London Callings

Oh, crossing the streets is a major nuisance here. I feel like I’m breaking all sorts of laws when crossing. Even Zoe said that she still doesn’t quite know when she is allowed to cross or not, because very often the pedestrian light turns red, but so does the light for cars. This is when I usually run across. I’m obviously confused as to which way to look, but luckily there are directions painted on sides of the roads: “Look left”, “look right”. I find it strange that back in 1999 I didn’t find the “right” side of the road to be a problem. In Russia the same sides as in Canada and US are the “right” sides, but I never took notice. Perhaps I didn’t cross the streets enough.

Well, alas, tomorrow I have to return to North America. I may be that sapping young woman on a plane that everyone is going to think said good bye to her boyfriend and is now sad. Whilst in fact, I will be sad about leaving Europe. I’m from here, and I will be back (for good)! Terminator said so, and he returned, see.

Ah yes, stay tuned for the art and literature reviews. I picked up so many fabulous books! I’ll have to work my charms at the British Airways check-in desk tomorrow, making sure they don’t charge me extra for going over the allowed bag weight.

From one of my new acquisitions: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.” David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man.

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You Sound Like Youre From East London

I just got a haircut from a man who’s been cutting hair for 28 years (including frou frou Kitsilano in Vancouver and 1985’s Spanish Harlem), and I realized than instead of going to hipstertown and seeking out the gayest, skinniest youngster with amazing hair, you should go to men of experience. Just make sure you explain your dreamcut really well. So yay to Islington’s Rough Cut!

I am currently sitting in Wellcome Collection, which is a unique mix of galleries, events and meeting, reading and eating places spread over six floors. Its goal is to engage public with health and well-being; it brings modern art, medicine and peoples ordinary lives to create and exciting place of interest. I am here, so should you when in London.

I went to Camden yesterday evening and had quite a good time. Besides picking up some flaming vintage pieces and trying Moroccan food (my next travel place of interest), I met some nice folks and managed to keep the happy hour prices in a bar way past the happy hour time. Camden is full of Italian daddy’s girls looking for bargains, handsome punks, prima donnas of the burlesque scene who will never see 30 again, skater boys, American Apparel sect members and random misplaced people. It’s heaps of fun, as my Australian friends would say!

By the way, I haven’t been updating a lot lately because I have been busy experiencing life here, but I have certainly been taking notes on what to post about. My autumn schedule will be busy, but calm busy, so expect posts very often!

Losses and Damages

Ah yes, on this trip I haven’t lost anything super valuable. Most annoying thing is that i’ve forgotten my BlackBerry charger in Ibiza (and no, I was not inebriated at the time of packing), and had to run around Barcelona’s Born and Gotik neighborhoods, trying to find something to replace it. Did find it, but what a silly waste of money.

I also got hurt in Ibiza – burnt my leg when accidentally touching the exhaust pipe of mine and Krystel’s scooter.

And the last one is catching a minor cold after 21 days of good time and merrymaking. One thing I regret is not drinking enough water here in Europe – it’s fairly expensive in restaurants and servers don’t usually bring a glass to the table. Oh well! 😀

BCN to LGW

I am a little sick, hence getting tired way sooner than usual. But not to worry – I have been writing down things to blog about, even if I have no time.

When I was leaving Barcelona, on a Friday night, I decided to take the train to the airport. I got to the Sants Estacion and went to the train station, got to the right platform and then jumped on a train that was there. Some other people followed and we waited. I was an idiot enough to drag my suitcase up the mini stairs and took a seat.

Then the kids who got in after me quickly ran off the bus, and I panicked. I dragged my suitcase down the stairs and as I was about to jump off, the doors closed. Right in front of me!

A kind man came up to explain to me that I won’t be going too far and that I should get off at the next station. So I got off at Bellvitge train station and that messed things up.

I decided to grab a taxi. But there were none. I had 50 minutes before the EasyJet check-in closed.

I tried calling a taxi, but they hung up on me because I had no street address (hello, Vancouver taxi cabs; same story there) to give them. I panicked even more. I tried to run up the overpass to get to the other side of the train station – second entrance. And as I was half way through, I saw a cab! I missed it.

I started to get really worried, I could’ve missed my flight to London after all. I ran down with my 23kg bag and got upset. Some elderly couple tried to help me figure out where to catch a cab, but that didn’t help.

I started crying right in the middle of the street, panicking, scared of missing my flight, when a young man came up asking me (in fairly good English!) what was wrong. I told him. Him and his girlfriend called me a cab, but none came. We dragged my bag to the main avenue of the suburb, and waited. I had no Euros left, save for €10, and hence couldn’t fully the €15 fare to the airport. The couple gave me €10 more! Then the cab came. My God. Am I not lucky? After this incident I’m pretty much convinced that nothing will go wrong in my life anymore, and if it does, a guardian angel will help me out. (This is sort of what happens in Harry Potter all the time, eh. The boy’s just so well connected and gets help when he’s in trouble)

God bless the couple that helped me out. I found that Spanish people in general are really warm, helpful, and empathetic. These two lovely strangers didn’t need to help me at all, but they did take the time out of their evening to make sure I got on my plane!.. And I don’t even know their names 😦

When I ran up to the EasyJet, panting and still shaking from stress of missing the flight, the check in guys laughed, but in a good way. They also didn’t charge me €30 for every kilo that my bag was over the limit… And it was over by 4 kg. Am I not lucky?

Crazy day, that Aug 29. Most ridiculous day of the month, actually, hehe.

More on Europe

Berlin was such a satisfying sight when it came to the roads (among many other things) – all the cars were either Mercedes, Audi, Opel or BMW. I saw ONE Ford and shivered to the bone. What’s a Ford doing in Germany? What kind of a nitwit would buy a Ford when they can buy a probably better Audi for that price?

Another note on Spain – Ibiza island is full of roundabouts. At first it was sort of tough on a scooter, but then we eased into it and found it much more practical than lights or highway exits. Roundabouts! I’m so happy that my Ibiza experience was just as wild as it was chill. Master of balance ze Karina.

I’ve been thinking about Hemingway a lot here, his Spain. I was trying to pick up one of his book to read since I am in Spain and I love reading books set in locations which I am traveling through. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything super intriguing of his (and I couldn’t deal with reading so much about bullfighting, considering Barcelona was the first city in Spain to protest against bullfighting or bull running). Instead I got Faulkner’s Light in August. It sounds quite promising; I spent several hours in a cafe yesterday reading it.

Hey, I just arrived in Bunol! Going for La Tomatina. Tomatoes, here I come!

random musings in a cafe in Barcelona

It’s interesting how people write a lot about their personal lives when they are younger. I used to write so much about my heart’s rollercoasting about 5-6 years ago, but now that seems like a gargantuan waste of time. Hearts are some of the most unstable things in the world that spending time on detailed archiving of their course becomes some of the worst ways to throw precious time out the window.

* * *

Dairy in Europe is much better than in N. America. Water is always in bottled form. I keep thinking about Dave’s environmental comments every time I ask for or buy water. I also think that is the reason I haven’t been drinking enough water on my trip, yikes.

We are driving to Valencia tomorrow to have some legendary paella (which is where it was invented anyway) and to partake in La Tomatina in Bunol. I still have to buy some cheap shoes and protective goggles to survive the famous tomato battle.

More to come later

Ibiza

Ibiza is a wonderful place. Word of caution: you have to do more than just party party.

We rented a scooter and drove all over the island.

First, of course, we took a cab to Sant Antoni, and went to party at Space. We saw Carl Cox. 6am end time, cabs with British ladies and all that.

We rented a scooter, and I must say, a scooter is an important part of an Ibiza experience, unless of course you want to pay €25 for a ride to Ibiza town.

Krystel and I had an awesome experience riding all over the island, particularly at night. Yesterday we covered half of the island, in pitch dark, with rabbits hopping about the road.

The villas here are rathe fancy, and i’d like to own one someday. He he he.

We ventured into areas that not so many tourists go to; we toured all over the dark northern coast of Ibiza, sat in the middle of the road and stared at the sky (with our helmets on of course he he).

We ate swordfish, and drank local wine. You must must must drink wine from Ibiza; it is absolutely wondrous!!

We danced like there is no tomorrow.

I must say that there were too many trashy British girls; they gave a bad name to the whole Empire. I will post a video of some exceptional examples as soon as I get back to Toronto.

Overall, Ibiza was a great experience. The sun, the fun, the lost in the hilly residential areas with barely any fuel left, and then eating grapes off someone’s wine estate, and scootering through druglords’ villas and whatnot.

Ibiza is a wonderful place, but you must do more than just party till the wee hours and sit on the populated beaches!!! Toy must explore and you must go deep into the island to uncover the true story.

On a return train

More observations include the fact that eggs come in 10- or 6-packs. Wherefore did the idea of a dozen disappeared to?

Wind power is pretty widespread here. Florian was saying that the government will pay you a lot of money to install one of the wind power-generating mills.

I tapped into the German popculture when I purchased an Ampelmann from Eastern Germany. Hehe. Pretty cool.

I didn’t manage to swim in the Baltic Sea due to horrid weather, but Florian did go for a quick swim and he fished out a pair of Baltic sea sunglasses in surprise dive (sentence structure?).

I got off at a wrong train stop, so am currently trying out all methods of trainsportation in Berlin in order to get back to Kreuzberg.

Taking Berlin

Well, well, well. I am in Germany! It is fantastic. Last night I went to Tresor night club, which is a former power plant, and now is a crazy techno club. Gritty place, complete with cold basement spilling over hard techno sounds and scary looking employees with t-shirts that proclaim “Tresor never sleeps”. Agreed. We escaped the full-on party around 5:30am, and that’s nevertheless early.

Tonight I am going to Rostock to rock out a bit there, eat some fish, and drink champagne with Florian.

I’ve had currywurst for the first time, and it was fabulous. I also noticed that cigarette packs have 17 units in them, which I find completely odd. There is no such thing as “last call”, which is the way it should be. People bike a lot in Berlin, and I am even thinking of renting one myself and cruise the city.

Humboldt Universitat sells awesome t-shirts: “Wilhelm & Alexander & ich”. I got one for myself.

I’m taking videos and photographs here, living in Berlin in a less touristy way and having a generally awesome time. Great company, great city, great weather, great memories.