A Travellerspoint blog

Krakow, Polska

snow

So Meag and I are in Poland now, not sure HOW we've managed to navigate our way around without speaking Polish or knowing anyone who DOES speak Polish, but somehow we've done it!

Here's what we've done so far:
~ taken bus # 192 from the airport into the city centre, then got kicked off by the bus driver at the wrong stop, so we were stuck in the middle of nowhere!
~ navigated our way to "Mama's hostel" and almost died when we climbed three flights of horribly architected stairs!
~ played some ridiculous drinking games that involved doing the "sprinkler" dance before you had to drink with a crazy group of aussie boys
~ partied hardy in the biggest and best nightclub in the city (it was 3-4 stories high and had 10 different dance floors WOO HOO!)
~ talked politics with a very diverse group of people from around the world.
~ eaten more pierogies than what is healthy... we're pretty much on an all-carb diet... (we call it the Opposite-of-Atkins diet)
~ witnessed so many cute little old lady nuns running around everywhere
~ eaten a bagel from the bagel-capital of the world and had no idea what we were eating!
~ taken advantage of the exchange rate and dined in luxury!
~ (again), taken advantage of the cheap vodka :)
~ walked around Kazimierz (the jewish quarter) and ate some damn fine kebabs..
~ celebrated Poland's Independence Day with a huge crowd of Polocks in the main square. We tried to sing some Polish songs (only to be patriotic and fit in), but then we realized we don't speak Polish and we sounded ridiculous by thinking that we could!

...it's been a good few days so far! and next on the agenda? tomorrow we're hitting up Auschwitz-Birkenau (the main Nazi concentration camp), for a sobering reminder of WW2. Then we're off to Wroclaw for a couple days.. we're hoping to try out couchsurfing too! Then Meag's off to Prague and I'm heading south to Zakopane..! More updates later! :)

I miss everyone back home...!! Also, I really miss Tim Hortons and poutine, believe it or not! Keep in touch, everyone! :)

Posted by ChIqUiTtA 12:04 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

A Tribute to the Castle Rock

...my home away from home

overcast

To be honest, I never wanted to come to Scotland. There was nothing here that really sparked my interest or intrigued my curiosity, but when I started spending wayyy too much money in mainland Europe, I decided to settle down in a place where they spoke English. And because England's prices were so bloody high and I had already been to Ireland, I came here and found my niche in the Castle Rock youth hostel in bonny Edinburgh.

When you first arrive in a place, you are overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and slightly intimidated by your new surroundings. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and I felt so out of the loop. However, it didn't take long until I was pub crawling with the Swedish girls, having fake hen parties and celebrating random birthdays (Shannon, Todd and Rachel). I've never partied harder in any place before. Here in Edinburgh, I have visited over two dozen pubs/nightclubs and drank eleven types of beer I had never even HEARD of before. I've met so many interesting people, such as a professional poker player, a "wizard", a computer genius and a dominatrix. I've learned how to walk on cobblestone in high heels. I've learned how to speak a bit of gaelic. I've eaten haggis (sheep's lungs/heart) and deep fried Mars bars, and I've indulged in Castle Arms one too many times.

I've made a list of my most memorable experiences that have happened since I've been here:

~ getting a job at Greyfriar Bobby's Bar and then quitting two weeks later!
~ the pub crawl every thursday night with my beloved Swedish sisters (Michaela, Malin and Cecilia)
~ breaking into the movie room with Shannon and Sam and hiding out all day watching cheesy Jim Carrey movies just to cure our horrible hangovers
~ having family dinner (Kerry, Simon, Shannon, Rachel and Jean)
~ preparing and eating the best Thanksgiving dinner of my life
~ inheriting my own kitchen "ODJETE" box from the Swedish girls
~ walking out of the hostel doors and hearing bagpipers every morning
~ eating haggis, neeps and tatties, and learning what bangers and mashed is
~ drinking tea, knitting, playing card games, playing ping pong and playing pool in the common lounge, all the while being serenaded by the spanish guitar
~ watching the Rugby World Cup finals in the globe (yahh south africa!)
~ sitting on the hostel steps, chatting deep into the night with various people
~ learning Australian drinking games
~ dressing up as a Christmas present for Halloween, and annoying half the hostel with my jingle bell anklets
~ getting the living daylights scared out of me by Damian while doing laundry
~ jumping into heaping piles of sheets with Fernando
~ throwing a hen party, for the main purpose of wearing pink sparkly cowboy hats and getting free drinks
~ having my daily dose of advice from Marlo and Meghan.. GOD what would I do without you girls?
~ waking up every morning to the sweet smell of malt whisky (ughh!)

The Castle Rock Hostel feels like my home. I've spent the past 44 days here, and it's really difficult to leave, especially knowing that I'll probably never be back again, and I'll probably never see half these people again.

It's such a bittersweet feeling to be leaving... I'm so soo excited to be heading off to Poland and Eastern Europe, but at the same time, I'm sad to say goodbye to the people here. So a big hug goes out to everyone at the Castle Rock... keep on rocking, keep in touch, and safe travels!! xox

Posted by ChIqUiTtA 12:03 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

random encounters

overcast 15 °C

so the past few days have gone by like hours... i can barely remember what i've done!! so to recap...

in LONDON, I:

~ ate traditional fish and chips in a park
~ saw buckingham palace
~ admired big ben
~ witnessed the london eye
~ sat in hyde park watching the pigeons

in EDINBURGH, I:

~ walked everywhere and only got lost twice!
~ got turned down by three hostels because apparently there is this big rugby tournament going on... blahhh.
~ ate a swedish meatball wrap.. mmm :)

in GLASGOW, I:

~ bought a cell phone!! (call/text me!! 07990903154)
~ bought this amazing pair of stillettos for £3.00... but i probably won't ever wear them :(
~ asked some girls on the street where the supermarket was, and got invited to a stranger's house for amazing indian food! there were six of us; three spoke arabic, two spoke spanish, two were hindu, one was muslim, and three of them were practicing ramadam and couldn't eat all day... so we had to wait until after sunset! we all turned from strangers to friends..!
~ got followed/chased by some drunk creepy scottishman on a deserted backroad... freaked out, so asked two old men for help. they were so nice to me that they walked me all the way back to the hostel!
~ encountered a deranged/senile scottish woman who started yelling at me in gaelic when i asked her for directions
~ watched the scottish rugby team get their asses kicked by new zealand on a flatscreen in a pub
~ lounged in the Bunker, and went crazzzzy at Frankensteins (also tried salsa dancing to techno: but don't try it, it doesn't work!)
~ danced in the rain with lina, salwa, rut, rafic, karry, brian, steve and lynn.
~ made friends with 9 swedish boys who were obsessed with whisky
~ almost got run over by a car... (i was slightly drunk and forgot that they drive on the other side of the road)

I have learned so much about the sincerity and genuine hospitality of strangers. I have learned WHO to trust and who NOT to trust. I have learned a lot about different religions and traditional foods.

It's amazing how life can throw curve balls. One minute, i was walking down the street by myself, trying to find a grocery store so i could make some food and probably go to bed. The next minute, I was in the house of a stranger enjoying maybe the best food i have ever tasted, and encountering an amazing sense of hospitality and generosity. Even after I got followed by the creepy drunk, I was amazed at how nice the two old men were. They made sure the guy stopped following me and that I was safe, and they walked me all the way back to the hostel.
You gotta love life's surprises :)

Posted by ChIqUiTtA 03:11 Archived in Scotland Comments (1)

Beautiful Benelux

So since Brussels, I met up with an Aussie, and we've been traveling together for three days now, getting lost in the maze of Europe...

In LUXEMBOURG, I:

~ played cards with two Turkish girls and talked about life while riding the train
~ got completely and utterly lost in Luxembourg's cobblestone streets
~ met a Polish lady who had many things to say about global warming and politics (but was nice enough to show me where the hostel was)
~ got turned down by the hostel because it was full of German teenagers
~ got drenched in the rain and hid under an ancient building full of statues
~ drank Chardonnay and Beaujolais while overlooking the city from a park bench
~ watched some ducks in a pond
~ thought I was catching a train back to Belgium, but realized the last one left three hours earlier
~ encountered a drunk Englishmen who had seven children and wouldn't stop kissing my hand
~ read the "arrival" sign instead of the "departure" sign and almost missed the train the next morning

In BRUSSELS, I:

~ spent half an hour trying to figure out how to work the washing machine at the laundromatt
~ dined off swiss cheese, emantal cheese, salami, baguettes, chocolates and red wine

In BRUGGES, I:

~ arrived at the train station in the middle of the night, not knowing where anything was, feeling tired and grungy.
~ found a little bed and breakfast with the sweetest old lady you could ever imagine (Madame Bettina Garcia)
~ bought curry and chicken in the local market, aaaand found the internet cafe!

It's amazing what a difference three days can make in your travels. If you are in a routine, three days can feel like a week. But when you're constantly on the move, always looking for things to do or places to go, three days feels like a few hours. It is so much easier to travel with someone else, because there is not as much responsibility on your shoulders. When you're on your own, simple things like going to the bathroom become complicated, because you have to haul your giant backpack into the tiny stall with you, otherwise it might get stolen. But with someone else, life is simplified...!

Anyway, I have a flight to London booked on Friday, but I want to connect and go to Eastern Europe... we'll see! Ciao for noww... :)
p.s. miss everyone btw... so many people are interested in where I come from (haha because no one has heard of Manitoulin Island!!), and many of you are in my stories!

Posted by ChIqUiTtA 08:07 Comments (0)

The Dutch Courqge

So I made it to Belgium... I didn't want to go here (or at least I wasn't planning on it), but it just happened. The guy that I was going to go to Dusseldorf with decided against going, so instead I took a cheap train here!

The last night in Amsterdam was crazy... I ended up not having a bed (b/c it was sold out), so I slept on a chair for half the night and the floor for the other half. Then Saturday morning I rented a bike (completely hungover) and rode around the city.

(Swear to god, you haven't truly lived until you've ridden a bike through Amsterdam!)

I was peddling along, minding my own business, and was almost run over by this crazy chick wearing three inch stillettos. EVERYone rides a bike in Amsterdam. Businessmen in suits and old grannies doing groceries. EVERYONE. Unfortunately, if you're just another "stupid tourist" like me, you'll run into trouble. I almost ran over two pigeons and a tourist, and almost got killed by a delivery truck backing up. But it was totally worth the experience.

So now here I am in Brussels. I just got back from a walk around the city. I splurged and bought 10 euros worth of chocolate. I also sampled the "King Arthur" chocolate, which is titled the best chocolate in Belgium. Oh yea, and I ate Belgian fries with Andalouse sauce (mayonaise and ketchup mixed together). AMAZING! Don't be sceptical until you've tried it! seriously... (oh and also, last night I ate this Turkish pizza that had eggs over-easy on it... weird, but delicious!)

Not sure where I'm going next. Probably spend a day or so in Bruges, then fly to Scotland. Or maybe Eastern Europe? There's this big festival going on in town, so there's people in costumes everywhere!

Ahhhh I wish I could do this forever! It's amazing how easy it is... all you need is a bit of money and time. ANYone can do it, and you don't have to go with anyone, either. Traveling just puts the world into perspective... it's a cool feeling!! Anyways, I'll upload more pictures soon! Ciao... :)

Posted by ChIqUiTtA 08:06 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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