Year-on depression and a confession.

So here we are again. I feel like I’m sheepishly contacting an old friend after being absent for a year.

My last entry was about Amsterdam, and truthfully that wasn’t really the whole way through my trip. It tecccchnically was only just, if not not quite halfway. I kind of got swept up in the many moments that obscure your first overseas holiday. Barely making a train. Being bullied by gypsies. Being hypnotised by the many different supermarket items that look similar, but oh so different.

I guess I thought I’d get around to things, but here’s the confession: I got lazy.

This time a year ago I was in Paris, actually. On this day, a year ago, I went to the Centre Pompidou and saw the Jeff Koons exhibition and it was prettttty cool. I also ate a totally legitimate Parisian croissant, bought my dad a Le Tour de France tee, and acquired no less than 10 Eiffel Tower keyrings.

But I am here, now, again, to reflect on the adventure that was a year ago, and prepare for a new one.

That’s right.

I’m off to America in September/October.

My plan for now is to book my tickets (which is happening sooner rather than later) and then get writing again. I might even give you an update on what I did after Amsterdam part one. I took a lot of tacky photos which are begging for a place on the internet, after all.

Stay tuned in the meantime.

Carrie

 

Amsterdam part one: Doinka.

I never knew quite what to expect from Amsterdam.

I got off the DeutschBahn from Berlin at Amsterdam Centraal. From there, I met a very strange taxi driver who took me to my hotel. I explained I didn’t speak a lot of Dutch, but I asked him how I say ‘Thank you’ as I’d forgotten.

You just say “Doinka”, he replies.

Oh. Okay.

So there I was walking around Amsterdam saying “Doinka” to pretty much everyone I met. Buying a bottle of water. Getting a menu. Getting some groceries. Doinka, doinka, doinka. And I was getting some strange looks.

After a particularly quizzical look from someone at newsagent, I did a quick google. Thank you was ‘Bedankt’, or ‘Dankuwel’. And Doinka? Well it wasn’t Dutch, but don’t look for it on Urban Dictionary.

I was way off. Cabbie, if you’re reading this, you got the dumb tourist.

The hotel.

I was staying at a place called Hotel La Boheme. It was very quaint indeed and everyone there was lovely.

But when I checked in, the guy helping me out was like… “Have fun on the suicide stairs.”

I must have frozen because he goes, “Oh no, they’re murder stairs. Very steep.”

He wasn’t wrong.

stairs

(I had to get my suitcase up and down that – and I was only one flight. Some people had to go up three. Apparently they get a beer voucher. Well deserved in my opinion.)

Funnily enough, for a lot of the day you’d hear a symphony of crashes and bangs, or a few sequential thud thud thud thuds. It was pretty obvious someone was checking in.

But the description of the stairs, yeah, just a little creepy.

Mimi.

The hotel has a mascot/resident cat named Mimi. She was awesome, and had not a care in the world. She wasn’t allowed in the dining area at meal times, but apart from that, all bets were off.

mimi

She has a good life, that kitty.

Dutch Television.

To be honest with you, I was just grateful there was MTV in my room. Yes, it had Dutch subtitles, but I can confirm the effect of Catfish and Ex on the Beach was not compromised in any way.

There was, however, an interesting game show.

tetris

I couldn’t understand what they were playing for, but I did understand that it was Tetris and apparently video games in Holland haven’t progressed past ’84. No complaints here.

info

You’ll also be pleased to know infomercials still exist overseas, and they’re just as filled with empty promises. Even I could tell that and I clearly, as outlined above, am lacking in language skills.

Oops.

lock

I kind of got cocky with my suitcase. I zipped it up and locked it and ran off to get my train not realising that I’d accidentally changed the lock code. That was an interesting afternoon.

So after trying the numbers in the neighbourhood I remember my last code being in, I put the code back to 0-0-0 and started from scratch.

It got to 7-0-4.

Sigh.

It was a long afternoon. But somehow, the victory of cracking the code made me feel like a bogan watching Wheel of Fortune.

With that, stay tuned for part two.

Berlin: Act Two – Sights seen.

Being pretty inexperienced at travelling – apart from the odd foray into the Gold Coast – I have taken way too many pictures while I’ve been away. I’m going to spare you from all the hilarious things I photographed because they were “different, lol” and just get on with it.

Except this.

heh

Heh.
Anyway, over the five days I was there, I saw a lot and quite frankly, loved the place. Here are a few touristy things what I done.

The TV Tower.

So a lot of Berliners said that the TV Tower (or Berliner Fernsehturm) is a pretty overrated attraction. And look, I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the thing I found most memorable, but I would’ve felt incomplete not taking at least a thousand photos of it.

bp

OOOOooooooh.

I did however see it as a good reference point. If I was just wandering around Mitte exploring, and I could see it, I was generally not too far from home.

And if I couldn’t? I was lost. It was a useful reference point to be honest.

The Brandenburg Gate.

bbg2

I actually wasn’t taking a picture of that guy, but here we go, a genuine tourist shot. The Brandenburg Gate/Brandenburger Tor/Brandy B is quite cool in real life. It took me a while to figure out how to get there, and this will cheer the Sydneysiders – because the trains to that S-Bahn station weren’t actually running that weekend. A little taste of the Bankstown line.

What you couldn’t see what how it was actually raining while I was trying to get this picture, and how after I took it the sky opened up. So my time there was limited, but still, great.

Not to make light of what is a very impressive structure, I couldn’t get the words of Dennis Denuto out of my head while I was standing in front of it.

Berlin. “It’s got a pretty good gate.”

39825-25037

Checkpoint Charlie.

Now this seems to be the spot to get to if you’re a tourist, and my my was it touristy.

We all know it. Or do we? Either way, Checkpoint Charlie was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. I did my duty, took a few pics and had a little look around but to be honest, you’d be surprised you’d actually found it. It’s been preserved in a sense, but not to the point where you’re not dodging real traffic to go and see it. The signs are also placed where you’d assume people would sorta just walk under them if they were on their way somewhere else.

cpc

That said, it was an interesting part of the world to find yourself in.

And this was a nice touch.

cpcurry

Tempelhof Park.

I was sent here on a mission from my pal Edith to check this place out. I got INCREDIBLY lost on the way, finding myself walking up and down this one street, WIFI-less and totally lost.

I did see this though. Doesn’t this Willy guy look like a barrel-o-laughs?

willy

Anyway, eventually, after a mini-tantrum and a quick trip on the S-Bahn, I found myself at Tempelhof Park / Tempelhofer Feld.

templehof

It is incredible. It’s a huge, defunct airport that now invites people to ride bikes, run, walk, and look like total dickheads on those segue (I’ve seen them called Segways too) things. Historically, it was used as an airport in Berlin up until 2008, and it was also the site for big creepy Nazi rallies which it’s quite famous for.

tempelhof2

Anyway, I like what they’ve done with it. I wandered around it for ages and felt like I’d walked nowhere, so I feel like a lap would probably take you a full 24-hours.

t

And with that, the third and final instalment of Berlin is on its way.

Danke,

Carrie.

A fun analysis of European lodging, in pictures.

Wherserrrrp.

Well, I’ve been a busy bee.

I’ve been looking into accommodation for #tbt (which I’m stealing for ‘The Big Trip’), and what a fun exercise in the internet this has been.

Anyway, I was going round and round in circles, just trying to find a place to sleep in these cities I’ve never been to. What if they’re gross? What if they have bed bugs? What if it’s like staying in Penrith?

Trip advisor has not been my friend. I’ve spent more time on that website than I care to think about in the last few weeks.

I’ve had post-booking regret. I’ve learnt the currency conversion lesson the hard way. I’ve learnt the word for toilet in Spanish (Indoro!)

But most importantly, I did think it was worth sharing a few highlights with you, if you care to see them.

1. Women Bed.

Paris, France. Women Bed. Picture that.

Paris, France. Best name ever. I also imagine a big bed made out of ladies.

 

2. Another Paris Hostel.

Still at Women Bed. Sadly, I decided to stay elsewhere, but I like escaping boys. And looking human.

At another Paris hostel. Sadly, I decided to stay elsewhere, but I like escaping boys. And looking human.

 

3. The Generator Hostel, Paris.

BONJOUR SALVADOR. Imagine waking up to that every f-ing morning.

BONJOUR SALVADOR. Imagine waking up to that every f-ing morning.

 

4. My hotel, Amsterdam.

Hahahaha butt hotel (I'm staying here)

Read: I’m staying on a giant butt.

 

5. Airbnb, London.

In London now. I saw character house and had this horrible fear I'd be lodging with furries. What's a furry? Don't google it at work.

In London now. I saw character house and had this horrible fear I’d be lodging with furries. What’s a furry? Don’t google it at work.

 

6. Where I decided to stay (The Mandarin).

Where I looked at staying.

Fancy. And only like $650 AUD p/n for the cheapest room.

 

7. Reality.

Where I am officially staying.

Where I am actually staying in London.

8. And… Conscious Hotel.

And finally, Amsterdam. Thank you for being creepy and ridiculous in equal measure.

And finally, Amsterdam. Thank you for being creepy and ridiculous in equal measure.

Wish me the best, and I’ll do the same for you next time you’re booking beds in foreign countries.

(Should I take my own pillowcases?)

Carrie.

 

 

Photoshopped.

It all started when I was born.

Well, okay, it started when my Grandad was born. In Ireland. Before he moved to Australia. And since that happened, and apparently Ireland will let anyone be a citizen, I am entitled to citizenship there too.

So I got into my ‘getting-shit-done’ mode. I hadn’t had an Australian passport since some ridiculous year, and had always been meaning to get the right bits and pieces to get myself into the Irish consulate to sort out my Irishness. Both of these things, as you’d expect, require proof of ID in the form of authorised, unflattering, passport photographs.

My self-esteem was high. I was getting everything I needed sorted. I even left home early for work one day (a rare event) so I could get my picture taken when I was looking as fresh and sparkling as possible.

It was the usual process. I went in. Got hair out of my face. Sat awkwardly low in front of a white screen. And the dude taking the pictures did his thing and told me to collect them at lunchtime. I proudly paid and set off, ready to succeed at being an adult like I had that morning.

Then, it happened.

I went back to pick up my photos, keen to finish my applications. As I opened the little photo envelope, I couldn’t wait to see those little 45x35mm pieces of success so I could join in on all the jokes about “how crap my passport photo is, ahahaha.”

Guys.

HE PHOTOSHOPPED ME.

Here is a picture of me that I just took. It is one of the most unflattering pictures of me ever on a humid summer day, with no make up, and my hair undid, but it is my ACTUAL face shape.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 6.15.36 pm

Here is his version.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 6.18.23 pm

Not only did he give me gills on my neck, he brought my eyes closer together. Did something to my jawline. And I can’t even explain what happened to one side of my face.

And did you HAPPEN TO NOTICE MY FUCKING EYEBROWS?

I hurriedly took the photos and ran away, only to return a day later asking for my money back. He was pretty annoyed too. When he asked why I said? “DO YOU THINK THIS LOOKS LIKE ME?!” and held it up next to my face.

And HE said, “I just try to make you look better.”

Oh. Okay.

After that, I spent approximately 12 hours examining my eyebrows in a mirror.

Now I know how supermodels feel.

Why Contiki isn’t for me.

While exploring my options, I did vaguely consider doing some sort of tour. Being a first timer on this sort of trip, I thought – like everyone does – that it may be a good way to see the sights. Intrepid looked nice. But apart from the fact the age group for Contiki is 18-39 (Or, the place where Toolies go when everyone else is in school), there was something else that ruined the idea for me.

I had just graduated high school in Canberra. And while  my hometown lived up to the stereotype of many-a-public-servant, there was also a fairly strong Defence Force contingent hanging around the Nash Cap.

So one day, innocently enough, I found myself at one of the heavily Irish-themed pubs in town with a couple of friends. While we were there, a group of young men who were in the Army, and doused in Lynx Africa, asked if they could join our table.

We politely obliged – still excited about being able to drink Vodka Cruisers in public.

It was nearing summer, and talk quickly turned to the kinds of holidays we were all going to be on over the Christmas period. I was doing my usual Canberra/Sydney/Newcastle jaunt to see all the relatives. A friend of mine was heading off to America to work as an au pair. But then this guy, turned to me with a huge grin, and goes…

“I’m goin’ on a chuck ‘n’ f*ck.”

I was like:
britney-spears-emblem-3-face

And he was like: “It’s called Contiki, apparently everyone just roots each other and you go to all these places in Europe and yeah, PAAAAAAARTY.”

He offered to buy me a drink after that. In shocking news, I said no.

Now look, I know there are exceptions to every rule. And I know that my friends and family have done these tours and loved (or hated them), or even met their future spouses on them.

But for me?

I think doing my own thing will do me just fine.

Git.

carriepretty

Yeah, so.

I always had this goal in mind that I would go to Europe before I turned 30. It was just this milestone that I had in my head, and if it didn’t happen, I was a loser.

For a trillion and one reasons, it hasn’t happened yet.

It being travel. Outside of Australia. Since I was a lot younger.

I blame the GFC.

But, this year, a very good (and very accomplished) pal of mine, Lauren, used her ~mad skillz~ to get me a very decent ticket into Berlin and out of Dublin.

In March.

Two weeks after the big 3-0.

For 26 nights.

The rest is up to me.

How are you feeling about it all?

I’m pretty much sitting here in a bubble of overwhelm, having personal crises about whether I’m too old to stay in a hostel (private room, thanks), whether I should catch trains or fly through Europe, or whether I’ll get arrested on the plane for having a meltdown mid-flight thanks to a pretty solid fear of flying.

What countries are you going to?

Good question! I actually don’t know yet.

What I can tell you is that I’d worked out I could spend 3 days in like… 8 countries (maths) and I would be a European hero.

But I was talking to a friend*, and to paraphrase, she was like, “Bitch, calm down. You can go to Europe any day. People who do Europe right, do it in stages. Like me. Because I’m fierce. Stop stressing. Enjoy. Live. Laugh. Love. Om.”

What’s your next move?

Figure out how much money I can make from all of my possessions to cover the GBP exchange rate, take half-arsed French, German, Dutch, and British lessons on YouTube, and probably have 50 mental breakdowns.

Why are you blogging about this, you psycho?

Because it just feels like the right thing to do. After all, if you can’t be cathartic on the internet, where can you be?

(Plus I paid $18 for a domain name.)

Stay tuned.

*Psychiatrist