Poor Stevie

Archive of ‘travel’ category

Can’t start a fire without a spark

Somewhere in rural Victoria, there is a young man who thinks I’m dead and/or unattractive. About an hour after landing in Melbourne, J-man, our friend Meg and I accidentally found ourselves on a steep bush track in a hire car made for driving to church. A 20-ish-year-old dude drove past us in a big ute and gave us an appropriate bewildered look. I looked at him, opened my eyes wide, raised my eyebrows and hoped he understand I meant “Help me. We’re about to die”, not “come hither”. He kept driving.

Happily, our road to certain death looked like this:

Trees

After losing traction several times, near-bogging, and a near self-bogging, we made it to our sweet BnB. It had ponies!

Shetland

Then we went to Hanging Rock to watch The Rubens, one of the bands J-man co-manages, support The Boss. I get so excited seeing J-man’s bands succeed. Look! (Not seen: guitarist Zaac shredding it on stage left).

Rubens

As we were waiting for The Boss to start, this is what Hanging Rock looked like. I told a funny joke heaps of times: “You know a bunch of schoolgirls went missing here, right?” It really was amazing how polite people were about it.

Hanging Rock

The Boss looked like this. He was so, so great:


Created with Gifboom 

We saw most of his show the next night too, but the baby appeared to dislike all the vibrations. Get used to rock ‘n’ roll little one because your dad lives it and your mum sometimes comes along for the ride until 10pm.

We spent Monday and Tuesday in Melbourne. It was my first time. I liked it, but I didn’t go bat shit insane like I thought I would. I liked the laneways, the Yarra, the little shops for ladies, the fried green tomato burgers, the homemade crumpets, the duck fat potatoes, the art gallery and the trams.

Also, the breads.

Fatto

I was just a touch disappointed with my inability to find anything to buy, so I spent today making up for it at op-shops and the outlet centre near my house.

opshop copy

a) A kaftan shirt from Vinnies because pregnant women seem to be relegated to polar fleece and Indian-themed garments.

b) A mug from Salvos to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Liz, you legend!

c) Some tassel earrings to distract from my suddenly outie belly button.

d) A stripey shirt. Ahoyness! I know my mum would tell me that horizontal stripes make you look wider, but I feel like pregnancy and peanut butter pretzels are the real culprits here.

e) A dress with embroidery on the front from Salvos. It was sold as “manchester”, but doonas don’t have shoulder pads, sillies! Also need to nappy san a mystery stain.

what a psychic told me

We blindly pointed to Norwalk, Connecticut on a map and went there. Our hotel was a run down heap, but at reception old New York dames with Gold Amex cards haggled with the girl at the desk over prices and conditions. A mother who had just taken her little daughter to compete in a beauty pageant was yelling at the receptionist, upset that the hotel didn’t have an indoor pool even though the website said it did (it didn’t).

The main street had a weird mix of things – a burlesque-style tequila bar, a sports bar, a cigar factory, a few homewares shops and a “psychic tea room”.  J-man and I decided it would be fun to visit the tea room in the morning. It was closed when we got there so we had breakfast at a cafe, where young wait staff were employed to come to your table and tell you your coffee was ready but not bring it to you.

When we walked into the tea room (no tea in sight) a man was loudly asking for advice about his broken relationship. We tried to distract ourselves by pretending to be interested in crystals and dreamcatchers scatted around the room. A well-thumbed book about living life like Oprah was on display on a table.

J-man asked if he and I could have palm readings, while our friend Bron decided to sit it out. J-man was taken into a velvety tent by a warm and friendly woman. I was so willing to drop my cynicism and play along but the illusion was ruined when I was led to a wonky mosaic-covered table by a young woman who seemed to be a fortune-telling intern. She was obviously nervous and was peering at me like she was trying to see the backs of my eyeballs.

This is what she told me while stroking my sweaty hand:

“You are married. He is your soul mate.”

“You are very spiritual.”

“You will have three children.”

“Someone in your family will get sick, but they won’t die.”

“You have built up walls. You need to let people back into your life.”

[At this moment Bron dropped something hard on the wooden floor.]

“Do you like your job? You should continue with the same career you have now.”

If she could read my mind, this is what she would have heard:

“You are looking at my left hand, the one with my wedding ring on it. And do you mean sole mate? Because yes.”

“No, no I am not.”

“Babies!”

“Well, yeah. They have not found a cure for the common cold.”

“They do not deserve to be let back into my fortress of awesome.”

“Thanks dude. That’s pretty sound advice.”

And obviously J-man is going to find some other wife because he was told he would father twins. Ouch.

east coast overdoser

This is how you do New York, baby!

Arrive. Take the subway from JFK to Brooklyn, put your bags down, slap on some Lady Speedstick and hit the town. Go to Roberta’s for pizza and beer (served in jars!). High on jetlag, don’t speak much to your husband and stare into space.

Day One. Call in that favour with Mayor Bloomberg and have him arrange a welcoming parade for you. Agree to share your glory with the Super Bowl champions.

Day two. Go to Cowgirl in the West Village and commence your three week challenge to become a human corn chip. Salsa optional.

Day three. Go to the Comedy Cellar. I can’t guarantee that Louis CK will show up. Or can I?

Day four. Meet up with some of your best buds and go Alec Baldwin hunting at 30 Rock. Synchronise a dance to Adele’s Someone Like You with your husband as you glide on the ice.

Day five. Ensure your farts really do smell like roses and unicorns by consuming a rose petal donut from Doughnut Plant.

Day six. Go to a sports bar called Professor Thom’s and insist they change the channel to the Grammys. Drink a bunch of Bud Lites and commentate.

Day seven. When the den of iniquity that is New York City starts to become too much, escape somewhere south and cleanse your black soul. Somewhere simple like the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel in Atlantic City.

Day eight. Defy all understanding of science, physics and astrology by driving your hire car onto a boat. Arrive in Delaware and visit Dogfish Head brewery. Watch husband almost wizz himself when he sees his beer hero. Eat a huge meal at the Dogfish Head brew pub and have cheese induced nightmares. (Below is the boat.)

Day nine. Go to Washington DC. As a consummate traveller, show distain upon your second viewing of the White House and that god awful Lincoln memorial and go for chocolatey cocktails with the interns instead.

Day ten. Continue your pilgrimage deep into the heart of Amish country in Pennsylvania. Check out weird-ass shoes in an antiques shop in Gettysburg.

Day eleven. Take a ride in a buggy with an Amish man named Ben and his horses Soldier and Sarge in Intercourse. A delightful boy from New Jersey will ask Ben “How do horses show love?”, followed closely by “What happens if they break wind?”. An excellent insight into both the mysteries of horses and modern marriage. Reward yourself with those famous Amish delicacies – chocolate covered chips!

Day twelve. Go to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, which is showing a large collection of Van Gogh works. Ignore culturally significant art and grope a Rocky statue instead.

Day thirteen. Go to Old Greenwich, Connecticut. You guys, this is where the 1% and their French bulldogs live.

Day fourteen. After returning to New York, topple the city and claim the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza as your throne.

Day fifteen. Further help fund Donald Trump’s important work of, ah, whatever it is he does by going ice skating on his rink in Central Park for a small fee of what feels like $50 and your first born.

Day sixteen. Visit MoMA. Take pictures of artworks because they’re always so interesting to look at later.

Day seventeen. Walk over the Manhattan Bridge and admire inspired street art.

Day eighteen. Go to Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, for a Wonder Years-style eating experience. Take photos while a group of NYPD detectives attempt to duck out of frame.

Day nineteen. Mark your final weekend in New York with brunch at Buttermilk Channel, where the food is amazing and the Bellinis are free (free!).

Day twenty. Rediscover your love of Tex Mex potato chips while watching the Oscars at a bar. Order more for you shalt never look like Emma Stone.

Day twenty one. Go to Central Park before your flight and cry into your ridiculous coat.

 

i left my heart

After travelling for six months, J-man and I learnt never to judge a city by the way it looks when you arrive. The international bus station in Berlin is a cement wasteland in the middle of a beautiful, mysterious city. The train into Venice gives you a tour of the romantic city’s bowels, rushing you past the sewerage plant and factories. The station in Sofia is a dark death chamber filled with groups of toothless men smoking cigars and eyeing you off like they’re figuring out how to bundle you into their boot and sell you into sex slavery … OK, so that’s a pretty accurate indication of what that city is like.

The only place where the first impression was the right one was San Francisco. The day we flew in, a couple of weeks before Christmas, it was cold and drizzling lightly. We drove into the city, pointing out the views of the bay, the tall terraces, the colourful rows of houses and the crazy-scary hills. The airline had lost our bags, but our sweet taxi driver was playing Buddhist chants and I felt calm, inspired and happy.

I will conveniently skip over the following four days where I totally, irrationally flipped out over loss of said bags, walked through the Tenderloin district alone and in tears and spent an inordinate amount of time crying and watching 16 and Pregnant. I’m pretty sure J-man spent an inordinate amount of time researching the best route to Reno for a quickie divorce.

The reason why I’m writing about San Francisco now, after all these months, is because I’ve actually been unsure whether I can do it justice. Here, I’ll try:

We were lucky enough to be housesitting for a lovely family and caring for their sweet black cat. We made a temporary home and spent our days cooking, exploring the neighbourhood, eating, drinking and taking excursions to different areas. One day we spent an afternoon in Golden Gate Park, before becoming immersed in Haight Street and all its amazing shops and characters. Another day we went to Chinatown, wandered down some side streets and ended up in a bustling restaurant where we were the only tourists. We went to countless movies, and dissected them over food at Mel’s Drive-in while putting old Christmas carols on the juke box. I had my first, real American pecan pie. We celebrated our first, and probably only, solo Christmas; combining our family traditions and sharing them only with each other. We hired a car for a day with the intention to end our drive by going over the Golden Gate Bridge. We got caught in terrible traffic and by the time we drove over it, I couldn’t have cared less because I was BUSTING to wee. Later we managed to convince a guy at a garage to let me use the toilet by telling him I was pregnant. We got coffees and walked along the shore at Crissy Field. We saw in the new year by having a decadent dinner and then watching the fireworks on top of a hill. I had grown a little pudgy on our trip, so every morning I climbed the hill and walked while taking in a 360-degree view of the city.

Up on that hill, I thought about just how crazy it was that we made it right through Europe and drove across America to San Francisco. Steve, just a small town gal, was here in San Fran-freakin’-cisco. I don’t mean to be all “ah-ha moment” lame, but I started to think about our future and what might be possible. When we came home, some of those hopes came true.

San Francisco is definitely my favourite place in the world.

 

 

the hangover two

Yeah, so where were we? Oh, yeah. That’s right – me being all lame in Las Vegas.

I can assure you, that lameness continued during our second day in Vegas. Unlike everyone else in that crazy city with their fake boosies, Flinstone houses and sparkly fanny packs, I hate spending money. I’m a cautious person. Just now I scolded J-man for washing the hand-held blender while it was still plugged in and told him to cook the chicken through. You have to be so careful when it comes to electricity and chicken.

So J-man had to convince me to re-marry him before Elvis Christ. Over lunch that day he talked me into a $200 wedding package at Graceland Wedding Chapel, the very same place Jon Bon Jovi Christ married his wife in 1989.

On my real wedding day, I spent the morning painting my nails, doing my hair and sweating. On the morning of my second wedding day, I walked with my love through Red Rock Canyon. It was truly one of the most beautiful national parks we visited. It’s just like the America I imagined – magnificent and slightly eery, with plenty of places to hastily bury bodies to the sound of duelling banjos in the background.

red rock

Later that night, we went back to our seedy motel room and got gussied up. Just after night fell, a stretch limo picked us up and drove us up the strip to the chapel. J-man had never been in a limo before and was pressing all the buttons and marvelling at the television screens tuned to AV and the (empty) in-car bar. Oh J-man, what a novice. I, on the other hand, was once taken to a Justin Timberlake concert in a stretch hummer with a bunch of strangers who plied me with alcohol in the name of building professional relationships (I never heard from them again, like most people who have a) talked to me and b) seen me dance while mouthing the words to Sexy Back).

When we went inside the chapel, Elvis was not in the building. The two blonde receptionists, complete with teased hair, entertained us by showing us photos of Hamish and Andy’s wedding at the very same chapel. We all agreed it was strange that Andy would marry Hamish, when he had steak at home.

They pinned a rose on J-man’s shirt and handed me a bouquet and then a very sweaty Elvis appeared. It was a Tuesday night and it was clear Elvis would have preferred to be at home gently stroking his shag pile carpet. He quickly ushered us into the chapel, gave us a little run down, before walking me down the aisle; something I didn’t let my own dad do in the name of being an Independent Woman (the rock I’m rockin’, I bought it).

I walked down the aisle to Only Fools Rush In, exchanged Elvis-themed vows with J-man (“I promise never to step on your blue suede shoes”) and hammed it up for the cameras:

elvis3

elvis1

elvis2

Photies by Graceland Wedding Chapel.

When I look back at the photos, it’s clear I’m kind of getting over it towards the end and probably, judging from my bloated face, jonesing for some curly fries. But I remember leaving the chapel feeling absolutely euphoric. I was happy that we capped off our American adventure with something completely frivolous and crazy. And dudes, I may make fun of J-man all the time, but I would totally marry him a third time.

the hangover

I wasn’t really looking forward to Las Vegas. I don’t drink a lot, I like to go to bed at 10pm and I can only play snap. Translation: I have a huge stick up my jacksie.

Driving into Vegas, I wasn’t exactly reassured because, in the harsh light of day, it looks like a freshly shaved armpit:

vegas

That night we decided to go to the strip. I painted my lips red, put on a new jacket and did my hair in an 80s bun, ready to hit the town. But I needn’t have dressed up because, despite what the documentary The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills would have you believe, Las Vegas isn’t the most glamourous place. There are a lots of desperate people sweating over their chips, sad-looking morbidly obese people wheeling around in mopeds and midgets trying to force you to into live porn shows. And boy was I getting sick of doing live porn.

Also, I was worried people would mistake me for a dealer in my cheesy jacket:

vegas jacket

Also, Celine Dion was there:

celine

Also, even the sky was fake in Vegas:

sky

Later, we had accidental $30 drinks at The Bellagio, almost paid a $12 transaction fee at an ATM and J-man got elbowed out of a Blackjack game. It was a little depressing, so we sought out some wildlife at The Flamingo:

flamingo2

Yep, actual flamingos at The Flamingo. Trust the Hiltons to make money from their pink bits.

flamingo

But turns out Flamingos smell like Flamingo poop, so we did the walk of shame back to our motel, having come to Vegas and failed at gambling, drinking and having fun.

The next day we had to up the ante. Let’s just say it involved a limo, Elvis and tears over tapas.

Here’s a little peep show:

wedding

To be continued.

high five: the most romantic moments

We’ve been home now for 11 days. I have spent the last few of those 11 days unexpectedly trying to get me a job. So, understandably, I have not been in the most romantic of moods. After you spend all day trying to sell yourself to strangers (on paper, that is), the last thing you feel like doing is getting weird and lovey dovey with your husband. Unless, of course, he pulls an excellent job opportunity out of his pocket and later reveals his generous super package.

So, all poor old J-man can do at the moment is read this here blog and remember the days when we were flushed with cash and in love.  From the bottom of my now cold, dead heart I bring you my five most romantic moments overseas:

lock

This is a neat tradition you see all over Europe. People put their initials on padlocks, lock ’em to bridges or railings and throw the key in the water. How cheesy and disgusting. I would never do that.

Taking in the view of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo. To get to the top of this hill in Florence, you’re forced to walk past tiny shops with strings of fresh vegetables hanging on the door frames, buzzing wine bars and lovely Italian villas. As I trudged up the hill, I wasn’t expecting that much. It’s a view of a city, I thought, I could care less. Give me Real Housewives of Beverly Hills over this crapola any day. But, as it turned out, it’s not just any view. It’s a beautiful view on top of a lovely hill, where there are stalls to buy wine and warm chestnuts, people having their wedding photos taken and young couples huddling together on the steps. An autumn breeze blew lots of lovely aromas around and I just felt so content, happy and lucky to have such a wonderful J-man to share all of this with. A wonderful J-man who didn’t mind when I forgot that most Italians can speak English and blurted out: “Look! That boy matched his socks and undies! What colour are your undies today?!”

Taking the ferry in Venice. J-man, the vulgar romantic that he is, was planning to surprise me with a gondola ride. I pried his secret plans out of him with meticulous skill and then firmly told him no, I wasn’t interested. See, the thing is, gondola rides can cost more than 100 euro. Plus, if you want your rowing man to sing, you gotta pay even bigger bucks. At the time I felt like the grinch who stole my own marriage, but I’m glad we didn’t fork out a kidney and a half for foul touristy dross. Instead, we hopped on a public ferry that took us from our place, near the train station, around to San Marco in about 20 minutes. A lot of tourists had done the same thing, but there were also some genuine Venitian businessmen and families just going about their business and taking the ferry around the city. Plus, Venice is just beautiful and it’s hard not to get all wussy about it. When we got to San Marco, we walked around the square together and happily talked about our future. Gag, I know.

Going to Disneyland.  Throughout our trip, I was hoping that we would have enough money to visit Disneyland when we finally ended up in LA. I went to Tokyo Disneyland on a school trip, but J-man has never been and, you guys, he is the cutest when he’s excited. I would pay $80 just to see THAT. We went in mid-December and it was the perfect time of year to go, with every ride somehow Christmasafied. We started the day slowly, with the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and the Storybook Land Canal Boats. I could see J-man was kind of bummed. This stuff’s for lame, idiot kids, I could hear him thinking. That was until I took him on the kablamo awesome that is Space Mountain. It blew his mind. Of course, we did the Mad Tea Party, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and even It’s A Small World (CHRISTMAS!) My favourite was the Haunted Mansion, which was revamped in the style of Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas (CHRISTMAS!) for Christmas. But, the best part of the day was when the sun went down and we sipped the famous Disneyland hot chocolate and watched the Christmas parade. It was nice to feel carefree and be swept up in the magic. Barf.

Hanging out in the Malasaña district, Madrid. Spain’s capital was the last stop on our four month trip around Europe and we were exhausted, dirty, a little bit sick and really over each other. Instead of visiting churches, museums and taking walking tours, we decided to take a little break. A little Spanish break, how quaint! So we saw lots of movies, including The Town (hello, Ben Affleck, touch me?), ate until our bellies hurt, drank Sangria, went to crazy food markets and slept in a lot. We spent a lot of time in Malasaña, just wandering around, checking out shops and cafes. One of my favourite moments was devouring an incredible red velvet cupcake in a deserted playground while it drizzled. Life is good, dudes. Vom.

Locking the shit out of our love on the Pont des Arts in Paris. OK, so we carved our initials into a padlock, attached it to the bridge and threw the keys into the water. Gross, right? Our last night in Paris was the only romantic night we actually planned, but it was so much more amazing than I could have hoped. We had dinner at the McDonald’s near the Louvre, in the hopes of having a Royal with Cheese (no such thing, apparently). I remember I was worried about something and J-man worked his usual magic and talked me down from the top of the (figurative) Eiffel Tower over a serve of cold fries. When we left the Louvre to head to the bridge, it was drizzling and, huddling under umbrellas, we happened to catch the sparkling light show on the tower. Then we did the deed on the bridge (edit: some readers have mistaken this for actually doing the actual deed on the bridge. I actually mean this is the point at which we attached the love lock to the bridge). Afterwards we went to a little, empty bar and sipped on mulled wine, sitting on purple velvet chairs. A little part of me will always be in that bar in Paris (lame).

the city sunset over me

It’s the last ever night of our trip, ever.  It feels weird. We’re drinking beer and trying not to think about it.

One thing is for sure: I’m definitely not the same girl that left Australia on July 4, 2010.

departure

Photo totally stolen from Julia

My hair is longer, I think I’ve put on a  couple of kegs, I threw out those shoes in Greece after finding mould on them and those jeans are now navy blue with a hole in the crotch (I’m wearing them, anyway). Apart from those obvious changes, there a few more subtle differences now that I’ve seen the world, maaaan.

high five: my favourite hostels

One of my worst fears while travelling – other than being kidnapped and taken into the Bulgarian mountains by a crazy sect and forced to grow a beard – was having to stay in a bad hostel. The worst place we stayed on our entire trip was our first hostel in London and it nearly put me off hostels forever. We were in an eight-bed dorm, with a leaking toilet that people (read: dudes) kept using anyway. On our first night some guys came in during the middle of the night and organised their drug-taking-party-fun-times, which required a lot of whispering, racking up and the use of torches. The next night a bunch of people came in really late, obviously on the disco biscuits, as we hip young folk call them, and one couple made out and felt each other’s bits for about four hours. J-man liked it more than I did.

After that horrifying experience, we were much more picky about the hostels we chose.  In reality, I think it’s hard to find a really, really bad hostel. Like I said in my previous post, just look for the ones with the best reviews.

These were my favourites:

Centrum Hostel, Budapest: This little number reminded me a lot of a student house, ala Heartbreak High. The owner, a super cool guy named Alex (who also happened to be cute), was so accommodating and liked to confuse everyone by using the greeting “good evening” at all times of the day. We liked him a lot. He cooked everyone dinner every night, took us to some cool bars and generally just treated us like friends. It really felt like home and we ended up staying for five nights, having originally booked for three. Unlike a lot of hostels, which are more like re-jigged motels with lots of rooms, this one was actually in an apartment so we got to know everyone pretty well over wine and stew at the dinner table. Yep, a dinner table. Also, fresh bread rolls and Nutella were served for breakfast. Win!

budapest

We don’t have photos of the Budapest hostel. But here’s a picture of J-man at Buda Castle, just shooting the breeze. As in, he didn’t hit anything.

Archi Rossi, Florence: We had the greatest time of our lives in Florence – it was so, so romantic, friendly and beautiful – and it was made even better by this hostel, which had everything you could ever want. It had comfy rooms, lots of computers, really big, clean bathrooms, and was attached to a cheap restaurant that served the most incredible French toast I have ever had. Ever. Breakfast was free and simple meals could be bought for dinner. The hostel is in a grand, old building down a little lane close to all the major sites and the train station. I would absolutely recommend this place to anyone, even those who have a plentiful budget. FRENCH TOAST!

florence

The walls of Archi Rossi were covered in graffiti and stencil art. Some of it was clever. I also saw something along the lines of  “Josh and Shazza shagged here”. Umm, congratulations?

Athens Backpackers, Athens: The first thing we did in Athens was our washing. While waiting for our undies to dry we got talking to the most boring teenager ever, who said he chose this hostel because “I just pick what comes up under ‘party hostel’ on Google”. Man, I almost cried into my fabric softener upon hearing that. I had just gotten over the worst, longest-running case of weebum I had ever had and the last thing I felt like doing was partying with a pimply Pom, who could not register the “I’M BORED” look in my stone cold eyes. Yes, this hostel has an amazing rooftop bar with a view of the Acropolis, but if getting drunk isn’t your number one priority in life you’ll still have a great time. Again, it was comfortable, clean, offered a simple breakfast, free walking tours, a movie room and was close to everything important. Plus, the staff were super friendly and helpful. On your travels lots of people might tell you Athens is awful, but we loved it and this hostel was a great place to call home.

athens

This is the famous view, even more beautiful at night when it’s all lit up. As a side note – see how my fly is half undone here? My jeans are too small for me. Yes, I ate a lot of gyros in Athens, but not THAT MUCH. Turns out this particular brand are designed to shrink a few sizes if you wash them in hot water. You can’t wash in anything else in Europe. Thanks a lot, jerks.

Kismet Dao, Brasov: Romania was not really on my list of “holy crap, I have to go there immediately” countries. But I am so, so glad we didn’t skip it. It’s a challenging place – most of the towns we visited were very industrial, grey and cold – but once you conquer it, just like Dracula, it’s amazing. Beautiful Brasov was definitely one of our favourite places, thanks in part to this really cool hostel. We stayed in a private room (called The Shagging Room [vom]) with its own little balcony overlooking the mountains, which felt very luxurious. The hostel offered a free drink for each night you booked, free breakfast, a huge lounge room, lots of balconies, tours of Bran Castle and seemed to attract the coolest of travellers.

brasov

Here’s me looking weary and manish on the aforementioned balcony. I’m accepting J-man’s very unique brand of romance. Thanks, J-man!

Greg and Tom’s Junior, Krakow: Everything I heard about this hostel and the larger one, simply called Greg and Tom’s, was “duuuuuude, they have the best paaaarties”. From what I heard through my foam earplugs, the parties did indeed seem to be tubular, radical and awesome. Poor old J-man, who loves people, definitely made an epic mistake in choosing me as his life party partner. Here are the things that stick with me about this hostel: being greeted with fresh juice after an overnight train trip, clean showers with radios and water massagers, comfortable beds and incredibly friendly, young and helpful staff. They also offered tours of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is a must-do if you visit Poland. I can’t finish on such a sad note. They also had fresh fruit! Best grapes I’ve ever eaten.

krakow

Again, no photos of the actual hostel. Instead, here’s evidence of how happy we were on our first day in Krakow, after being allowed to have a hot shower and juice after a night on a train.

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2010 has been the best year of my life.

– I married my one true love.

– We bought plane tickets, packed up everything and went overseas.

– We saw Europe, complete with night-train rides, hostel dorm rooms, ancient cities, romance, fights, gastro and exultant happiness.

– We drove across the United States of America. We walked 5th Avenue in New York City, we stood in awe of the Grand Canyon, we got remarried by Elvis in Las Vegas (a story for another time) and tonight we will see in the new year in San Francisco.

– Also, I became a very proud aunty.

I’m sure 2011 is tempted to bring me down a peg or two, but if there’s one thing travel gives you it’s perspective. I realise what a great life I get to lead and I’m determined to be fitter, happier, more productive.

Happy New Year!