Be proud, I’m back on schedule! Which means this should be a much shorter blog than usual because I only have the last 4 days to talk about. I’m sure you’re all aware though, that I have this incredible talent to turn even a few hours into a long winded, super-descriptive, unnecessarily lengthy tale. So we’ll see ahaha.
So, as of today, it’s only 2 weeks until I board that plane to take me home (well technically the plane to take me to Singapore where I have something ridiculous of a stop-over, like 8 hours, before I board the plane that will actually take me home!). It’s gone incredibly fast, particularly the last few weeks. It’s my second day in Budapest, Hungary, and tomorrow we’re heading to Vienna, and therefore back to a place where they actually use the Euro! No more conversions!
Originally I had planned to stay in Germany after my Eastern escape tour ends on the 14th. I made a rough plan to return to Berlin (because I love it so) before heading to Hamburg and finally Frankfurt, where I fly out from. But after finding out quite a few people from my tour group are heading to Amsterdam after our tour, combined with the fact that I really want to go there AND it’s the cheapest place to post from, I’ve made a last minute decision to go there for a few nights too. Unfortunately, because of the price of trains, and my 10-night time limit, it came down to choosing between Amsterdam and Berlin, but I chose to see something new and hopefully return to Berlin on another trip someday. This is why I left the last 10 nights free, so I can have a bit of spontaneity.
So, on day 71 I embarrassed myself a wee bit. I had an alarm set for 6:30am, with the plan to get up at 7am to get down to the bus by 7:45am. Having stayed awake until about 4am making good use of the wifi I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when my alarm went off, and for some reason thought that I would stay awake. So I turned it off. I was awoken later by a loud knock on the hotel room door. Springing up and opening the door, I found one of my tour mates, who informed me we had to go down to the bus soon. I checked the time. It was 7:48am. The bus was leaving at 8am. I hadn’t packed. Stressful indeed, but somehow me and my roommate were packed, dressed and in the lobby by 8:05am. On the bus we met further delays at lunch after everyone got lost in the largest and most disappointing Tesco on Earth (possibly). Where are the ready-made wraps and pre-cut pineapple pieces?!
It was a long drive to our destination, Auschwitz, and (possibly inappropriately) we killed time on the bus after lunch by watching Team America (fuck yeah!). Eventually we got there, and the rest of the afternoon was a bit more subdued in nature. The part that I found most affecting was probably one of the display rooms in the museum, which contains a glass case filled with close to 2000kg of human hair. Real human hair, taken off the bodies of the murdered and sold for use in textiles. It was interesting to see a group of 20 odd Australian and American tourists, not breathing a single word. Unfortunately for Tim, it was his birthday, so we were able to rally for a bit of a celebration at this cute and cosy cocktail bar (alliteration much?) after dinner in Krakow. Jeff made the mistake of promising to pay for Sally’s drinks, since he owed her some money. Sally of course, took advantage of the opportunity, and bought shots for everyone. The bill was an amusing thing to see, between the 10 of us we racked up something like 1800 Polish Zloty or about $700AU. To put in into perspective I got 3 cocktails and a hot chocolate for only 55Zl (20AUD), so you can imagine how long the bill was with all of our drinks on it.
I woke up the next day with an entirely unrelated migraine and didn’t crawl out of bed until 3pm, after sleep and nurofen did their magic. I managed to catch a bus into town by myself and went to Galleria, the main shopping centre of Krakow. This was stupid, especially when I saw Sephora, and though “oh that’s right, I need new mineral foundation!” and allowed myself to enter its shiny shiny temple of delicious powders and creams. Oh, I bought foundation. And of course then I needed a brush for my foundation. This did little damage to my wallet but I stupidly allowed myself to browse the lipstick section and ended up leaving with not one but TWO lipsticks, in rather similar shades of red. One is matte, which I’ve wanted for a while because I feel like matte lipstick has a more casual feel to it, and therefore works for day or night time looks. Also, with lips like mine, that really don’t need any plumping or enhancement, I have to be careful with red lipstick because it can very easily make me look like a whore, basically. With matte lipstick, I don’t have this problem. Matte lips are not whorish. Also, it’s a smaller lipstick, which makes it really easy to apply and removes the need for liner. I’ve become obsessed with my matte lipstick over the last few days, so it was a worthwhile purchase. The other lipstick on the other hand is moist, shiny, and practically the same as another lipstick I already own and never wear, only in a slightly more orangey red. But not quite orangey enough, so wasn’t the smartest purchase I’ve ever made. Silly Mel.
I also found these cute little markets which all sell dragon toys and amber jewellery so I got myself a ring and managed to finally find some reasonably priced shot glasses to take home for friends! Honestly, in most European countries they will cost you at least 4euros each. Each! In Krakow you can get 6 packs for 9euros. Excellent stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t quite buy enough so I’m hoping I can find some cheapish ones in Amsterdam (which obviously people will fight over and everyone with a Krakow one will hate me etc. Fun times).
On day 73 (yesterday) we climbed onto the bus again (this time early!) to find that the handbrake had frozen overnight. Something interesting about Poland is that it’s freezing. Absolutely freezing. It’s the coldest place I’ve been so far and I can’t imagine what it would be like in winter. Anyway, after about 8min the driver realised he’d forgotten all about the “winter button” which is designed for when the breaks freeze. Then of course the gate to get us out of the car park wouldn’t work, so we were running about 15minutes late and it was in no way our fault!
It was an incredibly long driving day, and we watched Eurotrip AND played boy vs. girl trivia. We drew, but the boys won the tie-breaker. We found out later that they’d had access to an atlas and that had helped them get an extra point in one of the questions so technically the girls should have won. But men need to feel successful sometimes. We stopped for lunch at a Tesco somewhere in Slovakia (“For the love of God. We’re in eastern Europe.”) where surprisingly it was sunny and warm. We basked like lizards on the grass and even felt like we might burn! It was a nice change from the Polish weather.
That night, after a driving tour of Budapest and dinner, we got a taste of the Budapestian night life. We started the night with pre drinks at the hotel bar, followed by a bit of a Topdeck bus party, before climbing into taxis and heading to RnB club “Pink.” Of course, the boys panicked over the name and we had to ask some locals if it was a gay bar but it certainly wasn’t. RnB club-goers are really serious about their dancing. Honestly, I went to the bathroom, and two girls were just practising their moves or something in front of a mirror. And the hardcore girls barely wear anything, but they finish the look with sneakers, for maximum ease of getting low. It was fun just to watch people, as well as see the looks on people faces when they saw us dancing about like complete idiots. We like to have fun, what can I say? Actually it might have looked like we were making fun of them because we’ve developed this thing where we dance in a circle and one by one call someone into the centre to “bust some moves” which is absolutely hilarious. Or we could have possibly looked like we thought we were awesome which is an amusing thought.
Today has been a quiet day. I’ve been fighting a cold all week so every morning I get woken up by my alarm and normally then again by my roommate moving around and I can’t bring myself to get up. I stayed in bed until about 1pm today, simply because I was too tired to get up any earlier. When I finally arose and got myself ready to face the world, I walk up the street, wandered around and then went to Maccas, where I got a drink and updated my note book. Suddenly it was 4pm, and too late to bother doing anything so I came back here. In about an hour we’re all going to dinner and then out for drinks as most of the Americans are leaving us tomorrow to go back home to work.
Just before I sign off I do have to mention something that’s been bugging me. It’s not a problem in many places, but I’ve experienced it a lot throughout Eastern Europe: Smoking inside. It’s still legal around Eastern Europe, as well as Greece and it’s incredibly annoying! I don’t want to be ashed on by the people on the second floor of the club I’m in. Likewise, I don’t want to be scared that the desperate chubby girls doing their thing on the pole on the dance floor are going to burn me in their enthusiasm. I hate getting home at the end of the night and smelling nothing but cigarette smoke. Even more I hate waking up in the morning and STILL smelling it, because the smoke sticks to your hair. It’s annoying enough when someone smokes near you at a bus stop, or in the outdoor section of a restaurant, but I don’t think I’ll be complaining about either of those for a very long time. A lot of things have made me appreciate just how brilliant living in Sydney is, but the smoking laws take the cake. Thanks Australian government, you did something good!
Until next week (if not sooner)