Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How NOT to win friends and influence people. (Based on real first time encounters with people)

1. “Lucky we're all British in here, I can't stand Americans. (I'm not British) “
2. “Who wants to make a bet the I'll be the loudest snorer tonight.“
3. Unidentified person: “What have you been doing?“
                            Me: “I was teaching in Georgia the country."
                             UI:  “Oh they started that war they lost against Russia a few years ago."  
4.  “I just throw it out there, I hate Chinese people and I hate Italians.“
5. “Where in America are you from?“ (never assume)
6. “I guess you're kind of pretty.“
7. I spelt my name phonetically for someone who didn't speak English as a first language. Someone I met the night before corrected me and spelt it correctly. The person I was originally talking to, then looked at me like a was a psycho.
8. Anyone who sits on the aisle seat on the bus/train, so nobody can sit next to them. Not based on a first time encounter, but I'm on the bus and watching somebody do it, so annoying. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Not anymore...

How does one make friends?

I now have a new job.


The company is organising my visa. 


They found my a share flat to live in. 


I get to stay in Europe another year.


The company gave me a phone. 


But who am I going to call? The people I live with are very nice and all except one speaks English. But I feel bad making such a large group of people talk in another language, especially if it means excluding one of their own.

Which brings me to the question. How do I make friends?

A few years ago, my friend and I were brainstorming money making schemes. I suggested speed friendships- like speed dating but without any of the sexual connotations. Basically anyone who felt like they needed a new/more friends could attend and see if there was anyone they clicked with. My idea was shot down in flames, my friend said  nobody would admit they didn't have any friends.

I'll admit it, I am searching for a friend. I am not entirely friendless, but in my new town I am. I don't even know where to start looking. Is it pathetic “ to look for a friend."

 Maybe I should put an ad in the paper.

        “Female looking for companion.                                                                                                                                   Must be available for coffee, drinks, errand running, 
hi-jinx and miscellaneous activities."

That is sure to only attract crazy people.

I guess I could join a gym and start chatting to the unsuspecting woman on the treadmill next to me. Ask her to coffee. She'd think I was hitting on her.

Strike up a conversation with someone on the bus. A lot of weirdos ride they bus.

Sit alone in a busy cafe and offer the spare seats at my table to people. Tricking people into a friendship doesn't seem like a good premise.

I guess I just keep smiling at everyone I meet and eventually, I will find the one.
My new friend.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

The truth about long haul buses

It's so much cheaper and it only takes a little bit longer, this is going to be great, taking the bus is a great idea.


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Buses operate with their own special kind of Murphy's law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong and then some. Forget about sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the view. You will be driven to tears by someone you have never met and will never see again in your life, you will arrive in your destination feeling haggard and drawn, wishing you had just stayed home in bed curled up in the foetal position with a good book. It sounds more enjoyable then what you are about to put yourself through; if you decide to solider on through what will  be an obvious travesty, here are some simple rules, guidelines to prepare yourself for what you are about to embark on.

  1. You will NEVER be comfortable. You've brought an inflatable neck pillow, you have worn layers to prepared for whatever temperature the bus decides to be, Ipod is charge, book at the ready. NO. This bus runs by it's own rules, the temperature will be scorching followed be an Arctic breeze that will blow through the bus every 20 minutes for the next eight hours. You WILL hit every pot hole possible, even when there isn't any, the driver will swerve off the road just to make it that little bit more uncomfortable.
  2. There will be a douche in front of you, next to you and behind you. Any combination or all three at once. They will kick your chair at random intervals and often just as you have started to drift off to sleep, they will breath to loudly and even worse than that when you can feel them breathing on the back of your neck.
  3. There will never be enough bathroom breaks. I won't drink any liquid in the hours leading up to the bus ride, nothing is worse than needing to use the loo on a long bus ride. But it's like your bladder knows you have settled in for the long run and decides this will be the perfect punishment for all the late night drinking sessions. You use the bathroom each time the bus stops but back on the bus and an hour in, you need to go again and looking around at all the sleeping passengers you know that it will be a while before you get your chance.
  4. You won't time your snack eating well, and finish them way too early into the trip. You think you have enough to sustain yourself through out the trip, wrong. You're bored, so once you start you won't stop eating – leaving you hungry for the remaining hours of your trip.
  5. You will encounter the jerks of public transport – they are on all and any forms of public transport: noisy cell phone douche, crying kids with parents who don't do anything, the sweaty slob, the smelly person, the general crazy who only wants to talk to you, and the drunk who will be on the verge of puking for the entire trip. Don't look for them, just know they are there, waiting for that seat next to you to become vacant so they can come and regale you with stories you don't care about. 
  6. You will touch something gross: be it gum, a used tissue or just general filth. It's there and you will put your hand in it.
  7. The seat you choose will be broken in some way. You spy a seat in the yonder, it looks too good to be true, no children around, plenty of leg room. But it won't be until your at least 15 minutes into the journey, that you realise it's broken: it won't recline, the tray table has snapped off, the cushion is wet with an unknown liquid, somehow it's not properly attached to the ground and you will go flying at every corner. (trust me, it's happened to me)
  8. The traffic will only ever be bad if you are in a rush. This one is just a given.
  9. You will never be prepared when it is your stop and everyone will look at yo like you are holding up the trip. You've known for the entire journey that your bus will arrive at the station at approximately 0700, you packed your belongings ready to go at 0650, but still when you pull into the station you are the last one off, struggling to put your jacket on and your luggage off without falling down the incredibly narrow stair case.
  10. The music will be some sort of fusion between Chinese opera, hardcore drum and bass and Justin Beiber. It will be too loud, you can't drown it out and if you do manage to fall asleep you will here it in your dreams and wake up in a panic thinking all of your worst nightmares have come true.

NB: Buses with WIFI are fantastic.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I think I got a job.

I think I got a job. You think this would be one of those things that I would be certain about, but.....

Firstly I did an interview with a lovely woman and she asked me if I was interested in the position, I said yes. She asked me when I would be able to start, I said I could be there next week she said, see you then.

Pretty straight forward so far.

Then, I received an email from the regional manner saying that he was in the process of trying to find me some accommodation and that he would spend the days following my arrival showing me around the city.

Still looking like I got the job.


I received an email from a different woman, who said asked if I was still interested in the position would I be able to interview on Wednesday.

That's when I get confused, the first two correspondences make me think I have nailed it. Third one, makes me think I have not gotten it yet.

I'm just going to show up and hope for the best.  

Fingers crossed.

Below is the area where the job is.

View Larger Map

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The ye ol' flood of 2013

The hostel has been shut for the last few days with the water turned off, one of the pipes exploded and caused a bit of a mess downstairs. I could have stayed there and just gone elsewhere to take a shower and use the restroom, but I decided to go to Wroclaw - the city of Gnomes.

The above not technically a gnomes but I would say definitely gnome like enough to be included in this photo spread. 

These gnomes have been around for a while and a new one arrives every year, generally they are sponsored by a business and placed out the front. What the gnome is doing is often related to the business. The first gnome was placed in the 1980's and was used to represent the protest movement that opposed the communism regime at the time. It was fun and absurd but mostly, it was an effective way to take a stand. 

Nobody is certain how many gnomes there are any more, rumour has it that there may be over 180, but as soon as your turn you back these little guys keep multiplying. 


We decide to get out of Krakow for a while, to rest our aching livers.  As fun as being party promoters/ CP/FO (Cheif Party/Fun Officer) / event makers is, you reach that point when you never want to do it again. You don't want to make polite chit chat with people and hear the same travel stories, it feels like every song has been stuck on repeat for the last week, you've worn holes in your dancing shoes and the sounds of other people's enjoyment is like nails on a chalk board.
So we got out for a few days, headed up to the mountains to clear our heads and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It was amazingly beautiful, I wish we could have stayed longer but by the time we arrived it was 6pm and we had to be back the next day. I really wanted to go skiing, but seeing as my travel insurance has lapsed probably not the best idea.

It's currently spring, but something is going wrong in the atmosphere and there is still a lot of snow on the ground. I don't know what unit of measurement is used to write about snow - feet? inches? Silly imperial systems.

The last thing we wanted to do on this trip was drink, so we got a nice friendly game of Monopoly going with some other guests (French gap year student, American girl who was doing her masters in Mathematics and an Australian girl is from the same place as me and knew mutual people. If you know where we lived, it's amazing.) Right from the beginning the mathematician took the game too seriously and I realised that Monopoly is really, never an enjoyable game.

The from Krakow to Zakopane was 20ZL, which really isn't too much, but more than we were willing to spend. So we hitch hiked back. All in all it turned out really well - #1 A man who knew very little English but was super excited I was Australian, he drove us into the centre of town.
#2 A young guy who drove us 7km away from town on his way home for Easter.
#3 A man in his 50's who worked on the charter boats and spoke perfect English because that is what they use on the boats.
#4 (A general rule of hitch hiking, people won't pick you up with kids in the car) This man had his little daughter in the front seat, I think he wanted her to practice her English or he felt sorry for us hitching in the cold on Easter weekend.
#5 A man heading to Katowice for Easter with his family, drove us an hour out of his way, right to the hostel door. A fantastic human being.

I finally got around to doing one of the walking tours. I think mostly I did it because it was an afternoon one and some of the nice guests were going and invited me. The Jewish district has some really cool street art. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In no particular order, the top three greatest hostel showers in Europe

#1 Envoy Hostel, Yerevan - Armenia

#2 St. Christopher's at the Mosaic House, Prague - Czech Republic

#3 Grampa's Hostel, Wroclaw - Poland

NB. I apologize to Envoy Hostel, which I incorrectly wrote as Envy Hostel. My bad.