A Travellerspoint blog

Brugge

went to brugge on the weekend and its gorgeous... quaint in some parts, impressive in others. its a city that can cater to all tourists. our hostel was 14euro a nite, and it was a nice hostel (snuffel on ezelstraat). we got a beer card from them, where we could try 5 local beers, for 9 euro. thats a fine offer i thought, and got one. didnt know the beers were full sized ones! i thought theyd just be middies or something, but no, full bottles or a glass that was less than a pint but more than a middy. i had Duvel, delerium (9%), Brug (a witbier that i really liked, tasted like xmas spices, cinamon, cloves, ginger...), a dark one that i didnt like, and i forget the other. they were all really nice, cept for the dark one, and i dont like dark beer anyway.

we went and had waffles for breakfast, which were very nice!! we bought heaps of chocolate, and just walked around taking pics, eating, or talking to ppl we'd met at the hostel. the pics are in the pics section under Brugge, so have a look!

the canal tours are 30mins and only about 5 euros! bargain! thats the coolthing about brugge, you can find thigns for all the price ranges. we had italian for dinner for about 6euros (without wine), waffles for 5, and a 4 course chinese for 17,50. thebeers at the hostel were really cheap (happy hour you could get beer for 1 euro)... you can go there, have the full tourist experience, for a cheap price. you can do things for free as well of course, its the kinda town where you can walk around with a map and a book and just find out about the city and the landmarks. its gorgeous tho, canals, chocolate, horse drawn carriages... its so picturesque and quaint! it feels lik eyou step back in time...

we went to this sweets shop, which was a bit of a trek (and randomly located) who is run by this 89yr old lady, and shes been running it for 50 years! it was all over the plcae, disorganised but i got a water for 50c BARGAIN! she was really sweet, trying to talk to the others but i was really theo nly one who could communicate with her since im the only one who really can speak any dutch. she had signs saying "disciplne and respect" taped up everywhere lol i guess aimed at toursits, she didnt speak much english and the signs were in english lol

we left brugge, both deciding that we wanted to live there! so pretty... loved it... and we went to amsterdam to stay at hans brinker hostel which had the grumpiest receptionist ever! but it was ok, we had showers in our rooms! WOO! no trekking all over the hostel! but we went out, got chatted up by a random turkish guy who worked in the restaurant we were at. he kept on interrupting our convos and stuff, he knew torey coudltn really speak much dutch, but he kept talking dutch anyway, so i guess he was chatting me up. nice ot know i generate some interest! but he was creepy, trying to get us to go to smokeys which was a coffeeshop/bar across the road so he could have a drink with us later. we just got the bill and left....... RUN AWAY! we ended up having a smoke anyway, i cant remember the name of the place, but it was chill, and cheap. we had this MASSIVE bong, it wasnt easy to use. torey got stupid straight away, getitng all weird and talking real crap, i couldnt follow it. then she like, passed out and slid off the couch onto the floor mid ramble. it was friggin weird. i was pretty stoned by that stage too but i still had enough sense to be like duuude, youre wasted, lets go outside. we both then decided we just wanted to be in a blanket in bed, so after getting a little lost, i managed to navigate the way home. amazing. stoned, and rambling shit about how pollies should get indercover agents to come work as an aupair to see how ripped off they get, and how uch trivial shit these ppl spend their money on, itll convince them to raise the taxes on the rich and lower them on the poor! and i STILL managed to find our way home. NICE. dont tell me i cant keep my head! but it reminded me why i dont smoke weed, it just burns the shit outta my throat, i hate that feeling. so, not gonna be in a hurry back into the coffeeshops anytime soon, dont worry mum n dad. smoking isnt something i like, even if you do get something out of it (unlike smoking ciggs where all you get is lung cancer).

Posted by jaxstar84 05:45 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Italy and London

Pompeii, Vesuvius, Paestum, Sorrento, Ischia, Amalfi/Atrani, Rome and London

sunny 25 °C

Pompei: very cool, i went to the ruins there, which is a much bigger site that i expected!! its very well preserved really, considering its 2000 years old. all the realy cool stuff, the bit n pieces, are at the museum in naples, so on the actual archaeological site its pretty much just the shells of the houses etc. in once place they have some casts of ppl, which is kinda sad because they all look uncomfortable, covering their faces, curled up on the ground, holding their kids... its quite sad to see. pompei wasnt destroyed by lava or s omething, it was covered in al the ash, rocks etc that came out of the volcano, and most ppl died from the gasses it emitted, which is why they all look bad, because they suffocated. i didnt have a camera, so i had to buy a disposable one, so the pompei pics are gonna take longer than the rest to come on here since ill need to scan them somehow. i dont have a scanner haha...

the day after that i climbed vesuvius, which wasnt as much of an effort as it sounds! more of an effort on my wallet haha it was 8.60 to for bus, return, and then 4.50 just to pass some old guy with one leg to actually start the walk. it takes about an hour, its not that steep, as the bus takes you up pretty far, so all the real leg work is done by the bus! but the views are great and its cool to look into the crater. its still an active volcano, but its just in a dormant cycle, and those in the know say its gonna erupt again, the question is just, when? those in the know, btw, are scientists not the old guys sitting outside the cafes talking all day! you can see where the lava flowed down the mountain from the last eruption in 1944,its still all there, like a river frozen in motion.

Paestum: the oldest and best preserved greek temple ruins in the world, i think. the place is totally dead, given, i was there on a sunday, but the town was one street, the station was run down and looked like noone had been there in years. theres no ticket office, nowhere to validate the tickets you bought in town (which is a 10min walk down an abandoned road). and the ruins themselves, while very wel preserved, the area around them isnt at all. they say its a UNESCO site but its all overgrown and unkempt. i was scared of snakes, as dry grassy areas like that, in austrlia, are where youreon snake watch, but here, i dunno... i was paranoid anyway! but the ruins are big, and quite impressive! to be honest, theres not much to say about them. theyre greek temples, theyre very nice. but thats it. theyre sitting in a field full of dead grass, in a tiny sleepy little town... i glad i went but you dont need much time to see it...

ok i just wrote lots more and the comp froze. grr. anyway, lets get on with the rest of the story!

after paestum, i left the hugely passable city of Salerno to head off to sorrento. after braving the circumvesuviana (pretty much an above/below ground metro) which is full of smelly, hot, bothered ppl, pair that with a stuffy rickety carriage and you have the essence of this means of transport! but its cheap, so who cares :P i got to sorrento, only to find out after walking around for a bit, that my hostel is in the next town.. the stop before sorrento. great. so back onto the death trap and off to san angello! its only 5mins away or something, but the hostels location is a little different. after wandering around for another aimless 15mins i got a taxi to take me to the hostel.. i was so glad i didnt bother to try n walk, it was a 10 min drive, or later on i would discover about a 20min walk, thru winding residential roads, lemon groves, sharp corners and narrow streets, where italians on the scooters came roaring around corners without even hesitating to see if someone else was coming. this was something id have to get used to, but on this day, it was something worth noticing! i finally get there and part with a rip off price of 15 euros. note to self, italian taxis are rip offs. all the time. the hostel is dead. is smells like a shearing shed. but it looks clean, so my mind boggles! everything in the hostel is shut for the day until about 4ish, and i got there at about 1... everything in the hostel i mean, there was actually nothing around the hostel that could be classed as needing to be "open" it was just all lemon groves and houses. im in an 8 person room and im the only one in there, which is depressing since when you travel alone you kinda depend on there being ppl in your room to befriend for a few hours! anyway i ate (bread and canned tuna mmmm), showered (such a good feeling), wrote a little in my diary, and went downstairs into the common room and read a magazine or 2.. after a while 2 british guys came in and i talked to them for a bit, but they seemed alot more interested in the italian tomb raider on the playstation, so i gave up talking to them. boys will be boys. anyway i walked down to the centre of san angello, which was hardly thriving, it couldve been a sunday? not sure... but it was dead. i didnt really wanna have to brave the walk home if i ended up pissed in sorrento or something, so i ended up just walking back. sad i know, but i was tired, annoyed, sore from carrying my bag... it was in this day that i decided travelling alone sucked!!! so i stole the magazines from downstairs, took them to my room to wallow, it was getting late enough anyway..... then 2 american girls came into the room. yay! so we chatted, ended up going downstairs and ordering pizza, then getting roped into random conversation with a german lady who lives in arizona, and then bundled up and shoved out into the garden, with this germany lady talking shit. we found out she was in our room..... dammit. she talked like we should be amazed or surprised by everything she said. but she said nothing amazing, or surprising. she also didnt stop talking. so we ended up making excuses to leave, going to our room, only to have her come too, since its her room too. bah. but she slept, we were in peace!

the next day id arranged to take a bus with the american girls to the sorrento port, so that i could get a ferry to ischia, an island west of naples. we got there adn i asked for my ticket.... the lady says sorry, there arent any more ferries to ischia, theres only 1 in the morning at 9:30. shiiiiiiiiiiiit. so i asked if i could go via naples? "ooooh i dunno. maybe." you have no idea? "no sorry." well gimme a ticket anyway. it was only 5 euros... and i guessed itd be a pretty ferry ride anyway. so i took the fery to naples which took a little over an hour, got out, got harrassed by gypsies, got my ticket to ischia and was gone straight away. i got in at 12 and was gone by 12:15. maybe i should ring that lady and tell her that ferrys leave more than once a day.... aaaanyway i got to ischia! got straighton a free bus to forio which was where my hostel was, and then tried to use useless instructions to get to my hostel. NO idea. taxi! he took me so far away i was again grateful i didnt have to walk.. then a guy comes out of the place, introduces himself as lorenzo, asks me my name, how long ive been here etc and tells me the taxi driver took me to the wrong place, but dont worry, he'll take me to the right one, without exra costs. we finally got there, and i really dont know if i couldve found it on my own, and i give the taxi driver a 20 asking for 5 back. he tells me hes gone all the way up the mountain! i assumed thats what he said, he looked annoyed and was waving his hand up high. i asked again for my 5 euro back, its not my fault he had the address in front of him and took me somewhere else! so in i go, and the first thing i see is writing ALL over the walls of reception. the place used to me a convent, so the walls are all whitewashed, but are now covered in ppl writing about how great the hostel was. eventually im greeted by an amazonian woman who turns out to be kiwi. kate the kiwi. she shows me around, everythings nice, big n spaced out, i have a room to myself again, but this time i dont seem to mind. shes assured me that every night everyone get driven up to mamma and pappas restaurant (which was where the taxi took me before) and we have dinner and drinking there. sweet. so i dump my stuff, and go exploring. i decide that i LOVE ISCHIA! it was SO cute, so quaint, they had wicked little shops, with preserved lemons, chilli oil, ceramics, dried herb mixes, wines, chocolates... home made soaps, gelato on every corner. theres a little fruit n veg shop, which has cured meats and salamis inside, and mozzarella di buffola (sp), fresh bread and moderna balsamic vinegar. the foodie in me was in love! in the next few days i did nothing, walked around, hung out, had afternoon naps... walked to a beach past amazing views, white churches and crazy italians on scooters shouting out CIAO BELLA!

speaking of italian men, im very sexy in italy it seems. everywhere else im pretty ordinary but in italy the guys always had something good to say! they have something good to say about EVERYONE and all the girls, theyre really not picky tho.

anyway in ischia you can go cliff jumping (NOT for me), thermal spas, hiking, beach lazing, windsurfing... you can do everything or you can do nothing. the ppl were friendly, so much so that a lady came up and started talking to me at the bus stop, telling me about her daughter living in new york, n how they always missed ischia, because of the laid back atmosphere. she loved it there, and i could see why. everyone takes a little step back there, and just, doesnt really worry about anything much. it suited me perfectly! i was sad to leave, and alot of ppl extend their stay! i was heading off to amalfi, or more specifically, atrani.

so i manged to spend 40 euros on a long drawn out lunch, while waiting most of the afternoon WITH my bag, before my ferry left for amalfi. my waiter was pretty cool, when he found out i was from australia, that was it, he wouldnt stop asking questions! and telling me about his home in naples.he didnt like it in ischia, naples was his home. i asked him about how everyone says its dirty, full of criminals and gypsies who have elaborate ways to steal you bag at teh train station. yes, he said, its full of cr iminals, but its my home and i dont need to worry about it! fair enough! he told me of his plans to go to australia, by going to the traval agent and getting the cheapest deal, it didnt matter where, he had friends in melbourne, sydney and perth. doesnt suprise me, the amount of italians that live in australia! the other female waitress comes out and tries talking to me too, but her english isnt good at all, and my italian sucks. it seems im the centre of attention, just becuase im australian! after chatting away, trying to understand eachother, i pay the bill and off i go, to where my ferry leaves from. after like, 3 hours on the ferry i arrive in amalfi! it was a gorgeous trip, mountains, cliffs, towns balancing on the cliffs! i find my way to the hostel, which is in the next town but its walking distance, its about 10mins with a heavy bag :P its such stunning scenery, its not really worth it to try n describe it, just look at the pics! i went to the hostel and am shown to my room by a man who looks like a serial killer. he actually turns out to be very nice, but still.. so i meet some girls in my room, 3 of them, all aussies. turns out one girl is the sister of a girl who was on exchange in germany, who i met at a gathering on the north sea, who spewed on the end of my bed. small world eh!? i ended up going down to the piazza of atrani and using the net at the bar there. it cost either 4 euros an hour, or the cost of a drink for however long you needed it. i obviously went for the drink! got a pizza there later as well, which was cheap and good and ended up in my room at about 10ish. the piazza was small, with 2 bar/restaurants and a couple of little convenience stores. they hada fountain which had water you could drink (as it seems everywhere in italy!) and old ladies watching everyone from their balconies. atrani, as most places on the amalfi coast, was built in a valley, so surrounding the old falling apart buildings, are cliffs and lemon groves. its one of the best places ive ever been to hang out, chill and have a few drinks. and thats pretty much all we did the whole time we were there! i spent the next day wandering around amalfi, buying gelato, and, i dont know really, the day got away from me totally! i ended up meeting a chick from canada, muneera, and we went down to happy hour (even tho she doesnt drink) and talked for ages. we have scarily similar love lives!! we wer talking about everything and anything for ages and then some other randoms came and joined us, and it was only then we realised we hadnt even introduced ourselves. thats just how it goes tho, when you meet ppl in this way. you know that you have no time to develop some kinda friendship, you just dive right in. you skip the formalities and become best mates straight away. then they check out a day before you and its over, and all you have left is an email, a facebook contact or a myspace address. but i met some really cool ppl there, hanging out at the beach, floating in the ocean surrounded by cliffs and forrests, trekking up said cliffs thru lemon, pumpkin and fennel patches to get views over the whole bay, amalfi, an old tower... i loved it. and did NOT want to leave. the pictures are so beautiful, but they dont do it justice. you cant capture in words how it is to be floating in the ocean with friends you just met, in turquoise water, surrounded by cliffs and gorgeous old buildings and towers. esp after all the stuff thats been on my mind, i just felt SO good. cept for the time i got molested by the guy at the emerald grotto. seriously, if the young guy offers you a ride on your own, DONT take it. he told me he was gonna teach me how to row the boat (cos its kinda weird) but he ends up taking you to a remote corner of the grotto (which isnt that remote really) and tries to make out with you. nasty. and the thing was, i went to get outta the boat after the first round, with everyone from the boat, but he wouldnt really let me out. so he took me around, went for a grope n tried to kiss me, i pushed him away, almost ready to swim lol and then i go out of the grotto to see the boat 50m away from the mooring point. SUPER!! so im stuck out there with a greasy sleazy italian. but they came back, very apologetic about leaving me behind! The woman was laughing saying "its all marios fault! im sorry! its marios fault!" i ended up talking to a really nice norwegian couple for the boat trip home, which was a nice way to try n forget about my molestation! but to all concerned, the emerald grotto is a rip off. dont bother. it was 15 euros for me, and it was NOT worth it. if anything, spend the extra money on seeing the blue grotto in capri if youre set on seeing a grotto. thi emerald one is small and blue, not emerald!! and the boat guys are really weak, they try n be really charismatic etc but they just look desperate for a tip, which is made apparent when they say EH dont forget your driver! all the time... they had these statues put in the water of jesus joseph and mary, n theyre saying ITS A MIRACLE! all the time...... the whole thing was just an ordeal..... so dont bother.

but in the end, that wasnt enough to sway my opinion of the place, and i loved it so much!! but i had to go :( to rome! my hostel was easy to find, and my room was nice n clean and fine! i went to a pizza joint id seen around the corner and had the best pizza of my life. it was amazing.... sooo yummy. and 4,50 for a massive slab of it. of course i went there every night! cept the night i discovered the supermarket. italian supermarkets ROCK! they have EVERY sort of fresh pasta imaginable, dried pasta too, sauces, pestos, huge jugs of wine... canned tuna with all kindsa combinations to mix with pasta and things liekt hat... i spent like an hour just looking lol i loved it. an american guy took us to a place he knew which had good ice cream, and he bought all 5 of us ice cream, saying that when he came to italy, he was greeted and welcomed by an italian with an ice cream, so he was passing it along to us! how sweet! and the coolest thing, him and his friend were both rocket scientists!! really! "it doesnt take a rocket scientist to..." was a common phrase amongst us, or saying,about something seemingly difficult, "well these guys could figure it out, theyre rocket scientists :P" i saw all the sights i was meant to see, colosseum (the inside too), sistine chapel, vatican etc... i really dont feel like i have much to say about rome. i was only there a few days but i wasnt impressed at all. it has important and interesting history and impressive landmarks to see, but it didnt leave an imprint in my memory at all. it was too loud, fast, dirty, hot... everyones in a rush there... i didnt like it. i wouldnt go back... it had so many things to see n do there but it just didnt impress me at all... there are pics, you can see what i saw. i think it was just the end of my trip and i was tired, and not as enthusiastic anymore. it didnt help that it was HOT and humid, NOT trekking around the city kinda weather at all! so i was actualy pretty happy to leave. i left and got to london WITH my bag (i flew Alitalia not BA) and went to my hotel mum had booked, where i went and did laundry, checked emails and was shocked at the expense of things and at how much things were when i converted them to australian dollars. i sat in the hotel bar for a while (you couldnt check in until 2pm) and read a newspaper and watched the cricket (australia wasnt playing so i have no idea what was happening). an american guy behind me ended up striking up a conversation with me, and we ended up somehow talking american politics (of which i know little) and why he started drinking again after 11 months of NOT drinking. well his reason was, hey, im on holiday. fair enough! he was nice, a little pissed, and was impressed with alot of things i said lol am i impressive or was he really that drunk?

I had a really good few dyas with my mum who arrived the next day... we went and saw the phantom of the opera at his (or her?) majestys on the haymarket. i really liked it, the guy who played the phantom was brilliant, but the girl who played christina had, a technically, brilliant voice also, but she sounded too girly, too babyish. the only guy to get a standing ovation was the phantom, but we didnt get a program, so i dunno his name. but we ate good food, saw nice things! i really liked london, but its just SO expensive... it was AWESOME to catch up with my friend Fran, who was an exchange student when with me in germany. shes from NZ but is living and teaching in wimbeldon. we had a free dinner from the hotel and since mum wasnt there, we used it! we went to an indian place (after the place before that had pretty much told us, after a boittle of wine, that cos of a mishap in the ktichen, we couldnt order..) and got a free wine cos of our troubles at the bar before, and got nicely merry and chatted about old times, and good times to come! its funny how you meet up with old friends, and even tho you havent seen each other in so long, you havent really got much of an idea what theyve been doing, you never shut up. i guess were re-getting to know each other! but i saw her in NZ when i went boarding in queenstown, and now again here, and ive decided shes a top chick! lol we couldve sat there for ages talking shit and drinking wine but she had to go before the underground stopped... really looking forward to seeing her again!!

anyway so we caught up with the treacys on the last day i was there and i saw brodie which was cool. went to speakers corner in hyde park which i LOVED! all these crazy ppl standing on their ladders preaching and converting.. ppl fighting back.. il oved it! i wonder ig fights break out often there? but mum n i went back to the hotel, got my things and went to kings cross to get the train to the airport. thing is.... the train takes way too long to get there and if i were to take the train, id miss my flight. so we chanced it on a taxi. taxi broke down. so i missed my flight.. it wasnt really anyones fault but it seems like when im with mum im ALWAYS late. anyway she paid for another ticket on the next flight and i was home. but one catch. as i flew with BA it seems like its a given that they lose my stuff. so i got to amsterdam, again without my bag. useless. i ended up staying at rens place (hes in bonaire, and i got the keys back.............) for the night since it was too late to go to blaricum. i slept sooo long the next day, dozing till lunchtime.

i got home to find a massive pile of ironing...... super. welcome home.

Posted by jaxstar84 05:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

European Purchases

So ive bought a few things while ive been over here in europe... loads of postcards have been sent, ive spent ALOT of money on trying new foods in different places... but the things that ive bought, that stand out have to be, so far:

a book on typically ischian recipes, from the isle of ischia in italy, off the gulf of naples. the food and wine there was really good, the shops there were cute, quaint, and a gourmets delight! all kinds of oils, herbs, preserves, they can do ANYTHING with a lemon! so having a book, with recipes from families, chefs and restaurant owners, will let me recreate what i had there at home... just without the island atmosphere! well i guess australia is a big island...

also, chocolate from belgium. not the kind that comes from the expensive shops,or the bon bon, individual kinds with the fillings, just the blocks. I bought some cote d'or choclate, which you can buy anywhere, but this stuff is different. it WAS from a chocolaterie, and it was more expensive than the normal stuff, but its def worth it. the way its presented takes you back to times when chocolate was a luxury, not an every day affordable item. its wrapped in thick, good paper with old fashioned prints on it, written in french and dutch. its hte kind of wrapping you dont want to tear apart you have to do it carefully so you dont ruin it. the wrapping is part of the chocolate. the foil isnt just tin foil, its lined with other paper (im not sure what kind) and its thick. only the best to preserve the best! you then, obviously get to the chocolate. its easily the best chocolate ive ever had... i bought the dark chocolate and its the best. its not too bitter but def not too sweet. it doesnt melt straight away, but slowly.. im a chewer anyway :P i also bought some with almond creme, hazelnuts and nuts with raisins for my parents. its the kind of chocolate you dont eat a whole block of, you only need 1 or 2 peices and youre done... its VERY good!

Im very much looking forward to seeing what other gems i come up with while im mosey-ing around!

Posted by jaxstar84 05:39 Comments (0)

Aupair in Holland Part 1

overcast

Aupair. Some people see the word and wonder which fancy french word has invaded our already mongrel mixed breed language. Others see a temporary occupation that flocks of australian girls fresh out of university take up as a means to an end in London, on their rite of passage, as its become, the working holiday. The girl who becomes part of the family, helping out around the house, dancing with flowers in their hair, with well behaved children who adore you, in the garden. A common misconception, let me tell you. My name is Jacqui, and I've been an aupair for 9 months.

Since I went on exchange to Germany in 2002 with Rotary for a year, I knew that one day I'd come back to Europe for a working holiday, where I'd have freedom to travel and do whatever I liked, unlike an exchange, where the organisation is responsible for you and your actions, and they dont let you out of their sight. I got a taste of Europe in that year. A Eurotour on a bus full of other exchange students, sharing fleeting experiences in cities, for no more than a day or two, like Japanese tourists. Minus the peace signs. Running around as much of Europe as possible with mum, for the 2 weeks I was allowed to take off school. But I could never go where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go. This is one reason for the decision to definately come back on my own for a working holiday. The other reason, being the other main reason for spontaneous overseas travel. A boy. A Dutch boy to be more specific. Yes he was tall, tanned and had a gorgeous accent. So Im off to the Netherlands.

But what to do there? I'm limited by the fact that I don't speak Dutch. After thinking for about five minutes, I decide that I'm going to be an aupair. It's a sweet deal! You get a place to live, rent free. You get fed, no bills. No expenses aside from your own pub crawl and shopping spree needs. All you need to do is look after kids, how hard can it be? Right now, I can hear the mothers reading this, laughing at me. How hard can it be? Well at the time I imagined uber disciplined Von Trapp children, scampering into line at the sound of the Captains whistle. Without the pine cones on the seats, or frogs in the dress pockets. The Sound of Music has alot to answer for, in regards to the expectations of nannies to be. The children will not run to your bedroom in a thunderstorm. Nor will they sing with you. And I'm pretty sure they won't wear the clothes you fashioned for them from your curtains. And if the mother finds out that youve chopped up her curtains, you're likely to get fired. As a the host mother of a friend of mine said to her "These curtains are worth more than your life.". I kid you not. Chances are, they're from a mega rich family, and your clothes, not theirs are the subject of the looks up and down, a hidden grimace, and a forced smile. Excuse me whats wrong with my trakkie dacks and leavers jumper? This is the kind of family that I ended up at. In the rich and famous area of Het Gooi, the Desperate Housewives cluster of small towns 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The town I lived in, Blaricum, has a population of about 10 000 people, and an average house price of E700 000. One look at the size of the garden of my future home, and I knew I was in one of the houses that bumps up the average. Tennis court, swimming pool, room for a pony. Well, it had none of those things, but Hyacinth is on the right track. Theres certainly room for a combination of the three. They made the sacrifice though, and decided to make room for the Range Rover Sport, the Mini Cooper and Porsche Carrera. And space for the 2 Labrador dogs and 3 children to run around. Im not sure who needed the leashes more. Uh, I really was a good aupair, I never actually put a leash on the children. Tempted, but it never happened.

My aim in becoming an aupair was to use the job as a means to an end, a base for European travel. And to get to know this dashing young dutch man a little better! Obviously, I thought it was going to be fun playing with kids all the time, doing educational things, teaching them the ways of the world... But the expectations I had didnt quite match those of my host family. I knew that I was meant to do the washing and ironing. What I didnt realise, what exactly how much a family of five goes through in a week! And the rate at which it needs to be done! A minimum of an hour ironing every day, barr weekends. I stop ironing every day at 12, because I will not sit there all day and iron. And on holidays or days when the kids arent at school, ironing is to be done before the kids are dealt with. Unless im making their breakfast. Ironing is the number one task of my job. Im sure that my dissappointment is shared by all. No one likes ironing. Im the number one fan of NOT ironing. Anything. If i was shopping and I found the most gorgeous item of clothing, that needed to be ironed all the time, chances are, I didnt buy it. I didnt even know if the iron we had at home worked. Did we even have one? I know Mum bought me some of that spray which "irons" your clothes... After a week the mother decided to get the fathers business shirts done at the drycleaners. Thats how good i was. What a confidence boost in the first week of my year of being a maid. I mean aupair...

Posted by jaxstar84 05:37 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Edinburgh

overcast 15 °C

Well on friday I went to Edinburgh! I was very lucky, as i had to rush in the morning to the embassy to get my visa first, as i was feeling like i really wanted something to say that i was here legally before i left the country! so i rushed around amsterdam trying to find an internet cafe where i could print off the proof i had insurance, an inet cafe owner showed some love and let me use the net and print for nothing, since i was on there for like 3 minutes lol sweet. anyway i rushed back to the embassy at about 10am and the lady saw me straight away... i had to get new passport photos (germans have specific requirements, youre head needs to be bigger lol) but i gave her the rest of the paper work, and in very ungerman fashion she had started to process the visa the day before, which enabled her to issue me my visa within about 45mins of me getting there. awesome. so im now officially on a german working holiday! so she gave me back my passport and i went straight to central station and bought my ticket to the airport! A man in front of me needed 50c for his ticket, and since i got shown some love in the morning from the cafe man, i passed it on! i gave away 50c! lol but i got to the airport in good time, checked in, and off i was to frankfurt to change planes and go to edinburgh! a direct flight would have taken about 1,5 hours or something but i had to go first to frankfurt (at least I could practice some german!) wait there for an hour or so, then get the plane to edinburgh. lame. but fran and i got there at pretty much the same time, which was nice! got into town, found our backpackers easily (stayed at Brodies on the Royal Mile, nice, clean, all the things you need). we went out for dinner and had, for entree.... HAGGIS! now, i hate liver, kidney and guts in general... but it wasnt that bad. ours was a bit of a woose version of haggis, as it was deep fried with sweet chili sauce and honey sauce, so it did mask the flavour somewhat. it was also not bound in the sheeps stomach, which is traditional. that didnt bother me at all! but, my first bite was average, since i could taste the liver, and i just dont like it! but it wasnt THAT bad. we found a bar had a few drinks and got talking to a bunch of lrish lads from belfast on a stags weekend, and we ended up tagging along on their party (by their invitation!). we ended up partying till 2am or something, seeing a guy dressed as a nun, and scooby doo. the next day we got up feeling a bit seedy and went n had a full breakfast down the rd at a resturant. feeling much better, we trekked around the city, checking out the castle (tho not paying the 11 pounds t get in), doing a whiskey tour (the scotch whiskey experience, just down the road frmo the castle was only 6 pounds if you buy the ticket before lunch!) and checking out this palce that sells tartan. Fran was looking for her families tartan, as all the different patterned tartans are named for different clans. I found the McKenzie tartan, which was quite nice! we went n had coffee n cake n wandered around looking at shops and taking loads of photos! everywhere you look theres something you wanna take a pic of! The old section of town is gorgeous, from the top of the hill on the royal mile at the castle, down to the queens gallery at the bottom of the hill. ppl were selling things on the street and the shops were very cool! loads of restaurants, and we saw some cool drummers over the railway. We went to a pub n had dinner n then decided to head over to a bar we were at the night before. who should we bump into but the irish boys again! again we got invited to tag along on their top gun themed night, where they were all dressed up in aviators and green pilots jumpsuits lol they had shirts underneath saying WINGMAN lol we ended up at a russian nightclub called espionage, which was free for us to get in, but the drinks were expensive. thankfully we had befriended the gentlemanly irish who bough quite a few rounds without expecting anything back from us! noice! we partied n danced until about 3:30 n were home in bed by 4... id been on my feet since about 10am that day in my boots and i could barely even walk home lol my feet are still aching! we got up, showered, packed and staggered around town for a bit (i bought a Ramsey Blue tartan scarf!) until we caught our bus to the airport and came home! i had SUCH a good weekend, ill put the pics up later, i cant find the cord that i connect my cam to the coputer, and this comp doesnt have a place i can put my memory card in... so ill go to rens place later on sometime and do it then...

but everyone should go to edinburgh!! so pretty... were thinking of going back to scotland for xmas... anyway whos keen on coming is more than welcome!!

Posted by jaxstar84 14:34 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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