Juno is shitty and beyond overrated

Really. It is. Why are so many people so far up its arse?

Apparently these are the only reviewers with any sort of sense.

Sure, it had funny parts but it really does try too hard. Read the reviews above, they sum up what I think.

Also, while I’m on it, I Am Legend was actually decent until the fucking woman and kid turned up, even if it did drift a mile from the book of the same name (which I enjoyed, by the way).

Lastly, Starship Troopers (the book) was interesting, if somewhat hollow. Bugger the movie.

Yes, I do read!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes.

This post was inspired by palmy’s return.

I’ll give a quick summary again, as it’s been nearly 2 months (what a surprise).

Emily and I broke up in July. It was a bit messy but now it’s done. She went to Germany with her dad and I went to Berlin the week before on my own. I had a great time there, actually. I met some guys that offered me jobs and was close to accepting them until Hugo offered me a pay rise and more stuff to do here.

Sure, I’d probably make more money in Berlin doing stuff but I still love my Tallinn. I was considering even getting a proper job here for some firm like HP or Skype or something. Hostel life is still more appealing at the moment though.

Anyway, yeah. Berlin was fantastic. One of my new favourite cities. I’m definitely heading back there some time… Maybe March next year for a month or two. It’s possible to rent apartments in the city for 115 euro/month. Tempting.

We had about 14 staff in the hostel in July. More than half left. We should be getting a few more soon, hopefully. It’s been fairly hectic on the farewell party scene of late, but fun.

I went to a folk music festival in Viljandi, a town in southern Estonia. The population of the place doubles for the four days of the festival, basically. It was really good fun. I camped out in the festival grounds in a shitty little tent and it only slightly flooded, so I was satisfied. The range of music was actually quite broad, and some other guys organised after-parties in a concert hall nearby each night. I really want to go again next year.

Oh, yeah, I finally went to Tartu, as well. Twice now. The first was for another one day festival that some of us hitchhiked to, then didn’t bother going into the place. We sat outside in a playground for most of the day instead. That was probably more fun, in the end. The second time was for a university party which was fairly tame… Partly because it wasn’t very big and partly because almost everyone spoke Estonian. Which is fair enough…

Speaking of speaking Estonian, I’m learning! Finally. It took me 10 months or so but I can now count and say numbers and also the days of the week. Basics, but basics I never actually had to use before. I’m getting a few more sentences and phrases ingrained as well. It’s fun. Too bad it’s almost impossible to replicate the vowel sounds, especially with an Australian accent. Ah well.

The hostel actually has a little bar now in the basement, too. Don’t tell anyone though. It’s a secret. We’re also owners of what used to be the second hand store and baby shop underneath now, so we can knock out some walls and connect the whole hostel together. We’ll move reception and the bar into there, too. I can’t wait, because it’s going to rock.

Last night I went to some multi-band concert called Polymer. There were about 10 bands playing throughout the night but I didn’t stay for them all. The venue was basically an abandoned factory out in the suburbs which is actually meant to be condemned. There were artworks and paintings and sculptures all over the place on display and all these funky little rooms. Reminded me so much of Tacheles in Berlin. Ahh, happy times.

Alright, enough crap for now. I’ve kind of stopped uploading photos onto my website because I use Facebook more and it’s faster than this host but perhaps I’ll slap up a few selections later on.

-Estonia; +(Finland, Latvia, Greece, Bulgaria)

Hi again.

It’s been too long, once again. Let me fill you in:

  • Emily and I are back together and things are going well.
  • I left the Viru hostel a few weeks ago to do some travelling
  • Em and I spent some time in Finland with Heli and her family
  • Now we’re backpacking
  • Photos (somewhat unordered) can be found here.

Savonlinna was fun, met some of Heli’s uni friends and I made a shitty little clay turtle whose leg fell off. :(

Em and I both have house keys to the Salomaa’s now, so we’re gonna steal some shit when they’re on holiday. Suvi’s coming to the hostel to work over summer (haha). Em and I are going to be back there in mid-June for a month until we head off for the UK, or something.

We took a flight from Tampere to Riga and spent a few days there in the Old Town Hostel. It was fun catching up with our Latvian hostel cousins and there was even a big free cocktail party one of the nights, so I got rat-arsed. It was rather windy but not too chilly.

One night we checked cheap flights to the south-eastern end of Europe. We could have both flown to Istanbul for about $160 each and nearly did, except that the flight was taking off in 4 hours and we had no way of getting to the airport in time. Instead we booked mildly more expensive tickets to Athens that departed in a few days time.

To kill some time before we headed to Greece, we took a bus to Liepaja, on the Baltic coast. It was a slight nightmare, as we’d heard that apparently there was an old Soviet naval prison that had been converted into a hostel. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Unfortunately we had no map and managed to find tourist destination on only a whim and 40 minutes of walking.

After negotiating the bus system and which routes to take, we cheekily ran off without paying at what we 50/50 thought was our stop. It wasn’t, really. We did take some nice photos on the walk and nearly got mugged by young children on bicycles, so it was sort of worthwhile.

The prison hostel had no English speaking staff, the season had only just begun so they hadn’t reopened all their facilities, there was a primary school excursion occurring at the same time, we had to wait 30 minutes for an English speaker to tell us to come back at 9pm (it was 5:30), we got fined on the bus the second time for not having tickets, all the shops and cafes in town were closed, we had no dinner and slept in a freezing cold prison room with broken beds after a brisk 40 minute tour. Then we had to pay and get back to Riga.

Fortunately, I took a cool photo of Emily in a gas mask and it made it all seem worth the effort.

The flight to Athens was funny, mainly because the Latvian girl sitting next to Em had never flown before, nor seen mountains. She experienced both sensations by the time we touched down.

This southern end of Europe is already ridiculously hot. Being acclimatised to the Baltics certainly doesn’t help, but it’s still fucking sweaty here.

Again we had no accommodation booked in Athens and it took us 3 visits to different hostels and a metro trip across town until we found some. They were half the price of the original place we looked into, so it wasn’t so bad.

Athens is kind of a disappointment. There’s not a whole lot to see or do except the Acropolis and the Agora and we paid for neither. The country itself is expensive to boot and we still failed to find a respectable kebab house. After two and a half days of dicking around (and no souvlaki or olive bread), we took a train to Thessaloniki. We’re going back when we have money and we’re old to visit the Islands.

Thessaloniki was nice. We didn’t stay overnight but we did stay from 8am until midnight. In a park, mainly. We spoke to some funny old Greek fellow who was more interested in chatting with us about the town and whatnot than he was in helping his colleagues in fixing some public sprinklers. Who can blame him, really?

We took a night bus to Sofia, Bulgaria which departed 40 minutes late from Thessaloniki and arrived 30 minutes early in Sofia. Again without a map, we hiked in the 4:00am darkness trying to decipher Cyrillic street names until we found our beds. Well, more like our couches until our beds were ready a few hours later.

The Sofia hostel was really nice. Very cozy and kind staff. We even got some free breakfast. Not that we really needed it, most things in Bulgaria are so ridiculously cheap it’s almost embarrassing. We walked around in the morning, getting sunburnt and exploring the streets, seeing the old buildings and the fruit markets and ate two monster gelato ice creams for about $2 Australian each. We were pleased.

One of the days we took a trip up to the Rila Monastery, a beautiful little place up in the mountains, about 2 hours drive from Sofia. We grouped up with another Aussie couple and had lunch with them and more gelato during the evening.

After a lazy morning of chatting with the hostel owner about his future development plans, we took a bus up to Plovdiv, a cute little town in central Bulgaria. The hostel we stayed in was a very cute converted house that even had its own kitten. Needless to say, I didn’t really want to leave and if they’d had air conditioning I probably wouldn’t have.

On our second day there we went exploring with another Aussie guy we’d met named Jim. We checked out the ruins on top of the hill in the old town and on our way to the Roman theatre got side tracked by a massive, abandoned, stripped-out building on the edge of the old town that had fantastic views over one half of the city.

We tiptoed through the rubble and graffiti-stained concrete, half expecting a gang or a syringe-wielding junkie to jump out at us. As it turns out, a policeman called us out from the top instead, with poor Emily running down after us to let us know we’d been caught. The cop was pretty nice, he just wanted to check we weren’t using heroin or killing someone, then let us go. It was more interesting than the theatre.

In what already seemed like a random afternoon, we ended up speaking to an old Bulgarian who’d lived in the USA for 30 years before returning home to Plovdiv, then got asked to present a song for a Bulgarian music television station, then ended up sitting with the TV crew for an hour in the shade while they told us about where they were from and what they thought of life in general. They gave us free t-shirts.

Apparently, if we’re on TV at all, it’ll be on Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned.

After a tearful farewell, we left Zorro the kitten asleep on the couch and took another bus to Veliko Tarnovo. No photos yet but there’s some good ones to come. It’s a cool student town in an ancient location: apparently there’s evidence of people living here from 5000 years ago, if not more. The most important fact to know about this region, though, is that we’re very close to where Kotooshu was born. Apparently sumo wrestling is big in Bulgaria.

We’re likely to be headed toward Varna either today or tomorrow, so we can check out the Black Sea. Odds are we’ll then head up to Romania as now that they’re part of the EU we don’t need visas (yes!). A Romanian friend of mine that I met in Sofia said she can arrange a place for us to stay in Bucharest if we visit, so we might just do that.

Until next time.

Knobguide: How to be a backpacker

Someone asked me earlier today about some tips for getting around Europe as a backpacker. Since I’ve been over here nearly a year, both as a backpacker and as a kid working in a hostel, I feel like I may have some extra insight as to what you need and what you don’t.

Note, this is intended for first timers who plan to basically go hostel hopping over warm weather.

So, here’s the quick and nasty of it:

What to bring

If you do it right, you can get by with an average sized travel pack. I bought a big 90 litre Macpac and while it’s great, it’s also so big it meant I took too much. Using a 60 or 70 litre pack should be plenty if you only take along the things you’ll actually use regularly, such as:

  • 5 t-shirts
  • 1 jumper or light jacket
  • 4-5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans or long pants
  • 1 decent pair of sneakers (or boots if you’re going to do some hiking)
  • 1 pair of thongs or sandals
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 1 towel
  • toothbrush; toothpaste; 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner; roll-on deodourant and shower gel
  • pocket mirror (try to find a thin plastic one)
  • pocket knife (it only has to come in useful once to be worth it)

Optional:

  • hair brush
  • speedos/board shorts/bikini
  • heavy/warm jacket (if you’re travelling in colder weather)
  • razors or an electric razor (they’re a bit heavier and take up more space, but are faster and you can use them whenever you please)

This is backpacking, not holidaying. You should be expecting (and prepared) to live like more of a grot than you normally would at home. That means recycling t-shirts and underwear for a few days at a time and not showering every day. It also means you shouldn’t expect to take great care of your hair. Only prissy girls take hairdryers with them (or really weird guys).

Don’t bother with a sleeping bag or sleeping sheet or any of that crap unless you’re actually intending to sleep in a tent occasionally. Most hostels can provide you with sheets if you want them, either for free or for a small fee. Personally I’ve never bothered using them. Sleeping on dirty mattresses is part of the fun. It’s good for your immune system, too.

Passport pouches and carriers are generally a waste of money. Just keep your passport and wallet in your pockets and be mindful of them. If you have pants with zippers on the pockets, even better. I used to carry around my valuables in a pair of cargo pants that had 6 zipped pockets and had no problems. If you’re a good clothes shopper, you should be able to find clothing that’s not only practical, but stylish. Just because you’re a dirty, smelly backpacker doesn’t mean you can’t at least look nice.

It’s a good idea to use a day pack, either separate or adjoined to your travel pack. They let you carry around whatever you may want during your sightseeing and day-to-day stuff, such as your camera, MP3 player, maps and whatever else. They’re also a good place to keep your pocket knife and other gadgets, especially if you don’t have many pockets in your pants or jacket.

Resources

You’re thinking Lonely Planet, or something like it, right? Wrong. Fuck them. They’re typically out of date or full of bad information. Most of the opinions in them on accommodation paint hostels in certain lights based off one experience and don’t always have the best ones listed. Sure, they’re good books if you want to read a bit on the history of where you’re visiting, what local phrases to use and what’s worth seeing. That’s great, except if you’re doing more than one or two countries you’ll either need a book for each place or a big fat regional edition which only has tidbits of information on where you are.

If you really want to learn about where you’re going or where you are, it’s easier to just read tourist information pamphlets, brochures and signs. You can even ask staff in the hostels you stay in because they’ll know what most people want to see when they visit, plus they probably know the cool local places to explore and check out that you won’t find in guidebooks.

Another option is to read about it on the web. Wikitravel and Wikipedia should have most of the general information that you could ever imagine, while tourism websites for cities and countries are only a Google search away and can provide you with any other specific details you were wondering about.

Beds and planes

For flying around, all you really need to use is SkyScanner. They take away almost all the hassle of finding cheap flights around Europe. Use them.

If you want to book hostels online, which is recommended if you don’t want to run around looking for a bed when you arrive (although it can be really fun and you might find a brand new, cool place that isn’t even listed on the Internet yet, during the summer months places are almost always full), there are two real options.

Hostelworld has a bastard of an interface, is horrible to administer from the backend for hostel staff and they also charge you a booking fee, but it’s also the largest hostel website and lists virtually everyone. Another interesting thing about Hostelworld is that most of the other, smaller hostel booking websites are actually run through the Hostelworld network, so any bookings made by them actually function as bookings made through Hostelworld.

Hostelbookers is a nicer, slicker website, is much nicer to run from an administrative point of view and doesn’t charge a booking fee; however, it isn’t as widely used.

Other hostel booking sites are either (as previously mentioned) run through Hostelworld, aren’t as popular and thus have less hostels listed and even less reviews.

That should be enough for now. If I think of more I’ll make a second edition, or something.

Fuck Easter

Isn’t it meant to be a holiday or something? Christ knows.

Yes, I said that intentionally.

I already wrote about my Friday morning in my previous entry. I got up early to check out even more bastards who were going to Helsinki on the 8am boat then succeeded in getting the laundry back in order. I had to sacrifice my bed for a Japanese guy named Shutaro (I think) who really wanted to stay with us even though we were overbooked.

Shutaro was desperate to do some shopping and get a belt. Adamant, you might say. He also shared with me that he’d never been backpacking before and this was his first trip to Europe. This meant he had plenty of questions about the best ways to protect your wallet and passport when you’re travelling. I gave him all the hot tips I could.

The afternoon was spent hanging around Lai street, mainly. We had to lurk around waiting for 7 people to arrive for Viru. By the time they arrived at around 12 all of the staff were reasonably intoxicated. I gulped down my second double gin and tonic while waiting for their credit card transaction to clear then led the posse of Aussies down to their beds only to drag them out of the building and take them to Juuksur.

The evening became more and more hazy with people disappearing and scattering off throughout the night. Eventually I ended up in Levist with a very sleepy Valerie who’d only just gotten back from Riga that afternoon and some Scottish girl called Lisa who I think was staying on Uus street, but I’m not sure. We finally dragged Val off the table that had become her bed around 6am before stopping for a smoke at Lai street. Lisa wasn’t sure where her hostel was and I was going home to Viru. I couldn’t be bothered working out where she was going or giving directions so I ended up throwing a mattress on the floor of the common room in the hostel and letting her crash there while. I had to sleep on the tiny green couch because Shutaro was curled up like a foetus on my bed.

Unfortunately, sleeping on that couch gives me head spins when I’ve been drinking. I don’t know why but it always happens. I had to drag myself up and towards a sink so that I could force myself to vomit in order to paradoxically settle my stomach and head. It worked.

After a solid and refreshing 2 hours of slumber I was awoken by guests wondering where they could get some breakfast. Being the professional I am, I rolled over on the couch and gave them a recommendation and full directions, even managing a smile. They left and I dozed off for another 5 minutes before starting my day.

Fortunately, the morning was rather uneventful. Too uneventful. I was unable to leave the building or even take a proper nap as I had to make up a few different rooms and then wait for a guest who was arriving directly at 1pm. Or so she said. By 6pm she’d arrived and I was finally given the chance to go outside. I chose food and company over sleep, although I did end up with Valerie again and this time her friend Emer who was visiting. We ran amok all over town. Kinda.

Apparently I have a great smile and some Estonian kid wants to get a photograph of it. Flattering to hear but it’s not really what you want to be stuck with at 5am in Levist. I survived the ordeal and the three of us ended up in Old Club, of course. Poor old Val was finding her eyelids unbearably heavy and kept nodding off in the corner. Somehow I was on a second wind and felt fine. Emer was somewhere in between.

The big tough bouncer of the bar kept poking Val to get her to wake up. On the third strike he practically assaulted her, grabbing her by the harm (although it may as well have been her hair) and ripping her out of the seat and kicking her out the door. It was simultaneously one of the scariest, bizarre and hilarious things I’ve ever seen. We were too shocked to react. It was a good sign to wind down the night, so I walked back through some really cool morning snow that was falling. Before bed I had to clean vomit off of a toilet so that it’d be nice for all the guests to shit into in the morning. I got to sleep after 7:30.

Hoping to get at least 3 hours sleep proved to be a pipe dream. Shutaro kept waking me up asking me various questions before departing into the big wild world. I managed to get by on auto pilot until around midday when Ewan, one of our new volunteers, brought some guests down and then we left for McDonald’s to get some grub. I picked the shortest queue and lined up. Our cashier was about as green as you can get and continually balled up everything he did, even dropping my Big Tasty as he was putting it into a takeaway bag, meaning he had to ring up a new one. 40 minutes later we headed off to Lai street to enjoy our greasy McSludge.

The heavy food and lack of sleep combined to make me fade out of consciously at any given moment. Again, late guests were keeping me from getting any rest. They arrived two hours late at 5pm. Not too bad, really. I escorted them to their rooms in Viru and was greeted by a guest and her buddy who was some random prick from another hostel who’d helped himself to our Internet and kitchen. Normally I’d go off at people like that but our guest had a special type of booking that we’re trying to get good reviews for, so I let it slide. How’s that for fair? Money talks, I guess.

Stumbling around checking the kids into their room wasn’t so difficult, or unbearable. What really made it fun was to be made aware that the second toilet here was blocked. Completely. There’s already one that I can’t unblock because I’m too retarded and so now we were basically done for. With determination and grit, I wrapped my hand in a plastic bag and managed to get myself elbow deep in the bowl and wrist deep in the S-bend. After a bit of poking and rummaging around we were again flushing with great success.

I tidied up a little and then hopped onto my bed for a nap. Within minutes two of the Aussie girls started bickering with each other. I walked out to see what was going on and one was locked inside her room because the mechanism has decided to break while the other was standing in the hallway wearing nothing but a towel and surrounded by confused American kids who didn’t know what to do. Using a spare key solved the problem and I then had to wait for the girls to get dressed and calm down before experimenting with the lock and teaching them how to use it for now until we get it fixed. No worries.

Finally, I lay down to take a 2 hour siesta. Within 40 minutes someone was knocking on my door. The kids who’d arrived late had snapped their key off inside the lock of the door. Yep. These locks are designed and installed so that you can’t actually open them with credit cards or even unscrew them from outside the room. Normally I’d have just gotten a professional to come in or something but it was 8pm on Easter Sunday and on top of that I don’t know what the Estonian word for locksmith is.

We tried getting the broken piece of the key out with tweezers but to no avail. We even experimented with a bit of brute force and probably would have succeeded, except that the door itself and door frame would have been completely destroyed if we’d kept trying. Thankfully, there’s a frosted window between that room and another one which we managed to somewhat open. Unfortunately, while we were in the middle of rearranging beds and breaking through windows and walls, the four young students from Hong Kong came back and caught us red handed making a mess in their room. They weren’t upset, just very confused and startled. Their reactions were even worse when I told them I couldn’t give them change in Euros.

The guy staying in the room with the broken lock was rather lanky and lean so he slipped through the crack between the window and the wall and unlocked the door from the inside. He was Spanish and couldn’t speak a word of English but he knew what he was doing when he unscrewed the lock on the door and literally took it apart, tumblers and all before recombining it and putting the lock back together in the door. He even left a spare part out. Nice.

I’d given up napping so I planned to quickly use the toilet before hopping into the shower. Someone else took the advantage and locked themselves inside the bathroom for an hour so I was stuck plodding around waiting to clean myself. When I’d finally started washing and enjoying the lovely warmth my phone rang from inside my jeans. I stood in the cold air, naked and with water pooling around me and answered. John had arrived.

If I was smart, I would have stayed in that night and slept. I was too fed up with my day though to surrender like that, so I went out for a few drinks in Nimeta and Molly Malone’s. We stayed watching the cricket until Australia won and ended up going back to Lai street for some food, since no one was fucking serving. John whipped up a bit of Irish tapas and I was back here in bed by 2:30am. An early one.

Now, I’ve already gotten up at 7am and 8am and then 9am today for brief stints. Everyone’s arrived, I just have to tidy up some rooms. Oh and the laundry.

Emily’s coming back here this afternoon. The ferry should have left Helsinki about 20 minutes ago. On top of all the other crap I’ve gone through this weekend, it all got magnified because we’ve broken up.

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. :)

Korean layover

So, I made it to South Korea even though the pilot made a bumpy mess of the landing. The pricks played “Failure to Launch” as one of the in-flight movies. What a smart choice.

I wasn’t sure if I was meant to collect my bag or not seein as I didn’t really understand what the lady said when I checked in at Sydney. I wasted about 40 minutes at the carousel just to find out it indeed had gone through into a waiting area to fly out to Paris the next afternoon.

I had to declare the jerky palmy bought me when I went through customs. I got it through without too much trouble but the official had to run around double checking that dried emu meat was permissible (it tastes horrible, by the way).

Working out how to get to the hotel was a bitch at first but I eventually made it onto the shuttle and queued for a while to check in. Boy was my showering refreshing. Unfortunately, I was too far away from town to explore (seeing as I was in a hotel next to the airport) so I read my books and wrote in my journal after eating my complimentary dinner.

This entry is backdated, by the way. I managed to get online at an Internet kiosk at the airport again before I flew to Paris but didn’t have time to write much up.

Incheon airport is massive. 3 stories with 50 gates and a lot of football advertising hanging off the walls and ceilings. They’re soccer-mad there and are undoubtedly hoping to reach the semi-finals of the world cup or better for the second time in a row.