Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Patstizzis and pasta to pretzels and weiner sausages

Guten Tag (yes a shameless introduction to where I am, I now)

Leaving Malta....
was a sad state of affairs. I had become quite accustomed to being spoilt, having a clean comfortable bed and not being interrupted at 2 in the morning by loud, drunk fellow travellers. Leaving Malta also made me a little nervous as it was the first time in 2.5 weeks that I was gong to be completely alone again. However, I should not have expended the extra energy (although goodness knows I had built it up with all of the food I'd eaten) on worrying. Within my first 30seconds off the plane 2 people had spoken to me offering help! Admittedly they were men and for a second there I had visions of the red headed Irish leprechauns on heat that I had encountered further north but these thoughts were quickly pushed from my head as I realised that everyone in Germany was incredibly friendly, clean and well organised.

Wombats Hostel.....
is my home of luxury for the next 3 days. It was raining when I arrived and I had sent my coat back to England with Mo so after I got over the disappointment of having to get my freshly cut and blow dried hair wet and frizzy I set off on the expedition to finds Wombats. Although Munich is very clean and organised the instructions from the train station to the hostel had obviously been written by an Aussie and not a German. Having given myself a very interesting tour of the red light district in Munich; sexy ladies, lap dances and foggy windows all featured, I found the hostel. I went to my room and read my book - very boring I know but it was appropriate for the weather. At 6pm I ventured downstairs to claim my free drink and to do my best to find some more of these free drink vouchers and ended up having a couple of pints of Bavarian beer. It was great and meant that I met other solo travellers. I think that they lied when writing in the tourist guide that Bavarian beer doesn't give you a hangover.... trust me it does.

Friday was a stunning day and my new found friend Mark from The OC (yes really), and I went to 2 amazing castles about 2.5 hours from Munich. They were incredible. As soon as I get a chance I will update my photos. The main castle was the one which all of the Disney fantasy castles have been based on. Mark & I climbed to the top of an enormous mountain (Guy this is where I was when you called) and took some great shots. Unfortunately I was wearing my less than rugged double pluggers and managed to slip down a few times - luckily not on the side of the mountain with the 70 metre drop. After retiring to bed exhausted from a 10 hour day of touring about, I was kindly woken at 3am by 3 American guys with no concept of sound, acoustics or time. The lovely gentlemen interrupted my sleep and proceeded to snore the roof down.

Slap me on the back and call me Lara Croft......
because I have just completed 2 days of adrenalin pumping physical activity. On Saturday I took myself to the Glockenspiel in the centre of Munich which was a building that looked like it was from a fairytale. I didn't see the clock chime but the building itself was fantastic. This is where I met a group for a free bike tour. Now let me just put this into perspective. I quickly realised that the bike tour had been falsely advertised as an insight into Munich when in fact it was a dress rehearsal for my audition on The Real Cancun. I found myself surrounded by 30 or so American fraternity or sorority kids. And just to reiterate that they were 'kids' not young adults, to my alarm when they asked me what age I was and I replied 25, I was met with the response 'whoa you are so old... do you have like a real job and stuff?' (cue: Matt Mortimer when first meeting me) in addition to this I suddenly have 5 teenage boys on heat following me around and telling me how beautiful I was. I quickly cut them down telling them I was a taken women and my boyfriend would not hesitate to wrap their loose tongues around their heads. They then asked me if I could teach them to speak Australian which was a little strange because last time I checked I was speaking English. When one asked me how to say 'lets go' in Australian it briefly crossed my mind to tell him the correct phrase was 'lets all go get buggered' but I decided against it when I soon realised that they were going to have enough trouble looking after themselves without me steering them in the wrong direction.

The tour itself was quite good. We cycled past all of the major sites, through the English Gardens which have a nudist meadow (luckily it was an overcast day, however after 1 beer - no that isn't a typo, 1 beer - and the kids all decided to strip and run naked through the park. We also visited a beer garden where I managed to down a stein. My favourite part of the tour was seeing the river surfers. There is an amazing wave in the river that runs through Munich and lots of people go there to surf. It was incredible. I would have loved to have given it a go but I think it must take a great deal of practise given the river is only 3 metres wide and constantly surging. All in all it was a good day.

My second performance as Lara Croft...
takes place here in St Johann, Tirol, Austria. I arrived yesterday to pretty dull weather but woke today to a stunning day. The air is incredibly clean and the town just gorgeous, it reminds me a lot of Annecy in France. All of the people are also very helpful despite not speaking a great deal of English. I managed to rouse up 6 fellow adventurers (you needed a group) to go canyoning. Canyoning is like abseiling through white water rapids. Basically the course was an abseil down a 6 metre waterfall, climb 10 minutes up a mountain into a gorge. From here we abseiled 10 metres to a platform then jumped 11 metres into a rock pool (between very narrow rock walls) at the bottom. After this we abseiled another 20 metres down a waterfall before jumping off another 3 metre and 6 metre wall. Between each big jump we slid, walked and swam through 5-8 degree water. Thank goodness for the 10mm thick wetsuit! At first I felt like Cameron Dias in Charlies Angels in my tight black wetsuit but quickly realised that I looked more like a black jelly bean - photos to come.

Well tomorrow I leave for Venice and am quite looking forward to it. I've met one girl who is doing the same Croatia trip with me so will have her to keep me company on the ferry before I meet up with Darcy Anderson who is joining me on the sailing trip.

Well once again I'm missing everyone, please keep the emails coming!

xx Loz

Thursday, May 18, 2006

All things wog: hair gel, food & shooters

So the end of my wog experience is drawing near and for the sake of Guy and my size 8 wardrobe at home not a minute too soon. I feel like I am the size of a moose. Malta has been amazing but it is reminiscent of a lifestyle I could succumb to way too easily and some would suggest that I innately live in Australia.

Hair maintenance…..
would be one of the things I am well known for amongst family and friends alike. When my hair is straight it is the result of an hour’s worth of ironing, when it is curly it is the result of half a can of mousse, a tube of hair gel and a painstaking, ear splitting tantrum, for those in close proximity to me. I, however no longer have the Australian climate and it’s insistent humidity to blame. It seems that my Diana Ross-esque hair (yes Guy that was for you) is the result of genes. Not just my father’s but a whole island’s worth. On my first Monday here in Malta my cousin Debbie took me to Malta’s answer to Good Vibrations. A couple of thousand young people, drunk or otherwise in a beach car park all dancing to the same beat (well most of them anyway). I drank blue drinks, wore sunglasses well into the night and for the first time in my life DIDN’T have to strain to see the stage. It was amazing. Suddenly I was a tallest person in site – except for maybe a few other foreigners who had landed in the middle of the Mediterranean. This joy lasted about 5 minutes until I realized that the reason I was so tall was because all of the other girls were the size of Nicole Ritchie only with black hair and I suspect slightly hairer bodies. The guys were a league of their own. Imagine Norton Street, Leichhardt on a Saturday night. Minus the sleaze factor it was like looking into the forum and needing your sunglasses to deflect the lights shining off the wet look gelled heads. From 3pm to 3am everyone danced and sweated and became slightly delusional BUT not a single hair was out of place – incredible.

This day was also my first introduction to the Maltese party life.
Whilst I consider myself a pretty enthusiastic type of person when it comes to partying; last one standing (yes Nic), the first to the mike (yes Al) and the possessor or trophees (yes Dan & Morts) it seems that I am anything but, when it comes to the Maltese. I must warn that anyone who intends to come to Malta should do so only after attending a training camp similar to The Biggest Loser but perhaps call it The Biggest Eater, Drinker and Insomniac. I simply can’t keep up!!!! I have found myself literally exhausted and I think that it is due to my body having difficulty digesting the 500g of pasta, 600g of meat, 25 cups of tea, 2 litres of alcohol and a partridge in a pear tree that I am required to consume daily because "I’m on a holiday" (say that in a woggy accent ala Acropils Now, for effect). I also feel a bit behind the eight ball when it comes to the partying lifestyle. The typical day for a 20-something in Malta is; wake up at 7, work until 1, have a siesta until 4, work until 7, cook for an hour and a half if you are female, go to the pub if you are male, watch a bit of TV or listen to some music until 11, head to Paceville and start with a few quiet vodkas, at 12.30 get your first tray (10 shots) of shooters, by 4 you and a friend should have consumed 3 of these trays between you, dance until 6 then drive (yes drive drunk) to the closest patstizzi outlet and watch the sunrise whilst eating. Now it doesn’t sound that difficult but they do it day after day and are relentless with the drinking – the trays of shots cost around $10 so you can well imagine the temptation!!!!

Aside from the partying…..
Malta is amazing. I know that I have probably had a very different experience than most as I have family here but for such a tiny place it has so much to offer. Malta has some of the oldest temples and man made constructions in the world. Some of the structures pre-date the pyramids and show elements of sophistication such as writing and use of tools that other countries couldn’t boast until thousands of years later. Being in such a strategic location (off the end of Sicily) Malta has been fought over for thousands of years. During World War II Malta was continuously bombed for 60 days. It is incredible that such a small country was able to rebuild itself and be one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations today. The landscape is quite similar to that of Morocco (due to a 200 year occupation by the Arabs). All of the buildings are a sandy colour and very square. The houses tend to be like terraces, narrow and tall. The water is incredible. I naively thought that the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday’s had the most stunning water in the world but the water here in Malta is incredibly clean and blue. I’ve been swimming quite a bit since being here.

are best known for being small round chocolates that when bitten into evoke the delight of light and sweet honeycomb. I can only guess that these delicacies were based on the Maltese people. They too are small and somewhat round with a hard, dark exterior. Scratch the surface however and you find the most amazing people. Everyone here is incredibly generous and welcoming. They are so proud of their country but not at all arrogant. They are very religious but not fanatical. They work hard to maintain their culture and traditions but are open to other influences and do not reject other cultures. I really can’t get over the seeming contrast of high held morals and beliefs that meshes with the partying, laughter and general familial feeling. For instance they are so dedicated to their religious beliefs that they will party all night then be up at 10am to attend mass. As the place is so tiny (20km long and you can drive from one side to the other in 15 minutes) everyone knows everyone which in Australia would seem bad (ie the small town/Cennie Coast mentality) but here it means that you always have someone to give you a lift or help you out or to have a laugh with. All of the people seem so happy.

The highlights…..
of Malta have been numerous and varied. The first week was fantastic. Meeting family that I had never met but feeling at home instantly made me miss having people from Australia that I love in my life everyday but also made me want to stay in Malta for a long period of time so to learn more about where my grandparents are from. In the first week I visited Valetta (the capital city), St Julians, Mosta Dome (where a bomb fell during mass in WWII and didn’t ever explode), The Blue Grotto (water that looks like blue ink has been poured into it), Paceville (party-ville) and many other smaller places. I also celebrated my 25th
birthday which was a bit strange. I really missed my family & friends on this day but as many of you sent messages of love or called I felt pretty popular & just like I was at home!
Mo arrived on the Friday which was great. I had been being shuffled around from place to place in a frantic whirlwind attempt to show me everything (and feed me everything) there is to see/eat in Malta and was exhausted. Mo’s arrival meant staying in the family beach house & relaxing a bit. We spent most of the week in the sun which was fantastic and let me work on my tan! We had a few nights out and spent a day on a sailing trip around Malta, Gozo and Comino – there are plenty of photos of this on my photo site and are well worth a look, the underwater caves were amazing. It was nice to have company for the week as well. I think I just about talked Mo’s ear off but this could have been the result of me becoming accustomed to the life of a Maltese woman – constant loud talking over the top of everyone else or perhaps the result of me having constant company for the first time since I left the land of Oz. Mo flew home on the following Thursday and it was really sad saying goodbye. I’ve tended to latch onto people as soon as I make a friend or spend any period of time with them as it is so rare to even have a conversation with someone when traveling alone.
Since Mo went back to England I have spent most of my time with Debbie (a second or third cousin). We are really similar, so much so that Stuart her boyfriend keeps telling people he is living with a blonde Debbie and a dark Debbie (this is referring to hair colour not intelligence levels). We have had a great time going out dancing, shopping, sun-baking and gossiping. I leave here on Thursday and am not looking forward to the farewell.

I will return….
to the land of my roots in August. Malta has many feasts during the year and one of the biggest is the feast of Santa Maria on 15th
August. I also really want to spend more time getting to know where my grandparents are from. I have picked up quite a bit of the language since I’ve been here and it is something that I don’t want to lose before seeing my grandparents again.
Well as always I am missing you all and have a big few weeks ahead of me traveling to Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia back to Italy, France (the south) and Switzerland. This should take me up to mid July then I’ll reassess the situation and may go after Chappo’s mate in Portugal for some work in a surf school.

Take care everyone, I’m missing you all lots, please keep the emails coming.
Xxx Loz

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ireland to Malta


Sorry its been awhile since an update - I've have frantic messages from some of you! NO I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth I've just fallen into the arms of a very welcoming Maltese family who aren't giving me much time to email!!

Last I left you was in Dublin.....
I moved on from my luxury hostel in Dublin (which Darcy bluntly proclaimed the end of the earth). After walking me home at 2.30am after a night on the town he wanted to instantly move me out of there although it wasn't that bad - at least it was clean but unfortunately in a bad part of town. So I stayed with Darcy & his flatmate for the next 2 nights which was a bit of luxury. Damien's family home was massive. A little like David Low's house for those of you who know it but with the distinct added ambiance of a bachelor pad! I had the best sleep that I had had in weeks which refreshed me for a trip to the Guinness brewery!

I had my first pint of the black stuff after walking around the museum and learning how it was made. Much to my surprise (or perhaps as a result of a well trained liver) the black gold was not as difficult to drink as I had been told. IT was less like a meal and more like a beer (how sup rising!). I did only have one pint though so perhaps after a night of drinking it I would feel the true pain of the stuff. At the end of the day Darcy took me to a traditional Irish pub with fiddlers and all. It was awesome! I just love the Irish music! Darcy was very embarrassed to be there as I was acting like a typical tourist but a few pints later and he was jigging along with me!

Paddywagon tours....
had been recommended to me by Lowy and was definitely well worth the booking! I met at Paddy's Palace - a bright green building and jumped on a bus with 10 other girls, 2 guys and Steve the tour guide. As soon as I sat down I made a friend (yay for me!) her name was Lucie and she is from Melbourne (Lucinda Gorman for you Melbourne's if you happen to know her). Anyway we got on like a proverbial house on fire after five minutes of frantically talking over the top of each other (remember I haven't had a girly goss for almost 5 weeks now) we knew each other's life stories and were the best of friends! The tour was 3 days of the south of Ireland. The first stop was an old castle where I was more interested in food (bare in mind the hangover from the Irish pub the night before) and the second stop the Blarney Castle. The Blarney Castle was amazing! It was set in a stunning garden and had been extremely well preserved. Climbing to the top of the Blarney Castle was exhausting. I don't know how all of the old people of tour do it. I also don't know how fat people make it up the stairs! The stairwells and hallways are so narrow. Getting to the top was definitely worth it though. The view was amazing and kissing the stone an awesome and very touristy experience.

That night we stayed in Killarney then onto Galway the next day. At Killarney we stayed in great hostel which was really clean with en suite bathrooms. Lucie & managed to share a room and we still hadn't stopped talking. After sampling some Irish shots including the Irish Flag and a car bomb (half pint of Guiness with a shot of Baileys) we managed to dance up a storm at Garnnery's PUb then be chased back to the hostel by some old drunk Irishman. Luckily he was so drunk that he couldn't walk straight or very well and thus couldn't keep up with the 2fit young Aussies lasses!!

On the way to Galway...
we crossed the river Shannon and saw lots of dolphins. I was so surprised to see them outside of warm waters - although it wasn't cold but I'm sure that the water was. Lucie & I kept commenting the Ireland looked like one big Devondale Butter ad! It is so green and there are cows that pop up over hills in random places. The next stop was the Cliffs of Moher. These were very cool. Lucie & I had bought food for lunch so had a picnic at the top. Check out my photos if you want to see how amazing they are. Galway was our final destination and was very cool. The group went out for diner and ended up having a very big night - Morts I stole 2 pint glasses for you and Dan a reflector from a witches hat for you (its in the mail). Morts, I thought you could do without the pint glasses, I didn't want to encourage more drinking than you currently do! Lucie & I picked up some very hard men (bronze statues to be precise - again check the photos) before finding a kebab shop called ABRAKEBABRA!! Kate & Lowy there is a photo for you of this! Nothing else very interesting to report from Ireland except that my summation would be that it is a very beautiful place with very friendly people but sleazy men! I also think they are the hardest partiers in the world!

The 6 hour wait in Gatwick airport....
was not as bad as I had anticipated! I read a book that Lucie had given me and sent some postcards as well as slept and ate! I was so excited about getting to Malta that I'm surprised the wait didn't seem to take longer!!! The flight to Malta took 3 hours and when I got off the plane I was greeted by 2 very loving and excited family members - Dorren and her daughter Wendy. Mum, Dad and my sister had all warned me that my time in Malta would not be relaxing but more like an intense guided tour! They were rightl! From the minute I got off the plane until now I simply haven't stopped!

MY time here is about to run out so I will update everyoneon the land of the MAltesers asasoon as I'm allowed some free time again!!

Hope you are all well!

LOve Loz