Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snow Filled Update

Wow it's been a while since the last post which I guess has to do with the fact that not alot has been happening... Well, actually, I lie! A lot has happened however I think it best that perhaps I don't share everything I've been up to because... well, let's just say I know how to cause trouble on occasion!

I will say that my hands, in fact, my whole body, is not reacting well to this Calgary coldness. It dries you up something shocking and everybody loves to remind me to moisturise but I never have enough time in the morning because if you know me, I leave getting out of bed as late as I possibly can... in fact, I've been leaving getting out of bed so late for the past two weeks at this job that I have been catching the bus to the hospital I am working at, at 8.20am when I am actually meant to be arriving at work at 8am... So, you can see how I just don't have time to slather and applicate moisturiser to my body in the mornings.. perhaps this will need to change, especially since I have decided to attend the gym in the mornings before work when I start my new job - wow, I think I have a lot to update on in this one blog entry!!

Yes, you read correctly. I am no longer working for the surgeon anymore but I have moved on to bigger and better things and am now going to be working for a 'boutique' recruitment company downtown. This means that the benefits aren't so great (read: non-existant), the salary is low (read: draw salary so pretty much commission only) but then again, there are perks - I am stepping out of my comfort zone and am challenging myself in a career which I am excited about. I will be working in the finance, legal and accounting division and I hear you all going 'oh shit' - my thoughts exactly, but the thing is, I want to get into HR or something eventually - first of all, recruitment skills - brilliant, second of all, learning about legal, finance and accounting skills would be excellent too! So, I am excited and can I just add right now that if you are going to comment with something negative then please don't bother and let me be excited. If this doesn't work out for whatever reason then I will move on but I am sick of people judging this job before I have even started - my theory is that if there are people who have been working there for 5-6 years with this draw salary system then it must work and if it works for them it can work for me. The only reason it won't work for me is if I don't like the job - and in which case, I wouldn't stay!

So what else has been happening in Simone's world...

Our crazy house mate - I don't think I have the finger-typing patience for the extended details right now... She's gotten better, I think the whole yelling, threatening, 'I won't take shit from you' thing just needed to come out and now we're never going to be BFFs but we are all okay now.

I joined a gym - finally - and have been attempting to go but it's so easy to want to go home when it is cold outside... although, I did that last night and got home and was completely bored so ended up wishing I'd just gone to the gym anyway!

There are boy stories, of course, nothing exciting, just that the guys I like aren't interested and the ones who I have no interest in are too available and needy which I don't like... so, yeah that's my life for now!

Oh and I can't believe I forgot to mention this - Kirsty, Courtney, Lisa and I went to a hockey game at the Saddle Dome!! I have included some pics. It was amazing - they skate so fast and get into so many fights. On occasion they bang against the plastic window that is protecting us which managed to scare Kirsty on quite a few occasions. It was strange because they served POPCORN at a hockey game so we were sitting there munching our buttery popcorn which was so oily and delicious!



And, on this end note - guess where I will be going after New Years - LAS VEGAS!!! So excited to be going there! Kirsty and her brother will be heading there after they've done Christmas in Ottowa so Courtney and I are meeting them in Vegas! That means my New Years will be pretty quiet and I won't be doing much (if anything) but I can handle that if I go to Vegas! Christmas will also be a sad and lonely affair as well because the whole house will be gone with the exception of Nathan but I bet he has somewhere he can go soooo it'll just be me... so sad :-(


Thursday, November 13, 2008

House and All That Jazz

Just a quick one tonight to give you a brief update on what is happening in Simone Land!

I'm still in the process of trying to find an amazing job and have an interview lined up on Tuesday for a recruiting company. It's actually my 2nd interview and it is with the founder of the company so hopefully all goes well because this is a job I really want. It'd be a stressful and demanding job but it's what I want. First I would have to get companies to sign up to the recruiting company and once I've got them signed up, I would then need to find candidates to fill the empty positions within the company. A lot of work involved but whoa, it'd be an achievement once I did it all. Every day would not be boring that's for sure. Although at the start it may be a little tough but lucky for me I'm determined!

We now have 2 other people in our house, an Aussie guy who is cool and a Canadian girl who I have a feeing doesn't like me very much. I'm sure the kinks will work themselves out once we learn more about each other. It is always hard at first. I also know I can come across as bitchy towards new people because I am trying to figure them out and while I am trying to figure them out I come across as snobbish. I may need to work on that perhaps. There are loads of things I need to work on. Over trying to figure what 'those things' are because it drives me insane. I just want to be perfect already.

Not missing home, just missing people. You know who you are. And if you are thinking 'is she missing me?' then YES I am missing you! Unless of course I have never met you in my life and then no I'm probably not missing you very much at all.

I manage to always feel like such an uber bitch at times which I hate. I think I'm nice and usually AM nice but sometimes I really don't feel nice. Having a self-doubt day I guess. I just wish I was easy to get along with and laid back but I guess that's not me initially! Gotta be happy with what I've got.

So I am still working at the hospital for a surgeon which is cool although a Dr emailed me today to complain about something the other girl before me did which I had no idea how to change... so I emailed her back and politely told her I had no idea what she was on about and that I was new to the position and appreciated her being patient and understanding while I learnt the new position which I thought was a nice email. I never heard back from her regarding the issue so obviously she decided not to bother. I was wasting her precious Dr time apparently! Ah, such is life.

My goal is to think of at least three positive things that happen each day so to focus on the good events rather than the shitty little stuff that I should just not worry about. Easier said than done!

I am still enjoying Canada and the weather is surprisingly nice. I was expecting really cold weather and snow but it changes quite frequently. Today was nice and on the weekend it was so sunny we could wear t-shirts but it changed pretty quickly and we got cold! We went down to the park though and it was gorgeous!

Will keep you updated on the job front as well as the rest of what is happening on this side of the world. If anyone ever decides to come and visit, we have some awesomely comfy couches!

Miss ya all
S

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

So, yesterday was Halloween... You know how in the movies you see kids dressed up in costumes and they come to the door shouting 'trick or treat' and they are so cute... well, this was like a movie! Kids came to our door and they were adorable. We had one kid who knocked on our door and shouted 'trick or treat' so we moved the candy bowl in front of him and he kept grabbing and grabbing and GRABBING more and more chocolate from our half empty bowl... Kirsty went to move the bowl away and his hands kept coming but this time grabbing air. The parent he was with reminded the child of what do they say now, and the kid looked us straight in the eye and demanded 'I WANT MORE CHOCOLATE' - to which we tried to politely laugh while stuffing the chocolate away before slamming the door shut... okay, bit dramatic and we thought he was cute but oh my goodness, the parents need to work on that child's manners!

Kirsty and I got all dressed up - her in a witches costume and me in a vampire costume although my fangs wouldn't work so I decided against them after the first 5 minutes. We had fun, drank way too much and met a load of people which was great. We had a mini-party at our house which went until around 11 and then we decided we should probably head out... So, we went to this place called The Back Alley and the line was huge so we ended up Downtown at some random place that was dead before heading onto another club called Amsterdam Rhino where I proceeded to talk to the ghost from PacMan... it was fun to see everyone all dressed up in costume! Some people went to extremes and made some amazing costumes..

Can't wait to celebrate again next year!

Just a quick note on the job sitch - still temping but now at the hospital. Have interview tomorrow for call centre job but decided I don't really want it but will take it for consistency with job. Had an interview for a recruiting company on Thursday last week which I think went really well and I need to call the manager so I can talk to the bigger manager who will apparently try to scare me out of the job to make sure I am really right for this company! Bit scared cos this job would be amazingly hard and stressful but really rewarding too!

As for the boy situation, have met a few, been on a few dates which has been fun but so far I haven't really been overly interested in the guys that I have met but, will keep you posted!

Love love love to you all
Simone
xxx

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Month In!

So, it's been a month since I've arrived on Canadian soil and I've been hunting for a decent job for a while now. Well, probably only the past 2 and a half weeks of serious looking since I managed to score a temping job with an agency but quickly realised that the agency would only give me the shitty jobs no one else wants to do!

I thought I could handle the admin type jobs, to get office experience, but after 3 weeks of doing nothing but make boxes, photocopy, occasionally be allowed the odd job of binding reports if I'm lucky and typing up other peoples terrible handwritten notes, has got to be one of the mindless jobs ever. I always thought doing nothing at work would be fun but I honestly do much prefer the fast-paced, stressful environment because I feel useful! Oh, did I mention I'm on reception for two hours a day - and spend the whole time on Facebook, Gmail or whatever other random site I feel like perusing.

Back to the job situation though - I've had a few interviews and was 'unsuccessful' even though I was 'great but just lack experience' (seriously you should be able to tell that from my RESUME so don't give me that bullshit) and instead of feeling knocked back, it's just making me more determined to get the job I really want.. which is heading into HR. Now, I've been told I need experience... but, there are loads of recruiting jobs which you don't need loads of experience for which is my foot into HR... so, let's hope my interview for a recruiting company tomorrow goes well. But then I also have an interview for another company which is a call centre type job - which would mean - way more friends because it's a large organization, better benefits, less stress and the potential to move up within the company... OR if I got the recruitment job with the smaller company.. it'd mean working with older people, more stressful BUT my foot in the HR door... I hate decisions. Then again I don't even know which (if any) of the jobs I will get so guess I will just need to wait and see.

Missing home a lot lately too. The warm weather, my car, friends, Spring Racing Carnival.... loving it here too, but ... hard without a car and I just feel like I am only half living here because the visa is restricting - like, can't get a car loan (not that I'd want to) and jobs are less willing to take you on because of your visa... but, persistence pays off!

More soon!

xxx

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simone *Hearts* Calgary

It has been two and a half weeks since Kirsty and I have shuffled ourselves over to the province of Alberta and set up a life in Calgary. At first, I hated it and was contemplating moving back to Vancouver but then I got a temp job working downtown and doing boring shit but at least it got me out of bed and social which made me happier. I've also been applying for other jobs that I actually want too and have an interview for one job on Monday as a recruiter so cross your fingers for me that I get it! If I don't get a good job in Calgary then I think I will end up moving back to Vancouver earlier than 6 months but we'll see what happens.

Kirsty and I are loving the house. It is gorgeous and even though it is a bit far from downtown it is a nice area and well worth it. We're still looking for our ideal house mate though. There are a few people coming tomorrow to check things out so hopefully one of them pans out okay!

Last night we had a few quiet drinks at home with a couple of guys we'd randomly met. They came to our place and turned out that they were really boring. One of them went home and the other one was Canadian so we convinced him to drive us to a pub down the road... which he did.. when we got there, we drank quite a fair bit more and started speaking to a group of boys from Saskatchewan who were in Alberta for a friends wedding. They invited us back to their hotel to party it up some more when the bar closed so of course we went back with them.

Oh my goodness.. from the moment we made that decision, life got crazy! I jumped in the back of some guys truck, I don't even know if it was owned by the people we were with or a random car! I said I'd drive, which was ridiculous cos I was wasted but I would never have actually gotten behind the wheel. We caught a taxi to the hotel and partied it up with the boys and Jason, the guy who I was getting friendly with, convinced me to go swimming in the hotel pool at 3am. The security guard found us in there and kicked us out so we ended up going on a huge adventure trying to hide from the security guard and ended up behind the scenes of the hotel and in their function rooms and kitchens. Probably not a good idea but it was heaps of fun. We ended up with a few free bottles of soft drink and juice. We ended up crashing with them in their hotel room and got woken up by my phone at 5am and then again at 8am which is when they had to wake up to help set up the decorations for the wedding. So, Kirsty and I left and ended up getting home just after 9 and I slept until 2pm! Excellent way to spend a Saturday. I haven't done that for so long so I didn't mind too much.

More happened that I should probably not say so I'm going to end this now! Overall a fun night!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sun and Snow and JOBS in Calgary!

WoW! It snowed yesterday in Calgary - just little tiny snowflakes but it was exciting. Kirsty was more excited than me. My reaction was more "oh shit if it's snowing already then what's it going to be like in 3 months." Still, I knew that before I moved here and it'll be exciting or, really annoying!

I bought a pair of black Airwalks which are totally not my style of shoe but I figure getting to and from work in sneakers is not a good way to go because you end up at work with wet feet. Even though it is okay walking through snow, the snow melts and then your feet end up wet - it is not fun and I learnt that the hard way in London. Not making that mistake twice. So even though they may not be my style they will keep my feet warm and I figure that I can either keep my work shoes at work or pack them in a bag and take them with me each day. Too easy!

Job prospects have been slowly happening... I had an interview with a recruitment agency and they have set me up with a two week block working in admin in some kind of company that is looking for someone with more accounting experience - I'm worried because I have no accounting background at all and I actually suck at maths in any form so here's to hoping they don't expect much from a temp on the accounting side of things. I think it is more just invoices but I guess I'll find out next week.

While I am happy to have had this job lined up for next week, I just went for an impromptu interview as a Recruitment Consultant for another company. I met with the manager and he wants me back for a second interview but he said he'd call tomorrow to line up the time and date which is screwed because he wants to interview Tues/Wed next week which is when I am meant to be in the admin role. I'm not too sure what to do because if I go for the second interview but don't get the job then I am out of work for 2 weeks... tricky!

I've also started getting random calls from other companies that I've applied to so I think I will be fine getting a job. I really want the recruitment position because it pays well and sounds like it will be fast paced and challenging - not to mention completely different from what I have done before.

So, it's all starting to happen. Kirsty and I have been told we can keep the house for a little longer than we expected, we just need to find a third person for the house because the landlord wants to up our rent. I think it'll be fun having a third person in the house. We're hoping for a male to even out the dynamics, I think another female would make the house too bitchy. Not that it is bitchy now but it could get that way with three of us. We'll see.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

ROAD TRIP!!!

Well I have finally decided it is about time that I sat down and spent some time blogging rather than emailing off a zillion resumes to potential employees - but we will get to that later.

I think I have been in Canada for just over a week now and - WOW - I am loving it. I don't think I am coming home for a while considering I can keep getting a visa until I am 30.. I spent a few days in Vancouver and had some amazing weather. I got my bank account and SIN set up which is basically like a tax file number in Australia. When I met up with Kirsty the day before we drove to Calgary she took me to get my mobile phone. I went with Koodo which is a cheap phone provider. Phones aren't like they are back home, they're pretty shitty but hey, it's cheap and it will get the job done. I was shocked at first but then I thought that if these are the only options open to Canadians then it can't be that bad. $25 a month gets me unlimited texts - international too - and 100 minutes, although, stupidly, when people call me on their phones, I still get minutes charged from MY phone - happens on all networks. Canada is a little backwards.

So, the road trip was hilarious! Kirsty and I are going to be so much trouble together.. It's amazing what happened in the whole day drive it took us to get to Calgary.

We saw a dead cow in the back of some rednecks ute with its poor hoof dangling lifelessly over the edge which was one of the two times that Kirsty and I actually stopped talking the entire trip. We were shocked. Poor cow. Oh, did I mention we had hamburgers for lunch? Actually, we stopped off at White Spot and grabbed some burgers and fries (is that more American than Canadian?) but as I was parking the car, Kirsty was excitedly yelling "Maccas" and because she was garbling on about that I kind of accidently forgot to brake and our nice, new, RENTED Chrysler ended up with a nasty scratch on the front bumper.. oops. Luckily they had included a fee that covered us for such stupid incidents.

It was a really long drive and Kirsty and I took shifts. Whenever I was driving, Kirsty would FREAK out and shriek for me to get back in the lane - she had this fear that I would hit the side railings, which I was totally never anywhere near! Whenever Kirsty drove, I was gripping the edges of my seat tightly! Needless to say, neither of us slept on the drive. Neither of us veered onto the Australian side of the road either, we both managed to stay completely alert to the new and weird Canadian driving expectations of driving on the right... Awesome. At one point, I freaked out because I thought someone was driving on our side of the road and was heading straight for us - turns out the other side of the road had an overtaking lane added for a few kms... but a few hours later, the unthinkable actually happened and we really DID have someone veering onto our side of the road because they were overtaking a truck but chose to ignore the double yellow lines ... I acted really calmly and slowed down and they managed to scrape back into their lane in the nick of time. This was the second time that Kirsty and I managed to say zilch because real fear had kicked in. It was quite scary.

Anyways, continuing on our way, Kirsty randomly blurts out "Simone, do you want to steal a traffic cone?" and of course, I say "sure". So, she pulls over and out I jump trying to grab one of these bright orange sticks with the fluorescent white strips at the top... It's amazing - the once empty road was now littered with cars. So I pretend to stand there stretching waiting for them to leave when suddenly a car pulls over on the opposite side of the road.. Kirsty and I were like "fuck, let's hope they aren't coming over to us" because we had a traffic cone sitting right next to our open car door - turns out they just wanted a stretch too and went on their merry way. We hoisted the traffic cone and continued onto Calgary!

We finally reach Calgary at ridiculous o'clock at night and we were exhausted. We were so happy that we were FINALLY there and almost at our awesome house - and drove down the highway for ages trying to find our turnoff... except, we drove about 20 minutes too far. At the time we didn't know this and stopped off at a petrol station to figure out where we had to go and got about 3 people trying to give us directions. I was tired and cranky so was a little rude and walked out while Kirsty got the rest of the details and we backtracked so we could find our house! Another half an hour later and about 4 cop cars later we still had no idea where we were going and Kirsty was freaking out with all the cop cars driving past and pulling people over so we decided to ditch the traffic cone... *sorry sigh*

It seems that after we did this good deed it didn't take us long to find the house and we passed no more cop cars. Damn, we could have had a bright orange traffic cone as a backyard decoration.. We were so excited to finally reach our house and we went looking for the keys which they said they'd put under one of the pot plants... Now, this pot plant was fucking heavy and it was placed on wooden decking, so of course, what happens.... the keys fall UNDER the decking and onto the grass - at 1am! Why would we have ever thought to have brought a flashlight, so we had to use our phones to try and see where the keys had fallen - Kirsty used her camera to try and see if she could see it from the flash and took a million photos of grass.. excellent! We couldn't find the keys on the grass at all - turns out they'd fallen into this super tiny bucket which was full of disgustingly dirty looking stuff... Kirsty got the keys out... :-)

Quickly explored the house which is awesome and jumped into bed.

The house is double story and it's a 1/4 acre block that goes right along to the river. It's a gorgeous view. We have a backyard decking which is great and a massive kitchen. There is an upstairs living area where we spend most of our time and a downstairs living area with a fireplace and really comfy leather couches. Two bathrooms but we're only using the upstairs one because it is nicer and bigger than the downstairs one and will be easier to keep clean. Kirsty is in the master bedroom upstairs and I chose the downstairs bedroom because it was the only other room with a double bed and the single beds are kid beds and really springy and uncomfortable. I want to take the canoe out but it is really dirty and gross and I am scared of bugs hiding in there and getting stuck on the river!

Have more random thoughts about Canada and the differences with home but am running out of battery power and I need to keep you coming back for more now, don't I!?

Hope you are all well back at home
xxx

Thursday, September 25, 2008

@ Mum's in Seattle

After spending six enjoyable weeks being on the go pretty much the whole time, it has been nice to come to mums house and be able to relax and unwind. Jet lag was fun, I spent the first few nights in bed by 6pm and waking up ridiculously early. Still, I am well over that and am starting to get into this time zone. Perfect because it means when I get to Canada my body will already be set to that time zone.

Mum and I have gone shopping, we went to a Chinese buffet which is really nice food considering it is a buffet... Mum took me to a shopping centre where I got a couple of pairs of jeans because it is cold here considering I have been in 30 degree heat for the past 6 weeks. I'm looking out the window of mums house and it is cloudy and cool outside. Guess I will need to get ready for the cold weather. We went to a fair which was similar to the Melbourne Show - except it was smaller and had no show-bags. It was fun. There were rides but it was raining so I decided against going on any. Mum bought fairy floss, I haven't had that in years! I didn't go into Seattle this time around.. we were too busy doing other stuff. No Space Needle for me, but I figure Calgary Tower will be just as exciting!

I decided that I'd get my hair done while I was here because blonde hair with six weeks of brown roots is not a good look. What a bad idea. I told the hairdresser what I wanted done.. but she insisted she was the expert and I therefore ended up with orange looking hair with a bad cut. I was so upset but the colour toned down the next day and turned out okay, thank goodness, although the roots aren't the colour I wanted them to be because she didn't listen to me when I told her my hair finds it harder to hold colour. I hate how they think they know everything just because we aren't trained hairdressers - but I've had my hair died before by someone different therefore, I think I know what happens when my hair gets dyed... Frustrating.

Then, I wanted to get my eyebrows waxed - once again, six weeks of no waxing and no time for tweezing left them looking a little untidy... so, stupidly went back to the same place because mum swears by this salon... Fair enough, mum likes it there, let's give the waxing a go.. All I have to say is I am NEVER going back there again. She took way too long to wax each eye resulting in more pain because she doubled up on waxing parts of my eyebrow and that hurt. She also plucked what felt like 5 hairs at once and it felt like hair was being yanked out of my eyebrow instead of carefully plucked. The worst thing of all was when she decided to CUT the hair on my eyebrows with a pair of scissors. I almost cried. I didn't want my eyebrows snipped. I told her not to cut the other eyebrow hair because when you cut the hair, you cut the point off therefore making the hair appear THICKER which defeats the purpose of getting your eyebrows waxed because you want them to look less bushy. She thought I was crazy but didn't cut the other eyebrow and when I got home I could tell that one eyebrow (the one she cut) looks darker than the one she didn't cut. I was... actually no.. I AM furious. She snipped it before I even had a chance to do anything. The point of my eyebrow will never come back now. Stupid woman. To top it all off I had to tip her because that is what American's do! ergh. Not happy Jan

** Tomorrow I will be in Vancouver!! ** I am a little excited about this but also a little nervous. I will spend 5 days there and am hoping to set up a bank account and stuff before Kirsty and I move to Calgary. I'm not sure how long I want to spend in Calgary at the moment but I'm thinking between 3-6 months... we'll see.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thinking Thoughts

Oh! This is my last night in Turkey. While I have enjoyed every moment of the last six weeks I am really looking forward to having ten days where I can unpack my suitcase and not have to worry about where my passport is or having to hand wash my undies in the sink or sharing a room with an annoying American who talks when I am obviously trying to sleep! There have been ups and downs to this trip - there always are. Can't escape that. I am proud to admit that so far there have been no tears. I've come close twice but have kept it under control.

Overall, comparing trips, I absolutely LOVED Spain and had such an amazing time in Spain that I was ready to pack up and go straight to Canada from there because to me, nothing could beat Spain. Even though Turkey was pretty amazing, Spain still kicked Turkey's ass. There were too many ruins in Turkey and the tour didn't allow enough free time or even relaxation time to do as we pleased, we were always literally on the go.

Another reason why I liked Spain so much is because I had awesome people on my tour. Morocco and Turkey there were a few older people and it kind of took the fun level down a bit - I think subconsciously people toned down their behavior to 'respect' the elders. To be honest, by the time I got to Turkey I was over it especially cos in my mind I was already telling myself there was no way it could be as fun as Spain... I miss the friends I made in Spain and half of them are living in London and I wish I could have met them earlier cos they were such good value...

I think my travel bug is complete for a while. I still want to go to Africa and South America but I think I need to start thinking about saving money and... *gasp* my future, so travel plans are on hold at the moment. I should be excited about Canada but I am a pile of nerves. Starting AGAIN. I guess that is part of the reason why I was so excited to go to Calgary with Kirsty because she is a familiar face and it won't be so scary if there is two of us.

Thinking about it, I kind of miss London. Not living there because the weather really was shit but I miss the freedom that I had and I just don't think it will feel the same in Canada. Unless you have lived in London I don't think you can really understand what I mean. Life in London is so totally different from anything else I have experienced. Antipodean central.. which isn't always such a great thing. It was almost like being back at home with all the familiar accents yet at the same time you were so far away from  home that these unfamiliar Aussies became so familiar that they become your family. I miss feeling like I was a part of something because at the moment I don't really fit anywhere.. not Australia because I have left yet again... not London because that was always temporary and in some ways very fake... not Canada either... I'm actually really looking forward to finding a new house and a job and settling in one spot for a while.. Give me a few months and I'll be hanging for another holiday.. always!

Oh and last surprise.. I am actually considering teaching in Canada.. I think this realisation came because I am scared of finding a job outside of teaching because it is out of my comfort zone... funny how I can travel the world independently yet when it comes to thinking about a job outside of teaching I get nervous. Why is that?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cappadocia

Once upon a time with a good friend of mine, we created lists of things that we wanted to do. Some things were random like... buying a new camera or going for a drive down the Great Ocean Road.... I think we even had strawberry picking which we did together... and I'm not sure whether this was on that particular list or if this was on a new list but I wanted to go hot air ballooning. What better chance to go hot air ballooning then in Cappadocia in Turkey! Apparently this is meant to be the 2nd best spot in the world. The best spot is meant to be somewhere in France.

Anyways, up we get at 5.30am and head down to the ballooning site where they are preparing our balloons. Coffee, tea and cakes are there for us to munch on whilst we wait but it's too early for sweet stuff so I hop around taking photos of the balloons being inflated. I was really excited. Our balloons were ready and 20 people can fit in each balloon. The way the baskets are set up, they are spilt into four sections with five people in each section. There is a section in the middle for the pilot with two sections on either side of him. To get into the basket you have to climb in and stupidly I wore thongs (flip flops, sandals, whatever) which kept trying to slip off. Interesting times. I thought that it'd be a little bit more exciting than it actually was. We just floated up into the sky gently and stayed quite close to the ground although we did go up quite high a few times which made my legs feel a little bit weak and I grasped onto the rails just that little bit tighter - because of course, grabbing onto the rails tighter would totally help me if the balloon actually fell... Funny how small things make you feel more secure even though in reality it would do nothing to help you. 

The flight was around 1 hour and the view was spectacular. I will upload a video when I get a chance and you will see what I'm talking about! 

Cappadocia is such a cool place because there are so many rock formations thanks to volcanic activity (once again, tuned out to tour guides loooong monologue so only have a vague idea) but a long time ago people carved into the rock and created man-made caves. They lived in these caves until around the 60s when I'm pretty sure they were forced out. We went to an open air museum where we could walk around the caves and see how they used to live. It would have taken them ages to carve out the rocks. They had made stairs in the rocks and also foot-holes so they could climb up to other levels. 

We also went to an underground city which has a similar idea to that of the mountain caves except this was underground! Now, this was spectacular. They had dug up to 35m underground and set up life underground. They only used the underground system during the winter months and in summer they lived on land and worked on the farms to provide the food for the winter. According to the Turkish, there are around 36 discovered underground cities but there are expected to be 200 in total. Some of them are obviously destroyed and have been caved in but the one that we saw was really well preserved. The way they set up the ventilation shafts and used them also as a well is just sheer brilliance. Very clever people, but seriously, I don't know why they just couldn't have lived on land and just made a fire instead of spending all this time digging 35m underground... It was so cold too - very chilly. Claustrophobic too. The tunnels were steep and very narrow in some points which was to stop the enemy from gaining easy access to their city. 

Its only been two days and I am already struggling to think of what we did in Cappadocia. Today we went to the Ihlara Valley and went on a baby hike down the canyon. It was gorgeous. Huge canyons on either side of me and in the middle were gorgeous trees and a stream running through it. Very pretty. We saw a turtle and he came out of the water before getting scared by the 15 of us surrounding him so he scurried back into the water. Lunch was spent sitting on the stream - literally. There had been mini platforms built over the water and we could sit on them. The only problem was the wasps. I hate bugs and creepy crawlies so everytime one came near me I let out a mini shriek... only when they came and landed right beside me. I think I squealed twice. Yes, I know it is childish and they are just bugs and I won't die if I got stung but I still don't like the thought of that happening and I don't know if I am allergic so yes, I am scared. Anyways, one of the older guys on the tour, I think he is 55-56, told me off. When I squealed the very first time he said to me in a dad-like voice 'SIMONE. SETTLE. DOWN' and I told him I don't like the wasps. He replied that they wouldn't hurt me and then another one came near me, I didn't shriek but I was moving and obviously trying to make the wasp disappear and he shouted at me again. I felt ridiculously like a child and felt annoyed that he was speaking to me like that. Sure, it may not have been very adult-like to be scared of a wasp and I never said that it was a 'mature' reaction but nevertheless, I bet he would not have spoken like that to one of the other older people on the tour if they had reacted in such a way and I think that is what annoyed me the most. 

I just don't have the patience for the people on this tour. I am tired of touring and spending time in hotels. Don't get me wrong, I have loved every minute but there comes a point when I have reached my tolerance level and I think I hit that point a week ago. I don't want to have someone come into the room and try to talk to me about pointless shit every night or to knock on the bathroom door after I've been in there barely a minute to ask how long I'm going to be or all the other annoying shit that room sharing brings. Once again, this just comes down to tolerance levels and I've lost patience. 

I'm also feeling really unsure about things at the moment. I think that's just because I'm tired and finding it hard to focus. I resigned from my job at CSC and I feel relieved but now I am thinking about teaching in Canada which totally contradicts EVERYTHING I have ever said about Canada and even in general. I still don't know what I want and sometimes I think that at 24 I should know exactly what I want. It seems like everyone else knows and I am stuck in some limbo land still trying to figure it out. Whatever 'it' is. I know that isn't true and it's only been the last two days I've felt like this and I think it is also partly because I have let a few comments that people have made get under my skin even though they are nothing comments.

On a final note, there is this stupid fly buzzing around the hotel room and I can't catch it and it is really bugging me... pardon the pun. How many days does it take flies to die cos this one has been in here for 2 days now! Ugh!

Simone
xx

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Elevator Love

I just got stuck in an elevator in our Turkish hotel! Seriously! There were four of us in the lift and were just about ready to push the number buttons to go up to our floor level when the big, fat Lebanese girl decided to squish in with us... As soon as she went to get in, alarm bells were ringing in my head but what could I say? 

We went up half a floor and I was watching as we fell straight back down.. but we fell a little below the bottom floor and this meant the lift door would not open as we were not in the correct lift alignment.

So we spent 10 minutes in the lift, cramped in together, sweating like pigs. Mark was screaming and swearing his head off at the Turkish hotel workers complaining because he couldn't believe this hadn't happened before and they couldn't fix it IMMEDIATELY. I was laughing hysterically cos I thought it was funny - I would not have thought it was as funny if we'd been stuck in between floors or stuck on any floor other than the bottom floor. The fat Lebanese girl was huffing by the door, pounding it as though her pounding would somehow make the door magical open.

A few of the guys we went to dinner with were standing outside the lift door giving us a commentary on what was happening. One of the girls, Amanda, made us laugh cos she told the others, very seriously, to make sure we were updated while she went out for a cigarette. Thanks Amanda! 

So we get rescued 10 minutes later and decide to climb the stairs to our fourth and fifth floor rooms! I get to my room and bang on the door and my American room mate answers. I tell her my story and she goes 'oh no' and then proceeds to talk about her day.. I'm like 'seriously, we were just STUCK IN THE LIFT' and she said nothing. So, now I am ignoring all her rubbish because she is still talking to me whilst I am typing this and I hate when people try talking to me when I am obviously not interested in what they are saying.

Overall, interesting experience that has never happened to me before and of all places for me to get stuck in a lift, it happens in Turkey! 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ruins and ruins and ruins and MORE ruins...

I am so sick of seeing ruins. Seriously they all start to look the same after a while and then our tour guide talks for 15 minutes about each area of the ruins and my attention span does not last that long so I tune out and end up getting bored. Still, today we went to an old Roman amphitheater which was brilliant because the acoustics were great... some people from our tour climbed to the top while our tour guide was giving his spiel and when they came back down they said they could hear him from all the way up the top. Go the Romans!
We have also visited a Hellenistic amphitheater somewhere else in Turkey which was quite different to the Roman one. Hellenistic amphitheaters focus more on the background scenery whereas Roman amphitheaters focus on the acoustics. Even the structure is different because Hellenistic amphitheaters are half-moon shaped to show the background scenery whereas Roman amphitheaters are a complete circle to maintain the acoustics I guess. I had fun attempting to whistle and speak in the Roman one and you could hear people so clearly no 
matter where you were standing - I decided now was not the time to bitch about the annoying American I'm room sharing with. Even when people were walking up the stairs, you could hear it echo. It was fun.


Other news... I am extremely dehydrated from sunning myself out on the gulet deck and am trying to keep my water intake under control to re-hydrate. I am enjoyin
g sitting in the air-conditioned hotel room because to be honest I am getting sick of constantly being round people 24/7, especially the annoying American. She asked if she could share a room with someone else last night so she doesn't like me either... but then had the audacity to ask if she could borrow my laptop.. I told her a bit fat NO. Well, I kind of hinted that I didn't want her using it and she got the hint...

This is the view from the Hellenistic Amphitheater

I'm meant to be meeting up with red-headed Pommy Tim later to go for a walk around Antalya but he hasn't come to find me so I think he's ditched me. He is hilarious. He is a red-headed Brit who is SO uncoordinated that he provides such a fantastic source of entertainment for the bus. Today I went to get on the bus only to hear that he'd managed to lock his key in his room with all his luggage inside... anyways, his door finally gets opened and we're all on the bus waiting for him... He comes down with his whole set of luggage only to get on the bus to find us all laughing hysterically because we are staying at the hotel one more night - and he'd checked himself out... nevermind the sunscreen smears that are constantly on his face.. he works with computers and he is the typical stereotype of a computer geek... glasses and hunched over, very amusing. If he read this though he probably wouldn't think it so amusing. Oh, he is 33.. yeah, he missed the lessons on personal grooming too. There are constantly bits that he has missed shaving over a couple of days so he has parts of growth that are stubbly and others clean-shaven. I don't understand how anyone can be THAT unco?!

I love to observe others and find watching people quite entertaining. I was waiting for a friend at Liverpool Street Station a few months ago and she was running late so I found a seat and sat and watched people and the time flew by. Sometimes I chuck my iPod in and I often forget that iPods do not make me invisible and get caught out people watching... hmm.. I would not work well as a spy.

Gonna end this now cos it has turned into a bit of a ramble post.

Cruising the Mediterranean

The past three days have been spent sailing the Med. I got the choice to either continue on with the group or go off and do a gulet cruise for three days. I had to decide before I went on the trip so I decided to go on the gulet which is a kind of boat. Turns out I was quite unlucky in choosing this option because it meant I missed out on Saklikent Gorge which is one of the reasons I chose to do the 15 day tour and not the shorter tours - my tour company told me 4 times that I would be able to do both if I chose this option yet the day before the cruise I found out that this was a lie. So, they will be receiving a pretty horrible letter from me because I was really disappointed about missing out on the gorge.

Luckily, the gulet was really relaxing and I had a fantastic time cruising around the Med and we stopped off quite a lot to have swimming time. We were able to just dive out of the boat and use our noodles and inflatables to entertain us whilst swimming in the dead sea. There were times when one of the people from my tour who were also doing the gulet cruise freaked me out by saying they saw jelly fish and laughed so much they almost drowned when they saw me trying to paddle quickly back to the boat...

Oh and it was hilarious because we would hear a 'put-put' boat which was amusing in itself because it really did sound just like put-put and these small boats came up to our gulet and each boat had something different. There were ice-cream boats which were ridiculously expensive (7 TYL for a magnum which is the same in dollars), other boats had Turkish pancakes, another boat sold slices of cake... we saw one boat selling grapes. There were boats with banana boats on the back and parasailing which they were coming up to us asking if we wanted. It was fun. We tried to bargain with them to get cheaper ice-creams but they wouldn't budge so we ended up without. No way was I going to pay the equivalent to $7 AUD for an ice-cream.

There were five of us from my original tour and six other randoms which was cool. I learnt how to play 'cheat' which is a card game and I discovered that I suck at card games but it was fun. We spent many hours playing cards when it got too dark for us to swim. I lazed about and spent my days swimming and sunbaking on the deck. There was a hammock which I lay about on a few times but mostly I just had my iPod in or a book and was either on the wooden deck or on a cushy sunbaking pad.

A very enjoyable time although a few of the girls got bored. I really enjoyed just kicking back and doing absolutely nothing. Having the crew cook for us was good and we had an amazing meal of roasted eggplant with minced meat on top which was delicious. I've decided I really like eggplant so may need to incorporate that into my cooking when I get 'home'.

I keep saying home but I really don't have a home... It's a strange feeling being in limbo. I like not having plans though. I have just resigned from CSC which is a liberating feeling. I knew I was always going to resign but now that I've sent the email I feel really relieved, another weight off my shoulders. At the moment I'm not even scared because in my mind, reality is so far away even though it is actually only a few weeks...

Stay tuned...

Pamukkale

Wow this was such a fun day. We went to a place called Pamukkale which in Turkey means 'Cotton Castles'. When you see the photos you will understand why! It was amazing because underground there is water which has calcium in it and when the water runs over land it leaves calcium deposits which ended up creating calcium rocks. The Turkish call them the Cotton Castles because they are such a pure white and I guess, look like cotton.

We got to walk around this place and paddle our feet in the calcium waters which apparently have 'healing properties'. Doctors have recommended some people to go to these mineral springs to help them with their ailments. I kind of felt a bit yuk walking through the pools because sometimes the bottom was a bit squishy and if you know me, even in the tiniest, you will know that squishy things under my feet is not something I consider highly fun - if you have ever seen me around the beach and seaweed you will know exactly what I am talking about. Still, once I semi got over the squishy factor and pulled several disgusting faces I enjoyed paddling around in the pools. After that, I wandered up to the 'Ancient Pools' which cost 20 TYL to get into which is roughly the equivalent to $20 AUD so I didn't go in the pools but I took a few photos cos you were allowed to do that and watch everyone in the pool. It was cool because there were marble columns inside the pool and old ruins. I think it actually used to be an ancient bath but now they have 'safened' it up for people to use. Absolutely a gorgeous spot and one of the highlights so far.

After this I don't remember where we went... oh, Fethiye. We continued our drive down to the coast and for dinner we went to an amazing seafood market where we could choose exactly what fish we wanted to eat (they were already dead not swimming in a tank) and four of us went in together and got two types of fish - bream and bass - and 3 calamari and two prawns (cos only two of us wanted one) and shared that. Once we bought our fish we took it to a restaurant that was in the seafood square and told them whether we wanted it grilled or fried. They charged 5 TYL for cooking our food and for this price also provided the yummiest bread ever and served up a decent salad. I think in the end the meal cost me about $15 AUD which is pretty good for seafood. Even if I had wanted to buy more seafood it wouldn't have cost me more than $20 AUD which is a bargain. It was amazing. Definitely one of the yummiest meals I have had in Turkey so far.

Comparing cuisines - I think they all vary and each are wonderful in their own way. I found Spain to have the least tasty food, mainly because we were eating in touristy places where the food isn't the greatest - although on occasions we had brilliant meals. It's just that we were on the go so much we didn't have the time to find a good restaurant, we had to quickly choose. Morocco was great with its tagines although I was sick of meat by the end. I thought there'd be more seafood in Turkey but I haven't really had that much. I will definitely be incorporating more fish into my diet when I get 'home' because I forgot how good fish actually tastes!

As for my tour - definitely not as good as Spain in regards to the company. I miss my Spanish crew. We had an awesome time. The people on this tour range greatly in age. We have quite a few older, married couples, a few younger couples, a pair of old ladies (like, I'm guessing 60-70) and a few people traveling on their own. At first, I was sharing a room with this fat Lebanese girl who I did just not get along with. She was really difficult to talk to and I'd say something and then she would throw in a completely random comment as though I hadn't even spoken. I don't like that. I don't think anyone really does like that. I eventually stopped talking to her by the second day because I can't be arsed dealing with that. I also turned quite childish and took the key out of the slot while she was still in the room and that meant no lights for her. Really it was just payback for the day before when she took the keys out while I was using the bathroom and ended up in darkness. She also has a fat waddle. You know how fat people start to not be able to walk normally after a while and develop the waddle.. well she has one of those. On the first day we met we went to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul together and she tried to look at something I was looking at but fat people seem to forget that they actually DO take up a larger amount of space than normal sized people. I actually get quite frustrated when they do this because they invade my personal space bubble when they don't realise that just because their head wants to go somewhere their body is actually rounder than normal and they squash up against me and I really don't like it. Actually it kind of freaks me out a lot. Yes, possibly a weird, random thing to get freaked out about but I don't like an unknown persons fat squidge smushed against my body just because they want to see what I'm looking at. That's what hands are for. I'll pass it over to you if you want to look at it, just don't squash me!

Luckily we are now not sharing a room and I am now stuck with an annoying American... I seriously cannot wait for my OWN bed without someone next to me snoring their head off or coughing every 30 seconds...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

25 April 1915 - Gallipoli

Today I was in Gallipoli. I learnt a lot of things that I never knew, which I guess is the point of traveling, but at the same time it sometimes makes me feel like I should know more about the history of my own country. I don't even know where to start. Gallipoli was quite a haunting experience because I stood there looking at the most amazing view of ANZAC Cove but my head was going back to April 25, 1915 and thinking of the onset of slaughter that would begin that day.

4.30am and the Australian and NZ troops were heading to a certain spot on the coast but the current swept them 2km away from their intended destination so when they reached land, instead of reaching land that had easy terrain they got land that had steep cliffs up to 800m high. Being brave Aussies and Kiwis the 2000 soldiers attempted to climb up these steep cliffs - but even though they caught the 200 Turkish soliders unaware, the Turks had a huge advantage because they were up the top of the cliffs so could easily see their targets - hence how on that day many Aussies and Kiwis (ANZACs) lost their lives in a pointless battle.

This battle went on for approximately 290 days (I can't remember the exact number) with a quarter of a million British allies lives lost and a quarter of a million Turkish soliders lives lost.

The whole war was pointless because neither side achieved its objective. For the British side, this was to secure a path to Russia which allowed better access to the country and to have more of a open area to attack Germany (once again, details semi-fuzzy and this is where the 'I wish I were smarter and could retain facts better' side of me kicks in) but it was something about Russia. Mind you, Russia were not even a part of this... it was Britain trying to show their alliance to Russia I guess. Whatever way you look at it, both sides failed miserably which made me question why Gallipoli was even such a big deal... as if reading my mind one of the people on my tour started to explain... he said that even though neither side 'won', both sides fought damn hard and as well as they could for what they believed was right. The Turks managed to gain control of the troop that was 10 times the size of theirs even though they were caught unaware. The Aussie and Kiwi troops never gave up no matter how hard things got.

On the documentary we watched it mentioned how soldiers in the trench would die and automatically the next soldiers in line would go and fill their spaces without hesitation - even though they knew they would face the same fate. They knew they would die for their country and they accepted it. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the letters that the troops wrote to their loved ones back home because they didn't know if they would ever see them again but the letters that we heard read on the documentary the men seemed to remain so strong.

Nothing could prepare me for the images of what went on in the war though... barbed wire in the water, shrapnel and wounds... imagining the cries of pain of the injured soldiers.... in the trenches that the soldiers dug out we were told that there were 3m deep of bodies in there. Even on the ocean shore there were bodies scattered everywhere and you could not even see the sand... to get anywhere you had to walk over dead bodies. With dead bodies also came flies and disease. Many soldiers got sick from the stench and could not eat. They also had diseases like typhoid, diahorrea, etc.


What amazed me was how they climbed up the steep hills and through the shrubs. It would not have been easy. They have to be such brave people and they do deserve to be commemorated because even though I disagree with why they were at war they were fighting with a passion that ran deep.

So, back to my point which I think I skipped - ANZAC Day and Gallipoli is to commemorate ALL the soldiers who lost their lives that day - British, Australian, New Zealand, Turkish - because towards the end the ANZACs and Turks were giving each other gifts and passing on messages to each other - whilst still fighting - but out of a horrible war came the friendship of these countries. Their land is scattered with the remains of our bodies - and there was a memorial that basically stated something along the lines of -we are your mother now because you have lost your lives on our land and now we will keep you in peace- which I think is sweet because it is I guess part forgiveness from the Turks and acceptance for that which has happened.

So much is running through my head and I can't be bothered re-reading this to check if it makes sense and flows so if this is all over the place, sorry! I will add more if and when I remember but feel free to comment and add information for me because mine is quite scattered!

The start of Turkey - Istanbul

Istanbul is actually not a bad city! I thought it would be like Morocco with no major shops and dirty, dingy streets. Okay, the streets weren't exactly the nicest but they were well made streets and Istanbul even has trams... that surprised me. Apparently though the trams are quite new. I went to the Grand Bazaar which is known for its jewelry and many other items of shopping... remembering that I am on a BUDGET... yeah.. well... after the Grand Bazaar I walked away with my budget completely shattered to smithereens... I think I spent about 3/4 of my budget in one day.. and what did I buy, I can imagine you asking - pfft... let's just say that yes, I got ripped off.. but my theory is I LOVE what I bought and so far on this trip I haven't spent loads on tacky souvenirs so that's how I justified my lack of budgeting control. Oh and I also loved the shop assistants who had conversations with my breasts... I really liked a piece of jewelry at one of the shops but the assistant would not look at my face so I decided against trying to even barter with him!

Istanbul isn't the kind of city that gets my pulse racing though. I went to the Blue Mosque which was actually really nice inside. I'm cathedraled and churched out from Europe travels and most recently Spain and thought I was also mosqued out but the Blue Mosque was cool. Lots of bluish tiles inside and a huge dome in the middle. Very pretty. You had to take your shoes off to go inside so the mosque stunk like smelly feet which was not overly pleasant... Mosques are meant to be sacred to muslims - and in Marrakesh, the main mosque there is not open to anyone who is not a muslim because it is a sacred place to them... Turkey does not appear to have that same level of commitment as Morocco!

We also went to an underground cistern which was cool. It was dark and there was lots of water and I don't think it is still used today as anything other than a tourist attraction but it was fun to see. There are 300 pillars used to secure the cistern and towards the back there are two medusas heads which no one knows why they are there. It is thought that they were brought from an ancient building from the late roman period.

I skipped the Hagia Sofia which was another mosque/church thing that I honestly never even heard of so I figured I could skip it. I figure the main attraction in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque - seen that so not going to pay to see another mosque which looks the same. I found an internet cafe and checked the damage to my bank balance and the guy behind the counter tried to rip me off for the internet cafe, telling me I owed 4 Euro when it stated that the minimum charge was 2 Euro for an hour - and I was less than an hour... so I told him so and he looks at me, huffs and says 'oh ok then, 3 Euro'... lol, I had to BARGAIN to pay the SET price at this internet cafe... I couldn't help but shake my head and laugh.

After that I found the group and we spent what felt like forever at Topkapi Palace - but it had nice gardens and good views of the city. We looked in some rooms that had pretty, sparkly jewelry and I saw an 86 karat gold ring with diamonds. Pretty. I'm not a gold girl though... I prefer white gold or silver. I used to like gold but not recently...

Back to the hotel after this exhausting day and after dinner a few of us decided to head out and smoke some shisha... was I up for that? Like you even need to ask! Apple flavoured shisha is fun to smoke. It can get harsh though and is not fun for the throat but when they make it right and it's smooth it is so good. Not a late night because tomorrow - Gallipoli!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ibiza

WoW! Yesterday we left Granada and made our way to the party island of Ibiza (pronounced I-bi-tha) and that was an all day trip so we arrived at our hotel around 7.30pm. Plenty of time for us to grab some dinner before returning to our rooms to shower and freshen up before hitting our first club in Ibiza.

Hed Kandi were playing at El Divino so we decided to start off at a bar on 'shark street' which is a street lined with bars that clubbers go to before heading out. You can buy tickets here for all the clubs as well as having pre-drinks. The bars also have guys walking around selling drugs (they are discreet as drugs are not legal in Spain, even on Ibiza, but because police can't control the drug situation they kind of tolerate it) and a parade each night to promote the different clubs.

In Spain, people do not tend to leave for a club any earlier than 1am... we struggled with this concept before Ibiza but as our tour guide said, if we wanted to go and stand alone like a loser in this massive club waiting for other people to arrive, go ahead, but we'd be standing alone for hours. So, we stayed at this bar for a while and enjoyed the pumping atmosphere of Ibiza. There were transvestites walking around in skimpy clothes, topless chicks promoting some of the clubs and big banners being held up. It was interesting.

To get to El Divino we caught a ferry across to a small island a few minutes away and walked to the club. It was so relaxing... the club wasn't as spectacular as I thought. It was small and the lighting was average considering it was Ibiza - I was expecting something huge but El Divino isn't as popular as some of the other clubs I'm going to so in a way I shouldn't have expected too much. The music was quite commercial which surprised me because I was expecting something a little harder and not as touristy as it was. Still, people went nuts and it was a really fun night. Think I ended up at home around 6am...

I woke up at 11am and pottered around for a while until it was ready to go to another club. Everyone was heading to Pacha to Flower Power. I wanted to go elsewhere but I followed the group because I didn't want to go to a club on my own. So, Pacha it was and it was a good night. Lots of 60s, 70s and 80s music which surprised me for Ibiza, I never thought I'd hear that in a club here. It was a great night, another late one and I woke up around 11am and went for a wander down the streets before coming back once again to get ready to go out.

We went to this place called Cafe Del Mar - it is really famous because it is right along the beach and plays really chilled out music which starts to pump up as the night goes on - to try and pump you up to go out clubbing. It really works because I was so exhausted and ready to go to bed but then the music started pumping up and I was ready to go out again! The point of going to Cafe Del Mar is to watch the sunset and have a chilled out afternoon. The sunset was gorgeous and everyone clapped after the sun went down. That night, I really wanted to go to Tiesto at Privilege but majority were going back to Pacha to see Roger Sanchez so once again I followed the crowd but I have a little regret I did that now... still, Sanchez was amazing and yet again, another late one. Our tour ended the next morning and the girls I'd become friends with had left Ibiza so I moved to my new hotel and.. wanted to go out again that night but decided sleep before Turkey would be the best thing!

I have been in Ibiza for 4 days and have still not been to the beach. I am just about to go to the beach now and then maybe later I will head back to Cafe Del Mar and watch the sun set one last time before I leave Ibiza.

Yes, drugs and partying are a huge thing on this island but the beaches here are meant to be pretty cool and it is not as bad as some people have made it out to be. I would love to come back here and party some more because I have had the best time here. In fact, I have had the best time in Spain and would be totally ready to finish my traveling now because I am exhausted and I feel that Spain has just been so amazing that nothing else can beat it at this stage.

Gibraltar, Monkeys and Granada

Oh wow. I loved going back into English speaking land! Gibraltar is part of the UK because in 1704 the British managed to secure this land during the War of Spanish Succession and it is now a military base and a fortified town. There is a huge rock here which is called the Rock of Gibraltar which is huge and if it is a clear day you can see across to Morocco - unfortunately, when we went it was not a clear day so we did not see Morocco. We went up the rock by taxi and stopped off at some caves which were cute... I've seen better. The best thing was seeing all the Barbarian Monkeys! They were so cute (and dirty) and there was one who was eating a magnum and then a man threw a banana at another monkey and he unwrapped it SO fast and started eating his banana. I had to take a photo. We then went further up the mountain and stopped to get photos with the monkeys. One jumped on my shoulder and I couldn't help but shriek because the taxi driver we went with quite liked telling me that the monkeys were not potty trained so I kind of wanted this monkey off my shoulder quite quickly after that. Still I got a couple of classic photos with the monkeys and ended up with dirty paw prints on my back. We headed back down the rock and managed to get some very oily but yummy fish and chips for lunch.

Gibraltar was great because everyone spoke English and there were English phone boxes and post boxes and even English shops. It was nice being back in England for a few hours. We even needed our passports to cross the border because the Spanish obviously do not recognise Gibraltar as their own.

We then continued onto Granada. By this stage I was exhausted with the tour and did not enjoy Granada as much as I could have. We went to the Albaicin which was where the first houses of Granada were first built because they were in prime location. We walked through the narrow streets and saw the pretty houses and once again, flowers hanging from balconies before going to La Cartuja which was a monastery. Kind of cool but also I was over it so wasn't overly fussed. Back to the hotel once again and in the afternoon we went to the Alhambra which was kind of like the alcazar in Cordoba. There was too much walking involved and though it was very pretty I was just not in the mood and was cursing myself for not staying by the pool at the hotel. Everyone was wrecked and needed a good night of sleep... which we all did before the loooong drive the next day to... IBIZA!!!

Seville

This was one of my favourite places. I really liked it here. It was bloody hot and I was sweating like a pig but it was such a pretty place. We went to some fountain to get our group photo taken and then we headed to the Seville bullring... I loved it! Pete, our tour manager, told us the story behind bullfighting and tried to convince us bullfighting is not as cruel as we think... I'm almost convinced... He said that the bulls who get lead into the ring lead fantastic lives. They spend six months of the year with the boys and six months of the year with the girls.. and can get friendly with whoever they feel like... unlike the bulls who are bred primarily for slaughtering who live in horrendous conditions and don't get the freedom to roam the open fields and smell the fresh air. The bullfighters also live a year longer than the bulls who are slaughtered and Pete said that the slaughtered bulls get a bullet to the back of their brain and the bulls who are lead into the ring get 15 minutes of torture but they have lived a life of bliss... as opposed to the bulls who get slaughtered who have just let a shit life all round and end it with a bullet. I wouldn't say I like the idea of bullfighting but if I had to choose which life I'd rather lead I think I'd choose to be a bullfighter as opposed to a slaughter house bull.

Bulls primed especially for bullfighting are wild bulls. They have never seen people before and when they get into the ring they will charge at anything. There is this man, I think he is called a madagar, and he is responsible for killing the bull. They don't just kill the bull, there are a series of stages they must go through before the bull is killed. I can't remember all the stages but basically the end stage is the final stage where the bull must be killed. Someone of high importance within the crowd, if they are impressed with the way the madagar has killed the bull then he holds up a certain coloured handkerchief and the madagar can cut off the bulls ear. If the person of importance is semi-impressed with the way the madagar has killed the bull then he holds up a different coloured handkerchief and the madagar is allowed to cut off the tail. The madagar is allowed three attempts at killing the bull - and if he doesn't manage it by the third time then he is deemed unworthy to kill the bull and either another person is brought into the ring to kill the bull or he is shot because they don't want the bull to suffer more than it has to. If the bull kills the madagar then that bull is killed and so is its mother because they don't want that bloodline alive anymore. I think this rule is crazy because they breed the bulls to kill them but as soon as a bull kills a madagar they want to destroy its bloodline. The Spanish love this sport and pay quite a lot of money to go and see a bullfight. I think a bullfight would be way too gory for me to watch because bulls DO die in front of you. It all sounds okay written down but seeing it actually happen would freak me out.

In Seville, there is the third largest cathedral in the world. I had to go inside because I've been to 3 out of 4 of the largest cathedrals in the world so I figured I may as well go into this one. In order, here are the 4 largest cathedrals in the world...
1. Saint Peters Basilica in Rome
2. St Pauls in London (although I haven't been inside)
3. Cathedral in Seville
4. Domeo in Florence, Italy.

Inside the cathedral there was Christopher Columbus's tomb... so, I took a photo, had a quick look around the cathedral and headed out to find a tapas bar. I am really over cathedrals. Yes, they are pretty but once you've seen a few of them you do get over them pretty quickly. We had the best tapas and Sangria in Seville. We were going to get Starbucks because it was close, air-conditioned and we were beyond hot and sweaty but there were no seats so we ended up at this delicious tapas bar. Expensive but well worth it. We got some anchovies in oil and vinegar which sounds gross but was actually nice, prawn salad, some beef dish, squid... etc. The choice is endless and different at each tapas bar. Our tour manager told us that the best way to tell a good tapas bar is if there are a lot of napkins on the floor and lots of locals. This was a decent tapas bar though so no napkins on the floor. We also had the best sangria. Definitely worth the money spent.

That night was flamenco dancing which overall was terrible. I spent the night talking to the other people on my table because they were as bored as me and we kept looking at our watches wondering when we'd get to leave.

Spanish Spree

Spain is amazing! I am having so much fun. I'm actually feeling a little lame at the moment because half of the tour group is going out partying tonight but I am staying at the hotel to get some much needed sleep... We're saving ourselves for the clubs in Ibiza... and I am getting this stupid Contiki Cough... it is a pretty nasty cough and so far I only have an itch so I am going to buy some antibiotics to prepare for the worst.. you can buy them over the counter here and I figure I may get a few packets in case of getting sick in Canada, I won't have to worry about seeing a doctor. Yep, I am now a pharmacist...

As for Spain itself, I am loving it. This country is amazing. The history, the culture, the clubs... it seems as they don't do anything half-arsed. The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is amazing and was designed by a famous architect called Gaudi. He was really into gothic architecture and started building this beautiful cathedral but ended up running out of money and not being able to fund it.. he then died getting hit by a car because he stepped onto the road to admire the cathedral and work on this building stopped for years before it was decided to that the building should be finished. It is set to be finished in 2010 and each year a different architect is asked to give his opinions on the designs of the building to keep with the original idea of Gaudi's work. It's amazing because Gaudi actually didn't plan the cathedral before he started building it which makes it hard for the Spanish to keep building it because there are no plans. I was disappointed though because the inside is definitely not as dramatic and as beautiful as the outside. It will look even more amazing when it is finished.

We saw the 1992 Olympic Stadium and briefly poked our head through the gate to take a photo but couldn't really see much. I couldn't find the Olympic rings either.. disappointing. That's the thing with Contiki - they take you to loads of places and let you stop off for photo opportunities but they don't always take you inside or let you wander around for a while. If you want to see it in more detail you have to go back later.

There was so much to do in Barcelona and I was only there for two days. I went down to the beach and marina which were not as nice as others that I've been to but I am a sucker for harbours and the beach so I thought it was still okay. I asked a lady to take a photo of me and afterwards she told me to check to see if it was an okay photo and I took my hand off my bag to look at the photo... she gasped and said that I must always keep my hand on my bag because the day before she had been pick-pocketed. Spain, especially Barcelona and Madrid, are renowned for pickpocketers who target tourists. I spoke to quite a few people who had told me their own stories about them or their friends being pick-pocketed and our tour guide has been stressing the point a lot as we've been touring.

After a long drive, and a quick stop off at Zaragoza where we saw the basilica, we made it to Madrid but were pretty exhausted because the night before we went out to some random bar in Barcelona. We wandered around slowly but it was a Monday and apparently there is not much open in Madrid on a Monday which was frustrating. We went on a tour of the Royal Palace which LOOKED amazing but the tour was SO boring because I couldn't hear the guide and I was feeling pretty tired thanks to the night before. So I just looked around at the pretty building and counted down until the tour was finally over. We went to the station where the M11 bombings were in 2004 and saw the memorial. It was really pretty, lots of greenery. Basically, the day was spent wandering around Madrid, snapping photos, until we got so tired that we headed back to the hotel and relaxed until dinner. We went to this place called Los Galayos which was in this square in Madrid and had some of the yummiest tapas ever. There were five different kinds of tapas - olives, fried calamari rings, roasted capsicum, fried onions and a potato and egg Spanish omelette. We then had the most amazing salmon but by this stage we were all full because the tapas were filling.. and we still had desert to go which was kind of like a matchstick like you can get back home, you know, the custard and cream thing with pastry.. normally has chocolate on top but this one didn't. By this stage I was ready to pop so I only had a little taste.

Our plan was to go to a salsa bar after dinner which was fine but I wasn't feeling very well so I only went for half an hour before heading back to the hotel and didn't even try salsa... I ended up vomiting up half my dinner but luckily whatever it was had passed by the time I woke up in the morning. I've been very lucky to not get sick on this trip. We made our way down to Toledo where we went to a sword making demonstration to which I once again did not listen to so I have no idea how swords are made. I got a couple of swords out and did some role playing with one of the girls on my tour... that was fun... we pretended to chop each others necks off...

Then we went into town and enjoyed a guided tour of the city. It was a very pretty place and definitely looked like a real part of Spain. Very quaint, narrow streets with lots of balconies with flower baskets hanging off them. More cathedrals and then we went to McDonalds and got ice-cream before jumping back on the bus and headed to Cordoba.

The next morning in Cordoba we headed to the Pagan Church which is now a mosque and was once tried to be turned into a cathedral... it was really cool because inside this mosque you could see elements of Pagan design as well as part of the cathedral and some structure of a church. There were Christian sculptures around the room yet right next to it there were Pagan designs and features of a mosque. I can't entirely remember why the people of Cordoba had changed it around so much from so many different religions. Then we went to the Alcazar which had the most amazing gardens. There were small pools filled with water and had fish inside with little water fountains spurting water back into the pools. There were blooming flowers everywhere and they smelt so nice. If there weren't so many people there it would have been a beautiful place to sit down with a good book and relax. We then found a place to eat lunch where I got the most revolting sandwich. I randomly chose something which was written in Spanish thinking I couldn't go too wrong with a sandwich.. yeah, I ended up with.. well, I still don't actually know. I took one bite, spat it back out and prodded with this alien stuff on my bread... I think it was either cured or raw meat but whatever it was it was not nice. Never again will I do the random selection in a foreign country. Yuk.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fez and the Local Guide...

Trying to get a decent night sleep, I was in bed by 9.30pm last night... I was dozing off peacefully when a peculiar noise arouses me from my slumber... It was the phone. Four shrill beeps sounded before I decided to answer it... and who was on the other end, none other than Mr Friendly from down at reception, checking to confirm whether I still wanted my local tour guide for tomorrow to take me around the Medina. After replying that yes, I did still want the tour guide, I crept back under the covers.. only to hear the phone ring again about 30 seconds later. This time, Mr Friendly asked if I was asleep to which I felt like saying 'yeah which is why I'm talking to you now, dickhead' but I kept that to myself. He then proceeded to ask if I wanted to come downstairs because the guide was there now to meet me so I would recognise his face tomorrow - seriously, what is wrong with the people of Fez? I didn't know how to say 'no, I'm not coming down wanker' nicely so I chucked on some clothes and went down stairs to meet the guide...

By the time I got back to bed I was fired up at the stupidity of the whole of Fez and it took me ages to get to sleep. I finally awoke the next morning and got ready to meet my tour guide who proceeded to tell me I was five minutes late... they have issues with lateness apparently.

My tour guide - well, I real wish I had the skill to adequately explain what a creepy guy he was. He took me down all these strange, dark and narrow alley ways that kept twisting and turning like a giant maze. From time to time we popped up in 'civilization' which basically meant more people which reassured me that he was not going to get me completely and utterly lost... He smoked like a chimney and after his ninth cigarette (in an hour) he asked me if I minded if he smoked... I actually found his smoking quite amusing because he smoked and then he had to stop and catch his breath while he coughed up his lungs before pretending that he had stopped to explain a part of the Medina. He in himself was actually worth the money because he was so amusing - okay, so I was laughing at his ailments and not his running commentary but nevertheless, humorous. I found myself pretending to understand what he was saying because he was talking so fast and so unclearly I really had no idea. It was like he was speaking another language but chucking a few words of English in there in-between. He kept telling me how everyone in Fez is crazy... 'ooo they smoke shisha and hash of the night' he kept saying. Morocco is a muslim country and people aren't meant to smoke... hmm.. anyways, he kept pointing out 'crazy' people to me and by the end of the tour I think all he wanted to do was get home so he could have his hit of hash!

He took me to some great places in the Medina though and I am grateful that I had a guide because there is no way I'd have felt safe walking around there on my own. Also, it was so big that I would have gotten lost and I was not in the mood to be harassed by people trying to sell me things. I heard so many 'ooo so beautiful' and 'oooo nice' that I felt like smacking someone.

The main thing I wanted to see was the leather tanning and I had thought that was out of Fez but it was actually in the Medina so he took me to two leather tanning places. The first one we went to, a man explained how the leather was made. It was really interesting but I never want anything leather. Yuk. First, they kill the sheep and then they sell the meat. They take the skin off and then take it to the leather tanning pots.I can't exactly remember what happens next but I think they then take the wool off the sheep and they wash and dry it and use this wool to fill doonas and pillows, etc. They only use live wool to make clothes. Once they've pulled off the wool they put the skin into a bath of water with limestone and pigeon poo. Apparently this takes away all the dirt from the skin... it stays there for 25 days before they take the skin and put it into a huge wooden 'washing machine'. They fill it with water and leave the leather in there for 3 hours, changing the water every hour to make sure it is clean. Once they have done this, the leather then goes into a coloured tanning pot which they leave in there also for 25 days. It was interesting to discover the methods they use to create the colours. I can't exactly remember exactly but they use different spices to create the different colours. I can't remember the different spices that are used to make the different colours but I am pretty sure saffron creates red, mint creates green... I am not sure of other colours. He rattled them off too fast for me to remember. They then take the leather out of the pots, let it dry and then make bags, shoes, belts, etc with it.

We went to a carpet weaving house - again - and saw how they made carpets in Fez. Once again, quite interesting. The women move their fingers so fast and I am surprised they don't have huge blisters on their fingers. It must be painful. I was shown a gorgeous carpet made of silk and it was so pretty and because I said it was pretty I was trying to be pressured to buy it. Pfft, as if I can afford $2500 for a carpet! The carpet man said that the wool they use is imported from Australia because our government helps Morocco. He said that our wool is supplied on the condition that no young children are allowed to work or make the carpets. Apparently an Australian official comes every six months to check that this regulation is abided by.

The smell of the Medina was not pleasing. I found that it stunk like rotting food and the smell from the tanning pots was not nice. However, occasionally I caught a whiff of orange juice which was nice. Donkeys were loaded with so much stock and guided through the Medina, there were stalls with fresh fruit which I eyed off enviously because a peach, nectarine and banana sound so good to eat! I am sick of meat because it feels that is all I have been eating. I don't like being stuck to a menu even though the food is nice, all I really want is a nice, big, leafy salad with vermicelli rice noodles and tuna.

Oh, I am now in my new hotel which I was promised air conditioning. When I was shown a room yesterday it had air con... but, when I was give my room today - no air con. I am pissed off but I can't be bothered complaining. I really have not enjoyed Fez so much which is disappointing, but I am happy that I got to see the leather tanning pots. That was pretty much the only reason I wanted to come to Fez. I have found the people here to be rude and not very helpful. Still, Spain tomorrow and I am excited about that...

First impressions of Fez

I immensely dislike Fez and I have only been here for 30 minutes. I was impressed by the amount of taxis at the station however was disappointed to find that they were impossible to grab.. until someone came up to me asking if I wanted a taxi - to which I replied 'yes'. So, in I get and in gets another lady... who the taxi driver detours me around for to drop her off. Fair enough, no dramas there. Then, he starts to mock my English... to which I playfully respond to because by this point I was getting creeped out. He then proceeded to start whacking me on my legs trying to use my suntan as an excuse ... tap tap tap on the legs and then making some random hand gestures to signify the sun... I discreetly moved my backpack over my legs because I had NO idea how long it'd take to get to the hotel and was hoping we were actually GOING to the hotel and not some random paddock where he'd rape and murder me - honestly, it is creepy being trapped in a car with a random guy. Just because he is a taxi driver does not mean he is a Saint! I always seem to cop the weird ones who want to grope me... honestly..

Finally made it to the hotel only to be greeted with (and I kid you not) 'You're 3 hours LATE, you were meant to arrive at 4pm'... I smile and try to make a joke out of it... 'oh was I?' to which I got the reply of 'you only have two nights here now, not three' and I laughed because I thought he was kidding... He wasn't kidding... Turns out they have some fucked up policy that states if you are going to be later than 4pm then you need to call in advance and let them know otherwise they reissue your room to someone else... I calmly accepted that for a few brief seconds while I thought he was still kidding before I flared up and argued what morons they are. Turns out they don't appreciate being argued with so I decide to calm down and apologise for being such a 'pain', meanwhile cursing him evil death wishes and I am still left with no room for night three. 'It's okay we will find you a NEW hotel', they tell me - fucking brilliant. Just what I want, a NEW hotel, more taxi money, more moving, more pain in my ass. I told him to look for a hotel NOW (lost my calmness again by this point) and he was just about to but then I realised I couldn't be bothered catching another taxi and going to another hotel, I really just wanted a cold shower and some food after my long train journey from Marrakech so I sigh with resignation and huff off to my room.

So, to sum things up, I am not enjoying Fez which is disappointing. I don't even want to leave the hotel, I just want to sit by the pool for the next two days... Maybe I will. I can't be bothered dealing with wankers anymore who try to grope me or tell me to come look in their shops, or whatever.

Maybe I just need sleep because at the moment I am extremely irritated... So, speaking of food and that cold shower, I'm going to go.


*few hours later*

Okay have had cold shower and went to the hotel restaurant for food and I am still not in a better mood. Mr. Pleasant down at reception smiles cheerily at me and I smile back although my face totally gives away the fact that I am not happy with the whole situation. I have decided on my plan of attack for the next two days in Fez... Pool and sunbake all day tomorrow and then the day after I will hire a guide to take me down to the Medina. I wanted to go to see the leather tanning pots but I think the dick-job downstairs said the whole trip would cost MAD800 which equates to around $115. That is a decent price and I guess I could afford it but the trip is a taxi driver taking me places and I don't exactly feel safe spending the day with a Moroccan taxi driver for some reason... Plus I've spent way more than I intended to in Morocco so I need to keep my budget in tight control for Spain and Turkey!

I was so ready to unleash a floodgate of tears about an hour earlier but I managed to contain it and am now reasonably calmer... still pissed off but much better. I've been surprisingly good.. it's been five weeks since I have left home and there have been no tears... well, maybe a few trickles but no floodgates.. does that mean I am getting stronger and more tolerant? Let's hope so.. and let's hope it lasts!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Random Moroccan Thoughts...

Some random thoughts I have on Morocco..

* I paid 50c for a can of soft drink yesterday... Ridiculously cheap!
* I did not know that French is the second official language of Morocco!
* Taxi's are different colours in different cities.
* It is not unusual to see donkeys, cars, horses and scooters on the roads in Marrakech simultaneously.
* You can actually flush the toilet paper in Morocco, unlike Egypt where you have to put it in a waste paper basket because the plumbing sucks and can't handle the paper.
* You DO climatise to the heat.. 40 degrees no longer feels as hot as it did 10 days ago.
* I am mastering the art of my bartering skills and managed to score quite a lot of goodies for approximately AUD$70... Unfortunately, I do not have room in my suitcase so I've had to toss out quite a few items of random clothing already. Perhaps if I packed my suitcase better.. but who has time?!
* I have learnt that I am almost a vegetarian.. or am about to become a vegetarian because I am getting sick to death of red meat... every meal... lamb, or beef... and chicken too but I am even tired of chicken. And did you know it takes days to digest red meat.. gross. So, the lamb I had 3 days ago is still sitting in my stomach.. eww... that thought alone makes me not want to eat meat.
* Wondering why the waiter is so intrigued by the fact that I have a laptop and keeps coming over to check what I am doing.... kind of creepy..
* I REALLY want this shop to open so I can buy a drink before I get on the train but it is closed and I have a feeling it won't open until I have left... oh no wait, I see a man.. in front of the shop.. he looks like he is opening the shop.. OH YES! HE IS!

There is no doubt I have more random thoughts but I have no idea what they are right now because my mind is over excited by the prospect of fizzy soda!

*love*love*love* to you all
xxx

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Surfin' Safari

Last night (well ok, last Tuesday cos I wrote this a while ago) we made the trek into the Sahara Desert. I'd been to the desert before in Egypt but this was different again because the desert seems endless. It is bigger than the desert in Australia and crosses through eleven countries. We picked up our camels (I named mine Sabrina) and they walked us the 4kms into the Sahara desert to camp with the Berbers. They are a kind of people that live in the desert. Brahim (our tour guide) recommended that we buy turbans in case of sandstorms - and lucky we bought them because we had a massive sandstorm. I never realised how useful a piece of cotton could be. It was wrapped around our head and then we could let it hang loose if there was no wind and we could then stick the loose bit behind our ear to cover our nose and mouth if it was windy. So useful. I looked like a twat with it on but hey, beats sand in the mouth.

So, I arrive in the desert and find that the W.C is this dodgy swat port-a-loo thing or the option of peeing behind a dune... well, one look at the toilet and swatting in dunes it was for me! It wasn't so bad actually, it was kind of fun and we had to bury the toilet paper in the sand and I have never loved anti-bacterial hand cream so much in my life!

Brahim, our thoughtful tour guide, brought sandboards up to the dunes. We trekked up one of the dunes and I tried sandboarding for the first time. My first go resulted in me going about 2 meters before crashing painfully onto my ass. My determination then kicked in and I had about another nine attempts at sandboarding and by the third go I was pretty balanced and made it down to the bottom with minimal effort.. Bringing the board back up the hill was a task in itself. Snowboarding in Canada, here I come! I loved it. I really think that was one of the highlights of my trip into the desert... Sandboarding!

We headed back to camp (well, I raced another girl down the sand dunes on our sandboards) and a soccer ball was then brought out. By this stage it was dusk so there we were, a group of 10 of us, trying to play soccer with the sun going down. It was pretty crazy and there were a few falls but no major injuries to report and I can happily say that I assisted our team score a goal...

The Sahara is amazing. As we went in it wasn't windy but as we went further in, it's almost like the wind could sense 'intruders' so to speak. It felt like the wind had emotions because it felt so angry and rough. The sand from the dunes whipped my legs and face but when we neared the Berber camp, the wind suddenly died down and there was such a sense of serenity. Because it is constantly windy, the dunes never have footprints in them, they are always there for a while but disappear. It's almost like taunting you saying 'haha I know what the secrets of the desert are but you will never find out because you don't have the power to cover them up'. It was an amazing feeling. The one thing that surprised me and I didn't like was the rubbish that was being chucked around in the air by the wind. There were a few empty water bottles and plastic bags and it makes me sad that even in this country and in such a beautiful place, it can still be tainted.

We ate our Berber dinner of rice and some beef (which I am sure is what gave me my upset stomach for three days!) before listening to some Moroccan music on drums... we slept underneath the stars and woke up early to watch the sun rise.

I totally rate this experience as one of a kind. Definitely a highlight of the trip, even the peeing behind sand dunes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flying Carpets

After leaving Marrakesh we headed to the heart of Morocco! We drove for hours on this long, windy road and along the way we passed countless mountains which were the most amazing browns and reds and occasionally a hint of orange. We spent the night at this gorgeous hotel which overlooked Gorge du Dades and the scenery was amazing. The next day we climbed up to the top of the gorge and got some amazing views. It was hot and it was very rocky and surprisingly quite an easy walk to the top. I'm not particularly fond of hiking, especially in hot weather but the weather in Morocco is actually quite bearable. The heat is dry and generally there is a breeze which helps keep me cool.

Our tour included a visit to a carpet making place where they showed us how the handmade carpets are weaved and I fell in love with a carpet that I wanted to buy you mum but two reasons stopped me - lack of money and lack of room in my suitcase, so sorry about that! A big Moroccan carpet takes about four months to make. Can you imagine anyone in a big city spending four months trying to make a carpet? We also tried Berber Whisky which unfortunately is just green tea with mint. I was excited - alcohol, I thought - but alas, no, just tea. They showed us how to make it by putting the tea leaves in and then water, mix it up to clean the leaves. Strain the leaves them put them back into the pot and add more water. Place it onto a hot fire, wait for it to boil and then add the mint in at the end. If you want sugar in your tea then you must add this before you put the 'clean' tea leaves back into the pot. I'm not normally a tea drinker but it was really nice actually. I want to start drinking green tea anyway because it is meant to be good for you.

Just a quick side note because it is on my mind - the Polish girl I'm sharing a room with is angry at me because I refused to barter for a bracelet that she wanted. I told her if she wanted to buy the bracelet she needed to barter for it herself. So, now she is having a bit of a teary because she told me "friend's are meant to do stuff for each other" and I thought to myself 'yeah and I've known you for 3 days and you snore like a camel, I'm not exactly sure that qualifies for a D&M friendship right now. Buy your own damn bracelet.' I felt a bit bad thinking that but she is so moody and can't take a joke and takes everything I say too seriously and I just can't be bothered.

Food is amazing! Tagines full of meat and vegetables, cous cous with the most amazing sauces, skewers, Moroccan salads which consist of rice, beetroot, cucumbers, tomato, red onion and a delicious dressing... I never want to leave! They also serve bread like it's going out of fashion! We've also had awesome soup! Speaking of food, it's almost dinner time so I'm going to go find the restaurant. Enjoy your spag bol tonight while I am off to feast on some delicious Moroccan cuisine.

Sim
x