Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Come on Eileen

Don't tell the man, I just bought another song off i-tunes. I'm supposed to be waiting for some $70 vouchers he got from somewhere. Except I wanted to blog about my knees and realised we didn't have 'Come on Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners. He he. I'm blogging about knees, running and the song is by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

My sense of humour again? Calm down, the part about Eileen is coming.

So one of my bridesmaids recommended I go and see a bio mechanist  about my knee. You know, the knee I blogged about here and here and here and here and  here  oh and a little bit here.

I could have blogged about it more, but thats all I could find...

Obviously its been a source of worry for me (and pain!) and I've basically given up any hope of running long distances, I'm down to about 1km right now. Anyway so figuring that going to yet another doctor couldn't hurt I went and saw Kahlil  (pronounced Kail) and he told me (this is where Eileen fits in) that my right leg is 8mm longer than my left. 

Come on Eileen - I-lean? Geddit?

He also told me that my knees don't track right. When you run, your knee cap should naturally be in line with your fourth toe, if that makes sense. My knee cap points in. Not even in the ball park of being correct.

I asked Kahlil if there was anything I could do and he said that orthotics will help. GREAT! A solution. Most unexpected. My celebration was cut short by two words. Health Insurance.

Of course, I googled and cursed. Then I rang someone at our health insurer and while they were very nice, they just confirmed what I'd googled. That our insurance doesn't cover it. . 

I don't know if any of you are orthotics valuers but they are not cheap. I figured that orthotics just went in my runners, so when I run, my knees point the right way. But no! Apparently its important my knees point the right way - all the time! Who knew! So instead of one pair, I need (kneed?) two.

I even tried doing MATHS and worked out it wasn't even worth upgrading our insurance to cover orthotics. $300 a month for health insurance! They must have rocks in their heads. Also - waiting periods

With a wedding coming up all purchases are being carefully scruitinised. Unfortunately orthotics fell squarely into the category of 'things that would be nice to have or are needed eventually - but can be postponed until after the wedding'. That category is a mouthful.

Just when all hope was lost - someone checked his list, not once - but twice and realised I'd been more nice than naughty this year and so Santa Claus came to the party with a gift voucher for orthotics.

Thank you Santa. 

The man - I think the $1.69 was well spent. 

- Jen

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is going to the dogs.

It's not really, but the Eels song of the same title has been in my Christmas carols playlist and I wanted to use it.

I had a nice enough Christmas, it was strange being separated from the man. For numerous reasons he went to his family and I went to mine. Mainly that I'm on call for work this week so I had to be back here on boxing day and he wanted to spend some more time with his family.

Mum came down on the 23rd so we could go and visit my sister the next day and brought with her my 'Christmas Turkey' - see video below. You should watch it, its freaking hilarious. Could be my sense of humour, but I doubt it.



We left to visit my sister early on Christmas Eve and one interesting addition to the trip was a 'tom-tom' (sat nav system) Mum had borrowed. She's named it Shaun because of its irish accent and good old Shaun was actually really handy. If the three wise men had of had Shaun it would have made their trip a whole lot easier. Back at home we had the usual seafood dinner of prawns, oysters and crusty bread rolls. 

After dinner I actually went to 9:30 mass with Nan which was nice. I usually love going to Mass at Christmas, but I should either go earlier or on Christmas day because all the little kids must have been in bed. Fr Kevin started talking about direction, and finding your way and that sometimes you get lost and its hard to find your way. Which made me giggle when I thought about Shaun, so I tried to whisper to Nan that he should get a tom-tom. Except Nan's getting a little bit hard of hearing and said "WHAT" so I said "he should get A TOM-TOM" and then Nan laughed when she'd figured it out. Which made me laugh more. 

I am very lucky because 'Santa' gave me a gift voucher for orthotics (I just realised I haven't blogged about this yet). The post will no doubt be a rant about what is the point of health insurance. But anyway. 

The man also snuck 'Twilight' the book and some lindt dark chocolate bars in, when we weren't supposed to be giving each other presents this year. I haven't got him anything, which he's probably happy about. 

Christmas lunch was great. After lunch when Dad and Grandpa went off to have their snoozes 'my sort of kind of cousin' Josh and I started playing tug a war with Tammy my parents enormous black lab. MUM suggested making it more interesting by adding in Dad's old desk chair on wheels. Hopefully I can get the video of me being pulled around by the dog. Hopefully none of you will report me to the RSPCA. Besides, I'm light and the dogs huge. 

I came back on the XPT on boxing day afternoon and just about finished Twilight on the train. It wasn't a bad book and I know why teenage girls rave about Edward Cullen. 

That's about it for Christmas.

- Jen



Saturday, December 20, 2008

What did you do today - I did nothing

Today I probably had the best sleep I've had in the past year.

What a difference it makes.

I had another Christmas party yesterday, and had a few - but not a few too many. By the time I got home and chatted to the very hungover man it was about 11:30pm before I got to bed.

I woke up at 10:00 this morning. Fantastic. I'd settled into finishing off the last Harry Potter book again when someone knocked on the front door and I decided I should get up.

Now its been bugging me all day who was at the door. I took it very easy all day, surfed the net, did some washing. Wandered down Puckle St for 'my usual' weekend coffee and swiss fruit toast and now I'm cooking up my world famous 'Poosaburgers' for dinner.

The man will not be too impressed with dinner as he's just told me he was dared to - and did eat a 'pounder' for lunch. Yuck. Actually I just googled it and found this . Its a wonder he wants dinner at all.

- Jen

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

The past couple of weeks have been hectic, with Hotel Fankworth-Unshauser being packed to the rafters. Even with all our beds now, we've had people on couches etc.

But its been so much fun. Last weekend we even had 60% of the bridal party in one place at the same time. I sincerely hope we can boost numbers before October 24 next year.
Anyway last Saturday we went to Ballarat with Georbridge (Bridgett and George) to visit some other friends. Had so much fun just hanging out, having a bbq and playing cricket. I'm so lucky to have ended up with a bunch of friends with such similiar tastes. I can't remember what Bridgett and I were laughing about. Obviously something hysterical.









- Jen
(click on the pictures to enlarge)













Friday, December 12, 2008

Mum and Dad and Denny were some amongst the many who turned out to see the passing out parade at Puckapunyal

I was talking about 'I was only 19' in my last post.

Now before everyone knocks the remix of 'I was only nineteen', watch this:

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=1gmgwx77osw

And now listen to the remix:

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=ns82tHhJOr0&feature=related

I think its pretty good, more modern but the story is still the same.

The whole thing..makes me feel..sad/proud. I think every Aussie kid feel it a bit, on ANZAC day, and Remembrance day. But after reading 'well done those men' by Barry Heard , it makes it more...poignant. I recommend reading the book.

- Jen

We get around, we get around, we stare you down from the walls - SOTM December 2008

It's my blog. I say this because no reader on here is going to like this song .

It's 'we get around' by Urthboy. I feel sorry for the man because I've been playing it non stop!

But anyway, Song Of The Month is 'I get around' by Urthboy.

The same guy was in the band..(would you call them a band?) that did the remix of
'I was only nineteen'.

See next post...

- Jen

Friday, December 05, 2008

The joy and the misery

Or maybe it should be the misery, and the joy.

18 months may not seem like a long time, but after watching all the other graduates from my year get promotions and little me left wondering what I was doing wrong, today I finally got my promotion.

To confuse everyone, I'm still acting in a position which is higher than the position I got a promotion for. Basically it just means when I go back to my old position, its not going to be so financially devastating.

But yeah, I'm a bit chuffed. Feel like I'm equal with everyone else.

That's news with me anyway

- Jen

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SSB - What's yours?

I was reading this article in today's Herald Sun and it made me laugh. Clearly the Herald Sun has been spying on me.

The article is about Secret Single Behaviour (SSB), sort of what people used to do when they were single that they miss doing when they're in a relationship or what they do when they do get time to themselves.

While I'm not cleaning the house naked, I do need time to myself. Lucky for me the man has a weekend job. Which pretty much gives me two days a week of JenTime(TM).

Two full days is actually a lot more than I need because my JenTime at a minimum is just reading the paper and drinking coffee. In quiet. The pottering around cleaning is just a bonus!

What does everyone else do? Or not do!

- Jen

Friday, November 21, 2008

That's not my name!

Like I said in my last post, I've acquired yet another nickname. This nickname business is getting a bit out of control, have a look at this:

Full name: Jennifer Kathleen

Nicknames:

Jen (most normal people)
J.K (Dad and Grandma & Grandpa)
Jack (Dad)
Jenu (Alex, since year 11 retreat when she 'misread' Jen.U. )
Unsworth (other grad friends because I call them by their surname)
Jenny (ignorant people)
Jenny-poos (the man)
n-word poo (the man)
Poohead (the man)
Poosa (the man)
Ferret (work because I 'ferret' things out - usually by googling them)
Turkey (work - but myself and two other people all call each other Turkey - its not confusing)
Chicken Ferret (work, I don't know how Chicken got involved - think it was turkey first)
Triple J (see last post)
TJ (see last post)
Gunner (from our time spent in the "military" during the grad program)
Chuckles-the-pirate (the man)
Elliot-the-geek (apparently one day when I had a hood over my head I looked like Elliot from ET)

The only nickname I don't have or haven't been called is 'Unsie'. But Dad gets that so it would be a bit weird.

I feel like I'm forgetting some! But these are all nicknames that get used, except for Chuckles and not really Elliot anymore either.

-Jen

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hold your own, know your name - and go your own way

It's been a long time since we got back from overseas and I've been struggling a lot, well with just about everything. Mostly work has been bothering me because I completely lost my energy and drive. Things I thought would be better when I got back were worse and I felt like giving up.

A few weeks ago I was given the chance to be part of a career coaching pilot - I suspect it was offered people from my grad year who aren't at the executive level yet. Anyway I had to set three goals and one of them was to be certain of my career direction..by January.

I have to admit I had serious doubts about the chances of that happening. But last week my 'coach' set me the task of talking to four people about their careers, asking them all the same questions and it's really helped.

Today I spent about half an hour talking one on one with someone in the senior executive and they were so helpful that its got me my energy back (ENERGY LEGS! - sorry couldn't resist).

I have a better idea of what I should do, and don't feel discouraged anymore. I'm also blogging on a 'school night' in case you hadn't noticed!

Anyway I just thought I'd blog about that, because it made my week.

- Jen

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm so sick from the drink...

If you ever see my updates on facebook or if you've spent any time with me lately you will know I've been a bit of a booze hound. But Friday night was officially the messiest I have ever been. Ever. I went to uni and I was never this bad. I went on a three week drink fest around Europe and I didn't even come close. But somewhere deep inside me on Friday afternoon I obviously decided that 24 is not too old to make a complete goose out of yourself.



Oh and thanks to the inventors of Facebook. In less than 24 hours twenty photos of me were tagged and put up there for the rest of my friends to enjoy. Thankfully the man didn't think to photograph me when I got home. Like I said on Facebook, I was 'sick a dog'. Yes. Sick A dog.



It started out after work, at the local pub,'the elms'. By the time I left I was a binge drinker (see Australian definition). So I hadn't had that much. I even stopped and drank a litre of water and ate a banana and some chocolate. Still being sensible Jen.



After that, well. When we got to the Richmond Club Hotel it was happy hour. I can't remember how much the beers were but they were cheap.. $2.50 each? With only 15 minutes to go we stocked up. Still being sensible because we were saving money. Then we moved upstairs. There was a drink that tasted like Snickers. More beer.... then I was in a taxi. Then I was at home.



I'm pretty sure lots happened in between. There could even have been dancing.



I'm not going to specify what happened next but I'll put it in multiple choice and you can pick whichever suits you best.



a) I got home and went to bed with a bucket

b) I got home and went to the toilet sans pants

c) I went to the toilet and threw up on the bathroom floor

d) I got home and went to bed with a bucket and threw up the next morning

e) All of the above



It was still a good night though, but the hangover was so god-awful it made the man look like a health nut. The lesson really is to eat lots! You think I would have already learned this lesson at uni. We had nibblies but dinner is a must. I also didn't have a big lunch at work which doesn't help.



Saturday was a misery, and we had to drive to Ocean Grove for the man's Uncle Jumpy's 60th. The Fankhauser bunch are notorious for their drinking skills, and I copped it all day for my behaviour on Friday night. I even acquired another nickname, 'Triple J', or Jen Jumpy Junior. Later abbreviated to 'T.J' or 'Teege'. I have a horrible feeling it will stick. Jumpy's real name is Peter and I've never heard him called anything except Jumpy.



Now is a particularly bad time to decide to 'not drink'. I just need to eat more WHILE I drink, drink in moderation (ta Dad)...and maybe ..just maybe...drink less.



For all those reading who thought I was a good person. Well I'm sorry. I felt embarrassed about it until everyone who heard the story the next day recounted their own 'the most drunk I've ever been was when' story.



Please, please add in a comment and share your own.





- Jen

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's cool to know nothing - SOTM November 2008

I know. I'm a bad bad blogger. But I've still got Song of the Month for you.

I've lost my blogging mojo! Hopefully I'll get it back soon otherwise my end of year recap is going to be very short. I blame Telstra!!

Anyway SOTM is 'Never miss a beat' by the Kaiser Chiefs, you can view the very weird clip here.

Reminds me of going home after school and my parents asking 'what did you do today'...'nothing', 'what did you learn today?'...'nothing'.

- Jen

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm beached as bro...

I don't know if its just because it reminds me of the Kiwis we travelled with, but I thought this was hilarious:
















- Jen

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A bike ride home with Jen - brought to you by Jentopia

You might have heard about the 'bike rage' on the weekend, where about 13 cyclists coming back from round the bay had some hoons swerve into them.

So here is some of my ride home today:

- Get down into the carpark and unlock my bike, putting on my front headlight, helmet light, back bike light and backpack light.

- Walk bike from carpark to road, waiting at pedestrian lights to cross over to Nicholson St, walk bike over pedestrian crossing

- Ride down bike/walk footpath along Nicholson St, can't turn onto the road at Carlton St once I get to the corner of Carlton gardens because cars tear around there too fast.

-Scowl at cyclists riding through the gardens (you're not supposed to)

- Ride up Canning St until I get to a roundabout, enter the single lane roundabout, car comes into roundabout behind me and almost swipes me as it tries to overtake me.

- Catch up to car at lights and scowl at driver

- Wait at lights with about ten other cyclists (some who do go through the lights before they're green)

- Carefully watch each street that joins onto Canning st in case any cars drive through the intersection without looking for cyclists lit up like Christmas trees.

- Ride down Park St, get the green light riding onto Lygon St (bonus!)

- Continue riding down Park St, Brunswick. Almost at end of Park St going down a hill when I slow down at a t-intersection because most people turn left at the intersection and I'm going straight. Sure enough a sports car zooms up but just slows when they see I'm not turning.

- Driver of sports car on mobile phone

- Continue riding down hill, pedestrian steps in front of bike

- Slam on brakes, back wheel slides - and I somehow manage to not fall off.

- Tell pedestrian to 'have a look next time neckface'*, who shouts back that I should 'use my bell'. 'Politely' tell pedestrian to 'go away'*, pedestrian tells me to 'get a frog'*, I tell pedestrian he's a 'wally'*, continue riding while muttering under my breath.

- Ride over the top of citylink (on the footpath)

- Stop at pedestrian lights rather than having to ride on road with cars and try to cross Ormond Rd that way.

- Rest of trip home was okay and I admired the setup for Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

I love riding now, especially now its a bit warmer. I get fresh air, don't have to put up with Connex (I beat trains home), get some more exercise and I get home in a great mood. But for all that, it just takes one driver who is talking on their phone, one bus where it shouldn't be, one cyclist who decides to race through an intersection (or 100..) - you get my point.

One of the man's friends was hit last week going home on his bike, a car saw him coming and they turned in front of him anyway. And he hit it. Fell over the front bonnet of the car. And the car kept going. Didn't even stop. Thankfully he only broke his toe. His girlfriend has been hit too, by a taxi. Both the man and I have had minor 'hits', the man got side swiped by a ute.

I can't be any more visible. I can't be anymore careful. If you google map my ride home, its all backstreets. Especially Canning St, its fantastic for cyclists getting into the city. Click here to see how awesome it is. I don't know how you guys feel about cyclists.

Its cars, its pedestrians and its cyclists. Sure, pedestrians jaywalk, sure cyclists run red lights, and if they get hit - then thats their fault. But seriously, car drivers need to pull their heads in.

(ducks for cover)

- Jen


*I may have substituted certain words for a more 'family friendly' feel.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SOTM - October 2008 - Home for a rest

Song of the month (even if I've missed a few) was really easy. In fact this can count for two months worth because its such a good song.

Anyway the song is 'home for a rest' by Spirit of the West. It was our 'day song' on Contiki, so it got played every morning on the bus and whenever we were on the way back from somewhere. It even got played in the bomb shelter in Switzerland which was pretty cool. So anyway, it got played a lot.

Definitely very fitting for the trip anyway.


http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=sPJD3qcIL7s


- Jen

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Interesting or useful sites

A bit boring I guess, but if any of you have suffered through my travel notes then you might actually find this interesting. I have been put OFF blogging after typing up all of that stuff.

www.bugmenot.com.

Has usernames and passwords to lots of sites so you don't have to keep signing up for stuff

http://flickrvision.com/maps/show_3d

Shows people uploading stuff to flickr and where they're from - interesting if you're bored

http://www.mapmyrun.com:

You can map out running tracks here, or see how far you've gone etc

http://www.expertvillage.com

Expert videos to show you how to do anything! e.g. making pizza dough, cracking particular computer games etc

http://www.songmeanings.net/

Pretty self explanatory...

BSB look up list


- Jen

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paris - Day 17 of 18!

We arrived at about 5pm, after driving all day from Switzerland. Yep thats right we drove from Switzerland to Paris. Pretty crazy! When we got there Rocket started doing a lap of the city while Mecha pointed out the sights and told us a bit about them. Then we got stuck because a lot of the roads were closed and there were police everywhere in their riot gear. I thought there had been a terrorist attack or some violent protest at the very least. Every street we tried to go down was blocked.

We finally found out that the Pope was in town and doing a mass at Notre Dame. As he does.

We were able to drive around the Arc de Triomphe which was absolute mayhem. Bikes and cars everywhere and the only rule is that traffic going around has to give was to traffic coming on. Mayhem! Rumour has it there is an accident every ten minutes.

We drove through the Louvre courtyard which was really cool, saw the famous pyramid. We headed off to our campsite which looks alright. Had drinks + entree before dinner which was champers + escargot. Some people wouldn't even try them! They were fine, just very garlicky and buttery. I don't really see the point of them if you have to coat them in butter etc they probably aren't that great on their own?

We bought a few extra bottles of the pink champers for after dinner. Dinner was so good, chicken, salads and apple turnover for dessert. Food is picking up! We went and sat outside and drank for a bit and nicknamed the two English school girls on our trip. Kathryn Mary became Mazza and Sam Gibbons, Gibbo. They were so excited to have nicknames. I've seen them wearing their school shirts from Repton which had been bugging me all trip because it sounded so familiar, but I've remembered that was where Roald Dahl went to school.

Then they cracked us up by saying that they couldn't believe girls as good looking as Kara and I (I do believe they mentioned the words best looking girls on the tour) were with guys like Paul and the man. Kara and I were quite chuffed. The boys..not so.

Bit of a stretch I think and might have had something to do with the amount of pink bubbles they'd had.

We headed to bed ready for our day exploring Paris.

Breakfast - bacon, eggs, baguettes aaanddd..coco pops with cold milk! Possibly the best yet!

Into town where the man, Paul, Kara and I declined going to a French perfumerie so we could line up for the Eiffel tower. It turned out most people in our group took this option, or lining up for the Louvre. We didn't have to wait long at all, the longest part was waiting for it to open! Then we walked up to the Arc de Triomphe and stood around for ten minutes but saw no accidents. Nothing happened so we decided to stroll down Champs-Élysées and stopped off at Macca's (one with white arches not yellow) so the man could get a Royale with cheese. I had a pain au chocolat and coffee which were really good.

We continued strolling along Champs-Élysées stopping off here and there. We were doing pretty well for time, it was only about 12.30pm and we didn't have to meet up with the group until 6pm and only had Notre Dame and the Louvre to do. Walked up to place de la concorde and through to the Louvre and down the river to Notre Dame which took us quite a bit longer than anticipated. After a quick scout around Notre Dame we were starting to panic about not having enough time at the Louvre so we walked back there. Did the Louvre lite, ticked off Miss Lisa, Miss Milo etc and then realised we had tons of time. Oh, and didn't have to queue at ALL to get in!

You could never have enough time at the Louvre. Mecha said if you stopped and looked at every artwork for a minute if would take you nine months to see everything, no including walking time.
It was weird walking around going 'oh there's a da vinci, there's another one, oh and here is a sculpture by Bernini'. After we'd exhausted ourselves we went out and found the world's most expensive ice cream shop - Haagen Daz. I just wanted an ordinary ice cream in a cone but we ended up sitting ni, the cheapest ice cream I could get was 7 euro. The man as as unofficial lactard didn't have any. We met up with the rest of the group as we were walking past the glass pyramid, on our way to the bottom of the inverted pyramid where we were supposed to meet up. Just about everyone was in the wrong place and I felt awkward about saying 'I'm pretty sure you guys are all in the wrong spot'. I'm good at listening and remembering random things, although where we are supposed to meet is pretty important. I was right though.

Then we had to change for our fancy dinner & cabaret night. There were about 30 or more girls on our tour and I reckon just about all of them were getting changed in the toilets at the Louvre. Chaos! We headed to dinner, being careful not to get caught by the finger stealing string tying gypsies on the way. Dinner was nice enough. The good thing about being a couple is you get to taste everything. We had the escargot, french onion soup, beef bourguignon and duck a'la orange which cheese, dessert and coffee.

After dinner we headed to the cabaret show at La Nouvelle Eve. Definitely not what I was expecting! I wasn't expecting topless girls mostly.

The dancers were good, but just when I was getting sick of feathers, breasts and dancing there were jugglers...and acrobats! Then some audience participation....

The ringmaster (or whatever you call her...mistress??) was picking guys out of the audience for a dancing competition. She got two older guys, then a guy from another contiki...then searching, searching aaannd....finally settles on the man. Up he goes onto the stage, to a huge cheer from our champagne fuelled group, does his dance which was him grabbing his right foot behind his back and putting his left hand on the back of his head and bringing his left elbow and right knee together. His 'fan club' as the ringleader called our group, went crazy! They were chanting the man's name and screaming. It was insane! So he ended up winning the competition. Out came a dancer dressed as a bride (to my horror), then her top came off and they walked off stage together. Then the man comes back out holding a baby doll, and everyone went nuts again. The ringmaster kissed him all over the face (see pic) and asked if he had a girlfriend (and I froze in horror), and then he pointed out where I was sitting and said we were engaged. More laughter and cheering.


You couldn't make this stuff up!


After the show we headed back to the campsite, while others went to a nightclub. A group of us went to the camp bar and bought up big as they were closing soon after we got there. It was a really fun night, and ended up in bed at 3:30am, and had to be up at 6:30..



After breakfast of coco pops we departed for London via Calais...

My notes end here, because I didn't take any in London. I will try to do shorter notes of what we got up to there later on.

It was mad to think it was our last day together, although nice to think we'd be back with George and Bridge soon and that we still had ten days to explore London. The ferry ride back was really quick, as was the trip from Dover to London. It was strange to think we'd shared so much with these people and now we'd never see them again!

- Jen

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Switzerland (Lauterbrunnen)

We got to our campsite sorry..Gasthof and went straight to dinner. Which was awesome! Chicken in cream sauce and potato..bits and salad! Really really good. We haven't been eating all that well at the Contiki places which has annoyed me. I turn into a real mardy bum when I'm hungry or tired and most of the time its been both on this tour. Actually I will add in what was the entree - fondue. Which was REVOLTING. Imagine the stinkiest, most awful cheese you can imagine - melted, with vomit added. Then dip bread in it. That was fondue. I'm pretty sure that's not right. Its cheese, melted - it should be awesome!
After checking out the bomb shelter nightclub (a nightclub in the Gasthofs bomb shelther) I went to bed pretty early. We were sharing a room with one of the other couples who warned us they snored. I was so tired and the thought of another night with no sleep didn't amuse me. Lucky I had investigated ear plugs before we left. Before I went to bed I went and had a shower in what I called 'the swamp' - pretty sure the whole bathroom..with 10 or so showers only had one drain. My ears were so wet the earplugs stuck in really tight and I could not hear a thing. Brilliant!
I was a bit concerned I wouldn't hear my alarm so of course I woke up ages before I had to. The reps at the Gasthof told us that Jungfrau mountain is really expensive and we should go to a supermarket before and get food for the trip. In true Jenu style I was up at 6.30am and walked into Lauterbrunnen.

The first place I got to was a Backerei (bakery) which didn't have much and the supermarket didn't open until 8am, which was no good. On the way back I walked up to a massive waterfall overlooking our Gasthof (did I mention we were in the swiss alps?) I didn't go in because it was dark..and wet and I'm a girl.
Got back for breakfast - cold milk and....HONEY SMACKS!! Or if you preferred a cooked breakfast (instead of two gigantic bowls of HONEY SMACKS!!) you could have toad in the hole. But you'd have HONEY SMACKS anyway because they're awesome.

I had an 'animated discussion' with some misguided kiwis who thought HONEY SMACKS were really called honey puffs - they did have some honey puffs jingle prepared. Then we walked down to the train station and caught the train up Jungfrau mountain.

As the brochure says, Jungfrau mountain is the top of Europe (did I mention we were in the Swiss Alps?) The trip was good, took about 1 and 1/2 hours to get to 3454m or 11333ft for you imperial folk. We went and had a look at an ice palace - which was..well cold. Then went out to the 'plateau' and had a snowball fight until our hands froze. After that we went to check out the sledge dogs (sled dogs..sleigh dogs?) which we were going to have a go on but one was injured so they weren't going. The man and Kara and Paul had a go on a flying fox but I was starting to feel a bit woozy so sat it out and offered to take photos. I got the man as a dot in the sky, got an average shot of Paul and didn't even get Kara in a photo. To be fair I was so dizzy and nauseous I didn't know if I was going to pass out or throw up..or both. I settled for sinking down to my knees in the snow.

We all decided it was a prime time to leave and pretty much slept all the way back down, in between snacking on pringles. I'm sure 3500m is nothing but it sure knocked me around for some reason.

When we got back we walked all over Lauterbrunnen looking for something to eat, which took ten minutes. We settled on beer and chips. The pub had internet for free, well if you bought a drink. The pub we were at was a meet up point for BASE jumpers so while we were looking at all the jumping paraphernalia we debated about what BASE stood for. Well the 'B' and 'S'. Then some random came up and asked us if we were jumpers. I think that was a pretty stupid question considering we didn't even know what the word stood for. Anyway the guy was saying they jump from as low as 35m and as high at 1500m.

After our snack we walked up to the waterfall which I'd been to that morning. The fact waterfalls are wet had not even occurred to me. Waterfalls are wet - remember that.

On the way back to camp we went to the camp shop and tried to spend up our swiss francs. I was desperate to find a red swiss shirt and hadn't found any in town. We found no shirts that interested me but bought the man a case for his army knife, some boxers and a small pair of boxers for me to wear as pyjamas.

We then headed back for dinner, and a surprisingly big night. Dinner was home made burgers which were decent. After dinner we went to the camp shop and stocked up big on beers which were 10 for 8.50 CHF (swiss francs were almost the same as AUD while we were there). Some of our group were heading to the pub but armed with our collection of beer we decided card games might be fun. Except I am just no good at them. I can never remember how to play and so have to re-learn each time which is no fun.

So the man's table was playing 500 while I started up a game of kings cup on the lower class table. Kings cup involves cards...but more drinking than card playing. Every time I play the game its with different people who have different rules. The American girls had some good rules, one was everytime you had to drink you had to first take the imaginary little green man off your cup, place him gently on your lap - drink - then pick up the little green man and gently place him back on the rim of your cup. It was international rules, so no pointing at people (which is actually hard to do), no saying the word 'drink' (consume works just as well though), no using peoples names (hard). Everytime you stuffed up you had to 'consume'. But not before you removed the little green man. This is on top of the actual game.

We moved our game down to the bomb shelter because it was getting a bit rowdy and some of the others had come back from the pub. A few of the site reps had joined in too. Then suddenly I got the last king from the deck - and had to consume the contents of the cup in the middle, which thankfully was only warm beer. Then all of a sudden there was a full on party. Chelsea Dagger came on and everyone was jumping around. Then Mecha had our day song put on and was passing around shots of red bull and something revolting. Which I declined because I was still digesting my warm beer. After I lost the drinking game I stopped drinking but still had fun filling up the empty shot bottles with beer, putting the cap back on and giving it to unsuspecting drunk people who thought I was AWESOME! Only two people picked up that it was beer. Immature - but fun.

I snuck off for a shower and bed and when I woke up only felt slightly seedy - yay! Awesome breakfast of pancakes and HONEY SMACKS then off to Paris!


- Jen






Monday, September 29, 2008

En-route to Lauterbrunnen


We stopped off at Lucerne on the way to Lauterbrunnen (we're in Switzerland now guys..try and keep up yeah?) As usual we got taken to a purveyor of fine goods - this time Harry's Swiss Watch shop where we finally spent some cash and bought the man a Swiss watch and army knife. Then we went to see the Lion Monument which was pretty cool. The monument was erected in reference to the French Revolution and shows a sad looking lion on a French and a Swiss guard shield and the lion has been stabbed in the back. The story goes that at the time of the French revolution the Swiss guards were guarding King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and when they realised they were being invaded they fled to their summer palace and 'forgot' to tell the guards. So when the revolutionaries stormed the palace the Swiss guards protected it with their lives and about 600 of them were slaughtered (my notes said 80..wikipedia said 600). The monument obviously represents the french 'stabbing the Swiss in the back'. The Swiss gates in Paris represent the same thing.


After the lion we went to a Swiss chocolate shop to keep me quiet. It worked. Yum!


- Jen

Florence - Oh please god not another Autogrill

We stopped off at another autogrill and I swear I can't eat anymore of this terrible food. White bread is awful! So I had a chocolate bar and a slightly above average (for Europe) coffee. We arrived in Florence and went to a leather and jewellery place, called Leonardo's where they taught us how to spot fake leather. The guys said dodgy leather guys will tell you things like real leather is fire proof and then wave a cigarette lighter over it. Then he pointed out (in his thick Italian accent) that cows aren't fire proof. Good one Italian guy.

There was some nice jewellery but a little out of our price range and also not a priority. Some of the others got some nice stuff though. Then it was free time until a walking tour later in the arvo. We ended up going to see the statue of David. Well the boys did. We lined up for ages and then Kara and I ducked off to the toilet and when we came back the queue had moved and the guys got an audience with Dave and we missed out. I was a bit cheesed off because they said it was really good. But it was €10 each anyway. We missed the walking tour because of David. But walked around with Geoff and saw all the same stuff anyway AND we got gelato. We met up with the rest of our tour after and went back to the campsite.
There was really big cabins which is good for couples. The man is really sick at the moment but we had our big tuscan dinner on which we'd already paid for. The place we were staying at had a pool so we had a dip (alright, the man had a dip and I stuck a toe in). Then the man went and had a nap while I had some large cheap Peroni beers with Geoff and the others as he was entertaining on his verandah. The Peroni longnecks were only €3.50! We headed off for our tuscan dinner which was average and not worth the €27.50 a head we paid. It was antipasto, pasta, chicken dishes and a dessert I couldn't fit in.
After dinner we went to the 'red garter' an American bar. But the man looked truly awful, I felt so bad for him being so sick. Meanwhile the others had ordered a 'tower of beer' - 3.5 Litres of Heineken. After Peroni, Heineken tastes like wee, so I wasn't much help drinking it. Actually Heineken tastes average most of the time anyway. Back to the campsite we went and there was another rendition of 'living on a prayer', then the man staggered off to bed. I went and had a beer and played some pool with the others.
Up early the next morning for a semi average breakfast. There was cold milk (yay!) but plastic cutlery. I give up. Off to Switzerland now.

- Jen

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day R for Rome

Caught bus to urban train station, then switched at Valle Aurelia, changed at Termini and then got off at Colosseo. Had our imperial walking tour, saw the colesseum and the forum which was fantastic. Met up with rest of the group and caught metro to The Vatican. Was starting to get a teensy bit peckish. Got into Vatican with no queue, walked through the museum with sistine chapel at the end. I thought every room was the sistine chapel, the ceilings were amazing. On..and on it went. Getting very hungry by now. Finally we got to the chapel and I think we were all amazed out. Just didn't have time to appreciate it all fully. Mecha had worded us up about a 'group entrance' into St Peters so you don't have to line up to get in. We bunched together (7 makes a group surely!) and snuck past the guards who had busted a guy tagging onto a tour group. Even though we were all famished St Peters was worth it. Saw all the dead popes including Pope John Paul II. He has a much bigger space than the others and there was a girl kneeling down and praying at his tomb.

We left in search of food (after 3pm by now) and went right off the square and found a little place. The man and I were hanging out to try some decent pasta. The cranky fat Italian lady shouted at us 'PIZZA! PASTA!' so we all shouted back 'PASTA!' Poor Geoff is a vegie and didn't know what he'd get. We tried to order dishes individally but ended up with two trays, one ravioli and one spag. Everything was covered in parmesan, but I was too hungry to care. The man was quite distressed about the small amount of food and large amount of bread. Free bread right!

We waited for the bill. They'd charged us what we'd asked for, individual plates just not what they'd given us. Then they'd also charged us €7 for BREAD they put on the table after we arrived. Geoff and I were of the opinion we would pay for what we thought was right and not give these Italian pirates anymore than we had to. However the rest of the party went for sucking it up and paying. Although Geoff ended up taking the rest of the loaf with him and we didn't tip. Paying for the most expensive bread in the world that we didn't ask for is enough of a tip!

We finally found an ATM that would give us cash (had tried 5 the day before which were all empty). Headed towards a metro station and got gelato on the way (yay for gelato!), figured out our trains, did all the switcheroos then hopped on the train for our campsite. Except the train didn't stop until three stations past ours. In the middle of nowhere! There were haybales!

All we could do was laugh. What a day! Hopped back on a train going the opposite way and after a few nailbiting moments celebrated getting lost-ish and finding our way back. Dinner was alright and then we went and had a few quiet drinks. I hung out with the girls and straightened my hair for the group photo the next day. In the morning - warm cornflakes then off to Florence.

- Jen

Road to Rome (content may shock parents)

As I said at the end of my last post we were on the road to Rome. The man and I and Kara and Paul were in the front seats of the bus. I think I'd just put my notebook down (no I don't just remember all this stuff in my head) and along with the man was watching the road in front as we were getting close to Rome. Rocket, our driver is fantastic, very confident etc. He usually gets quite close to cars, then zips around them. So this time I figured the same thing was happening, his indicator was on - ready to zip. Except 18 tonnes of us kept getting closer..and closer..and closer to this little fiat punto until everyone shouted (SHIT!). Well not me. I said poo.

Rocket braked and we 'gently nudged' them..and their back windscreen exploded. At first it looked like the car was going to hit the divider but the driver corrected luckily. We both pulled off the road. Adrenalin like you would not believe! Everyone (except Rocket) was very shaky. He got off, cool as a cucumber - except for the fact he'd finished his first cigarette by the time he got to their car. The couple were fine, an old man and lady. They were both out of the car and walking around - pretty much doing starjumps. Then we had to wait an hour and a half for the police and ambos because all of the sudden the lady decided she was a paraplegic.

Sorry..she might have been really hurt but the injury happened after they realised a bus full of tourists hit them. We ended up switching coaches down the road and made it into Rome with only 2 hours before we were getting picked up again. Bit disappointing but oh well.

Quickly saw the Cappuchin Monks, Trevi Fountain (which was amazing), Pantheon and Piazza Di Nova and then quickly off to find some dinner. Fluked another amazing pizza place and again got an awesome meal. To quote the man 'everything has so much flavour'. Met up with the rest of the tour and Rocket and our poor bus which was a bit dented. Headed back to campsite expecting terrible things because Rome is supposed to be the worst contiki place. It was pretty good! Wood cabins for two, pizza restaurant, cheap bar / supermarket and internet. Oh and they do laundry for cheap too! Yes - they do it for you!!

Had a few quiet ones then bed. Got up for warm milk and cornflakes and unripe nectarine.

Continued next post

- Jen

V - for Venice (part due)

Satisfied after our lunch we headed back to S.Marco (following the brilliant signs again). Lined up to get into St Marks Basilica for only about 10 minutes which was great. Pretty amazing place with all mosaic tiles. Couldn't go too far in, for each separate area you had to pay extra. Paul and I went up the Campanile (bell tower) while the man, Kara and Geoff waited at the bottom. Took a squillion photos but it was so crowded up there. One thing I've started to notice is how pushy people are. Even some people on our tour. After we got down we found some of our group under attack by pigeons at the bottom, and every time they sat down the Polizei came and moved them on. Paul and I went in search of ice creams (we missed out while we were up the campanile) and found Les and Tylie instead. So we went off hunting champers for the gondola ride. Found some but decided we'd actually buy it closer to the time. The man had asked me to get him a drink and I had so much trouble finding somewhere that would serve me. One place just ignored me. Ran into the rest of our group who were frantically looking for alcohol for the ride. We stupidly told them about our goldmine and when we got back of course the place was packed. Eventually got everything, minus the ice cream. Headed off to our gondola ride. The stupid guy at the bar had said we didn't need a corkscrew for our drink and of course we did. So we were frantically trying to both get on the boat and get one of the guys in our group to open it. Just in time. Our g-man was a real smooth operator. Very good looking and so smooth he talked us into tipping him to sing. The ride went for about 30 minutes which was quite good. Meanwhile on another gondola a couple in our group got engaged!

We caught the scarfie back which was packed with belligerent poms - very pushy people. Poms don't include the Welsh of course (phew..covered myself there).

I felt like throwing them all in the canal. Back to camp for some stinky parmesan covered spag bol for tea. Oh - the man is finally sick. The bug must have turned into some super mega strain of flu just for him.

On way to Rome now!

- Jen

Day V - For Venice

Campsite was average, if you were camping though it would be pretty flash so we didn't mind it too much. Internet at the 'bargain' price of €4 for 15 minutes and washing at €4 for a wash and €4 euro for dry. So you will have to excuse the update lag as I have been expressly forbidden going near the internet here. We did have to get another mortgage on our house to do some washing though. I had to get up at 6am, put on the washing, have a shower, put the washing on to dry, go and to dishy duty and then the man collected the washing on his way to brecky. What a team.

After brecky we hopped on a 'scarfie' and got ferried over to the city centre. It was funny how the water in Venice is just like a road, there are even power lines! We walked to St Marks Basilica, past the Bridge of Sighs (which was covered in advertising). Don't ask me what the advertising was for, I couldn't remember. Obviously not very effective.

After a quick look around San Marco we went and had a look at same glass being blown. Or as Mecha said 'lets go see a guy blow a horse'. After the glass making we had a few minutes so we went in search of some decent coffee. I ordered a cup from a place down some side alley which came out the colour of mud and so strong I couldn't finish it. Yay for coffee though.

Then we went to a venetian lace place and as much as I wanted to buy my Mum and Nan some nice things, we still had that mortgage from doing our clothes washing earlier. I did send you a postcard remember! As we'd been walking around I'd been comparing food prices. About €12 - €25 for pasta and between €8 and €16 for pizza. After the lace we were on our own but followed Mecha to a cheap sunglasses place. Well cheap designer sunglasses. Even minus tax cheap designer sunglasses are still designer sunglasses. I just want to be able to walk around Europe without squinting or looking like a bug (which is how I usually look in sunglasses).

We set off in a group of about 10 to the Rialto Bridge which was super easy to find even though Venice is all canals and alleys. You just have to search for the signs, either spray painted or scratched or even an actual sign pointing to your destination. Found the bridge then some awesome markets where we actually bought stuff! T-shirt for me, some paintings and some awesome fruit cups for €1.50. We were trying to save the cups for our gondala ride in the afternoon but they kept breaking (damn!). Started to get peckish so we headed down deep dark alleys away from people, I was guessing we'd either get pizza or pickpocketed. Yay for alliteration. On and on we went in search of the perfect pizza when we arrived on the door step of a little place called 'Bora Bora'. The waiters were funny, to start with they pretended they were closed. Very funny - ha ha. But I knew we'd struck gold when we had trouble getting a table because it was filled with italians and their families. Out came our pizzas, thin crust with just a hint of topping. I think mine was tomato and anchovies while the man's no doubt had prosciuttio somewhere. €43 for 4 people to eat including drinks and the service charge. Not too shabby! Service was unreal. Yes we tipped too.

Continued next post

- Jen

'Venus' via Sirmione

The trip to Venice (or Venus as I accidentally called it), was so, so long. About 4 hours without a break. We stopped in Italy at Sirmione for an hour on Lake Garda where I had some (alright - a lot) of rocher and nutella gelato. The man stuck to coke as he is an undiagnosed lactard.

Going to the toilet was an 'interesting' experience. They say on Contiki that things are not wrong, just different. Just a heads up Contiki, unexpected squat toilets are wrong.

Kara was right behind me but I had two litres of water inside of me and my bladder really didn't care too much what the toilet looked like. So it was off with my pants entirely and time to put those gym squats into practice. Italians must have awesome thigh muscles. On the plus side the toilet was free. Mecha reckons he spends $3k a year on going to the toilet!

Then back on the bus to Venice.

- Jen

White water rafting – In the Austrian Tyrol (M rated)

- Language warning: If you are offended by bad language don’t read on

We pulled up in a parking lot not too far away from Hoffy and all those rafting collected boots, wetsuit, life jacket and you will be pleased to know Mum, a helmet. We got our boats and guides – and helpfully, oars. Our guide was the Bernard Black of white water rafting, except from Cornwall not Ireland. ‘If you want a shite ride this is the boat’. The rapids were good but only a grade 2 out of 6, the whole thing was a lot tamer than I was expecting so I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I though I would. We did some jumping out of the boat into the glacial water. The first bit where we got in, the water was Tawonga-esque, freezing but you’d get over it. The next spot where I did a ‘salmon jump’ into the water was so cold I couldn’t breathe. Another river joins onto the one we were in just before I jumped in and that one is much closer to the glaciers. Colder than Rocky Valley for sure. The funniest bit was when we stole almost all the paddles from another raft and Geoff (who was in our raft), put on a pirate accent and yelled out ‘arrrgh now yer fucked’. Hilarious.

I did warn you about the language remember.

After we got back we had a quick bite to eat – frozen pizza which was a lot less average than most of our breakfasts but our breakfasts weren’t €4.90.

Now we are travelling through Italy on our way to Venice.

- Jen (photos of me in a helmet and wetsuit to come I'm sure).

Day H for Hopfgarten

Hopfgarten in the Austrian Tyrol is possibly the most beautiful place on earth. Words and photos will never ever come close to describing this place. Mountains and streams all over the place, and rolling bright green hills. Grass – what is that??

We arrived in Hopfgarten (Hoffy) at 10:30am and geared up for our 14 km bike mountain bike ride.

We got our bikes, which looked like the Rolls Royce of bikes compared to our ‘Subway Specials’ at home. The mountain bike ride was awesome through valleys that apparently look like the hills in the Sound of Music (which I haven’t seen), just unbelievable. We had a delicious BBQ lunch out on the terrace at a mountain lodge. Baked potatoes and sour cream and sausages, mustard and sauerkraut!!!! Oh and homemade chocolate cake!

After we rode back (luckily downhill after lunch), the man went paragliding (or parragliding as Mecha misspelt it). While he was away jumping off mountains I had the bike to myself for the rest of the afternoon so I went and had some JenTime™ and explored the rest of the town. I kept stopping every five seconds to take a photo, like I said photographs (especially those taken by me) will never do justice to how beautiful it was. Bought a postcard and went and had a coffee to sit down and write it. You can’t sit down at a table with pen and paper and no coffee. I tried to ask for skim milk and got a glass of water (some kind of language barrier there). Then I watched her make the coffee, she put my cup under a spout and pressed ‘cappuccino’.

After writing my postcard and sipping my undrinkable coffee I rode out almost to where we had lunch again (more photos).

Headed back to camp and caught up with Mr Adrenaline himself and Mr Anti-Adrenaline (Geoff). The man was pumped from paragliding and asked his instructor to make it as scary as possible whereas Geoff asked for the floaty smooth ride. Geoff was still pale and trembling slightly.

Dinner-time and the man was a dishy which meant he had to serve the food. Roast Lamb!!! Such a huge serve with roast potatoes and vegies and gravy!! Best meal so far! Average fruit salad for dessert but I was still on a high from eating meat.

Then the man and I went to bed. There was a party on but I think a lot of our group crashed out early.

Woke up, awesome brecky – about four types of cereal and cold milk. For the cooked breakfast types there was bacon (bacooonn!) and eggs. Then packed up and left for white water rafting and Venice!

- Jen

Monday, September 08, 2008

Munich - Prost!

We arrived in Munich about 2:30 and had a couple of hours to look around the city centre. Saw Frauenkirche which is a really interesting church. The story is that the builder made a deal with the devil that he would help him finish the church but it wasn't allowed to have any windows. So the builder finished the church but built it so when you stood from a certain point, pillars blocked the windows. Of course the devil is not that stupid and when he was doing final inspection noticed the windows and stamped his foot in the ground.

So the devils footprint is still in the floor and you can go and take an interesting photo (will upload when I get home). The man's foot fit perfectly of course, room for claws and all.

Then we went and looked at Peterskirche which was another church (yep another one), this one with mummified priests.

After that we picked up some postcards and went and watched the Glockenspiel go off. By then we were hot and tired and a seemingly endless dancing clock didn't do a lot for us. Headed back to hostel. The couples had finally figured out that if all the girls signed up for one room and all the boys for another, then we could pull a switcheroo and share two couples to a room. Don't ask why we didn't think of that three days ago. I'm not the scientist.

So Kara, Paul and the man and I shared a room. We showered (separately) in record time and then hopped on the bus for our beer hall night. Off we went for our pork knuckles and 1L steins of beer. PROST! One lederhosen wearing girl carried about 10 of those steins (more probably I'm being conservative). Later I managed three and impressed everyone thats how heavy they are. Alright..I impressed some of the girls.

Every second song the band played we had to stand (did I mention there was an oompa band?) and prost and sway and sing loudly and then PROST! everyone within arms reach. Or not within arms reach.

Prost! is like cheers. It was also Leslie's birthday (one of the guys in a couple) and things were starting to get messy right around stein #2. We were only at the place for 2 hours and 45 minutes and we drank 2 litres of beer each. Back on the bus everyone was in very high spirits. There was a lot of dancing (yes, on the bus) and Les provided everyone with a very lively rendition of 'living on a prayer'. There was a nightclub in the basement of our hostel which I checked out quickly and then headed to bed. The man and Paul stayed out a bit later though.

Awesome night!! PROSTACULAR!

However when we woke up the next morning we all got on the bus ready to go and Mecha pulled some of the girls in one room up for a missing key. So they got hauled off the bus. Then he asks room 349 to get off as well. Which was our room. Except it should have been full of girls. So four girls and two guys get off. I thought maybe we weren't allowed to switch rooms or something. Paul and the man were off the bus first and Mecha goes 'nah this was a girls room' and Paul pipes up 'nah mate this was our room'. The man looks at him meaningfully and goes 'oh yeah this WASN'T our room', and Paul goes 'what, bro it WAS our room' and then catches on. Funny stuff. Turns out they said we were missing a towel. So Mecha asks if any of us had stolen a towel or if maybe it was in our packs under the coach. Two of the girls had't even slept in that room! Kara was confident that the towels were definitely in the room so we go in, march upstairs collect all FOUR towels and come back down and pretty much throw them at the wanker on reception. I thanked him for holding us up (the whole bus was waiting on us). Definitely 'dick of the day'.

Next up - Hopfgarten!

- Jen

Dachau

We were doing so well for time on the way to Munich that they found time to take us to Dachau concentration camp. Even as we were walking in everyone was silent. The entrance gate has the words 'Arbeit macht frei' or 'work will set you free'. Dachau was the first concentration camp opened in Germany after Adolf Hitler was appointed reich chancellor in 1933.

Dachau was a model concentration camp and served as a 'school of violence' for the SS. On April 29 1945 American troops liberated the remaining prisoners.

We only had an hour there and the man and I went left at the gates and ended up at churches that have been set up there since the camp closed. If we had of gone right we would have ended up at the death chambers. The chambers at Dachau weren't actually used but from the photos other people took it is still a creepy place and they did have executions there.

The size of the place was incredible. There were 20 barracks built to house 250 people but when the Americans liberated the camp there were about 1600 people crammed in each one.

We had time to quickly go through the museum but not enough time to absorb too much. I actually though the holocaust memorial in Berlin was worse. They had letters there from mothers to their children that they wrote on their way to Auschwitz.

Even so it looked like a few people were teary getting back on the bus. Now on way to Munich.

- Jen

Friday, September 05, 2008

Day [ ] - Red eyes, blue gaze

Prague to Munich.

Everyone is sick. Well everyone except the man. Obviously his body is so unhealthy even germs are frightened away. Contiki cough as they call it, is rampant. Kara is so sick she might even go to hospital when we get to Munich. I am almost through a large box of cold and flu tablets and just going to town on those. I also still have a large box of nurofen left. We haven't even been partying that much yet. A lot of the group went into Prague last night to a five storey nightclub. Its funny seeing the group splitting into party people, culture vultures and a mix of the two. Oh and the shoppers. The party people will party at any cost - even if they have to sleep during the day and miss seeing everything. The shoppers are the same, but they visit the shopping strips. We don't have too many culture vultures actually. The man and I fall somewhere in between culture vultures and party people. Which is the majority really.

Coming up next..a stop off at Dachau. Its dinner time and I only have 9 minutes left on the internet before the man comes and yanks me out of here by the ear.

- Jen

** Also...very average breakfast in Prague. Cornflakes with warm milk.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day??? Czeching out Prague...

By now you know I'm not that smrt. Hehe. Anyway you may have noticed I can't count. I don't know what day Berlin was but I don't think it was day 5. Meh. 

So we're in Prague. We arrived late afternoon and went up to Hradčany or Prague Castle (that's CARstle) which was amazing. It rained a little while we were there just enough for me to pull out my raincoat and then take it off again. Pretty muggy here.

Speaking of muggy, there are so many warnings about pickpockets around here we walked around all watching each other and side stepping everyone. After the castle we walked down through old town and had dinner in a side street NOT on the main square. And we still got ripped off. After our nice meal, beers and shared plate of deep fried cheese (god I hope my trainer isn't reading this) we got the bill and they slugged us an extra 300 czech doubloons or whatever the heck they are - for sitting outside. Oh and everyone got ripped off exchanging money too. 

Then we went back to the bus and out to the hostel - again split rooms but the girls I'm in with now are pretty quiet. Today was a completely free day for us because we were meeting up with my grandparents for lunch and not doing the optional cruise. So we slept in a bit and then caught the metro into the centre of Prague. What an experience! Nothing in English, well hardly anything. Very cool. Had breakfast at what I'm sure is the Czech version of Gloria Jeans. Had a pecan danish and a not too bad coffee. Yeah - danish for breakfast. Just walked around until lunch, up to the pendulum on the hill. There used to be a statue of Stalin up there but they took it down...for some reason. Then we met up with the grandparents and they shouted us a really nice lunch. It was really good to see them, and funny that its easier to meet up in Prague than Australia. 

We caught the metro back to our hostel and had a pizza and..more beer for dinner. Now I'm about to go to bed because tomorrow we head off to Munich - for more beer. Apparently if we have enough time on the way we're stopping off at a concentration camp. Sounds like if we're well behaved they will take us there as a special treat.

- Jen

Day 5 - Berlin

The trip was fairly un-eventful. We arrived in Berlin about 5pm and went to the holocaust memorial (memorial to the murdered jews of europe) which was pretty amazing. The man and I also had a quick look through the Tiergarten which is a huge garden that used to be the hunting grounds of nobility in Berlin. We also walked around the Brandenburg gate a bit too. We got to the hostel and they split boys and girls up - not cool. I think I might have known that was going to happen, but one couple didn't know and they weren't too happy. I was a bit bummed about it. Anyway after we got settled in we went down for dinner. Super very average. I ate two bites and then went and had a shower and chilled out a bit. By then I was pretty cranky. After my shower I headed up to the bar and it was pretty cool, 7th storey rooftop bar and nice weather. I wasn't in a drinking mood so had one and then did some washing and headed to bed early-ish. Everyone else was at the bar planning to have a few quiet ones but it turned into a huge night. The man and Paul were out until 3am until the bar shut. 

After a very average breakfast we headed out to meet our tour guide, Jeff for our walking tour of Berlin. I was really looking forward to it and I wasn't disappointed. We met at the Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels forum and he gave us a quick overview of Berlin's history. First he showed us the old palace of the republic which was destroyed when the Communists came into power and rebuilt as a people's palace. It has now been destroyed again and when rebuilt will have the same facade as the original palace. We then headed over to 'museum island' which funnily enough is an island full of museums. The man was drooling just a little bit. We then walked down Unter Den Linden and saw Humboldt University, State Opera House and the site of the Nazi book burnings. There is a glassed underground exhibit visible from the ground with empty bookcases that hold 20,000 books - the number that were burned. We then walked pst the US, UK, Russian and French embassies and around the Brandenburg gate again and took photos of the Reichstag. We had a morning tea break and bought pretzels and my first decent coffee since I left Melbourne - both of which were awesome. We saw some more of the Berlin wall and the Nazi air ministry. There was a topography of terrors exhibit on the site of the old SS and Gestapo headquarters that we didn't get time to see. Some of the other people on our tour made it there and said it was very graphic and detailed. 

Our guide had lots of stories about people going over the wall, one guy got himself and his wife and kid over on a flying fox type thing. We walked over to Hitlers bunker, well the site of Hitlers bunker. There wasn't much there just a patch of dirt and a small sign. Jeff explained that because there are still neo-nazis the Germans don't want to make a song and dance about the bunker as an attraction in case it is treated as a memorial. Then we walked down to Checkpoint Charlie and heard some more stories. Like one guy rented a convertible low enough that it could be driven beneath the guard gates so he sped through in that. Another guy heard about it and though it sounded like a good idea so he went and rented one and did the same thing. Turns out it was exactly the same car. Went through the Checkpoint Charlie museum but it was very average. 

Afternoon was free time and I told the man we could go to one museum so we headed off to the Pergamom museum. On the way we stopped at a street market and bought some kind of delicious wurst in a crusty bread roll, proper german food boo-yeah! We both loved it. The museum was good although we were tiring fast. Saw the reconstructed Ishtar gate (one of the gates to the city of Babylon). We didn't get to fully appreciate the museum but it was pretty good anyway.

Weather so far has been brilliant, I was in shorts and t-shirt and for an eskimo like me thats pretty good. We went back to our hostel for a shower before dinner, well I did - the man went to bed for a bit. We met up again (separate rooms remember) and went to find some dinner and bumped into Paul and Kara who joined us. Had a 'furnace potato' with curry chicken which was pretty good. The man had a schnitzel the size of a large plate. 

After that we went to our 'eye spy' night. The first part was good we went to the Bernauer Strasse which was the area with the most number of tunnels dug, saw part of the death strip which was especially creepy at night. The actual 'spy' part was very lame. The first bar we went to we got clues to get to the next one. Except the clues were more like instructions. The first bar was a shisha bar - we didn't try it though. We were wrecked after that so left to go back to the hostel and of course got lost. Well semi-lost its a bit hard to get lost in Berlin with the massive tv tower. 

Bed, up early to head off to Prague. Another average brecky. Warm milk with very average cereal. 

After we left Berlin we went to Dresden for an hour or so which was nice. It was really beautiful but we didn't have time to look around too much. We went and got another wurst for lunch but not as good as the one we had in Berlin. I seem to have gotten over my fear of white bread - temporarily at least anyway. Followed it off with an ice-cream from possibly the rudest guy in Germany. 

In Prague now.

- Jen

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 4 - Amsterdam via White Cliffs of Dover, Calais and Belgium

Left this morning from the Royal National Hotel at 6.45am. George kindly dropped us off. Our tour manager Meche (Mecca) gave us our intro talk on the way to Dover. Saw the white cliffs of Dover on the ferry to Calais. Met some American girls who are on our tour, they are from Sacramento. I heard a girl behind me on the bus mention Albury and it turns out we went to the same high school and she graduated the year after me.

Got to Amsterdam and checked into our dingy looking hotel. For the man and I it was actually pretty decent, big enough room, nice comfy double bed, plasma tv and an ensuite. Apparently everyone else's rooms were very average*. We didn't even know until we were raving about how surprisingly good our room was. After dinner at the hotel (also average) we headed out into town. Meche explained the difference between coffee shops and regular cafes. For those who don't know, in Amsterdam coffee shops sell special cakes.

We stopped off at the Grasshopper - a coffee shop and went in and had a look. The smell of pot was very strong. But unfamiliar to me. Some people bought some joints and cakes and stuff but you had to smoke them at the place. Then went for a walk through the red light district which was interesting to say the least. After that we went to a bar but I was wrecked, I could hardly keep my eyes open so when Meche and Rocket (our driver) said they were heading back we went too (along with most of the group). We caught a tram back and it was a terrifying trip, about double the speed of our trams and they don't slow down - they just stop.

Our comfy bed was great! Got up had average breckie and headed out to Edam for our relaxing bike ride around the canals. The bikes were crazy as was our hilarious dutch guide Claudia. She called the bikes granny bikes because of the massive handlebars. The bikes were back pedal brakes and she told us about some groups ending up in the canal. I could see that happening what with 40 people on these bikes and cars all over the place. After the ride we drove down to a cheese and clogs place where they had a demonstration about how gouda cheese and clogs were made. Bought some awesome cheese.

After we came back we were dropped off for a free afternoon in Amsterdam. We went and checked out Anne Frank's house which was cool to see. Lots of steep staircases. There was a long queue to get in and we got talking to Taryn from Albs and Erin & Mel who have all moved over to the UK and are doing this tour before settling down to find work in London. We were commenting on the number of crazy dutch people on bikes when a big bearded guy on a bike came roaring up singing at the top of his lungs in dutch. When he got to the queue everyone scattered and was trying to move out of his way but there were too many people so mid-song he screamed 'SHIT' and hit the brakes. He pedalled off singing again while everyone else just cacked themselves. Funny stuff.

After Anne Frank we messaged the man's friend Muz who was in Amsterdam at the moment as well. We knew that because he'd called us a few days before in a rather giggly state. So we met up with him which was great - its awesome seeing a familiar face! We went and had a beer and some chips and mayonnaise which is a choice food in Amsterdam. See that 'choice' - we have been hanging out with too many New Zealanders. Everything is 'choice' and 'hey'..and if they are making fun of themselves -'cuz'. Muz took us for a walk around to find another drinking spot. Basically you pick a laneway and end up in a pub. He took us through a museum on the way and also a little courtyard thing with all these little picture blocks that used to be used like an address to identify a house. They were pretty cool. Also amazing are the way houses lean! Some forward and back and sideways.

We ended up sinking witbiers in a square, good beer. By the time we looked at our watch we realised we had 12 minutes to get to the boat for our canal cruise - on the other side of the CBD. In a mad panic we left at a quick walk, power walk, slow trot, run and then sprint. We left Muz for the last part of our sprint. We arrived to see everyone sitting around and not even Meche had arrived yet. It took me a long time to get my breath back. The cruise was really good and we started hanging out with Kara and Paul from NZ. After we went to the Chinese Sea Palace for a banquet dinner which was pretty good. Or the Chin Sea Palace as the sign says. Its a floating Chinese style palace. After dinner we went to a bar with other tour groups. A weird bar where the bartenders didn't know how to make nice shots. The man bought sambuca shots. Bad the man! We then walked around the city for about two hours before getting a taxi back to the hotel.

The driver said he knew where our hotel was which was good, but then five minutes later he goes 'we go to Rotterdam yes' and we all shouted 'NO!' we freaked out and then the guy literally cackled and Paul worked out he was taking the piss. While we were stopped traffic I glanced down the road to see a very white male arse next to a taxi a bit further up the road. We were giggling at that until the guy turned around and we all stopped and go '...is that...is that Meche'. The guy then took off down the street and then came back after the run. When he got back to the taxi the man got out and yelled 'MECHE....MECHE!!!!' - who then froze like a deer in the headlights. His taxi took off and our driver started chasing it! He only just beat us back to the hotel where we gave him heaps.

Went to bed, woke up. Had very average brecky then jumped on the bus to Berlin. Meche got 'dick of the day' for his nudie run. People can nominate you for saying or doing stupid things. Means you have to wear a jesters hat all day. On another tour a girl got DOD because she didn't know Mozart was dead. Everyone thought that was hilarious. Then I heard a girl on our bus go 'oh is he!' Far out.


- Jen




* Very average in my posts means really..REALLY bad.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day 3 - The Catch Up

Okay, so we were going to go to the Tower of London but after our breakfast we felt too exhausted so we decided just to spend the day chilling out with Bridge and Rell. Unfortuantely Bridge was too sick to go to work. So we went back and put a movie on (flushed away if you are interested) and then instantly Rell, the man and I all passed out.

I woke up to Bridge doing some very stealthy commando rolls on and off the air mattress so she wouldn't wake Rell up. While Bridge was reading our Contiki docs she kindly pointed out that we actually had to be there that night for a pre-departure meeting. George-ous came home from work early so he and Bridge could go and buy a new air mattress as their one had a bad habit of 'dis-inflating'. The man tagged along leaving Rell and I to have a D&M and a catch up.

After George came back he kindly drove us in for our meeting, it was pretty cool seeing even more of London, we saw Australia House etc. After we got back Bridge and Rell had cooked a three course meal for us which was awesome. Bed early ready for Contiki the next day....

- Jen

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 2 - 'We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm'

This morning we got up, in London. We walked down to Sainsburys past Clapham Common and bought some fruit. Awesome fruit! Australia is missing out on good fruit! I had a peach which was the nicest peach I've ever had. Blueberries are ₤1!!

The man being such a nice guy asked the checkout girl how she was going and she said 'not good, I have a boil under my arm'. A lovely first encounter with an English person.

We caught a double decker into Trafalgar Square and walked around for a bit, saw the changing of the horse guards. Then we wandered down to Buckingham Palace but it was a bit crowded and not all that interesting. We walked (lots of walking..) back through Parliament and went to the war cabinets and Churchhill Museum which was really interesting (hence the title of this post).

The war rooms have been left exactly as they were the day the war ended and are reinforced with 6ft thick steel and concrete. Really cool.

After that we were starving, actually I was wobbling I was so hungry and we stumbled across a van that sells pancakes which you hold in a styrofoam cone. They were unreal! We walked over to the London Eye and had a look, then crossed back over the river and walked down...back to the pancakes.

We decided to go and find Gordon Brown but didn't realise you can't actually walk down Downing Street, there were a few too many police officers with machine guns for us.

After that we headed back and ended up spending the night at the pub where we had some nice english food. I had a steak pie and mash which was really nice. Lots of nice beers too!! We asked George and Bridget if they would be in our bridal party which made them really happy - well there was a few tears from George...

The most amazing thing happened while we were having tea. Rell our friend who is also overseas rang Bridge and said she had just flown into Heathrow and ended up coming over. So we asked her and Ben if they would be in the bridal party too! So everyone is now very excited about the wedding...

Right now we are in a cafe having bacon and eggs, and beans and then the man and I are off to the Tower of London.

Until later

- Jen

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 1 - Stuck in Bangkok with the Suduko King

So here we are. Overseas finally. You know whats great about overseas??...They have the internets!

We are in Bangkok for 6 hours, and we still have a good four of them left. But 300 baht buys you an hour on the internet. I don't know if that is a lot of money or not and frankly I don't really care. While I blog, the man is looking up The Age online, or pretending to. He is probably googling how to be a Suduko Sorcerer. Just before he did a whole suduko in about ten minutes. It was an incredibly long ten minutes because while he was doing it I had to listen to an arab guy snore on the seat next to me and it was driving me nuts.

Next stop is London and we arrive at six pm tonight (25/8).

I had this trip all planned out in my head to be a short trip. See we left at 11:30 pm last night (24/8) and were due to arrive in Bangkok at 6am. In Jen's head thats pretty much just six hours. Then we were going to chill here in the airport for six hours, then fly out from here at midday arriving at Heathrow at six pm. Just chunks of tiny six hour trips.

Since then the hostess on our flight kindly pointed that our trip from Melbourne to Bangkok was actually nine hours long. That was when I twigged that this wasn't looking so good. But it gets worse. Our trip from here to London is actually TWELVE hours long. TWELVE. HOURS. LONG.

Not six. I blame it on my poor maths skills and my powerful ability to block out anything that might make me less excited about this trip.

The food on the plane was average. Luckily we had dinner before we left because the main on our flight was fish balls. Literally BALLS of fish. But they were sitting in a very nice green curry which I had a poke at. Breakfast was inedible. A cheese omelette for the man with a extremely dodgy looking chicken snag. It looked like grey and yellow goo. I ordered the noodles which were also extremely unappetising. So we ate two grapes and some warm melon.

One other funny thing that happened was the man and I watching the 'olympians' walking around the airport. They were dressed in blue and white tracksuit outfits with numbers on the back so we figured they must be on their way home from Beijing. Until I went to the toilet and number 793 was going through the bin in the bathrooom. Cleaners...

That's about it for now. We're going to go and investigate the coffee situation here, there is a black canyon coffee around which wasn't too bad last time I was here.

Until next time I make it on here..

- Jen

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Testing

Testing - linked to facebook

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tell me the story of how you ended up here - SOTM July 2008

Yes you do get a song of the month for July. No, we still don't have the internet yet.

But anyway the song is 'Hospital Beds' by the Cold War Kids. And yes, Jase put me onto it about a hundred years ago but I only recently decided I like it. Maybe some music sounds better when you can play it as loud as you like and also use our new mac airport express gadget (courtesy of Angus).

The clip is here, look out for the bit in the middle, it reminds me of 'I got soul but I'm not a soldier' in the killers 'all these things I've done'.

- Jen

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's soon to be invitation only...

I know, I know - its been awhile. We still do not have the internet - and I have no idea when we will get it again. Or a phone line for that matter. Telstra are causing all kind of problems.

But as a new security measure I've decided that jentopia will soon be invitation only. I've inadvertently sent out a few invites already because - in true Jentopia style I changed the blog to invitation only - then forgot to blog about it before hand.

I'm more than happy to add anyone to the list at any time. My email address is jen_unsworth@hotmail.com. The invitation only thing will start in a few weeks.

Oh! And a big thanks to Tony for taking on the task of song of the month - for last month (12.09 AM).

Also - if I change it to invitation only - what do people who try to access my blog see? I'd like to be able to put a thing up about requesting access - just don't know if Blogger supports that.

-Jen

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Please hold, this blog will be updated by the next available operator

Its Tuesday here and eight days until we have to be completely out of this place, and eight days until we can move into the new place.

Still hoping for early access to the new place, otherwise we will be double moving (putting our stuff in storage until we can move in). Where we will go while we're in limbo we're not sure.

I will be internetless for awhile, maybe a few weeks depending on how kind Exetel want to be.

- Jen

Sunday, April 20, 2008

When he hears the firebell chime...

After Daniel's post the other day about old ad's on youtube I started exploring what other old things might be on there.

Plenty of fireman sam, postman pat, the raggy dolls, noddy and thomas the tank engine. Although re-watching fireman sam I'm not so sure he IS the hero next door.

For starters, just watching the intro:

- He gets up at 8:50am. What kind of bludger does that?
- Then he does a dangerous stair slide - obviously one that helps him get ready in 'seven seconds flat'. My question is why Sam (being a firefighter) hasn't just put in a pole?
- Then we see him checking himself out in the mirror.
- Apparently he's always on the scene, but then we see him lounging against his truck reading the paper
- Then he steals the paperboys skateboard
- Then the italian lady brings his lunch to him in his firetruck - something he could have gone and gotten himself if he wasn't so busy looking at himself in the mirror and reading the paper.
- Then he JUST makes it to work on time.

Clearly a bad influence on children. I hope Postman Pat might be better, but the guy is riding around with his cat in a truck! A cat with a beard!



- Jen

Friday, April 18, 2008

It is not like riding a bike.

Yesterday and today I decided to give riding to work ago. Much to the man's dismay I might add. He is convinced that I will get hit by a car, or fall off...or get hit by a car and fall off.

He has no faith whatsoever in my bike riding abilities. Doesn't he know I spent most of my childhood careening around Albury (and a couple of times Wodonga) on bikes - with nary an injury that I can remember. Bar a chipped tooth. But that happened when I was learning to ride. So it doesn't count.

Pause to wait for parents to insert comments on horrific bike riding injuries I may have forgotten.

Anyway the bike ride went okay. 42 minutes on Thursday morning and 25 today. Trick - avoid that pesky roundabout at the top of Elizabeth St.

Things I didn't know: Flemington Rd is a hill (to the Children's Hospital). Grattan St is a hill. Rathdowne St is a hill. Taxi drivers are pricks to cyclists.

I wouldn't mind doing it everyday except it is REALLY tiring. Well, it would be either ride or go to the gym - probably not both. Unless I spend all day eating to keep up with it.
My legs are wrecked right now. But its nice to be able to be outside in the kind-of sort-of fresh air.

- Jen

Monday, April 14, 2008

He's a well respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively

After a big weekend back in Albury we finally had the opportunity to meet up with Craig and Pauline - Albury's biggest party animals it seems. Surprisingly I wasn't too nervous about meeting people off the internets (must be all those Grand Final BBQs), and they are just as genuine as they come across online.

You can see Craig's blog here and Pauline's blog here.

Originally from Rhyl in North Wales (I think thats right) they moved out here in July last year and live in Wodonga. I think they're liking it too! They have two beautiful girls, who they kindly labelled for us, Lowri and Robyn.

I've never seen more enthusiastic people about Albury. AND this is coming from people who live in Wodonga! I honestly think they should be on a big billboard on the Hume Freeway promoting Albury. Someone get cracking on photoshop and arrange that!

Anyway we are really looking forward to seeing them down in Melbourne or hopefully heading back to Albury for some more brews with them. The man even socialised! but thats not unusual because as he keeps telling me he 'is too a people person'! I'll believe that when I see him at a GF bbq!

- Jen

Sitting on the front porch of that home, stomping our feet on the wooden boards

Probably have to worry about locking the door though.

Maybe I should explain the start of some of my posts more, most of them are song lyrics.

Sorry for the delay in posting but we've been really busy lately. Bought some stuff.. like this.

Yeah I know. It was an absolute bargain and one of those flukey things that happens. It was the auction the man and I attended last weekend that I mentioned. Place got passed in and we swooped in like the little magpies we are. Or is that swooped in like the magpie I am and the bomber he is? Anyway with a bit of luck settlement will be 1 May...

Its so fast and for you readers it will come as a shock. I know. It's okay. It was so flukey because we'd gotten back from tramping around Brunswick and realised the auction was on. So we literally ran from our place to get there. If we hadn't of we would have missed out.

So there you go, no longer potentially homeless, we won't have to impose ourselves on the future in-laws, and the fleabags have a small backyard to try and kill each other in. Also, shiny floorboards! And 4 bedrooms. Thats a bedroom for Matilda, one for the man, one for me and a spare. Schroddy can sleep in the shed.

- Jen