Tumultuous Amsterdam

I’ve made the decision to go ahead and skip writing about the WU23UC for the moment. I will eventually,  but at the moment I am so bedazzled by travelling that it doesn’t leave much room to reminisce about that particular experience. It will come soon, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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Amsterdam was by far one of my favourite experiences from my ‘non-frisbee’ related travels so far. Aesthetically speaking, the city is beautiful with its wide streets, bicycles, canals and architecture. But we’ve all seen beautiful cities,  right? Even being from Australia where our entire country is younger than some European buildings, I’ve seen my fair share.

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It was the people and the culture – although I must point out, i missed the true culture Netherlands has on offer due to not leaving Amsterdam for a more curious delve into the rural areas. Everybody I met, whether local or a traveller were beautiful. They were always friendly and polite, even with the language barrier. It made for an amazing experience in a great city.

We didn’t line up for the Anne Frank house in favour of renting bicycles and joining locals and tourists alike in the joy of cycling around Amsterdam.  We had them for a day and it really allowed us to see more than we could on foot. In typical tourist fashion we also found the ‘i Amsterdam’ sign and took several photos, including one rather amusing instance of my friend having to be carried down after finding she was stuck on the sign.

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The thing I would recommend is hiring a boat (you can drive it yourself!) and cruising along the canals. This was an amazing experience, we had wine and cheese and music.  Amsterdam was a whole adventure of stepping out of my comfort zone and finding that I actually quite liked it. Not in all ways though. 

My ‘last’ night in Amsterdam ended up being my longest as I discovered just how stressful it can be to lose ones wallet and passport on the way to catch a bus to Lyon. After hours of stress, some very good friends allowing me to use their houses and access their Skype accounts, i had two more nights in Amsterdam to figure out my situation.

I’m always pleasantly surprised when my faith in humanity pays off. Too often people are quick to assume the worst and I’ll admit, I was almost there. But with great advice from my travel insurance, kind directions from strangers and a policeman who made me a cup of tea – it turns out somebody had handed my passport and wallet  (with nothing stolen!) into the police. Yes, I am the luckiest person alive.

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So after my wonderful parents sending me money through Western Union, a freak storm that delayed trains and busses – i was finally on my way to Lyon.

Don’t worry Amsterdam, I didn’t want to leave either. I’ll absolutely be back one day though.

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An Irish experience

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It’s taken me a while to decide how i actually want to write this. I tried writing a list of what I’ve been doing, but i deleted that after a paragraph. I’m writing this from a small cafe in Edinburgh, but I’ll tell you about that later. Let’s talk about Dublin.

Although i can’t tell you what i expected when i got to Dublin, i can tell you that it definitely wasn’t what i experienced. There was always something happening in the city and yet it never felt busy. Coming from Melbourne i admit i expected some ‘office buildings’ yet pleasantly, discovered none. All the doors were painted different colours and the shops and bars were everything i could have hoped for. Speaking purely about aesthetics.

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Exploring wise i went to St. Michan’s church and crypts which was really cool because we were allowed to touch the hand of an 800 year old mummy from the crusade era. Evidently people used to do that for good luck, i washed my hands before lunch though so maybe my luck has gone now.

I went to the Dublin castle and the Chester Beatty library which were both amazing buildings. I personally preferred the outside of the castle to its interior, there is no denying the majesty of it though. I think the Chester Beatty library may have been better if i had more time, as it was we rushed out to meet for lunch.

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The tournament we played, Dublin’s Golden Cup was super fun. It was great to finally play as a full team against hard competition. Throughout the tournament we played Great Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and a Polish team. Our connections are definitely cementing and the experiencewas invaluable before London next week. We definitely have things we need to work on though. We ended up taking 4th place, beating our seed of 7th – can’t ask for much better than that.

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Our last nightin Dublin was a designated ‘team night out’ and we began the night at an Irish pub called Murray’s.  They had a live band playing who were amazing, toward the end of the night one of my teammates convinced the band to play Land Down Under and 4 of us sang it for the bar. After that they had Irish dancers on stage, they needed volunteers for a dance and by that stage we were drunk enough to oblige happily.

The rest of the night was spent dancing into the morning.  Luckily it made the 12 hour transit to Edinburgh much more bearable.

An intrepid adventure

In two days I will embark on another adventure abroad. In fitting style, I decided now was the most pertinent time to revive this blog. After dusting it off I am hoping to finally put it to good use as a medium for my thoughts and photos during my travels. I always laugh at myself when I attempt to return to the blogging lifestyle, “this time will be different” is the catch-cry of the apathetic but I’ll endeavor to do my best this time.

Initially I’ll be heading to Dublin, then to London to play Ultimate Frisbee in the World U23 Ultimate Championships, then I’ll be traipsing on to Amsterdam, France and potentially Italy. The loose planning of the end part of my journey is starkly juxtaposed with the fact that too much spontaneity terrifies me. It’ll be a real shock to the nerves and the emotions but to be honest that is probably what I need.

Anyway, I’ll be updating this blog sporadically as things of interest happen to me so if you are also interested then this would be a wonderful way to keep updated. You can hear about my couch-surfing attempts and the strange people I meet along the way.

Excluding the Mosquitoes, it’s pretty alright.

Although I have known this for quite some time, it recently dawned on me that it is entirely possible to have a love-hate relationship with a place. It may seem obvious to some; indeed I have subconsciously acted upon it for what must be a good portion of my life, but it is not something you generally vocalize.

The view from the jetty I was sitting on.

The view from the jetty I was sitting on.

I am in my hometown, Portland, for a few weeks until I move back to Melbourne to start work and placement and reintroduce myself to the real world. Yesterday, I was sitting on the pier staring out over the water (this sounds like the beginning to a movie, alas it is not so exciting) and it dawned on me that I do love this place, as much as I have always convinced myself that I hated it. After pondering this for a while I asked myself: “Is that what makes this home?”. The ability to simultaneously love and hate the place I grew up? It is not the only place I have lived, but I don’t feel the same attachment to those places.

It was super windy which created a lot of ripples on the surface.

It was super windy which created a lot of ripples on the surface.

When I was in the US and contemplating returning back to Australia – I immediately knew that I wanted to come to Portland first. There was no consideration given to returning to Melbourne straight away. Despite everything that has happened here it is still the place I want to be when I need to reset. There is no struggle here; as soon as I return it is like I was never away. Everything fits right back into place. There is a certain rhythm to it and it is comforting to know that if everything falls apart – there is a place I can return to that hasn’t changed entirely. Despite all that, this is not a place I want to live permanently or even return to as a retirement possibility. Perhaps it is more a safety net than anything else? That is still substantial though, still worthwhile.

The mundane happenings of life.

So I thought I would just do a brief post to update ya’ll (American, right?) on the little things I am doing that don’t really deserve their own individual post. That way you get to digest it all in one rather than trying to find them all.

Firstly, I am now a proud member of the Humboldt Ultimate Frisbee team. We are called the ‘Hags and it is probably the best sport I have ever done. I have been playing for 3 weeks. Week one was spent in intense muscle pain which personally, I would say the equivalent is a broken bone (no exaggeration, I promise). Week two was spent with a pulled groin muscle from doing mad tricks (read: running for the Frisbee) and week three has so far gone without injury. Fingers crossed though, since it’s only Monday. Being part of the team means that we get to travel to other colleges to compete in Tournaments. The first tournament will be on the 28th of September and I’m actually super excited for it. I don’t have any photos yet but I will definitely provide some of the tournament. I still don’t fully understand the rules but I assume that comes in time. Hopefully. I am actually more fit now that I have come to America than I was when I left. That means that those of you who said I’d get fat living here (I’m looking at you sister) are totally wrong. I win.

But actually I don’t win. I’ve been in the US for about 3 weeks now and it has been hot the entire time. I was told when I got here that we’d have about three days of sunshine before it started raining. It has not yet rained and I have had a permanent sunburn since I arrived. I even bought sunscreen (they laughed at me when I bought it, but it’s almost empty) but sunscreen does not protect my pale-ness. I am a bad Australian.

I haven’t done any travelling yet but we have avid plans to go places on weekends. ‘We’ is our little motley crew that has been established. Altogether there is a permanent group of 6 Australians, 1 Finish, 1 Saudi Arabian and lots of Americans. Here is a hint, if you ever want to make friends in America – just start talking. People flock to the Australian accent over here.

My housemates are awesome. I actually got super lucky because we all get along fabulously and (shocking when you’re talking about college kids) we all clean up after ourselves. I still need to buy decorations for my room because it’s super lame at the moment but I bought a potplant the other day (another hint; don’t ask for a ‘potplant’ here because they will think you mean something entirely different) which has lovely orange flowers. That is currently the only décor in my room. I kind of want a gold fish.

Things I miss; vegemite and milo. There is nothing to have on my toast here! Also, chocolate that tastes like Australian chocolate. I’m totally baking a cake tomorrow for my friends birthday. It’s going to be delicious.

That’s all from me because I have class soon. I shall update you all when something exciting happens.

Journey across the world

So in a few days (6 to be precise) I will be getting onto a plane and flying to America where I will live for four months. I’m getting quite nervous and a little stressed. I am certain that is because I have had to pack up my house, clean it, move furniture, finish work and organise my stuff for travelling at the same time.

On Wednesday I’ve decided that to ‘chill out’ before my journey I will have my hair cut, maybe a massage and just relax. That should get me prepared for the 20 (or so) hour journey.

I still find it amusing that for reasons (resulting from my own stupidity) I will have no bed linen for the first two nights but hey, everyone needs stories to go with their trips.

Not every day (at least for me)

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I’ve decided that Halls Gap (Australia) is probably one of my favourite places in the world. It is just so peaceful and scenic that you can honestly just escape the hustle and bustle of life. There are Kangaroo’s that bounce past the restaurants, camp grounds and shops. They aren’t so friendly that they’ll let you up to them but they tolerate fairly close photo-taking (as me and my trusty, disposable camera found out).

Halls Gap also has a zoo which to me was more like a glorified petting zoo. It was amazing. They let you book in to feed meerkats and pat the dingoes. The dingoes just wanted to stand on your lap and demanded cuddles. They were seriously adorable.

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The meerkats were so funny. As soon as you sat down on the log they would pull at your hands to avoid climbing onto you, it was so amazing but I resisted the urge to actually pat them. I’m not sure they would have appreciated that. They have this little heat lamp (in the corner of the picture) to try and combat the effects of a Victorian winter. They’d crowd around it and push each other out of the way to get closest to it.