A Travellerspoint blog

June 2014

How to watch Wimbledon


The Queue

1. Arrive at Southfields station early, like 7am
2. Walk ten min to the start of the queue while trying to overtake people on the way
3. Get into queue and get a queue ticket and be happy about it then realise that it's the ticket for the queue and not for the tournament
4. Sit/lie/sleep on the grass while waiting several hours to get close to the entrance
5. Wish you'd brought a mat because it's a beautiful warm sunny morning
6. Wish you'd brought a poncho or an umbrella because it's a miserable rainy cold late morning
7. Worry about losing your thermos flask because they explicitly say no thermos flasks allowed
8. Be relieved when the security guards don't really care that much
9. Hand over 20 pounds quite willingly because WIMBY
10. Rush over to the court of your choice (that'd you'd already chosen based on the order of play the night before)

The Other Queue

1. Realise that even a match of small fry will have a crazy queue (even if it was a significant and pretty awesome match of kyrgios vs vesely)
2. Squish into the staircase leading to the seating area of 3 rows and try to see the court
3. Rejoice when some people leave and you can squish in deeper and then comfortably see half the court
4. Be a little bit slow on the uptake when a point is scored because you can't see the other player
5. Feel sad when it starts to rain again

When it Rains
1. Head over to center court to pee
2. Try to get in as far as possible
3. See Nadal from under a guy's armpit and take pictures that way, even if you can't really make out his face from that distance
4. Finally give up and go out to buy a wimby poncho
5. Queue to get into main store. Manage to grab the last one in the store, then queue to pay
6. Head over to Murray mount for the atmosphere

Just Choose a Court
1. Just choose a court eg court 3 is a good idea
2. Sit down comfortable and dry in the rain in a poncho and watch Sharapova own Riske on the big screen
3. Fall asleep for most of the match
4. Wake up when the rain stops and the ball kids begin to prep the court for play
5. Cheer when ball kids come out
6. Cheer when cover comes off
7. Cheer when person comes out to check the grass
8. Cheer when umpire comes out
9. Cheer when line judges come out
10. Wait impatiently for more to happen
11. Cheer when players come out
12. Enjoy the match!
13. Wait impatiently for the next match
14. Wonder why everyone is leaving when the next match is Lopez vs Isner
15. Groan when 2 young girls appear on court
16. Watch some of it but shift seats to watch the other matches over the side of the court (ie nishikori vs bolleli and jerzy vs robredo)
17. Get chased out at end of match
18. Attempt to watch other matches through people's heads
19. Leave when play stops because of the setting sun
20. Crowd into the train
21. Be very very tired but still blog while charging phone because WIMBY and also there are only 2 plugs in the room and also you forgot to bring your sd card so you have to use your phone to take photos
22. Go to sleep wwithout showering

Actual Tips
1. Bring a poncho unless you're prepared to come with an umbrella and waterproof jacket and pants and shoes
2. Bring a mat to queue and sit on Murray mount
3. Bring lots of food
4. Bring extra things to be warm in
5. Look through order of play the day before and strategise, unless you have data
6. Consider if you are aiming for resale tickets and prepare to queue for it (court 18, depending on weather, start as early as 12)
7. Be prepared for disappointing London weather

Posted by seaskimmer 15:56 Archived in England Tagged london tennis murray wimbledon Comments (0)

Home on the range

Saturday morning, and I spend it hugging dogs and petting cows! My early wake up aspiration was not to be, so I just woke up and had a quick breakfast then went out to check out the animals.

As soon as I walked out into the yard, this black and white dog madly rushed over to me and jumped up. So enthusiastic, so free with kisses, so eager to put mud on my clothes! Haha so adorbs.

I walked with P the old guy to bring the 3 cows in from the paddock out yonder, and got to pet the horses on the other side of the fence. He keeps about 6 young horses every summer for their owners, they're all destined to be dressage horses and show jumpers! All are brown, except one that's a strange brown grey, he says that it used to be brown, but as it gets older it will get whiter until one day it will be kind of white.

Brought the cows into the shed, and then he cleaned the udders and put on some kind of grease, and began to milk. Then he let us all try! It's not that difficult, would be easier if my hands were bigger, but it's still manageable. Coolios.

While he continued milking the cow, we sat at the side and petted two of the dogs, ended up hugging minka (the black and white dog), she's such a sweetie. By that time I didn't care about being dirty, I was dirty beyond hope, had cow pat on my shoes and all.

Later on we got to pet kids (baby goats!) and lambs and even a calf! The calf was this unsteady little 3 month old, it hadn't learned yet to drink from a bucket. So P put his fingers out for the calf to suck, and then put its mouth into the bucket of fresh milk.

After lots of animal fun, we changed up (really dirty) and went out in the car to Leeuwarden, a big town nearby. Walked over to a big art market. Lots of really pretty paintings and drawings and some sculptures. Then walked down another street, I bought a pair of shorts, and then to the food market! Where we had haring (raw herring with raw onions) mmmmm and kibbling (fried fish). Walked a little further and had more haring.

Then into the Altstadt, where one of the streets had clothes on clotheslines hanging across the road. So pretty! As usual, the roads were cobbled and narrower. Very nice though. Had late lunch at a cafe, then went to albertheijn to stock up on stroopwafel, fristi, and chocomel. We pretty much emptied the store of stroopwafel haha. It was quite embarrassing honestly, but oh well.

Drove to harlingen, a town right on the coast of the North Sea!! So, I mean, it was just water, but the idea of being there was fun. Tried to get nearer to the actual coast instead of just being behind the dike, but gave up and joined the rest for poffertjes!! How I've missed poffertjes. Another quick stop at albertheijn again, and then drive to sneek to see it, and to get some Chinese takeaway if possible. And yes, we found one, and then we hightailed it back (as far as small country roads permitted) to the farm for the promised horse ride .

Waited quite a while for it. Waited around, petted a horse. Had nothing to do.

P then suddenly gave me a big stick and told me to bring the cows back from the field. I was like what? But went off to do so, and was very surprised and unsure when he didn't follow! There are three cows and they were all standing at different parts of the field. It took me some time to gather all of them at the gate, with lots of ignored here Bessie! It didn't take me that long though, and this time P milked the cow with a mechanical instrument.

Later P asked me to bring them back in, so I did. And then I spent a long long time with the horses at the field next to the cows field. They are soooo cute, they think everything's edible, or at least they like to figure out if everything is. So they nibbled most parts of my jacket, and my hair. And they're really lovely, they like a cuddle just like the dogs do.

At one point I was looking up into the face of one of them. It was amazing, his dark head and big round eyes filled most of my vision, with the blue sky beyond. He was blowing warm air down my neck, and I could hear his gentle breathing. Lovely horsey.

Then it wwas my turn for the horse ride. In the end cos I practically have no experience, I just sat on the horse while P led the horse around the paddock for a few rounds. And then he tried to teach me to use the reins but I suck and couldn't get it right haha. Oh well.

Had dinner (instant noodles, Dutch satay, and 'fried rice') while watching the Germany Ghana match (how did Germany manage to draw that) and then finally had a shower.

Went outside to look at stars, just to celebrate the summer solstice! And also since we're out so far, there's less light pollution. Dad taught us how to look for the big dipper and the North star, I now can identify them. Yay. Went out a second time to accompany g as he tried to get a long exposure of the stars, not sure if it actually worked. Anyway since it was a half hour exposure, dad and I kind of just went back to sleep haha. It was 1.30 and we were so tired.

In summary, animals!!! I wanted to be a vet when I was young.

Posted by seaskimmer 02:12 Archived in Netherlands Tagged animals farm netherlands holland drive Comments (0)

My future home

Hihihihi! Hi from my adorable little box of a room, 2 by 3, with 90% of it filled with a super single, and with white washed walls with a red curtain dressing the small window, and one of Vincent van gogh's paintings at the foot of the bed (two people sleeping on a stack of hay).

Hello from this awesome little farm in the middle of nowhere which is north Holland! Nearest village is Boazum, nearest town Sneek (pronounced snake. Ssss), nearest big city is Groningen.

This farm has sheep and goats and rabbits and cows and a pig and chickens and ducks and I'm in heaven now this is so lovely.

We drove in from Hamburg, got here close to ten pm. It was still light out, and we saw some goats near the house so I slowed down (I was driving), opened the window, and baaed at them - and they all baaed back! So cuteeeee.

This is best, seriously, so I got my wild wilderness in Scotland and Switzerland, and here I am in an adorable little farm. Yayyyyyy.

I pranced around outside in one layer attempting to pet the sheep (they only let me vaguely touch their noses) and had even less success with the goats. But the pig was so cute, he/she was like a dog, really, he plonked himself down when I began to pat him, and leaned his head against my hand when I scratched his neck.


Okay now that I've let out a fraction of my excitement about the farm, I also want to express excitement about FINALLY getting to drive. Yes, practically the first time in 4 months. Nonetheless I think I did really well to adjust to left hand drive. It was totally fine. Though not according to my mum lol.

I got to drive at 220 kph! YES. Maintained for just a minute though, because later the road began to curve too much and I couldn't see ahead, so didn't want to go too fast. And at all other times there were too many slow pokes on the road. Median speed was perhaps 180 or 200 kph, which is already awesome. But I'm looking forward to a high of maybe 250 on the way back to Germany (Holland is too tame, I want my autobahn) hehehe.

Okay goodnight I want to wake up early so I can prance around the farm some more (no seriously, I was skipping everywhere)!

Posted by seaskimmer 02:12 Archived in Netherlands Tagged animals farm netherlands holland drive Comments (0)

Mines of Moria

We set out on Monday for the Wieliczka salt mines just half an hour away from our Krakow hotel. Managed to catch the 11am English tour, were given radio receivers and earpieces. At first it was 94 vertical metres down into the depths. 7 steps on each flight, endlessly turning round and round until my mum got a little dizzy. Looking down through the center, or axis of the staircase, all I could see was darkness below. So I just stopped counting and checking until suddenly I was on level ground! And sincerely hoping I wouldn't have to climb back up.

Basically the tour brought us through the relatively small section of the mines that isn't still operating. It was loosely a history from really ancient times until the recent past. Nothing spectacularly interesting, we learnt about the discovery of the salt deposits and how the industry properly started, and the basic technology that they used. Technology referring to the pulley systems used to transport stuff between the surface and the mines. At first, humans turned the big wheel-pulley thing, but later when they brought horses in, they used the horses. Poor beasts, they basically spent their entire lives away from the sun! It was too difficult to bring them in repeatedly. The tour guide assured us that their lives were comfortable and suffered from no physical ailments though.

There were some exhibits of horses and people that illustrated how the horses turned the wheel. I was just looking at it, when one of the other tourists commented that the horse was real. I was shocked at first, but she meant that real horse skins had been used in the making of the horse statues, and stuffed. Which I guess is not totally surprising, I mean, it happens a lot, but still. I guess there's quite a high chance of them being the original horses that were brought down. Chilling thought.

So, as to the caves and passages themselves. Most of the walls are grey, like rock. But later I realised that pretty much everything had a shiny gleam to it. Because almost everything was 95% salt, like NaCl salt. The 5% was enough to turn the walls black-grey. The miners carved most things out of the walls, including some really spectacular halls with artwork and naves on the sides. White washed wood usually made up the structural supports and banisters and stuff. Occasionally we saw white cauliflower formations which are secondary deposits. That just means that it's brine, or salty water that eventually dried and formed the cauliflower stuff.

The moment we entered the first big hall, I couldn't help but think of the Great Hall of the mines of Moria. Obviously (despite being really big and pretty) it was nothing compared to the Great Hall, but it was awesome to imagine myself there nonetheless. And when we went into some caverns with lakes, all I could think of was Gollum, paddling his boat around silently, with eyes like the moon and his precious on his mind and fishhh in his mouth.

We had lunch in the cafeteria, 300m underground (we'd continued to go downwards at other points on the tour) which carries the distinction of being the deepest meal I've ever had hahaha. At that point we all took out our phones and began to wiki LOTR, because we couldn't agree on whether the dwarves came from the Mines of Moria or Erebor. I know, geeky family right? Anyway partly it was a confusion of terms. The dwarves' original home was Khazad-dum, in the mines of Moria, in the Misty Mountains. Later, being driven out by orcs and the balrogs, they relocated to Erebor in the Lonely Mountain. Then, as you know, came Smaug and they were driven out again until during the time of The Hobbit Dain was reinstalled as king.

We continued to explore some halls and then left via this crazy, old, crowded 4 tier lift. As we met anew with the sunshine, our eyes burned.

Drove over to Krakow altstadt, where we wandered around for a while. The main marktplatz is huge by the way, with a gigantic building in the center, housing two rows of small souvenir shops. And it's true that Krakow is a much better city to visit. Although Warsaw's altstadt is really pretty and unique, it's so small. In comparison, Krakow's altstadt provides much more walking enjoyment, and is really densely packed with churches and other pretty buildings. There's also a nice castle that you can walk into for free (with an awesome central courtyard, I felt like a princess/knight). And a Jewish quarter to the south east of the altstadt, but we didn't have time for that, unfortunately.

After that was just dinner and packing. The next day was a relatively unremarkable day, except for the 1200km drive from Krakow to Hamburg via Warsaw and Berlin. MAD DRIVE. My butt died from the 14h. I survived, but with Joan only partly read, because I wasn't feeling too well and reading in the car for long periods makes me carsick.

It must also be said that I spent Monday evening and the next day just reading up on LOTR hahahaha. So I understand everything much better. I've only gotten through the first part of the Silmarilion so far, but hopefully the background knowledge will help me to get through the rest now.

OKAY so anyway I can't wait to read LOTR again when I get back! And even though I've read the Hobbit twice in 2 years, I totally wouldn't mind giving it another shot. And I'll try the Silmarilion again, and then to round Middle Earth off I'll read the Children of Hurin again hahahaha. Assuming I have time. FYP here I come :(

Posted by seaskimmer 02:12 Archived in Poland Tagged travel poland drive read lotr krakow Comments (0)


W is pronounced as a v in both German and Polish

Late morning set out for Warsaw. Long drive there, by the time we got there it was maybe 4? That included a few random petrol, food and wc stops. Meantime I'd started on Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn which I'd been meaning to read for a long time. Old book, had it on PDF on Dropbox and in my phone.

Dropped our bags off then drove in to the edge of town (booked a hotel out of town. More likely to have a private car park. Learnt from stolen car experience in Prague a million years ago) and parked. Walked in, went to the Chopin museum.

Chopin was born in Warsaw and spent most of his early years there. He was quite the music prodigy. Unlike Beethoven, there are no indications of hometown dislike. Nonetheless once he left Warsaw for further studies (lol) I don't think he ever went back. If he did, not more than once.

Cool thing: accidentally met HY there! And we were just talking about her. But I guess of all places to meet her, it would be in a Chopin museum hahaha. It was so nice to see her again!

Walked halfway to the Altstadt (I don't think I could ever call it an old town, after having known the German word first) then decided it was too late and far to make it all the way there and then back to the car. So we had dinner ('authentic Polish cuisine') and a fast, cold - forced march to the car.

Earlier departure from the hotel this morning (so weird now saying hotel instead of hostel) and drive to the Altstadt since we hadn't really seen it. I actually think the Altstadt is really pretty! It's got similar structure as other places but most of the buildings have some painted designs. Very cool, unique. And in the centre of the Marktplatz is a statue of a mermaid with sword poised for the downstroke. Coolios. Not much time spent there, it was a really fast one, unfortunately. But we were on the way to Auschwitz so priorities, priorities.

Long drive. I finished The Last Unicorn. It was so good. Classic fantasy, I've missed that. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres. This was so well done, I liked that it broke the fourth wall and acknowledged that it was indeed a sort of fairy tale. And it was sweet, and bitter, and sad but so beautifully written. Recommended!!

We'd spent more time at Warsaw in the morning than desired, so we only got to Auschwitz at 5. The gps led us to Birkenau-Auschwitz, or the second section of Auschwitz. It was really big, not all the barracks had been rebuilt but you could tell that there were rows and rows. Almost nothing to read through. Then a 5min drive to the first section, where there was much more to read. A lot of the barracks had been converted into exhibitions. We were so late that we only had time to properly look at 2 of the bigger ones, and to skim the 4 permanent displays.

Auschwitz was the largest concentration camp, and I think is one of the most famous because it was an extermination camp. Not all of them are. But all sick, old and otherwise 'unhealthy' people were killed almost immediately on arrival, in the gas chambers. This was about 75% of people. Out of the estimated 6 millions Jews killed in ww2, 1.5 million of those were killed here. (the 1.5 could have included Roma, sinti, and others though). Because I was rushing through the camp so fast, I didn't really have time to let it all sink in.

One thing I learnt was that the Polish resistance was the biggest underground resistance in the world. They also saved the most Jews. Very cool, hats off to them. Much greater esteem now!

Began reading Joan of Arc by Mark Twain on the way to the Krakow hotel. I don't know why I've suddenly regained by bookaholicness! My book binge days kind of stopped with secondary school. After that I just didn't have time for such a sustained spree, unfortunately. But now I just can't wait to feel the paper on my fingers, see the words disappear before my eyes and be replaced by dancing images, and lose myself in the story.

The pages of books are often too close together.

Posted by seaskimmer 15:32 Archived in Poland Tagged warsaw poland concentration Comments (0)

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