A Travellerspoint blog

Oh Canada

Reverse Culture Shock!

sunny 23 °C

Well folks. I'm home. I wanted to post one last entry to give a bit of closure to my trip and to do a bit of reflection on my experiences in the past months.

Lets start with some basic stats:
15-Number of international flights I took.
11-Number of 5 hour or more train rides I took
10- Times I had a private room
9-Times I got seriously lost
8-Different brands of beer I tried
7-Countries I have been wrongly assumed to be a prostitute in.
6-The number of months I went without wearing deoderant.
5-Number of items I still have from when I left home- backpack, sleeping bag, underwear, journal, passport (this is all I really need to live!)
4- Times I got on a train and accidentally sat in first class, only to be shamefully demoted to the rear cabins upon ticket inspection.
3-Days I spent living in the Madrid airport.
2-People I met that were my age.
1-Number of times I rode a donkey.

I have met people from Madagascar to Japan to Argentina. They've been teachers, boy scouts, salesmen, prostitutes, donkeys, lawyers, hobos, students, hippies, buddhists, muslims, DJs, poker champions, forest elves, IT guys, farmers, clothing designers, violinists, homemakers, models.

I was AnGEEEEla, Gela, Malika, Pakeza, Rasta Woman, Sitr Git, and above all, a damn GOOD flavour smeller.

I've drank rot in Germany, wodka in Poland, kahve in Turkey, absinthe in Italy, Port wine in Portugal and Berber whiskey in Morocco.

I've driven illegally, jaywalked, illegally associated with locals, trespassed, black ridden public transport, smoked hashish, forged signatures, and was the technical half of a major weapon smuggling.... I mean... nothing.

I'd like to list my lowest points....
-24 hour consecutive vomit-a-thon in Rome
-Feverish and sick on Gran Canaria
-Losing my half-filled sketchbook of all kinds of buildings people and places!
-Let's just say... "The Marrakech Marauder", "The Turkish Chase" and "The Portuguese Masturbator"
-Getting money and bank card stolen in Heathrow

And the highlights....
-Roadtrip with Aussie Rasta Nat in Turkey
-The sunny Essaouira beach with my Moroccan love
-First night at Beneficio, commune in Spain, out of the rain and into the tipi, an oasis of drumming, tea, fire, warmth, song and dance
-My first tree-picked mango on Gran Canaria
-The Alcazar in Sevilla
-Picking wild camomile in Turkey
-My first bar beer with Shanti on Gran Canaria at Puerto Nieves
-The sound of the Selcuk prayer call at dusk

I've learned so much about money, being humble and being ignorant and wrong, about planning ahead and siezing the day. About poverty and affluence, about globalization and world issues. I've learned about religion and history. I've learned about myself, my family, and Canada, ironically.

I am home now and I have forgotten where I keep my CDs and how to make hemp bracelets. I am amazed at being able to speak to anyone how I like and be understood. I would love to share all my of experiences and specific moments with all of you, but my jaw would fall off. Above all know this: I had a great time. And I can't wait to jump on a plane again.

Posted by mythxation 07:16 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Birthday in Auschwitz

Bob Marley in the house!!

semi-overcast 25 °C

Okay. So After Frankfurt I popped into Krakow for two days, nothing much occurred except exploration of the beautiful city centre and around. There is a huge main square and tons of cafes, restaurants and bars at the perimeter and in the surrounding streets. Outside of the main old town is a ring of trees, fountains and peaceful trails, a park full circle.

I met in Krakow a Canadian. We had a conversation that lasted for five days, from Krakow to Budapest... it spanned night, day, restaurants and streets, philosophy, art, life, emotion. Budapest was brilliant, we did a lot of pointless walking, and it seemed everywhere we went we did not find what we were looking for, or things were closed on the day we went. It kind of felt like a failed attempt at seeing the city, the best part was the vegetarian restaurants we found, and the CDs Christian bought me for my birthday. The hostels were great as well... in the first we had a Bob Marley themed room!

So I hit a train back to Krak, arriving yesterday morning sleepless. It was my birthday. I decided to visit Auschwitz, partly for purposeful irony, partly for lack of time to see it otherwise. What can I say, it was heavy. I found a relative in the book recording Poles in the camp. I took a bus back to the hostel, as soon as I stepped in the door, I was invited out by a hostel worker guy... anyways after drinking a bit and playing dirty jenga, we headed out to a few bars. Ended up spending most of the time at a Latino club celebrating the death day of Bob Marley... on my birthday?! CLEARLY I am the reincarnation of Marley Himself! Anyways the reggae was good and the vodka shots flowed. I came back to the hostel for a few drunken emails and hit the bunk.

Today is a huge festival for students... the square is PACKED, everyone is dressed up; there are communists, trees, old women, bagels, vikings, cavemen, ancient romans, hippies... everything in between. I am overlooking the fest from the window, debating whether or not to join the chaos... I walked with the parade from the university earlier... the 15 minute walk took over two hours! I love Polish people.

Posted by mythxation 03:10 Archived in Poland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

On the Rhein

A peek at Germany

sunny 20 °C

So I left Selcuk. I almost cried, saying goodbye to Enis, the Kurdish carpet shop owner. Said goodbye to Mehmet and his gorgeous son Hakan who own Ejder restaurant the night before, and Mazen the next day, as he helped me find the bus to the airport. Everyone is so sweet there... I got numerous job offers, it was truly hard to leave.

So I arrived in Frankfurt yesterday. I woke up with an older woman sleeping in the bunk under me, she is from Boston, and spent a good chunk of time arguing with me about what and where the great lakes were. Excuse me?

Frankfurt is a pretty city, very... German. Clean, smooth and efficient. It feels large and spacious. The people can be quite cold, especially compared to what I experienced in Turkey. But everyone is quite helpful so far and I have had no problems. I did a kind of walking tour earlier this morning in the sun, passed by the main shopping district filled with boutiques and beautiful things. There is nutella everywhere. And I found a nice salad... with TOFU in it!! I can't believe it!!

Also I found an art store with actual Picasso originals! And things from Matisse, Chagall, Bacon, and Miro!!! I was shocked. I will go to the modern art museum in a bit... can't wait.

Posted by mythxation 04:43 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Storkview

Anticipation

sunny 24 °C

So I ended up leaving the guesthouse I was at, in favour of staying at a different hotel in town. It all started by meeting Mazen...

I was at the cafe across the road from the hotel I am at now, drinking tea and writing in my journal. It started to get cold, suddenly I felt a heaviness on my shoulders, some random person has just dropped a leather jacket on my shoulders. He disappeared as I uttered a weak "teshekuler" in thanks. Moments later he was back, introduced himself as Mazen and we began to talk. He is a Dutch guy, originally from Syria, staying at this hotel in town. Bonus points: He speaks Turkish.

So we got to chatting, he showed me the hotel and we got to know each other. Had dinner at Edjer resaurant, owned by mutual friends of ours. We then went out for nargile, to smoke water pipe and have some drinks at a local bar. We played checkers, time flew by, and I thought I should be getting back to the guesthouse. I thought nothing of it, seeing as my guesthouse owner, Shayne, said I was free to come and go as I pleased.

So Mazen walks me back the dark streets of the gypsy quarter to the secluded guesthouse. The door is locked. Uh oh. He tells me it's okay, he can get me a free room at his hotel, no problem. Even one with the famous "stork view" rooms, (a view of the stork nests on the ruins of the roman aqueduct that go through the town.)

We tiptoe past the snoring man at reception, and I am shown to a beautiful room. In the morning I was woken by the dawn call of prayer, the eerie sound filling my cold room deliciously and lifting me out of my dreams. I opened the curtains to see the storks preening and nesting, about to switch shifts with their partners. Beautiful.

So I walk back through the gypsy quarter in the early morning, a smile on my face at the goats and cats scampering in the streets. I arrive at the guesthouse door, nervous to explain where I was the night before. The door is still locked. I don't want to wake up Shayne. I wander around, check the back door. Hmm, maybe if I can just sneak in over this wall... it's pretty low. I find an old three legged chair and lean it up against the wall. I look around, no one. Putting one foot on the centre, I place my hands and one two three, heave! Snap! The chair buckles and I drop to the ground, suddenly hearing a screaming woman. I turn around, and there she is, pointing and yelling. I try to walk away calmly, knowing there is no way I can explain myself! So I round the corner to walk away, and there is Shayne's mother! The old woman yells at her, she yells at me, I look desperate and confused, they both yell some more. I hear the word, "polis!". Suddenly Shayne bursts open the door bewildered in his pyjamas. The women yell at him, then they all yell at me... while I am calmly trying to explain the whole thing to Shayne.... oh god. I felt horrible. It is funny now.

ANYWAYS, I decided to leave the guesthouse. I felt ashamed after that. But they had been a little odd before that anyways, they locked me in alone, served me separate meals... everyone was a bit curt except Shayne's mother, bless her senile heart. So I left the next day.

Now I've been at this hotel in town, eating very well, and socializing. I learned two new styles of checkers, bought a lot of souveniers, made a lot of friends. Visited the nearest beach at sunset, yesterday went to the small greek village to taste wine and experience the quaintness. Helped Murat talk to girls online in English. It's nice, it really is.

Posted by mythxation 00:56 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Selcuk

bir, iki, uc, dort, besh...

sunny 26 °C

It turns out that after my whirling dervish travelling in the past two weeks, my bank account is looking pretty sad. Not to mention my entire body is suffering from some kind of muscle tension which causes Shayne to say "This is not small problem. Big problem. You are big problem girl." I can't help but giggle at his poor English as he pounds my shoulderblades with the side of his hand. Apparently he knows about massage. So I have decided to rest at for a few weeks, working for my stay.

By the way Shayne is the owner of the guesthouse I am at. It's on the outskirts of town, amidst the headscarved old women and hordes of screaming playing children in the hot and dusty streets. The other day I was walking 'home' and was accosted by a group of these women and children. We attempted to converse in brief words and sign language. Suddenly they noticed my hair and swarmed around, all wanting to touch, tie knots, and pull at my dreadlocks.

I've started to make friends in town, a Kurdish carpet shop ower with two prized Van cats, and a jack-of-all-trades hotel manager/police man/doctor/ambulance driver/teacher/interpreter/ taxi driver. The latter imparted on me some wisdom the other day over some Turkish tea in his hotel lounge, "There are two great pleasures in life, the first is kebab, the second is women."

Yesterday I took a day trip to the Greek Isle of Samos, it was beautiful of course and I ate a Greek salad with two American girls I met on the ferry.

I think what I will remember about this time the most is the late afternoon contrast by the low sun, sharpening the thousand glasses of tea I have drunk with an orange glow. The Artemis temple and it's turtles and flowers, flowers everywhere, taking over... picking camomile on the castle hill in my sandals, crouched like the nearby goats.

Posted by mythxation 01:35 Archived in Turkey Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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