and Brisvegas)
  • A bloke from Sydney
  • A Couple from Canadia (sic)

Tour leader is a Kiwi.

I am the youngest on the tour.

I like the theory of this tour – we get you from point A to point B and tell you what might be funky then you go do your own thing.  None of this following like a gaggle of sheep in front of a tour guide with an umbrella.  None of this stupid happy-snapping as you walk past this monument or that.

Cheese and I, having been in Prague for a few days spent the morning shopping…. I can’t believe I spent an hour trying on clothes…..what can I say…they were cheap and they weren’t clothes anyone in Australia should be wearing…and I needed them.

Cheese when shoe shopping.  I sat in the shoe shop ogling the gorgeous blonde-haired blue-eyed Czech women showing off their slim long legs as they tried on FM boots.  Cheese walked out with a 3000 Kc pair of boots – divide by 16 for AUD.

Afternoon we spent trying to find the Communist museum.  We were sure we knew how to read the goddamn map but in spite of walking up and down and up and down and up and down the same street (which I named the Yo-Yo st)….we finally found it….ironically located between a McDonalds and a Casino.  Was very interesting.  I learnt about the Velvet Revolution and the Prague Spring (both which sound like fashion shows but are actually quite important events in the Czech Republic’s history).

Met the other tour members for dinner.  We went to one of the pubs I’d been to on the last pub tour I did.  Yummy food.  Old farts went home.  I accompanied Aaron (tour leader) to another pub to meet with his counterpart who was spending his last night in Prague.  We ended up in a pub full of smashed fifteen-year-olds!!  Turns out legal drinking age is 15 in Czech Republic.  Which meant you couldn’t be sure that every gorgeous lass flirting with the barman was actually of legal age of consent.

Apparently it was a school group from Germany.  The teachers were at the front of the bar and just as maggotted as the rest of the students.  We soon hightailed it out of there and onto another pub on the other side of Old Town Square.

It was in this pub I discovered a lethal drink…..Absinthe and Red Bull… as if Vodka wasn’t bad enough with Red Bull….we have the green fairy (roughly resembling Kylie Minogue if the film is to be believed) locking horns with the Thai bovine.  I limited my intake of that particular concoction.

Tiring of that establishment….it was off in search of cheap cocktails…..and indeed they were cheap….I swear I didn’t know it was a strip club until after I’d ordered my exceedingly cheap beverage.  Nonetheless it wasn’t anything startling.  I didn’t really feel like getting hyped up over a bunch of (admittedly gorgeous) scantily clad women when they had looks on their faces that distinctly said they were thinking about grocery lists or cleaning toilets….certainly their mind wasn’t on the job.  Can’t say I blame them…but apparently the clientele didn’t seem to mind if the mind wasn’t in residence in the gyrating pole-dancing piece of meat in front of them.

0430 saw us getting back to the hotel.  Egads….and I have to check out at 8am.


   Sep 21

St Vitus, Jazz and a Fuckload of Steps

A new day dawns.

Met Therese at Malastranska Metro station and we all walked up to Prague Castle.  Some visiting dignitary must have been well….visiting – because we were delayed entering whilst a motorcade of several cop cars, dark glassed black vehicles, an ambulance and inumerable motorcycles pulled up at the palace.  Some guardlike people dressed in full regalia and other paraphenalia including several musical instruments  put on a performance with a lot of saluting and marching around as if they had poles stuck where there shouldn’t be anything stuck.

First stop on the palace tour was St Vitus’ cathedral.  Fucking amazing.  Very gothic in style.  Awesome pipe organ.  Very musty smelling royal crypt with funky sarcophagi.

Walked up the south-tower – which consisted of a fuckload of steps but the view was worth it.  Walk down the winding staircase was inhibited a tad by a gaggle of school children tearing up the spiral steps at a rate of knots and me getting stuck behind two Seppo tourists who schitzed half way up about it being too high and turned around and gingerly attempted to walk down the stairs clinging the to the wall.

The old palace was very beautiful and I was fascinated by the history.

Art gallery was soporifically boring.  There’s only so many crucifixes or pictures of crucifixes that one can take in before it get’s very dull.

After going up and down several more flights of steps my knee started complain bitterly meaning I had to limp around for the rest of the day.  Woe is me.  We managed to get lost….well…probably just temporarily misplaced before finding a tram to take back to the hostel.
Transferred my luggage from HI hostel to the hotel Cheese and I are staying in (in the ‘burbs of Prague).  Purchased really cheap raspberries at the metro station and pigged out on them upon arriving at new hotel room.
Went back into town to goto a Jazz club.  Located in a somewhat seedy part of town…as demonstrated by the malingerers at the entrance to the Metro we exited from.  There was a passed out bloke who’d pissed himself and was lying in a puddle of his own micturation.

Ate dinner at a funky restaurant with cheap local cuisine (more artery clogging cream).  Beer being cheaper than water, went down very well by the litre or so that we each drank.

Jazz club – The Rudet Jazz Club – was amazing.  Located in the cellar of this building it was dark, smoky, with walls lined in brown velvet curtains and had green velvet seating.  About a hundred people of all ages from 18 to 70 all sat in groups or alone drinking tasty beverages and drinking up the atmosphere.

There was a Jazz quartet that had the crowd captivated all night.  It was amazing how intense they were about their performing – almost as if they were getting high on the music they made – and that high was visible by the ecstasy on their faces when they performed.  It was a communal high that was experienced by most, if not all of the audience.

I enjoyed it immensely and was quite happily sozzled on Bombay Sapphire and tonic by the end of the evening.  Why can’t we have funky venues like this in Brisvegas.


   Sep 19

Like Reading Porn In Public

I have come to the conclusion that reading a tourist guidebook whilst out and about in town makes me feel as dirty as I imagine I would feel if I were to have a porno spread open in the middle of town.

And frankly when I do have to resort to reading a guidebook in public – I do it as discreetly as possible so that people won’t actually realise that’s what I’m doing.

Guidebooks need to come with disguised dustcovers.

Tourist places need less tourists – they make a picturesque surrounding seem ugly and gaudy.

Ironic seeing as I, myself, am a tourist.

Bad Behavior has blocked 62 access attempts in the last 7 days.