Monday, July 24, 2006

Returning to the motherland....

So much has happened in the last few weeks it’s hard to know where to start….

Leaving Nice was a little sad as I had intended to spend 3 nights there but ended up spending a whole week. It was so nice (get it?) to be able to relax on a beach again and just have a slower pace of life with no pressure to see all of the sites in 3 days!!

I had met so many people on the Busabout loop that told me that Lauterbrunnen was their favorite place...
I found this hard to believe given all of the other amazing places I had seen and also thought that because I would always choose beach over snow perhaps this feeling of favoritism wouldn’t ring true for me. How wrong I could be. Lauterbrunnen was the most visually stunning place I have visited since leaving Australia . Driving into the valley comprising of no less than 72 waterfalls was only marred by the vision of 6 Contiki coaches parked at our campsite.

It was a nice change to get off the bus and not be met with a wave of heat and smog comparable to running across the Anzac Bridge during peak hour traffic. We were met by Helga (or something similar) who told us ze rules of ze cambsite. Departing the bus also signaled the meeting of perhaps my best matched partner in crime (other than Kate of course), Clare Safstrong. Clare is an Aussie who has been living in London for a year or so and we spent the most hilarious night together. We went to the Oberlander for rostis, traditional Swiss potato dishes, only to be met by an Aussie larrikin running the restaurant who continually asked us if we wanted to order knuckle sandwiches (Dan I had visions of you in 30 years time). After swapping travel stories that were strangely similar we returned to the campsite to brave the Bombshelter.

Recipe for a Bombshelter:
Take a room the size of a portaloo
Pump with smoke
Add 300 Contiki passengers and a sprinkling of interested onlookers
Pour in copious amounts of highly fermented fruit juice
To the sound of Brittney Spears, Ja Rule and Men at Work expel air through kneading
Take small handfuls, consisting of 2 to 3 Contiki passengers, and roll into a small ball
Top with a spattering of tears from the princess without a pash
Place on camping mat for 2 to 4 minutes and watch for results

Enough said…. Clare and I were in hysterics and after purchasing one highly over priced sparkling wine and decided that it was funnier to remain sober and start a book on the series of events. I have never seen anything like it and as you will all appreciate, this is some feat given my introduction into the 18+ world at Club Troppo. Sadly, Clare was only spending one night in Lauterbrunnen but I am sure we will meet again for more frivolity.

Lauterbrunnen also saw the return of Lauren Croft.
Rising after the hilarity of the Bombshelter was literally breathtaking. I stood outside my cabin just staring at my surroundings. The Alps are indescribable and certainly bring to reality how flat Australia is. I went for a walk up behind a nearby waterfall before going whitewater-rafting!! I was a little apprehensive about the rafting given it was on a river with grade 5 rapids (highest being a deathly 6) but kept telling myself that if I could skydive, canyon and survive 3 years sitting next to Matt Chapman it was likely I could survive anything. As soon I was in the river I calmed down. The water was icy but incredibly clear. IU had so much fun! Despite my shoulders locking up I came out unscathed which is more than could be said for some of the nights out in Nice. At the swimming in the lake at Interlaken was one of the highlights. It was the first time I had ever swum in fresh water and it was the strangest feeling.

Mountain biking the next day was also incredible. I rode for about 3 hours (regular photo stops) through a track along the river from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken with a couple I had met from Turramurra. After lunch we rode around Interlaken and I thought Id be really tricky and jump up a gutter only to pop a tyre!!! Thank goodness we were close to the train station so I could jump on the train rather than hike back with a flat!

Annecy take 2…..
Was completely different but equally as good as take 1. Last time I had visited Jess Brennan in Annecy it had snowed the week prior and we spent a whole day playing in the snow at Chamonix . This time it was hot, sunny and involved swimming in the lake. I had a fantastic time walking around until it got dark at 10.30. Hanging out with the kids Jess looks after and taking Vanille the dog for a walk. Saying goodbye to Jess after another week together was really difficult. We have such a great friendship now and it is horrible not knowing the next time we’ll see each other.

If I had any apprehension returning to France on my leg from Italy it was numerously multiplied upon my return to Paris …..
I had to spend one night in Paris (ha ha) on my way back to London and was not looking forward to it. After finding my room which had 3 single beds pushed together to allow entry into the cupboard space that it may have well been I luckily ran into Erika one of my favorite people from Busabout. She invited me to dinner with her and some others that she had met and we ended up at Eds, a close by bar. I felt safest OFF the streets of Paris and thought only a dose of karaoke will render my impression of Paris more positive than last time…next thing I knew I was on the stage belting out Mr Jones. So there you go Paris , present me with a bad time and see what you get as payback!!!!!

Reunions are oft not what they are built up to be…..
I constantly hear of horror stories of people reuniting with ex-partners, 10 year school reunions where you find out you are still the nerdy kid or even reuniting with study after a hefty break. The one I had with Sarah Treliving upon my return to London should really restore faith for all of those who look upon reunion with negativity. Seeing her at Victoria Station was amazing. We spent the next 3 days catching up on what had happened since I had left Australia and she returned to London . I met her fantastic friends (except for Karen who was a complete cow – Tree make sure you forward this onto her), drank plenty of red wine and was stuffed silly by her parents who were the sweetest hosts I could ask for. We met up with Duncan for lunch at Canary wharf which was even more mind blowing. It was so surreal to have made these 2 fantastic English friends in Australia and to now be in their home country with them! Although I haven’t really spent enough time in London to comment with authority it seems some things don’t change. As we sat down for lunch the wind started up, this was the first time I had required jeans, closed shoes and a jacket in the last 2 months and I was relieved that I had the foresight to think ahead. As our food was brought out my salad was picked up by the wind and deposited all over Sarah, just in time for her job interview later that day. Shortly after the waiter laughed it off without offering a replacement salad it started to rain….. Sarah and Duncan looked unfazed. I looked at them confused as to why they had returned home.

One of the best friends I have made while traveling is Matty Joyce.
Matt is one of those people that you meet and can’t help but fall in love with. I am sure that no mater whose life he enters he leaves his mark which is smile on said persons face. Matt is from Urunga near Coffs Harbour and has been working for Busabout for 2 years or so. Upon hearing my sob story about Paris he was determined that I shouldn’t leave Europe without rectifying the impression that I had built of the ghastly city and as such arranged to meet me in Paris for a guided tour. It pains me to say but I now fall into the cliché of believing that Paris truly is a beautiful city.

When I arrived in Paris I decided to climb the Eiffel tower which was pretty cool. It gives an awesome perspective of just how big the city is. That evening a group of us took some wine up to the Sacre Cour (the only hill in Paris ) and sat watching the city sparkle as we listened to those around us chatter and play music. Seeing the city at night, even from a distance was the start of my change in attitude. The next day was incredibly hot and not at all conducive to sightseeing so I hung out in the best room in Paris . I had managed to score a room with 3 balconies a view of the Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tower for 30 euro a night. As the day cooled Matt, myself and some others from the hostel made our way to the Eiffel Tower to meet a group for a night bike ride. It was great to share the city with other people and hear all of their impressions of the sites etc. I am completely convinced that big cities should only be seen in company. Seeing the sun set through the glass pyramid of the Louvre was definitely a highlight.

The Loz you all know came out…
after a cruise along the Seine and a few local reds when we jumped back on our bikes to head back to the Eiffel Tower . Feeling a little tipsy not only made the bike ride more fun but also brought to light the dangers of drink driving. As I pumped my legs to keep up to the group I saw a pole fast approaching. Despite it being 10 metres away I knew I wouldn’t be able to swerve to miss in time and ran straight into it. This would have been fine given I didn’t fall over but as Matt was in hysterics I burst out laughing and proceeded to fall off my bike. I looked up to see a group of German students giggling behind their hands. As I tried to disentangle myself from the bike, I picked the handle bars up back to front which meant to bike wouldn’t lift and I fell back on the ground. I was unable to stop laughing and when I noticed the German students were in the same state and actually pointing at me I thought ‘OK get yourself under control’ only to wonder ‘if I didn’t hit my head why are all of those lights in my eyes’. The answer would be that the German students had started to take photos of me!!!!! Matt was almost falling off his bike by this stage and all I could do was stand up, bow and run to catch up with the group. This would have to be my stack of the trip.

My last day in Paris coincided with Bastille Day, which was part of the reason I had returned. I figured that if I was to rectify the bad impression I had of Paris what better day to do it than their national day of pride. I wasn’t disappointed. Partly due to the luck I had with my room I had the most incredible view of the fireworks and the sparkling Eiffel Tower . The city was absolutely pumping with people everywhere. By the end of my time here Paris has changed from a dirty, unfriendly destination to a sparkling city that has affirmed one of my best ever friendships.

After a short few days in London ….
catching up with Tree, Dunc , Mo and Brett I have now made my way to Malta . It is stifling hot here and I am about to go to the beach before heading to a party where Bob Sinclair is playing tonight.

I am missing you all lots and hope to hear from you soon. I will have a new Maltese phone number shortly and will send it as soon as it is confirmed.

Take care

Xx Loz

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh my god lovely, not seen this post until now July 2010. It was and always will be amazing to see you, in whichever city. You're one in a million. Love you. See you at Christmas. Sarah T x