A Travellerspoint blog

New things great and small.

The little hippie-tree-hugging New Zealand part of me just died a little.

I am currently out on my first Temping job in London. I pretty much get paid bugger all to sit here – check my emails, read the news, write this blog and every once and a while print an email. This part of the job didn’t kill me inside (yet – I have only been here an hour and a half). The bit that did; was that about 5 minutes ago, myself and a co-worker just picked up approximately three small Brazilian rainforests worth of paper off the floor of a meeting room to put into the confidential bins. All single sided, legal gobbledy-gook. The fact that I had to get on the floor to pick it up, whilst wearing high heels wasn’t ideal either. But it was more the wasteful antics of the business sphere. The world develops technology and innovative products to make less waste in the world, and these individuals are still print every document multiple times, scribble a single note on it and then discard it on the floor. I can only assume the hours they spend cooped up in these meeting rooms, has made them forget the fragility of the world around them. Rant done.

As I left for work today (not used to that four letter word yet – work), Iain told me to go and be a good bread winner… hmmm… That’s not what I married him for!

So here, as I get paid legitimately for the first time since October 2012, I instigate the return of the faithful blog. Welcome back, I’ve missed you. I know my mum has too.

Iain and I have been off the radar a bit for those in NZ. As a bit of an update, we arrived, bludged off people, drank beer, wine and mastered the underground system. Within 2 weeks of arriving Iain had a good lead on a contracting job, met the boss, saw a contract and we decided based on that information we would rent an apartment. Now we sit in our apartment finding fun cheap and free things to do each day, because every day the project gets shifted sideways, and we still have no income. In the mean time, Iain being the clever clogs he is, has managed to possibly secure an interview for another job. So it might be a race to the line to see who will fund our awesome new life.

In the mean time we have been going round seeing the sights and living the high life, enjoying the sun and getting used to UK life. This blog is taking about 4 times as long as normal, as I am still getting used to UK keyboards…. Why is the shift button so small!

When we moved into our new house, it wasn’t long until we realised we needed to move about 100kgs worth of stuff from the four corners of London. We thought the best way to do this was to hire a car, and for the most part we were right. It was cheaper to hire a car for 7 days, than rent one for 3. So we decided because of this we would do a little road trip down south at the same time.

On a flying visit we passed through Kent, Dover, Canterbury, Brighton and other places read about in old books. It was a lovely Bank holiday weekend/week, sunny and lots of people out enjoying the apparently rare ball of light in the sky.

And that’s it.

I apologise for the shortness of the blog. There is a reason for this. For the past year my brain has worked by thinking of my life as one giant blog, everything that happened, every odd place and odd person. This was then filed inside the old noggin in snippets and anecdotes for future use. Other people think of their lives in Facebook status updates, or tweets, but mine was my cathartic blog rants. Now however I am forced to think of other things, of timelines and deadlines and appointments – all a welcome change mind you, but I am reminded that sometimes the passive aggressive venting of blog life is all that one needs to make you feel like you are still travelling the world, living the dream. Oh wait a minute, I am.

Posted by kayles 02:55 Comments (0)

California Dreaming

sunny 21 °C

After a horror start in LAX, my expectations of LA were low. We had to wait 2 hours just to get to the front of the line at immigration, meaning our 11 hour slight became 13 very quickly. After a few ranting moments… to Iain… quietly… I realised there was a crazy Australian girl in front of me who was doing enough ranting for all of us in the line. It was great. I could have all the pleasure of being obnoxious, without any of the consequences. Thanks Australia. You and your loud mouthed, giant, hairy-faced girl kept me sane, whilst waiting for the most inefficient service in the world.

When we finally got to our accommodation it was almost 11pm. I made the mistake of looking at my phone to see what time it was in London. 0530. Ugh. The severe lack of sleep was catching up with me. We were staying in an Airbnb place just off Ventura Boulevard, and it took me until the second day to realise I was constantly singing Tom Petty’s Free Falling line… ‘All the vampires walkin’ through the Valley, move west down Ventura Blvd’. Bet it’s now in your head. Ha!

Even after the trauma of LAX, I really enjoyed LA. I think I would come back. I know! I’m a little horrified at this conclusion, but I had a really good time. I didn’t mind the people, I didn’t mind the food, I didn’t even mind the traffic (although I did have my own personal chauffer – that is too scared to let me drive, hence the chauffering).

LA is one of the best places to ‘people watch’ in the world. The ‘beautiful’ people spend their days avoiding the ‘think-they-are-beautiful’ people. And the ‘want-to-be-beautiful’ people try their best to attract the attention of the above two sections of society. And then there are the rest of us… the ‘Work-for-the-beautiful’ people and the tourists. You really appreciate these last two groups when driving through the area lined with Beverly Hills mansions. While the tourist buses drive up and down the streets, the (mostly Mexican) house staff go outside to the Mexican food trucks parked up on the side of the streets. The only thing the tourists are going to see is the ‘staff’ of the actor they are straining to see. The bigger the star - the greater the size of the fence road, it is also directly related to the size of their security men outside.

We only saw 2 famous people while we were here, Jimmy Kimmel and Nigel Barker (the judge from ANTM) – I don’t mind that that’s the only two I saw. Nigel Barker is an attractive man, worth 2 sub-par celebrities in my book.

I have a theory on female celebrities too, the size of the car and the size of the female driving is proportional to the amount of famousness.
A big women in a small car = not famous.
A miniature hungry looking women in an apparently bulletproof SUV, so big they cannot see over the steering wheel = almost certainly famous, were they on Good Morning America this morning? I think they were!

For some reason, in the last 18 months, LA is the first place where Iain has attempted to compare every spot to a location in New Zealand. I don’t know if it is because it is on our way home. But is hilarious nonetheless. My favourite was comparing of one of the Valleys to Stokes Valley, but when challenged by yours truly, he clarified that it was exactly the same… apart from pleasant, sunny and full of rich people.

But the ties from NZ are starting to come back. Listening to the Naked and Famous on the radio whilst driving Mulholland Drive. Wearing your jandals everywhere. Super sunburn. Hearing the kiwi accent in the AirNZ lounge.

Ah bliss.
15 more hours.

Can’t wait.

Posted by kayles 21:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Are we all sitting comfortably? Then, lets begin.

overcast 13 °C

I started to count up the flights we have taken in the last 18 months, I ran out of fingers (as you all know I can only reliably count to 9, 9 and a half on a good day). So I tried to count up the places, I don’t know why I thought that would be better. So I will just have to leave it at the fact after 17 months, we have been to a lot of places. So many people have said to us how lucky we are. Luck has nothing to do with it. We decided, we jumped off the cliff and we had the adventure of a life time.

But I don’t mean to sound so fatalistic, the adventure still continues. It just has different priorities. However we have one last hoorah in NZ before heading back to the world of big kid jobs, responsibilities and expectations.

At the start of ‘An Idiot Abroad’ Ricky Gervais says he genuinely believes travelling broadens the mind. I think about that every stop we have. Every stop has challenged me. And although I have more to experience and learn, I feel adequately challenged for the short term and I am ready to have a real life again.

One thing that has surprised me is how much of a homebody I seem to be. It's funny that emulating a turtle (carrying your whole life on your back) for 18 odd months would make you realize that you are a creature of comfort. I love travelling, but I also love having a home, making it a home, inviting people to your home, but most of all… being able to describe to others where your home is. Some people will read this statement and say - ‘well I’m from New Zealand!’. I am it’s true, and don’t get me wrong I am pretty blimmen patriotic. But, I have lived my life saying my home is where I rest my head, anyone that knows me well will testify to me calling their home, my home at some stage in my life. I guess it helps combat homesickness but it also makes you appreciate where you stay.

There is one thing that terrifies me about the big move to the northern mother land is the feeling that going back to a 'normal' life will leave me feeling unchallenged and the traveler inside of me will be trapped while the hermit version of me thrives.

Wow deep….
Any-who. Both Iain and I have decided there is no part of our trip that we would exclude if given the opportunity to do it again. We would definitely have added more places given the chance, but probably given ourselves a similar time frame.

I have a friend who is just leaving an overseas military posting and she has been using her Facebook status’s to highlight some of the things she will miss. I thought that was a pretty cool idea – so I stole it and molded for my own personal amusement.

#1 The countries that have influenced me the most: Egypt and Bulgaria
Funnily enough these two countries are not necessarily the ones I have enjoyed the most, almost at the other end of the scale I guess. The influence and dislike I think is rooted in the same complete unfamiliarity with the lifesytle, and compulsion to change a culture that you know you cannot.

#2 Most influential food. Italy and Morocco (of course) but also Bulgaria (surprisingly)- its amazing how many cabbage dishes you can make. Just wait Mum, I’ll cut your grocery bill in half.

#3 Most surprising: Russia, it also wins the prize for most troublesome to get into.

#4 Most friendly, adventurous, physically demanding and life changing: Canada. I believe my biggest personal changes were formulated in the Rockies.

#5 Most likely to go back to: Morocco, Canada and Hawaii. I would also categorize Hawaii as the ‘If I had to be a homeless bum, where would I want my park bench’.

#6 Most jaw dropping for everything bad: The US. The size of portions, the racism, the polarizing ideals and unrelenting judgment. Wow that makes it seem so bad. I want to spend more time there, because to me aspects of The States are more foreign and abstract than Moscow, more sad than the Roma slums and more passionate than an Italian football fan. There is so much more to discover.

#7 Country most terrified of weather: This is a tie between the USA and UK. Having been in the middle of Hurricane Sandy and the Worst London Winter Ever… of 2012… not to be out done by the London storm of the century of 2011, 2010 and 2009. Actually no I take that back, UK win this celebrity death match. If someone sneezes in the north and the leaves fall on the train tracks the whole country stops.

#8 Most hilarious music experience: Guggenmusic Switzerland. Any music festival that includes drinking at 9 am on a Friday morning and dressing your infant child in a troll outfit has to win this prize.

#9 Craziest man on a train: Egypt. I thought this man would win comfortably, stealing another mans seat, fighting him for it when he returned, attempting to sell me scarves across the seat, preaching and throwing fruit at other patrons in the carriage for a solid 8 hour train journey. However, a man on the London Underground this morning, gave him a good run for his money. I was under the full understanding that he was attempting to eat my arm.

#10 Best Wedding Celebration: Moroccan Berbers. The photos say everything that needs to be said.

#11 and #12 Most cats- Turkey, Most dogs – Bulgaria. Funny how each country adopts their own specific abundance of strays.

#13 Country that made me the most angry and sick – Egypt, i think the Egypt blog describes this in enough detail the first time.

#14 The countries that made me the most sad are tied between Egypt and Greece. Both have been hit so had with the economic crisis and civil unrest that the tourist sector has pretty much disappeared. They are so excited and grateful you are there, but you can see the hardship in their eyes.

#15 Where I felt the most insignificant in the world. Greece with the Acropolis and Egypt with the pyramids. But I think if New York had been as busy as it normally is, I would have felt it there. We visited about 3 days after Hurricane Sandy and there was hardly anyone else around.

#16 Best alternative winter sport: Switzerland’s epic 2-hour sledding track. I don’t think my hair has recovered since that day.

#17 Coldest house – Sorry Eric and Caroline but it has to be France. Jeepers creepers, any kitchen taps that freeze the drips overnight is too cold for human inhabitation. I have to say I appreciate peeling potatoes so much more now that I don’t have to do it in front of a fan heater.

#18 Most overrated: Magnetic hill or the tidal bore in Moncton actually all of Moncton, Canada – I know everything else has been countries. However this place should be eradicated from the map.

#19 Best ski hill: Lake Louise, the ones in Europe are bigger, but nothing like the challenge that LL set every day for 5 months.

#20 Best thanksgiving: Toronto, Canada – thanks Ruth and Cammy for showing us how it’s done.

#21 Most excited to see the sea: Vancouver. 10 months, no sea. There are so many people in Alberta who have never seen it. Drumheller, Alberta was the furthest I had been from the sea in my whole life, I love the mountains but not as a trade off for the sea.

#22 Best wine tasting: Porto. Wine, Chocolate and Port. Need I say more?

#23 Best airport lounge. Without any hesitation I say the Star Alliance lounge in Istanbul, Turkey. It is the first time ever in my life that I have wished my plane to be delayed (let me just clarify - this is when I’m already at the airport. I have wished on a number of occasions for my flight to be delayed, but this is mostly because I am speeding my way toward the airport… late again.)

So as I sit here cocooned in my cage of an economy middle seat, surrounded by giants who don’t fit in their own seats, I think to adventures ahead, hopefully not crippled by deep vein thrombosis. I told Mum that there was no reason to be concerned about the drought, it would break for 2 reasons – it’s a long weekend coming up, there is no way NZ could deliver good weather for that. But also that Iain and I were coming home, and the weather will almost certainly turn to poos. But that’s ok, because I can spend my time inside drinking red wine with friends and family and feel like I belong.

Posted by kayles 07:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Homeward bound

overcast 10 °C

My last day in Bulgaria. Phewf.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed my time here, there is no reason to complain about a place where you get to snowboard every second day, the giant bottles of beer cost about 2Lv (about $1.80 NZD) and feta comes in tubs too heavy to carry with one hand.

But as mentioned in previous blogs, I am looking forward to emptying my whole pack into the washing machine and scrubbing the top layer of skin off.

The formerly greyness however has passed. God obviously does not listen to morning grumbles… he reads blogs. Since writing my last blog, it has been sunny almost every day, the grass is green, and the skies are lovely. Who knew? It was obviously a ploy on making me consider what I was really in Bulgaria for. For those not following, blue sky equals happy Kayleigh, but it also equals no snow… doh!

I have to say one of the thing, I will miss the randomness of Bulgarian life.

The hilarious translation signage.

Borovets is known as the ‘Green Resort’. If you were looking for a new ski hill, would you go with one that indicated its colour was anything less than snowy powdery white? And once you are there, would you get a ski lesson from a company called ‘Snow Fun’? Think about it… sound it out. And after a hard day on the slopes for dinner there is always some ‘Old Man’, or maybe a side of ‘Happy balls’.

The juxtaposition of old and new (or attempt at new).

The options for transport around the resort are horse and carriage or taxi. It is a regular sight to see them jostling for pole position to get your fare.
It is also regular to see hundreds of people going in and out of the stalls at the local market, whilst the ‘Big Mall’ in Samakov has one shop in it, no customers and no reason to go – its refreshing.

The fact that no one will smile or wave at you unless you are doing something they don’t recognise or think is hilarious.

Namely running. This is apparently a novel concept in Bulgaria. Everyone has stern, harsh looks on their face most of the time, until you run past them. Then it’s waves, friendly shouts, they will even yell at their dog to stop it from yapping at your heels. That doesn’t happen when you just walk. What a difference a run makes, it feels like you are part of your own parade!

Anyway alas our time is over here, it is making me feel a little nostalgic just writing this, which is funny, because I can honestly say it is highly improbable that I will ever come back to Bulgaria. Although, never say never.

This afternoon we will be in London, the first time in 2013 that we have been in an English-speaking county. Our itinerary then proceeds as follows for those who want to catch up, or just want to see which part of the country/world they should avoid.

London until the 20th.
LA 20-23rd
Christchurch 25-31
Otorohanga 31 – 4th
Tauranga 4-7 (Nan – this is my checking that we can stay with you….)
Travel down to Wellies
Wellies the week of the 7th
Then back to Auckland for the remainder of the time.
This is all pretty fluid as we don’t have any job, or anything to do apart from catch up, drink wine and maybe do some exercise (it has been a long time since any of that nonsense – note: the aforementioned running only happened twice).

From here we begin the slow journey home, I am looking forward to seeing everyone and am starting to feel the beginnings of deflating. I feel like a balloon that has had to be full, ready for tapping around the room, avoiding popping dangers and being bright, fun and welcoming for the last 18 months, but now the balloon is finally allowed to rest behind the couch, to be forgotten until vacuuming day.

And vacuuming day cannot come soon enough. I am looking forward to Fish and Chips on the beach, my mum’s homemade scones and jam. Talking to people who understand the kiwi sense of humour, and not having to speak like a robot for people to understand.

Posted by kayles 00:54 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

50 shades of Grey, with a tinge of Brown

snow -1 °C

I am dirty. So dirty. And not in a good way. Take your mind out of the gutter boys.

I feel constantly unclean. Iain and I are cooking dinners and cooked breakfast for the customers every day, and anyone who has worked in a kitchen before knows the consistent smell of cooking that permeates into your skin. My hands are beginning to dependably smell of onion, even when I don’t cut them. And unless I wash my hair before bed, I wake up thinking there are French fries on my pillow.

Now in a first world country, if you worked in a commercial kitchen - you would have your dishwasher boy do the dishes in the industrial dishwasher, scrub yourself in the shower after work and chuck your clothes in the washing machine post haste. Over here things work a little differently.

After serving 20 people a three course meal, Iain and I then wash all the dishes by hand. We have three sinks, one that is completely blocked, and two that occasionally decide to drain, with one plug to share. We wash the dishes with this horrible green goo detergent, which peels the skin off your hands, and some sponges that I think you would normally buy in the two dollar store in NZ.

Then after washing all of those, we dry them with tea towels I have never seen washed, and place them back on the tables for the next day…. Mmmm… delicious. The reason I have never seen them washed, is due to the fact we have no washing machine or drier. I know – hashtag first world problems Kayleigh!

Let me just set you straight. I have no problems with hand washing clothes, I have a lot of Icebreaker so I am used to it. However the detergent must have some sort of starch in it, however I can’t read Bulgarian to confirm this. The reason I suspect this is because my ‘clean’ clothes smell like potatoes, not the yum kind with butter and a little cheese. But peeled, boiled and left in the pot for 3 days potatoes.

And if I wasn’t dirty enough at this point, the road outside our house is actually a 4x4 rally track. Not really, but Iain has fun everyday driving the 4 wheel drive like a loon, spinning the back wheels and drifting round the corners. This is because the majority of the road is ankle deep in mud. So when you think you are clean in your potato outfit you go outside and get caked in mud. Only to have to wash yourself in a shower that drains mostly into your bedroom, not the plug hole.

If it was beautiful and sunny or beautiful and snowy the state of cleanliness may be forgotten. But its not. I have begun to wake up and say ‘Oh what a surprise, it’s grey today’. Hence the title 50 shades of grey and brown. But mostly its just one grey, dirty-dishwater-cloudy-sky grey.

Oh no, I’m about to go live in London, what have I signed myself up for.

Posted by kayles 00:37 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 70) « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 9 10 11 12 .. »