A Travellerspoint blog

July 2014

A dream is a wish your heart makes

Wild, fantastic fantasy stories that try to say something about real life through personification and metaphors are probably my favourite books. While absolutely loving the ride you're on, you also ponder deeper about real issues. I think from phantom I learnt what it means to love where you're at. From the last unicorn, to always keep an open mind to different happy endings. From the never ending story, that a wish is not something that starts with 'I wish'.

A wish comes out from within yourself, it's a desire for something, whether you know it or not. 'Do what you wish' is not 'do what you want' , it's 'do what you really actually desire and pursue it'. Half the battle of that is figuring out what you wish, which is a process I guess every young adult goes through, and maybe what I'm going through now. Maybe that's why I'm spending so much time sitting around and just thinking haha. It's much harder than you'd think.

And it's important for you to know, for where your treasure is, there your heart is also, and we speak only out of the overflow of our hearts.

Posted by seaskimmer 15:08 Tagged reflection Comments (0)

Here for the Habsburgs

So! The Habsburgs were a family that pretty much ruled most of Europe for almost 700 years, from the late 13th century until WW1 in the early 20th century. Mostly through strategic alliances (ie marriages), at their greatest point they controlled Germany, France, Spain, Italy and much of eastern/central Europe. At some point they also had the Netherlands, Belgium, and some other western European lands. Eventually it was the Habsburgs that were the Holy Roman Emperors as well! And through Spain, they technically also had their fingers in a lot of Asian pies.

However, it wasn't just lands that made them great. For the most part their capital was Vienna, and Vienna was a place of great learning and culture.

Probably the most famous contributions are two women, or at least they're the ones I remember! Maria Theresia was born in 1717 and became Queen when her father Charles died. She married a guy called Francis Stephen partly because she loved him (unfortunately he had a rather public mistress) but also because she couldn't legally be a holy Roman emperor. She was also the only child, I mean, that's why she got all the power, but she really did prevent the Habsburg dynasty from dying, which it almost did. She made some really great reforms, like compulsory education for children. And she had 16 kids, 1 of whom was the famous Marie Antoinette, who married into the French monarchy and was guillotined during the French revolution.

And pretty much the only reason the dynasty really failed in the end was because just before WW1 the Austrian empire was allied to the Germans, and obviously that side lost in the war. The Holy Roman Empire had been dismantled by Napoleon, and after that Austria had been forced into a dual Austro-Hungarian empire. It was this empire that got completely broken up by the world war into the smaller countries we see today (almost). And so the end of the Habsburgs as a world power.

Okay, a lot of that was recent research haha. But a family like that can't be forgotten, and one of the only reasons I even went to Vienna was to see the influence they had on their capital. To breath in history.

Vienna felt like a bunch of huge ornate buildings in close proximity with each other. A lot of the nice ones were baroque or renaissance I think. When I say huge I really mean huge huge, and crowded into a small city, like how sg has. Build more and more until eventually it's saturated. Yes most of the buildings were gorgeous, but it's still overcrowded.

To be honest it was a real boring and tiring day haha. For some reason Vienna doesn't have free walking tours, even though Prague had like 5 different operators and even bratislava has one. They must have some kind of law against it! So I followed two online walking tour guides, it wasn't bad but not enough infooo.

My alarm rang at 8am, and I only really got up at 8.20. From there it was a 20min rush to change, wash up, pack my day bag, half run to the station, buy a ticket, and get up to the platform. Pleased to say that I made it with a couple of minutes to spare. Living life on the edge hehe. Trains are every 2h by the way, so that was important.

Strangely, I had shwarma and noodles for brunch. So in Austria, a gastronomic city, I eat Turkish and Chinese food. Okay. And then walked around the entire day. With extremely frequent rest stops cos my feet were dying and it was so hot.

Got to enter the crypt of the Habsburgs! So I stood among the dead of one of the most influential families of all time. Paid 4.5 for that experience, I guess I consider it worth it.

Had apple strudel (wasn't very good) and latched on to free WiFi. Later I counted money in my head and decided that I had enough euros to go around (I only need it for Slovenia) so decided to splurge on a good dinner. Had Saffron risotto with chicken and prosecco at an Italian place, La Piazza haha. But then towards the end of that good meal, I realised with horror that the actual money I had on hand was not enough. So I paid by card sigh that was lame and a waste of money. I was only short by 1 plus!

Then back to the train station, I had to wait more than an hour because the train, which is supposed to be hourly, skipped the 7.21, which I would have been just on time for. Read 20,000 leagues, forgive me for saying that it's a bit boring. I got to the part just before they head out hunting in the undersea forest.

Tomorrow is a quick walk up to the memorial, and then my bus to Budapest! Where I'll soak in baths for the afternoon and rest my weary feet.

Ciaoooo

Posted by seaskimmer 15:08 Archived in Austria Tagged bratislava vienna history austria slovakia Comments (0)

Bra-tislava

sunny 31 °C

Bar-tislava
Where on earth is bratislava??

Just a few of the tourist t shirts. Unfortunately those were not the funniest, I can't remember those. I was so tempted to buy one of the funnier ones hahahahah.

Before I came, people have told me that there's nothing much to do in bratislava, like why are you going.. But I decided might as well, hey its near Vienna, and thus I get to visit both Austria and Slovakia at the same time, sounds worth it to me.

After a 4h train ride on which I was mostly asleep, I arrived at a kind of Malaysia haha. The buildings on the walk from the train station to the hostel were kind of blocky and run down, a far cry from Prague. But soon I was to really enjoy it. It was a really welcome relief actually from the splendour of Prague, this poorer place that wasn't jumping for my attention.

Anyway, by the time I'd checked in and loaded WhatsApp and replied the few that needed replying, it was 8 plus and I was starving, so I walked over to this pancakes place that the receptionist recommended. I think her boss is obsessed with it or something haha. So I had 3, because I couldn't just choose 2, and it was a good thing I did, cos they're not that big. Stewed veg, smoked cheese, sardines. And the skin was just like my grandma's popia skin! Yellow and soft, but a bit less oily and breakable. Mmm.

Showed, and that was it for the night. I was tired, but by the time I was done washing up and stuff the guys in the bunk next to me had started to snore! Like ughhh I was so annoyed but then I remembered that I had been talking in my sleep the past few nights (yeah, I do that) and decided to exercise grace haha.

Got to sleep eventually, and woke up at 6 plus as per usual (I think it's the sun) and went back to sleep and got up at 8 plus as per usual.

Walked down to old town, very pleasantly surprised to find out that bratislava is really small so you can walk to anywhere. Old town is pretty and windy, less obviously charming as Prague but delightful nonetheless. Did the free tour, the guide wasn't great but whatever la. I was kind of bored by the end, but I did learn some cool stuff. Like that jules verne stayed at the carlton at the square where I'd started on 20,000 leagues below the sea. How awesome is that. And that the velvet revolution is so named because it was a gentle one without much blood shed.

And a reminder that although in general it's accepted that communism is 'bad', that we should always evaluate our beliefs and look at underlying assumptions. These days we're very ready to believe at the snap of a finger that anything that 'restricts our freedom' is a violation of out rights and is BAD and should be protested against. But after all, what are our rights, what is best for us? And what is freedom? A reminder not to jump to conclusions after someone mentions a few key phrases. (pet examples of mine are the words recyclable, green and biodegradable. Don't believe everything the package says, it often only means that in the right conditions it will degrade. But duhh.)

I was heading over to Flagship, a restaurant recommended both online and by the tour guide. I ended up eating with a brit couple and an American dude, all of whom were on the tour. I had a glass of redcurrant wine, so sweet, so amazing. And shared a platter of traditional cheese filled dumplings with the American dude. Then walked over to the ufo Bridge, but there we took photos and I said goodbye, since they wanted to go up the tower (4eur, no need la) and I just went up to the castle.

Very proud of myself by the way. That was a real achievement for me! I had to leave though because it was fun but a little stressful anyway. I think that's a good enough balance between lone ranger and socialising for me. Pat on back for self.

Had a good think up on the castle walls, sort of. I think I've left my thoughts in a bunch of places already. That part of the wall, overlooking bratislava bathed in bright sunlight is one of them.

Walked through old town, had sort of dinner at another recommended place. Was still full so I only ordered a beer and garlic soup (traditional) in a bread bowl. But the soup was overbearing and not nice, and the beer was bitter and gross. I didn't finish either. At least the waitress was nice.

So here I am in the hostel, tired and sticky from the sunblock. Gotta shower and sleep soon. Vienna tmr. Another long day. I'm maybe needing a bit of a break, but I'm still loving the constant novelty of a new place. Looking forward to home, yet enjoying travel.

Posted by seaskimmer 14:06 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bratislava slovakia socialising Comments (0)

Prague, City of Music

Technically that's not true. I think Vienna is. But that's what Prague was for me! I'll still remember the absolutely gorgeous Altstadt/old town most of all, how could anyone forget that. But coming in a close second were the amazing street performers. Out of the 4 that I watched, 3 were at least of semi professional level, and there were so many of those all around.

On Wednesday night I went back out and had dinner at a completely random faux Italian place. But then I went back to the main square, ostensibly to see the city at night (which I never got round to), but got sidetracked into watching more performers. I watched this guy try for a while, but he wasn't very good, and his mike didn't work, so he gave up and so did I.

Went over to the other side to watch this awesome older dude with a long red beard sing 'rock and roll' and old ballads. He was a born performer. After the young guy I understand now, and I also know that the guy in the afternoon was really good too.

It got darker and darker and on he sang with his guitar, til he was playing redemption song in front of a 9.30pm blue hour, and the crowd continued to gather and to ring around him. In the end he had multiple rows of rings 360 degrees around him. And everyone was just enjoying the warm summer night with the music and the wind, and the beautiful buildings lighted up around us.

And there was a guy with a go pro on a stick, who took a video of the guy and the audience, he said he's upload it to his YouTube account Jojo productions in about a week. Looking forward to that! And one of the last songs that was sung was walking in Memphis, it was stuck in my head for the rest of that wonderful night.

Thursday morning I headed out to the town square again and bought a ticket for the castle tour. 300 crowns, but by that time I just wanted to finish my money. Then I contemplated a decision between toy trains for my bros and I versus a nice lunch. In the end, loving sister that I am, I bought Thomas, percy and James for us, in respective age order. I actually don't know if we still have the original ones, I hope we don't or it will be lame when I give it to them haha.

I was early for the tour so I listened to this awesome band the Bohemian Bards, they were dressed rather appropriately and everything! And the music was so cool, one of them had an instrument that's kind of like a bagpipe but not. I don't know. Google the band, maybe you'll find out (I haven't yet). And I gave them the rest of my money, which was about 80 cents haha. Or was it more? I don't remember.

The castle tour was really interesting, it was a young British couple, an old (like grandparents old) Vietnamese couple, and the young Czech tour guide. About halfway through the Vietnamese couple wandered off for the last time and was never seen by us again, so we shrugged ours shoulders (after searching a short while) and then continued. Lol. But I had fun, the tour guide was cool. He plays the accordion in a band called circus problem (Facebook them) and actually had a gig later that day on a boat. Unfortunately I had a train to bratislava at 3.30pm, otherwise there was a very small chance that I might have gone haha. Very small, but a chance is a chance.

Walked over Charles Bridge, nothing spectacular but I can say I did it. Got my bag from the hostel and trudged to the train station, caught my train. Oh, and had a miserably small free sandwich that the hostel gives as part of breakfast.

Overall I really liked Prague. Absolutely gorgeous, and I think my personal experience with the music made it really special :)

Posted by seaskimmer 13:27 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague music czech Comments (0)

The summer wind

sunny 31 °C

I got to Prague at 7.30pm on Tuesday. It was an easy walk to the hostel, and then I ate at a recommended place, Lokal. They were out of pork neck so I had roast beef instead, with bread dumplings which are slices of white, more solid bread. And a dark, sweet Kozel. I think stout or dark beers are more to my taste, even if it makes me seem like an uncle hahaha. Light ones are usually weirdly bitter and taste like piss.

Read for a long while on the windowsill of the dorm, as light turned gold and then blue and then faded. Talked for a while to German guy in my bunk, showered, did exco stuff, and then attempted to sleep. It's so hot! And Europeans don't understand the use of a fan. E told me that even after spending so much time in Asia she still prefers to bear the sweltering heat without a fan. I'm speechless. But I finally got to sleep, it was a toss and turn sleep, I don't know why. And then I had a weird dream that I only remember partly.

Woke up, had a poor cereal breakfast (not even any ham or bread!) and then wandered out into the old city. Met a random Hungarian guy along the way who tagged along as I went for the free tour. He was a little strange though so when he left halfway through (why are they just talking about the Jews... Dude because we're in the Jewish quarter). I wasn't upset haha. Shared one of my stroopwafels with a Mexican girl and her brother. Had a good time but I was so tired and it was madly hot. The guide recommended me a little local cafeteria nearby, and told me he would be in sg for Christmas! Haha. And was jealous when I told him I live near the beach.

But anyway I had a nice cheap lunch of pork goulash with bread pudding and a light beer (it was gross, I chugged it partly). Relaxed, read a little.

At 3 I set off on a ten minute walk back to the hostel for a nap, but got sidetracked by a street musician at the old town square. I sat down amidst the crowd and just enjoyed it.

I was in the shade, and by that time the clouds had begun to roll in, and it was a little cooler. The warm, sweet summer wind had also arrived, and blew steadily on my skin. We watched the musician play, a pretty church lit by a golden sun rising up behind him, with little golden stars on the spires.

The musician, with his guitar, mike and speakers, was halfway through his set. He wasn't the best, but he was good enough, and it was amazing to just sit there on the cobblestones and know that the time was mine to while away. He played a few original songs, but also the scientist and iris, and ended his set with hallelujah. It was brilliant. I actually gave him money haha. In a really good mood as I walked away from that, summer on my mind.

And then I bought a postcard for myself, of a girl representing summer! She was rather languidly resting as befits a warm beautiful day, but with the blue sky and the fauna exuberant, and the cool water at her feet, it wasn't hard to imagine her suddenly rising from it to caper about in joy.

Back in the dorm, just resting on my bed, doing exco stuff, writing this blog, talked to an English-danish girl.

It's 6pm and much too late, I should go out to wenscelas square soon! For dinner I guess, but I'm so tired and lazy. We shall see. Tomorrow I suppose I'll do the castle tour (I drew too much money) and buy some stuff at the mall lol and then I'm off for my train to bratislava!

Posted by seaskimmer 09:04 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague summer music czech Comments (0)

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