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.

24 hours later.

Hallooo…

Here I am. In a different country, about to head to another. It’s actually my last night in Berlin, and I’ve had an awesome time here. I’ve had the best Turkish food I’ve ever eaten, seen some pretty excellent stuff, and had some old German guy have a go at me. I think.

But first things first.

To the airport.

Having a night flight, I had the whole day to prepare. Which is lucky, since I’ve always been a procrastinator. It’s not my fault, I always get things done and where I need to be, it’s just how I work best.

So it got to abouttttt 2pm and I thought I’d better pack. My incredibly cute mother decided she’d come to Sydney to drive me to the airport. After our fight about money pouches, we took some selfies…(togetheries?) but she’d kill me if I posted them, so here’s an artist’s impression.

mother_daughter_good_relationship_H

Anyway, I got to the airport, realised I didn’t know how to do life, waved goodbye to Mum, cried (what) and went into the customs bit.

Boarding the flight.

As they started to board, Coldplay’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ came on over the general Sydney Airport radio. I didn’t know whether it was an incredibly poetic moment, or just a reminder of how much I hate that song. But nonetheless, I was feeling pretty sick and this didn’t help.

And there I was. On the plane.

Sitting right next to the toilets. And right behind business class.

economy living

But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, it was quite roomy. And my entertainment worked, which is always a plus. It turns out that my neighbour’s headphone jack thing was messed up and she couldn’t watch anything… which would absolutely suck… but the flight attendant was very apologetic and found her another seat. Alas, she didn’t like it.

This resulted in her returning to her seat next to me, taking a lap of business class, and then asking to be upgraded to first class.

(Bitch, please.)

Other highlights from the flight? The little kid sitting with her parents and baby brother who projectile vomited all over the walls and carpet probably wasn’t one. But the free-poured vodka soda wasn’t so bad.

Abu Dhabi.

Talk about being in a daze. I had a 3-hour wait at Abu Dhabi, and it was pretty uneventful. I did however find a Hungry Jacks/Burger King, and had my first very bogan culture shock.

bogancultureshock
I of course, kid.

Oh, if you want a cigarette there, you have to go inside these creepy claustrocubes.

smokingcuberebels

Grosssss.

Man I tell you something though, that airport is not messing around with the d├ęcor.

opulence

Leg two: Berlin, ho.

At this point I was preeeettttyyyyy grumpy. We got herded onto some buses and taken out to our plane. It felt like ages away, but at that point I was two-Xanax-down and ready for bed.

I found my seat – next to a fantastic gal named Johanna – who I ended up hanging out with in Berlin. She said she was grateful I wasn’t a child, and I said I was glad she wasn’t a psycho. It was friendship at first six-and-a-half-hour-journey.

When I wasn’t chatting to Johanna, or trying to figure out what “Ausgang” means (it’s Exit guys), I played the incredibly insulting Airberlin quiz, which was on your entertainment screen.

arseholequiz

Um, rude?
I’m tempted to send this shot as feedback to Airberlin about them as an airline.

Little did I know…

The catering on Airberlin was a sign of things to come. I’ve learned that Berlin is many things, but it is lactose-intolerant-intolerant.

dairy

(Not pictured: the buttered bread roll I ate first. This is what was left – mac ‘n’ cheese, cheese, chocolate pudding, and some other salad with cheese.)

Anyyyyway, it was a pretty good flight in all. One of the highlights? Flying over the Middle East. The camera obviously doesn’t do it justice, but we had some amazing views. This is somewhere between Hamadan and Mahabad in Iran. (I checked on the in-flight thingy, I didn’t just guess.)

overthemiddleeast

And with that, some hours, some crying bubs, a guy in suspenders, and a sweeping view of gingerbread-style houses we landed in Tegel Airport, Berlin.

berlin

I briefly spoke to the immigration officer after this, who had few teeth but many words to say about the German v Australia football match that was to be on that night. He was cool. He was mocking me, but he was cool.

And with nothing to declare, I was in a cab on the wrong side of the road on the way to Rosenthaler Platz… completely delirious.

Six hours on a train tomorrow to Amsterdam – a Berlin post to come!

Carrie

Passport pics: a beginner’s guide.

So, one of the big events of the past year is that I finally got my Irish Citizenship.

When I say ‘got’, I always ‘had’ it. I just had to fight my way through incredibly restrictive consulate hours (10-1 on weekdays, I mean come on…) and mountains of paperwork to actually CERTIFY it. And that was just my registry certificate for citizenship.

Fun fact: for the certificate application, you could get everything authorised by a PRIEST, but not a Justice of the Peace. Oh Ireland.

So, as happens when one is a citizen of a country, I am also entitled to a Republic of Ireland passport. That was a whole process on its own. You’ll be pleased to know I didn’t stick with my creepily photoshopped pics either.

But one of the best parts of this whole process was the ‘What not to do’ when posing for your passport pic.

Observe.

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So no selfies. Ok. That seems fair.

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No cute backgrounds. Or scarves. Harsh.

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No transitions lenses. Passport AND fashion advice?

And then I got curious. Here are some others from around the world.

1. Sashaying into South Africa.

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POINTER: Do not do a group shot for your passport in SA.

If it was good enough for Josie and the Pussycats and the Riverdale Transit Authority…

tumblr_lm5jgle8g71qclmoqo1_500

And whatever you do, don’t get your picture taken from a suburb away.

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2. Joining in with Germany.

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Step back you’re dancing kinda close, lady.

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…Seems unnecessarily cruel. How are you meant to deal with that? I have a big head. I missed the whole cute hat thing and I’m pretty sensitive about it if you don’t mind. Poor kid. You’re not alone.

3. Let me in, Lithuania.

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Why this wouldn’t be approved is beyond me, it is literally flawless.

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…With hat.

4. Find a place for me, France.

France has potentially been my fave. And if you’re thinking of grabbing yourself a French passport, heed these guidelines carefully.

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Pictures taken at last week’s BBQ are not acceptable.

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There is ZERO TOLERANCE for PHOTOSHOPPED BUCKET HATS.

And finally?

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Your kid’s only allowed in if his dad is Daniel Craig.

Daniel-Craig-wore-sweater-tie

FIN.

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.