I LITERALLY STRUGGLE TO BELIEVE THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVNT TRIED TIM TAMS, VEGEMITE, FAIRY BREAD, WIZZ FIZZ, CHICOS, MINTIES AND CARAMELLO KOALAS
U R MISSING SK MUCH
are those street names for drugs
In my four months spent among friends and family in Australia/NZ, my proudest achievement was avoiding Vegemite.
Here is a map of Fushimi Inari. All those red gates you can see twisting around the middle and leading over the mountain are the thousands of steps that we had to climb.
I went here! We got lost on our way down the mountain and ended up by another temple, so that was cool.
Day 7: From left, Italy’s Diego Occhiuzzi, Luigi Tarantino, Luigi Samele and Aldo Montano celebrate their victory after their men’s sabre team bronze medal fencing competition against Russia.
I saw this event while in London! Great fencing, but the Italian team were such crybabies. I think it was in the match before the bronze one, they contested 3/4 of calls.
But mostly I love how I can say I was there!
Our first night in Istanbul, we crossed the strait to the Asian side, a neighborhood called Kadikoy (which I believe either was or was very close to Chalcedon) which my friend’s aunt had recommended to us. We took a ferry, but the ferry service shut down before we were ready to come back. Anticipating this, we’d taken bus instructions from our hostel, but there were like three changes and everything was in Turkish and we basically had no idea where to go.
One of my best memories of the trip was when this nice Turkish lady on the first bus we made it onto, seeing us trying to make ourselves understood to the driver, told the driver she’d lead us. She spoke no English, and we spoke no Turkish, so we mostly just smiled at each other across the divide and made a lot of hand gestures, mostly in vain. We tried to look as grateful as possible without using any words, and she tried to assure us it was no trouble.
On the second bus we rode together, we crossed this bridge. It spans the Bosphorus and is very high, so you can see both sides of the city while you cross. I’d had a bit of a ‘squee’ moment earlier that day because here I was, in Byzantium, just casually walking between the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque to get to my hostel, and seeing it all laid out in front of me, glowing in the night, accompanied by a stranger and having been cheerfully helped by every other one we’d encountered before…for a moment, I thought that I’d caught up with something of what I’d been chasing this whole time. Turkey’s got great skylines, great food, and excellent people.
I came home a week and two days ago. It’s more welcome than I expected it to be. I still love traveling, and I could have gone on for longer, but I now know exactly how I start feeling about two weeks and change into an extended trip. And that isn’t so fun. I’m an adventurer up until that point, and then I become a homebody. I suppose the moral of the story is that balance is important. And usually, travel self-balances; running around trying to drink up an entire city in a day is often followed by a chill five-hour train ride to point B reading The Economist or whatever new book you have on Kindle. Some time to decelerate. But for me, at least, the former compounds, so that by the beginning of Week 4 of a month’s journey, I felt more like sitting around and reading and just being rather than exploring my surroundings, or at the end of two weeks, I decided to spend a half day just ranging around and returning to the same bar every hour and a half to try a different delicious two-euro Belgian beer.
I was loath to even think about some wide overarching theme for this entire gap period. I just wanted it to be what it was; some time to just chill and indulge my love of planning trips and discovering locations. The point was not to think. But one popped into my head anyway. When I left, I felt the irresistible urge to find something. The titular character in Herman Hesse’s Siddartha, which I first read at the end of last summer, draws a distinction between searching and finding. The searcher is so fixated on his or her goal that he often doesn’t see any of the other important things that might be along the way. The finder doesn’t have an objective, and so comes across lots of things that might be helpful. I can remember the exact moment I reread that passage: this spring, on an Auckland city bus to my family’s suburb. And I thought it was a pretty good idea.
The need I felt was for home. I’d outgrown the one I already had and needed something to hold me when I needed it. I realized this once I began to miss people, and after I figured out I only looked forward to the travel that delivered me to somebody I cared about and would care about me. So in a way, this whole trip was about finding home. I thought I could find it in myself, and set myself flying across the world to see if I could locate a revision to that theory. What I sought was so big and so elusive that I naturally needed to cover as much territory as possible, and necessitated a tactical shift to finding in order to tease out the pieces. This story is not as clear cut as “you never know what you got until it’s gone”…but a small and significant part of it definitely is.
Forgive this brief pontification about the extraordinary events of the last eight months. It’s the last thing I’ve wanted to make out of this, but all of it just kind of came to me and I thought it would be a good thing to add. This is the last travelogue I will write for quite some time. This is still my personal blog, so I’ll be updating for a while yet, but the travels are over, at least for the time being, and I return to school in three weeks.
If its time to go, remember what you’re leaving. Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me
I quoted this to my college friends at my goodbye party in December. I basically forgot what I was going to tell them after I quoted this, which was kind of awkward, but it didn’t matter because I got this portion out and hope they realized everything I meant.
Je m’appelle flaneur
Traveling distances, or more specifically the sort of self-awareness of your own spatial register, blows my mind sometimes. Like the fact that my belly is full right now thanks to a cheap Chinese restaurant in Brussels or that, dragging my bag up the road to my aunt’s door, before that having walked five minutes from the bus station, before that having ridden an hour long bus from King’s Cross, I imagined a stranger asking me, “Oh hello, where are you coming from?” and that I could reply truthfully, “Belgium.”
Most of this post was supposed to go up last night, but the hostel wifi wasn’t working, so it had to wait. My last day in Amsterdam was spent sampling its oldest poison. I speak, of course, about jenever. Jenever is one of the world’s older spirits, made with a large amount of malt wine and usually flavored with botanicals. If that sounds suspiciously like gin to you, your suspicions are correct; the latter was a drier British alternative created to slake a growing English thirst for the spirit with a domestic product. Nowadays, the British version is much more popular and jenever is rare outside of Europe (and I didn’t see it many places besides Amsterdam and Belgium.) Certainly, you can’t get it in America unless you want a case shipped to you, and that is something I have neither the funds nor the birthday for. So of course, I was very excited to try some, and try some I did. I was recommended two very good Amsterdam bars that specialize in jenever and tasted several drams from each to wrap my head around this unknown family of spirit. A crash course, if you will.
I had slightly over 24 hours in Brussels; half of yesterday and most of today. An organization in the city puts out this really neat map with lots of restaurants, stores, and bars recommended by locals, so it was a nice way to focus my energies right off the bat especially since I had so little time. A particularly nice bar sold a wide variety of Belgian beers for 2 euros until midnight, which meshed well with the fatigue I was feeling at the time. Most of yesterday consisted of drinking a beer, then walking around a part of the city for an hour, then returning to sample another beer, and so on. I’d been expecting a quiet night, but most of my dormitory got pulled into a pub crawl last night and so I decided to join them. Last night on the continent, go out with a bang, eh? Our group mainly consisted of North Americans.
Today, on my way back from the EU parts of Brussels, I helped a lost Italian couple find their way. It’s amazing what a good map will do for you; I felt really odd leading people around after only a day in the city. We spent most of the half hour walk in affable silence after realizing we couldn’t understand each other. There’s a strange sense of security from the trust inherent in such a situation, which actually makes it one of my favorite to be in. Even though you can’t talk to one another, you assume that each party has good intentions.
Tomorrow, I’m braving the London transit system to get to the Olympics. My event, men’s team sabre, was shortened by an hour, which is frustrating but whatever. It means I get to sleep in for a bit, but I would rather have the extra fencing. And I’m still slated to wake up faaaaaar too early, IMHO. :) On balance, I’m super excited. I’m sorry if half this post made no sense; I am exhausted right now, but I’ve had most of this in me since yesterday and wanted to get it out before the update became obsolete.