Category Archives: Travel

A jig around town.

Thursday, 17 March 2011 – my first (and possibly last) St. Patricks Day in Ireland was marked with the arrival of Liv from Germany for a weekend in my home town. What followed was a particularly civilised, tame if you will afternoon and evening introduction to my hood. Warily we watched the green and orange wearing, flag donning revellers nursing cans of cider stumble merrily towards the annual Paddy’s day parade and made the decision to head in the opposite direction.

Post bag dropping and the inaugural glass of white for the weekend we strolled back into the city while I showed off the sights ‘This is my local Aldi, I get coffee here, don’t stand in that 800th piece of dog shite’. We eventually ended up in The Bleeding Horse, a two story, wooden panelled, red carpeted ‘traditional’ pub. Filled with custodians anywhere between 18 and 68 and gripping a Bulmer’s and a Guinness we took a seat near the window. It was at this early point in the game, Liv made the startling discovery I’ve been avoiding accepting for near on 6 months. The Irish population, left in Ireland, for the lack of any accurately available politically correct adjectives- are an average looking bunch of folk. Coupled with this realisation and the assumption of our fellow male and female patrons that we were lesbian life partners – an assumption the whole of Dublin made for the entire weekend – we took our leave. Cassidy’s, an aptly, though fondly, described ‘old mans pub’ however proved our final undoing. Filled with drunk middle aged men and women we were this time confronted with the ghosts of our future selves. One pair of white leggings and reference to Annie Lennox too many, we hot footed it (soberly) to feed our rumbling bellies. After a calorie jammed meal at Irelands ‘gourmet’ burger joint Eddie Rockets, we found ourselves tucked up in bed by 9pm amongst only a few half-arsed grumbles about us giving up on Paddy too early.

Friday dawned and with it one of the most stunning mornings I’ve experienced in Dublin to date. Wearing matching lesbian shirts – a horrible post outing realisation- and take-away coffee in hand we were ready to get our tourist on. I walked Liv up through our toy town streets and into St. Stephens Green Park, packed with sun adoring folk with the same idea. We walked from the South side to the North side as I describe the cultural divide the River Liffey gives the city. We took the afternoon casually, meeting a pal of Liv’s from Germany for lunch and then making the (foolish in hindsight) decision (again!) to attempt to shop. Somewhat bolstered by the prospect of cheap non-H&M purchases, we headed into Penny’s, the Irish Primark, for a stock up on Spring/Summer essentials. A change room, a mirror, a ridiculous queue and mini meltdown later, we thought it was best if we perhaps take our chunky bodies out for a drink instead.

St. Stephens Green

Alfie’s a Cocktail Bar/Restaurant recommended to me by a colleague saw the civilised beginnings of our uncivilised downfall. Sitting outside in the crisp afternoon light we ordered a beautiful Chilean Sauv Blanc in grooming for our €5 Cocktails. Eyeing off our fellow diners choices, we polished off the bottle and ordered a couple of our favourite classics with a mojito and strawberry daiquiri. Both equally as fresh as and fruity as a gay man after a shower. Encouraged by the price tag and the lack of excess mixer we merrily ordered our second. A tangy margarita for the Mane and a sweet and summery ‘Sexy Chick’ for the Crop. By now we were inside and propped up at a table near the bar with the eastern European bartender meters from our beady cocktail trained eyes. We watched him cockily mix our drinks and then revel in our expressions of delight as they came towards us. And then with a mere 20 minutes to spare before we were due at a bus stop to our dinner reservations we decided that a third and final cocktail was a magnificent idea! Alas, we steamrolled towards the clear winners in another mojito and the ‘mojito for mint haters’ – the caprioska. Joyous at our life loving natures we respectively skulled our last drinks and ran out the door in a whirl of shirt and flat boot.

Merrily we bounded for the bus which would ferry us to our final port – Johnny Foxes . Dublin’s highest restaurant, famous for its Hooley Show and fresh seafood. The Johnny Fox novelty bus rounded the corner and we clambered on amongst our coupled, middle-aged American and English friends towards our evening. Prepared only slightly for what would eventuate we entered the heaving bar and restaurant and were slipped passed the queuing diners to our reserved table for two. Seated Liv and I looked up to notice the room was crammed with men. On all sides. Who swiftly proceeded to join forces, raise their glasses and lift their voices in a national song. Only the language wasn’t English, and the nation was Ireland. A guestimation at Sweden, one of the men correct our assumption. Norway. 43 birthday celebrating Norwegian men. And us. In our matching shirts and make-up less faces. And so it began. Beautiful, steaming mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, crumbed goats cheese salads, more Chilean Sauv Blancs and more obnoxious cheering to ‘the good life’.

Two hours later we were off our chairs, unable to finish our mains and enticed to the dance floor by the chequered shirt wearing, lumbering Norwegians for a jig. The three piece traditional Irish band were a joy to listen to, and I’d imagine even sober would lift the most sullen of faces. The jigging continued, as did the drinking. Spun left and right, Liv nearly met her untimely end in a tumble that resulting in a bruised arse. A ‘River Dance’ performance by us and two of our new best friends dizzied us and sent us to new heights of glee. That is until I was ‘beered’*. Unexpectedly, unprovoked and belligerently beered in the face, by a drunk man mid dip. I was quickly whisked away by a caring youth (the waiter) and offered serviettes as I recovered myself in waves of crying and fury. Unbeknownst to me, whilst I was mopping myself up, Liv my knight in shining armour came to my rescue and in retribution beered the man. He proceed to beer her. She beered him back. He beered her again. Until a co-reveller desperately gripped Liv’s arm pleading for her not to throw the third glass of dregs onto the man. Obviously satiated at the idea of taking the high road, Liv seemed to let the situation lie.

Egged on only by our resilience and obvious ‘awesomeness’ we headed to the bar for shots! The Baby Guinness was introduced to me by Dwayne on my weekend to Cork (link to Cork) and is a shooter of Kahula and Baileys which Liv proceed to rename the ‘Mini Baileys’. Four…or five…perhaps six of these later last round was called. Sometime after 12:30 we reboarded our bus and headed back down the hill. The bus ride included a spectacular meltdown where my booming Saffa tones failed to subside under the desperate pleading of my equally as drunk life partner.

Without highlighting the obvious, Saturday rolled around in a wave of one of the most epic hangovers I’ve had to date. Epic. Perhaps a combination of age as well as the volume and varied amounts of alcohol consumed. We managed, barely, to shower and leave the house for breakfast where we stuffed our vomit prone faces with an Irish breakfast much to the amusement of the café owner. We rolled, literally back home and back to the couch, where we remained with blankets, pizza and bumper episodes of ‘Nothing to Declare’ until it was time to sleep away the nasty repercussions of being ‘Foxxed’.

More sluggishly than we’d hoped, we woke up on Sunday determined to re-enter the world in all our former glory. Though it would have to be a slow, tender re-entry at first with a few of the side affects still lingering. Through slitty eyeballs we popped on a fresh coat of mascara and clothes sans beer stains. Dublin put on another spectacular day as I took Liv up to one of my favourite places in the city. The quaint, postcard coastal town of Howth is home to amazing food markets on a Sunday and I had every intention of indulging. Which we did, purchasing a feast of homemade Italian pestos, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh strawberries and bread we enjoyed a lovers picnic on the green. Enjoying the coastal air and colours we strolled and took photos, stopping to cruise a book sale and enjoy the sun on our pasty faces. Lulled into a near coma, we sauntered into a local café, Il Panorama to enjoy a late afternoon latte. Cajoled into staying for a few Australian Chardonnays on the house, by the charming Australian proprietor and his Italian staff, the afternoon escaped us until we begrudgingly ran for the bus back to the city.

Vino at il Panorama

We enjoyed dinner with Paul and Dwayne – to reunite some of my favourite people- at Green Nineteen, a hip little restaurant with €10 mains also on Camden Street and then headed home to draw the weekend to its final stages. A farcical episode with a 3:45am German alarm clock and a sleepless night later and this crazy tale of faux lesbians, Norwegians, jigging and Dublin’s fair city finally drew to a close.

Next stop. London bruvva.

Full photo album here.

*the act of beer tossing

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Brussels – the ugly jumper.

As it turns out I didn’t love Brussels. It kind of felt like when I was 14 and Mum still tried to buy me clothes. I could imagine someone somewhere that had no clothes at all might appreciate it, but that someone was not me.

Liv and I embarked on our first lovers weekend away to Brussels, for the most part because the flights were cheap (for me). I took the 7:50am flight out of Dublin* on Friday and arrived into the European Capital at around 10am on about 5 hours sleep, cold and flu tablets and sans lover. Ryanair dropped me at Charleroi airport which is about a 50 minute bus trip south of the city. I figure somewhere along my travelling adventures I’ve picked up a trick or two as I managed to weasel my way through a group of American girls looking at the automatic ticket machine as if it had just hurled on them, buy my ticket and stealthy nab myself a seat on the warm bus ahead of a queue of people who’d been waiting for 45 minutes already. I stuck my earphones in and feel asleep to Celine’s dulcet tones.

Bus trip over, I followed the directions to our hostel, which involved me getting the metro from Brussels Zuid-Midi train station. Enter Mum delicately opening a bag from ‘Shop here if you’ve been through menopause’ and leaning in my direction. Whilst waiting for the metro, I took a look around for the first time and it started. The sinking feeling. Then the metro itself pulled up. A yellowing, filthy, beast of a rail carriage came to a halt with a grunt and a homeless woman with her life in shopping bags hopped out and I boarded with my hyper alertness sensors suddenly raging. A cool calm exterior, I sat on a brown plastic chair next to a local and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. The busking accordion player and his kid wearing moth eaten jeans shoving a mouldy hat in my direction did little to ease my sudden reservations about the place.

With ‘I must not judge a book by its cover’ blaring in my ears, I alighted the train at our stop only to be greeted by a dark, dank corridor littered with beggars and a small light at the end of the tunnel. Little consideration for where the light would take me I took the first exit in sight. Up a gigantic escalator (a little known terror of mine), I finally reached the road and breathed in what I thought would be relief. And then, Mum removed the contents from the bag and handed it to me expectantly. Cue panic. Liv wouldn’t be arriving in Brussels until the following morning and suddenly I was presented with a factor I hadn’t ever even THOUGHT about considering. Brussels was ugly.

After a twenty minute walk in the wrong direction with an obese midget for a bag hanging on my now raw shoulder, I finally found the hostel. Sleep Well (I’d recommend it), was located 100 meters off Brussels largest commercial shopping street. I counted four H&M’s. The guy at reception kindly ignored my makeup free face, unwashed hair and the faint aroma of anxiety coming from my foot tapping under the desk and introduced Brussels to me in a frenzy of map highlighting and descriptions of mango chocolate. I tentatively took the map and retreated to our private twin suite. Slightly reassured for the moment, I flung open our windows to a beautiful grey sky and a concrete school block, with the weird coloured shapes of 5 year olds in its window providing the only visible colour. Less sure again, I closed the curtains. After a shower and attempted nap, I berated myself back onto the streets with my camera and the map.

On Saturday after a delay C/O Deutschebahn, Liv finally arrived in her beige floor length trench coat and slightly crazed by too much coffee too early. Braver, blonder and all together happy to be together (we’re not actually lovers) we took to finding food, wine and somewhere warm. The restaurants in the cobbled streets around the glorious square at the Grand Palace were rolling out their red felt carpets, polishing wine glasses and lighting candles in preparation for the incoming tourists at lunch time. In a bid to escape the rain and the incessant touting of various restaurateurs we took refuge in what resembled a Parisian styled eatery and were presented with a champagne flute of half white and half red wine. It was 11:45 am and it didn’t touch the sides.

Saturday disappeared behind glasses of red wine, giant waffles covered in chocolate and blonde Belgium beers. The evening took on a life of its own as we finally found our groove in O’Reily’s. Yes, I live in Dublin and yes I ended up in an Irish pub in Belgium. Which I think means I’m slowing earning my Irish stripes. A group of unruly, unholy, ridiculously intoxicated men on a stag weekend provided the entertainment, while Shania Twain provided the soundtrack.

Unsure of what Sunday might have to offer us, we tentatively rolled out of bed amongst grumbles of our ever fading youth and a lack of sleep. We gave Brussels another shot. This time, just walking. And ‘Beatling’ – that is being snapped while walking across a zebra crossing in the style of Paul, Ringo, John and George. The ferociously highlighted map took a back seat and camera in hand we found the beauty in the beast. With quiet streets, French styled buildings, old school cafes and pubs, oddly painted buildings, cartoon graphics on walls we found some charm, elegance even. Ending up in what appeared to be wealthier end of town, we stumbled across parks right out of Paris, gothic churches and the Cartier and Tiffany’s of chocolate shops.

Back at the train station to preparing to head back to our respective countries, Detective Mane and Sergeant Crop sat in a coffee shop only to be reminded again of Brussels ugly underbelly as we witnessed a series of scuffles with security and a urinating, pantsless drunk homeless man. The lovers parted ways, and with that long awaited sigh of relief I boarded a train for the airport.

Though somewhat begrudgingly I admit Brussels had a certain something. But like that item of clothing from Mum, I understand that some people might consider it to be beautiful. It just ain’t my style.

Brussels photo album is here .

*Whilst trying to get to Dublin Airport it struck me afresh the cruel irony that is the ridiculous public transport here. I can catch a flight at 6:00am if I want to, but the bust that takes me to the airport doesn’t start running until 7:00pm. Brilliant.


From coast to Cork

Last weekend I was treated to my first ever Irish road trip with a weekend in Cork or Corcaigh* by my good friend Paul and his boyfriend Dwayne.

Cork is around a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin via newly built motorways. Said motorways however exist sans rest stops. Like I mean none. These motorways are so new, that if you have to wee on the 2 hour journey you have to do it in a bush. So much for that refreshing cola beverage and gummy lolly I was looking forward to. In fact, prior to the roads construction, it took approximately 4.5 hours to get across a country that fits into Australia 109 times. Good job guys. Here I was thinking Gillard was a numpty.

Saturday morning we took off for a day of touristing (the act of being a tourist). We started with a coffee and a bowl of steaming organic oats at Gusto Café on Washington Street in Cork City. I’m giving you the name and location, because good coffee is not synonymous with Ireland (in my humble experience at least).

Cork City, feels and looks more like a large town than it does a city. Built around the River Lee it is a collection of buildings that look as though they were thrown together on a whim. The churches are beautiful and dominate the skyline, but the main streets are dotted with random modern architecture. It’s not unsatisfying, but it feels a little disjointed.

In a building I’d fear you’d walk past without a local attached to your arm are the English Markets. A permanent enclosure that houses stalls with meat and seafood so fresh you can hear the faint echo of a moo.

The University College of Cork, Pauls old stomping ground has an impressive campus with a large forecourt and ivy covered buildings. The perfect setting for wedding photographs, Paul volunteered his services as my photographer for the site.

Late afternoon we took a 30 minute drive to the beautiful medieval coastal town of Kinsale. Nestled between rolling hills and the yacht harbour is a town with streets that beg to be wandered. With cobbled pavements and every building sporting a colour different to its neighbour, even on this typically gray and freezing Irish afternoon I knew this was somewhere I would come back to. I want to eat and drink at each and every café or pub because they all seem as inviting as the next. Kinsale would be absolutely glorious in the summer.

With our tourist activities over for the day, P and I headed in from the wind just as the rain set in. We spent the evening ‘dolling’ ourselves up and drinking white wine before we headed out for a night on the town. Gate crashing two 30th birthday celebrations allowed me a sneak peek of the venues Cork has to offer. From a quiet subdued hotel locale to Corks answer to the Brooklyn in Sydney and then my first ever gay bar experience at Chambers, the evening was one well worth remembering. Fortunately the peculiarities involved in getting cracked onto by a female midget were overshadowed by the misfortune that was Dwayne’s drink being spiked. Thanks to a nifty iPhone locating app, he was tracked down before any further harm could come his way.

On Sunday, with Dwayne safely tucked back into bed, Paul drove me down to another seaside town – Cobh (pronounced Cove – obviously). Cobh is home to the world’s second largest naturally occurring harbour in the world and as one of the major transatlantic ports in Ireland, it played a pivotal part of both the steam boat industry and the mass emigration of Irish citizens in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cobh harbour was the Titanic’s last stop before she met her tragic end. Another (informative and interesting) photo friendly location, the skyline is dominated by the Cobh Cathedral that sits on a hill above the harbour.

After an afternoon in the museum in Cobh, our time in Cork was rapidly approaching its completion. A couple of hours later with bags packed and petrol tanks filled we commenced our journey home.

If Cork was my first taste of Ireland outside of Dublin, I can’t wait for my next adventure. Galway perhaps? Paul?

* Irish is actually a national language. Road signs, information, tv and radio channels all come in both English and Irish. And for the record, it does not contain the words ‘diddley’ or ‘dee’.


C’est la vie

Now understandably there is room for some presupposition that based on the title of my blog the content likely is to include some deep, philosophical journey where I turn some obstacle into a blessing and embrace life with a renewed vigor and reverence no matter what the outcome. Well it’s not. Not exactly anyway. This ‘C’est la vie’ is more of the “Say you will say you won’t, say you’ll do what I don’t, say you’re true, say to me…” kind of C’est la vie. The kind sung by four identical (with the exception of the blonde) Irish girls in the early noughties. This is a recap of my visit to a little town called Münster* in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Why Münster Tammy? What is this place? Well Münster is in fact Livs current abode (for any new players -Liv is one of my best friends, for everyone else you’ll remember Liv and I parted ways in a heap of brown skin and teary hugs at Athens Airport after the summer).

Now Olivia (central player in the blog) just so happens to celebrate her birthday in January, in fact she planned on celebrating her birthday the very same weekend I would make my journey to the land of bread and cheese. After a few strategically placed, ‘really sorry I can’t make it’ emails, I’d managed to successfully convince her I was regretfully not going to be able to make the journey. Queue my love for a good ‘turning up announced on ones doorstep in a foreign country’, I booked my ticket. Stealth like, 007 style.

So on Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago I left work early and headed to the airport for my 1 hour 45 minute flight to Dusseldorf and 90 minute train to Münster. Anki, Liv’s roommate (the Moneypenny of the story) and I colluded and arranged for me to meet Liv at her Friday night drinks at the local. Typical Aquarian that she is, not much gets passed Liv usually, but this time she was caught completely unaware. Unassumingly Anki tapped Liv on the shoulder and said ‘I think you might know this girl’…Liv slowly turned in her seat to spot me and in the process render herself speechless. Genuine surprise on this girl looks like Gormo and his mate Spazzy playing Spot the Retard. She stood up, she sat down, she cried a little, she looked around, she garbled a few words, stood up again, sat down again. At which point I had to intervene and ask her to hug me so that her work friends (and the rest of the bar spying the interaction cautiously) wouldn’t think I was some creepo playing Single White Female. Eventually, words came flooding back as did high pitched yelps (mostly me) of recognition. We enjoyed our first glass of wine together in 4 months and it felt fucking amazing.

With Liv’s birthday party at her cool apartment with all her new German and non-German pals planned for the Saturday evening, it left the day to explore the town a little bit. Münster has an ‘old town’, beautifully cobbled with a church decorating every corner. It was bigger than I had anticipated, but just as ‘German’. We ambled to a coffee shop opposite the local weekend markets and caught up on life. Liv taught me a little German and we generally just reveled in each other’s company. The markets are a feast of fresh flowers, tulips particularly abundant that weekend, and cheese and fresh bakery goods. Whilst I scoffed down a hot waffle with cinnamon sugar we bought delicatessen treats.

A little more ambling, a small attempt at shopping (I say attempt, because I am no longer able to fit into clothes – I just wear muumu’s) and we decided at 3pm it was indeed time to stop in for a drink (a real one). Much to a local mans utter disgust we perched on a bar stool at ‘The Colorful Bird’ with 2 glasses of red wine.

Saturday evening came around in a blur of final party preparations, a liberating dance session to Taio’s Dynamite in our pajama’s and a glass of prosecco to kick start the celebrations. All before 6.30pm. Amongst such sober revelry Olivia and I clinked glasses to 2011. ‘The Year of Not Saying No’. More easily verbalised as ‘The Year of Saying Yes’ . A year where we despite reservations or the pull of habitual behavior, we will be challenged to continue to grow and open our (albeit chunky) arms to every experience or opportunity sought by, or thrust open us. Because without harping, life is short, it is precious, and regrets are for losers.

So, the party started. People arrived in a rush of activity and we were off. And so B*witched make their much anticipated (obviously) entrance. After creating a carefully selected playlist of ‘mood music’ with Angus and Julia, John Mayer and Paolo Nutini, 90 minutes in I was dragged into the kitchen and asked to ‘put on some pop music’. Now a self confessed, PROUD, lover and supporter of Pop music, this is the first time I have ever been asked to play it. In hushed tones, I confirmed with Liv my suggested course of action. ‘They actually want me to play pop music?’ secretly terrified I was being mocked. ‘Do it’ she yelled. ‘Germans love 90’s pop!!’. And OMG they do. In an absolute frenzy of Britney, Xtina, Justin, Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s child, 5ive and B*Witched we threw caution and coolness into the frosty breeze. Dancing like maniacs in a kitchen filled with German men dancing and singing wildly to every number. That’s right. Dudes. Hot dudes. Dancing to 5ive. Because they wanted to. EPIC.

In an attempt to get lashed as is customary on ones birthday, the party headed to the local student club. A couple of sambucca’s and tequila’s later Liv and I meandered through a crowd of youths unable to hide our near sobriety. And so, a kebab later we wandered on home dissecting the evening that was.
Sunday was filled with some apartment cleaning, the customary debrief over giant tea cups and then the best ‘I’m not hung-over’ hangover meal of my life. At another cute little pub with a blue door, aptly named Das Blaue Haus I indulged in a schnitzel covered in mushrooms with sides of sauerkraut and crispy potatoes. Don’t let me go on.

Alas, as they do. These things must end. And so my weekend came to a close. A train trip, a flight,2 buses and 7 hours later I opened my door in sunny Dublin. What this somewhat extendo journey did however reveal to me was just how comfortable I was in Münster. I felt like I could live there, in fact I felt like I did live there. And so I got to thinking…how many places is it that I would/could/do call home? I mean there’s Cape Town, Sydney, Santorini, Basingstoke, Rome, Vancouver, Dublin and now Münster? Well here’s my completely unoriginal take on it. My homeS are where my heart is. That is, in each of these places I feel like a part of me exists there, a part of me once existed there or could exist there. And because the people that I love are located in no one particular place, I am not limited to creating my ‘home’ in any one particular place. My heart comes with me no matter what city I am in and so the things and people that I love come with me also.

And such is life…

More photo’s here!

* Just for the foreigners around the place (Hi Dad!) ironically, Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces Leinster, Connaught, Ulster and Munster. This was not the Munster where I spent the weekend.


Cape Town – My non-Island home.

In September 1998 in Cape Town my parents arrived home from what my brother and I were told was a ‘holiday’ to Australia and New Zealand only to notify us on the trip back from the airport that we would be moving to Sydney. I was in denial about the whole thing, until my first day of school in 1999. Up until that point I’d been able to convince myself we were on a lovely overseas holiday and that big, white triangle shaped building we passed on that massive iron bridge thing was merely my parents continuing to show my brother and I the world.

Cue meltdown in the corridor of St.Ives High School. As though it were yesterday I remember looking down at a corridor of kids going to their lockers, gathering in their friendship groups and heading to class. They knew exactly where they were going. I however did not. I knew nothing. And I was terrified. The type of terrified that made me cling to my Mother and sob – in public.

For the rest of 1999, I resented my parents. I resented them for making me move, for taking away my friends, my family, my life. And if you had asked me (and I was asked) if I would have moved back to Cape Town then, I’d have yelled (so my parents could hear me) ‘TAKE ME NOW!’.

Alas, time passes. We grow up, we adjust and we learn, we say ‘Ta mate’ instead of ‘Cheers bru’ and suddenly it had been a whole 9 years since I’d been back to my African home.

And so with ridiculous amounts of anticipation and even more ridiculous amounts of fucking snow I FINALLY arrived at Cape Town International Airport. Collected by my 80 something year old grandparents and my 30 something year old second cousin once removed. My grandparents hadn’t changed. My cousin had changed a little, but they’d replaced the whole fekking airport!

Apart from the reappearance of the sun in my life (OH MY GOODNESS GLORIOUS SUN), the first thing I was reminded of that have been noticeably absent from my life is mountains. Yes, giant masses of rock that rise above sea level. That protrude out of the land. Out of the sky. That create cliff faces and amazing views. Mountains.

Almost immediately, what began and didn’t end for the remainder of my trip was that sense of nostalgia. I have been blessed with a somewhat decent memory and with that I took in all of my new (old) surroundings. Recognising, remembering, noticing for the first time as an adult. My old house, the freeways, the shopping malls. Things have changed and things have remained the same.

For those of you that haven’t been, Cape Town is a spectacular city, it is vivid and colourful and interesting. And I say this as a tourist not as an expat. From Table Mountain which majestically dominates the city’s skyline as if it were born to do so, to its white sandy beaches and sea side towns, to one of the most famous wine regions in the world. It is a feast.

But when I was done being a tourist, I was back to being a prodigal child. Cape Town has a dirty side if you will. Khayelitsha, the township that remains a reminder of apartheid has expanded exponentially. When driving (with your doors locked), you will go from a white dominated, affluent area to the opposite in literally meters. The contrast is palpable. Being ‘all grown’ up allowed me to take home new perspectives of my mountain town.

Without continuing to rabbit on pointlessly – I won’t lie I’ve struggled to contain all I wanted to convey – I will hark on about my family. But only for a minute. For the 9 Christmas’ I have not been in South Africa, I have either been in Australia or travelling (mostly the latter). Which has meant since my parents divorce I have spent few with anyone other than a (1) parent and my brother. If I was lucky. So this year at Christmas I was blessed to be reminded in abundance that I have family. Lots of it. In the shape of grandparents, family friends, cousins etc.

And it is that above all that I will take with me after my 10 days in the sun. 9 years was too long. Too long to not be with family. To not see my grandparents. To not be reminded that I am loved in this southern most part of the world.

So whilst I am thankful to my parents every single day for making the sacrifices that they did for myself and my brother by allowing us to call Australia home, this South-African born Australian lass living in Dublin will be going back to her non-Island home sooner rather later.

Holiday photos can be found on Facebook here!


‘Take a photograph to remind you of the things you know you will one day forget.’ SFK

A few of my favourites thus far…


The Ancients…

No I’m not talking about my grandparents…or your grandparents. This is about Rome and Athens.

Athens

The say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well neither was Athens. Which is evident the minute you arrive in the city, even when you roll up in a cab at 5am on a Saturday morning FOB from Santorini in a daze of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, 10kg heavier and carrying more emotional baggage than the average heavily pregnant woman.

I’d never been to Athens before now, but with Liv in tow straight off the island it seemed silly not to take to the opportunity to do so. But herein lies the possible problem, in that after the summer that was, Athens was my first ‘reintroduction into society’ if you will. There were masses of people, cars that stopped at traffic lights and buildings that rose above 4 stories, coffee. I could have been in Sao Paolo for all I knew. Yeah OK, well that is until Liv took it upon herself to guide my vision upwards and point at the historical treasure that is the Acropolis. Perched unassumingly atop a hill in the middle of the city, going about its day, is one of the greatest historical relics still remaining (somewhat) intact today. And its cool to see. Like really cool. (Stop applauding my eloquence its getting rowdy in here)

Having booked accommodation in Monastiraki, in the old part of the city, just underneath the Acropolis we were streets away from one of the busiest squares in the city. With alleys on either side filled wall to wall with tacky souvenirs on one side and alternative clothing and antiques on the other. It also happened to be approximately 5 minutes from the nearest Starbucks. Now judge all you want, but after 13 weeks of the unfamiliar, there is something like relief, that occurs when you walk into a place in a foreign country and you already know the menu. The giant mugs of tea/coffee/orange juice and even gianter (new word) couches were home to us for more than a few hours over our 5 day stay.

So in summation… Athens was a bit of a blur to me. It was a chance to regather thoughts, to process, to calm down, to consider what was next, to remember and recount the summer, to recenter. I spent a day hanging out with the ruins and taking in the history of the place, which mingled with the dirty (Athens is nothing if not dirty) streets and crazy sidewalk sellers and 10 euro shoes was enough.

Perhaps I’ll go back sometime.






Rome

So I won’t lie to you, after I left the comforting arms of my faux lesbian lover Liv at Athens airport I was awash with all kinds of emotion. But mainly a ridiculously unfounded, suddenly occurring, all encompassing fear of being in Rome by myself. I figure this was based on the unknown, that notion of it being time to stand on my own two feet again.

Anyway, I landed at the airport and successfully made my way into Termini station, which for the record is relatively easy when all you have to do is follow the neon signs, and into my accommodation which was a charming converted flat in the middle of an area inhabited by Romans, not tourists and I loved it. I loved the giant double bed, the shower that was bolted to the wall, the fresh towels, the TV and the coffee (this is a trend) and that giant breath of fresh independence that blew through the window. ‘Hello World’ I yelled, Rome grunted and went back to its business, but I felt alive. This all before I even left the pensione…what a douche.

So I took my first tentative steps outside that evening in Rome, straight to the grocery store to purchase my first bottle of red for the season and some local delights in the form of prosciutto and fresh bread. That was about all I could stomach for ‘venturing out’ and I passed out relatively early.

Over the next 5 days, without sounding too Elizabeth ‘I’m a twat’ Gilbert about it, I fell back in love with Rome. But this time with the Rome I didn’t get to see on previous visits. The Rome tucked between big streets and the trattoria’s run by little Italian nonno’s. I walked, I walked for hours and kilometers on end, I sat by the river and watched the people. The one thing that always remains the same in Rome is the sheer volume of people. People are everywhere. Italians and tourists fill the streets in hoards, big swarm like hoards and finding a place that isn’t packed with ridiculous people wearing giant camera’s around their necks yelling ‘OONA CAAFEE LATTEY’ at the waitress (obviously when you yell in english at a non-english speaking person they understand more clearly what you are trying to say.) is a godsend.

I went back to the major sites, how could I not, and whilst they are and will remain beautiful and meaningful and awe inspiring this time for me I looked at the Colosseum and it felt smaller than before. Did it shrink or did I just get older and uglier? Either option is viable.

So Rome and I became closer, I felt comfortable there. For anyone that has known me for any amount of time, you’ll know I harbour not so secret desires to become fluent in Italian and live in the country. Again without sounding too ’35 year old woman, rediscovers herself and writes (eats) about it’, I would consider doing that in Rome. It’s a big city and a historical wonderland – aka Augustus was here – its metropolitan, it’s a place I might like to call home.






Next stop Lake Como.