Sleepy but searching

It’s 4:15 AM and I’ve been looking for new electronic (as always) music for the past four hours. It’s ok, though, because I had a 4 hour nap before I started. I think it was four hours.

Anyway. So far so… potentially good? I’ve only been hearing samples so far, but soon I should have some tracks to check out properly. Jolly good. I needed to add some stuff to my iPod, anyway.

Unfortunately I’m a real anal prick when it comes to organising my iPod. Really, really anal. I can’t help it. I can’t stand seeing lower case names and unformatted ID3 tags. There’s just something criminal about it. I think Media Monkey might make it a bit easier, but I’m yet to try it properly. I do like it, however, as a general media player. It’s like a more power-user-friendly version of iTunes (not that I like iTunes that much, it’s just convenient).

The last couple of weeks have been pretty standard. I made it back down to Tartu for the first time in months, then got rather sick for the whole time I was there. Jolly good. It wasn’t until I had to leave that I started feeling better. Perhaps it’s an omen. I hope not.

Lots of old time slaves and staff are leaving the hostel, or have already left. Fortunately we have two more who’ve just signed aboard recently. Tim the Englishman and Thomas the Belgian. Maris and Britt are leaving at the end of next month, so we’ll need some lovely, talented cleaners to replace them or all hell could break loose. Fingers crossed.

I still want to increase the Internet speed here. There’s quite a few laptops floating around and they all suck up the bandwidth rather effectively. Besides, it’s nice to have fast speeds, ain’t it?

My credit card expires next month. I have to get it replaced ASAP. Ahhhhhhh.

Oh yeah, I didn’t read anything about the Oscars. Maybe I should now. When is the Olympics, by the way?

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.

Something I can never have

I just found out I missed Nine Inch Nails playing in Helsinki by ONE FUCKING NIGHT.

JESUS.

Talk about adding to a shitty week.

On a related note, the as-of-yet-unreleased album, Year Zero, is awesome. As is the viral marketing campaign (although Trent doesn’t think of it that way, more of an alternate reality game) that goes along with it.

Let’s all bop along to Capital G. Just not at the FUCKING GIG IN HELSINKI, AOEWHUFAE.

I guess I at least got to see them in 2005, although it was sitting down. :(

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.

Integrated, finally

Well, I did it. I managed to migrate my WordPress blog onto Drupal.

Now I have a reason to visit this site apart from clicking on my other links and perhaps listening to some embedded music.

Now you have a reason to visit, too.

Yep, still in Tallinn. I’m in the private rooms today instead of in the dorms. That’s why I’ve been enteretaining myself with my site instead of doing any work. Speaking of which, it could be time to scrub the toilets.

Emily arrives tomorrow. :O

I should brush my teeth.

Yes, I'm still alive (and dancing)

Ok, so I haven’t really been using this thing much and I know no one really reads it anyway, regardless I’m going to write a bit.

What have I been up to? Well, the run down is something like this:

  • Left Finland at the end of September
  • Loved Tallinn (Estonia) as soon as I arrived
  • Visited Riga (Latvia) with some kids I met in the hostel
  • Came back to Tallinn and started working in the same hostel
  • Visited London for 15 hours a month later on a stopover for Amsterdam
  • Complete inability to recall my time in Amsterdam apart from knowing it was fun
  • Visited Vilnius (Lithuania) to take a photo of the Frank Zappa statue
  • Bussed back to Tallinn for another few weeks
  • Went back to London for 5 nights to visit palmy and Dilly and some other buddies
  • Came back to Tallinn and kept working

Of course, there’s plenty more to it than that, but they’re the kind of stories where you really had to be there to appreciate them anyway, so bugger that.

One thing I should mention is how cool the hostel is. Well, I think so. Unfortunately the website doesn’t seem to display properly in Firefox but it’s fine in IE, Tallinn Backpackers.

I never want to leave Estonia! It’s scary. I really dig it here.

Another thing I dig is listening to music off the Internet because I’m too lazy to keep pulling out my iPod. I started out on BlogMusik but I prefer Radio Blog Club. Enjoy it.

So hot it's worth carrying

It’s taken me much longer than it should have (being the self-confessed geek I am, of course), but I’ve finally started playing with portable software.

Normally I’d have no use for portable software as the only computer I’d spend serious time on would be my own desktop. This hasn’t been the case ever since I started travelling so I’ve typically been at the mercy of net cafes and their (usually shoddy) installations.

I’ve cranked up portable versions of Firefox, GIMP, OpenOffice and a few others onto my iPod along with VLC Media Player, just in case there’s no decent music player. Now I have practically my own computer housed on my 60 gigabyte iPod with my software, settings and music!

The best part is that none of my details or settings ever (well, shouldn’t) get saved on the actual PC I’m using. Of course, I run the risk of bloating up the poor little guy in the future. For the mean time, I’m enjoying it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find even more fun things to run off him.

Coughing.

TOFU GOT DRUNK LAST NIGHT.

I just had to make that official. Boy is he a cutie. The little darling just wanted to hug and squeeze us all evening. He’s still curled up on the couch feeling sorry for himself. I’m playing music to be a prick.

He actually slammed through quite a lot of vodka shots. Probably 9 or 10 along with a little KB, butterscotch schnapps and goon. No vomit. Hurrah!

palmy’s going to give me some videos and photos he took, so you can all spread the news over the intarweb.

I’m planning on going off to get my backpack today. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the MLC centre and pick up a sexy travel adapter because I want it.

Strangely enough, I’ve started to use the to-do list on my mobile phone as a reminder of the other odds and ends I want to get through before I leave in … 15 days! :O Fuck.

This phone burns through fucking batteries. I bought a new one off eBay and it still dies after about 15 hours of moderate use. What the hell’s with that? Maybe I’ll be able to nab another one O/S or just before I leave. Lucky I have a spare battery, but Jesus.

I found out that palmy was planning a surprise going away party for me. Unfortunately I fucked it up by accident as he didn’t realise I had other plans for that day. That’s the risk of surprise parties, I guess. I probably won’t have a chance to see as many people now, but meh.

I have fuzzy hair growing from my head hair down the sides of my neck and it’s quite long and it shits me. I need to tidy up the back of my hair a bit. Fascinating, I know.

Last night we saw an X-box with a controller in a pawn shop for $150. If I gave a shit/wasn’t leaving I’d be tempted to buy it for that kind of price. Tempted.

My hair’s long. I look like a wild man. Maybe it’s the beard assisting. Bushy. Brr. I’m impersonating Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3 but without the vampire slaying. I still have the weapons.

I really should use a dictionary. God damn it.

Blargh.

This keyboard sucks hairy, sweaty balls. Hot.

Never go wireless, kiddies.

First night out to the Townie for a long time. Just been out with palmy, enjoying getting drunk and smoking Winfields (don’t tell mum). Fuck this keyboard makes me want to cry.

We got free cheese twists from the bakery tonight. palmy paid for a cheese and bacon bun/loaf thingy each, too. Somehow we managed to nab a throwaway sourdough loaf, too. Good times.

I’m drunk. Like the olden days. I really should go to bed as it’s 5:20am. 5:22am to be precise. Meh.

I leave in just over 4 weeks. Anyone going to miss me? I suppose most of you won’t notice, especially since I’ve been somewhat offline lately. Partly pussy-whipped, partly no keyboard. Whatever.

I’m going to continue updating this LJ during my travels, as I’m too lazy to set up a gay travelling blog anywhere else in the meantime. I might check out travelpod, but I’m not that keen on it. Lazy, etc. I’m sure you’ll all be riveted to know what lame shit I’ve been up to.

In other news, my pussy whipping of spending time with Emily is fun, as most men know but hate to admit. Actually, it’s only fair that I confess that I would have updated/been online more if not for my broken keyboard, but that sounds like a weak excuse. Anyway…

Palmy’s addicted to World of Warcraft again. Fag.

I’m too drunk to care and he knows it.

Yay.

I’ve been listening to more music. Synthpop is the best. I’m very into De/Vision and Fischerspooner (just the Odyssey album, especially “Cloud” these days ;)) at the moment. Pirate them if you want a thrill.

Tally ho until the next time, lovelies.