Fidgeting.

I’ve gotta get myself a Russian visa…

I’ve also got to determine a place to go to on the 11th of July. Berlin, perhaps.

Em and her dad are hitting up Germany in the next few weeks, so I’ll most likely go along. Maybe a week early.

I’m still feeling homesick, in a weird way. It’s probably because I don’t know what to do at the moment, so just going home sounds very tempting. Then again, it’s mostly the food that I miss… I think?

Fuck it. I don’t know. I don’t really care. Blah blah blah. I’m not even sure what I’m saying.

Anyway. Tallinn’s still nice. The sun never sets here now. It’s pretty trippy. Really buggers up your body clock. It can be 11:30pm before you realise it and then you’re still not tired.

There’s still so many Australians around here. It’s kinda funny.

I’m gonna make cheese and salami toasted sandwiches now. I might have a beer, too. Rockin’.

Red wine and whiskey

Livijus took me out yesterday afternoon to see this awesome little wine bar, although it’s more like a cozy, quaint little attic above someone’s apartment. There were couches and candles and curtains and knick knacks scattered around everywhere on creaky wooden floors with old varnished furniture dotted around the place. Fantastic. Of course, there was already a stuffed kangaroo mounted on the mantle piece, but that’s hardly surprising.

We chugged through some tasty Chilean merlot, a few crackers and a handful of olives. I haven’t had red wine for a while, so it was nice to experience the warm feeling of mirth that seeps in the more you drink. Two bottles of it meant we were ready to cuddle anything.

Nearly two hours after we arrived it was announced that there would be some Estonian actor doing an intimate one man show with the audience. Basically he was telling stories, or something. I couldn’t understand a word of it and it lasted for nearly three hours. Needless to say, I took two naps in my chair. I have to thank the wine for that ability.

We finally escaped the building when the actor had finished his performance and had made a bee-line for the three girls that had been watching his show in order to talk to them. I followed Livijus outside the old town to the Traveller’s Pub. A really nice, traditional style pub with that right kind of vibe about it that makes me want to sit there all day. Unfortunately it’s in a crap spot for travellers, so it’s mostly Estonians in there. After a double whiskey, an interesting salad and a lot of yakking, we headed back through Viru Keskus and the Sokos hotel lobby (the doors to get outside of Viru Keskus were locked) and met up with John and Ewan in Nimeta for a couple of beers. Two drinks later we made our way back to go to bed.

Even though that was at 2am (and I’d started at 5pm), it still felt like an early night. Talk about conditioning.

Sleep's better than rampaging

Another night in Levist Valjas and a good few beers on a nearly empty stomach sounded great last night. Too bad this little baby hadn’t had enough nap time over the last week as hitting the sack at 3:30am with the intention of arising at 6:45am was an utter failure. Fortunately I was forward-thinking enough to have people checked out or half-checked out before I slept in until 10am.

Feeling like a zombie wasn’t the greatest start to the day and neither was developing a grinding headache at my first conscious moment. I’ve missed this. Sort of.

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in various MSN conversations with my plethora of friends. In fact I was so enraptured by their digital companionship I nearly forgot to put away my butter before it melted. Six slices of toast was basically the highlight of my day.

The lowlight was yet another blocked toilet. Well, nearly blocked. It took a bit of hoping, praying and flushing but it worked itself out in the end. Now I just have to hope I can successfully fix the other one. My handyman skills are sorely lacking. In fact they’re simply absent.

One of the kids who stayed here showed me a cool little gadget for your camera. Basically, Eye-Fi is a 1 gigabyte memory card with wireless capability that automagically uploads your photos for you whenever your camera is turned on and it can access a wireless Internet zone. Within a minute of two of taking a picture it appeared on his Flickr page. Neat! Can’t wait for more funky things like this to pop up in the market. Geek heaven, here we come.

Thursday roundup

That’s right, another randomly timed summary of my world’s events. Are you ready to feel the rush?

Good. Let’s get to it then.

Firstly, hostel related: Viru’s looking rather spic and span, all the rooms are beautifully colour-coordinated, clean and inviting. The sun’s shining brightly through the windows all day long and keeping the place warmer than it should be thanks to the combination of solar radiation and central heating.

The king of the couch is back on his throne, everyone’s checked out for the day and that laundry’s hanging up to dry. Tomorrow we’re getting more guests and it should be a piece of pie.

Nightlife: I can’t recall if I mentioned going out on Monday night. Well, I did. In the manner of all true good nights out it started somewhat spontaneously. Some cheap beer and a half dozen foosball games in the hostel with John kept me occupied for an hour or so and then we went out with Val and Ben while poor old Emily slept on the couch for night shift.

Levist was on the agenda, as always. We stayed there until it closed at around 3am, meeting and greeting some drunk and blind drunk locals. I received the privilege of listening to a 30-something bitterly intoxicated Estonian regale me with his tales of learning kick boxing after being beaten up by Russians and having a tooth knocked out, at least that’s what I think he was saying, since I could barely understand him. He also tried to channel with me telepathically or something by sending out energy from his palm to mine. It reminded me of the guy that tried to hypnotise me then collapsed on the floor and passed out. I’ve gotta keep away from these hippies.

Some girl that lived in a monastery (seriously) also joined up with us for the night. We headed for The Old Club of course, as it was late and it was Monday and we had no other option. As expected, by that hour we were speaking nothing but bullshit. Money got wasted on pissy flaming B52 shots, twice, to no effect. I just couldn’t get decently inebriated. It could have been due to the quantity of food I’d eaten for dinner that dear Emily cooked for me. Probably.

Around 5:30am the slightly toothless Estonian arrived in the bar with, of all people, a recurring hostel guest: Portuguese Miguel. Things felt tense for a few moments as we’d told Toothless that we were going home and we’d had a slightly awkward relationship with Miguel of late so we weren’t sure what to do. We did the normal thing, a pleasant acknowledgment and a civil nod of the head. They were in a group with some others and sat somewhere else and we didn’t have to move. We were happy until 6:30am when we left and wandered home.

Plans: Em and I are going to Vilnius on Monday or Sunday. We’re going to be down there for a few days. Em’s adamant that we have to be somewhere else for our 1 year and I’m too scared to argue. Hopefully Simone will have some free time to show us around, local style. Em wants to check out some little forest cottage that Livijus told us about as well, so if time permits that’d be really nice, too.

Miscellaneous: I read this earlier today. It made me laugh.

Cracking Hollywood’s code.

The system designed to protect next-generation DVDs from pirates has been cracked. Even the hackers are surprised at how easy it was…

Galleries and CSS

I’ve spent the last 16 hours or so mucking around with my gallery‘s theme. I didn’t like the way the dev-testing theme looked which is fair enough since it’s designed for experimentation rather than aesthetics.

I think it looks rather spiffy at the moment. Nearly seamless, you might say. I’ve barely slept since I started hacking away at it last night. The individual picture pages haven’t been touched yet, so ignore their look for now.

On the hostel front, it looks like we’ll be living in the Viru rooms for at least the next 2 months. I had a feeling we’d end up in here for a while anyway so it came as no surprise when Hugo mentioned it. He’s going back to Holland on the 11th so then there’ll only be four of us looking after both these places now that Valerie’s back.  Well, Ben will be around too, I guess.

I haven’t been to the gym since Tuesday. We were meant to go today but it doesn’t look likely. Not with me feeling buggered from last night and Emily having been fast asleep on the bed for the last hour or two. Damn it, I really could use a shower and a good old scrub of the teeth. What a mess.

Today I caught up with Swedish Martin. He wanted me to see if there was any free WiFi signals that could be detected from his flat in the old town. The building is fantastic, a real Soviet style, scungy dump with dark, narrow hallways and toilets comparable to the one from Trainspotting. His room was freezing as well, I can only imagine how horrible it’d be inside during winter. He shares it with Tambet, an Estonian guy who works in Levist and plays in a relatively famous local rock band. Apparently Tambet has been living there for about seven years. Hardcore.

There were only secure wireless networks available so I was unable to help Martin out. Instead we had a beer and listened to some music while he told me some of his crazy stories. It would have been nice to kick back and relax for a few hours but I had to get back and clean the toilets.

Happy birthday to me

Yep, 24. Thanks.

It’s good to be alive. I’m not sure about being older, though. Well, I guess 24 isn’t so bad. I’m approaching the age now where people start taking you more seriously and don’t consider you the bad kind of “young adult”. I hope.

There was no party. There never is. We did have cake, though. Pizza too. I went out with some kids from the hostel the night before and it turned into a quasi-birthday celebration after midnight, then Hugo came around on the Saturday for a beer and the aforementioned pizza and cake.

I’ve been plowing through my salad sandwiches with Emily these last two weeks. Quite nice. Especially with mayonnaise and mustard. We were planning on joining the local gym this week to really kick up our “healthy lifestyle” binge but we’ve been too lazy.

I have to admit, I really miss going to the gym. I really miss exercise, basically. True, I haven’t actually lifted any weights for about 7 years. Since high school, in fact. I enjoyed it a lot at the time though. Still, I’d give it all up for a new season and team of action ball.

Hostel life is continually surprising. Just when you think it’s a really boring period a weirdo will check in or something else will happen. It’s always got you on your toes. Emily’s enjoying it as well and she’s still doing some networking with the locals in an attempt to get work somewhere.

Snow’s still falling. Gradually. My fingers nearly freeze off every time I go outside because my gloves are crap so I don’t bother wearing them. It’s only a few more weeks of coldness though so I should be able to cope. I’ve gotten this far.

I have to think of a place to go for Valentine’s day, or for our anniversary. Choices, choices.

Prague.

Ok, because I’m too lazy to update my travelpod at the moment, here’s an email I just sent to work (yes, I’m still attached).

Hello all,

yes, it’s been a while. This email will be a bit shorter as I’m on the verge of being physically ill, mainly because I’m in Prague and have been savouring the $2 pints.

I hope everyone is well. I am too (apart from my current condition) and I’ve been meeting people from all over the place (as one would expect, I suppose).

In the tradition of my last email, here’s yet another run-down of my travels:

Dubrovnik: as I said, cool. Worth visiting. Nothing really of great notice apart from the old town which got shelled in the early 90s and rebuilt. I think I mentioned this before. I can’t really remember. Anyway, definitely tick it off if you consider visiting Croatia (or Hrvatska, if you want to be down with the local language).

Kolocep: an Island near Dubrovnik (or Dubbo, as I like to call it). We visited here for a day, nothing extraordinary but it was nice. I hiked for about 3 hours and took the odd photo here and there of the views. Yeah, amazing, I know.

Mljet: Nice, foresty island. Pronounced Mil-yet. I got eaten alive by ants because I slept outdoors in a campground (too proud to rent a tent). The bites have only just disappeared (after about 3 weeks, I had scary black spots on my fingers and everything). I swam in Odysseus’ cave (ask Homer) and literally nearly had a heart attack because I was terrified of the fish in the water. I then had to climb back up a cliff in wet thongs, which is impossible if anyone’s ever tried it.

Split: Goran Ivanisevich (?sp) is from here. Cool town. I liked it better than Dubrovnik. We actually stayed in an apartment owned by a guy called Goran. One day he confronted me in his tight white underwear and a singlet asking for money for the other nights that we’d be staying. It was dirt cheap, though. About $15 a night. By the way, beer is disturbingly cheap in Croatian supermarkets. They even sell their own brand (Konsume is the store, K-Plus is the brand. 2 litre plastic bottle go for about $2.50 Australian). If anyone’s even heard of Gregor of Nin (or his “famous” statue), I’ve rubbed his toe (for luck).

In Split we met a French Canadian girl (Quebec) that I’ve ended up travelling with. My group split (pardon the pun) from her when we returned from Hvar (another Croatian resort island, apparently popular with Paris Hilton [yawn]) and we went to Sibenik.

Sibenik: small but has the largest stone cathedral built without wooden support (or whatever else) in Europe. Sounds amazing but it’s really just a small church. Still, I took photos (ask me if you really care). I also scored free Internet here because no one was around to charge me (even though I looked for someone to pay) and I walked out. Yes, I’m a rebel.

Krka national park: people swim under the waterfalls (they even made it a hydroelectric plant, thanks Mr Tesla). I didn’t swim because I was too scared of the fish.

Zagreb: the capital of Croatia. No one knows that. Well, barely anyone. It’s a nice place, reminds me of Melbourne but about 4 times bigger and with 1/4 of the people. The nightlife was pretty lame (ie, Sydney’s sad, lonely clubs are basically more popular on bad nights compared to a busy night in Zagreb) but I didn’t care that much as I can’t dance and don’t really like much beyond cheap beer and good company (hi, Andrew).

Ok, this is getting a bit long. If you’ve made it this far I thank you for persisting with my writings. If you’re still interested I pity you, but for the sake of sympathy I’ll continue with my journey.

Budapest: Massive, masive city (two cities in fact, which I found strange and didn’t learn until about 2 days before I arrived). Monuments are spaced out everywhere and I bought an AWESOME Spider-Man t-shirt in a supermarket there, then started wearing it as I sat around the Danube. Apparently the night-life is really fun there but my trio failed to discover it. We still amused ourselves and I met some other Aussies, which is always nice. Most are from Melbourne though, which is always a little depressing. ;)

Krakow: Nice, nice city. I had two nights here in a really good hostel, unfortunately there were a big group of Americans staying so I didn’t bother socialising (I had early mornings anyway). I went to Auschwitz, which I thought was very… interesting. It’s very touristy now, unfortunately, so it lost (at least, I felt) a lot of impact. Still, I’m glad I went there.

Olomouc: Billed as “Prague without the tourists”, this place is about 5 hours west of Krakow by train, in the Czech Republic. I loved it here even though I only had 1 night to explore it. An Australian couple ran the hostel I stayed in and although they were somewhat inexplicably timid they still gave us some good advice, so I ticked off basically everything in town within 6 hours. One day I’d definitely like to return, though.

Prague: This is were I am now. I’m staying in an Anglo-friendly hostel called the “Clown and Bard”. Mainly it’s Canadians and Americans but it’s not so bad. ;) The Quebec girl I’ve been travelling with is leaving for Berlin tomorrow so I’m going to have a few nights alone (ahh!). It’s a nice enough city, I guess. I’ve heard so many stories about it but I certainly think there are better ones out there. I’m probably going to end up knowing it better than Paris, as I have to stay here until Wednesday as I’ve booked a flight to Helsinki that evening (for only 120 Euros!). Hopefully I don’t get quite as frequently inebriated as I have tonight.

Well, that’s about it so far. Thanks for reading. I’m sure you haven’t. If you have, you’ll probably have been given a warning for not doing enough work (I’ve heard the rule have gotten a bit strict lately, you poor folk).

As always, I’m delighted to hear from anyone that can be bothered emailing me (but no, this isn’t a desperate plea for attention, even though it may look like it). Don’t be shy! :)

Bah, I’m still dizzy from all my cheap beer. I haven’t used the spell checker on this email so if I’ve made mistakes forgive me. If I haven’t made mistakes it’s simply testament to my meticulous spelling and typing ability. Hurrah for me.

Ok, I’ll stop now, this is getting ridiculous.

All the best!
Ollie. :)