Sunday, June 26, 2005

sliding down waterfalls

Vienna, Austria

So since I've written we were in Slovenia. The population of the entire country is only 2 million people, and the entire country is full of the julian alps. It is a very cute country though. So a couple of days ago we went white water rafting which was fun but not as exciting as it could have been because the water was low. So my crazy brother heard about canyoning and decided that he wanted to go and that I had to go with him.

Canyoning invloves hiking which is actually more like climbing up to the start on very steep river banks, sometimes pulling yourself up by ropes or holding on to cables so as not to fall. The outfit for canyoning is a full wet suit, including shoes and gloves, a helmet, and a diaper type thing to make it easier to slide without tearing the wet suit. At the start you go in the water and walk, slide and jump down to where you left your vehicle. The first slide involved sitting down and going butt first down a waterfall. In case I'm not describing very well this means that you can't see where you are going. Then there was the walk up onto the bank and jump into a pool...jumps of several meters or more. The crazyiest thing was the last waterfall - 10m tall. That's over 30 feet, or about a 3 story building. And I went down it. If you don't know I'm afraid of heights. I have no idea how I did it. No idea what made me do it. I can't even believe I really did it. There was time on the way down for a very long and loud "oh shit" which I finished with a few seconds to spare before I hit the water. Wow

Now we're in Viena. Last night we went to this big festival down by the Danube. As Ian said, "I can't believe I came all this way just to go to the state fair." I have to say that it was cooler than the state fair though. And of course it was in german and there were copious amounts of beer being drunk. And I didn't have any of the beer, but I have to say that it's probobly better than beer they would have at the north carolina state fair. And at night they had the most amazing fireworks. Yay fireworks.

So I'm actually supposed to be deciding if I'm going to work at the Edinburgh fringe theater festival but I'm writing to procrastinate. Some things never change. What to do, what to do?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I love looking out the window

Dubrovnik, Croatia

So poor william is sick and the rest of my family decided to stay with him in the adorable little island town of trogir. Which I want to say as trogdor. So this morning I got up before 6 (groan) and went to the bus station to catch a bus to debrovnik. It was supposed to be about four and a half hours but ended up being six. Which means that litterally half of my day today will be spent in transit. But that transit has been glorious so far when I could manage to stay awake. The coast of croatia is absolutely amazing!!! I don't think words could possibly do it justice. Mountains going straight down into clear blue water with few houses at all. And I even got to go through Bosnia and Hertzigovina (forgive my spelling if it's bad) for about half an hour.

Dubrovnik is possibly the most amazing city ever. It's completely walled and then it's surrounded by this amazing water. There are hordes of tourists on the main streets, but if you just turn down a little street it's like a different place. I love taking pictures of the streets and then the laundry hanging out to dry. Which means that later on you can look at a whole lot of pictures like that.

There are no cars in the old city which is great! That's probobly because the streets are too narrow and because there are stairs, so it's not necessarily because they don't want them, but it still makes me happy. I really must go find food now before I fall apart. Oh, they have tiramisu ice cream here!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

driving down the road

Zagreb, Croatia

So we've rented a silver fiat "economy" station wagon for our travels. I'm not sure what would happen to me if I went a summer without a driving trip in a station wagon with my family. This one isn't red, but it's still a station wagon. It has a sun roof but we have yet to figure out how to make it open, so I don't suppose that really counts.

Saturday in Zagreb is market day and they have a huge market in one of the main squares with lots of fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheese, nuts, baskets, clothing, and probobly more things that we didn't see. I haven't seen so many people out in a city just walking around since maybe Istanbul. It seems much more alive than most of the places I've been to recently. It makes me happy. They also have lots of cafes which makes William happy. Coffee places do not serve food here. For breakfast they have coffee in the coffee bar and then go across the street to the bakery to get a pastry. Or you get the pastry first and bring it to eat with your coffee. But they have a very high per capita bakery number I think.

They have a church here called St. Catherine's Church. They spell it differently though, but it was still exciting being a Katherine and all. It's a very baroque church with pink walls with fancy white raised plaster designs over the pink and lots of paintings and decoration everywhere. There is also no crucifix in the church.

Speaking of decoration the Hungarians have taken ceiling decoration to a new level. Instead of just decorating the inside they decorate the outside too! There are lots of buildings in Budapest with designs in the tile and some of them are very impressive. They also have lots of animals or faces on the sides of their buildings.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

my family!!

Budapest, Hungary

So my family got here yesterday!! And it was really exciting!! And my brother is even taller than ever. They let him grow in my absence...tsk. We're staying on this boat that's also a hotel so they cleverly call it a botel. I'm so happy to see my family! Yayness

I was having internet issues (among many issues) in Romania and couldn't write so now you can pretend I'm still there. I almost missed my train from Sofia to Bucherest. I made it by about a minute and didn't manage to bring any water. I met this welsh cartographer living in sweden on the train. He's traveled all sorts of crazy people, and apparently being a cartographer he has to do a lot of travel now. Maybe I should become a cartographer. Anyways, it's good that I met him because after we got off the train and I tried my ATM card it rejected it. As did the only other ATM in the train station. And both of the change places rejected my turkish lira. So he kindly offered to lend me money, got me some breakfast and I followed him to the hostel he was staying in. It was a pretty nice place run by a canadian family that was partly romanian. The next day I tried about 5 different banks and no one would take my card. And the bank said I had money in my account. So I started freaking out. I went on a field trip with the cartographer and after trying the one bank that takes cards from canadian credit unions, asking in a fancy hotel for a cash advance, and pondering going to a casino, finally found a tiny change place that would give me a cash advance. But I had no money for about two days

Bucherest is one of the weirdest cities I've ever been in. You see Romania had this crazy dictator who's name I can't spell but he destroyed most of the capital and built huge concrete buildings. And then when they kicked him out lots of the buildings were only half done but they never got finished. And then there's the second biggest building in the world. The biggest is the pentagon by the way. At least this one has elevators. It was started the year I was born, but with the materials used (lots of marble) and the size you'd think it was one of those hundred year old palaces. It's not quite finished though. Then there are the few old buildings and arcades the crazy dictator drove past too fast to see or forgot about or something that are still there. And then there are the other buildings that also seem completely out of place. And then everything is in the process of falling apart. So it tried to be planned but it's mostly chaos and it's very strange. But kind of cool in a weird way.

I also went to sighisoara (after I could figure out how to pronounce it to get a ticket there). It's a cute little village and completely different then bucherest. And it's in transylvania. And the birth place of the guy that inspired dracula - vlad tebes - the impaler of turks. They made the house he was born in a bar/resturant which somehow seems wrong to me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

leaving on a um jet bus

Sofia, Bulgaria

I finally did it, I managed to drag myself away from Istanbul. I just keep telling myself that I'll be back and all of those good byes weren't the forever kind. As mom pointed out though I was lucky that I made friends that I was sad to say good bye to. Well...the adventure must go on.

We spent two hours last night - from about 11 to 1 in the morning crossing the boarder. Two passport checks, a bus check and a bagage check that we weren't included in later we managed to cross. I think we were in no mans land at midnight. They were very confused about how I had gotten into Turkey and had to look through my passport numerous times.

I met two french people - Marie and Matthieu on the bus. They are doing an internship in sofia and living in the dorms and at some point during the long border crossing while we were talking they offered to let me stay with them since they had an extra bed. So when we got in at 5 in the morning after almost no sleep I didn't have to think, I went with them and crashed. But then when we went out to get lunch the door lady noticed that I was there. So I have to pay to stay with them now. And the woman who is in charge of such things is taking me and Marie to the police station tomorrow so that I can register and she can reregister. It's something that they make all foriegners do but if you stay in a hostel they do it for you automatically.

So bulgarian is a very weird languague. I feel like if most languages (like turkish) are codes then bulgarian is a double code. I keep thinking that if I could just read the letters than I would understand what they are saying. But then I realize that I still wouldn't understand. Somehow arabic didn't bother me that much. Maybe it's because the alphabet here looks similar enough to the latin alphabet that I feel like I should be able to read it. They use the cyrilic alphabet here by the way. Getting food this morning was a close your eyes, point at something and hope for the best kind of thing. I ended up with some good food though. Although nothing as good as turkish food. Sigh