A Travellerspoint blog

Antwerp

Ok so this weekend I went to antwerp from friday night till sunday arvo... and it was a GREAT trip.. its not even expensive, 34 euros for a return trip, but not on the thalys, im not sure how much that one is, next time ill check!

But i took the train on friday afternoon to get there by 6:30, as i was meeting Lucy there, a chick who came and lived at our place on exchange from south africa, like, 14 years ago. kinda weird that i was staying at her place, since i hadnt seen her in so long, and i guess, didnt know her that well lol we were emailing for like a year until now so that was a nice step, but in terms of personally knowing someone, i dont think you can really get to know someone when youre like, 7... lol. so anywya i met her (late, oops!) at the anterp centraal, after a little panic that it was gonna take ages to get from berchem to centraal. never fear readers, it only takes about 10mins! but i met her there, and since the second we met up again, it was like we;d been friends for years... I got to their place (we took the tram) a little later and met her husband terence and the 2 kids, emma and joshua. we had a coffee, then sat down for dinner, which was yuuuuum! after the kids had gone to bed lucy got out some of the pics and her diaries from when she was in australia. some of the pics were funny, the fashion was preeeeetty bad lol mum n dad have changed ALOT! well, dad hsnt changed so much, mum has tho, but i think its got alot to do with the loss of the BIG glasses and a hair cut haha..

anywya, in the morning we had chocolate croissants and coffees, and lucy and i set off into antwerp to be tourists! well me a tourist, her the tour guide, cos she knows stacks about the place! every corner we turned she knew something about the building sitting there... it made it much more interesting to know what i was looking at, since mostly, i dont! i can appreciate the architechture, the style, what theyve done with the place, but mostly i cant appreciate what it actually is, lol. we saw the catherdral, which reminded me somewhat of the cathedral in Milan, buton a smaller scale... it was wasnt as detailed or over the top as milan, but it was very impressive none the less! i havent been in a church since i left germany, and we went in. im not a fan of religion at all really, i think it causes alot of problems and i just dont agree with alot of things the bible says. however i like churches! theyre very peacful places, you relaly can sit there and just feel chilled and peaceful. quiet and cool. and they have such old things in there it makes the mind of an australian (who knows nothing older than their grandparents most the time!) boggle! they certainly dont make things like they used to! churches these days suck compared to the old ones. anywya.. it was crap weather, so we went for a coffee at EXK or EKX lol i dont remmeber the exact order, but we had little tarts with the coffee, which were yum! the caramel walnut was my fave :D we went walking around a bit more, saw where lucy used to live and the square where the town hall is.. its a really pretty city, of course there are some areas that are just normal city looking, but other areas were really pretty! It reminded me of amsterdam, yet much quainter. it has a slightly different style, im not sure what it is, if i knew anything about architechture then i could tell you what it was, but it was the same yet different if you know what i mena... it certainly attracts a different crowd than amsterdam, without the legal pot and hookers, but thats a good thing, as a'dam has too many damn bogans. its cute, quaint and has a little more charm than amsterdam i think. i still love amsterdam of course :)

Rens came on saturday night which thrilled me to bits, as we ont get to spend much time together since his rowing started, so to have him come to antwerp was really cool. we picked him up from berchem and just chilled at home, laughing at him, as emma was quite taken by him, and was climbing all over him, sitting on his lap, kissing his hand, telling him to pick her up etc lol shes only 3, and tiny, and hes massive, so to be lifted that high was like a rollercoaster for her! it was VERy sweet tho, he sat down and did puzzles with her, watched josh play video games, put on stupid glasses that josh bought, gave them wizzy dizzies, hes not scared of kids at all, and it was very cute, and nice to see! hes going to be a really good dad one day!

we just chilled at dinner, the kids managed to convince me (they didnt have to try hard lol) to read them a story, and i got treated to a story too, as josh wanted a dutch book but since i suck at reading dutch he decided to read it to me! lol hes actually a very good reader, much better than charlotte, and hes a year younger than her... the way he sounds things out shows that hes really learned what theyre teaching him, and hes not just memorising words (tho im sure he does that too). charlotte just tries to remember wat the words look like, and then she guesses a word that starts with that letter. shes not good at sounding things out, and sometimes i think she just does it on purpose totally wrong, just so she doesnt have to do it, thats the extent of her unwillingness to do ANYTHING for herself. even read.

anyway, after being woken up by the kids running around, banging on our door and opening the door (which was funnier than annoying, i was already mostly awake when it started! it was getting late anyway lol) we went down for more chocolate croissants (i wasnt getting sick of that kinda breakfast!) and coffee (i need a coffee break lol i drank TOO much there!) then rens and i packed up our stuff and went on our way to see the same things we saw the day before, but with much beter weather, and the camera! so ill upload the pics later on tonght.

the highlight of the weekend had nothing to do with the city of antwerp, as many ppl might expect it to be, as everyone goes on about how pretty it is there... rather, spending time with a wholly normal family. it made me see in an even clearer light the things i dont like about the family i work for now. there are good things, of course, but the negatives of how this fam is run, in my opinion, outweigh the positives. but to be in a normal family, who eat dinner together, mum kids AND dad... where the kids have to clean up their own mess, they have to do as their told, its not a time to bargain or throw a hissy fit, you do as your told. its exactly how i was bought up, and to be in that kinda environment just restored my faith in the modern family! and the fact that the kids were awesome helped too! emma is the just sweetest thing, shes so boistrous and outgoing, if she wants to play with you she's not gonna wait for you to offer, she'll come to you! she has the cheekiest smile and you cant help but wanna take her home with you! Josh was also a sweety, hes a bit quieter, but once he comes out of his shell a bit, hes a smart funny kid! he was so proud of this glasses he got from Bart Schmit, he wore them all thru the shops getting comments from all the shop keepers, and he just loved the attention! when he was reading the story to emma and i, he was always involving emma, syaing things like oooh emma look at the picture, whats behin the sink? A MOUSE! it was so sweet, and again so refreshing to see a big brother looking after his little sister. i see so much fighting, and so much "this is MINE not YOURS! GIVE IT BACK!" in this house i was beginning to think all kids did was fight, and while they certainly do that alot, some kids are jsut good kids, and they love their sisters and brothers. unselfish kids are a rare find...

probably one of the nicest things tho, was how welcoming lucy and terrence were, not only are they just genuinely REALLY nice ppl, they were just happy to have me there, and made me feel right at home. it didnt feel at all like the first time id met them (it wasnt the first time with lucy but relay, i was so young it might as well have been). theyre just an all round, fantastic family, theyre everything this family isnt... you can just tell by seeing how lucy and terrence are together that not only are they husband and wife, theyre best friends, and thats just the sweetest thing. theyre always checking up on each other, theyre totally in it together, its the total polar opposite to where i work. Theyve been thru alot together, relocating abroad, kids, jobs, houses, pain in the arse neighbours, but theyre still stuck together like glue and it all jus makes me sit back and wonder why all fa imlies arent exactly like that. why are some familes SO materialistic? why are THINGS so imoprant? money and power will only get you so far, and kids dont need that. emma and josh are surrounded by a solid routine, and alot of love, and you can see the difference it makes. it reaffirms my beliefs in how you should bring a kids up (my uneducated beliefs, since i have none of me own yet...), and what kind of parent a person should be. and it echos loudly here, as this place is fairly empty of good routines and a solid family base. dads never here, kids are always late for school cos t heyre too busy doing nothing in the mornings watching tele to get ready, adn they cant do it themselves cos theyre too damn lazy.

if they lived in amsterdam and wanted an aupair id be there in a flash... a normal family is such a blessing...

Posted by jaxstar84 05:57 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Aupair Tales Part 1

1st Nov 2006ok so ive been in holland for less than a week, and at this family for like...2 days.. it feels like ive been here much longer than that! i dontknow how many ppl read this, but ill jsut give some of my first impressions of this place.... for the dutch ppl reading it, youll prolly have a laugh cos i notice random things lol

Driving: thank god i havent had to drive yet, im a little scared to! im glad that i have the presence of mind (usually) to look both ways before i cross the road as alot of the time the ppl are driving too fast in a tiny street and wont be able to stop in time. and this was at a zebra crossing! dont ppl stop at them?? if ppl dont stop at them whats the point in having them at all!? rens told me look, if u wanna use the ZC then just walk and im like WTF are u mad look how fast theyre going! n i bet ill cop the abuse too, when someone has to slam on their brakes to avoid kiling me.. and as for ppl giving way... well i dont think theres a rule for that, as ppl pull out in front all the time, and denise, the mother of this family does it too! how there arent that many accidents i see all over the place, is beyond me! the streets are so fkn tiny n narrow n she has a BMW X5 which is pretty big n wide, i dunno how she hasnt scratched anything or buggered up a nyone elses car! tho apparently the aupair before me totally destroyed another car with the BMW... so i geuiss it certainly DOES happen!

Cheese: blooody hell, if you like cheese COME HERE! i knew that teh dutch were big cheese eaters but you can go to a bar and order a plate of cheese chunks with a toothpick in them... and you can pick between young and old cheese lol and as for the cheese section in the supermarket, damn. its like double the size of what we have. this doest come as a complete suprise to me really but its def worth a mention!

Old ppl: there are so many old ppl on bikes around here... i mean everyone does the bike thing but... when im riding to take or pick up t he kids from hockey, i see more old ppl than young ppl. by old i mean nannas. with headscarves lol this country is overrun by nannas! altho i think it may have something to do with the lifestyle here... ppl are generally more actifve here with the biek riding, and everythings so close that you can often walk, or ride the bike... so maybe the old ppl just live longer or feel more mobile than ppl back home feel at the same age. i dunno... worth lookin into!

Dog walking: why is it necessary to walk the dogs like10 times a week? i mean shit... dogs need walksim ALL for dogs getting walks but theres a point where the dogs are thinking shit not again.... i just wanna chill! lol it says in my little book of what im meant to do n stuff, to walk the dogs sometimes 3 times a day. now WHY. 3 times a day? bit much i woulda thought...

but to be honest... il ove it here... i really do. in germany i never really felt at ease or anything but here i really do. i feel like ive found something here, i really dont wanna let go of it, which i guess is good considering ive been here like 5 days out of like, a year!! i think maybe it has alot to do with the fact that even tho im IN holland im not totally immersed in dutch language as the kids speak english 90% of the time and so does the mum... so imj not faced head on with the language barrier. ive had a few very brief encounters with ppl talking to me, me understanding and actually knowing what to say back, which is a big big thing really, considering in germany i woulda just given them a blank look back! and alot of the time when i AM saying something, even tho its something easy and really simple it feels normal, i dont feel like a freak butchering a language!! tho when i start to talk dutch all the time ill probably feel a bit like that sometimes!

but how mad, rens is a crazy keen kiteboarder.... and the dad of his family, wouter, is also into it... weird! rens reckons it means that its meant to be! lol maybe hes right... i hope so!

7th Nov 2006
thought it was about time i sent you an email letting you know what im
up to! Ive been in the netherlands for about a week now, and im LOVING
IT! i think, no i know, ive found my second home! it feels like ive been
here for ages, i feel right at home! doesnt matter than i barely speak
dutch! i am learning more n more, but not THAT fast, as the kids im
looking after speak englishmostly, and the parents speak english to them
80% of the time... ill be taking a dutch course sooner or later, but in
the meantime im jsut going to be doing some online and CD stuff to get
me speaking and not just smiling and nodding when ppl ask me something
:P also alot of the ppl im meeting are english... theyre mostly mothers
of the kids friends from school but since they go to an international
school where they teach in english its fair to assume that the parents
are english speakers!

but a typical day for me is...

7:45am dressed and ready to go, i just have to clear away breakfast
dishes n clear up the playroom (which thankfully looks nothing like ours
at home where you cant see the floor!) 8:30 - 12pm Washing and ironing.
ironing takes me forever!!!! i reckon its got something to do with the
fact that EVERYTHING gets ironed. fitted bed sheets. kids pjs. ive
decided that i realy do hate ironing! before i came here i was just
going by what everyone else told me about ironing, i never did it myself
:P but now i can say from my own experience that it sucks!
12-3pm FREE WOOHOO!
3-8:30pm taking the kids to hockey, tennis, horse riding ballet....
stopping them from killing each other... clearing away dinner dishes and
clearing up, bathing the kids and then helping put them to bed...

it really is quote a cushy job tho i dont really have to do that much,
yet.
ill have to do way more when i have to start driving the kids around,
which im not looking forward to as the car is huge and the streets are
small and they drive on the other side of the road here, as most of you
know! i also dont wanna get lost and make the kids late! they have a GPS
in their car tho so hopefully that'll help me!

my room is on the 3rd floor of the house. well, it IS the 3rd floor, as
its a rooftop room, but its pretty big! i have a doublbe bed, a little
fridge, tea n coffee making stuff, a sink, 2 little armchairs, a tv/dvd
and a computer (well i WILL have one theyre just getting their wireless
inet set up on it!), and the room is decorated heaps cool! it was
renovated pretty refcently i think. the house itself is massive and
really nice too, the kids rooms are all decorated really nicely and its
very posh! they have a MASSIVE tv and the chillest couch ive ever
seen... its huge. its like a bed not a couch.... its the best thing i
ever saw to watch tv or movies on! they have
2 dogs, one a 10month old black lab called max who jumps on you like
itsw going outta fashion, but hes just so cute you dont mind so much
hehe and a brown lab cross with some kinda hunting dog, called magic,
shes about 2 i think. pretty funny dog, very good at soccer!! speaking
of soccer, their backyard just about fits a soccor pitch onit! its
pretty big... their house and garden is considered pretty big by aussie
standards so imagine how it must seem to the dutch! HUUUUUGE!!! Wouter,
the dad is a private equity banker or something, the dude in charge i
think, at a bank in amsterdam, and denise was a lawyer but now shes a
stay at home mum... with a nanny, a cleaning lady, a gardener and window
washers (they came today!). to her credit tho, she does get them up
every morning and ready for school, drives them there, and then after
school drives them to 101 diff activities in diff towns, cooks dinner
and puts them to bed, and she has no help from wouter, as hes ALWAYS at
work. its a little sad realy as the kids dont see their dad that often,
maybe for 30mins or an hour in the morning, n thats not really playtime.
dunno how the weekends work here as i havent been here for one yet maybe
hes home more then? but i guess his way of helping is earning the money
to be able to afford all the help! and the holidays.... they go to
argentina for xmas, and australia in the summmer. a few weeks before i
got here they went to thailand for a month and also spent some time in
spain (they used to live there). denise and the kids also went to london
for a while and flew back the same day i got to holland. oh and denise
and wouter are flying to london this weekend for a party lol apparently
wouter was born in holland and lived there till he moved to paris when
hewas like, 10 or something, then went to uni in london... i dunno about
denise but i know she lived in london and america, and then they got
married and lived in england for 9 years where they had all the kids
(and which is why they speak
english) then moved to spain for 2 years and then moved back to the
netherlands. crazy!the kids are pretty grown up in some respects but in
otherways are spoilt and sheltered a bit..... olivier is 4, charlotte is
7 and mattijs is 8. i asked charlotte to put away a pair of pants in her
room the other day and she said she didnt know where they went. clothes
in her own room. but i guess its not really her fault, shes never had to
do it herselfl before... they do expect sometimes to be a bit waited
on... but for things like getting a cup of tea i cant expect them to
make it themselves as its hot.. but they can be prone to tantrums
sometimes, and im just very lucky that theyre pretty easy to get them
out of it. olli especially...
he'llcrack the shits about something stupid, so ill take one of dads old
tricks and say dont you DARE smile! you do not smile at me!! and he ends
up pissing himself laughing. hes one of the happiest kids ive ever seen
really... i am lucky with the kids, while they can be pains in the
arses, they do love me haha charlotte tells me all the time tthat tehy
lke me better than the last nanny because i play with them more lol
theyre pretty well behaved really, i dont have much trouble with them.
theyre mostly just cheeky!

I was in amsterdam with rens last weekend, but we only managed to get
out to the entre of the city on sunday, as saturday was spent sleeping
and buying rens a fridge (yeah welcome to holland... lets go to harvery
norman woo). it was just how i remebered it, better actually. we werwe
meant to go to a market ton the waterlooplein but it wasnt open so we
just walked around a bit.... checked out the red light district at about
2-3pm...w as full of chicks in the windows... i guess when you have
"needs" in amsterdam youre catered for any time of the day!! it was
pretty funny to watch them tho (rens n i sat in a bar watching over a
few heinekens!) theyll just stand with their ciggs looking bored and
indifferent but then a guy walks past n they put their sexy face on lol
it was funny.... i dunno how they do it tho, some of the guys that went
into those little rooms were old and feral and looked homeless. i doubt
they were cos if they can afford a RLD girl im sure they can afford some
kinda house but y aknow... alot of bums hangin around...

imheading into amsterdam again tomorrow, as i need to go shoping! i
wrecked my boots, as they heel kept slipping into thee cracks in the
cobblestone streets and now theyre gradually getting sharpened, and are
starting to look like a pencil. its not fun to walk in them! so io need
shoes, and also pants as smart me only packed like jeans, 3/4 and
trakies. good one. also bought 2 longsleeved shirts. smarter. so ill be
spending alot of my $$ 2moro on the kalverstraat in amsterdam
(apparently a good shopping street!).

11th November 2006ok so atm im confused... im not sure about my opinion on the way the mum n dad of the family i aupair for, live...

the dad is a banker, and very well off. he works alot, and whike im confused about other things, him im sure of. i dont esp like him, at least his attitude to his family. he seems totally and utterly indifferent to spending time with his family. his first priority is his work, hich is sad. he doesnt like the traffic at peak hour on the dutch highways, so he comes home after 8pm everynight. the kids go to bed between 8:00 and 8:30, so if theyre really lucky theyll see their dad for 10min before theyre sent to bed. for the same traffic reason, he leaves at like 9am for work, the kids are gone by about 8:30 at th4e latest, while they see him for 10-15mins, some times hes still sleeping when they go. the weekends are the only time the kids get to see their dad, and every other weekend he travels somewhere or has something on. poor kids just fall over him when hes around cos they just never see him! they just idolise him cos they never see him... its pretty sad... which leaves the mum, who used to be a lawyer, but gavethat up when she had thekids.

the thing that i dont know if i agree about, is how she runs the joint... they make alot of money, so they can afford a gardener, a nanny, a cleaning lady, window washers etc... but the thing is, my jbs are really not that hard. i have to just clear up after meals, do the washing and ironing, bath the kids and kinda look after them in the afternoons and various babysitting... but small things like putting away their toothbrushes that they leave in the sink, putting their clothes away... i mean, why do they need to employ me to do things like that?? im not sure i agree with the fact that these kids have no responsibility at all, not for tidying up their rooms or anything... i asked the girl to put aeway a pair of pants the other day n she told me she didnt know where they went. it was her own bedroom and she didnt know where her own clothes went! if i ask them to do something sometimes they respond with we dont have to do that... amazing. i mean, they do nothing but go to school, after school activities (which they can get out of with just a whiney voice to mum...) and playing. they have no sense of commitment or responsibility and i dont like that, i dont like those kids to think im just gonna run after them doing things for them all the time. yeah i look after them, i do the washing and ironing... but im not their slave, why should i have to do things like put away their toothbrushes??? but then again theyre paying me so i just do what im told right? but theyre sooo spoilt.. i mean for spoilt kids theyre ok, totally managable so far, but at the same time im like JEEEEEZ you kids need to learn that you cant just rely on someone else to do everything for you!

the mum, i dunno if i agree with her way of life either... i mean, i understand it, totally, but i dont know if i agree with it. she has the cleaning lady, and me to clean the house and just do the stuff that she pretty much just cant be arsed doing. in her defense she DOES have a fair bit to do, when the kids are around but during the day she hasnt gotmuch to do but go shopping and pay bills n non strenuous things like that... meeting friends for coffee etc. when the kids are around she has to get them up n ready for school, n then take them to their activies, hockey, horse riding, ballet, tennis... and then she comes home n cooks dinner for them, helps them with their homework and puts them to bed. she goes in and helps at school, doing reading and things like that in her kids classes, and also volunteers at the local hockey club her kids play at working in the canteen and the bar n thing like that... but... i just wonder, is it fair enough that she gets someone to do all the shitty jobs, shes certainly got the money to pay for it! or is she just lazy? i mean... im torn between thinking HELLO this is the real world and you cant just pay ppl to do all ur shitty jobs while you go out and drink ur coffees and get ur facials and nails done... go shoping for DKNY and Ralph Lauren clothes for your KIDS! and thinking well... no one LIKES these jobs, if youve got the money, why not get someone else to do it??

maybe im a bit jealous? maybe im a bit pissed off that im the one who has to do her shitty jobs, effectively allowing her hassle free lifestyle... i dont know... but at the same time, im in themiddle of a pretty steep learning curve, seeing how the other side lives. i came from a small town where there were ppl with big houses, medium houses and small cr appy houses. there was "rich", "normal" and "poor". because i had a swimming pool and a massive house, i was consideredone of the rich ones, which wasnt helped when i went away to a private all girls boarding school... but in reality, while my parents could afford to swend me to a good school, and could afford to give me enough money to have nice clothes and a nice house, we werent rich. were not rich. were well off, but not rich... but we were the family who had our ironing done for us (mum had no time, as she works from 7-70 and a cleaning lady come in once a week. but my dad was so fuckin anal about me having my room tidy... we had to put our own clothes away... we had to do the dishes, stack the dishwasher... take our clothes to the laundry, n tidy our own shit up. we had the same responsibilities as anyone else, maybe not things like mopping the floor or ceaning the toilet, but the same base chores as everyone else... so while i know how it is the be the one employing the cleaning lady, ive never seen the other side...l either "other" side, the uber rich or the hired help... i am now livingin an uber rich household as the hired help. im experiencing 2 totally different lifestyles that i never thought id be living in... and while today the kids shat me to tears, i have to look at the positives and know that im going to be a better person at the end of the whole thing, as ive experienced how the other side lives.

ill also know how to iron a business shirt :P

Posted by jaxstar84 05:53 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Keukenhof - Netherlands

oookay so today i went to the Keukenhof, a big tulip garden... was very nice! Ill write more deep and meaningful things about it later but atm i have a cold and i really cant be arsed.

all ill say is that i wish dad coulda seen it, and also had one of the hot ham rolls with curry mustard sauce. it was a ripper. for 4 euros itd wanna be good.... speaking of 4 euros, the last pic, of the strawberries in a cup... cost 4 euros. rip off.

while im waiting for the pics to upload, ill write some thingds anyway..

ive never seen so many germans in one place than i did today. except in germany. there were bazillions of busses outside this place, and i saw i think 4 that werent german. all i heard was german, the guy who checked my ticket thanked me in german, and a couple came up to me, and asked me if i could take a picture for them... in german! its lucky i speak german....

ive also never seen so many old ppl outside of a retirement home... damn. now i did expect to see a fair number of the pension crew, but not this many! and they were mostly german... they even had oompah music on! this place caters for germans more than anyone else i think!

it was 12 or 13 euros to get in, which was a bit steep i thought, no student prices... hmf. im not a student anymore but i ahve a student card still, which ppl accept here, muah haha. but its a big place (for the perth gang, not as big as kings park, but i reckon its prolly better than araluen, havent been there in a while!), and it is very impressive, if you like gardens...

so really, the typically dutch things, ive done... tulips, windmills, cheese... getting stoned, yeah well, mum n dad read this, so no. anyone else reading it, go to the rockerij for the muffins, theyre good.

Posted by jaxstar84 05:51 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Queens Day in Amsterdam

weeeell queensday in the netherlands has come n gone (for me anyway, ther are still 1000s in the streets partying), and i have to say it ROCKED! i LOVE this day. its a public holiday that the current queen of NL (beatrix) declared for her mum when she first becaome queen (or something ike that). and somehow in those years, its become a mix of st pats day and australia day. on speed. imagine the entire country partying between perth and geraldton. thats pretty much how it is here, all the big cities are packed out! ppl are selling stuff on the sdtreets, itsd a market atmosphere everywhere! the bars and restaurants all have a setup outside, and street drinking is NOT a fine-able offence! WOOHOO! so i went ot teh shops and bought some breezers (OI! they dont sell bourbon and coke in a can...) for 99euro cents each, which is about $1.15ish and just walked around. now, i couldnt drink them for a while, since theyre not screw tops. BUMMER! but since everyone is selling their stuff on the street, i asked a lady if she had something to open them with... for 1euro, i had a bottle opener! nice one too!

its pretty much just a walk around n see what you find kinds deal, but all over the place there are DJs, bands etc... and the music kicked arse, if youre into electronic music in any way, shape or form, youll find something!

at one stage i found myself walking thru a posh looking area, with lots of posh looking guys and girls. i was wondering wetf is going on, why are all these guys dressed so well and so metro and fashionable??? then i saw the street name, and i remembered that i was in the middle of the gay and lesbian section. ooh. oops. lol but the music was kick arse, tho the drinks were double the price there. it must be expensive being gay!

anyway, i bought a warm ham and mustard roll (love those things!) and went and sat on the canals (Rokin to be exact!) and just chilled. there were markets for bags and clothes and jewellery.. fruit etc. i asked one lady ho wmuch a bag of the "smallest tomatoes in the world" were. 3.95euro. AS IF. thats like,mor ethan $5 for half a punnet, for tomatoes that are smaller than grapes. tell her shes DREAMIN! so i bought 2 breezers and got more drunk. yeees i was pretty pissed, and yes i was alone, but its queens day everyones pissed.........

i will DEF come to queensday again, its such a good day, way better than australia day and st pats day, i love it! everyones happy and chill and just in a good mood!! love it!

Posted by jaxstar84 05:50 Archived in Netherlands Tagged events Comments (0)

Madrid

I flew out of Schiphol at about 9am (after my flight was delayed... grrr coulda had extra sleep!) and promptly fell asleep in the plane before we even took off. After I woke up i got stuck into Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Meyers (GREAT book), and chowed down on my turkey sandwich the lovely Lufthansa frau gave me! I had a stopover in Munich, and as i was coming out, a lady came up to me from customs and asked me "Enschuldigen Sie bitte, aber sprechen Sie Deutsch?" ie excuse me do you speak german? and i responded "Ja, een beetje" which is DUTCH for yeah a little bit. so a little flustered I managed to answer her in the right language, and she asked if i could hold a bag and let the sniffer dog sniff it, as a test for the dog. this big beautiful german shepherd came sniffing everyone and then took a whiff of the bag and jumped on me! one of the other customs men took the bag and after a very quick dankeschoen i was on my way again! after waiting at the wrong gate for 15mins, i went to the right one, and boarded my plane to Madrid. I went and sat down and a nice german man came up and asked if I wouldnt mind swapping seats with his wife "ja seker" was my reply, which is DUTCH for yeah sure. cant seem to get the right language.... anyway i swapped to a few rows back in the middle, and then swapped again for the lady who was meant to be on the window seat. didnt really bother me at all where i was sitting, i was just going to read and sleep anyway!

I finally got to madrid and it was pretty warm. I managed to find my way to the hostel on the metro, which was just around the corner from the Gran Via stop, which is one of the main roads. on the website it said this hostel was in the fashion district. turns out its actually in the gay district. whatever, the shops around there were wicked. the hostel looked a little dodgy tho, and you cant really see anything but a little sign from the outside! you have to go in and find the little tag on the doorbells which says who lives on what floor. so i went up there to find a dodgy sign, which made me wonder what kinda place this was (see the pics!). anyway i went in, not willing to give up the $10USD id already paid. The lady in there didnt speak a word of english, me barely a word of spanish. all i knew what she was on about was "tres noches" three nights and "nombre" name. She then started to call me Hacqui, as the spanish pronounce Js as Hs. She showed me to my room which was an 8bed shared dorm. full of snoring sleeping guys. so i put my stuff on the bed, got my things and left. I walked down the Gran Via to the Plaza de Espana, took some pics n had a look around. I looked in a few shops, and its not expensive there! i had to stop myself from trying things on, as i need to save! but i could have spent a fortune... I went back to my room where i found another girl on another bed sleeping. at least i wasnt the only female! i laid down and ended up falling asleep, somehow. this hostel is NOISY! its right on a street off the gran via, which is busy and loud. the cars are loud, the ppl are loud and the doors to the little balcony dont really shut properly and arent sound proff at all! sometimes id wake up to an angry hooting driver or an over excited singing/shouting spaniard. But my nanna nap rejuvenated me, and when i woke up i started talking to the other girl in there, who was australian, from townsville. the other boys from the room came back in, one canadian, one scottish, one aussie, from perth! later on another guy came in, who was aussie too, from brisbane. after chatting for a while with them, Paula and i (the aussie chick) went and had dinner at a tapas bar down the road. we got a mixed platter with cured hams, salamis and cheeses, and a couple of beers, with bread that had some gazpacho (cold tomato soup) or something similar and olive oil drizzled on top. it waqs really nice, esp followed by the sangria! the guys at the bar there were quite funny, really nice... they asked where were from, and we told them australia. their response? "Ohhh australia! kangaroos! (bouncing around the bar like a roo) and nicole kidman! si!?" uuuh yeah. lol they were very nice tho... so we went back and talked more, then went to bed...

on the friday i tried to sleep in, but the noise doesnt really allow it, so at about 10 (which is a sleep in really..) i was up and ready to go! I walked across the Gran Via, following some signs to the Puerta del Sol (which is kilometer 0 in all the roads in spain ie when it says its 50km to madrid, they measure from that square). It took me thru the hookers main area, who hung out by the sex shops, counting wads of 50 euro notes and smoking. charming. on the way i stopped at Maestro Churrero, on the Calle de Atocha, for my breakfast of chocolate churros (sp). This is apparently a typical spanish breakfast, of deep fried strips of dough, which you dip into warm chocolate sauce! its a bit sickly for me first thing in the morning, but its def not the worst thing ive ever eaten!

After breakfast i made my way toward the plaza mayor, which was finished in 1617. there were lots of cafes, resturants and artists there, and i was really tempted to buy a painting of a flamenco dancer, but i didnt... and i really wish i hadve, it was really nice, it was bright red and it wouldve looked really cool on the wall... so i regret not buying it! i think it wouldve been expensive tho. i did buy a little notebook tho, which has a little plaque thing on the front resembling the street signs in the city, and it says "Calle de Madrid". I thought itd be cool to write things down so i didnt forget anything, it could be my memoirs of madrid book! i meandered around the streets for a while, getting a little lost, but enjoying it, as its a pretty city. its much cleaner than i expected... I found a cool market (Mercado de la Cebada) that i decided to buy my dinner from on the way back, which also needed me to work up the courage (and to think about) to try and buy things from the market stalls! I found a church (Iglesia San Andres) with a courtyard out the front, full of either yobbo students or homeless ppl sleeping on the benches. i took a few photos of the outside and kept on moving!

I moved on to the Basilica San Fransisco el Grande, which was cool from the outside!

It had a little garden on the side, which overlooked some of Madrid as it was on a hill...

after that i backtracked a bit past the market and bought some grapes, an artichoke (why i dont know, its in season i guess, and i had romantic ideas about cooking delish market food for dinner. hmf.), some tomatoes, radishes and some lettuce, it cost me about 5 euros which is a bargain! i went back to the church with the yobbos and the bums and joined them on the benches in the shade for some grapes, a well earned rest! after id had enough of the yobbos talking shit (you dont have to understand the language to know when ppl are tlaking shit...) i set off again in the direction of the Iglesia san Pedro. on the way there, i saw many photo ops of quaint spanish streets and tapas bars, seemingly unswarmed by tourists!

I finally got to this church, and after lugging around my shopping and dying of thirst, i sat with the pigeons in the shade on the steps n had more grapes. i figured since i ran out of water, the grapes had the most water in them, so would help! and they did somewhat!

It wsa after that i decided id had enough, and headed back to the supermarket that id gone past earlier, to buy some serrano ham and semicurado cheese, which are meant to be local "must eats". also bought a BIG water and bread, and figured out how to use their shopping baskets... they have wheels and a big handle so you can drag them along like a suitcase. GENIUS! why dont more shops do that??

so i headed home and had a nanna nap (or i couldve been much more spanish about it and said i was having a siesta!) for too long, and woke to find that i was the only one sleeping in the 8 bed dorm that night. boring. i ate my ham, cheese tomato and lettuce baguettes on the balcony in the sun, then decided to walk down the other side of the Gran Via to see what was there... good thing i did, as i woulda missed out on the metropolis building and the Correos y telegrafos

i trekked on home and turned on the tele in my room to find everything in spanish. bummer. even the german movie was dubbed. so i wrote some postcards, read a bit and tried to sleep amongst all that bloody noise!

the next day was busy too, as i needed to get to toledo st some stage, and also see the palace and the cathedral! so i made the trek, still tired from the walking yesterday. but im glad i did was it was really nice! i didnt go inside the Palacio Real cos there was a big line, but the outside and the courtyard was nice!

i had a breather in the Plaza de Orient and talked to some german tourists, then headed off to the debacle that is the Atotcha train station! i needed to get to Toledo, and on the train its 30mins... so i waited about 20mins in line to find out that the 13:50 train was full and the next one wasnt until 15:50. bummer. so i was instructed to go to the Mendez Alvaro bus station. which was hidden in what looked like a WW2 bunker, not clearly marked AT all. I went wandering around for 10 mins in this weird area with no idea where this place was. how can you HIDE a bus station? anyway i found it, even tho i was a bit unnerved by the 3 cops standing at the entrance to the bunker with a german shepherd. i got my ticket got on the bus and drove thru some dodgy areas of madrid, where everything was a warehouse and every 2nd building was a furniture shop. apparently renting isnt big in spain, buying is the norm, so everyones obsessed with home decoration!

ok im tired now, ill write the rest of this 2moro! and im sure youre tired from reading it too, its pretty long! :D

Posted by jaxstar84 05:46 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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